Just one day before the new school year, the Lod City Council decided to turn an Arab kindergarten for children with special needs into a segregated kindergarten meant only for children from religious Jewish families.
The Israeli decision was made without any consultation or prior notice.
The building was first used last year, to provide services for Arab children with special needs, especially since the city council is not providing them with the much-needed services it does for Jewish families in the country.
Just before the new school year started, the City Council sent a letter to the Arab families telling them that the kindergarten had been moved to “another place,’ and that the building will be used as a kindergarten only meant for children of religious Jewish families.
Since the beginning of the new school year, the families of the Arab children have been protesting in a tent they installed in front of the kindergarten.
“My child has been sitting at home for three days now, an Arab mother says. “They eventually told us to send him to the Zahra’ kindergarten; they just made the decision unilaterally, without asking the parents, without telling them what is going on.”
The Arabs in Lod are positive that the issue at hand is a direct discrimination against them, and pointed out a video published by a Lod City Council member representing the “Jewish Home Party,’ in which he said:
“I am pleased to announce the start of the new school year, here in the “New Ma’oz” kindergarten that we officially dedicated yesterday.” He said, “It is a Jewish kindergarten, in this Jewish neighborhood that was established seventeen years ago.”
Talking to Israeli Channel 2, an Arab parent said this move is an underground plan to turn Arab neighborhoods, again, into Jewish communities.
“This neighborhood, which they named Ramat Eshkol, is inhabited by both Jewish and Arab families” the parent said. “The Arabs are a majority in this neighborhood, but it seems they are planning to remove us, and turn it into a Jewish-only neighborhood.”
The new kindergarten, where the Arab children with special needs will be moved to, has been renovated. But, the families say it is not fit for children with special needs, and is far away from their homes, according to Channel 2.
“Arab children do not have a kindergarten in the neighborhood,” Arab member of the Lod City Council, Maha Naqeeb, said, “while Jewish families that don’t live in the neighborhood have a kindergarten for their children, here.”
The Lod City Council claims that the new building is compliant with all related standards.
Lod Mayor, Ya’ir Revivo, told Israel’s Channel 2 that “it was a technical reason that required moving the kindergarten for children with special needs to a new location designed for that.”
“It is meant to improve services provided to the children,” he claimed, “They are using the issue for political gains.”
The Arab families intend to continue their protests against the decision, as they feel it discriminates against them, and moves their special-needs children to an area which is far away from where they reside.
– The report was first published by Israeli TV Channel 2 in Hebrew; the Palestinian TV translated it into Arab, and the IMEMC separately conducted the English translation.