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Israel: Parents object to appointment of Palestinian teacher at school

Parents have hired a lawyer to counter the school's decision to hire a Palestinian citizen of Israel as a second-grade teacher
Israeli children undergo Covid-19 antibody testing in the coastal city of Netanya before the start of the new school year on 22 August 2021 (AFP)

Jewish-Israeli parents at an elementary school north of Tel Aviv are taking action against the school administration's decision to select a Palestinian citizen of Israel to teach a second-grade class.

Parents of students at Nof Yam School in the town of Herzliya have hired a lawyer to contest the school’s decision, as well as launching a petition objecting to the hiring of the Palestinian teacher. 

According to Israel's Channel 12, which reported the incident this week, one of the parents said that they had “no problem” with a Palestinian citizen of Israel teaching an English or a maths class.

“But as an educator [for younger children], there is a problem,” the parent said, adding that an “educator is supposed to instill students with a love of Israel, of the homeland, the holidays, the symbols, memorial days".

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"An Arab educator cannot provide all of that," the parent added - using the term commonly used in Israel to refer to Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Channel 12 meanwhile reported that messages sent between parents included statements such as "an Arab teacher cannot educate”, or calling the teacher's appointment "a crazy compromise".

However, Nicol Raidman, an Israeli media figure whose son attends Nof Yam school in the upmarket neighbourhood of Herzliya Pituah, called the parents’ objections “racist”.

“A good teacher should not be judged on their years of experience, their religion, ethnicity or political views,” Raidman wrote on Instagram, “but on their ability to enter the hearts of children and leave behind a ray of light.”

She told Channel 12 on Monday that she was “not interested in taking any part in this racist discourse”.

“It's an unnecessary discourse with murky opinions for 2021. I wish her lots and lots of success, and my son is very excited to meet her and return to school,” she said. 

Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up around 20 percent of the country’s population, have long expressed grievances over discrimination in employment, housing, infrastructure and policing, in addition to pervasive racist rhetoric in Israel.

They face a plethora of discriminatory laws, including the 2018 nation-state law, which gives Jews supremacy over all non-Jewish Israeli citizens.