Innovations in Israel’s Civics Textbooks

Enlightening Trends in Non-Western Democracies

in Israel Studies Review
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  • 1 Beit Berl College, Israel sigalbrg@gmail.com
  • 2 Bar-Ilan University, Israel paz.carmel@gmail.com
  • 3 Beit Berl College, Israel levko@beitberl.ac.il
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Abstract

Classic Western democracies (those of Western Europe and the Anglophone world) view the teaching of civics as a policy instrument through which liberal values, democracy, and even globalization are introduced to future citizens, thus expecting to assure the persistence of democracy. In present-day democracies in general, and mainly in non-Western democracies, however, civics assumes other forms, including the study of nationalism. This article analyzes innovations in the teaching of civics in Israel by examining the changes in school textbooks that accompany changing national leaderships. We highlight the current Israeli high school civics textbook, written under a significantly rightist-religious government. Assuming that civics textbooks express the political credo of ruling elites, our findings suggest similarities between trends in Israel and non-Western democracies, hinting at the fragility of democratization in general and chiefly outside the West.

Contributor Notes

SIGAL BEN-RAFAEL GALANTI is a Senior Lecturer at Beit Berl College. She heads the Berl Katznelson Chair for the Study of the Labor Movement, and chairs the Israeli Association for Japanese Studies. She has been a Fellow at Tokyo University (2001), Waseda University (2005), and Krakow Pedagogic University (2014). She specializes in democratization and Japanese and Israeli politics. Her recent publications include Visions of Democracy and Peace in Occupied Japan (2020); Japan's Multilayered Democracy (2015, edited with Nissim Otmazgin and Alon Levkowitz), and “The Post-Crisis Kibbutz and Its Relations with the Political Arena” (in The Metamorphosis of the Kibbutz, 2020). E-mail: sigalbrg@gmail.com

PAZ CARMEL is a PhD candidate at Bar-Ilan University. She teaches at David Yellin College of Education and at the Civic Education and Social Studies Preparatory School for the Blind at the Aleh Center of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. E-mail: paz.carmel@gmail.com

ALON LEVKOWITZ is a Senior Lecturer and Chair of the Social Science and Civics Department at Beit Berl College, and a Research Fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University. His research interest is in the foreign policy and security of Northeast Asia and the Middle East. He has published articles in International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, Korean Journal of Defense Analysis, and Defence and Peace Economics, among other journals. E-mail: levko@beitberl.ac.il

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