The Virtues of Empire

For the first time since the Ottoman Empire fell, Muslims in the Middle East are free to pursue the same dream that inspired Europe’s nationalists. Next: widespread ethnic cleansing?

Read more at First Things

More about: Ethnic Cleansing, Europe, Genocide, Islamism, Middle East, Nationalism, Ottoman Empire, Syrian civil war, Woodrow Wilson


Israel’s Textbook Wars, and America’s

June 29 2016

This year Israel’s Ministry of Education released a new civics textbook, which has now become an object of controversy. Although it was compiled by a staff of educators and specialists, its creation was in part a response to right-wing criticism of the 2000 edition. Peter Berkowitz examines the Israeli left’s complaints about the new textbook, and similar debates about civic education in the U.S.:

The 2016 To Be Citizens of Israel, according to its left-wing detractors, elevates the state’s Jewish character while blurring its democratic character. It neglects the narrative of the large Arab minority that is 20 percent of Israel’s population. And it barely acknowledges the central divide in Israeli politics: [the fate of the West Bank]. . . .

[In reality], To Be Citizens of Israel, is written in [an] old-fashioned liberal spirit. It is built around Israel’s 1948 Declaration of Independence, in which Israel’s founders pledge to “foster the development of the country for the good of all its inhabitants”; to safeguard “freedom, justice, and equality as envisaged by the prophets of Israel”; and, appealing explicitly to Arab inhabitants, to provide “full and equal citizenship.” More than a third of the book is devoted to theories of democracy. More than a quarter deals with the structure of Israeli government.

The book persistently directs students’ attention to the ambiguities and strains to which Israel’s founding principles give rise. . . . The new volume bears little resemblance to the tendentious monster of its detractors’ imaginations. . . .

[In fact, it] equips students to grasp the Israeli-Arab conflict in its fullness and complexity as well as to understand the subtleties of debates about minority rights and class conflict. Not least, the textbook enhances students’ appreciation of the blending of principles out of which Israel arose and which continues to sustain it.

In the U.S., Berkowitz writes, conservative critics of California’s new civics curriculum are similarly imbued with an old-fashioned liberal spirit that “grounds the teaching of U.S. history in study of the nation’s founding principles and constructs the curriculum around the debates about those principles”—and are provoking similarly tendentious attacks from those to their left.

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: American politics, Education, Israel & Zionism, Israeli society