Israeli Religious Schools Ordered to Bar Contact Between Arabs, Jews

Israeli religious schools were instructed by the religious education division of the Ministry of Education to refrain from conducting social meetings between Jews and Arabs because of concern that they will lead to intermarriage.

Yaacov Hadani, religious education director explained today that “the purpose of the instruction was to avoid a situation which would contribute to assimilation and mixed marriages between Jews and Arabs.” While the Education Ministry declared earlier that it would stress studies of democratic values and Jewish-Arab understanding, Hadani claimed that there was no conflict between his division’s instructions and the general guidelines of the Ministry.

“The fact is that 80 percent of mixed marriages in Israel are in the mixed cities, like Ramla, Nazareth and Haifa,” Hadani stated. He told Voice of Israel Radio that he would have welcomed similar instructions in other countries limiting the social contacts between the local non-Jewish youth and the Jewish youth because this would have limited the growing trends of assimilation among Diaspora Jewry. “We are losing 1,000 Jews a day in the Diaspora,” Hadani said.

According to Hadani, Religious education would devote special attention to studies which “would stress the dignity of man, of whatever race or religion, and on the need to maintain mutual respect between the peoples.”

SAYS NAVON SUPPORTS DIRECTIVE

Hadani asserted that he had the full backing of Education Minister Yitzhak Navon, and despite the ban on meetings between Arab and Jewish youths, he was maintaining the ministry’s directive to educate toward coexistence. He also said that religious elements among the minorities encouraged the same trend, since they too, were concerned about an increasing number of mixed marriages.

“Even in some of our schools we have total separation between boys and girls,” he said. “Does that mean that we are teaching our young men and women to hate each other?”

But Arab Knesseter Toufik Toubi of the Communist Hadash list sent a cable of protest to Navon, asking him to prevent the circulation of the new instructions, claiming that “preventing meetings between Jews and Arabs was inhuman.”

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