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[Political Science, Open University] Udi Adiv provides false information: "Political Pedagogy Vs Coexistance Education: The Case of Israel\Palestine"



In Factis Pax 2 (2) (2008): 268-281


Volume 2 Number 2 (2008): 268-281


Political Pedagogy Vs Coexistance Education:

The Case of Israel\Palestine

Udi Adiv

It seems that there is a well-high harmony of opinion within the critical portion of the

Israeli scholars, according to which peaceful coexistence is, indeed, the only

enlightened educational solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, one

cannot be sure that this harmony is not somewhat the harmony of spheres to the ears

of mainstream Israelis. My claim is that a coexistent education is impuissance at

best, or perpetuation of the Israeli situation at worst, as, in the end, it rather accepts,

consciously or unconsciously, the fundamentals behind the hegemonic Zionist

ideology. That is, the exclusivist unmediated Jewish patriotism, which taking apart

the mainstream Israelis from the Palestinians, and subsequently put them at a

distance/ A distance which is the real driving force and the quintessence of

the conflict.

On the contrary, political pedagogy really declares a war to the knife against the

conventional Jewish patriotism. Hence, as things stand, it is not to bemuse anyone

of sound mind that very little attention has been paid to the radical political

perspective and to the political pedagogy in particular, within Israeli educational


This paper presents the Israeli education system as a case study for examining and

suggesting political perspectives of education in what Erik Hobsbawm called “the age

of the extreme”. I will consider the general implications of the radical political

approach vs. the critical and coexistence education, discussing how and to what extent

they both trying to challenge the Zionist ideological message of the educational

system. By that, I hope to elaborate on the advantage of the political idea of

republicanism regarding education in general and the Israeli education system in


In Factis Pax 2 (2) (2008): 268-281



The Israeli Education System

Historical developments have created a unique and complicated situation in the

country. Hence, the most dramatic events, the expulsion of 700,000 Palestinians

during the 1948 War1 and the demolishing of more than 400 of their villages, have

given rise to hostile relationships between the two nations.1 This is the core majorityminority

relationship, which obviously comes into play in the educational system and


Two societies with two different political and cultural orientations live in the same

state. These are the Zionist-Israeli immigrant society, who speaks Hebrew, though this

language is not necessarily their mother tongue, and the local Palestinian society,

whose mother tongue is Arabic, though most of them also speak Hebrew.

In the course of time, various populations with different mother tongues and

backgrounds have joined the Israeli society. Thus, a set of complicated relationships

exists between the two main societies in Israel – the immigrant and the indigenous of

the Arabic speakers: these two societies live separately and together at the same time.

There are separate cities, small towns and villages for each community. Only a few

cities have both populations, and even those generally inhabit separate neighborhoods,

and community life also includes separate schools. Nevertheless, although the two

societies interface in some areas – at work, in public institutions (hospitals,

government offices, football stadiums, universities, etc.), through cultural events or, in

some cases, in political activities – the basic general status is one of segregation.

The educational system in Israel is basically public, and schools are controlled by the

Ministry of Education2. Under this control and supervision there are two separate

systems - one for Arabic speakers and one for Hebrew speakers. There are very few

private schools for Hebrew speakers. Those for Arabic speakers are usually

established by the churches and attached to them. This means that Palestinian citizens

of Israel and the Israeli pupils are educated in separate schools, each with its own

particular culture, religion and linguistic heritage. A few Arabic- speaking families

choose to send their children into Hebrew schools (this appears to be on the increase),

but the reverse is unheard of. However, there is no official record of numbers in

respect of this phenomenon.2

There is also a variety of streams and divisions within each main sector. The Israeli

(Hebrew) sector’s main division is of secular (state) and religious streams, while the

religious schools are also divided into orthodox and state-religious. As concerns the

Palestinian schools – their situation is one of divide et impera: Druze and Bedouin are

separated from the general Arab sector. Additionally, for many years Arab teachers

and educators were questioned by the security services in Israel about their political

attitudes and activities before receiving permission to teach in the state system.

