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Idan Gadot
Photo: Gilad Kavalerchik
Parents outside the kindergarten in Holon blocking entrance of Arab caregivers

Mixed Jewish-Arab education may pave way for coexistence

Opinion: In 2022, Israel is still a state that divides its public into two peoples, and the Education Ministry would do good to integrate Arab teachers into predominantly Jewish education facilities

Idan Gadot |
Published: 09.16.22, 23:25
I'm a parent of two, and my kids go to a mixed kindergarten, where there is a Jewish kindergarten teacher as well as an Arab one.
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  • In the kindergarten, the sweet Jewish and Arab children play, eat, and sleep together. I find it enchanting, and it fills me with faith that there is still hope for a different future in Israel.
    3 View gallery
    ההורים מחוץ לגן
    ההורים מחוץ לגן
    Parents outside the kindergarten in Holon blocking entrance of Arab caregivers
    (Photo: Nadav Aves)
    And no, it doesn't mean Muhammad will greet the Shabbat or Shia will be in charge of the Eid al-Fitr meal. The kids will just learn about each other's holidays, culture, and language.
    The kids even celebrate their similarities, just like children around the world who see each other first and foremost as human beings. Something, we as a nation, have long forgotten.
    In general, the worn-out phrase that "parents learn from their children" is very true in this case. Thanks to our kindergarten, we the parents, meet each other every day. We talk and get to know each other without asking for an ID or a security check.
    The reason I'm writing this is that earlier this week dozens of parents blocked the entrance to three new caregivers at a preschool in Holon.
    3 View gallery
    הפגנת ההורים בגן נעמ''ת, חולון
    הפגנת ההורים בגן נעמ''ת, חולון
    Parents outside the kindergarten in Holon holding protest signs
    (Photo: Shaul Golan)
    Not because the caregivers were ex-convicts or suspected of abuse, God forbid! Their only crime was that they were Arab.
    The east Jerusalem women were hired as part of a plan to integrate them into Israeli society. Instead, we got a reminder of what our children's education system in Israel looks like in 2022 - racial segregation, severe racism, and a complete lack of familiarity between Jews and Arabs.
    The parents' protest ended with a distress call from the kindergarten staff, and the new caregivers were evacuated, later announcing they had resigned.
    For me, as a father to children who go to a mixed kindergarten, it was one of the most painful and heartbreaking moments I have experienced in recent times.
    In today's Israel, it is a crime or at least an insult, to wear a veil and speak Hebrew only as a second language. That's why the parents' reaction, though shocking, shouldn't be surprising.
    3 View gallery
    ההורים מחוץ לגן
    ההורים מחוץ לגן
    Parents outside the kindergarten in Holon
    (Photo: Nadav Aves)
    As the November 1 elections approach, we can see that any political party that supports this type of segregation is doing well in the surveys. The only thing parents who were behind the protest against the caregivers hear from politicians in the media - is how Arabs hate Jews more than they love their children. So, how can they allow "these people" to take care of their children?
    In one of the videos released from the protest outside the daycare, one of the fathers is heard saying he is not a racist, he just wants his kids to receive the best education possible. I agree with him. Every parent wants what is best for his children. Thus, teaching values of acceptance of "the other," and learning foreign languages and cultures are the only way to fight racism and break stereotypes.
    The Education Ministry would do good to require every educational institution to integrate Arab teachers into predominantly Jewish education facilities, and vice versa. Only through an encounter with a situation a little different from what we have been accustomed to - we could see a real change and raise a generation that looks at others as human beings - even if they have an accent.
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