Boundaries as a topic in geographic education
The case of Israel
in: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY, Vol. 12, No. 5, September 1993, 421-435
abstract. The educational system works to influence ideology and determine beliefs and values transmitted in the socialization process. This paper examines the way in which Zionist ideology has used the discipline of geography to create certain beliefs relating to the boundaries of the territory from the beginning of the century until the present day. The means by which the ideas and beliefs were transmitted were through curricula and textbooks prepared for the highly centralized educational system in Israel. The findings show that the educational system has transmitted dual and confused messages on the question of Israel’s boundaries. The presentation of borders is imprecise and indeterminate and there is a sophisticated avoidance of
any discussion of this value-loaded question.The relations between ideology-power-knowledge in Zionism have produced asituation in which Israeli citizens of the present acquired political beliefs in thepast from which each has built his/her ‘mental map’. These maps will influencetheir decisions at the ballot box on the question of the future borders of the state.
In the past decade, several papers have appeared that deal with the relations betweengeographic information and its interpretation in the Arab-Israeli conflict. In theirsummary of this literature, Newman and Portugali (1987), Kliot and Waterman (1990) andNewman (1991) note that scientific research on the Israeli-Palestinian issue cannot bevalue-free; it will always reflect the world view of the author. The issue of values andgeography has been comprehensively dealt with by Buttimer (1974) and Meinig (1979),among others.These claims point to one of the results of the existing dialogue between power andknowledge, as dealt with by Foucault (1980). Foucault suggested that power and
knowledge are elements which reflect one another. He claimed (p. 66) that geography had a place in the ‘archaeology of knowledge’. In his opinion, in the past the knowledge collected by geography served the colonial and trading powers (Foucault, 1966: 75). A similar claim was made by Said (1978, 1980), who related the writing on the Zionist-Arab issue to European imperialistic ideology. According to these claims, knowledge is part of power: its purpose is to root, to commemorate and to legitimate power. The application of this logic places the claims of Newman and Portugali, and Kliot and Waterman in a broader perspective, namely that scientific writing is part of knowledge and can thus influence
ideology, overtly or covertly (see Kaplen, 1963; Waterman, 1979).
If we accept the hypothesis that scientific writing and human sciences cannot be value-free, how much more so must be the case of value-loaded writing prepared scientifically for an educational system. In a system comprising the relationships between ideology-power-knowledge, education (like the media) is an intermediary system. Society, with the help of the educational system, transmits and transfers knowledge from one generation to the next generation; in this way, society achieves continuity of values and survival of its ideas for the future. Control of education in the schools by society is one of the ways in which power in society communicates with knowledge, and through which the socialization of social loyalty and legitimization of power in the eyes of the next generation is achieved.
Schools are an important source of in8uence over human values and beliefs, aiding in the production of a consensus and a standardization in the world views of the individual
towards questions in the present, the past and the future. This consensus is achieved through such channels as a curriculum, textbooks, teacher training and state inspection
(Muir and Paddison, 1981: 45). Just as education today (along with other factors) contributes to the shaping of the world views of future decision-makers, political leaders
and voters, so education in the past aided in fashioning the images of current leaders and influenced the political convictions of the present adult population. As with education in general, the teaching of geography is an intermediary between the individual, society and cumulative knowledge. From a behavioral point of view, it can be
hypothesized that the creation of territorial belonging is very important for the shaping of the character and world view of the individual. It is through this that a person finds his
place in the world (Muir and Paddison, 1981: 39). From the viewpoint of society, many countries have recognized the need to teach geography in the schools. This was particularly true when nationalism was rife in 19th century Europe, a factor which helped achieve the political aims of nationalism (Capel, 1981). It thus transpires that geography in schools has an important function to perform in shaping the association with territory and nationhood in that it is the discipline with the ideas that Taylor(1985: 195) labels ‘the basic trilogy: territory-state-nation’.