Obviously, the separation also applies to teachers, parents and regular staff in schools,

and impinges on the courses in teacher-training colleges.

Education in Israel cannot be defined only by its degree of adherence to purely Jewish

nationalism. There is, for example, a network of “democratic schools” across the

country. To date, there are about thirty schools of this kind, two of which are Arabic

L1 (first language). Although these schools claim their educational innovativeness

from a democratic point of view and as respecting people on the basis of the universal

1 (Svirsky et al. 2007)

2 (Mor-Sommerfeld et al. 2007)

In Factis Pax 2 (2) (2008): 268-281



Declaration of Human Rights, they work and act within the current system that

separates Hebrew and Arabic speakers. The concept of segregation according to

identities dominates education. Borders are, however, sometimes crossed, so that this

division is not absolutely rigid.

The school curricula: the ideology of Zionism

Educational policies and curricula in Israel are derived from the Zionist origins of the

State of Israel, and this is true for all sectors. Hence, Israeli school curricula identify

Zionism and the State of Israel as the “telos” of the Jewish history. That is to say,

Israeli history is read “teleological”, i.e., is read as a linear process, instead of being

read bottom up, as an historical process that could be interpreted differently. The

relevance and importance of this issue lie mainly in the context of mainstream Israeli

education, according to which it was the Jewish people who single-mindedly

determined the Zionist history and consequently established the State of Israel. A

short survey of the Israeli historiographical and educational books, reveals that they

claimed for Zionism what Hobsbawm (1989) calls “the status of a nation a priori”, or

what Smith (1991) defines as “a community of common descent”. The State of Israel

was thus classified as a spontaneous revival of the ancient people, by itself and for

itself, independently of the social and political conditions of the first half of the 20th

Century. Consequently, Israel is represented as a national revival deriving from East

European Jewish conditions at the turn of the century. To use Max Weber’s typology,

the establishment of the State of Israel is mainly defined there as a “value-rationale

action”, i.e. is motivated by conviction of an absolute end “regardless of possible

cost” (Weber, 1995). Accordingly, the Israeli settlers were portrayed as Halutzim

(pioneers) precisely because they acted on their Jewish national convictions regardless

of possible cost to themselves and, what is worst, to others.

One of the earliest textbooks to put forward the Zionist ideological perspective was

Toldot Hatzionut: Tnuat Hatekhiya Vehageula Beisrael (History of Zionism – the

Movement of Revival and Redemption in Israel) published in 1940. The author,

Baruch Ben-Yehuda, was a prominent figure in the Zionist educational system. In

1947-8, he headed the educational department of the Va’ad Leumi (the National

Council) and later became the first director of the Ministry of Education and Culture.

In fact, Ben-Yehuda, both as scholar and as a political activist, played a major role in

what Hobsbawm (1989) and Gellner (1983) called “the invention” of Jewish

nationalism, i.e., the Jewish nationalist doctrine of the State. He was among those who

created the nationalist ideology as a writer, and practiced and disseminated this

ideological invention as a pedagogue, headmaster and director of the Zionist-Israeli

education system. As such, his study represents the nationalist-ideological orientation

of the Israeli education system, shaping the Jewish nationalist viewpoint of further

generations of Israeli scholars.

Other examples are David Vital’s The Origins of Zionism (1975), and Zionism, The

Formative Years (1982). Vital’s studies epitomize the “value-rationale” paradigm of

the Israeli historiographical textbooks according to which Zionism is the fulfillment

of the Jewish past. His first chapter is “Exile, Return and Redemption”. Zionism is

perceived by Vital in terms of Jewish Messianism, the return of the Jews after years of

exile, and their consequent redemption. He traces the origin of Zionism in Jewish

history rather in the historical context of the Zionist movement itself. “The history of

the Jewish People”, he argues in his preface, “is long and complex and does not lend

itself to discussion in the terms in which the histories of other nations, however

In Factis Pax 2 (2) (2008): 268-281



ancient, are, by conviction, conceived”. Vital obviously considers only the Jewish

past, and consequently overlooks the autonomous involvement of the Zionist

movement itself. In other words, Israeli history is glorified in the Israeli education

system as the national revival of East European Jewry. Thus, its subject matter is the

Jewish origins of Israel, rather than Israel\Palestine as a modern political society.

