Muslim children are not born Jew-haters
But half the 247 pupils at the 40-year-old local authority school are Muslim, and apparently the Muslim parents go through all sorts of hoops, including moving into the school's catchment area, to get their children into King David to learn Hebrew, wave Israeli flags on independence day, and hang out with the same people whom some would have us believe that they hate more than anyone in the world - Jews.
The Muslim parents, mostly devout and many of the women wearing the hijab, say they love the ethos of the school. The school is also respectful to Islam, setting aside a prayer room for the Muslim children and supplying Muslim teachers during Ramadan. At Eid, the Muslim children are wished Eid Mubarak (Blessed be Eid). Muslim students are allowed to wear a traditional Muslim head covering, but dozens choose instead to wear the Jewish kipah.
Muslim parents are not shy about telling observers why they love this Jewish school: “We actually bought a flat in the catchment area for the children to come here," says Nahid Shafiq, the mother of Zainah, four, and Hamza, nine, and wife of Mohammed, a taxi driver. "We were attracted by the high moral values of the school, and that's what we wanted our kids to have. None of us has any problem with it being a Jewish school. Why on earth should we? Our similarities as religions and cultures are far greater and more important than our differences. It's not even an issue."
Muslim parents are pleased that ‘all the kids mix and go to one another's parties and are in and out of each other's houses’. The Jewish parents and teachers too are just as enthusiastic: “You know, in these difficult times in the world, I think we show how things should be done. It's really a bit of a beacon," says one teacher, whose three children all went to King David and ended up at Oxford University. One Jewish parent commented: "My son is eight and has loads of Muslim friends." And perhaps most important of all is that some of the cross-cultural friendships forged at King David last a lifetime.
Who says all faith schools should be abolished?