Geographic education can convey not only national messages but also messages of globalism, which can be interpreted as education towards peace Uenkins, 1985). The
dilemma between education towards localism/nationalism and education towards universalism/globalism is not the sole possession of geography. National educational systems vacillate over what emphasis to give to these educational values. Alongside those who urge the prominence of globalism as an important message towards educating for
peace, there is also the perception of the right and the bligation of society to educate its citizens towards a national identity (Brown, 1984). It can be assumed that the dilemma
over the directions desirable in political education, typical of previous decades, is hardly likely to vanish in the near future in light of the current political changes in Europe which have brought a rise in national feelings to the fore following the break-up of the communist bloc and the Soviet Union, alongside the union of western and central Europe. ‘Territorial socialization’ (Duchacek, 1970) refers to both means and topics for increasing the identity and the identification of the pupil with territory. One of these topics
is the border which encloses national sovereignty in a given territory. The approach to the issue of boundaries in the teaching of geography is related to the scientific coverage of the topic, which was widespread in political geography in the first half of the 20th century.
(Minghi, 1963; Prescott, 1987). Scientific interest in the issue of boundaries declined as a result of the stabilization of political boundaries after World War II (Taylor, 1985: 104). It can be assumed that teaching the issue of boundaries is connected to the relations between power and knowledge. In an historical situation in which there is a need to legitimate sovereignty over a territory, scientific interest in and teaching of the topic aid the ideological claims over sovereignty. When the need for the legitimation of a territory declines, the issue usually becomes marginal.
It should be pointed out, however, that the need to define boundaries has not entirelyvanished from geography, but its scale has become transformed following the rise ofglobalism. Instead of the traditional academic interest in national boundaries, the
discussion of boundaries at a global level has eveloped and been broadened to include the boundaries between the capitalist and communist worlds, the developed world and
the developing world, and so on. Following the change of academic interest in boundaries,and after a certain time-lag, various countries throughout the world have made changes inschool geography, and have entered these changes in their curricula (Haubrich, 1991).
The territory dealt with in this paper is known under different names: Palestine/Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel)/the State of Israel .(l) The topic of its territorial boundaries is an important political issue and one around which there has been much debate among the differing ideological world views in Zionism. The borders of the territory under discussion have not been in the past, nor are they today, only a regional problem between Israel and its neighbors, but have for the most part been the focus of world interest, following various wars (World War I, the 1948 War of Independence, the wars of 1967, 1973 and 1382) and following proposals and debates over their delimitation (various Commissions during the British Mandate period, U.N. decisions, disengagement agreements and the peace treaty with Egypt). For a graphic summary of the problem, see Gilbert (1979) upon which Figure 1 is based. The international political interest in the boundaries of the territory discussed here has been accompanied by research in political geography that has yielded several articles and books on this issue (Brawer et al., 1992).
There are many states in which the boundaries, being relatively stable (e.g. theScandinavian countries or the United States), are a subject for scientific social researchrather than a subject for education (House, 1982; Rumley and Minghi, 1991). There areother territories in which the borders are unstable but where research in politicalgeography is undeveloped, such as southeast Asia, or where it has not yet developed, suchas in the new states of eastern Europe. It appears, therefore, that the case of Israel is quiteunique: a territory with variable borders, a developed scienti8c community and muchinternational interest. There are those who see the considerable amounts of research andquantities of publications on this topic as the expression of Zionism as an ideology which,in the choice of topics for research, serves the aims of power.