Yet the difficulty with the presentation of these books is the modern invention of

Israel as a metaphysical teleology of Jewish history. Zionism’s concern was to

reconstruct the semi-feudal decentralized Ottoman province of Palestine, and

transform it into a modern centralized nation-state. The historical past, inasmuch as it

determines the present, is simultaneously determined by it. Hence, as a political

phenomenon, Israel is inevitably the Jewish historical past articulated and rearticulated

in terms of the historical context of Ottoman and Mandate Palestine in the

first half of the 20th century. Post factum it is evident that, in reality, the Zionist

settlers’ attitude could be better defined in terms of “rational expedient”, i.e. a type of

action which corresponds rather more to a modern capitalist society than to the oldnew

Jewish community.

The categorical falsity lies here, in trying to explain Israeli society in terms of Jewish

ethnic identity and Biblical historical past. However, from a rather more critical point

of view it is quite clear that it was the Zionist hardliner militaristic leadership that

prevailed in the unique historical circumstances of the Second World War, the power

struggle against the forces of the Palestinian national movement, as well as against the

other more enlightened and moderate Zionist currents. Israeli history should thus be

read politically, i.e., in the context of what Gramsci (1991) called “the unity of the

historical process”, rather than ideologically, in terms of the dominant Jewish national


Indeed, the founders of Zionism were inspired by the notion of a Jewish nationalism.

But, Jewish national identity, “like everything which is historical” should inevitably

be interpreted and reinterpreted objectively, i.e., in terms of its realization in Mandat

Palestine, rather than by its initial subjective idea.

Following 1967 War, there has been an on-going attempt by the mainstream writers to

revive and reconstruct the old Zionist ethos, and simultaneously, an attempt by the

critical writers to undermine that ethos. That is to say, a critical attempt to redefine

the Israeli identity as it became after 1967 vis-à-vis the Palestinians. Thus, the 1967

War aroused an internal dispute that has ever since divided the Israeli intelligentsia.

Mainstream still defines the State of Israel in the spiritual terms of Jewish historical

past while the critics see it the other way round, i.e., they explain Israeli identity in the

light of the new military occupation that was created by the 1967 War.

Critical approaches to the Israeli education

Since the early 1980s, critical approaches – humanist pedagogy, critical or resistant

pedagogy and multiculturalism – to education in Israel have been discussed by

researchers and educators.3 Let us examine these approaches.

Aloni (1997) tries to suggest the humanist idea, as a trans-historical setting as well

as a transcendental telos and\or an utopian scope for the Israeli education. Such a

normative high standard seems to be a critical perspective, indeed. Quite certainly

3 (e.g., Aloni 1997; Gur-Ze’ev 1999 Yona 1998 and others)

In Factis Pax 2 (2) (2008): 268-281



vis-à-vis the positivist utilitarian realization of Neo-liberalism as well as against the

subjective unmediated self-love of Multiculturalism. However, in one way or another,

Aloni fails to notice that his criticism should also and mainly applies to the hegemonic

idea of Zionism as another type of the unmediated appearance of patriotism. Instead,

he mainly argues against the absence of the love of wisdom, and subsequently, the

unmediated particularism of the post-modernist school. Moreover, Aloni pays tribute

to all the humanist philosophers since Plato and Aristotle. Yet, he overlooks the main

difficulty of the philosophers since the days of Socrates, vis-à-vis the real world.

Likewise, his humanist idea is not reflective enough and is presented in too general

and quite naïvely.

