A new kindergarten in Hatikva neighborhood in Tel Aviv has declared that it will have at least one classroom that will not accept foreign workers' children, municipality sources said. The move is unprecedented in Israel.
Residents were pleased, as was Gal Sharabi, chairman of the neighborhood committee. "The kindergarten will be intended for the veteran residents of the neighborhood," he said.
Hatikva neighborhood, in southern Tel Aviv, has become famous for its ire against migrants who have taken up residence in the city.
Over the past few years, residents have been pressing the city council to keep foreign children out of kindergartens, claiming they lower the level of teaching. They also claim the kids carry a risk of disease.
"We are extremely pleased with this decision. The foreign workers have a language problem and this makes studying difficult and keeps our kids from progressing," said a neighborhood mother. "This makes the gaps between children of the north and south (of Tel Aviv) even greater."
The mother added that the request has nothing to do with racism. "We love them and learn with them in elementary school, and we've been living in peace for years… All we ask is that our children not be harmed and for the gaps (between north and south) not to be perpetuated," she explained.
A neighborhood father also rejected allegations of racism: "Only the children of southern Tel Aviv are forced to study with migrant kids. Everyone knows it's problematic, that there is a risk of disease because they were not inoculated in Israel, but when we protest they call it racism," he said.
"I feel that the municipality's decision is a victory in the battle we've been waging in the past few years. Even they understand that this is a problem."
Earlier this year the parents went on strike, refusing to send their children to kindergartens that accept migrant kids. Hayarden Elementary School, where 90% of students are migrants, has been boycotted by many of the neighborhood's parents.
Three years ago Tel Aviv Municipality made a half-hearted attempt at spreading the kids throughout schools in the city, but the number of children who travel to northern Tel Aviv every day is miniscule.
The municipality responded officially to the report by stating that placement of children in kindergartens has not yet been completed for next year, but senior officials say at least two local kindergartens will be set aside to accept only kids of Israeli descent.