In Israel, responsibility for education towards territorial socialization has been placedupon the discipline of geography. The teaching of the discipline in Israeli schools draws itstargets and ideas from both the development of geographic research in Israel and from thesocial goals of the state. How does formal geographic education in Israel react to thecontroversial question of the boundaries of the state’s territory? This issue is at the heart ofthe present paper and will be examined in historical perspective. This perspective isimportant for understanding the current political convictions of the adult population inIsrael who were educated in their youth toward the problem of territory. Many of today’sdecision-makers were pupils who received their values through Zionist education whichwas developed both in Palestine and in the Diaspora even before the establishment of theState of Israel. It is important to note that Zionism, as an ideology with organizationalability and economic resources, recognized at the very outset the importance of teachingterritorial identity, so that teaching of the subject of the territory of the Land of Israelreceived high educational priority, alongside the teaching of the basic skills of reading,writing and arithmetic (Zohar, 1940).In what follows, the educational messages relating to territory that were transmittedmedium of school textbooks and elù through geographic education are examined throughcurricula which were prepared for the Hebrew/Zionist educational system before theestablishment of the State of Israel, and for the state educational system following theState’s establishment. In line with behavioral perception (Muir and Paddison, 1981) it canbe assumed that these messages are not the only ones that determined the political beliefsof the current adult population, but there is no doubt that they reflect a wide socialconsensus within which there exists a pluralism related to the political interpretations ofrecent events in Israel.
The question of the territorial boundaries in Zionist education until 1948
In the Hebrew/Zionist educational system in pre-state Palestine, a curriculum wasintroduced in 1907 and updated in 1923 (1923 Curriculum), following the granting of theBritish Mandate in Palestine. These curricula show continuity in the study topics ingeography (Bar-Gal, 1991). As part of the Zionist ideological conception, in whicheducation should promote a ‘love of the Land of Israel’, the geography of the countryreceived a considerable portion of the total study hours available in the school curriculum.Beginning at the end of the 19th century, geography textbooks were written in Hebrew.
The close connections between Jewish/Zionist education in the Diaspora and that inPalestine encouraged a mutual use of the textbooks produced for each of theseeducational systems which were geographically, but not ideologically, separate.The problem of boundaries that confronted the authors of school textbooks at the endof the 19th century differed from those confronted by authors at later periods. For earlyauthors, such as Yudelevich (1894), Belkind (1897) and Grazowski (1903), the internalboundaries of the Land of Israel of the Turkish Ottoman Empire did not correspond withthe concept of the Land of Israel (Brawer, 1988; Biger, 1983). The boundaries of thecountry presented to pupils in the Hebrew educational system at the end of the Ottomanperiod were, with the exception of the maritime boundary, amorphous, and unclear by anyobjective standards. These rested on general descriptions of divinely promised bordersand the boundaries attained during the early Israelite period, in addition to some physicalgeographical elements. The bounds of the country were described using such phrases as’the land of our fathers’, ‘the good and fruitful land’, ‘a land of pastures and fruit-trees, andland of springs of water’. Biblical perspective aided the definition of the borders of thecountry such as ‘a land flowing with milk and honey’ in the midst of an ‘infertile desertenvironment’. This way of describing the country during the Ottoman period emanatednot only from an historical-religious approach to the question of the borders but alsofrom the lack of clear physical geographical elements bounding it, and the rejection of theOttoman boundaries as a basis for forming the boundaries of the Land of Israel.
The lack of clarity on the question of the boundaries of the Land of Israel in the textbooks continued into the period immediately following World War I. From the 1920s, and especially in the 1330s, a new concept came into use-the ‘natural boundaries’ of the country. As Europeans, they attempted to use the most outstanding physical elements, those related to water, in helping to define the desert environment. As a result, the boundary line was almost always defined using rivers :’the line which runs south from the
Dead Sea through the streams of the Negev to the end of Wadi el Airish, the river of Egypt,which empties into the Mediterranean Sea’ (Kamintzky, 1922: 5). In addition to stressingnatural boundaries, the 1930s Diaspora textbooks continued to see the Land of Israel asstraddling both sides of the Jordan and covering an area of about 30 000 sq. kms (Blanc,1930: 105).
The most important of all geography textbooks of this period, used over several decades, was that of A.Y. Brawer. This book expanded and emphasized the issue of the boundaries. Brawer, a geographer educated at the University of Vienna, migrated to Palestine in 1911. He had been exposed to the political geographical ideas on boundaries current at the beginning of the century. After World War I, he discussed the issue of the borders of the Land of Israel, and published on this topic in 1919 (Brawer, 1919). In his textbook, Brawer adopted the political geography ideas then current, and raised the issue of the contradiction posed by the different types of borders enclosing the territory of the Land of Israel (Brawer, 1936 edition: 2-5).
