Contractor workers work at a construction site in southern Israel.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Ashkelon Mayor Itamar Shimoni on Sunday ordered children to be moved from three local daycare centers to a community center while Israeli Arab workmen finish renovating the centers’ bomb shelters, city hall announced.
The decision, which spokeswoman Oshra Segel said was made along with the IDF Home Front Command, followed an announcement to that effect made on Facebook last Wednesday by Shimoni. He added that he had ordered the placing of armed security guards at kindergartens and preschools that are next to construction sites that employ Arabs.
Segel said that the mayor had not banned the employment of Arab workers in Ashkelon, rather that he had “reached an understanding with contractors employing [Arab] workers in bomb shelters at day-care centers that their work would be halted temporarily.”
Segel said that they were offered the alternative of bringing the Arab workers to do the renovations after 4 p.m., when the children have already gone home, but they were not interested in this compromise.
“This entire media circus in recent days has been blown completely out of proportion and was inaccurate and exploited by politicians and public officials,” she added.
Shimoni’s announcement last week dominated the following day’s news cycle and was roundly condemned by politicians across the entire political spectrum.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “We should not discriminate against an entire public because of a small minority that is violent and militant,” adding, “the vast majority of Israeli-Arab citizens is law-abiding and we are acting resolutely against those who break the law.”
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said the country must have zero tolerance for racism in the workforce.
“Ninety-nine percent of Israeli Arabs are loyal and want to integrate.
There is a tiny minority that uses violence and causes terrorism, and we must crack down on that, but [we must] also integrate and bring closer the vast majority of Israeli Arabs. This is a key to our future here,” he said.
Bennett added that he has already instructed his ministry to reaffirm its opposition to workplace discrimination, which is illegal.