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Demographic Trends in the Land of Israel (1800-2007)

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he demographic “population bomb” has been perceived for decades as a looming threat to Jewish democracy in Israel. Lately it has been repeatedly cited as a justification for far-reaching territorial concessions. However, many recent studies seem to cast doubt on this threat. The Jewish majority in Israel has been fairly stable for decades, and the gap in birthrates has greatly narrowed.

A new study by Yaakov Faitelson brings a unique historical perspective to this issue. Looking at the past, we see that Jews in the land of Israel have been concerned about demographics since the 19th century, yet the Jewish population and majority has been steadily increasing for generations. Looking at the future, we see that careful demographic projections suggest that the Jewish majority in the land of Israel will likely be fairly stable for another generation. This doesn’t mean that the demographic make-up of the local population is not a valid concern, but it does suggest that there is no justification for panic.

To The Full Research Article (In Hebrew)

Demographic Trends in the Educational System

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In his new study, Yaakov Faitelson uncovers demographic trends among the various populations in the State of Israel, and their influence on the educational system. The study shows that the rate of growth of the wider Jewish population is considerably higher than the Central Bureau of Statistics’ forecast, while the various minority populations grew in line with the lower end of CBS’s forecast range. These trends significantly influence the nature of Israel’s educational system.

According to the study’s conclusions, the data indicates continuous rapid growth in the Jewish first grade student body in the coming years, the stability or slight decrease in first grade students in Arab education, and a decrease in the percentage of Ultra-Orthodox students out of all Jewish students.

To The Full Research Article (In Hebrew)

Civics Studies , Education or Unidirectional Indoctrination?

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Dr. Yizhak Geiger

In the past few years, the study of Civics has become an integral part of the Israeli curriculum.  This development, which is positive in its nature, was accompanied by fundamental failures such as inadequate preparation of the core curriculum and the publishing of unsuitable textbooks and materials. These steps were taken without proper public discussion and granted too much power to the current dominant ideological group in the Israeli academia, when it allowed it to design the curriculum according to its will and to leave a long term impression on the conscious of the citizens ofIsrael and the future of the State.

This position paper demonstrates that this failure is a painful blow on four dimensions: Zionist education, democratic education, the teaching of critical thinking, and the chance of reducing the tension between the various sectors of Israeli society.  The full position paper, by Dr. Yizhak Geiger, civics teacher and former member of the civics committee in the Education Ministry, presents the situation report in detail and includes summaries and recommendations. Included in his recommendations are: revising the values and viewpoints included in the core curriculum, stressing the importance of supervision over the implementation of this plan, rewriting the tests and developing new literature in the subject.

 

Downloadable Documents (In Hebrew):

 

  1. Position Paper on Civics Studies – Operative Recommendations.

 

  1. Abstract – Civics Studies , Education or Unidirectional Indoctrination?.

 

  1. Meeting Of The Knesset Education Committee Concerning The Paper

 

  1.  Bias In Civics Studies- Select Examples

 

  1.  Teaching of Civics– Full follow-up report 2012

 

 

Teaching History in Israel and the World

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Prof. Yoav Gelber

Abstract

For years, Israeli society has been in a state of bewilderment.  It has been experiencing conflict over its identity, sources of authority and ethos. The line of division is the Six Day War – the elimination of the existential threat eroded the ethos of one for all in favor of self-fulfillment.

Under market and political pressures, educational institutions – universities, colleges and schools – speculate over the quality of their national purpose (and if they even have one), over their social function and over their academic and educational direction.  The public controversies over the teaching of history in universities and schools reflect the Zionist movement’s loss of direction.  Historians consider the contradictions between the extent and profundity of scientific work on the past and their desire to influence the present by means of participation in debates in the public sphere.  Often the submission to the constraints of the media lowers the level of historical discussion and confines it to the framework, language, time and scope of television talk shows and newspaper opinion columns.