For thousands of years, the shape of the borders of our country have altered, yet the natural boundaries have always been and remain permanent, and these are: to the west, the Mediterranean Sea, the Great Sea that is mentioned in the Torah; to the east, the Syrian desert as far as distant Babylon. The bounds of the desert are not permanently stable, a diligent person should choose to expand his desert into a flowering garden. In the days of our elù ecumene and turn forefathers, settlement spread into the desert eastwards and southwards, into the land of the shepherds and nomads of those days…
In order to make the changes in the borders throughout history tangible, Brawer noted that three different types of boundary should be distinguished: the borders of the forefathers or for the days of the Messiah; the boundary of the days of the Exodus or of Moses and Joshua; the border of the period of the Return from Babylon or of Ezra and Nehemia. Brawer, who drew on the Bible for his historical sources, and who held educational views coloured by his religious Zionist beliefs, ignored the other political boundaries which had existed. From a description of the borders of the country in the is ti’ period, he jumps to one on the contemporary political border, noting that lacìbib neither historical nor natural’. Brawer presented his educational outlook on the issue of the Land of Israel in a teachers’ guide in 1930. The description of the borders in the book stems from his Zionist educational outlook (p. 9):
One of the functions of the teacher in the work of rebirth [of the country] is to make the connection between the people and its land, a connection which had been broken, and to link the past with the present and the future… If we can succeed in making this connection, the sanctity of the Land will never be lost on our pupils throughout their lifetimes.
The educational world view of Brawer from which he presented the borders of the country, carried great authority and he influenced many friends, such as Paporisch (1946). The difference between the historically promised boundaries and the reality demanded that the authors of the textbooks provide their pupils with political and ideological explanations for the gap. Avivi and Indelman (1938), for instance, describe the boundaries of the country as spanning both banks of the Jordan and enclosing an area of 117 000 sq. kms. At the same time, they note that Transjordan:
was torn away against the will of Jews from the body of the Land…. the borders… as proposed by the [Peel] Commission do not satisfy fully the will of
the Hebrew people…. We aspire to build a large Jewish state as in the days of David and Solomon. We want a state which will include most of the Jews in the Diaspora.(pp. 12,16)
The treatment of the borders of the Land of Israel and the State of Israel since 1948
Before the establishment of the State of Israel, the Jewish educational system was sectoral
and connected to the different political currents of the Zionist movement. After the State
was founded, the State Education Act and the Compulsory Education Act were enacted.
These laws produced unification of the educational system and considerable uniformity in
Israeli schools; they also led to the establishment of a centrally controlled educational
system. Government control of education includes curriculum planning, curriculum
development, approval of school textbooks, permanent plans for schools and central
budgeting. According to Haubrich’s (1991) classification, this is a centralistic educational
system in which uniform curricula operate throughout the country, and in which there is
only a small measure of pluralism in the study materials.
In the early 1950s, the first curricula for Israeli schools were similar to those in
operation during the British Mandate (Curriculum, 1954, 1956). At the end of the 1960s,
the organization and methods of the educational system were reformed. The reform was
an important landmark in the process of modernization. In its wake, a professional
committee for geography was established which, though it inserted new study content,
continued to press for uniformity and centralism in geographic education. Accordingly,
every geographic topic for schools had to be authorized by the committee which went so
far as to authorize textbook chapter headings. The committee included civil servants from
the Ministry of Education, academics and teachers. In the curricula approved since the
early 1970s, the geography of the Land of Israel occupies about a third of the hours
available for Geography from the ages of 10 through 18.
The issue of borders, which had occupied the authors of textbooks during the Mandate,
declined in books published after 1948. If we ignore new editions of books that had
appeared originally during the Mandate, it is apparent that the issue of borders practically
vanished from the discussions. The books by Paporisch (1960) or Razieli (1966 edition),
both of which appeared after the publication of the state curricula of the 1950s, are good
examples of this.
