Critics say new Israeli civics textbook whitewashes and distorts reality

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May 10, 2016 00:39
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After five years in the works, the Education Ministry released its new high school civics textbook To Be Israeli Citizens on Monday.

The new 514-page textbook, which is set to replace the current version published in 2000, has been at the center of controversy since even before its release over what content to include in a civics book geared towards students in the state and state-religious school system.

Earlier this year, the book’s language editor, Yehuda Yaari penned a letter to the ministry, which was leaked to the media, noting several objections to the text.

Among the divisive excerpts included quotations implicating Arab Israelis in attacks in the wave of terrorism, and citations that it was never proven that the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was due to incitement.

The report also stated that the chapter on human dignity included dozens of quotations from Jewish sources, without including citations from secular thinkers, philosophers, poets, or writers, a reversal of the previous version of the textbook.

Due to the severe backlash, the textbook was revised and several of the problematic segments were removed; for example, the 2015 wave of terrorism was entirely omitted from the book.

The final version of the textbook includes four sections covering: What is a Jewish State?; What is a Democratic State?; Government and Politics in Israel; and Society and Politics in Israel.

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