The conflict that now ensues in the city of Emanuel has little to do with ethnic tensions between Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jewish Israelis.

Speaking from experience as a social work community organizer who worked in the field in the 1970’s and 1980’s, it would seem that short sighted bureaucratic decisions that were made then are coming home to roost, a generation later.

The idea then was to lump all lower class people into new housing units and into new towns, with the hope that they would get along with one another.

The Israel Housing Ministry and what was then called the Israel Welfare Ministry mixed families with social problems with working families, and also mixed strictly observant Sephardic families with less strictly observant Sephardic families, with the hope that they would get along with one another.

As the more strictly observant Sephardic families began to choose more traditional schools for their children to learn in, they were not interested in welcoming the less observant Sephardic families to attend their schools, which maintained more rigid standards in terms of dress code, television watching, etc.

A particular Sephardic woman in Emanuel whose daughter was rejected by the school in Emanuel because the standards of religious observance of her daughter and of her family did not meet the requirements of the school.

That Sephardic woman is media savvy.

She contacted the New Israel Fund, the Shas Sephardic advocacy party and just about every reporter whom she could get a hold of and claimed that she was being discriminated against because she was a Sephardic Jew.

The NIF, Shas and the media had a field day, which almost universally condemned the school in Emanual for “racist and discriminatory behavior”.

The NIF and Shas, strange bedfellows as they are, sued in the Israel High Court of Justice to demand that the Israel High Court of Justice order the school in Emanuel to admit the less observant Sephardic girls into their school.

The NIF and Shas were successful in their suit, and the Israel High Court of Justice demanded that any parent who refused to send their children to school under such circumstances be jailed.

And, indeed, 61 sets of parents announced that they were ready to go to jail rather than admit the less observant Sephardic girls to the school.

27 of those sets of parents are themselves Sephardic Jews.

Will that fact affect the NIF and Shas? Time will tell.


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David Bedein
David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: and A new site,, will be launched very soon.