However, the main problem has remained – after more than 60 years in which Israel is

still in a constant state of war and conflict- as Plato once asked, who would educate

the people? Certainly, one cannot humanize and enlighten Israeli society single

handedly. It seems that instead of describing the humanistic perspective as the “must”

and “ought” of the Israeli education or its telos, the best thing would be to analyze and

to explain the “is” of the Israeli political circumstances, that is, the circumstances

which determine the education and prevent it to realize the humanist ideal.

The “resistant pedagogy” or critical pedagogy is advanced as a kind of radical

critique of the current state of the Israeli affairs. Following Adorno (1970), Gur-Ze’ev

(1997) criticizes Israel’s political practice from a theoretical standpoint. That is to say,

he views the very existence of education as the manifestation of the primacy of theory

over politics, and consequently as a negation of the existing Israeli circumstances.

However, we have to remember that Adorno’s Negative Dialectics (1990), which

propose criticism for the sake of criticism, as an end in itself, led Socrates to an

inevitable tragic end precisely because politics, and especially republican politics,

does matter.

Yona proposes Multi-culturalism to challenge the hegemony of the Zionist ideology

with the cultural identity of the Orient (Yona 1998). Alony and Gur Ze’ev at least try

to play the Socratic role by using the philosophic elenchus to put the kibosh on the

unmediated patriotism and the simple, false-happiness of the Israeli people. Yona,

on the contrary, not so much engaged in the philosopher role. Instead, following

Said and Gayatri Spivak, he simply calls upon the Oriental Jews to represent

themselves, quite in accord with Spivak (1988) who asks, “Can the subaltern speak?”

Similarly, in his Orientalism, or with Edward Said (1978) that criticizes Marx for

disregarding the “subalterns’” ability to represent themselves.

The main difficulty with this approach lies in the absence of the philosophical

dimension as a normative standard by which one would be able also to value what

the “ subaltern speak?”. Hence, in spite of some radical tones, Yona just replacing

the hegemonic Jewish patriotism with Jewish Orientalism, as just another type of

Jewish cultural patriotism. It is quite simplistic distinction which is presented as the

arbitrariness of the state ideology from above and the authentic unmediated Jewish

oriental identity from below3.

The Coexistence Education

For quite a number of years, and especially since Oslo agreement in 1993, a lot of

common activities and gathering between Israeli and Palestinian youth, citizens of the

In Factis Pax 2 (2) (2008): 268-281



State of Israel, have been taking place4. One could say, quite certainly, that these

meetings and common activities have reflected the political developments during

that period. Apparently, they were an attempt to reconstruct and to carry out the

political message of peace in the field of education in order to create a model of

coexistence between the two people. Simultaneously with the educational activities

has been developed and expanded the theoretical research in the field of peace

education.(Smooha, 2004; White Stephan, Hertz-Lazarowitz, Zelinker and G.

Stephan, 2004; Bar-Tal, 2004 ; Salomon, 2004 ;Halabi and Sonneschein 2004).

According to these researchers and scholars, the root of the conflict is the very

existence of two different national groups, namely, the Jewish and the Arab peoples,

which assemble and sit on the same piece of land. Subsequently, in the light of this

assumption, they try to suggest their model of coexistence that will help the two

peoples to live together to the degree of optimal harmony and peace.

Sammy Smooha of Haifa University seems to be the main scholar who has

reconstructed and recommended the sociological background for the idea of

coexistence education. The starting point and the basic assumption of all his many

articles and books is the definition of Israel as a state with a predominant “Jewish

majority” and a small intransigent “Arab minority”. The problem, as he sees it, is

that “the Arabs and the Jews demanded almost exclusive rights over the same strip

of land5.” However, the solution he suggests is what he calls “ethnic democracy”.

That is to say, Israel is still defined by him as a democratic state which takes

account of “the status of the Arab Minority in Israel”6 and subsequently guaranty

the peaceful coexistence between the two people.

