The Superland amusement park in Rishon Lezion on Thursday rejected a claim by an
Arab high school teacher that it was enforcing segregation between Arab and
“We emphasize that Superland is not, never was and never
will be a place for racism,” it said in a statement to The Jerusalem
“Arab and Jewish schools requested that their attendance be
separated from each other, and perhaps we made an unintentional error by
accepting their requests.”
It said that the park had been in business for
many years, hosting children from all sectors, including both Jews and
Khaled Shakra, a seventhgrade teacher at the L.B. Ajial High
School in Jaffa, said he tried to buy 25 tickets for his students and at first
was told that the dates from June 17- 19 were reserved for schools, but once the
telephone operator realized it was for an Arab school, the operator transferred
the call to another operator, who said Superland was sold out for the day he
The teacher then decided to call back posing as a Jew, saying
his name was “Eyal,” and he ordered the tickets without any problem.
park has received a bombardment of criticism, and the Hashomer Hatza’ir youth
movement canceled plans for its members to visit the park this summer, according
to the group’s spokesman, Ofer Newman.
asked Newman why Hashomer
Hatza’ir canceled the trips, in light of the assertion that it was the schools,
not Superland, that requested the separation.
Newman responded that it
was Superland’s responsibility not go along with the discrimination and that the
movement was ready to reinstate the visits as soon as the discriminatory policy
was fixed. He emphasized that it was the the youth movement’s job to educate and
its action in this case was part of this.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni
asked Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein to look into whether there was
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon voiced shock at the
“I ask myself how would one of us react if in any other country,
the director of an amusement park were to tell us they have separate visiting
days for Jewish schools and other schools?” he wrote on his Facebook
Education Minister Shai Piron called Shakra on Thursday and
expressed his outrage.
“I am shocked at this serious phenomenon and hope
that this is the last time you will experience discrimination of any kind,” he
told the teacher.
Such bias “has no place in Israeli society,” Piron
The country’s Declaration of Independence was based on equality,
partnership and tolerance, he said.
Meretz MK Esawi Frej said, “I hope
the attorney-general wakes up,” and will have “more of a fighting spirit” over
this incident and not be silent over the racism at Superland.
Education Committee chairman Amram Mitzna (Hatnua) called on local authorities
to weigh legal measures against the park. He urged schools to refrain from
sending students to outings at the venue pending a legislative review of the
The committee will discuss the incident in a special meeting on
MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud Beytenu) called for Piron to investigate
“If the reports are true, the education minister must
instruct all educational institutions not to visit [Superland],” Rivlin said.
“We need to stop the spread of racist nationalism, which is influenced by the
atmosphere in the Knesset. We must take this seriously.”
MK Ahmed Tibi
(United Arab List-Ta’al) wrote a letter to the attorney-general, asking him to
put Superland’s owners on trial while asking the police to close Superland until
the incident was investigated.
Amnon Beeri-Sulitzeanu, the coexecutive
director of the Abraham Fund Initiatives in Israel along with Muhammad Darawshe,
told the Post it was difficult to understand how this kind of thing could happen
“It is a strong and powerful reminder of the situation,” he
The fund works to improve the integration and equality of Arab
citizens of Israel.
The Post asked if it mattered that the schools
themselves requested the separation, perhaps to avoid tensions or
“I think it doesn’t matter who asks for the separation, it is
very bad that they agreed to this request no matter who it was from,” said
Beeri-Sulitzeanu. “Even separate but equal is not acceptable.”
that if there was violence then there were disciplinary ways to deal with that,
to kick the offenders off the park, but separation “is not a long-term solution
to the problem,” and in the end, it “will only encourage
Beeri-Sulitzeanu said that the Abraham Fund was willing to
meet with the management of Superland to work out a better policy and perhaps
even come up with a productive policy that promoted coexistence.
important that the education minister does not give any legitimation to such
policies of segregation in any cultural or recreational place,” he
Superland said it would ask that the Education Ministry hold a
meeting to create a new policy for these cases so that such incidents can be
At the end of the statement, Superland seemed to apologize,
saying that the park was open to all and “we apologize to Jews or Arabs who were
offended as a result of our accepting the requests of the schools and we will
work to determine the procedures for this matter on a national
level.”Danielle Ziri and Reuters contributed to this report.