Jul 1, 2013

Law Proposal: Jewish and Arab students must meet

MK Issaouwi Frij (Meretz) has proposed a new law, with the encouragement of Minister of education Shai Piron.

Frij's law has been dubbed "l'Kiruv Levavot" - "Bringing Together", and it would obligate every student in the Israeli educational system to participate in at least 2 meetings, over the course of 12 years of education, between Jewish and Arab students.

The Minister of Education liked the idea so much that he thought this idea to be so important that he will be giving instructions to already put such meetings into place and have students meet at least once, for now. Frij, on the other hand, does not want this to be just like an annual trip, but it should be considered of extreme importance to hold such meetings. According to Frij, such meetings will lessen the hatred and discrimination between the sectors and will give us the ability to survive together and coexist..

A law proposal by Frij on the same issue was recently voted down by the coalition. That one was to dedicate an hour a week in the schools to teaching about discrimination.
(source: NRG)

I would say that this law only has a chance of passing if it really has the backing of the Minister of Education. This is a very significant proposal, that will require a lot of money from the government.

I think it is a good idea as a way of lessening discrimination. We suffer terribly from discrimination and stigma. Much of he problem of discrimination can be mitigated just by having more people from the two opposing communities meet each other.

On the other hand, there is a problem that such meetings and socializing so as to get to know each other can lead to relationships - not just social friendships, but also Jewish girls dating Arab boys and vice versa. Organizations like Yad l'Achim will not like this, and I imagine it will be fought by the haredi parties. in Shulchan Aruch we find rabbinic decrees to prevent such socializing between Jews and non-Jews. While these meetings don't sound quite like "socializing" but are formal meetings probably in a fairly controlled environment, it could lead to more.

I would suggest that perhaps it is even more important to mitigate the discrimination among various sectors of Jews. In a similar program we could have secular kids meet religious kids, Haredi and religious, haredi and secular, and the like. Perhaps such a similar program within the Jewish sector of the educational system could successfully lessen the hatred and conflict between sectors.

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  1. I think that this is an excellent idea - we need to increase forums where Jews and Arabs interact.

    I suggested this idea in a blog post 2 years ago:
    (sorry that the post is so long, scroll down to the section on education)

    Also, with regard to the fear of assimilation, the easy solution is to meet in single-gender environment (boys with boys, girls with girls). This would eliminate some of the protective behaviour that boys often display when the feel a need to defend girls from "their" group. It would also make the plan more acceptable to religious groups on both sides.

    I sincerely hope that the idea is approved, although not overly optimistic.

  2. The Gesher association already runs "Encounter Seminars" - an amazing program where religious and secular teens spend a weekend together (including Shabbat), talking about all the issues which divide and unite them.
    I wrote about it here.

  3. In a similar program we could have secular kids meet religious kids, Haredi and religious, haredi and secular, and the like.

    i did a program like that - it's called the IDF.


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