Editorial Note
Last week Dr. Julia Muchnik-Rozanov of Achva College sent us a complaint about a lecture in a conference in Athens, Greece, by Prof. Nurit Elhanan-Peled of the Hebrew University.  The educational conference “25th International Conference on Learning” took place on 21-23 of June.
While the Palestinian-Israeli dispute was not on the agenda, Prof. Elhanan-Peled presented a paper “Society and Its Legitimation in School Books”. Her lecture, which included claimed that Israeli school-books make the Israeli children “heterophobic through the use of Holocaust rhetoric of victimhood”, by teaching them the “fear of others, extreme nationalism and majoritarianism”. Elhanan-Peled claimed that such methods promoted the “development of a predatory identity.” Elhanan-Peled also presented Israeli school books as legitimizing the elimination of Palestinians and non-white Jews, and the use of language of Holocaust victimhood of equating Palestinians to Nazis. Terms such as “extermination” “Auschwitz” and accusations of anti-Semitism are used when describing Palestinian resistance.
All this prompted Muchnik-Rozanov to leave the lecture hall being upset. She later wrote IAM and questioned who sponsors such an anti-Israeli activity of Prof. Elhanan-Peled in the conference, and whether it was the State of Israel.
At the conference Elhanan-Peled introduced herself as following: “As an Israeli I feel I must specify my political position:I am a member of the Palestinian-Israeli forum of bereaved parents for peace and was a co-laureate of the 2001 Sakharov Prize for Human Rights and the Freedom of Thought, awarded by the European Parliament.”  To recall, Elhanan-Peled’s 14 year old daughter, Smadar, was killed in a suicide bombing at Ben-Yehuda Street in Jerusalem, on the 4th of September 1997 while walking with her friends Yael Botwin, Sivan Zarka and Daniella Birman to buy school-books at the beginning of the school year. Yael, Sivan and Smadar were killed instantly.
A week after her tragedy, Elhanan-Peled was interviewed at the Los Angeles Times, “Mother Blames Israeli Policies for Child’s Death,” where she blamed Israel. “This is the fruit of [Israel’s] misdoings… It serves their purpose. They want to kill the peace process and blame it on the Arabs.” She also said she felt no anger toward the bombers–“they are desperate, insanely desperate, people… The Palestinian Authority can’t do anything,” she said. “They are on the verge of suicide… We are the strong ones. We have the army and the air force. But we are violating their rights, humiliating them.”  But since Elhanan-Peled is a political activist who uses her academic platform to preach her political agenda, this is not surprising.  Self-admittedly Elhanan-Peled said in that interview that her politics “have always been left to far-left.” With her politics she blames Israel for all the ills of the Palestinians.
Elhanan-Peled offered similar harsh accusations in her previous work “The denial of Palestinian National and Territorial Identity in Israeli Schoolbooks of History and Geography 1996-2003” which was countered by Dr. Arnon Groiss, as reported by IAM in 2011. Groiss concluded that Elhanan-Peled was “Motivated by her personal political agenda rather than an investigative spirit,” with a “highly selective use of source material, leaving out all references which contradict her thesis… inaccurate, distorted, and even downright false evidence,” he wrote.
In her lecture, Elhanan-Peled suggested a comparison of Israel to Nazi Germany.  She used the so-called Gardening Metaphor by Zygmunt Bauman who compared the garden (as a metaphor for society) and the gardener (as a social-engineer or manager) to juxtapose the concepts of control and order. The gardener is pulling out weeds, as a metaphorical social gardener rounding up human beings in the interests of a managerial plan.  Bauman warned of attempts to equate society and nature and the intentions to manage the former according to the principles of the latter, yielding catastrophic results in the past, pointing to the Holocaust.
She discusses her views in a recent video recorded interview with Robert Martin, a pro-Palestinian Australian activist, where her accusations are bordering on the anti-Semitic.  Such a biased nature of research puts in question the credibility of the scholar and the type of education that her students receive.
Muchnik-Rozanov’s asks who pays for Elhanan-Peled’s travel.  We don’t know, but she disclosed that her recent research was paid in part by the Leverhulme Trust in London which provides funding across various academic disciplines. She is also a member of the Common Ground Research Networks, the co-organizers of the 25th International Conference on Learning, with them Elhanan-Peled published her 2008 article “The Establishment of Israeli Identity through Racist Discourse”.
Her Athens conference lecture served as a basis for an upcoming book and IAM would provide an analysis of her findings in due course.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Julia Muchnik-Rozanov
Date: Jun 26, 2018
Subject: complaint
To: <e-mail@israel-academia-monitor.com>
My name is Dr. Muchnik-Rozanov Julia and on 21-23 of June 2018 I was in Athens, Greece, representing Achva College at the 25th International Conference on Learning. I was glad to see that besides me there was another Israeli representative and I went to compliment this colleague with my presence. But when the lecture by Prof. Nurit Elhanan-Peled began, I found it difficult to contain the essence of her words and left the hall a few minutes later.
Prof. Elhanan-Peled, besides being an Israeli, is an educator who traveled to Greece to represent the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; It is puzzling to me why, therefore, she chose out all the issues in the world, to deal specifically with Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians and why use Nazi Germany.
It is important to note that I support the freedom of expression, but I wonder who financed the participation of Prof. Elhanan-Peled in the conference with this lecture? Has the State of Israel financed such anti-Zionist activity while the Foreign Ministry is making efforts to promote a positive image of the State of Israel?
Dr. Julia Muchnik-Rozanov