The main difficulty with Smooha’s “solution” is that it simply reiterates the

official definition of Israel as a “Jewish state”. That is, the very national definition

which, in actual fact and ipso facto, just instigated the conflict and continue to

sustain it ever since. More over, theoretically speaking, Smooha’s definition is an

obvious case of a particular unmediated type of “speech action” rather than what

Habermas calls “a communicative action”, that is, an autonomous mediated type of

action by means of which one could communicate the Palestinians and consequently

solve the conflict in moral universal terms. To put it differently, Smooha starts from

his particular Zionist definition of the state. Yet, he does not seem to notice that

the main thing is to test his definition vis-à-vis the Palestinians, rather than only

to declare it in and for itself. Smooha, certainly fails to provide evidence for his

definition by means of “a communicative action”, and subsequently, as a positivist

sociologist, he validates it by empirical facts. Smooha, again does seem to be

familiar with what Edward H Carr said about the historical facts, that “it is he (the

historian) who decide to which facts to give the floor and in what order and context.7

Quite obviously, Smooha gives the floor to the dominant facts, rather than to the

critical and the latent ones. Besides, what is exactly a socio-political fact. Quite

certainly not only what Smooha hears ,impromptu from his 500 intervieweds about

their identity.

4 Until 2002 about 300 such program existed and over 150,000 were engaged in structured

coexistence activities within Israel. (Abraham Fund, 2002).

5 Sami Smooha, Inddex of Arab-Jewish Relations in Israel 2004 (Haifa: Unuiversity of Haifa, 2005),

P. 11.

6 Smooha Sami, "Minority Status in an Ethnic Democracy: The Status of the Arab Minority in Israel",

Ethnic and Racial studies, 13,3 (July), 1990,pp. 389-413.

7 E.H Carr, What is History (New York: Vintage Books, 1961),pp. 9.

In Factis Pax 2 (2) (2008): 268-281



In the light of Smooha’s definition, White Stephan, Hertz-Lazarowitz, Zelinker and

G. Stephan, also starts with “a brief history” of the conflict, i.e., with the historical

facts, rather than with a reflective analysis of their own Zionist ideological discourse.

Thus, in their terms of reference, they describe 48 War as “the first open military

clash between the two national movements, Zionism and Arab nationalism8.” In

another place, with regards the origin of the Palestinian refugees, they propose that

“many Arabs were forced to or chose to leave their home and land9.” As to the very

definition of the Palestinian people in Israel, “we label the Israeli Arabs to

distinguish it from the other Palestinian people in the region [as] partners with the

Israeli Jews in Arab-Jewish coexistence efforts.”

Needless to say that none of the above is purely historical facts that could be a

common point of reference, or an introduction to a genuine coexistence between

the Israelis and the Palestinians. Quite the opposite, it is rather more a brief

illustration of the unmediated Israeli hegemonic discourse, which is the main root

and the quintessence of conflict as it is. Certainly, the writers can not transcend the

conflict in terms of reference of the dominant Israeli side.

Daniel Bar-Tal of Tel Aviv University is another well-known scholar who strongly

maintains for coexistence education. He begins with the definition of the concept

of coexistence as a theoretical model as well as an educational tool, as a gradual way

out of the conflict. According to his definition coexistence requires mainly “a

recognition in the full equality of the other groups.” Yet, he admits, that after a

long history of bloodshed, exploitation and discrimination coexistence is only the

necessary condition and an important phase in a long continuous process towards a

real reconciliation between the conflicting groups. In consequence of his theoretical

model of coexistence he comes back to the reality of Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Thus,

he points out that at the peak of the conflict “neither the Israeli Jews nor the

Palestinians recognized the other’s self determination10.” It is therefore the challenge

of the education for coexistence to raise the society members of both groups to

the higher phases, “that are in line with the ideas of coexistence.”

