Israeli Civics Text Credits God For Creation Of State, Barely Mentions Arabs

 Naftali Bennett, leader of the Jewish Home party, speaks during an interview to The Associated Press in Jerusalem. Israel’s high school civics textbook, slated to be published in March, has become the latest in a string of national battles over what Israeli students learn in school. Three textbook authors have removed their names from chapters they wrote, claiming Education Ministry professionals altered their work beyond recognition. Education Minister Bennet defended the content of the book as “excellent and professional.”

Naftali Bennett, leader of the Jewish Home party, speaks during an interview to The Associated Press in Jerusalem. Israel’s high school civics textbook, slated to be published in March, has become the latest in a string of national battles over what Israeli students learn in school. Three textbook authors have removed their names from chapters they wrote, claiming Education Ministry professionals altered their work beyond recognition. Education Minister Bennet defended the content of the book as “excellent and professional.”

The Israeli Education Ministry has raised eyebrows with its new civics textbook, designed for the nation’s secular school system. The book, called “Being a Citizen in Israel,” makes repeated mentions to God as being behind the founding of Israel in 1948, and cites Bible passages as justification.

The book openly defends Israel’s status as a “Jewish nation state,” cheering the nation’s ethno-cultural nationalism as wholly appropriate, and repeatedly mentions the Holocaust as well, in reference to the importance of Israel’s existence as a Jewish-dominated state..

Adding to the controversy, the book includes only a single chapter covering all of Israel’s religious minorities, and centers primarily on the Druze, insisting that they are loyal to the state and don’t identify as Arabs. Israel’s huge Muslim minority, however, gets two whole sentences in the entire book, one of which accuses them of “oppressing women” and the other simply pointing out that they make up 83% of Israel’s minorities overall.

It is noteworthy that the accusations against Muslims are one of very few references to women in the entire book, which makes no references to ongoing debates in Israeli society about the status of women in ultra-Orthodox communities.

Israel’s current Education Minister is Naftali Bennett, of the far-right “Jewish Home” party. Officials defended the book’s contents, insisting that several Arab editors had reviewed and approved its contents, though notably, not a single Arab was named in the book’s extensive credits.

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