In high school texts written by Geography graduates of The Hebrew University of
Jerusalem, it can be generally stated that there was a lack of any discussion of the issue of
borders. The question of borders was usually noted briefly in the Introduction. Harel and
Nir (1965) restricted themselves to a few general sentences on the topic as part of the
discussion of the location of the Land of Israel in the Middle East:
‘The country extends from the east to the Mediterranean Sea, from the south to
the mountains of Lebanon, from the west to the deserts of Syria and Arabia, and
from the north to the Sinai Peninsula and the Gulf of Eilat (p. 17).
In another book, by Orni and Efrat, the authors discuss at the outset the issue of what
constitutes a ‘border’ (1972 edition: 7-8). They note that the need to discuss borders is
methodological: there is a contradiction between natural and political borders. In their
opinion, a textbook should relate the material of each chapter to the appropriate
boundaries. Thus, in the chapters on physical geography, the textbook relates to the Land
of Israel within its natural boundaries, while in the chapters on human geography, the
discussion relates principally to the State of Israel only (Figure 2). (The two maps are taken
FIGURE 2. The variable treatment of the borders of the Land of Israel in school
textbooks. (After Harel & Nir 1990, pp. 220) (After Harel & Nir 1990, pp. 38)
from the same school textbook. In the morphological division, the boundaries of the
Mandate period are emphasized, but the boundaries of the Golan Heights and the Gaza
Strip, which were not extant in the Mandate period, are shown. The name of the map of
areas under vine relates to the whole of Palestine, but only the vines within the ‘Green
Line’ are shown, and neither the vineyards on the Golan Heights nor the extensive areas on
the West Bank, south of Jerusalem, are indicated.)
Both of these books were written before the educational reforms, but they continued to
appear, rewritten and updated, into the 1980s and 1990s. There is no change in the stand
taken by these books on borders from one edition to the next. No better example can be
found than the latest edition of Harel and Nir (1991) which still includes a chapter on
Transjordan, i.e. the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, to the east (p. 401) and the Sinai
Peninsula, part of Egypt (pp. 421-428)!
The modern geography curricula (Curriculum, 1973, 1980) determine that’ The general
geography of the Land of Israel’ be taught in the 9th Grade. Nowhere in the chapter
headings prepared by the Geography Committee does the issue of borders appear. The
Land of Israel is conceived as a single geographical unit in which factors such as climate,
relief and history influence the distribution of the population (Curriculum, 1973: 17).
Following these guidelines, a textbook was written in the early 1980s (Soffer, 1982), which
presents the difficult issue of borders to the pupils thus:
A difficult problem presents itself to those who wish to study the Land of Israel:
What are the borders of the country recognized by the international community
and by Israel’s neighbours? And what are the borders that the inhabitants of Israel
see as desirable for the country? We have no answer. (p. 5)
After a description of changes in the borders of the country between 1948 and 1982, and
an explanation of concepts such as the ‘Green Line’ and ‘Armistice Lines’, Soffer notes that
the book will deal with
…Mandatory Palestine with one exception-the Golan Heights have been
added to the study area. We make no claim that this is the final border of Israel,
its natural boundary or the most desirable [nor] that this border makes Israeli
citizens of [Arab] residents of Samaria. We study the population distribution of
the Land of Israel within these boundaries. (p. 5)
The author presents us with an educational dilemma. As here are no agreed and recognized boundaries for Israel by either the international community or Israeli society,
he resuscitates the concept of ‘Mandatory Palestine’ as a territorial study unit. At the same
time, he makes an educational warning: there is no recommended political declaration on
the borders of the state here. Following this introduction, the book deals with borders in a
complex manner-the maps sometimes relate to Mandate Palestine while elsewhere they
show only the territory of the State of Israel. Put another way, the geographical facts that
relate to the territory of the Land of Israel are not definitive. Just as the question of borders
is a highly complex one and for which there has been no resolution in the curriculum, in
the same way the textbook, in effect, reflects the political quandary and the social debate
within Israeli society.
