Jewish Journal

Free Speech in the Israeli Classroom?

by Jeremy Elster

February 17, 2014 | 6:45 am

Education in Israel and Palestine is highly politicized. Last year, a team of American, Israeli, Palestinian and international education experts conducted the "first scientific analysis" of Israeli and Palestinian textbooks and found that both groups use textbooks that distort the history of the conflict. Despite the two groups portraying their side positively while the other as an enemy, the researchers found an extremely small number of "extreme negative characterizations" in Israeli and Palestinian textbooks. 

In the last month Israel has become embroiled in an education scandal that has exposed questions of free speech, democracy, and critical pedagogies. Adam Verete was accused by a 12th grade student for espousing "leftist views" in the classroom after he called into question the morality of the IDF and laughed in response to the student's support for the statement, "All Arabs should be thrown into the sea". The female student took her claims against the teacher online and wrote a letter to the Minister of Education, which was quickly supported by far-right politicians Michael Ben-Ari and Baruch Marzel. Current and former students of Verete came to his defense, praising him for encouraging critical thinking and reminding the public that the ORT school in Kiryat Tivon has one of the highest enlistment rates in the country. Click through to watch Israel Social TV's report on the Adam Verete case:


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Jeremy Elster is a Southern Californian native and New Israel Fund/SHATIL Social Justice Fellow working as the International Communications Coordinator for Israel Social TV...

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