Religious Zionism fights for its place in Bnei Brak

June 24, 2016  

Several years after a wave of Religious Zionists left Bnei Brak, leaving it to slowly turn into a haredi city, Religious Zionists are now refusing to give up their last foothold in the city: Ulpanat Tzvia.

Ulpanat Tzvia is a leading institution located near the historic centers of Bnei Brak’s Religious Zionism: the Bamberger Home, the Bnai Akiva branch and the Massuot school. For years, the Bnei Brak municipality has been trying to close the Zionist institution, claiming that most of its students do not live in the city. Authorities want to replace it with a school for hassidic girls from the Ger group.

On Friday, Knesset members, students and residents will set out in protest against what they call the haredi takeover of the building.

Udi Tana, one of the campaign leaders, told Arutz Sheva that he rejects the municipality’s claims. “This is a successful institution on a national level, which produces some of the highest test scores in the country. The claim that most of its students are not from Bnei Brak is not relevant, since both the haredi and the National Religious education programs use schools around the region and Bnei Brak residents also enjoy the services of other cities. This is an attempt at ideological cleansing. This is the center of Religious Zionist and that is how it will remain.”

He added that the solutions proposed by the local municipality are unreasonable. “They want to move the ulpana to a small building without any labs. Aside from that, if they want the ulpana girls to appear in immodest clothing to all of Bnei Brak during PE classes, then it would be an appropriate facility. So we are protesting today and we will go march to the mayor’s office. The Education Minister is also involved and we are receiving much assistance. Religious Zionist is fighting a struggle for the future of Zionism as a whole. They won’t close our ulpana.”

A spokesperson for the municipality commented: “The ulpana representatives’ claims about the municipality’s demand, which has existed for several years, are strange. The agreement between the municipality and Ulpanat Tzvia include a fundamental condition for its operation – that at least 50 percent of the students should be Bnei Brak residents. If the percentage drops below that, the building will be returned to the municipality. In the year 5776 (2015-2016), out of 319 students, 238 are from outside of the city. The municipality has demanded this evacuation for several years already. It has delayed the evacuation again and again, on the ulpana’s request, but it cannot do so again when 160 elementary school students have nowhere to learn.”

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