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So what is the problem with differentiated programs for Ethiopian Jews?

February 2, 2017

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In a position paper presented to the Knesset, the Clinic pointed to the lack of implementation of the government's resolution on the annulment of differentiated programs 

Differentiated programs were behind the protest of Ethiopian Jews in Israel, due to their labelling effect on the community as a separate group in Israeli public sphere. The State Comptroller's report also included harsh criticism of the programs, due to faulty administration and supervision. In October 2015, the government ordered the cancellation of the differentiated programs. However, contrary to this resolution, it now seems that the programs will continue in place over the next few years, and even be operated by bodies which were strongly criticized by the State Comptroller, such as the National Project company.

Over this past year, the clinic has examined the implementation of the government resolution to cancel the differentiated programs. Following this work, a position paper was written and submitted by the Clinic in the name of the Israeli Association for Ethiopian Jews that it represents. As the paper notes, it appears from related documentation of contracts that, contrary to the promises to annul the differentiated programs, they are only going to go through a 'cosmetic' change. For example, it was decided that the programs would be adjusted by the inclusion of non-Ethiopian students at the rate of 20-30% of participants.  Why this particular percentage? There was no rational explanation for this choice. Moreover, it appears that the programs will continue to operate "with an emphasis on serving those communities where Ethiopian Jews live". In other words, the basic premise has not changed: The Ministry of Education continues to consider Ethiopian Jews, most of whom were born in Israel, as worthy of a different treatment.

The Position Paper

A report on the Position Paper in Haaretz: Or Kashti, "Despite Gov't Resolution, Ministry of Education does not cancel separate programs for Ethiopian Students."