Human rights March Tel Aviv
Thousands of Israelis march for human rights in Tel Aviv, December 10, 2011.
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Emil Salman
Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar Photo by Emil Salman

The Education Ministry reprimanded the Arara High School and demanded clarifications after the school participated in a human rights march in Tel Aviv at the beginning of the month.

"The students carried signs against racism, house demolitions, etc., which violates the director general's circular [i.e. ministry regulations]," stated the letter sent to the school.

"This was a praiseworthy initiative by the students as part of their assignment in civics class," countered one of the school's teachers. "What better way to express civic involvement and internalize the material?"

A bus with students from the tenth, eleventh and twelfth grades went to the march, which was sponsored by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, on Friday three weeks ago, another teacher said. All the students had approval from their parents and all the students chose to participate, with the encouragement of the student council.

"It was a celebration of human rights," the teacher said. "There were students who said at the end of the march that this was one of the most important and significant days in their lives."

"A thousand civics classes couldn't give what that hour they spent there could," she added.

But in its letter to the school, the ministry objected to the fact that "the students participated in a demonstration in the framework of a civics lesson on the subject of human rights" and carried placards, saying this goes against ministry regulations. It therefore asked the ministry's regional supervisor and the school's supervisor to deal with the matter and report back to the ministry.

The signs were prepared by the students at their own initiative, said one of the school's senior staff members. "The signs were against racism, for peace, equality and social justice. Did anyone thereby say that the state is racist?"

In its response to the ministry, the school quoted Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar's message in honor of International Human Rights Day in November: "Your role as educators, who serve as guides for your students, is to teach them that alongside protecting and defending human rights, there is an expectation that they demonstrate involvement and personal responsibility," Sa'ar wrote then.

No comment had been received from either the ministry or ACRI as of press time on Tursday night.

Read this article in Hebrew