The head of civics studies at the Education Ministry called on teachers to discuss "in the teachers lounge and the classroom" the importance of accepting others, in response to the rabbis' manifesto against renting or selling homes to non-Jews.
In a letter Thursday to civics teachers in the Jewish secular and state religious school systems, Arad Cohen wrote that the teachers should consider last week's manifesto when marking International Human Rights Day, which was December 10.
He called the manifesto "an event that is impossible to ignore."
Cohen said the manifesto was one of a growing number of expressions of racism and negativism over the past few months, and it reflected "an inability to hold serious and deep political discourse free of prejudice, stereotypes, racist statements and negating of the 'other,'" he wrote.
Cohen also said prejudice was not limited to a particular group of students. He said civics teachers are constantly dealing with students who denigrate others, be they ultra-Orthodox, Ethiopian immigrants, Arabs, homosexuals or foreign workers.
Arad said civics teachers had an obligation to society to "raise a generation free from racism and able to manage social tensions and disagreements in a way that respects Judaism and democracy."
The Education Ministry, in cooperation with the Association of Human Rights in Israel, published study materials on "political participation" ahead of Human Rights Day. Each school uses the material as it sees fit.
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