Israeli Government under pressure over Christian schools strike
THE ISRAELI Government is coming under increased pressure to resolve the ongoing strike by students and teachers in the country’s Christian schools.
The campaign received a boost this week when the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, the Most Rev Suhail Dawani, joined the heads of the Christian Churches in Jerusalem in calling for government action.
In a statement released at the end of last week, the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem — the umbrella group representing Israel’s Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant Churches — urged the government to respond “to the schools’ modest and just demands.”
On 1 September 33,000 students and the teachers of Israel’s 47 Christian schools went on strike after the government cut educational subsidies while also imposing a tuition cap.
Christian schools, which serve the Arab Christian minority, are “recognised but unofficial” under Israeli law.
They had been receiving government grants to cover 75 per cent of their costs but the current government budget has reduced the subsidy to 29 per cent. The funding cut was accompanied by a cap on school fees, leaving most schools unable to meet their costs.
Christian leaders note that ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools are also classified as “recognised but unofficial” yet receive 100 per cent funding from the government.
The Heads of Churches stated: “For hundreds of years, our schools have provided quality education. Our commitment to education and advancement of our society is embodied in our mission and vision.
“Therefore, we call upon the Ministry of Education and the government of Israel to take immediate action and end this strike by responding to the schools’ modest and just demands in order for our students, teachers and parents to resume their normal life.”
They added: “The struggle of our schools is a just cause, in seeking not only equal rights, but also recognition of the outstanding services that are offered.”