It is quite clear that Bar-Tal, too, still views the conflict in accordance with the

Israeli mainstream, mainly because he seems to be so familiar with the Zionist

discourse about two essentially different national groups which happened to live on

this land. For this reason, his “ideas of coexistence” do not seem to be so relevant to

the reality of the conflict, and therefore they are by no means historical, since

eventually he does not tell us how and in which way these two antagonistic

national groups could rise above their historical and geographical enmity without

relinquish and underestimate their very existence as essentially different national

groups who live one on the land of the other11. In addition, he does not seem to

notice that in the beginning of all history there was a conflict and that coexistence

8Stephan C. W, Hertz-Lazarowitz R, Zelinker T, Stephan W. G, "Introduction to Improving Arab-

Jewish Relations in Israel: Theory and Practice in Coexistamce Educational Programs", Journal of

Social Issue, Vol. 60, No. 2, 2004, p. 239.

9 Ibid.

10 D. Bar-Tal, "Nature, Rational, and Effectiveness of Education for Coexistance",Journal of Social

Issue, Vol. 60, No. 2, 2004, p. 259.

11 In the autumn of 1997 I guided two reporters of the BBC who prepared then a program about

Israel\Palestine towards the 50th anniversary of the State of Israel . At the time of the Independent Day,

in April 1998, the program was broadcasted and was entitled "Your Land is My Land."

In Factis Pax 2 (2) (2008): 268-281



and reconciliation came always at the end of day. Likewise, the celebrated Hegelian-

Marxist scholar Alexander Kojev explains that “in his nascent state, man is never

simply man. He is always, necessarily, and essentially, either master or slave.” Hence,

historically, it is only by the dialectic of master and slave, that man could, by means

of synthesis, to transcend his initial particular position as either master or slave and

became “a self-conscious man who recognizes another man and is recognized by


The difficulty with Bar-Tal’s model of coexistence lies as well in its theoretical and ahistorical

character, in the sense that he completely overlooks the modernist

context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That is to say, the root of the conflict is

not simply, as Bar-Tal put, the domination of one nation over the other national

group. All together it should be viewed in the historical context of modern European

colonialism. As R. Inden put: it:

To became modern is to be emancipated from the constraints, inhibitions, whims,

exploitation and oppressions of the mediaeval or traditionalism[..] The problem with

so-called Third World countries is that they have not yet attained the permanent and

absolute transcendence possessed by the “advanced” nations13.

To paraphrase R. Inden, the fundamental problem of the Palestinian people at the

time was that it had not yet attained that modern transcendence possessed by the

Zionist settlers. Subsequently, as for today, the Palestinians should fully attain

that level of modern transcendence by political means, as a sine qua non for any

real coexistence and reconciliation with the Israelies.

Gavriel Salomon, the head of the Center for Peace Education, Haifa University is

another advocate of coexistence education. In an article entitled “A Narrative-Based

View of Coexistence Education” he put forward the concept of “collective narrative”

as the major explanatory category as well as the main driving force of the conflict.

However, concurrently, he argues that as such it “can play an equally central role in

facilitating coexistence14.” In the beginning he did mention also what he calls “the

sociopolitical aspect”, that is, the real historical causes of the conflict, such as land,

independence and military might. Yet, on the whole he relates mainly to the

“Sociopsychological aspect”, that is, to the subjective ideological motives of the

conflict. Thus, he seems to argue that the conflict is primarily a matter of the way

the two peoples think and envisage each other. Accordingly, the solution is

impromptu, a self amendment of the two respected collective identities and the

ensuing sublimation of their attitude towards each other.

The main difficulty with the concept of “collective narrative” is precisely the

attempt to define it separately from the “sociopolitical aspect” of the conflict. As if a

collective could amend its thoughts and feelings as well as sublimate its attitude,

only by and for itself, independently of its “sociopolitical aspects.”

In one of his early writings, young Marx criticized the rightwing Hegelians for

quite the same kind of idealistic argument. He wrote:

12 Alexander Kojeve, Introduction to the Reading of Hegel (Ithaca: Cornel University Press), p. 8.

13 R.Enden, "Identity and Transcendence in Mediaeval India and the Modern and Postmodern World",

A draft apaper sumitted by the auther in a conference on Identity, Modernity and Politics at the

Department of Political Studies, SOAS, September 1994, p. 37.

