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Sari Nusseibeh, East Jerusalem
As Arab schools in East Jerusalem prepare to start the new academic year in early September, nearly seven hundred teachers employed by those schools will be unable to reach their classrooms. With the “security” wall around Jerusalem now reaching its completion, cutting off East Jerusalem from its natural Arab surroundings, and entry restrictions becoming more stringent, teachers who neither have Israeli IDs or special permits will no longer be able to reach their places of work. Many pupils living in those areas will also be prevented from being able to reach their schools.
Privately-run Arab schools in East Jerusalem provide an indispensable venue for the education of Arab pupils, as Israel’s government-supported school system in this area hardly covers 20% of education needs. If teachers are not allowed to reach the classrooms, more than eighteen thousand school-aged children will be unable to continue their education in some fifty schools in the area. The social and political implications of such an eventuality speak for themselves.
The Israeli Government has thus far processed and approved the applications of about a hundred teachers, mostly through a “selective” procedure discriminating between some schools and others. This discriminatory policy flies in the face of academic and religious freedom. All schools applying for permits for their teachers should be provided with those permits, without prejudicing real “security” considerations possibly affecting a specific individual.
The present crisis facing education in East Jerusalem is a test for what “the Wall” is about.Â In opposing the boycott to Israeli academic institutions our principle was that educational institutions should be allowed to flourish and discrimination to learning on political grounds be opposed. Today all those who uphold these principles have the opportunity for positive action. Your support is urgently needed to ensure that this Wall will not cause an education system to collapse.
Address your appeal to Israel’s Prime Minister and Israel’s Minister of Interior to ensure free access to East Jerusalem’s schools.
LET THE WALL NOT STAND IN THE FACE OF A CHILD’S EDUCATION.
Jerusalem/25th August 2005
Take a stand. Send your appeal to:
Prime Minister’s Office
Ministry of Interior Office