Bilingual Schooling in Israel gets a boost

On February 15 1998, Bob, Boaz and Diana traveled to Misgav, Western Galilee together with Lee Gordon and Amin Halaf who are trying to advance bilingual Jewish - Arab education in Israel. As the only existing model of bilingual elementary school education in Israel, the NS/WAS Primary School plays an essential role in Lee and Amin's efforts to demonstrate the feasibility of introducing such education in additional areas. Lee and Amin had arranged the meeting in Misgav that was intended to create support for the establishment of a regional bilingual school there. This area includes many Arab and Jewish settlements and efforts have been made there to establish good-neighborly relations between them. More than a hundred people attended the meeting, including the heads of four regional councils and heads of departments of education. The delegation from NS/WAS was warmly received by the audience. The meeting generated excited discussion of the issues involved, with strong voices in favor of the project and a few skeptical voices against it. As a first stage towards the establishment of a school, a classroom in a local Jewish school may be made available to open a first grade Jewish-Arab bilingual program this September. The idea has already met with opposition from certain sources in the Ministry of Education but local authorities are determined to push ahead with it. A short debate between the State and local authorities already received significant publicity in the media. This is a constructive beginning to a program that will surely continue to face obstacles. It looks to us like this group of Jews and Arabs will succeed in overcoming them.

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