In academia, the discipline of history has been split into a number of sub-disciplines, to the extent that it may be becoming too eclectic.   Despite the scope of the disciplines and the variety of their subjects, the position of the discipline of history in Israel is on the decline.  The number of students is dwindling, and the relative ease of acceptance is often what persuades students to choose history, and students are met with the postmodernist, post-Zionist and relativist approaches of some of their educators, who are intolerant of other approaches.  These trends tailor the character of high school history teachers to be less qualified and more conformist.

In an era of mandatory education, when history classes are obligatory for at least some years, the entire population is exposed to the curriculums, syllabuses, textbooks and teachers of history.  Schools in general, and specifically history classes, are a key tool that influences the “collective memory” and instills it in our youth.

Since the nineties, post-Zionist academic scholars seeking to destroy the Israeli “collective memory” blamed the public school system for indoctrinating students (as they claimed), and instead of instilling values originating from national history they emphasize the postmodernist view which presents different narratives and their political functions.  However, unlike universities, schools must educate their students, not provide them with disciplinary training.  The dubious contemporary Israeli practice – concealing national history by merging it with world history – reverses the proper order in which things should be done.

A curriculum must present the few basic concepts that a society wishes to instill in (or teach) its future generation, and not what students (or their parents) wish to acquire (or learn). There will always be discontented teachers, parents and students. Teachers will adapt the curriculum to their personal approach to teaching and to history, and to a certain extent this is legitimate. Certain parents will always be critical of the curriculum and they have the means at their disposal by which they may and even should be able to partially influence it.  Better students will not be satisfied with what their school has to offer and may be directed to additional sources of information beyond the textbook.  Other students may have difficulty grasping the basic concepts presented in such a curriculum, but the large majority should fall between these two extremes and should be the target population the curriculum attempts to reach.

To The Full Position Paper (In English)

The Pedagogic Commitie In Israel

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Dr Zvi Tzameret, who served as the director of the Pedagogic Secretariat at the Ministry of  Education in the years 2010 and 2011, sums up his period of office and presents a number of fundamental failings in the Israeli educational system: the limited functioning of the Pedagogic Secretariat; the politicization underlying the subject of Israeli culture; the multiplicity of subjects offered for the Bagrut examinations; the status of the core subjects; and the methods of teaching civics.

For the Full Position Paper

Public Diplomacy Studies for Israeli High School Students

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Zeev Ben-Shachar

In recent years the State of Israel continually finds itself isolated in the international arena. A significant rise in anti-Israeli sentiment is evident, especially during times of political stagnation or regional instability.
At times like this, there is a tendency, sometimes justifiable, to point the finger at flawed government policy and ineffective Israel advocacy.
After delivering hundreds of lectures to thousands of students in Israel and abroad, we believe that there is another reason for the decline in Israel’s international standing.

Then Satan Said/ Natan Alterman
(translated from Hebrew)
..Satan then said:
How do I overcome
This besieged one?
He has courage
And talent,
And implements of war
And resourcefulness.
…only this shall I do,
I’ll dull his mind
And cause him to forget
The justice of his cause

It has to do with the notion that we – the Israeli people – have lost conviction in the justness of our cause, Zionism. This assessment is based on the premise that Israel advocacy needs to start from within – we believe that the degree to which Israelis better understand and acknowledge Israel’s right to exist, is the degree to which we will be able to represent ourselves effectively abroad.
The purpose of this proposal to the Ministry of Education is to introduce the study of public diplomacy to Israeli high schools. The public diplomacy track (The program will either be required of all students, or made optional for specialty track students) will provide Israeli teenagers with a basic understanding of the history and current status of the Arab-Israeli conflict, something that has thus far been significantly lacking from the history and civic studies tracks. It will also teach students the theory and practice of public diplomacy, and provide them with practical skills in effective communication. Throughout the program, students will be exposed to books, articles, literature and films about improving Israel’s standing in the international arena.
Contributing Team
Project Manager and Lead Author: Ze’ev Ben-Shachar, Educator and Program Manager at The David Project
Lead Researcher and Co-Writer: Maor Shani, PhD Fellow at the Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences
Consulting Committee:

