Bennett announces first dedicated academic college for Arab Israelis

Education minister says institute will promote equality and help keep community members from leaving to study in Arab states

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish Home party. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Education Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish Home party. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Education Minister Naftali Bennett on Monday announced the creation of the first general academic college for Israeli Arabs, saying the move would help to close gaps between Arabs and Jews, while also dissuading community members from leaving the country to study.

“The aim of establishing a college, over and above the equality issue, is to prevent Arab citizens from studying in institutions in Arab countries or in Hebron,” Bennett said, according to the Hebrew-language daily Israel Hayom.

The general assembly of the Israeli Council for Higher Education will meet Tuesday to approve a call for tenders to operate an academic framework in an Arab community in northern Israel.

“This is history for the Arab community and this is history for the State of Israel,” Bennett said at the opening of a Jewish Home party faction meeting.

“There is no doubt that the Arab public lacks an academic institution of excellence, which is suited to the demand and will advance equality within Israeli society.”

View of Israel's largest Arab city, Umm al-Fahm. (Matanya Tausig/Flash90)
View of Israel’s largest Arab city, Umm al-Fahm. (Matanya Tausig/Flash90)

The education minister said he had ordered budgetary changes that would benefit the Arab population and provide additional hours of instruction for pupils in poor areas, Arab education sectors that are near Jewish development towns, and dispersed Bedouin settlements.

Regarding his ban on the controversial Breaking the Silence organization in high schools, Bennett said his decision had not changed despite “pressure from various directions.” The NGO collects testimonies from IDF soldiers of alleged human rights abuses within the army.

“Breaking the Silence incites the world against the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces and they will not enter schools in Israel,” he said. “Our schools are intended for education, for values, for ethics, for Zionism. Our schools educate toward meaningful induction into the IDF, toward a moral service.”

Breaking the Silence is not an educational body but a destructive one and has no place in Israeli schools, Bennett said.

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