After Adalah legal action, Israeli regional council lets Palestinian Arab girl attend kindergarten in neighboring kibbutz

Adalah said Israeli council’s move to block enrollment of three-year-old girl from Arab al-Aramshe, a village on Israel-Lebanon border, violated her legal right to education and raised suspicion of ethnicity-based discrimination.

Adalah The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel took legal action in January on behalf of a family from a small Arab village on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, compelling Israeli authorities to allow them to enroll their daughter in a kindergarten located in a neighboring kibbutz.


Arab al-Aramshe (Photo: Mati Milstein)


On 26 January 2021, Adalah Attorney Wesam Sharaf wrote a letter to Israel’s Education Ministry and the Mate Asher Regional Council demanding they allow the three-year-old girl from Arab al-Aramshe to attend kindergarten in Kibbutz Adamit, located adjacent to their hometown.


Adalah took legal action on behalf of the family after their repeated requests to enroll their daughter – dating back to August 2020 – fell on deaf ears.


Seeking to enroll their daughter in the Kibbutz Adamit kindergarten, the girl’s parents explained that her two older brothers had attended the kindergarten, were now enrolled in an area Hebrew-language school, and that they wanted to integrate their daughter into the same educational framework.


However, the Mate Asher Regional Council’s education department vehemently refused to allow the girl’s enrollment on the grounds that she should attend a kindergarten in her own community.


The Israeli regional council also claimed that allowing the girl to attend the kibbutz kindergarten “harms education in Arab al-Aramshe … and we cannot lend a hand to this.”


According to the council, allowing children from Arab-al-Aramshe to enroll in schools outside the village would result in a drop in the number of students in Arab schools and a parallel drop in their educational standards.


In their initial appeals to the regional council, the girl’s parents noted that other Arab families has been permitted to enroll their children in schools outside their home community – but only when the families were seeking to enroll their children in other Arab schools.


Adalah argued in its letter that there existed no legal basis for the regional council to deny the family’s request, since the administrative division into educational registration areas does not apply to kindergartens.


In addition, the response received from the council’s education department indicated that the decision was arbitrary and even raised suspicion of ethnicity-based discrimination. Shlomit Elad, director of the Mate Asher Regional Council’s education department wrote:


“There are other [school] registration areas in the country for you, for other families from Aramshe, and for all of the country’s residents. You live in al-Aramshe and have family there. We can help you with the adjustment to the kindergarten.”


In his letter, Adalah Attorney Wesam Sharaf also stressed that the council’s refusal to allow the girl to attend kindergarten in Kibbutz Adamit also constituted a violation of provisions of Israel’s Education Law, which stipulates the right of parents to enroll their children in educational institutions of their choice. The denial of this this right likewise constitutes a violation of the right to education and dignity.


The Mate Asher Regional Council responded to Adalah on 2 February 2021, reiterating virtually all its previous claims, refusing the family's request to enroll their daughter in the kindergarten, and even warning that her parents were breaking the law.


Nevertheless, just six days later, the Education Ministry’s northern district office announced that the local authority had authorized the girl’s enrollment in the Kibbutz Adamit kindergarten.


Adalah Attorney Wesam Sharaf commented:


“It’s unfortunate that the family – and particularly this young kindergarten child – were forced to ensure an unnecessary campaign of abuse that ended in the very same arbitrary manner in which it began. Israel’s Mate Asher Regional Council intentionally sought to block an Arab family from enrolling their daughter in the Hebrew-language educational framework of their choice. This attempt to impose racist segregation is unacceptable.”


CLICK HERE to read the letter [Hebrew]