Today marks what can potentially be a hugely significant day in the history of Israel of a State, as the Supreme Court of Israel has ordered the forced imprisonment of 44 couples for refusing to change their school's admission policy.
One thing I can tell you about this issue is that it is extremely complex, and far from a crude "Sephardi discrimination" case. I personally know 2 of the families that (if all goes according to the Supreme Court's plan) will be imprisoned tomorrow giving me a slightly more interesting picture than the journalists and bloggers who will be covering this event.
Some background: Our story takes place in the Shomron settlement community of Emmanuel, which prides itself as "the Bnei Brak of the Shomron". There is a Beis Yaakov girls school in Emmanuel, run primarily by Slonim Chassidim. The Beis Yaakov school is funded by the State-acknowledged, "Chinuch Atzmai", independent school system, and the curriculum is fully out of the hands of Israel's education ministry.
Emmanuel's Beis Yaakov has admission policies that are now stricter than others as a result of their alignment with the Slonim Chassidim, and as a result, less Sephardim are enrolled in the school. The admission policy is not exclusively a Sephardi-Ashkenazi issue, but also one of observance.
One of the parents of a girl who was rejected from the school took the case to Israel's Supreme Court, and the court ruled yesterday that Beis Yaakov in Emmanuel must admit everyone, equally. Especially since Beis Yaakov is State-funded (despite being a "Chinuch Atzmai, Independent Education" school), the State can demand that there be zero discrimination based on Ashkenazi/Sephardi background.
I agree 100% with the above statement, and if the school is State-funded, it has to play by the rules.
The Slonim Chassidim in Emmanuel have requested a permit for a totally independent, non-State funded school, so that they can have their own admission policy, and they will probably have that within the next month or so.
Yet, the Supreme Court decided that they needed to force the issue, and with only 2 weeks left to the school year, they ruled that the parents must open the school equally to all. Parents refusing to send their girls to the school as a result of the forced integration will be imprisoned for the remainder of the school year (2 weeks).
Here's where the story is so sad.
1. Of the 44 families (men and women) slated to go to jail tomorrow, at least 10 of them ARE SEPHARDIM. Their daughter are in the school currently as they accepted upon themselves the stringent criteria set forth by the school. Anyone who says that this is a simple case of discrimination is simply lying. If there are Sephardim in the school, who agree with the school's policy, then it can't be purely an issue of discrimination.
2. The school could have been legally closed 2 weeks early for the summer vacation, and started two weeks earlier at the end of the summer, when the whole issue will have been resolved.
3. Chareidim are organizing a massive demonstration tomorrow in Jerusalem and initial police estimates place the crowd at 250,000 people. If the Chareidim ever felt alienated before, sending 44 families to jail will be a brutal slap in the face.
4. Israel's Supreme Court is arrogantly forcing this issue, as anti-Chareidi elements dance in the streets and froth at the mouth for the opportunity to send 44 couples to jail. Examples include Tzippi Livni on IDF radio who repeated over and over; "break the law and you must go to jail". Is it really necessary to turn these 44 families into martyrs, and turn the entire Chareidi community against the State of Israel?
Lastly, Dr. Ephraim Shach, son of Ashkenazi Godol HaDor, R' Elazar Menachem Man Shach read a letter on Israel's Channel Bet radio today that his father wrote 19 years ago. The letter stated in no uncertain terms that Ashkenazi schools must admit Sephardim; not as a matter of policy, but as "halacha", with no excuses.
The Supreme Court believes it has won, as it will force "lawbreakers" to respect the rule of law.
The 44 families will believe they have won, as they will go to jail for 2 weeks and prove that the Zionist entity cannot break their will or force admissions policy on them.
The truth is -- we will have all lost.
Tomorrow, Israel will be on the brink. Will the government prevent the Supreme Court from sending 44 families to jail?
Minister urges haredi restraint in Emmanuel 'tragedy' : After ultra-Orthodox announce mass rally over expected imprisonment of parents who refuse to send children to school with Sephardic students, Religious Services Minister Margi tells Ynet, 'There are many ways to preserve ideology while complying with court ruling'. Security around Justice Levy boosted. Rabbi Yosef: Court ruling upsetting
Court to Emmanuel parents: Obey ruling or go to jail: High Court justices decide to put end to bureaucracy holding up implementation of ruling against discrimination between Ashkenazi and Sephardic pupils, say parent who fails to abide decision will be jailed for two weeks
Police brace for new haredi riots: Netanyahu calls for restraint after ruling in Emmanuel case.
Netanyahu urges restraint in segregated West Bank school row: Police fear mass Haredi protests over High Court decision to jail defiant Ashkenazi parents who refuse to desegregate an ultra-Orthodox girls' school in the settlement of Immanuel.
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