The Israeli Ministry of Education’s goals for the coming year are very simple: improve academic achievements and reinforce Jewish and Zionist values.
The Education Ministry’s plan for the coming school year does not include civics, democratic values or Jewish-Arab coexistence, according to the Israeli news daily Haaretz. While the goals are disappointing, they are certainly not surprising, giving the growing nationalism in the Jewish state, and the recent legislation banning Palestinian nationalism and commemoration.
“This is education for Zionism and Judaism without education for democracy and peace, and it promotes ultra-nationalism,” said University of Haifa Prof. Gavriel Solomon, an Israel Prize winner in the field of education.
A booklet with the preliminary plan for the upcoming academic year was sent to school principals about two weeks ago. The Education Ministry said, “The final edition and the schedule for implementation will be published after the Passover holiday.”
The authors of the plan said it includes a new middle-school program called “the culture and heritage of Israel,” as well as classes and field trips aimed at encouraging army service.
Some school principals expressed dismay over the fact that the plan does not mention educating for democracy or Arab-Jewish coexistence, reported Haaretz.
“The plan expresses the Education Ministry’s agenda, and principals understand that they don’t need to invest any effort in spheres not covered by the plan,” stated the principal of one Tel Aviv high school, noting the rise in nationalism and racism among students in recent years.
With this in mind, “one might have expected the Education Ministry to set a clear policy of teaching civics and democracy. These subjects’ absence from the work plan is very conspicuous, and it’s hard to imagine that it is a coincidence.”
According to a recently published study of young people in Israel, Jewish youth in the country are veering far more and more towards the right.
The study shows an increase in the number of Jewish youth who see defining Israel as a Jewish state as a number one goal, reported the Israeli news daily Haaretz. Alarmingly, fewer youth (14.3%) see the recognition of Israel’s identity as a democratic country as the most important objective.
The study, based on a survey conducted in July 2010, was conducted and published by The Friedrich Ebert Foundation of Germany along with the Macro Center for Political Economics in Tel Aviv. Around 1,200 Jewish youth and 400 Palestinian youth inside Israelwere polled. This is the third annual study.
Over 40% of the Jewish youth surveyed identify politically with the nationalist parties, with another 20% expressing solidarity with the “moderate” right-wing. Only 11.5% identify with the left-wing.
In addition to the Ministry’s plan to inundate students in Israeli schools with Zionist values, the Jerusalem Municipality is planning to force all East Jerusalem schools to purchase teaching materials from its Education Department, undermining Palestinian identity in the occupied part of the city. This is despite the fact that East Jerusalem schools have been teaching the Palestinian curriculum implemented by the Palestinian Authority since 1998.
“If priorities are to be set in education today, they should involve democracy education, and education for cooperation between Jewish and Arabs,” said Professor Solomon.