Ethiopian-Israeli Parents Charge Racism at Day Camp

Dispute divides two Rehovot neighborhoods. The Havayot Rehovot network, which operates the community center, denies that any racism was involved.

Yarden Skop
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Children from Ethiopian families at play.
Children from Ethiopian families at play. Credit: Nir Keidar
Yarden Skop
Yarden Skop

Parents in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood of Rehovot are protesting the separation of local children, most of them of Ethiopian origin, from the children of another neighborhood, Rehovot Hatze’ira, in the day camp of one of the area’s community centers.

According to the Kiryat Moshe parents, the separation was implemented at the behest of the parents of the other, mostly white neighborhood. The parents are angry that Rehovot Hatze’ira parents are utilizing the services of the Kiryat Moshe community center while refusing to let their children mix with the neighborhood children. They say that last year, despite pressure from the newer neighborhood’s parents, the community center had mixed groups in the day camp.

“There’s value in having children from a different neighborhood, who are mostly white, getting to know children from our neighborhood, who are mostly of Ethiopian origin,” said one Kiryat Moshe parent. “There’s no reason for this separation, even if it’s not based on racism.”

The Havayot Rehovot network, which operates the community center, denies that any racism was involved. The network said that while the children from Kiryat Moshe have their day camp in their own preschools, as is the case in all the country’s preschools, the Rehovot Hatze’ira children, due to logistical constraints, had to be moved to the community center for day camp.

“To maintain a familiar environment and educational continuity, and in consultation with education officials, it was decided that children from the same preschools should continue together in day camp,” the network said. “The day camp placement was done based on the preschool each child attended, and there is no basis to the claim of separation based on origin. Proof of this is that in the preschools themselves there are children of different origins.”

The network said the community center did not differentiate in any way between the children, other than to give discounts to parents whose individual circumstances call for it.

The network added, “The Havayot network is attentive to public requests and responds with a social and multicultural outlook. Therefore, next year we will examine the feasibility of creating one integrated complex for the children of the two neighborhoods for summer activities.”

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