The far-right mayor of Upper Nazareth, Shimon Gapso, rides to the rescue again against the “Arab enemy” living in the midst of his Jewish city. Despite at least 20% of the population of Upper Nazareth (next to Nazareth) being Palestinian, he’s banned Christmas trees in public places, the building of a mosque and now even a school.
The civil rights group ACRI has requested that Gapso approve a school for the Palestinian children in Upper Nazareth as they have no other provision in the city. (Note: all state schooling in Israel is segregated, based on the pupils’ ethnicity. Arab schools are a very pale reflection of Jewish ones.)
At the moment, even though they pay taxes to the municipality, the Palestinian families in Upper Nazareth get no educational services. Instead they have to take their children to expensive private schools in Nazareth. That’s because Nazareth’s allocation of state school places is based on the numbers of children living in Nazareth, not Upper Nazareth.
Gapso calls the families’ demand for a school “a provocative nationalist statement” – which is rich, given that it is the state that decided to segregate education between the two ethnic groups.
But in reality it is Gapso who is thinking in ultra-nationalist terms. Or as he correctly explains the city’s historical role to Haaretz: “Upper Nazareth was founded to make the Galilee Jewish and must preserve this role.”
Gapso wants the Palestinian residents out of Upper Nazareth, and he is drawing on an old idea from the far-right of creeping expulsion: “We will close the universities to you and then you will want to leave.” Gapso is simply starting with a younger age group.