Israel’s underfunding of Christian schools defies youth potential

Grace O'Malley, staff reporter

Thirty-thousand Palestinian students were dismissed from their Christian schools in Israel, according to BBC News. These outraged students turned out into the streets, where they are holding rallies and hoisting up signs, since Sept.1, where they have been revealing their fury over the Israeli government’s poor funding of their schools.

Israel’s Ministry of Education drastically cut funding that once covered 75 percent of funding to these schools, but will now only contribute 29 percent, according to In an effort to compensate for this loss, the schools raised tuition; the Israeli government, however, has placed a cap on tuition.

Ironically, the Israeli government chooses to fund officially recognized Israeli schools 100 percent. The Israeli government justifies this action by claiming the Christian schools are unofficially recognized because they do not follow the standards of the official Israeli schools. These Palestinian students are full citizens of Israel, and should be conferred the full rights other Israelis are granted, including education. Palestinian citizens of Israel, however, make significantly less than their Israeli counterparts, making this change very hard.

After flooding the streets for 24 days, the government has not considered funding the wish of 50 million dollars. Instead, only 17 million dollars has been negotiated between the government and school officials. Many believe that this is a strategy formulated by the government to lure students away from their Christian Palestinian school and instead enroll into the Israeli public school system, or completely reorganize the Palestinian Christian schools under the Israeli government’s policies.

One may consider attending a fully funded Israeli public school a valid option. The Christian Palestinian schools, however, offer a superior education than their Israeli counterparts, and offer depth in an array of subjects, including math, the sciences, several languages and the history of Palestine, according to Christian Palestinian Student Fozi Daoud.

Daoud participated in Hands of Peace, an interfaith dialogue and peace promoting program, based in Glenview, Illinois. Daoud is also concerned that by being a Palestinian attending an Israeli school, students may leave themselves open to harassment, racial slurs and even bullying, without any support.

“We can’t let that happen,” Daoud said. “It’s our basic right [to receive an education of our choice]; we are citizens. We work. We pay taxes. [We do] everything [a citizen should do].”

Without funding the schools at the previous level, Palestine students lose valuable time preparing for the rigorous standardized tests in the spring. Additionally, without education, these students will not be able to contribute to the future of the country, and quite possibly, the world. If youth truly are the future, the Israeli government is restraining the possibility of thousands by its budget cuts.

Palestinians who live in Israel are already oppressed by the government, and this is somewhat accepted as a way of life for these individuals. But, life in Israel does have its advantages: these Palestinian citizens of Israel have more rights than Palestinian without Israeli citizenship, but this is no justification for hindering their basic right of education by denying funds.

As a student of South and as an American, I feel we take what we are given for granted. Our rights are plentiful, accessible and inalienable compared to the basic human rights violations across the world.

This tiny segment of the world cannot continue to go unprotected. Students can change the world and have before. We must educate, learn, and fight for our rising generation, or we will just continue to see it fall.