Tel Aviv Claimed It Wasn’t Segregating Foreign Kids at School. This Document Proves Otherwise

Before reissuing the document, dozens of schools were denoted for ‘the foreign community’ in the field for type of school, alongside state schools, ultra-Orthodox schools and Arab schools

Lee Yaron
Lee Yaron
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The Jordan elementary school in south Tel Aviv's Hatikva neighborhood, December 2020.
The Jordan elementary school in south Tel Aviv's Hatikva neighborhood in December.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Lee Yaron
Lee Yaron

The Tel Aviv municipality has released a document on reopening schools in which some have been marked as serving “the foreign community” – that is, children of asylum seekers and migrant workers, most of whom live in the city’s south.

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This contradicts claims by city officials in response to a Haaretz investigation on the matter. In December, Haaretz found that 91.5 percent of children of asylum seekers attend schools with not one student who has Israeli parents, but the city argued that it has no separate schools for children of foreigners.

Following Haaretz’s query on this week’s document, which was released Wednesday, the city issued a new one omitting any reference to “the foreign community.” The municipality said the Education Ministry drew up the documents, but ministry officials denied this.

The spreadsheets published by the municipality ahead of the reopening of schools, following Israel’s third coronavirus lockdown, provide the names and addresses of schools and preschools, as well as the type of education they offer; for example, religious schools. The document also states each school’s neighborhood and status according to the “traffic light” plan for reopening.

Two students walking past a wall at the Bialik-Rogozin School in south Tel Aviv in December.Credit: Meged Gozani

Dozens of schools were denoted for “the foreign community” in the field for type of school, alongside state schools, ultra-Orthodox schools and Arab schools.

The data issued by the municipality corresponds with the findings of Haaretz’s investigation, which found that 2,228 of 2,433 children of asylum seekers in Tel Aviv elementary schools go to segregated schools that often aren’t the closest to their homes.

The city said it assigned schools only based on place of residence, but in recordings obtained by Haaretz, city officials admit they “built schools for the foreign community.”

Israeli law, which makes schooling compulsory for all children over 3 living in Israel for at least three months, regardless of their legal status, forbids discrimination in school registration based on nationality, ethnicity or legal status.

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