Society and Its Legitimation in School Books

This study examines the multimodal ways Israeli textbooks legitimate the symbolic, cultural, and physical elimination of Palestinian and Non-White Jewish “others.” The interpretation of findings uses the paradigm of Zionist settler-colonialism and its logic of elimination. The analysis uses the Gardening Metaphor elaborated by Zygmunt Bauman (Modernity and the Holocaust), which applies to regimes that wish to create an artificial society on the basis of racial purity. The semiotic means used in textbooks to represent both groups have a lot in common and stem from the same logic and the same project of Jewish racial “purity” which the books are meant to promote. In order to accept such segregationist policy and engage in its practices children are made heterophobic through the use of Holocaust rhetoric of victimhood and Power, that teaches fear of others, extreme nationalism and majoritarianism, and promotes the development of a predatory identity. Social Semiotic principles of inquiry are used in the multimodal analysis and therefore and every sign is understood as motivated by interests and ideologies within Israeli settler-colonial culture. The verbal analysis will include Holocaust language of victimhood (equating all others to Nazis and using “extermination” “Auschwitz” and Anti-Semitism regarding every act of Palestinian resistance) and the language of Power. The visual analysis will be applied to artistic and scientific visuals such as photographs, maps and graphs.

 “Holocaust Rhetoric”, ” Israeli Textbooks”, ” Elimination”
 2018 Special Focus: Education in a Time of Austerity and Social Turbulence
 Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Prof. Nurit Elhanan-Peled-, -, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel 
-, Israel 

I was born in Israel. For my BA I studied at UCLA and at the Sorbonne. I Completed my Master’s degree in Comparative Literature and my PHD at the Hebrew University. My thesis is: The Development of Children’s oral and Written Text Production, ages 8-14. I teach Language Education and my special interests are Multiliteracies, Social Semiotics,and multicultural school discourse. My current study focuses on the semiotics of ideologies in Israeli schoolbooks of History and Geography, and was partly sponsored by the Leverhulme Foundation at The Institute OF Education in London.So far I have studied the racist visual and verbal discourse used in these schoolbooks for the presentation of Palestinians. As an Israeli I feel I must specify my political position:I am a member of the Palestinian-Israeli forum of bereaved parents for peace and was a co-laureate of the 2001 Sakharov Prize for Human Rights and the Freedom of Thought, awarded by the European Parliament.
The Establishment of Israeli Identity through Racist Discourse
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  • Title: The Establishment of Israeli Identity through Racist Discourse
  • Author(s)Nurit Elhanan-Peled
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • CollectionCommon Ground Research Networks
  • SeriesDiversity in Organizations, Communities & Nations
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities, and Nations: Annual Review
  • Keywords: Racism, Classroom Discourse, Semiotics, Multimodal Analysis, Schoolbooks
  • Volume: 7
  • Issue6
  • Year: 2008
  • ISSN: 1447-9532 (Print)
  • ISSN: 1447-9583 (Online)
  • DOIhttps://doi.org/10.18848/1447-9532/CGP/v07i06/39507
  • Citation: Elhanan-Peled, Nurit. 2008. “The Establishment of Israeli Identity through Racist Discourse.” The International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities, and Nations: Annual Review 7 (6): 111-126. doi:10.18848/1447-9532/CGP/v07i06/39507.
  • Extent: 16 pages


Israel is an ‘ethnic Democracy’ where one ethnic group dominates other ethnic groups while denying or ignoring their social and cultural identities and rights. The Jewish Israeli identity is an artificial one. Since features such as common territory, common language and common culture were not available to the modern Jewish nation which is composed of many cultures and languages, they had to be manufactured through education, for the purpose of building a collective homogenous identity for all its members. This identity has been founded on the idea that Israelis are both the successors of biblical Hebrews and have a Western culture. Israeli school discourse ignores and denies any other culture, both Jewish and Arab. This tendency results in the ignorance of teachers regarding the culture and ‘lifeworld’ of both their students and their neighbours. The paper shows the ways in which ‘others’ (such as Palestinians, Ethiopian Jews or ex-Soviet Union Jews), are represented both in schoolbooks and in teachers’ talk. The paper will argue that Israeli education promotes ‘Elite Racism’ both towards the Palestinian citizens and subjects and towards Jewish new-comers.



