Schools across the country will try to stanch a recent spate of anti-Arab attacks by devoting an hour on Sunday to addressing the incidents and their “destructive consequences,” the Education Ministry said Thursday.
A number of high school students have been detained over the past several days in connection with seemingly racially motivated attacks on Arabs.
Last week, three suspects were detained in connection with an incident in which an Israeli teenager allegedly spat on a Palestinian woman at a Jerusalem light rail station, attacked her and ripped off her headscarf.
On Wednesday, a Jewish teenager was arrested on suspicion that he took part in throwing rocks at a car belonging to an Arab woman, also in Jerusalem’s Kiryat Moshe neighborhood.
On Saturday, an Arab man said he was set upon by Jewish teens while visiting the Sea of Galilee. Four people were arrested in the attack, including two minors.
Arrests were also recently made in an attack on an Arab street cleaner in Tel Aviv late last month.
In the Wednesday attack, Suha Abu Zmiro, a teacher, was in the neighborhood to pay a condolence call to a friend. She was accompanied by a Jewish friend, who had hateful epithets yelled at her as well during the incident.
The students suspected in the attack, including the one who was arrested, attend the nearby high school of the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva.
Rabbi Yerachmiel Weiss, the dean of the high school, expressed shame and deep regret over the attack allegedly perpetrated by his students.
“I am embarrassed and I apologize…for the attack on the woman who came in good faith and had to face this pain… I am ashamed about what happened,” Weiss told Channel 2.
While Weiss conceded that the situation is complex, and that “we cannot resolve the nationalistic tensions between the two peoples,” he also said that he made clear to his students on Thursday morning that the yeshiva will not accept such behavior. “Anybody connected to this yeshiva has nothing to do with these actions,” Weiss said. “And anybody connected to these actions has nothing to do with this yeshiva.”
Besides addressing the entire student body after the morning prayer service on Thursday, Weiss said that he also went to each class in order to conduct a more in-depth discussion about Wednesday’s attack.
The Education Ministry condemned the attacks. Ministry Director-General Dalit Stauber instructed all schools to set aside one hour of class time on Sunday morning “to discuss the prevention of such incidents and their destructive consequences on society, as well as the importance of preserving human dignity.”
The ministry added that materials on the subject will be uploaded to the ministry website.
Additionally, Stauber met on Thursday with the woman who was attacked on Wednesday. She expressed her regret that the woman was a victim of racism, and noted that this is an example of “baseless hatred” that must be rooted out.
On Thursday morning, police commissioner Yohanan Danino also blasted what he called the “despicable and contemptible phenomenon” of the recent racial attacks.
Danino pledged to “pursue our investigation against those individuals involved in these incidents with the full force of the law.”
Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon wrote on his Facebook page on Thursday that “the racism and violence against Arabs that we have recently seen increase are unacceptable… ugly and immoral, and we must aggressively fight” against such incidents.
Ya’alon added that “Jewish and human morality do not allow us to us to ignore such crimes.”