Academic journal article International Journal of Multicultural Education

Leadership for Equity and Social Justice in Arab and Jewish Schools in Israel: Leadership Trajectories and Pedagogical Praxis

Academic journal article International Journal of Multicultural Education

Leadership for Equity and Social Justice in Arab and Jewish Schools in Israel: Leadership Trajectories and Pedagogical Praxis

Article excerpt

Increased interest in the concept of social justice (SJ) in educational research reflects the aspiration to implement principles of SJ in schools (Lindsey & Lindsey, 2011; Berkovich, 2014; Stevenson, 2007; Theoharis & Brooks, 2013). Yet, in the main, this aspiration remains largely rhetorical, often failing to inform school practice (Blankstein & Houston, 2011; North, 2008). The implementation of SJ policy and practice to correct injustice, discrimination, and exclusion remains elusive, politically loaded, and subject to numerous interpretations (Jean-Marie, Normore, & Brooks, 2009).

North (2008) indicated that schools are challenged by society's inequalities to become sites of justice, inclusion, and caring. In order to meet these expectations and create sites that meet these goals, SJ leaders should "develop a heightened and critical awareness of oppression, exclusion, and marginalization" (Brooks & Miles, 2006, p. 5), analyzing how institutional power arrangements and practices favor some groups over others (Diem & Boske, 2012). Other scholars have investigated how educational leaders can implement SJ policy and praxis in schools (e.g., Ayers, Quinn, & Stovall, 2009; Berkovich, 2014; Bogotch & Shields, 2014; Brooks & Miles, 2006; Jean-Marie et al., 2009). These scholars indicated that SJ policy should include distributive justice, associational justice, and cultural justice. Diem and Boske (2012) clarify that SJ leaders should be aware of the power arrangement in an organization and of practices intended to maintain social status, to appropriate positions, and to establish conservative organizational procedures. This sensitive and skilled analysis can help them to design and create long-term changes at different social levels to enhance equality of opportunity and create room for initiative (Berkovich, 2014). The actions of SJ leadership are influenced by, and influence, the social context in which they operate. Therefore, I now describe the backdrop to this research, the characteristics and social structure of Israeli society, with special consideration of relations between the two major ethnic groups, Jews and Arabs.

When Israel was established in part of the former British Mandate of Palestine territory in 1948, the Arab population that remained within the new state's borders numbered a mere 156,000, weakened and depleted by war and the loss of its elite due to expulsion or flight. Together with the Jewish population residing in this area, they became citizens of the new state. This article relates only to the Jewish and Palestinian citizens of the State of Israel (it does not consider the Palestinians living in Palestinian territories in the West Bank or Gaza). The Jewish majority population and the indigenous Palestinian Arab minority population of Israel mostly live in separate geographical localities, apart from a handful of multicultural towns.

Despite the fact that both the Jewish and Arab societies in Israel contain multiple religious sects and sub-cultures, it has been noted that Arab society is mainly a traditional-patriarchal, male-dominated, and less egalitarian culture, characterized by a collectivist culture (Abu Baker, 2008), while Jewish society is in general a more individualist and egalitarian culture (Sagie, Kantor, Elizur & Barhoum, 2005). This generalization is further qualified because some scholars discern a process of modernization in Arab society partly due to contact with Jewish society and partly due to the influence of mass media (Arar, 2014a). Arab citizens do not enjoy full equal civilian rights and face obstacles in attaining access to public resources, and the Palestinian nation is still embroiled in conflict with the Jewish state in which Palestinian citizens of Israel live. Politically underrepresented in government, they have difficulties integrating within Israel's employment market. Consequently, 53% of the Arab population in Israel lives below the poverty line (Ben-David, 2014; Gara, 2013). …

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