    1. Senior Consultant: Adi Arbel, Program Manager at the Institute of Zionist Strategies
    2. Professor Asher Cohen: Chairman of Civics Studies Panel at Ministry of Education and Political Science Professor at Bar Ilan University
    3. Dr. Simcha Goldin: Chairman of History Studies Panel at Ministry of Education and Jewish History Professor at Tel Aviv University
    4. Professor Orit Ichilov: Sociologist and Emeritus Professor at the School of Education, Tel Aviv University
    5. Dr. Zvi Zameret: former Chair of the Pedagogical Secretariat at Ministry of Education and Professor at Herzliya’s Interdisciplinary Center
    6. Ari Applbaum: Director of Israel Operations, The David Project

Contributing Writers: Adi Arbel, Ari Applbaum, Tal Bar-On, Yoni Biron, Sara Kampler, Noa Sherman-Goldfinger
Note: The purpose of this proposal is to give students a basic understanding of the conflict, provide them with effective communication skills, and to instill in them Zionist values ​​and “Ahavat Ha’Aretz” (love of the land).  At the same time, the program will strive as much as possible, to avoid taking a stand on political issues and matters of government policy. Ultimately, the goal of this program is to train and inspire young Israeli leaders to continue engaging in public diplomacy as part of their public service in Israel and abroad, and to be comfortable doing so regardless of where they are across the political spectrum.
Additionally, much public diplomacy talent can no doubt be found in the periphery, where there are as many capable youngsters as in the center of Israel. This program will be congruently by offered and developed in the periphery, with the goal of helping students overcome social and economic obstacles.

Appendix 1: Program Syllabus
The following is a sample of themes and topics that will be included in the curriculum of public diplomacy:

  1. Historical Dimension:
    1. The right of the Jewish people to a homeland in the land of Israel: historical, international and legal rights
    2. Key events and processes in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict and their impact on the State of Israel today: the British Mandate, the 1948 War of Independence, the Six Day War, the Intifadas, and the peace process
    3. Historical context for central issues often discussed such as refugees, occupation and Apartheid
  1. Physical Dimension:
    1. Israel in the regional context: geopolitical maps of Israel and the Middle East
    2. Geopolitical changes in the Middle East: the 2010-2013 turmoil in the region (“Arab Spring”), tensions between “moderates” and “radicals,” the Sunni-Shiite divide, the Iranian threat
    3. Israel in the global context: between international support and opposition (boycott, divestment and sanctions).
  1. Moral Dimension:
    1. Moral dilemmas and right vs. right decisions Israel faces
    2. Where does one draw the line between legitimate allegations and Israel hatred? (using Natan Sharansky’s 3D Test for anti-Semitism: de-legitimization, demonization and double standards)
  1. Israel beyond the Conflict/ “Tikun Olam”:
    1. Innovation and technology
    2. Humanitarian initiatives in third world countries
  1. The Palestinian Narrative:
    1. The rise of Palestinian identity
    2. A national struggle
    3. The peace process
  1. Public Diplomacy:
    1. Understanding the place of public diplomacy in advancing a country’s interests
    2. Nation branding – theory, examples of successful branding, and understanding the rationale behind the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Brand Israel project
  1. Communication skills:
    1. Public speaking
    2. Debating skills
    3. Responding to difficult questions on core issues surrounding the conflict
  1. Leadership skills:
    1. Principles of effective activism
    2. Planning and implementing Israel advocacy campaigns in the community
  1. Media:
    1. Becoming critical consumers of the media
    2. Learning to utilize mass media to shape public opinion on Israel
    3. Using Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and other platforms) to run campaigns, influence existing social networks and expand reach of message to additional social networks
  1. Tours in Israel:
    1. Visiting places and people in the heart of the conflict: security barrier, checkpoints, Sderot and East Jerusalem
    2. Getting to know Israel and Israelis beyond the conflict: high-tech companies, encounters with Israeli entrepreneurs, non-profit organizations engaged in humanitarian initiatives in third world countries
  1. Regional Conferences:
    1. Nation-wide debate competitions
    2. Continuous communication and updates through student blogs, online forums and social media campaigns

