September 22, 2015
The Honorable Naftali Bennett
Minister of Education
Dear Mr. Minister:
We are writing to you regarding the ongoing controversy surrounding the cut in funding for “recognized, but non-official” Christian schools. This issue – which has led to a strike by Christian schools over the past few weeks - is the source of much frustration in the Christian community in Israel. There is also deep concern being expressed by our friends in the Christian community in the United States.
The State of Israel rightly prides itself for its multi-religious makeup and the equal protections shared by citizens of any faith. The perception that Christian “recognized, but non-official” schools are receiving significantly less funding than Jewish schools in the same category has led many among our friends to question Israel’s commitment to equal treatment of all minorities and faiths.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which conducts anti-bias educational programs in various schools in Israel, including a Christian one in Haifa, respectfully urges the Ministry of Education to take the steps necessary to ensure that all “recognized, but non-official” schools are funded on the same basis. The current situation, whereby schools in the same category are subject to different funding standards, is inconsistent with one of the fundamental cornerstones of equality in Israel.
We are aware that negotiations are underway to find a just solution to this problem. Doing so will enable the Christian community to continue to rely on the Ministry of Education to provide their children with the educational resources available to other Israelis while maintaining their unique religious and cultural needs. A prompt resolution will reinforce the importance Israel places on Jewish-Christians relations, and will reinforce our commitment to living together in justice and equality.
Anti-Defamation League, Israel Office