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Israel Christians protest school funding cuts

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Israeli police stand guard during a protest of Arab Israeli Christian students on September 6, 2015.

Thousands of people have held a massive rally in Jerusalem to protest against the slashing of funds for Christian schools by the Tel Aviv regime.

The demonstrators gathered outside the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday and were later joined by a dozen Arab Israeli members of parliament.

The Israeli regime had deployed hundreds of security forces in order to rein in the protesters.

Angry demonstrators complained of discrimination since the Tel Aviv regime continues to fully fund large private school networks that cater to ultra-Orthodox Jews while it slashes the budget for Christians.

“We pay our taxes and therefore we must have the same rights as everyone,” media outlets quoted Manal Issa, a mother who attended the rally with her two children, as saying.

Ragheed Massad, a student from Nazareth, also criticized the Israeli discriminatory policies against Arab Christian schools, saying, “We, all the Arab Christian schools, are demanding equality. There is no equality for our schools.”

The rally comes as more than 30,000 students in 47 schools have been on strike since the school year began on Sept. 1.

The protesters accused Israel of cutting their funding as a tactic to pressure them to join the Israeli public school system. Christian school administrators say the move would interfere with the schools’ high academic achievements.

The protesting Christian schools say this public funding has been systematically cut in recent years to their elementary schools. Abdul Massih Fahim, director of the Catholic Church’s Custody of the Holy Land, which oversees the Christian schools, said funds only cover 29 percent of costs.

To compensate, schools raised tuition fees – a burden for the Arab community.

In recent days Israeli extremist settlers have launched attacks on Christian churches.

Israeli settlers have increased their attacks and hate crimes against Christians and Muslims, as well as their holy sites, but they have rarely been prosecuted.


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