Survey: Charedi textbooks ‘demonise Reform Jews’

Curricula were found to oppose modernity, instead promoting “a separate cultural identity”, which ignores trends in general society


Textbooks in Israeli Charedi schools demonise Reform Jews, show limited acceptance of others and keep contact with mainstream Israeli culture to a minimum, according to a new survey.

The Israeli-based Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (Impact-se) analysed 93 textbooks used in the strictly Orthodox system.

Curricula oppose modernity, instead promoting “a separate cultural identity”, which ignores trends in general society.

Marcus Sheff, Impact-se’s chief executive, commented there was “a general commitment to peaceful conduct and co-existence” and “despite what we are seeing on the streets of Israel recently, there is no incitement to violence in the textbooks”.

But he added, “the price of Charedi isolationism seems to be the negation of the other, vilification of the Reform movement in particular, the unnecessary use of stereotypes and, occasionally, offensive language”.

Women were portrayed as responsible for raising children at home, while their role as earners who supported studying husbands was emphasised.

While peace and territorial compromise in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was not ruled out, these were “perceived as the naïve longing of leftist Israelis”, Impact-se found.

While there was “the expectation of behaving fairly toward all people, there is no attempt to uproot stereotypes and promote equality,” the report concluded.

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