Education for democracy in Israel: Structural impediments and basic dilemmas

Benyamin Neuberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research in Israel has shown a high level of non-democratic, and even anti-democratic, attitudes among Israeli high-school students. Similar findings in the adult population indicate that this is not a "childhood disorder" that evaporates with age, but something which could pose a threat to Israel's young and fragile democracy. The article analyses the constraints on and dilemmas of effective democratic education in Israel. These impediments include the non-democratic countries of origin of the vast majority of Israel's Jewish and Arab population (Eastern Europe and the Arab Middle East); the partially non-democratic political traditions of the main political camps (the Left, the Right and the Orthodox); the lack of a liberal-democratic written constitution as an educational tool; the absence of a national consensus (especially among the political elites); the problems posed by occupied territories under military government; the salience of the security issue, which leads teachers and parents to perceive democracy and human rights as a luxury in the context of war and terror; the problem of religion and state, and the attitude of Israel's Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox that in a Jewish-democratic state, Jewish should come first and democratic second; and finally examples of non-democratic behaviour of the political leadership.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)292-305
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2007


  • Arab minority in Israel
  • Democratic and non-democratic traditions
  • Education and democracy
  • Education for democracy
  • Education without constitution
  • Israel
  • Israeli democracy
  • Occupied territories
  • Political leadership and democracy
  • Religion and state
  • Security, democracy and education
  • The national right and the orthodox
  • Traditions of the zionist left


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