Racism in Petah Tikva: Preschools for Ethiopian Kids Only

Kindergartners' parents say a de facto segregation is preventing their children from improving their Hebrew.

Five municipal preschools and kindergartens in Petah Tikva have only Ethiopian children, Haaretz has learned.

The kindergartners' parents say the de facto segregation prevents their children from improving their Hebrew.

"Why did we bother to leave Ethiopia if our children are being separated from all the others? We can be isolated in Ethiopia as well. We're really living in a ghetto here," said one of the parents, Alfa Beza.

The parents blame both native Israelis and non-Ethiopian immigrants for taking their children out of the kindergartens, and the Petah Tikva municipality, which decides which children can register in which area.

But municipality sources insist nothing can be done.

"The kindergartens are in neighborhoods undergoing renewal, and sadly the government sends many, many new immigrants there," one of the sources said.

Education Ministry sources, in contrast, said action must be taken to halt the development of schools exclusively for Ethiopians.

"Successful absorption should be based on integration, not segregation," one source said.

Two of the preschools, for children between ages 3 and 5, are in the Amsiav neighborhood. The other three are in the Yoseftal neighborhood. Both neighborhoods have a large number of Ethiopian residents, who moved to Petah Tikva after two to three years at absorption centers.

A similar process occured at all five kindergartens: As the number of Ethiopian children increased, non-Ethiopian families moved their children into other institutions, usually private ones.

One of the kindergarten teachers told Haaretz that on September 1, as the school year opened, five non-Ethiopian children showed up.