The families of the Arab-Druze students at the ONLY high school in the Beit Jann village in Israel will start their fight on Wednesday Sept. 1 2010 “a battle” against the militarization of their school and children by the Israeli Education Ministry. The inhabitants of Beit Jann suffer under harsh discrimination in the civil rights, social, economical, and financial development of their town when compared to the jewish squatter colonies, towns and cities which were established nearby on the land of Arab since 1948.
Beit Jann is a Druze village on Mt. Meron, in northern Israel. At 940 meters above sea level. Beit Jann is one of the highest inhabited locations in the country. In 2007, the population was 10,300.
Under these hard conditions of discrimination and inequality in their civil rights which the Arab inhabitants of Beit Jann live, Israel intends to open a military air force class in the village and force the students who choose to learn physics, electronics and scientific subjects to enroll in the class of the Israeli Air Force. It is compulsory for every student to go to school wearing military uniform and to stand in the morning singing Israeli military songs and raising the Israeli flag.
During a telephone interview with Mohand Naffa, Secretary-General of the Communist Party and an Arab leader he said that the Israeli intelligence is behind the management of the Beit Jann school conflict and the council of the village, who are collaborating with the aim of destroying the Arab identity and community sense of the village inhabitants. He added that the people of the village will face this zionist project which targets their children and their national identity. Naffa added that the village of Beit Jann is the only one among many Arab villages which is always victim of injustice from the Israeli government, and that the people there have never received necessary services and facilities like other villages.
On Saturday the members of the town youth and elders held a meeting in order to announce their strong rejection of the Israeli military project at this Arab school. The military project was approved behind the students and their families back by the director of the school Ali Slalha and the President of the council of Beit Jann, Baian Kaplan, a “retired” IDF colonel.
The organizers of the meeting stated that their meeting was held to respond to the draft of the air force class, what means to implicitly create a military base in the comprehensive school, the ONLY school in the village of Beit Jann. The project aims to consolidate military education in our student’s mentality, and thus paved the way for institutional malignant aims to recruit our Arab girls from Druze and integrating them into the Israeli military institutions.
Sheikh Yusuf Slalha, a well-known and respected person in Beit Jann, stated during the meeting that the idea of opening a military air force class was rejected in full by all the village elders and the families of the students who signed the petition as a position paper of a unified political body in Beit Jann. He added that wearing military uniforms in the school “does not strengthen our students understanding or bringing us equality with the jewish colonies surrounding us, but it will cause great harm to our identity and our children as part of the Arab community”. He added: “however, on Wednesday Sept.1 2010, the village inhabitants, the youth and the elders in Beit Jann will hold a sit-in at the entrance to the school and prevent the opening of the military air force class in the morning”.
The speakers sent their statements to the president of the local council in Beit Jann, Baian Kaplan, and urged him to reverse his decision; they said that Kaplan is not allowed to decide on such sensitive and crucial issues on behalf of all the residents of the village. Kaplan was a former IDF colonel and he served in the IDF military occupation in the West Bank. He was disowned by his relatives, some of whom choose being jailed instead of serving with IDF. Last year, a bomb was left at the entrance of the house of Baian Kaplan. The bomb caused damage to the entrance of the house and the car which was parked in the yard.