Must every Arab flower be crushed?

More than 30 percent of Israel’s Arab MKs are graduates of Christian community schools, but the government seems determined to stop them flourishing.

By Oudeh Basharat | Haaretz | Jun. 1, 2015 |

Arab MKs Ayman Oudeh, Osama Saadia, Haneen Zoabi, Zouheir Bahloul, Yousef Jabareen, and Aida Touma-Suliman are all graduates of Christian community schools in Israel; more than 30 percent of Arab MKs are graduates of these schools. The alumni of these schools have similarly outstanding academic achievements, even though only 4 percent of all Arab pupils study in them. For some reason, the state’s leaders seem determined to crush these producers of Arab MKs and academics.

What are they thinking? That every Arab flower must be trampled upon? That every sign of culture must be smashed? That every successful school must be strangled? And then they complain that the Arabs don’t take responsibility for their own fate!

Honored sirs, release our fate so we can take it into our hands. What have we done to you to draw all this destructive energy? Who are the people sitting there who, in the name of the Jewish people, are planning how to slam the Arabs again and again, and are presumably having fun doing so? Aren’t they getting sick of this? Let them take a vacation! It will be good for them, and good for us Arabs as well.

Let me make it clear that these Christian schools are not run the way religious Jewish schools are. They teach all the subjects of the core curriculum and are open to all. Half the pupils who study there are Muslims, and these schools encourage meetings with Jewish children — in the belief that all are created in God’s image.

One could say that these schools are the icing on the cake. Some are the icing on the cake of Israeli schools in general. Have the powers that be decided that Prof. Hossam Haick, a brilliant scientist of national and international renown, will be the last of his type? Why undermine the Christian educational institutions?

The Arabs are familiar with the two faces of the West: its colonialist face and its humane one. They fought the former and embraced the latter. They embraced those who came to live with them, not to replace them. These people, the representatives of the Christian churches, came equipped with a love of man; they set up clinics, hospitals, orphanages and schools. They never anticipated being punished one day for the terrible crime of providing Arabs with an education.

Speaking of history, one of the first hospitals to be built in Palestine, when it was still under Turkish rule, was the English Mission Hospital. Jews and Arabs, from Beirut to Jerusalem, streamed to this hospital to be healed. Moreover, when the state was founded, in the days when there was a desperate shortage of classrooms and teachers, these institutions played a definitive role in Arab education.

Rather than being grateful and supportive, and perhaps even learning something from them, they are being beaten down. These Christian clergymen have never forced anyone to convert in order to receive services from them.

Now the Jewish state wants to make them part of the state school system; in other words, to intervene in their ongoing management in exchange for funding. Indeed, prepare to welcome the Shin Bet security service; prepare for the appointment of cronies by clan leaders. All this while ultra-Orthodox education is permitted its golden cage — without teaching core subjects, of course.

When the Education Ministry is asked to explain why Christian schools are being discriminated against compared to the Haredi ones, they respond, with childlike innocence, that those schools operate under a special law. If so, let them pass a similar law for Christian schools. Are special laws only good for the Jews?

Jesus taught that if someone slaps you, turn the other cheek. But after so many slaps from 1948 through today, our bodies are full of scars. Today, when our children’s education is at stake, we plead: Heavenly Father, do not abandon us!


Originally published at www.haaretz.com.