Education in a troubled democracy: Voices from Israel

Deborah Court

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    6 Scopus citations


    Democracy offers no automatic principles for a decent and civilized life. Its principles require interpretation and compromise, and must be balanced between the welfare of individuals, groups, and the state. In Israel, the situation is made even more complex by the fact that Israel defines itself as a Jewish state. Surrounded by hostile forces, Israel must attempt not only to maintain peace and security but to offer democratic rights to its Jewish, Moslem, and Christian citizens. Jewish and Arab Israelis' lives are woven together against this difficult background through complex patterns of commerce and trust. These patterns have been disrupted during the recent hostilities between Israelis and Palestinians. This article presents a window on the Israeli democracy in this turbulent time through in-depth interviews with six Israeli educators, two Jewish and four Arab. They analyze the Israeli democracy and discuss the problems of their own population sectors in particular, giving special attention to the role of education in closing gaps between different groups, increasing trust and understanding, and improving the state of the nation. John Dewey's ideas on democracy and education are used as a framework for analysis. The level of individual interactions between citizens is suggested as significant for the building of trust and the ground-up strengthening of democracy. Suggestions are made for how education can contribute at this level. The author, an immigrant to Israel, adds her own voice as she struggles to balance objectivity with authenticity in this passionately felt arena.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)47-69
    Number of pages23
    JournalCurriculum Inquiry
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - 2004


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