Arab schoolgirls in Jerusalem
Arab schoolgirls in JerusalemIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Education Ministry official Dr. Tzvi Tzameret has caused a storm by suggesting that Arab schools in Israel do more to teach Hebrew, and criticizing Arab schools that teach exclusively in Arabic.

Arab sector schools that fail to teach Hebrew are “contributing to the next conflict,” Tzameret warned. They could cause a “linguistic clash,” he added.

The government must act to stop a recent trend which has seen the establishment of Arab colleges that teach entirely in Arabic, he said. Such institutions will graduate students who find it difficult to integrate into the Israeli workforce, he warned.

Tzameret serves as one of the Education Ministry's top pedagogical experts as head of the Pedagogical Secretariat that decides on educational policy. He is a respected, non controversial author, scholar and public figure who was head of Yad Ben Tzvi, an institute for research and study of Zionist history located in Jerusalem, for many years.

Members of the Arab community were angered by Tzameret's criticism. Aatef Moadi of the Supreme Monitoring Committee of Arabs in Israel called his statements “patronizing and dismissive,” and accused Tzameret of failing to discuss the issue with Arab educators before making public statements.

Jaafar Farah of the Arab group Mousawa, which is sponsored by the New Israel Fund, said: “Apparently, the Education Ministry's pedagogical branch thinks the Jewish ghetto is the best thing in the Middle East.”

MK Dr. Aryeh Eldad of the National Union suggested that Arab leaders like Moadi and Farah were unhappy with Tzameret's statements because they were true. Tzameret is correct in saying that Arab separatism is dangerous, and in suggesting Hebrew instruction as a solution, he said.

"Obviously, demands like these are likely to thwart their plans to turn Israel into a binational state,” Eldad said.