Emmanuel, Israel – The ultra-Orthodox network that runs the Beit Yaakov girls school in the West Bank settlement of Immanuel must pay NIS 5,000 for every day it continues to violate an August court order requiring it to eliminate any vestige of ethnic discrimination at the school, the High Court of Justice ruled Wednesday.
Seventy-four girls, mostly of Ashkenazi origin, have been studying in an adjacent unauthorized school since the court, along with the Education Ministry, called on the school to stop holding separate classes for Ashkenazi and Sephardi students.
Wednesday’s ruling came in response to a petition by the head of Noar Kahalacha, an organization that combats anti-Sephardi discrimination, accusing the school of contempt of court. The High Court said the school had authorized the girls’ absence.
￼ Noar Kahalacha lawyer Aviad Hacohen called implementation of the court’s ruling “an important test of the rule of law.”
“It is hoped that the parents of the students and the teachers and all the others involved in the improper discrimination come to their senses,” he said.
No response was available from the ultra-Orthodox education network.
The court has scheduled a hearing with the parents of the 74 girls, who will be asked to explain why they should not be viewed as accessories to the violation of the earlier order. They will also be asked whether furniture and equipment from the Beit Yaakov school is being used at the unauthorized institution and whether teachers from Beit Yaakov are being employed, either directly or indirectly, at the new school.
The school administration and municipal council have refused to get involved in proceedings against the parents, prompting the Education Ministry to file a complaint with the police contending that the new arrangement is a violation of the compulsory education law. Several weeks ago the ministry also ordered the unauthorized school closed.