Why Petah Tikva's Ethiopian Kids Are Like Shalit

Once again Israel's citizens learned a basic lexicographic lesson: a word is not a word.

What did you learn in school today, my darling young one? What did you learn on the first day of the new year? You learned a good many interesting important things, though none are surprising.

Powerful civics lessons were held in at least two places in Israel. The first lesson was in Petah Tikva, which was unintentionally devoted to the quality and credibility of leadership in Israel - local and national.

It was only two days ago that we were told "a compromise had been reached:" not one Ethiopian child anywhere in the city would not be enrolled in some school; even the three schools that are refusing to open their locked doors - to them, too, the gates of repentence would open.

But that was not the case, after all: dozens of children were left humiliated outside the fence, greatly disappointed. Some were not sent to the school they had been promised; some were sent, and sent away with all due respect.

They outdid themselves in that veteran city known as the "mother of villages": not only did they not take them in, they shamed them.

Once again Israel's children and its citizens learned a basic lexicographic lesson: a word is not a word, a promise is not a promise, an agreement is not an agreement. What is promised at night is revealed in the morning, in the light of day, as meaningless.

And what until Tuesday was a matter for public discourse - delving deep into the root of our national soul and consensus - from today is a matter for an committee of inquiry: who promised what, who broke faith; who cheated and who was cheated, and how children fell between the cracks, bereft of classroom, teacher and schoolmates.

Does Petah Tikva urgently need an outside committee to take over running it? Is the Education Ministry the one that needs constant and responsible oversight?