The centralizing approach in the state educational system has influenced not only the
curricula and textbooks but also the commercially published geographical teaching aids,
an outstanding example of which is the atlases used in the educational system. Until the
middle 1980s, a single atlas, in many editions, was used by most schools. In order to be
included in the list of permitted books for schools (circulated annually by the Ministry of
Education), the method of presentation of the borders had to be changed. In the early
1970s, the ‘Green Line’ (the 1949 Armistice Line) disappeared from the maps, replaced by
the 1967 Ceasefire Line (Brawer, Atlas, 1975 edition). In the late 1980s, a competing atlas
appeared on the market (Shachar, 1988). This is a Hebrew translation of the German
Dierke Weltatlas, published by a commercial publisher in conjunction with the Minstry of
Defence! The atlas was edited by an Israeli geographer in co-operation with civil servants
from the Ministry of Education. On the maps of Israel (pp. 7-9), this atlas, too, only makes
a distinction between international boundaries and the 1967 Ceasefire Lines, and does not
mark the ‘Green Line’. Some observers note that these maps exhibit ‘cartographic
propaganda’, and are using maps for the purposes of political propaganda (Hall, 1981;
Burnett, 1985; Newman, 1990).
These characteristics of the way in which the educational system treats the issue of
borders can also be found at university level and in the teachers’ training colleges. There,
the geography curricula include courses on ‘The Land of Israel’, in which the dualism over
territory is transmitted. (It should be noted that in the 1970s and 1980s Departments of
‘Land of Israel Studies’ were inaugurated at most of Israel’s universities. For the most part,
these are departments which deal with the history of the territory, principally from a
Zionist viewpoint.) It can be assumed that the university and teachers’ training college
graduates bring with them to the sub-university educational system the territorial messages
which they absorbed during the time of their training.
The issue of the borders of the Land of Israel and geographical education: a discussion
Discussion of the issue of borders in geographic education in Israel rests on the approach
to the relationships between ideology, power and knowledge presented in the
introduction. Zionist ideology, in its different variants (liberal, socialist, religious,
nationalist) realized its aspirations through expressions of ‘power’, such as territory,
economy and society. The survival of the ideology, its values and its tangible expressions
(state, communities, culture), rests on knowledge, such as education and communication.
The purveyors of knowledge (newspapers, school curricula, literature, etc.) which were
created under the influence of this ideology cannot thus be free of its values and aims.
The details of this approach in the specific case under study are presented in Figure 3.
One of the central values of Zionist ideology was the return of Jews to their homeland; this
FIGURE 3. The relationship between ideology-power-knowledge in Zionism.
characterized the period before 1948. In order to operationalize this value, the Zionist
movement acted to encourage Jewish migration to and settlement in Palestine (these are
the ‘tangible power’ expressions of the ideological value). In order to increase the
motivation to migrate and settle, and to achieve legitimation for these acts, the Zionist
education and information system were created (the ‘knowledge’), in which the issue of
the historical borders of the country formed a subject in teaching and information.
After the state of Israel was established in 1948, a new value was added to Zionism,
namely the maintenance of the independent existence of the state. The ‘tangible
expressions’ (‘the power’) for guarding political sovereignty are territory, authority, army,
settlement and economy. In order for these to survive, geographical education in the state
system involves itself in acts of territorial socialization, such as the study (or the failure to
study) the question of the boundaries of the State of Israel and the Land of Israel.
Among some of the earliest textbook authors, historical boundaries formed the genuine
and most important boundaries of the country, and these boundaries were stressed in the
books they wrote. From the 1920s, mainly under the influence of A.Y. Brawer, a clear
distinction began to appear among three kinds of borders: historical, natural and political.
