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Education and Ideology

By       Message Lawrence Davidson       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   3 comments

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From commons.wikimedia.org: Education in Israel {MID-150935}
Education in Israel
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Part I -- Ideologically Managed Education Education is one of those words that has a positive connotation for almost everyone -- usually generating a warm and fuzzy feeling that suggests a richer and brighter future. But that is just an idealization of the concept. As I have stated before, as far as the state is concerned, education has two major purposes: to fulfill the vocational needs of the economy and the political need for ideologically loyal citizens. It is in the pursuit of this last goal that education can reveal a darker side.
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Here are a few stories concerning the interface between education and political ideology. I take them from the annals of Israeli/Zionist education, but one can certainly find other examples worldwide. Story One:
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David Sarna Galdi is an American Jew who attended Jewish schools in New York City, went to Jewish summer camps, attended synagogue regularly, and vacationed often in Israel with his parents. In his own words he had "a quintessential Zionist Jewish-American upbringing," and as a result, "I never heard one word about the [Israeli] occupation [of Palestinian territory], or even the actual word, 'occupation.'" Only after immigrating to Israel did he "become aware of the occupation and all its ramifications." The Israeli occupation is 50 years old and ongoing. Can Galdi's story really be true? It certainly can be true if you grow up within a closed information environment -- an environment where elements of non-local reality are simply left out of the educational process. That seems to be the case when it comes to Zionist Jewish-American education.

Story Two:

Holocaust Memorial Day in Israel, which this year was on April 24, is a time for remembering the Holocaust and learning its historical lessons. Yet there are two ways of approaching those lessons -- one is universal and the other particular. Most of Israel's educational system has chosen to forgo the universal message of the need to promote human rights and stand up against oppression wherever it is practiced. Instead the particularistic message Israeli schoolchildren have always received is that the Jews are eternal victims. Indeed, "Israel and its strong army are the only things preventing another genocide by non-Jews."
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Very few Israeli educators have dared break with this official point of view. However, those few who have describe a systematic "misuse of the Holocaust [that is] pathological and intended to generate fear and hatred" as an element of "extreme nationalism." Again the key to such a process of indoctrination embedded within the educational system is the maintenance of a closed information environment. As one Israeli educator, who has grown uneasy with the propagandistic nature of his nation's schooling, puts it, "increasingly they [the students] receive no alternative messages in school."

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Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign
Policy Inc.: Privatizing America's National Interest
; America's
Palestine: Popular and Offical Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli
Statehood
; and Islamic Fundamentalism. His academic work is focused on the history of American foreign relations with the Middle East. He also teaches courses in the history of science and modern European intellectual history.

His blog To The Point Analyses now has its own Facebook page. Along with the analyses, the Facebook page will also have reviews, pictures, and other analogous material.

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