Christian schools in Israel go on strike against “discriminatory measures” by the government
Christian schools in Israel began a strike on September 1, the first day of the new school year. Having resorted to the extreme measure of suspending all classes, they intend to protest against the Jewish state, accusing it of discrimination. Official sources of the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem disclosed this, revealing the motives and various passages of the dispute that has long divided the Christian schools and the political authorities in Israel.
The reason for the protest was the Jewish state’s budget restrictions. Over several years, public contributions to Christian schools have declined by 45%, forcing institutions to increase school fees from parents, often on low incomes. According to Christian school administrators, such measures jeopardize the very existence of educational institutions related to the church and Christian communities in Israel.
The eight months of exhausting negotiations between the Committee representing Christian schools and the Israeli Education Ministry have not resulted in acceptable solutions. The Ministry insisted on reorganizing the Christian schools into public schools. The proposal was rejected because, according to the representatives of the Christian schools, it would lead to the cancellation of the initial fee and would deal “a blow to the presence of Christianity in the Holy Land.”
On May 27, Christian schools in Israel, which have about 30,000 students (only half of them Christians), organized an unprecedented demonstration to denounce discriminatory policies that make them feel targeted by the government. Before the failure of the negotiations, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin invited the representatives of the Christian schools and Education Minister Naftali Bennett to cooperate. The department of Catholic schools in Israel, which at first expressed a positive opinion of the president’s initiative, has now circulated a message to Fides. It says it is only a ploy “to stall for time” and “put an end to the protest.” According to the report, the strike will end only when the demands of the Christian schools are fully met.