Beginning in 1997, the Har Hamor Yeshiva, a leading Jerusalem-based institute for Torah learning, has become the center of a unique stream of thought in religious Zionist philosophy. This article examines how religious Zionist yeshivas have developed an educational curriculum that translates theological beliefs and values into political action. The article seeks to evaluate to what extent this ideology and curriculum will be able to survive in a political reality in which the rift between religious and secular Zionism is constantly increasing.
Because book reviewers influence which books are purchased for libraries and schools, it is important to understand the explicit or implicit criteria they employ. Reviewer practices with books on politically controversial topics set in Israel/Palestine and available to a US audience often reflect partisan views, with the dominant political discourse favouring the Israeli position, although this is far from ubiquitous. While some reviews avoid addressing the books’ politics, others are decidedly partisan. Many base their evaluations on their estimation of the degree of hope and political balance achieved in the works, yet these expectations are applied selectively. Some expect stories told from a pro-Palestinian perspective to be hopeful and balanced by sympathetic Israeli characters and opinions, but do not measure stories told from an exclusively Israeli perspective by the same yardstick. The strength of the dominant discourse is apparent in this selective application. Another common criterion is the educational usefulness of these books as teaching tools. Reviewers seldom evaluate them on their literary merits. This phenomenon illustrates Norman Fairclough’s assertion that the dominant political discourse is so internalised as to appear to be commonsense, and this obscures both its influence on one’s own worldview and the possibility of alternatives.
Katzin, Ori. “Teaching Approaches of Beginning Teachers for Jewish Studies in Israeli Mamlachti Schools: A Case Study of a Jewish Education Teachers’ Training Program for Outstanding Students.” Journal of Jewish Education 81.3 (2015): 285-311.
This article presents findings from a longitudinal qualitative study that examined teaching approaches of neophyte teachers in Israel during their 4-year exclusive teachers’ training program for teaching Jewish subjects and first two years of teaching. The program wanted to promote change in secular pupils’ attitudes toward Jewish subjects. We found a high incidence of teaching using positivistic approaches of knowledge transmission and the teachers adopted a particular teaching approach early into their training program that they continue to employ. Can teaching oriented in the transmission of central cultural value knowledge, with pupils as passive receptacles, create a meaningful encounter?
This article reviews an extensive study of Israeli secondary school general history curricula and textbooks since the establishment of the state in 1948 until the present day. By analyzing the way in which Germany is presented in various contexts, the findings of the study indicate that, while the textbooks reflect a shift from an early censorious attitude to a factual approach, the curriculum continues to present national Jewish Zionism as the metanarrative. In this context, Germany is framed as a victimizer.
This article analyzes English textbooks used in Israel to examine whether their cultural content is appropriate for the Palestinian Arab learner. This topic is significant, as the English curriculum in Israel is uniform in all sectors. The article presents a critical discourse analysis of six English textbooks used in Israeli high schools to examine the recurrence of seven discursive devices that might possibly serve as a means for shaping or (re)producing ideological values: (1) culturally distinctive names, (2) pronouns, (3) the passive/active voice when relating to the Other, (4) explicit statements defining the target audience, (5) narratives involving faraway cultures that perpetuate Western stereotypes and exclude the Other, (6) a demand for culturally specific prior knowledge, and (7) discourse constructing identities and collective memories. These devices serve to foster English learners imbued with Western oriented Jewish-Zionist ideology, while reproducing and perpetuating hegemonic ideology. Thus, English textbooks in Israel marginalize the Palestinian Arab minority, its culture and common traditions, thereby engendering a learning environment that creates a negative learning experience for students of this sector.
The subject of this article is the Israeli television program Such a Life, which was broadcast on the Israel Broadcasting Authority’s Channel One between 1972 and 2001. The program, based on a protagonist’s life and told through a surprise studio encounter with his or her family, friends, and colleagues, was the Israeli version of the earlier U.S. and British television programs This Is Your Life. But where the U.S. and the U.K. programs focused on sentiment and entertainment, the Israeli counterpart emphasized memory and education, in a conscious effort to contribute to the formation of the national memory. The first part of the article describes the history of Such a Life from its inception to its end, and the second part constitutes a structural analysis of the production process and the broadcast episodes, to explain how its image of the Israeli past was cobbled together. We describe the creation of Such a Life, analyze its main features, and explain how it became such a successful vehicle in promoting and diffusing the Zionist view of the “life-story” of Israel.