Adalah Demands an End to the Shin Bet’s Involvement in the Selection of Arab Educators


On 6 December 2001, Adalah Staff Attorney Marwan Dalal sent a letter to the Minister of Education, Limor Livnat, demanding an end to the involvement of the General Security Services (GSS or “Shin Bet”) in the Arab education system in Israel. A Shin Bet officer works in the Ministry of Education and reviews the employment applications of all Arab educators for Arab schools. The Shin Bet’s active participation in the Arab education system in Israel began during the Military Administration, applied only to Palestinian citizens of Israel from 1948 to 1966. Although military rule ended in 1966, the Shin Bet’s participation in the Ministry of Education continues. All teachers, principals and supervisors appointed to Arab schools still require the approval of Shin Bet officer, Mr. Yitzhak Cohen. Adalah demands that the Ministry of Education terminate the involvement of the Shin Bet and the employment of Mr. Cohen.


The government of Israel stated in its 1997 report to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination that it had abolished the Shin Bet’s intervention in the Ministry of Education. However, in an interview with Ha’aretz on 14 April 2000, the retiring legal counselor of the Shin Bet confirmed that the office remains open and necessary. Further, an article by Relly Sa’ar in the 6 December 2001 issue of Ha’aretz confirmed that the Shin Bet continues to monitor the Arab education system.


In its letter, Adalah argued that the intervention of the Shin Bet in the selection of educators and administrative officials reflects gross discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel as it only affects the Arab education system; staff appointments to the Jewish education system are exempt. Yet, even if the Shin Bet investigated appointments to the Jewish as well as the Arab education systems, their very presence as a security service in a non-security related ministry would raise legal difficulties. The involvement of the Shin Bet in the Ministry of Education is illegal as this exceeds the purpose of the Ministry of Education. Furthermore, Mr. Cohen applies discriminatory and inappropriate considerations of a political nature to disqualify candidates and refuses to statespecific reasons for which they were denied positions. Adalah believes that educators and administrative officials should be judged solely on their professional qualifications, not their political affiliations.