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Tel Aviv School now 97% Foreign

Israeli parents in southern Tel Aviv are frustrated as a local student body becomes 97% foreign workers, forcing their children to go elsewhere.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 7/8/2011, 11:46 AM / Last Update: 7/8/2011, 12:52 PM

Flash 90

The local elementary school in the Hatikva neighborhood, “HaYarden,” is now home to almost exclusively non-Jewis children of infiltrators and foreign workers. Israeli Jewish children are forced to leave their neighborhood in order to get the Israeli-Jiewsh traidition and Zionist oriented education that is the public school curriculum throughout the country, Tel Aviv City Council member Shlomo Maslawi related Thursday in an interview with Arutz Sheva's Hebrew-language news service.

Maslawi expressed protest on behalf of local Jewish Israeli parents, who have found that the school closest to their homes is no longer suitable for their children, who speak native Hebrew and would like a Jewish and Zionist education.

The parents have been abandoned to their own devices in their efforts to restore the local school's Israeli character, he reported. “The government and the city and Minister Eli Yishai all started this struggle with us, but media pressure silenced them,” he explained. “The state of Israel is not lifting a finger today, even Eli Yishai, who at first spoke out, has grown quiet.”

The current situation hurts local Israeli parents and children alike, Maslawi said. The parents are forced to travel out of their way in order to bring their children to and from school, he said, and the children find themselves outside their natural social circles, learning with children from other neighborhoods instead of forming bonds with their own neighbors.

The foreign non-Jewish children, who by next year will make up 97% of the school's 400 students, are the children of illegal entrants who crossed the Egyptian border into Israel, or of foreign workers, some legal and some who have remained in the country after their work permits expired. Thousands of non-Jewish foreign workers and illegal entrants have been allowed to remain in the country after arguing, with help from a massive Israeli media campaign, that their children are born in Israel and would suffer if they were forced to return to their home countries.

The city's policies are only making the situation worse, Maslawi said. “We have been fighting the city for two years with no success. I told the mayor, 'You're encouraging them, so they're going to keep coming here en masse.'”

City Responds
The Tel Aviv municipality said in response:
"Putting aside serious criticism of the government of Israel, which does nothing to close the borders and abandons residents to cope alone with the severe problems resulting from waves of illegal immigration, the city of Tel Aviv-Yafo sees itself as responsible to ensure the education and welfare of all children within the borders of the city. Primarily for moral and humanitarian reasons, and also to keep the children from being left on the streets, which could create even more severe problems.

"Together with this, and with sympathy for the true crisis facing residents of the area, the children of southern Tel Aviv have been given the opportunity to enroll in schools in the region other than HaYarden. In addition, in order that this not be done at the expense of local children, many resources have been invested in additional municipal services in these neighborhoods and in providing schools in the southern part of the city with enrichment programs, nutritious meals and a long school day. The burden has also been lessened by assigning some children of foreign workers and work-seekers to schools throughout the city, including in the northern and central neighborhoods."