For the full position paper (in Hebrew)

Jewish Nationl Home- IZS Proposal

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Basic Law: The National Home

 

The State of Israel was established as a Jewish state. Previous to its founding, the international community (speaking through the League of Nations and the UN Charter) had established and administered the British mandate to help ensure this result, and the General Assembly called for theestablishment of Jewish and Arab states in November 1949. In its Declaration of Independence, the newly established Jewish state was defined as the National Home of the Jewish People.  The Declaration also set forth some of the democratic principles to govern the State. For more than fifty there had been a broad public consensus in Israel regarding the meaning of a Jewish state and of the National Home of the Jewish People. But in recent years, there has been a change. A strong segment of the academic, intellectual and judicial establishment in Israel has been working to see to it that Israel becomes a liberal-democratic state instead of aJewish state and the National Home of the Jewish People. The state this group seeks to fashion would retain certain Jewish characteristics, but only those which do not infringe upon the principle of absolute equality. This extreme approach distorts the intentions of the nation’s founding fathers and the objective and moral reasons for Israel’s creation It would alter the Jewish nature of Israel and decimate its centrality and strength for theJewish People.

 

Clearly therefore, there is a pressing need to establish by law the fundamental characteristics of Israel as a Jewish state and the National Home for the Jewish People. This legislation must be in the form of a Basic Law so that it will not be undermined and eroded by judicial fiat. The IZS has drafted just such a Basic Law. The IZS draft law also includes provisions for the State to promote Jewish culture, history, education, and aliyah. It reaffirms and strengthens the connection of the Jewish state to the Jewish People, and the Jewish characteristics of the State, such as the centrality of Jerusalem, Hebrew as the official language, the Jewish calendar, and the national flag and anthem.

 

Basic Law: The National Home

National Home

  1. The State of Israel is a Jewish state and the National Home of the Jewish People; wherein the Jewish People fulfills its yearning for self-determination in accordance with its historical and cultural heritage.[1][1]Only the Jewish nation is entitled to the right to national self-determination within the State of Israel.

 

Interpretation

  1. This Basic Law and all other laws shall be interpreted in conformity with Clause 1.

 

Preservation of Culture, Heritage and Identity

  1. Each resident of Israel, without regard to his religion or nationality, shall be entitled to strive for the preservation of his culture, heritage and self identity.The State may permit a community, including the members of a single religion or the members of a single nationality, to establish separate seettlements and communities.

 

Anthem, Flag and Symbol

  1. The national anthem is “Hatikva”; the flag is white, two blue stripes along its top and bottom margins and a blue Star of David at its center; the state symbol is a seven-branched menorah with olive branches on either side of the menorah and the word “Israel” at its base.[1][2]

Return

  1. Every Jew shall have the right to immigrate to Israel and to obtain citizenship in accordance with the provisions of law.[1][3]

 

Ingathering of the Exiles and Jewish Settlement

  1. A. The State will act to ingather the exiles of Israel.
  2. The State shall promote Jewish settlement in Israel and shall allocate    lands and resources for Jewish settlement. [1][4]

 

The Connection to the Jewish People in the Diaspora

  1. A. The State will act to strengthen the connection between Israel and the Jewish communities in the Diaspora.
  2. The State will act for the well being of members of the Jewish People who are in distress.

 

Language

  1. Hebrew is the official state language.

 

The Official Calendar

  1. The Hebrew Calendar is the official State calendar.[1][5]

 

Independence Day

  1. Independence Day is the national holiday of the State.

 

Days of Rest

  1. The established days of rest in the State of Israel are the Sabbath and the Jewish Holidays; an employee shall not work on these days of rest; individuals belonging to legally recognized ethnic groups shall be entitled to refrain from work on their holidays. All of the above as regulated by statute.[1][6]

 

Kashrut

  1. The laws of Kashrut shall be observed in the IDF and in all national institutions.

 

Preservation of The Jewish Heritage

  1. The state will work to preserve and nurture the historical and cultural heritage of the Jewish People.

 

The Study of Jewish Heritage

  1. The history of the Jewish people, its heritage and its traditions shall be taught in all educational institutions serving the Jewish public.

