'Entrance Not Permitted to Minorities': Jerusalem City Hall's Discriminatory Regulations to Kindergartens

The Reform movement in Israel's advocacy arm is demanding that the city change the instructions it distributed, which violate the law

Illustration: A kindergarten in Israel.
Doron Sahar

The Israel Reform movement's anti-racism organization is demanding the Jerusalem Municipality immediately cancel instructions ordering kindergarten teachers and support staff deny entry to people belonging to minority groups.

The instructions, published by the emergency and security department of the Jerusalem municipality and distributed to the city's kindergartens and pre-schools, order that "outsiders many not enter kindergarten premises," adding that "as a rule, entrance is not permitted to minority groups."

According to the instructions, if minority groups want to enter the school, "the local security officer must be notified." In Israel, the Hebrew term "minority groups" usually refers to Arabs and other non-Jews.

In its appeal, the Racism Crisis Center, operated by the Israel Religious Action Center - the advocacy arm of the Reform movement in Israel - said that the municipality instructions to comprehensively prohibit outsiders and non-Jewish minorities from entering kindergartens harm their right to human dignity and equality, and therefore is wrong, illegal and forbidden.

"Arabs in Israel are viewed as dangerous as it is, even in the absence of any real and specific indication that they pose a potential threat. As a result, they become immediate suspects, and are targeted, more than any other sector, due to alleged security reasons which are based on religious and ethnic stereotypes," the letter states.

The appeal adds that "protecting the security of kindergarten children and personnel is of the utmost importance. However, the security considerations, as important and worthy as they may be, don't justify the gross discrimination against non-Jews. We request that the municipality reexamine the matter and retract any instruction that discriminates against minorities."

The Jerusalem municipality said in response that "security procedures for educational facilities are set by the Israel Police and the Education Ministry. The Jerusalem municipality operates in accordance with those procedures. The instructions you are referring to were distributed a year and a half ago. We are grateful for the attention paid to the manner the instruction was written and we will act to fix it soon."

Arab Member of Knesset Aida Touma-Sliman tweeted in response, "Minority groups, even if they are citizens and residents of the country, are seen as foreigners and dangerous by default … What else awaits us if that racist [MK Bezalel] Smotrich is appointed as head of the education ministry?" - referring to far-right, newly reelected Knesset member, who is said to likely be the next education minister