14 Salmon Gavriel, "A Narrative-Based view of Coexistance education", Journal of Social Issue, Vol.

60, No. 2, 2004, p.274.

In Factis Pax 2 (2) (2008): 268-281



Once upon a time a valiant fellow had the idea that men were drowned in water only

because they were possessed with the idea of gravity. If they were to get this notion

out of their heads, say by avowing it to be a superstitious, a religious concept, they

would sublimely proof against any danger from the water.15

However, one should not be a Marxist in order to recognize the difficulty that lies in

Salomon’s attempt to give “the collective narrative” a-priority over the political

attitude of the collective itself. The solution is rather to set the two aspects

dialectically together, as two element of a single political whole16.

Halabi and Zonnenschein seem to be well aware that their intergroup encounters in

Neve shalom\Wahat al-Salam cannot change the reality of the conflict. Nevertheless

they still argue “that the intergroup encounters can change the participants’ awareness

of the reality in which they live17.”

Yet, I wonder what is, after all, the advantage of awareness if it does not allow people

to change the reality which they live in? Halabi and Zonnenschein seem to

overlook Marx’s well known phrase written on his tombstone, in which he criticized

the philosophers who tried only to understand the world, but not to change it.

Moreover, the very idea of coexistence education relates, in one way or aother to the

mainstream American theories about conflicts management and conflicts resolution

(Dahl,1956;Schelling, 1967; Lijphart, 1977). The underline assumption of these,

mainly American, theories is taken from the Hobbsian philosophy, according to

which there are, as a natural given, only individuals and particular groups, who try

hard to improve their fortune. However, Hobbes himself simultaneously suggested a

way out of this wolfish world. Hence, in his Leviathan State low and order are prevail

and the people live in peace. On the contrary, according to the mainstream

American political scientists people are destined to live in a wolfish world. That’s

why the role of the scholars is mainly to provide the people with the rational ways

how to manage and to do better in this world, rather than to teach them how to

transcend it18. Quite the opposite, I mean to suggest a genuine solution to the Israeli-

15 Karl Marx, The German Ideology (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1976) p.30.

16 Salomon seems to overlook the whole discussion about the origin of the modern "collective

narrative" which relate to what Gustave Le Bon call the "psychology of the mass". As an educator he

should, at last mention, the well known interpretation of Freud in which he highlight the role of the

leader as he stimulates the Libidinal impulse of the mass. If this is the case, that collective attitude is

determined by a libidinal impulse, how on earth it could be amended and transformed? Beside, it seems

that "collective narrative" is not that simple as it has been literally presented. It is rather more the

power elite who introduced its authority over the mass by means of the narrative. Another quotation

could illustrate my point:

"The vested interests - if we explain the situation by their influence - can only get the public to act as

they wish by manipulating public opinion, by playing either upon the public's indifference, confusions,

prejudices, pugnacities or fears. And the only way in which the power of the interests can be

undermined and their maneuvers defeated is by bringing home to the public the danger of its

indifference, the absurdity of its prejudices, or the hollowness of its fears; by showing that it is

indifferent to danger where real danger exists; frightened by dangers which are nonexistent." Sir

Norman Angell 1872 - 1967

17 Halabi. Rabah and Sonnenschein Nava, "The Jewish-Palestinian Encounter in a Time of Crisis,

Journal of Social Issue, Vol. 60, No. 2, 2004' p. 374.

18 Shlomo Avinery, perhaps the most well known spokesman of the mainstream Israeli political

science, argues, in a spur of moment, that the transformation of the paradigm from "conflict

In Factis Pax 2 (2) (2008): 268-281



Palestinian conflict. A solution which will transcend the two separate ethnic

nationalisms and will put them politically together on the higher level, in a political

state as a realization of the “idea of good”.

Coexistence education is certainly an expression of good will. Even so, as Kojeve

teaches us, at the beginning, at least in its origin, man is either Master or Slave. As

such, the fundamental question is still how and who will educate man to be in line

with this level of initial good will? Or, as Marx put it, in his well known thesis,

“who will educate the educators?”

