Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday denounced as "racist" an act of segregation between Jewish and Arab school children at the Superland amusement park near Tel Aviv.
He also condemned recent vandalism against Palestinian property in the West Bank, apparently carried out by right-wing activists. In the latest of such incidents, police on Friday found Palestinian-owned vehicles vandalized and graffiti sprayed on walls in various areas of the West Bank and at The Church of the Dormition in Jerusalem.
"I wish to condemn two phenomena that we have witnessed recently: Racism against Israeli Arabs and acts of hooliganism against Palestinians, without any provocation or justification," Netanyahutold his cabinet in Jerusalem.
"We strongly reject these phenomena and will act with all legal means at our disposal to stop them," he said.
The Superland amusement park said Thursday it would reexamine its policy of renting out the park on separate days to Jewish and Arab schools, following the storm that ensued, but added that it had agreed to the separation at the request of the schools themselves.
The story emerged early last week when Khaled Shakra, who teaches seventh grade at the Ajial school in Jaffa, called Superland to book tickets for his class to have an end- of-term fun day. He said a Superland representative offered him three options, on June 17, 18 or 19.
He asked to reserve 25 spaces for his students on June 18. But when he was asked to provide the school's details and the representative understood that he taught at an Arab school, he was put on hold. Another representative got on the line and told him that the dates he had discussed minutes before were not available.
A few minutes later he called and introduced himself as Eyal, who was enquiring on behalf of a Jewish organization. The Superland representative offered him the same dates that only a moment before had suddenly become unavailable.
“In June, many different schools want to conduct end-of-year events at Superland. The management of Superland had received requests, from Jewish and Arab schools alike, to conduct these events on separate days,” the Rishon Letzion amusement park said, in a statement. “Only yesterday, for example, two reservations were received from Arab schools that had requested that the event would be for Arab schools only, with no schools from the Jewish sector. Similar requests have come from the Jewish sector.”
According to the park’s management, “These requests are due to the fact that at issue are high school and junior high school pupils, coming for end-of-year group events, that are liable to lead to tension and violence between the different groups of pupils from the different sectors. This is an amusement park and there is special importance to preserving order and preventing violent incidents in the park. As a result, Superland’s management took the requests it received into consideration, and during June 2013 set aside a few separate days for schools from different sectors.”
However, following the public criticism, the management said it would reconsider this policy. “The Superland management is very sensitive to the desires and feelings of all its patrons. As a result, during the next few days we will reevaluate the decision to accommodate the schools’ requests to have separate days.”
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