Israel’s Most Liberal City Introduces Racially Segregated Kindergartens for black Africans


by Lisa Goldman 

 

When the children of south Tel Aviv head back to school on Tuesday, kindergarteners will attend facilities that are segregated by race. The children of asylum seekers from sub-Saharan Africa will go to their kindergartens and all the other kids will go to their own. As of this year, the municipality of Israel’s most liberal city decided that separate-but-equal for three-to-six year olds was the way to go—in 2013.

 

According to a report published by Ynet (Hebrew edition), the city built the new preschools for black children after Jewish-Israeli residents of the inner city area threatened to keep their children at home rather than allow them to learn how to count, fingerpaint and play on the swings alongside their peers from Eritrea and Sudan.

 

Eritrean-Refugees-OpenZ
African asylum seekers from Ivory Coast and Eritrea gather at a public park in Tel Aviv on March 13, 2008. (Jack Guez /AFP / Getty Images)

 

The south Tel Aviv neighborhoods of Shapira and Hatikvah have for decades been one of the city’s two most deprived areas (the other is southern Jaffa). Home to a population of mostly low income Mizrahi Jews (a.k.a. Oriental Jews), it suffers from the problems that plague most low-income areas—overcrowding, poor-quality housing and inadequate infrastructure. In recent years newcomers settled there, most notably foreign workers from the Philippines. More recently, asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea found their way to the economically depressed neighborhood. Tension between the veteran Jewish residents and the African asylum seekers has been high for quite some time, thanks partly to incitement from certain right-wing Members of Knesset and some rabbis, with the latter discouraging their followers from renting apartments to non-Jews. Last year the growing tensionexploded in race riots. Mobs of angry Jewish residents smashed cars and shops belonging to blacks, beating and terrorizing them.

 

There are about 65,000 African asylum seekers spread around Israel, with a significant number concentrated in south Tel Aviv.

 

The Jewish residents of south Tel Aviv reject angrily the accusation that they are racists. They point out that the infrastructure and amenities in their impoverished neighborhoods are already overburdened. If the residents of the wealthy, liberal parts of the city had to share their apartment buildings and schools with impoverished asylum seekers from Africa, say the Jews of south Tel Aviv, they too would be resistant.

 

They might have a point there. Last year, some parents in the prosperous and fashionable Sheinkin area of central Tel Aviv opposed a visit from 35 black children for a joint Hanukkah at a local kindergarten. According to a Ynet (English) report, a group of parents started a chain of racist emails, with one claiming they needed to know if the African children had been immunized in order to “protect” their own children.

And so we have officials representing the city that markets itself as a paradise for gays and liberals of all types embracing the concept of segregated kindergartens, presenting it as a win-win for the African newcomers and the veteran residents.

“We understand what is happening in the southern part of the city,” one unidentified municipal official tells Ynet. “And thus we had no choice but to take this step. The residents are not interested in studying with the foreigners, so this is the only option left to us.”

According to the report, the segregated schools are for the children of black sub-Saharan asylum seekers only. The non-Jewish children from other regions, like Southeast Asia and Europe, will continue to attend the “Jewish” municipal kindergartens. Presumably Ethiopian Jewish children have been attending the mixed schools all along, and will continue to do so.

One Israeli activist who works on behalf of the asylum seekers’ children suggests that the municipality set up the segregated kindergarten in order to provide them with extra tutoring, helping to prepare them for elementary school. Then she adds dubiously that she hopes this was indeed the motivation. But residents quoted in the article seem pretty certain the municipality is responding to their demands by separating the African children from theirs.

Yoav Goldring, a city council member from the liberal City for All party, told Ynet that he is puzzled by the municipality’s decision to build segregated kindergartens, rather than simply more kindergartens for everyone. “Instead of resolving the neighborhood’s existing problems of overcrowding and lack of infrastructure, the municipality catered to the prevailing atmosphere of racial segregation.” Goldring added that he intended to request the ministry of education to look into this matter.

Segregation is actually illegal in Israel, but the law won’t be enforced unless someone takes the municipality of Tel Aviv and the ministry of education to court. Given the climate of crude racism directed against the Africans, with even radio presenters casually using the term “infiltrators” rather than refugees or asylum seekers, it is quite possible that no-one will think this outrageous incident is worth pursuing.

 

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/08/23/the-banality-of-racism-in-israel-s-most-liberal-city.html


14 thoughts on “Israel’s Most Liberal City Introduces Racially Segregated Kindergartens for black Africans

  • August 24, 2013 at 8:40 am
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    This is sick. The way I was raised was not like this! In my Jewish home, we were taught equality. No racism or injustice due to race, religion or creed would be tolerated. I think Israel needs to wake up and realize that it was due to the same racist mentality of the Nazis that Jews were persecuted. From that horrific experience, we as Jews MUST become MORE TOLERANT, MORE JUST AND MORE DEVOTED TO UPHOLDING EQUALITY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL PEOPLE. Whoever these people are who want racist segregation are fools and not acting as true representatives of the Jewish faith.

