“Portrayal of the Other” in Israeli and Palestinian school books

Israeli-Palestinian Schoolbook Project

Read / download the final Report (4 February 2013): “Victims of Our Own Narratives?” Portrayal of the “Other” in Israeli and Palestinian School BooksThere were four main findings of the study:

  1.  First, dehumanizing and demonizing characterizations of the other as seen in textbooks elsewhere and of concern to the general public are rare in both Israeli and Palestinian books.
  2. Second, both Israeli and Palestinian books present unilateral national narratives that present the other as enemy, chronicle negative actions by the other directed at the self-community, and present the self-community in positive terms with actions aimed at self-protection and goals of peace.
  3. Third, there is a lack of information about the religions, culture, economic and daily activities of the other, or even of the existence of the other on maps. The absence of this kind of information about the other serves to deny the legitimate presence of the other.
  4. Fourth, while present and problematic in all three school systems, the negative bias in presentation of the other, the positive bias in presentation of the self, and the absence of images and information about the other are all statistically significantly more pronounced in the Israeli Ultra-Orthodox and Palestinian books than in the Israeli State books.

For school book project coverage in Haaretz, please click here.
For school book project coverage in the Forward, please click here.

For instruments and research methods, click here.

This project was launched by the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land in Jerusalem, in August 2009.

With the goal to study the “Portrayal of the Other” in Palestinian and Israeli school books, the project is funded by a grant from U.S Department of State and is implemented under the supervision of Prof. Bruce Wexler of Yale University and his NGO – A Different Future.

A joint Palestinian-Israeli research team – headed by Professors Daniel Bar-Tal (Tel Aviv University) and Sami Adwan (Bethlehem University) – was formed, employing 10 research assistants (6 Israeli and 4 Palestinian, all fluent in Arabic and Hebrew) to analyze texts of 370 Israeli and 102 Palestinian books from grades 1 to 12.

A Scientific Advisory Panel was also assembled, consisting of European, American, Palestinian and Israeli experts in school book analysis, history and education, who will oversee all aspects of the work.

This is the first study to constitute a joint Israeli/Palestinian research team and use identical, standardized scientific methods in a simultaneous and comprehensive study of both Israeli and Palestinian books with oversight by an expert Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP).

Research timeline:
Stage One: (August 5, 2009) Planning conference in Jerusalem to review past studies of text books in areas of conflict as well as methods of text book analysis, and present proposed methods by the Scientific Research Team for review by the international Scientific Advisory Panel.

Stage Two: (August 2009 to December 2011) Analysis of school books.
Stage Three: (January 2012 to May 2012) Review of study findings by the research team, the Scientific Advisory Panel and the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land. Public presentation of research findings, and recommendations by the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land.

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