 

Jewish Civil Law

  1. Jewish civil law shall serve as a resource of wisdom for legislation.  Where a court is to deecide a dispute which cannot be resolved by existing statute, by judicial precedent, or by strict legal analogy, it shall render its decision in accordance with  the principles of freedom, justice, equity, and peace derived from Jewish civil law.

 

Basic Law

  1. This Basic Law may not be changed or amended, except by a Basic Law passed by a majority of the Members of the Knesset.

 

 

 

[1][1]        From the Declaration of Independence.

[1][2]        Taken from the Flag, Symbol and Anthem Law 5709, 1949

[1][3]                        The concept appears in the Law of Return 5710, 1950.

[1][4]                        Based on the Declaration of Independence.

[1][5]                        This clause is based upon the instructions stated in the

Law for the usage of the Hebrew date 5758, 1998.

[1][6]                        Based on Clause 7 of the Work and Rest Hours Law 5711, 1951.

Basic Law proposal: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People – the liberal justification

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Aviad Bakshi

Abstract

There are those who argue that the idea of a Jewish nation-state contradicts the liberal values of human rights and therefore is illegitimate. Others agree, for various reasons, to accept the legitimacy of a state for the Jewish nation despite their feeling that it is a violation of the values of human rights. They seek to minimize the expression of the Jewish nation component in the State of Israel’s internal legal system.  They, therefore,

oppose a Basic Law calling for the State of Israel to be recognized as the nation-state of the Jewish people. This position paper argues the opposite.

 

Anchoring the notion of Israel as the Jewish nation-state in law is needed not despite- but because of Israel’s commitment to the liberal values of human rights. The point of view, which seeks to prevent people embodying their self-identification in a nation-state, manifests a lack of respect for people and is detrimental to the basic human right to autonomy, identity, and culture. It is this point of view which suppresses human rights and which is seeped in cultural imperialism.  It violates the basic liberal value of respecting each person as a whole. This position paper argues that a liberal nation-state is obligated to safeguard the human rights of minority groups and continually to strike a balance between those rights and the country’s identity as a nation-state, respecting each person’s right to self-identification within the nation-state.

 

We open with a survey of individualistic liberalism, which sees only the welfare and rights of individuals and refuses to recognize an individual’s right and need to belong to and identify with a group. According to this narrow view of liberalism, nationality does indeed stand in contradiction. The paper then analyzes in depth the changes which liberalism has undergone over the past thirty years, including a recognition of the right to a group culture and identity. The paper presents Michael Sandel’s critique, which states that the protection afforded human rights by individualistic liberalism is an empty defense; there is no point in discussing the right to autonomy, respect, and personal identity if we ignore the deep-seated connection most people have to group cultures and identities – including their national identities. Another criticism of individualistic liberalism surveyed in this paper is that of Alasdair MacIntyre, who posits that there are those who wish to live lives detached from group cultures and therefore object to national identities, but they make up another, particular cultural sub-group. There is no justification for positing this specific group’s values as meta-values and to impose them on other groups of individuals who do see a national identity as a central tenet of their respective personal identities. In keeping with this criticism, it is argued that individualistic liberalism is nothing but imperialism which seeks to force onto most people a culture and scale of values alien to them. This imperialism is absurdly justified by invoking people’s liberal right to autonomously shape their own identity. We further argue that revoking people’s right to nationality because of individualistic liberalism is not liberalism at all; this is oppression based on an arbitrary refusal to honor people’s right to autonomy and to a unique and authentic identity.

 

As a follow-up, and in the wake of what has been said by some philosophers regarding the right to culture, this position paper further argues that an acknowledgement of a right to a national culture demands a defense of the liberal nation-state as an authentic expression of this right. It is argued, for example, that there is no point in defending the Jews’ right to express their culture by declaring “Next year in Jerusalem” unless it is accompanied by the right to act to realize those deep cultural values through the existence of a Jewish nation-state.