    Reply
    • August 24, 2013 at 9:15 pm
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      That is a good point. Their are several types of Jews for example many prominent early Jesuits had Jewish heritage. The list includes Juan Alfonso de Polanco, the secretary and ghostwriter of the order’s founder, as well as the second Superior General, Diego Lainez. Jesuits are bound by oath not to seek higher office in the Roman Catholic Church, and now one of them has been elected to its highest office: Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Christ, Pontifex Maximus.
      Pope Francis, the first Jesuit to become pope, not only represents a paradox for the papacy, but also the larger history of the Society of Jesus, as the Jesuits are formally known.

      Reply
  • August 24, 2013 at 10:43 am
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    I am very disturbed reading this article. Please note that black Jewish children from Ethiopia are going to the regular school. The is absolutely no room for racism in the world and certainly Israelis do not deserve to be able to show it.

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    • August 24, 2013 at 9:24 pm
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      Thank you for this information. I was taught that it is the parents responsibility to teach their children. Now days so many people are to burdened and thus allow the school to become the children main source of education. We as parents have to do more so this will not harm our children.

      Reply
  • August 27, 2013 at 9:36 pm
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    I am very sad to hear this when in the USA we are being ask to support the jewish people.i hear a double standerd here I thought the JEWISH people were a good and decent people a people of GOD I AM A BLACK MAN IN THE USA WE HAVE TOO MUCH OF THAT RIGHT HERE I AM PRAYING FOR YOU ALL.

    Reply
  • August 27, 2013 at 9:36 pm
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    I am very sad to hear this when in the USA we are being ask to support the jewish people.i hear a double standerd here I thought the JEWISH people were a good and decent people a people of GOD I AM A BLACK MAN IN THE USA WE HAVE TOO MUCH OF THAT RIGHT HERE I AM PRAYING FOR YOU ALL.

    Reply
  • August 27, 2013 at 10:59 pm
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    We do have a responsibility to teach our own children their culture, their spirituality, their way of life. If u leave it up to others then don’t be surprised at what they are learning. There is nothing wrong with being segregated it teaches u appreciation and love for you and your race. You have to know who you r first and then u can incorporate learning about others. Educations goal should be for a people to solve the problems that they are up against for the survival of that race.

    Reply
  • August 28, 2013 at 8:50 am
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    I never believe what I read from the media. I research for myself before I pass judgement. The media should never be trusted for reporting the entire truth.

    Reply
  • August 29, 2013 at 5:10 am
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    hi ,

    iwish the world would belive that Israely people want peace !!!!!

    love to all,
    Dvora.

    Reply
  • October 9, 2013 at 3:29 am
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    This behavior in Israel should not be surprising! The people who carved Israel out of Palestinian land were and are of European origin and descent! Like other Europeans who left Europe and encountered people of color, they brought their white racism with them regardless of their religious beliefs and practices. More often than not, those religious beliefs were used to justify and rationalize their mistreatment of the indigenous people of color they encountered. The early Arabs in Israel weren’t treated any better! The Europeans who ‘settled’ in Australia, Africa and the Americas all brought with them their white supremacy ideology and released it on the indigenous peoples! They were those Israelis who objected to the African air lift of the 80’s that resulted in the Afro Israeli population of today! There were stories and reports even back then of the racism the newly arrived Africans faced! The doctrine of white supremacy is endemic in the historic and collective European mind-set; wherever they go, they bring the ideology of white supremacy with them! Israel may be geographically in the so-called ‘middle east’ but culturally, historically and psychologically, Israel is a European country and white racism is unfortunately a ‘staple’ in the country’s collective being!

    Reply
  • October 16, 2013 at 10:44 am
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    Why are they illegal immigrants? Why not deal with the adults immigration issues? Why do they feel tiny children that cannot express verbally if they feel they are being taken for a ride? Why do I see them asking for money to relocate them to Israel from the rural places in the Sudan and other places? What do they do with their lands once they relocate them? Why prepare the children why not the adults? these are the questions we are all too familiar of how supposedly good intention go way wrong. I would just monitor this situation for however long it takes.

    Reply
  • January 31, 2014 at 3:43 pm
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    In Exodus, when Moses led his people out of Egypt out of bondage, they were Hebrews. Half way out of the Exodus they became Israelites, and when they finally got to the Promise Land they were Jews.

    …..What a Miraculous Transformation?

    Reply
  • October 18, 2014 at 6:10 am
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    Apartheid all over again! Disgusting!

    Reply

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