Israel's Education Ministry Includes anti-Nakba Clause in Tender

The requirements, which also require that school program operations declare that their content doesn’t include statements negating Israel’s existence as a Jewish and democratic state, have been challenged in court

Shira Kadari-Ovadia
Shira Kadari-Ovadia
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Students during a lesson in an Israeli school, in January.
Students during a lesson in an Israeli school, in January.Credit: Hadas Parush
Shira Kadari-Ovadia
Shira Kadari-Ovadia

The Education Ministry is requiring that outside administrators of educational programs brought into the schools declare that their presentations don’t challenge Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic state, portray Independence Day as a day of mourning or promote Holocaust denial.

The requirements in the declaration derive from a 2011 law that bars government funding for activities that promote such ideas. The day of mourning is a reference to Nakba Day, which Palestinians observe to mark the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people with the establishment of Israel in the War of Independence.

The terms appeared about two weeks ago in documents issued by the ministry as it seeks bids from a range of educational programs to be made available to schools next year. Principals will be able to select programs as part of a plan for educational and administrative flexibility being promoted by Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton.

Program operators that apply must meet a number of requirements, including the making of an additional declaration that their activity “will not include any outside individual whose goal or actions, including their statements, include content in conflict with the goals of the state education [system].”

The operators are required to sign a 12-part declaration that also includes a commitment that the activity does not encourage violence, incitement, calls to racism or support for anti-Israeli terrorism.

Adalah – the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel filed a court petition Wednesday challenging the requirements, saying they violate the right of Arab organizations to participate on an equal basis. Adalah cited the example of an organization in the Arab city of Nazareth that does programming to strengthen children’s emotional resilience and that has refrained from applying to participate in the ministry program due to these requirements.

The Education Ministry said in response that it “would not permit groups that deny the memory of the Holocaust or the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”

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