Sunday, August 28, 2011
Jews block Arab school in East Jerusalem
Arab residents of the East Jerusalem community of Beit Hanina have been trying for years to receive permission to build a high school on village land, next to the increasingly ultra-Orthodox Neveh Yaakov neighborhood. But time after time their efforts have been thwarted by their Jewish neighbors. Recently, the city engineer promised the Beit Hanina residents that he would fight to include the high school in the budget for the coming year. But, Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Kobi Kahlon, also the chairman of the Jerusalem Planning and Building Committee, told the objectors that the matter had been removed from the council's agenda. The opponents from Neveh Yaakov are not trying to hide their opinions on the matter, charging that a Beit Hanina high school at the junction next to the Jewish neighborhood would lead to harassment of Jewish girls by Arab students. Their biggest concern, however, is that Arab students would throw stones and Molotov cocktails at Jewish residents. Over the years, the Beit Hanina residents agreed to a compromise under which the school would be an all-girls facility. Gabi Ganish, chairman of the Neveh Yaakov community administration, however, wasn't swayed by the idea, commenting: "And girls can't throw stones too?" In an effort to further soften the compromise, the Beit Hanina residents agreed to put up only a special-needs facility. This, too, was not enough to dispel the objections of the Neveh Yaakov residents.