Until the 1960s, all the authors saw the Land of Israel, extending along both banks of the
Jordan, as one geographical unit with natural borders; almost always, the map of the
country in the textbooks included four physiographical strips aligned longitudinally. These
were, from west to east, the coast, the mountain, the rift valley, and the Transiordanian
plateau. The authors explained the existing gap between the historical, political and
natural boundaries partly apologetically and partly apocalyptically. The gap was temporary,
and Zionist activity would eventually bring about a closing of the gap.
One of the central conclusions that Bows from the analysis of the issue of borders, and
one which textbook authors have never relinquished, is the presentation of the country
within boundaries that are more extensive than those actually encompassing Jewish
settlement and the borders of the State of Israel after its foundation. There is a dual norm
in connection with borders. On the one hand, there are borders from ‘above’-ideal
boundaries, historical borders, the ‘promised’ borders and natural borders. On the other
hand, there are the borders of the Land of Israel from ‘below’, temporary, political borders,
the borders of the ‘National Home’ and the borders of the State of Israel. The educational
tension that has been created between the ideal image and the actual borders requires the
authors of the textbooks to take a stand in relation to this question. Orni and Efrat provide
a fine example of this in the Introduction to their book (1972: 8) when they note that the
borders (prior to 1967) are ‘the random result of the cessation of hostilities and military
operations when at their height’.
It could be supposed that after the establishment of the State of Israel and the
demarcation of the borders the question of the borders as taught in geography classes
would vanish. The state curricula (which re8ect a Zionist consensus), and the authors of
the textbooks, continued to present an unclear and ill-defined map of the territory over
which the education was to be directed. There are two apparent reasons for this treatment.
The first is professional, the second political. In the past, through the professional world
view of regional geography, there was a tendency to emphasize natural boundaries as
regional boundaries. Israeli geographers in the 1950s and the early 1960s were heavily
in8uenced by the regional paradigm (Waterman, 1985), and they stressed these borders in
the textbooks they wrote. The second reason was related to the rapid changes in the
political borders of the country: from 1948 until the present, the borders have changed as a
result of the Six-Day War, the Yom Kippur War and Disengagement Accords and the Peace
Treaty with Egypt.
It can be assumed that in the unclear presentation of the borders in the school textbooks
political subjects esohí there is the stamp of ideology. The issue of borders is one of
around which there has been, and still is, sharp debate among supponers of the various
streams in Zionism. The geographical concept ‘Eretz Israel’-the Land of Israel-and its
various borders, acceptable to Zionism since the Balfour Declaration in 1916, has, since
1948, conflicted with the political concept ‘State of Israel’. This conflict was strengthened
after 1967 when the Israeli right-wing, including such movements as Gush Emunim raised
the territorial name ‘Eretz Yisrael’ anew, and even added to it the adjective shlemah
(whole, complete), bringing into being the term which translates into English as ‘the
“Greater” Land of Israel’ (Newman, 1985). The renewed conflict between the two
territorial concepts (Land of Israel and State of Israel) reflects an ideological conflict over
the different legitimations of these territories: the ‘State of Israel’ which has achieved
international legitimation versus the ‘Land of Israel’ which has divine legitimation. This is a
debate which may yet endanger Israeli democracy, which derives its legitimation from the
people (Lamm, 1988).
In the State of Israel there is no political consensus on the issue of territory and borders,
as a result of which definitive decisions are set aside and unclear messages are presented
to the educational system at all levels, from the Ministry of Education, through the textbook
authors to the teachers in the classrooms. A pupil glancing through school textbooks and
atlases thus receives dual messages about the borders of his country. These border
concepts have been transmitted to today’s adults, pupils of the past, some of whom are
decision-makers in Israel’s political life, some of whom are among Israel’s intelleauals, but
most of whom comprise the Israeli masses, who may yet demand that they decide the
future alignment of these borders at the ballot box.
How should we evaluate the findings of this paper? The viewpoints of those writing the
textbooks can be evaluated through those reading them today. As noted in the
Introduction, education in general and geographic education in particular obliged authors
writing textbooks on the Geography of the Land of Israel for use in an Jsraeli/Zionist
educational system to present a view on the question of borders. The textbooks were
required to confront the question of the extent of the territory, both from a professional
point of view (regional geography) and from the viewpoint of education and values-of a
national and Zionist education. The discussion presented here has shown that from the
1950s the problem of borders has generally been ignored in the school textbooks, and in
the curricula which direct the authors of the books.
