Categorized | Lurie_J_Zel, Middle East

Arab- Jewish school in Jerusalem combats violence

By J. Zel Lurie

J. Zel Lurie

J. Zel Lurie

DELRAY BEACH, Florida — There are 7 bilingual Jewish Arab schools in Israel, all of them with  an almost equal number of Jewish and Arab students, and all of them
under the aegis of the Ministry of Education.  Five of them are run by  Hand in Hand, one by the residents of Beersheba, and one is the pioneer  school which I built a quarter of a century ago in the Jewish Arab village of Neve Shalom/what al-Salam.

The largest school is the Max Rayne Hand in Hand school in Jerusalem.
Like many of the others, it has 2 co-principals, one Jewish and one  Arab.  I would like to share with my readers a statement by the 2  co-principals of the Jerusalem school, Nadia Kennani and Arik Sporta,  describing how their students and teachers are coping with the current  violence and killings in the holy city.  This statement was published in Hebrew in Yedioth Ahronoth,  Israel’s largest newspaper, and was  translated into English on the internet.  Here is the statement:
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Learning  From Our Students

By  Nadia Kennani and Arik Sporta

After returning to school this week, the first lessons were dedicated to class discussions.  Both Jew and Arabs expressed concern and  frustration about what is commonly referred to as the “conflict”.  But  alongside these feelings were also pride, determination and confidence  in the justness of the path they are treading together.

There are those among our student body, both Jews and Arabs, who are apprehensive about traveling on public transport wearing their school  shirt with Arab writing emblazoned upon it–and so our students, both  Jews and Arab, organize to walk to school in groups so they won’t be  exposed to trouble on the streets.  There are Jewish student activists that attend demonstrations while understanding the difficulty in their Arab friends joining them there….

But the bottom line is that most students still arrived to school this  week, to this safe yet complicated place, a place that inspires  confidence in our path, our place.

Our students know that it is here where we will contend with this terrible wave of violence.  It is the courage of their parents to continue  sending them to school, despite their trepidation; It is thanks to the  students that see their bilingual education not only as a requirement,  but as a personal statement; And it is thanks to our teachers, who sustain the daily routine of educating toward values; against violence and the killing of Jews and Arabs.

Alongside the many differences, we witnessed this week something important that is shared by both our Jewish and Arab students; a desire  to not be satisfied by the daily act of arriving to school as a response to this period of violence, but to go out from its protective  walls to initiate social and civic engagement in an attempt to end the
violence.

Our students are right, and we cannot leave the arena of positive action to them alone.  It is during this time that our role as school  principals becomes clear:  We, as educators in the city, call upon the  educational leadership of Jerusalem to learn from our students and to initiate formal civic action against the violence, to ensure that it does not dictate daily life in our city,  The younger generation is showing us the way, and it is our responsibility to choose to traverse this path with them.

*
Lurie, a centenarian, is a freelance writer with a long record of peace activism in Israel.  He may be contacted via [email protected]

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