Israeli Christian Schools Protest to Demand the Same Level of Government Funding Given to Ultra-Orthodox Jewish School Networks

Christian Scouts lead the rallying cry for equality during a demonstration demanding higher government funding for Israel’s Christian schools on September 6, 2015. Religion News Service photo by Michele Chabin
Christian Scouts lead the rallying cry for equality during a demonstration demanding higher government funding for Israel’s Christian schools on September 6, 2015. Religion News Service photo by Michele Chabin

Israel’s 47 Christian schools are entering the second week of an open-ended strike to protest ongoing cuts in government allocations, which they attribute to government discrimination against minority religious groups.

The schools, 40 of them Catholic, teach 33,000 Christian and Muslim Arab students in central and northern Israel.

Officials from various Christian denominations called the strike on Aug. 31, after nearly two years of negotiations with the Ministry of Education failed to convince the government to reinstate the funding it has withdrawn from the country’s semi-private schools during the past six years.

That funding once covered up to 75 percent of the schools’ operating costs. Today that number has dropped to 29 percent, according to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

On Sunday (Sept. 6) thousands of parents, students and teachers demonstrated opposite the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem to demand the same level of funding the government provides to two ultra-Orthodox Jewish school networks that, like the Christian schools, are not part of the public school system.

On Monday, 450,000 Arab students in non-Christian public schools held a one-day solidarity strike.

Israel’s Jewish schools are backed by ultra-Orthodox political parties in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s sliver-thin coalition government. Without the parties’ support, the government would fall, resulting in new elections.

Our children are Israeli and should have the same rights,” said the Rev. Abdel Masih, general director of Catholic Schools in Israel.

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SOURCE: Religion News Service
Michele Chabin