Israeli Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar recently announced the goals of his ministry: appropriate secondary education funds in relation to the percentage of high school students whom go on to enlist in the IDF.
Due to the fact that Israel’s 1.3 million Arab citizens are not forced by law to serve in the Israeli military and the fact that they are naturally opposed to the Israeli occupation of fellow Palestinians, very few Arabs enlist in the IDF.
Although, in theory, Ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools, whom also send few students into the IDF, will lose funding; Israeli-Arabs consider the stated objective to be targeting their already discriminated against community.
Israel’s rightist governing coalition encompasses the far-right Israel Is Our Home party. The party, led by current Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, rallied in the last election on a campaign platform that stroked fifth-column-esque fears about Israel’s Arab citizens. The party advocates loyal oaths under threat of citizenship lose for Israel’s 1.3 million Arab citizens (“No loyalty, no citizenship.”), drawing Arab towns out of Israel’s boundaries, and limiting discussion on the forcible eviction of 800,000 Palestinians in 1948. The latter objective was partial achieved in compromise legislation that prohibited government funds going to institutions that discuss the eviction, which Palestinians call the Nakba.
The coalition is led by Likud, the preeminent rightist faction, whose own members have been sounding fears against Israel’s Arabs. Minister Sa’ar is a Likud MK.
Israeli-Arabs see the new educational rules to be part of an escalated campaign against the community in an effort to further sideline Arabs in the Jewish state.
“We categorically oppose the new model suggesting schools would be financially rewarded according to the number of students who enlist in the military or National Service,” stated Dr. Hala Espanioly, president of Higher Arab Monitoring Committee’s educational board.
He added, “You cannot demand Israeli Arabs join the IDF in the current situation in Israel. Some of the criteria suggested are inconsiderate of us. Since when is military service a standard in education? These are not pedagogical considerations, but political ones.”
Israeli-Arab MK Talab el-Sana reproached the Education Minister by stated that schools “are not Likud branches.” And while he “respect[s] the education minister,” Israeli “schools are not political brainwashing factories.”
The Arab Chairmen of the far-left Hadash party, Mohammed Barakeh, stated that “the education minister is jumping on the militaristic, racist bandwagon for nothing but political gain. Sa’ar should address dropout rates and the fact that there aren’t enough classrooms, instead of acting like chief education officer.”
The critics of the new policy are not exclusively Arabs. Former Education Minister Yuli Tamir added his voiced by claiming that “the Netanyahu-Lieberman government continues to discriminate against all minorities in Israeli society.” And that such a scheme ” will only widen the gaps between Jewish and Arab schools.” Arab schools in Israel already receive less funding than their Jewish counterparts.
In a separate though equally related note, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman recently announced that his ministry will only employ former IDF troops.