Israeli government targets amusement park’s segregation policy

Richard Thompson | Contributor

Superland, an Israeli amusement park, is being targeted by its government over a policy that strongly encourages Arab and Israeli students to attend on different days.

According to a report by The Jerusalem Post, an Arab teacher tried to buy 25 tickets for his seventh grade students but was told that the park had sold out.

Khaled Shakra said he was initially informed that he could buy tickets for June 19, but when he told the park’s representative that the school’s name was the Arabic-sounding Ajial, he was put on hold and later told that the park was booked to capacity on that day.

When Shakra called back moments later representing a fictional Jewish organization and identifying himself as “Eyal,” the worker made it clear that tickets for the 19th were readily available.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Shakra wrote that the incident was “sickening” while Ajial’s principal Jalal Tuhi called it “unacceptable, racist segregation.”

Superland responded on Tuesday, saying “we open our gates to all of Israel and all sectors of the public all year round. Everyone can buy a ticket through the website, or directly through the ticketing office…however, in June we hold closed events for the school year end. The schools dictate which schools will enter the event. There are reservations for closed days held by Jewish schools. There are reservations for closed days held by Arab schools.”

Despite the park’s defense, Israeli officials showcased their concern and proposed looking further into the matter.

“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?” Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon wrote on his Facebook page.

Education Minister Shai Piron called Shakra on Thursday, expressing his deepest sympathies.

“I am shocked at this serious phenomenon and hope that this is the last time you will experience discrimination of any kind,” Piron said.

Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni has been communicating with Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to determine whether Superland intentionally exhibited discriminatory behavior.

“If these allegations are proved to be correct, then this is a symptom of a sick democracy. Any incident such as this must be severely dealt with,” Livni said.

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