Abir Kopty مدوّنة عبير قبطي

You will never be free until you respect the freedom of others

“Albustan” Kindergarten becomes “Maoz”, Arabs out, Jews in.

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Just two weeks before the start of school year of 2014/2015, eleven Arab-Palestinian families, residents of Ramat Ashkol neighborhood in Lydd, heard from one of the kindergarten teachers that the Lydd Municipality decided to move their children, who are with special needs, to another kindergarten building, or rather caravan, about 5 km away from their neighborhood.
 
After the news about the takeover of “Albustan” kindetgarten, the families went to check the matter. To their surprise the kindergarten was named “Moaz” instead of “Albustan” and became a Jewish only kindergarten. The Arab family were kicked out by Jewish religious women, who apparently work at the kindergarten. 
jewish women kicking out Palestinian mothers from "Albustan"

Jewish women kicking out Palestinian mothers from “Albustan”

 
Not only that the municipality did not notify officially the families of the Arab children,  to bring  Jewish ones from Ultra Orthodox families, who live away from the place. Find the logic here! 
 
Not only that the municipality decided on its own to move the children to another-far- kindergarten, without ensuring them a proper transportation, it moved them from a stone building into a caravan that is in a miserable situation (see photos, taken just a week before the opening of the school year), and unsafe.

 
The families of the Palestinian children staged a sit-in in front of the original kindergarten, refusing to move their children into the caravan. In addition, they filed a suit to the Israeli court via lawyer Durgam Seif. Only then, the municipality said it would organize transportation, as if this was the only problem.
The new "Albustan" caravan. photos taken one week before the opening of the school year.

The new “Albustan” caravan. photos taken one week before the opening of the school year.

 
Lydd is a mixed Jewish-Arab city southeast of Jaffa, in present day Israel. In 1948, after the Zionist militias occupied Lydd, committing one of the biggest massacres during the Nakba, and expelling most of its Palestinian population, the town was resettled by Jewish immigrants, and only about 1000 Palestinians out of 19000 were allowed to stay.  Today, the Arab Palestinians consist only 27.5% of its 74, 000 residents.
 
Ramat Ashkol neighborhood was established in Lydd, during the 1970s to accommodate Jewish immigrants of the Soviet Union. In the last two decades, there were more Arab Palestinian families moving in and Jewish families moving out of the neighborhood. Today, about 2000 Arab Palestinians reside in the neighborhood in addition to a small number of Ethiopian Jewish families. The neighborhood is totally neglected by the municipality and face deep Apartheid policies and discrimination in development, with law socio-economic conditions, comparing to the well-developed Jewish neighborhoods in the city. 

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Amichai Lingfeld, A city council member from the "Jewish Home" party, with the sign of the new "Maoz" kindergarten.

Amichai Lingfeld, A city council member from the “Jewish Home” party, with the sign of the new “Maoz” kindergarten.

“The fact that the Ramat Ashkol became an Arab, did not please the Ultra Orthodox Jewish community in the city, many of them came from Gush Katif, a previous Israeli settlement in Gaza, evacuated during Sharon’s engagement in 2005. In 2010, they managed to take over a school building in Ramat Ashkol neighborhood and turned it into a pre-military college, then they took over another kindergarten that served the Arab children as well, and now they took over “Albustan”, that serves children with special needs. This is a clear Judaization policy to drive Palestinians outside of Lydd.” Maha al-Nakib, a Palestinian city council member at Lydd told me.
 
It is important to look at the broader picture, Lydd, as well as Ramleh, Akka, Jaffa and other “mixed cities” in present day Israel, are under constant threat of Judaization and displacement. And though the mayor ridiculously claimed that the decision was based on “professional” considerations, you do not need to be beyond a reasonable person to understand that this is part of the Judaization of Lydd, and a similar process to the displacement in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, all part of the settler colonial mentality, on which Israel stand.

 

 

Author: abirkopty

Palestinian social, feminist and political activist.

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