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      Experts Weigh in on Theme Park Segregation

      Was Superland right or wrong to have separate days for Jewish and Arab schools? Rabbi, MK, ex-minister weigh in.
      By Maayana Miskin
      First Publish: 6/14/2013, 11:03 AM

      Theme park (illustrative)
      Theme park (illustrative)
      Israel news photo: Flash 90
      It was recently revealed that the Superland theme park had a practice of having Jewish schools and Arab schools visit on separate days. Managers argued that the practice was necessary to avoid violence and said that both Jewish and Arab teachers had asked for the separate days.
       
      Was Superland right or wrong in its policy of quiet separation? Arutz Sheva’s weekly magazine, B’Sheva, asked three public figures and two readers what they thought.
       
      Rabbi Yona Lavie directs the Haverim Makshivim (“Friends Listen”) youth hotline. He said:
      “The media outcry over Superland is likely to cover up the simple facts. First of all, the accusations of racism and discrimination are cheap demagoguery. Just as there are days just for Jews, so there are days just for Arabs. If a teacher from a Jewish school had called and asked to order tickets for a day set aside for Arabs, he would have been told there was no room.
       
      “Secondly, we have to differentiate between persecution and discrimination, and separation. After dozens of incidents of harassment and verbal and physical assault, they came to the conclusion that it is better to separate… for the benefit of the public, which comes to have fun, not to suffer.
       
      “As an aside, it is somewhat strange that a state that spent billions of shekels building a separation barrier along hundreds of kilometers is suddenly shocked by the ‘terrible phenomenon’ of separating the peoples.”
       
      Rabbi Lavie went on to note that Judaism teaches Jews to remain separate from other nations. All children must learn tolerance, he said, but in a formal way, not through a chance meeting that could end badly.
       
      “Tolerance toward those who are different, and respect and affection for every person created in G-d’s image, must be taught all year round – in the classroom, and even in organized meetings… Not as an aside during a fun trip to Superland.”
       
      MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud) said:
      “We’re always hearing cries bemoaning the racism against Israeli Arabs. You know what? Sometimes it’s true, like in every divided society, and we can’t deny that. 
      “But what happened in Superland was probably not racism. If Superland had decided not to allow Arabs to come in and to use the park, that would have been racism… [But here] the decision was to separate. The motive was concern, not racism.”
       
      Feiglin said that if Arab Members of Knesset are truly worried by racism, they should look at the situation on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, where Arabs can enter freely at almost all times, while Jews can enter for only one or two hours a day, and only after an extensive security check.
       
      “It isn’t fear of racism that motivates these Arab MKs,” he accused, adding, “I’ve never heard of a minority that gets so much, and complains so much.
       
      “There is violence and law-breaking in Arab society, and threats toward the Jewish population. For example, 67 percent of murders and 70 percent of attempted murders in Israel are carried out by Arabs… These are official government statistics… There is no racism here, but fear.”
       
      Professor Yuli Tamir, the head of Shenkar College and the former Education Minister, said:
      “This is unequivocally a disgusting act, that should not be allowed anywhere, and certainly not in the state of Israel. Any Israeli citizen, any person, has the right to enter a public place under the same conditions as anyone else, at any time. This is discrimination, and it should be taken seriously, even to the point of closing the park if necessary.
      “Even if the public itself asked for this separation, there is no room to allow it… It doesn’t matter at all if even the Arab public itself wanted this segregation, or if separation is easier for it, too. This isn’t a question of what people want, but of principle.
       
      “It’s true that every person can decide who to allow into his home, but at a public place the rules are different… No private store can hang out a sign saying ‘Jews only.’ It’s just like anti-Semitism against Jews. Then, they wrote at the entrance to all sorts of places, ‘No entry for Jews.’ The state of Israel of all countries must denounce this racism within it.
       
      “If it were up to me, I would never allow any place to discriminate between different people under any circumstances, because to me this is a question of universal values, which take precedence over individual freedoms.”
       
      Reader Bat-Sheva Tova Sabarnsky said:
      “Political views aside, the only way to keep both sides safe is to separate them. With all due respect to political correctness, every parent wants their child to come home healthy and well (unless they were sent out on jihad).”
       
      Reader Liora Bracha said:
      “There needs to be separation between Arabs and Jews at entertainment venues because each group, both Jews and Arabs, has its own needs and its own standards of behavior… There are public workplaces that already realized and internalized this, and so organize a separate event for each group.”