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Key Israeli high school exam 'reflects political and religious right-wing views'

Mar Elias High School students seen in their classroom in Ibillin, Israel, on May 3, 2007 [James Emery / Flickr]
Mar Elias High School students seen in their classroom in Ibillin, Israel, on May 3, 2007 [James Emery / Flickr]

A key Israeli high school exam this summer is under fire from teachers for promoting "political and religious right-wing views", reported Haaretz.

On Sunday, Israel's Education Ministry "announced the subjects that would be appearing on this summer's exam, which change from one test to the next", the paper explained.

While "topics related to aspects of the Jewish character of Israel – as well as the status of Hebrew as the sole official language – have been left almost unchanged", there are no questions about the Supreme Court "and very little about the rule of law".

According to Haaretz, "many civics teachers have criticised the focus of this summer's exam", with one teacher accusing the ministry of having "chosen to ignore any hint of a significant and in-depth discussion of democracy".

Education Minister Rafi Peretz – a notorious right-winger – has recently declared that on account of the coronavirus crisis, the amount of material covered by the text will be reduced by 25 percent.

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However, one ministry official said the announcement was "a political tool in the hands of the government indicating to students and teachers what is important and what can be left out".

Haaretz reported that this summer's exam "will not include consideration of divisions between the country's Jewish majority and the Arab minority", despite the fact that "substantial material is devoted to the subject" in the curriculum.

One civics teacher claimed that the subjects being tested on reflect a "thin and limited version of civics".

Another said: "It is difficult to ignore the narrower consideration of what the country's national identity should be, the rights of ethnic minorities and political rights, which still include the possibility of criticising the government".

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