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Textbooks as a vehicle for segregation and domination: state efforts to shape Palestinian Israelis' identities as citizens

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The paper discusses the collective identity of the Palestinian citizens of Israel as it is filtered to school students through the state-commissioned school textbooks. Since it was established in 1948, Israel has maintained two separate education systems, one for Palestinian-Israelis, who are now ∼ 20% of the population, and the other for Jewish Israelis. Each system has its own curriculum, transmitting its own cultural and national messages. This paper compares Palestinian school textbooks (grades 5-12) currently in use to earlier textbooks of the 1960s. The analysis shows how the segregated school system for Palestinians in Israel forges a mechanism of domination of the national history and collective memory of the Palestinians. Through processes of exclusion and selection, the state narrative, as it is manifested in the Palestinian school textbooks, renders the Palestinian identity non-existent and rootless. Palestinians are presented as a collective detached from their past and from their immediate surroundings in the region.
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Keywords: Israeli education systems; Palestinian Israelis; curriculum; ethnic segregation; history textbooks; minority identity

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-10-01

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