The placement of four Ethiopian girls in a separate class from their peers at a Petah Tikva grade school has sparked accusations of segregation on Tuesday morning following a report in Yediot Aharonot.
According to ‘Hamerhav’ principal, Rabbi Yeshiyahu Granvich, complete integration of the girls was impossible. The reason being, said municipal workers, was that the students were not observant enough, nor did their families belong to the national-religious movement that the school was founded upon.
Among the differences in the daily school life of the girls, a single teacher was responsible to teach them all of their subjects. Worse yet, the four were allotted separate recess hours and were driven to and from school separately. Such action has been labeled by observers as “apartheid.”
“I don’t understand why they are doing this to us… just because we are black,” one parent, who had noticed a drop in his daughter’s mood and a lack of new friends told Daniel Oria, an active member of the Ethiopian community. Oria told the newspaper that he tried to speak with the school’s principal but was asked to leave.
After Oria’s failed attempt, he filed a request with a municipal education official asking to bring an end to the alleged discrimination. In reply, the official claimed that the institution was an “elitist school which believes that students must first learn how to behave and only then can they be integrated.”
A similar request made to Petah Tikva Deputy Mayor Flatiel Eizenthal, a member of NU/NRP, gave a similar response, saying that he could not understand why the parents were so worried because the school knew better how to treat the children and that it was not worrisome that they were being separated.
Education Minister Yuli Tamir however, was “astonished to hear about the phenomenon,” claiming that the incident “has not been reported to the Education Ministry”.
“This is racism,” said Tamir, promising that if allegations proved accurate, the ministry would “act severely.”