JERUSALEM (Aug. 13)
The Council for State Religious Education has partially yielded to the pressure of Education Minister Yitzhak Navon, and has decided to allow selective meetings between Jewish and Arab students.
The Council’s decision Sunday was the latest development in the controversy over an earlier directive by Yaacov Hadani, the director of the division of religious education in the Ministry of Education, banning such meetings on the grounds that they would lead to mixed marriages. Naven later instructed the division not to distribute this directive.
Under the Council’s new decision, only meetings between Jewish and Arab students of the same gender and in the upper classes will be allowed. They will be strictly educational, after thorough preparations acceptable to both Jewish and Arab educators.
The Council held a four-hour session in which views were exchanged with Navon. Council members repeated the fears about intermarriage expressed last week by Hadani.
Navon told the Council that the entire educational system must be involved in education for democracy. Though he respected the sensibilities of the Orthodox community, he said, he was not prepared to exclude the state religious education network from programs designed to enable Jews and Arabs to learn about each other.