The present study examined how Israelis and Palestinians present their narratives related to their conflict in school textbooks used by the state educational system and the ultraorthodox community in Israel and by all Palestinian schools in Palestinian National Territories. The focus was on how each side portrays the Other and their own group. The content analysis was based on a developed conceptual framework and standardized and manualized rating criteria with quantitative and qualitative aspects. The results showed in general that (1) dehumanizing and demonizing characterizations of the Other are rare in both Israeli and Palestinian books; (2) both Israeli and Palestinian books present unilateral national narratives that portray the Other as enemy, chronicle negative actions by the Other directed at the self-community, and portray the self-community in positive terms with actions aimed at self-protection and goals of peace; (3), there is lack of information about the religions, culture, economic and daily activities of the Other, or even of the existence of the Other on maps; (4) the negative bias in portrayal of the Other, the positive bias in portrayal of the self, and the absence of images and information about the Other are all statistically significantly more pronounced in Israeli Ultra-Orthodox and Palestinian books than in Israeli state books.
This essay is a study in politics and law. It begins with an introductory background which explains Israel’s vulnerability as a Jewish, multicultural democracy in a hostile region, with significant schisms that divide the nation. In the next section I present the State Attorney’s stance regarding extreme statements made in the context of the disengagement from Gaza. I proceed by addressing the issue of religious incitement, both Jewish and Moslem. I argue that the State cannot sit idly by while senior officials incite racism and undermine its democratic values. Such officials should be discharged of all responsibilities. The State ought to weigh the costs of allowing hate speech as well as the risks involved, and balance these against the costs and risks to democracy and free speech associated with censorship.