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September 1, 2016 11:08 am

Netanyahu Greets Arab-Israeli First-Graders; Urges Them to Study Hard, Learn Coexistence

avatar by Ruthie Blum

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulating Arab-Israeli first-graders on the start of the school year. Photo: Facebook.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulating Arab-Israeli first-graders on the start of the school year. Photo: Facebook.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Naftali Bennett visited a new class of Arab-Israeli children on Thursday, welcoming them to the start of their first year in elementary school, and urging them not only to study hard, but to learn coexistence.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, the two officials were greeted warmly – in both Arabic and Hebrew — by the school’s approximately 200 pupils during a festive ceremony.

“Hello to you all. Hello first grade,” Netanyahu said to the Tamra Ha’emek kids and faculty.

He continued:

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I remember when I came to first grade; I was very excited. It is very exciting. “Welcome first grade” was written on the blackboard. It took me a little while to be able to read the words. Afterwards it was “Hello second grade” and ‘”Hello third grade” – and so it went and this is what awaits you. Boys and girls, I want each and every one of you to do two things: First, learn. Second, be good children. Listen to your parents and your teachers. I want you to listen to me because I want you to learn – learn to write, learn to read, learn Hebrew, Arabic and English. I want you to learn mathematics. I want you to learn science. I want you to learn history – history of the Jewish People, the history of your public. I want you to learn the truth, and the truth says that we were destined to live together. I want you to be doctors, scientists and writers, and be whatever you want to – and are able to – be. I want you to be loyal citizens, integrated into the state of Israel; this is your state. I am truly excited for you. Learn well. Go back home and do what mother and father tell you. May you be successful.

As The Algemeiner reported in March, in an interview with the Hebrew paper Makor Rishon, the principal of the Tamra Ha’emek Elementary School, located in the north of the country, blasted the leaders of the Arab-Israeli community for what he claimed is their investment of more energy in Palestinian nationalism than in the sector they were elected to represent.

Nael Zoabi — part of the large clan that includes controversial MK Haneen Zoabi of Mavi Marmara fame — insisted that many, if not most, Arabs in the Jewish state would like to work on peaceful coexistence and on bettering their societal standing. But, he asserted harshly, “Their voices are stolen from them” by their own Knesset representatives.

Zoabi bemoaned the fact that his philosophy of education at the Tamra Ha’emek school is antithetical to what the Arab politicians are preaching, accusing them of seeking “higher ratings.”

“I meet with Arab and Jewish youth, religious and secular; I speak at home gatherings. Jews from the Diaspora come to visit me, and I introduce them to our people. I raise the issue of coexistence at every opportunity at the school, and write op-eds for Israeli papers like Israel Hayom and Haaretz. I came to educate the kids at the school to be good people and citizens, and not just any citizens, but effective ones. We don’t have another state or country — not us and not you,” he told Makor Rishon.

The opening of this school year in Israel marks nearly 12 months since the start, last September, of the Palestinians’ “lone-wolf intifada,” characterized mainly by stabbings, car-rammings and rock-throwing. During this period, a number of Israel’s Arab citizens sided with and participated in the surge of terrorism against the country’s Jews.

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