The politics and social use of Israeli and Palestinian history textbooks in the school curriculum : history textbooks impact on children and their contribution in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict

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Demetriou, Maria
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The study examines the importance of school history textbooks in conflict situations. The working assumption is the dialectical relationship between the educational system and conflict situation. School textbooks are presented as illustrations of the institutionalized societal beliefs and as such they provide a formal expression of society’s ideology, ethos, values, goals and beliefs to the youngsters. History textbooks are examined as society’s products that illustrate the society’s “legitimate knowledge” and as such they cannot provide children with neutral knowledge. The historical narrative, included in history textbooks, is considered to be a reflection of one nations’ collective identity. Unfortunately, the collective identities of both Jews and Palestinians have long been constructed around the Jewish-Palestinian conflict as a consequence of the social and historical reality. The analysis is examined if the collective historical narratives of both sides are embedded in the Israeli and Palestinian history textbooks. Moreover, history textbooks are examined in the light of being the officially state-oriented knowledge of the two societies and the sanctioned knowledge of the two cultures. While most of the studies made for education in the Middle East posits it as part of the problem rather than part of the solution, this study suggests that when negative relations are based on ethnocentrism, education for coexistence plays a major role in changing the nature of the relations.
Second semester University: University of Padua.
collective identity, Israel, Palestine, culture conflict, Middle East, education, history