Israeli society has along reputation of being intolerant and violent. In this study we chose to look into the role of the education policy in Israel and to ask why do civic education programmes fail in implanting more seeds of tolerance and democratic values within the society. The first part of the study presents the subordination of the civic education programmes to the needs of the ethno-national agenda in the early years of the state of Israel, accomplished mainly by marginalizing the field of civics both in terms of contents and instruction hours. Then, we argue that since the 1980s, after the Israeli leadership was exposed to the problematic consequences of the lack of education to democratic values, all the initiatives to promote such agenda collided with the strong non-liberal character of the state which prevented any progress toward a more democratic orientation. We present the nature of this collision by using three levels of analysis: structural, policy making and policy implementation. We conclude by arguing that only a process of real liberalization of the state of Israel has the potential to liberate the education system from the paradoxes inherent to it.
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