Christian Schools: demonstration in Nazareth
NAZARETH: Christian Schools went on strike to protest against the budget restrictions imposed by the Israeli Ministry of Education. On Tuesday a demonstration gathered hundreds of persons in Nazareth.
“Christian schools demand equality”, “Christian Schools are not for sale”, or “Christian Schools are present despite the persecutions” – that’s what could be read on banners raised by hundreds of demonstrators on Tuesday in Nazareth.
A threat on Christian presence in the Holy Land
Parents, students, professors and also priests and nuns: they all responded to the appeal launched by the Office of Christian Schools (OCS) in Israel to denounce the “discriminatory” policies of the Israel against Christian schools. Since many years in fact, the Ministry of Education imposes budget restrictions on schools known as “recognized but not official”, – Christian schools being part of them, directly affected by these measures. The financing of the State is estimated since a couple of years to 34 %, against 65 % before, compelling the families to take over a larger share of the tuition fees, at the same time putting these schools in a critical financial situation.
Considering the failing negotiations led over months, the Office of Christian Schools had no other choice but to call the schools to an open strike, on the eve of the start of the new school year in Israel, based on the understanding and mobilisation of families. The challenge is a sizeable one : “If Christian schools are today threatened, in the long term it’s the Christian presence in the Holy Land altogether which will be threatened”, says Mgr Marcuzzo, who was present in the demonstration, next to Fr Abdel Masih Fahim OFM, Director of the OCS.
A struggle for equality
“ It is not a privilege what we are asking for but merely justice : that our schools are entitled to the same treatment as other schools of the State”, added the Patriarchal Vicar for Israel in front of a crowd of demonstrators, claiming in other words a total financing of Christian schools, without these becoming one day public schools. It’s only on these grounds that they will be able to carry on their task in favour of 33,000 students, Christians and Muslims, which they hold.
A small beam of hope in the meeting scheduled on 3 September between Pope Francis and Israel President, Reuven Rivlin, at the Vatican. Mgr Marcuzzo is confident that the matter will be tackled. Meanwhile he counts on the mobilisation of everybody.
Manuella Affejee with Ma’an News Agency
Photos by A.K