A school in a West Bank settlement recently fired its Arab cleaning staff, all of them Israeli citizens, after parents threatened to shut down the school if the workers remained employed.
Parents in the settlement of Karnei Shomron appealed last week to the head of the local council, Yigal Lahav, and threatened to invoke a strike against the school until all Arab cleaners were removed, the Ynet news site reported. “Yes, we are racists,” a parent wrote. “The lives of our children come first, we are racists and we love the Jewish race.”
The cleaning women who arrived for work were harassed by some children, Ynet reported. In light of the mounting pressure, the council ceded to parents’ demands last Wednesday, February 13, announcing in a letter that Arab cleaners would no longer work in local schools.
“The atmosphere in the community led to inappropriate behavior toward the cleaning women, and even harassment and threats to some members of the parents’ committee,” the local council said in a statement. “After a discussion with the parents’ committee, we came to the conclusion that we cannot allow ourselves to come to such discourse and behavior in the community, and we decided to remove the cleaning company from the school immediately,” the letter added.
Various organizations dedicated to combating racism were planning to help the fired workers take legal action, and a demonstration was planned outside the school in the coming days. “We condemn with disgust the racism of the Karnei Shomron council, which surrendered to the pressure of parents and stopped employing Arab women in a school in the community,” said a statement by Tag Meir, an organization against racism.
“The behavior of the parents is racist and shameful, and the outrageous surrender of the council that condemned the incitement but fired its victims is unacceptable and illegal,” the Center for Victims of Racism said in a statement.”
During the 1970’s Israel illegally appropriated a total of 1,670 dunams of land (over 410 acres) in the occupied territories from four nearby Palestinian villages of in order to construct the Karnei Shomron settlement: 713 dunams were taken from Jinsafut; 512 dunams from Deir Istiya, 229 dunams from Kafr Laqif and 216 dunams were taken from Hajjah.