Adalah petitions against the Education Ministry: Implementing the “Nakba Law” in state tenders is illegal

The petition, filed on behalf of the Al-Tufula Center, the Arab Mayors’ Committee, and the Follow-up Committee on Arab Education demands the cancellation of clauses requiring that educational programs will not mention the Nakba or deny the existence of Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state”

Today, 13 April 2022, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel filed a petition to the Jerusalem District Court on behalf of the National Committee of the Heads of Arab Localities (“the Arab Mayors Committee”), the Follow-up Committee on Arab Education, and the Al-Tufula Center, demanding the cancellation of clauses in a tender issued by the Education Ministry that applies the "Nakba Law" to providers of educational programs for schools. The tender is for the development of a database of approved providers of educational programs or activities to schools in Israel. According to the tender’s clauses, in order to receive approval from the Education Ministry and to be included in the database, the providers must declare that the content of their educational programs or the statements, actions or goals of any external entity included in it, will not “deny the existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state” or “mark Israel’s official Independence Day as a day of mourning.”

 

Administrative Appeal No. 26699-04-22, Al-Tufula Center, et. al. v.  The Ministry of Education (Jerusalem District Court)

 

CLICK HERE to read Adalah’s petition [Hebrew]

 

CLICK HERE to read Adalah’s letter to the Ministry - 11 April 2022  [Hebrew]

 

The Education Ministry published the tender on 7 March 2022, with the purpose of creating a database of external educational program providers to deliver specific activities or programs to schools in a variety of fields, including languages, culture, and the eradication of racism. Schools will only be permitted to select programs and activities from providers listed in the Ministry’s database, with funds allocated to the schools by the Ministry of Education for such purpose. In order to be considered for inclusion in the database, external providers are required to sign a declaration, including the abovementioned clauses. 

 

The petition, filed by Adalah Attorney Salam Irsheid, argues that the Education Ministry incorrectly applied the "Nakba Law" passed in 2011 to this tender.  The Nakba Law authorizes the Finance Minister to reduce state funding or support to an institution if it holds an activity that rejects the existence of Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state” or commemorates “Israel’s Independence Day or the day on which the state was established as a day of mourning.” The petition against the "Nakba Law", filed by Adalah and other organizations in May 2011, was rejected on the basis of the ripeness doctrine in Israeli constitutional law, with the Israeli Supreme Court in 2012 finding that the case was premature for decision, without addressing the merits of the arguments. The “Nakba Law” therefore is still subject to constitutional review. In their 2012 decision however, the justices noted that the “Nakba Law” raises complex issues of public importance.

 

The petitioners further argued that obligating providers to sign the declaration constituted a blatant violation of the freedom of expression of Arab groups and organizations wishing to participate in the tender, such as the Al-Tufula Center. The Al-Tufula Center provides educational programs in private schools in Nazareth and opted out of the tender because of the required declaration. Moreover, the petition stressed that these clauses stand to cause major harm to the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel in preserving their history, national identity, and collective memory. The clauses constitute a further attempt by the Israeli government to suppress Palestinian narratives, while silencing a discussion of immense public importance. These provisions are illegal as they violate the right of Arab students to an education that respects and recognizes their history, culture and heritage.

 

Due to the above, the petitioners demand that the clauses be cancelled and removed from the tender or, alternatively, that Arab groups and organizations are not be required to sign the declaration. The petition also requested that the district court issue an interim order suspending the implementation of the illegal clauses until the court delivers a decision.

 

Adalah commented:

 

“The Ministry of Education, by making the participation of educational providers in the tender conditional upon declaring that their programs or activities will not include non-Zionist content, prevents Arab organizations from being included in the database and providing programs to Arab schools. This move is yet another attempt by the Israeli authorities to silence Palestinian narratives and assert Jewish supremacy.”

 

The Follow-up Committee on Arab Education added:

 

“The condition for participation in the tender set by the Education Ministry prevents professional and human rights organizations representing the Palestinian minority in Israel from providing educational services. We believe that the failure to address issues of national identity, including Palestinian history and culture in Arab educational institutions, is one of the reasons for the crisis in Arab education. This measure is also due to political interests related to the policy of control and supervision, which contradict professional considerations and the essence of any real educational work. These conditions have turned Arab schools into soulless institutions that do not offer value-based education.”

 

 

Related Press Releases:

Adalah: Nakba Law Violates Rights of Arab Minority to Preserve its History and Culture 27/03/2011

Adalah and ACRI: Israeli High Court Ignored the Chilling Effect Already Caused by the "Nakba Law" 05/01/2012

Adalah to Education Minister and Knesset: Do Not Bar Nakba Commemoration at Israeli Universities 14/05/2012