(Bekerman & Neuman, 2001; Peled, 2001). The ultra-Orthodox belief in the supremacy of the traditional Jewish law (the Halacha) over all other kinds of legal, moral, and civil codes stands in the way of the integration of this minority into the Israeli civil society, characterized as a democratic Westernized secular-based regime.
Citizenship education in Israel faces important challenges. First, it is very important to encourage and assist all students, including mainstream students, to acquire the knowledge, values, and skills needed to interact positively with people from diverse ethnic and cultural groups, especially with the Arab and the Jewish immigrant citizens. Second, paraphrasing Banks (1997), citizenship education in Israel should encourage students to understand and to deal reflectively with the contradictions that appear in the history of the nation—for example, the contradiction between supporting democratic ideals while favoring Jewish citizens over the Arab ones.
Citizenship education should also promote respect of the rights of newcomers to preserve their cultural and ethnic values and traditions and to become integrated—and not assimilated—at their own pace to the country. This understanding should consider the historical context in which Israel was created and should be based on the promotion of some of the key elements of multicultural education such as prejudice reduction and an empowering school culture (Banks, 2001). Finally, citizenship education in Israel should be able to deal with the delicate geopolitical situation of Israel and to become the key player in the achievement of peace with the Palestinians and with the Arab neighboring nations.
Abu-Nimer, M. (1999). Dialogue, conflict resolution, and change. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Al-Haj, M. (1995). Education, empowerment, and control: The case of the Arabs in Israel. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Al-Haj, M., & Leshem, E. (2000). Immigrants from the former Soviet Union in Israel: Ten years later. Haifa, Israel: The Center for Multiculturalism and Educational Research, University of Haifa.
Anderson, C., Avery, P. G., Pederson, P. V., Smith, E. S., & Sullivan, J. L. (1997). Divergent perspectives on citizenship education: A Q-method study and survey of social studies teachers. American Educational Research Journal, 34 (2), 333–364.
Banks, J. A. (1994). An introduction to multicultural education (1st ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.