 

Our conclusion is that the liberal point of view demands the defense of people’s right to self-definition and therefore demands the defense of the right of the Jewish people to a state for the Jewish nation. Consistent with the liberal axioms for our discussion, this nation-state for the Jewish nation must be a liberal nation-state with a deep commitment to the human rights of all its residents. It is thus necessary to enact legal safeguards of individual rights through Basic Laws.  And it is no less necessary to enact Basic Laws guaranteeing its identity as the Jewish nation-state.

To the full position paper 

Solidarity, Nationalism and Humanism – on the Question of Immigration

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By Prof. Avi Diskin

The question of immigration is part and parcel of the basic societal dilemmas which we call, in the current context, the dilemma of “solidarity limits.” National solidarity is not only a practical and appropriate solution but is also an idea which is a suitable companion to basic liberal rights and freedoms such as the right for self-definition and the right of free association.

The currently most accepted and stable limits of solidarity are the borders of sovereign nations in general and the borders of nation-states specifically. Countries are characterized by territorial limits and by the sovereignty they apply to the territory they control. It is this sovereignty which is decisive in immigration issues. International agreements and the principles of basic morality require countries to help refugees — especially those running for their lives — but in principle leave the formalities of immigration to the various sovereign nations. Countries are not required to grant refugees citizenship or even integrate them into society; they are only required to prevent the refugee’s extradition to places which represent a danger to life. All countries apply selection criteria for immigration and in many countries these tests center around the country’s national identity and the identity of those seeking to immigrate.

Both theoretically and practically, Woodrow Wilson’s liberal philosophy about the right to self-identification was exceptional. This right finds expression in the immigration policies of many countries. The idea of self-identification also was expressed in the foundation of the League of Nations, and while the League recognized the right of the Jewish people to define its own identity and to found a national home for the Jews, it is undoubtedly true that this recognition was the fruit of efforts by the Zionist movement.

At the center of the Zionist ideal is the founding of a national home for the Jews in the land of Israel. The Zionist ideal therefore places immigration of Jews to Israel as a central organizing principle. Anti-Zionist agents would refuse both the right of Jews to immigrate to Israel and the right of a Jewish state to exist. Both Zionists and anti-Zionists connect the rights of immigration and the existence of the State of Israel.

After the foundation of the State the Zionist ideal was expressed in the Law of Return and in citizenship laws. Challenging these laws means challenging the right of the State of Israel to exist. Laws like the Law of Return exist in many liberal-democratic countries, and attempts to challenge them in only the State of Israel are an aberration from what is accepted as ideal and as common practice.

The results of the War of Independence, the Israeli immigration laws, and the Jews’ longing to return to the land fulfilled the Zionist ideal in two ways. First, the clear and stable majority of Israeli citizens are Jews. Second, the percentage of worldwide Jews living in Israel is steadily growing.

A comparison of immigration statistics shows that nationality does have an influence in some countries. For example, similar vocabularies and a feeling of pan-Arabic nationalism explain immigration patterns within Arab countries. On the whole, though, the main variable in immigration patterns is an economic one. Modern theories emphasize the importance of degradation and social distance alongside economics as factors leading to emigration.

The triangle of nation-state, democratic regime, and immigration policy has accompanied Zionism since its earliest days. Jews have been persecuted for being Jews throughout the diaspora. Zionism strove to solve the Jewish problem in every single place by establishing a nation-state to which Jews from the whole disapora would immigrate. Since the Zionist enterprise began, the Zionist leadership and the Zionist majority championed the establishment of a democratic nation-state which would continue the work of ingathering. The overwhelming assumption of the Zionist leadership was that the state which would be established would be a Jewish and democratic state, a nation-state of all its citizens. The attempt to create a contradiction between these two elements, in the context of immigration or in any other context, is neither correct nor ethical. It denies Zionist philosophy, distorts the international experience of the modern era, and stands in contradiction to the political, practical, and judicial reality in the State of Israel. The claim of a universal right to immigration and a universal requirement to integrate immigrants is baseless — morally, legally, and practically — both in Israel and in every other country.

To the full paper (Hebrew)

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