Thousands of parents, teachers and students from Christian schools across Israel demonstrated Sept. 6 outside the prime minister’s office. They carried signs highlighting the achievements of this unique educational network, and the dangers it now faces: “87% of [Israeli-Christian] high-tech employees are graduates of our schools” and “Schools are our roots.” One sign addressed Minister of Education Naftali Bennett directly: “Bennett, you said you’d be everyone's minister. Did you mean us too?”
But Bennett isn’t the only person to blame for the severe budgetary crisis facing Christian schools. Nor does he bear sole responsibility for the schools’ failure to open at the start of the school year Sept. 1, or for them threatening to take a series of steps that would put the State of Israel to shame. Abd el-Massih Fahim, president of the Office of Christian Schools in Israel, told Al-Monitor that the budgetary cuts began six years ago, when Gideon Saar from the Likud Party served as minister of education. During that time, the Ministry of Education’s contribution to the schools’ budgets dropped from 75% to just 29%.