Superland in Hot Water Over Separate Jewish/Arab School Days
The Knesset Education Committee, chaired by MK Amram Mitzna (Hatnua), will hold a special hearing Monday on what Mitzna said was a “racist policy” at Israel's largest, popular amusement park, Superland, located in Rishon Lezion.
According to a teacher at at an Arab school in Jaffa, a group that he had planned to bring to the amusement park was told that the day they wanted to visit was a “Jews only” day, and that he needed to schedule the visit for a day that Arab youth were admitted, as the park reserved separate days for each group.
Speaking on Israel Radio, the teacher said that there had been no problem until he told park officials that he taught in a school in Jaffa, and that at that point he was given a “runaround”, until the true reason for the reluctance of park officials to take his reservation was revealed. He said that he had “felt very upset and depressed, as a teacher who believed in educating students on democratic principles and equality that such a thing could happen in our democratic society. This is not the first time I have encountered racism, but it is the first time I have seen it in a context like this".
In response, Superland denied any connection with racism. It issued a statement saying that it was open to the general public throughout the year, and that during the month of June it held special days for schools. “We have received requests from both Arab and Jewish schools that we hold separate days for students from each sector. The requests were made in order to ensure public order and to prevent violence and confrontations between groups that have occurred in the past. As a result it was decided this year to honor the requests of schools from both sectors and hold separate days for schools from each sector.”
Jewish patrons of Superland coming with their families have complained numerous times in past seasons of being intimidated by Arab youths, who start fights with Jewish youths, steal money from them, push ahead in line, and call out anti-Semitic slogans. There have been confrontations between student groups from Arab and Jewish schools in past seasons as well.
Mitzna called on Education Minister Shai Piron to ban visits by schools to the park until the matter could be clarified. “This behavior by Superland is a slap in the face to those seeking to lower the level of racism in Israeli society,” Mitzna said. “We will not allow this to pass unchallenged.”