Evaluating these findings depends on the reader who interprets the facts from his own
perspective. Some readers, such as Arabs or Palestinians, are likely to see them as part of a
very definite ideological education, in which use is made of geography for the purposes of
political propaganda from within the educational system. They are likely to interpret the
absence of any discussion on the question of borders as pure camouflage, and can
emphasize that the Israeli educational system has always presented the Land of Israel as a
single, uniform territory. As a result, ‘the “Greater” Land of Israel’ is not just a slogan of the
Israeli political Right but an educational goal of the state educational system.
In contrast, if the reader is an Israeli Jew with a liberal outlook on the world, he is
unlikely to see any educational blemish in presenting the territory as a single unit from
physical and historical points of view and divided from social and political viewpoints. This
can be interpreted as the reality of a territory which has borders which may vary, such as
natural, historical and political borders. In his opinion, the function of education is to
present this dichotomy to the next generation and to explain the political significance of
these borders for the future of Israeli society. On the other hand, for an Israeli with
right-wing nationalist political views, it makes little sense to discuss the border issue at all,
as ‘the “Greater” Land of Israel’ is clear-cut and readily understood, and most certainly is
not in need of any scientific geographic discussion or demonstration.
Yet other readers, aided by various theories, may see further proof in these findings of
the complex relations between ideology/power/knowledge, which raise another question
mark between objectivity and subjectivity in research and scientific and educational
Ideology and the state, as powers controlling society, channel resources in order to
survive, not only in material terms (army, economy) but also in mental concepts. The
significance of this mental survival is the creation of an identity and of identification with
the aims and values of the power. Mental survival also finds expression in territorial
socialization. This socialization is also channeled from the power to society through the
educational system which can transmit messages both wittingly and unwittingly.
The educational system, not just as a bureaucratic-technological system, but ·as a cultural
one, is both inflexible and conservative. It is there to preserve social values and to
compensate the power for the resources and recognition that it has provided. The
educational system usually operates to stabilize the power; if it. were otherwise, it could
lead to unwanted social and ideological instability. Thus, in territorial socialization, the
ideological and state conceptions on the territorial issue are transmitted from one
generation to the next. An honoured place for this continuity is retained not just for
curricula and textbooks, but for the academic institutions and colleges that train geography
Through all these media, the power promises to shape the ‘mental territorial
socialization’ that suits its needs. In this way, it controls knowledge, through what it creates
for and markets to the next generation, which may wish to choose from among several
ideological alternatives. Thus, an understanding of political beliefs in any given society
should take into consideration education in the past in order to try to forecast the trends of
the future. In other words, in order to examine the willingness and motivations of today’s
youth to go out tomorrow to defend the borders of the territory, one must first understand
yesterday’s education which was responsible for the mental map of the politicians who will
be responsible for deciding on either war or peace.
This evaluation appears to be important today in the light of the political changes which
Europe is undergoing, in which borders and states are changing, and where there has
been a Bare-up of values of ethnic independence in the former Yugoslavia and the Soviet
Union. Treatment of the streams of cultural-ethnic-educational socialization will add a
further layer to the understanding of these developments.
1. During the British Mandate (1920-1948), the political entity was called Palestine in English and
Eretz-Yisrael/Palestine in official government documents in Hebrew. Jews referred to
Eretz-Yisvrzel (the Land of Israel). When Israel was established in 1948, the Jewish state that
resulted from the partition was given the name Medinat Yisrael (the State of Israel), or Israel.
Eretz-Yisrael remains in use, but in a less clear-cut context, usually referring to the whole of the
territory to the west of the Jordan river (i.e., British Mandate Palestine), and by some Jewish
extremist circles to include territory east of the River Jordan.
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