Political Pedagogy

A person is a political animal, and the Polis, the modern state, is the realm in which

s/he can express her/his potential as a self conscious being.

Historically, it was by means of popular culture and religious belief that people raised

themselves to higher levels. It was by the religious medium, as Plato explains us in

the Protagoras, that people were able to transcend their Hobbesian individuality and to

find some self-satisfaction within the political world.

However, religion became, in the course of time, but a “false consciousness” to what

Hegel calls “unhappy consciousness”, i.e., a lack of recognition and ipso-facto of

objectification”, under the Leviathan state. As Tacitus summarized it, “slavery brings

always slavishness” and “civil religion” (in some of its manifestations) is but the

manifestation of slavishness.

Today, like then, people appears to be subjectively free; now, it is culture in and for

itself that takes the place of religion. Now, the illusive “freedom” is not of the “I”

against the state, via the all-importance of God; now, it is rather the imaginary

“freedom” of the “I” against the state, via the all-importance of culture. These words

of the great commentator of Hegel are applicable to the critical, cultural option of

nowadays as well: in the past, people were still only conscious “in-themselves”,

precisely because individuals were only subjectively and spiritually “free” and

consequently were not recognized as such (Hippolyte, 1971).

In opposition to the cultural and religious subjectivism of the past and the present, I

consider the old-new idea of republicanism, by means of which people could

transcend their subjective unmediated “self love” by the conscious political

realization. The modern nation-state, or, as Gellner (1983) called it, “the marriage of

politics and culture”, is simultaneously, philosophically speaking, the historical unity

of subject and object. To rephrase Hegel, politics is the real incorporation of being

with thought, the finite with the infinite.

Towards a political approach in education in Israel

This paper presents the Israeli education system as a case study for examining and

suggesting the political republican perspective, rather than Zionist ideology, as the

single alternative way, to transcend the oppressive hegemony of Neo-liberalism and

globalization.. Education, as I see it, can be the medium by which republican

resolution" to "conflict management" does not mean necessarily approval of the status quo. It rather

means a continuation of the effort to minimize the conflict between the two sides ( Ha'aretz, 8\7\08).

In Factis Pax 2 (2) (2008): 268-281



orientation can and should happen; and for Israel, this transformation is most urgent

and crucial.

Evidently, what is lacking in Israeli education, and in the world at large, is that

republican political perspective as the realization of the “idea of good”. Thus, the

Jewish-Arab dichotomy, as the dominant discourse in Israeli education, is indeed

specific and divisive as compared to MacDonald’s and Toyota. However, only an

Israeli\Palestinian republicanism could be a unifying and a progressive force against

the antagonisms of Jewish and Arab patriotism on the one hand, and the hegemonic

power of American globalization on the other. Thus, political education means

constant efforts to rear our children in the rational critical spirit, manifesting itself in

the republican political perspective. Indeed, historically and conceptually, it is only

the social-states in the second half of the 20th century that succeed in controlling the

capitalist system and to set it in harmony with a moral-political perspective. As

Hebermas (1991) put it, against the “instrumental” and “strategic” action which

characterized the capitalist globalization, these states represent a communicative

rationality action that is aimed at mutual understanding, conceived as a process of

reaching agreement between speaking subjects to harmonize their interpretations of

the world4.

Likewise, coexistence education is not a synthesis, but consists rather of thesis and

antithesis which negate and oppose each other as either-or, but not as an Aufhebung.

As such, it is not a critical, but a conservative theory, precisely because of the absence

of any truly universal political perspective by means of which the two side could

bring themselves together. In Israel, the task is to create a Palestinian\Israeli

patriotism for which the state embodies “communicative action”, a realization of the

“idea of good”, a patriotism that replaces both American globalization and the

particularism of Jew versus Arab nationalism. A “no” to segregation in education

could be a first step towards this goal.

In Factis Pax 2 (2) (2008): 268-281




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