Daily Israel Report

Controversy Over Civics Text That Claims Left is ‘More Humane’

A new civics textbook has caused controversy as it terms the political left ‘more humane’ and says Nakba Law ‘harms Arab rights.’
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 3/30/2012, 12:25 PM

Classroom
Classroom
Flash 90

A civics book in use in hundreds of 11th and 12th-grade classrooms has created controversy with passages that appear to praise the political left and condemn the right. The passages, from “Yotzim L’derech Ezrachit” (On the Road to Civics) were publicized Friday by Yisrael Hayom.

“The Right is generally more cynical, and supports military solutions as important to national security,” the book states. “The Left is generally more humane, and believes in negotiations as the best way to solve conflicts.”

At another point, the book discusses the Nakba Law, which blocks state funding for groups that mourn the creation of the state. “Representatives from the Association for Civil Rights in Israel believe the law impinges on the rights of the Arab minority,” the book reads. “There are also other proposed laws that, if accepted, are likely to harm the Arab minority in Israel, such as the oath of loyalty to the state of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”

In yet another controversial passage, the book tells students, “The Right attaches great importance to the nation and to national heritage… The Right tends to prefer those of the same nation over those of other nationalities and exalts values connected to nationality, and the Left is more supportive of humanism.”

MK Alex Miller, head of the Knesset’s Education Committee – and the initiator of the Nakba Law – criticized the textbook. “It is inappropriate for the Education Ministry to create a book for Israeli students that gives commentary on laws that were debated and approved in Knesset,” he said.

The inaccuracies in the book undermine the stated goals of the course, argued Dr. Efraim Podoksik of Hebrew University, who serves on the professional committee for Civics. “The only way for education to good citizenship is through truth and knowledge,” he said. “Values cannot be based on half truths.”

Dr. Podoksik saw the book only after it was approved by the Education Ministry. “It is full of serious mistakes and misleading statements,” he said.

Education Ministry officials admitted that the book contains inaccurate statements. “The book in question has problems,” an official said. The ministry is looking into the matter, and “decisions will be made soon,” she added.