University of Haifa
University of Haifa - As'ad Ghanem (Dept of Political Science)
declares founding of the State of Israel “a colonial action”; denies
that Israel is a democracy
gives a civics lesson
By Israel Harel
May 01, 2009
Gideon Sa'ar has
announced he will be teaching at a different school every week. He
is implying that an education minister's job is not just to address
teachers' benefits, a major issue in itself. His chosen subject -
civics- will let him mold the national and civic identity of
high-school subjects are taught pluralistically, except the one the
minister has chosen to teach. His ministry's curriculum department
does not entrust anyone "who isn't one of us" to indoctrinate
civics textbook "To Be Citizens in Israel," edited by ministry
officials, is intended for all pupils, Jewish and Arab, religious
and secular. This is the textbook Sa'ar will use.
When he prepares
the lessons, he will find the book stresses mainly individualist,
liberal values, while minimizing national collective ones.
Especially subversive is the chapter on the conflict between Arabs
and Jews. This is the only chapter written by someone outside of the
The only man in
Israel deemed worthy of writing it is Dr. As'ad Ghanem, who by
chance or not, was also the main drafter of a document entitled "The
Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel." This document
includes these civic pearls: "Israel is the outcome of a colonialist
action which was initiated by the Jewish-Zionist elites ... [it] was
established by colonial states ... it continues conflicting with its
neighbors incessantly ... and implementing a colonialist policy ...
Israel cannot be defined as a democratic state. It can be defined as
an ethnocratic state ... the state must acknowledge responsibility
for the Nakba ... [it] should recognize the Palestinian Arabs as an
indigenous national group that has a right to choose its
representatives directly." It also says that each side should run
its own affairs and have a right to veto the other's decisions.
these opinions, although less blatantly, in the civics textbook as
well. In the part about the War of Independence he ignores the
bloody Arab attacks before the war, including their refusal to
accept the UN Partition Plan and the war they began a few hours
after Israel's Declaration of Independence. Everything that happened
in those days is "an accelerated conflict between Jews and Arabs ...
which became more violent." The Jews, and only the Jews, are to
blame for causing the refugee problem.
Those setting the
Israeli citizenship curriculum have found these statements worthy of
appearing in the Education Ministry's official book, without
contrasting opinions. And the civics teachers in the ethnocratic,
colonialist state - whose Arab citizens yesterday marked the 61st
anniversary of the Nakba, the disaster of Israel's establishment -
are obliged to teach them.
outraged by this material must teach it. The civics matriculation
exams are based on this book. What teacher would want to fail his
Ichilov of Tel Aviv University, who studies civic education in
Israel, writes in one of her essays:
in] Western democracies advocate joint commitment to the nation,
state and democracy, whenever the two conflict, Israel prefers
universal democratic values to Jewish Zionist ones. This is
unparalleled in any Western democracy today, where civics education
includes democratic, humanist values as well as patriotism and pride
in the national historical heritage."
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