Mother Blames Israeli Policies for Child’s Death

Terrorism: Oppression drives Arab extremists to violence, grieving Jerusalem woman says.


JERUSALEM — Just days after the death of her daughter in a Jerusalem suicide bombing attack, Nurit Peled-Elhanan is unswayed by Israeli accusations that the Palestinian Authority is to blame, at least in part.

Instead, the hollow-eyed mother places responsibility for the death of her daughter Smadar, 13, and for the other victims squarely on Israel itself.

“This is the fruit of [Israel’s] misdoings,” Peled-Elhanan said this week as she sat in her home surrounded by friends and relatives. “It serves their purpose. They want to kill the peace process and blame it on the Arabs.”

The grieving mother’s views–that Israel’s policies of occupation and oppression have created an atmosphere that breeds Palestinian suicide bombers–are far from typical among Israelis. But they have struck a chord with an audience of leftists and some Palestinians, a number of whom have called or stopped by her home to show support in the days since last Thursday’s triple bombing.

“She had the courage to say what’s going on with the Palestinian people, to say that they are angry and fed up,” said an elderly Israeli woman who added that she did not know the family but felt compelled to drop in after hearing Smadar’s mother interviewed on Israel Radio. “It is no one’s fault but our own.”

A Hebrew University lecturer, Peled-Elhanan, 48, said her politics have always been left to far-left.

Her father, Matti Peled, a former general who became a dovish legislator, was one of the first Israelis to meet secretly with Palestine Liberation Organization officials when such encounters were outlawed. And Peled-Elhanan welcomed a Palestinian envoy to her daughter’s funeral, dismissing Israel’s charges that the Palestinian Authority was indirectly responsible for the bombing because it failed to clamp down on Islamic militants.

The group Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack that killed Smadar Elhanan and four other Israelis and for another deadly multiple bombing in the city July 30.

Avraham Diskin, a Hebrew University professor who is a longtime friend and neighbor of the family, said personal tragedies often reinforce strongly held political views.

“Hawkish people would say after a bombing like this, ‘Look, there’s no one among the Palestinians to talk to; you can’t make peace with terrorists,’ ” said Diskin, a political science professor who grew up with Peled-Elhanan on the street where both still live. “The other side says, ‘Had we had peace, we would not have to suffer from these terrorist attacks.’ ”

Indeed, in the aftermath of the latest bombing attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and right-wing members of his government have hardened their positions, as has the opposition Labor Party.

Labor, which spearheaded the peace deals with the Palestinians, has accused Netanyahu of seizing the opportunity presented by the attack to abandon the signed agreements.

Netanyahu said he will cancel further withdrawals in the West Bank until the Palestinians launch a sweeping crackdown. By appearing to walk away from the land transfers at the heart of the accords, Netanyahu seemed on the verge of declaring the Israeli-Palestinian peace agreements officially dead, even as U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright arrived in the region to try to save them.

But some Israelis, even some inside Netanyahu’s government, are responding with alarm. Foreign Minister David Levy reportedly declared at a recent Cabinet meeting that he would not stay in a government that killed the peace process.

“It may be that there are those who believe this process ought to be left to die,” he said, according to an account in the newspaper Maariv. “I am not one of them. Don’t they ask what will happen without the Oslo [peace] process?”

Peled-Elhanan also said she hoped that Albright could help stop the deterioration but added that she was not optimistic.

At her home this week, a steady stream of visitors arrived to help her family observe the seven-day Jewish mourning period. Smadar’s nursery-school teacher. Nurit’s college friends. Smadar’s classmates. Her brother’s army pals.

Some sat on plastic chairs in the small, flower-filled garden. But most entered the apartment, eventually making their way into the crowded living room for a mixed tableau of pain and politics.

Buried Sunday next to her beloved grandfather, Smadar died two weeks short of her 14th birthday. She had asked permission from her mother on the day of the bombing attack to be freed from baby-sitting her brother Yigal, 5, for the afternoon to shop for a birthday present for a classmate. She and a friend, Sivan Zarka, 14, were among the blast’s Israeli fatalities; another friend was injured and remains hospitalized.

Smadar shared her family’s belief that the Palestinians should have a state alongside Israel, her family said. Occasionally, she even challenged teachers who disagreed.

But most of the time, like any teenager, she was thinking about music and boys, not politics, her mother said.

Peled-Elhanan said she felt no anger toward the bombers–“they are desperate, insanely desperate, people”–or Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat’s self-rule government, which Netanyahu and U.S. officials say has done too little to stop attacks by Islamic groups.

“The Palestinian Authority can’t do anything,” she said. “They are on the verge of suicide. . . . We are the strong ones. We have the army and the air force. But we are violating their rights, humiliating them.”

She picked up a small, framed photograph of her daughter, an image of a pensive girl with brown hair and wide, dark eyes. Smadar, she said, was a “victim of the peace.”