Boundaries as a topic
in geographic education
The case of Israel
POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY, Vol. 12, No. 5, September 1993, 421-435
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
a situation in which Israeli citizens of the present
acquired political beliefs in the past from which each
has built his/her 'mental map'. These maps will influence
their 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 between geographic information
and its interpretation in the Arab-Israeli conflict. In their
summary of this literature, Newman and Portugali (1987), Kliot
and Waterman (1990) and Newman (1991) note that scientific
research on the Israeli-Palestinian issue cannot be value-free;
it will always reflect the world view of the author. The issue of
values and geography 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 and knowledge, 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,
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
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:
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 entirely vanished from geography,
but its scale has become transformed following the rise of
globalism. 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 in
school 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
There are many states in which the boundaries, being relatively
stable (e.g. the Scandinavian countries or the United
States), are a subject for scientific social research rather
than a subject for education (House, 1982; Rumley and Minghi, 1991).
There are other territories in which the borders are
unstable but where research in political geography
is undeveloped, such as southeast Asia, or where it has not yet
developed, such as in the new states of eastern Europe.
It appears, therefore, that the case of Israel is quite unique:
a territory with variable borders, a developed scienti8c community
and much international interest. There are those who
see the considerable amounts of research and quantities
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 placed upon the discipline of
geography. The teaching of the discipline in Israeli schools draws
its targets and ideas from both the development of
geographic research in Israel and from the social goals
of the state. How does formal geographic education in Israel react
to the controversial question of the boundaries of
the state's territory? This issue is at the heart of the
present paper and will be examined in historical perspective. This
perspective is important for understanding the current
political convictions of the adult population in Israel
who were educated in their youth toward the problem of territory.
Many of today's decision-makers were pupils who received
their values through Zionist education which was developed
both in Palestine and in the Diaspora even before the establishment
of the State of Israel. It is important to note that
Zionism, as an ideology with organizational ability
and economic resources, recognized at the very outset the importance
of teaching territorial identity, so that teaching
of the subject of the territory of the Land of Israel received
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 transmitted medium of school textbooks and
elų through geographic education are examined through curricula
which were prepared for the Hebrew/Zionist educational system before
the establishment of the State of Israel, and for the
state educational system following the State's establishment.
In line with behavioral perception (Muir and Paddison, 1981) it
can be assumed that these messages are not the only
ones that determined the political beliefs of the current
adult population, but there is no doubt that they reflect a wide
social consensus within which there exists a pluralism
related to the political interpretations of recent
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 was introduced in 1907 and updated in
1923 (1923 Curriculum), following the granting of the British
Mandate in Palestine. These curricula show continuity in the study
topics in geography (Bar-Gal, 1991). As part of the
Zionist ideological conception, in which education
should promote a 'love of the Land of Israel', the geography of
the country received 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
The close connections between Jewish/Zionist education in
the Diaspora and that in Palestine encouraged a mutual
use of the textbooks produced for each of these educational
systems which were geographically, but not ideologically, separate.
The problem of boundaries that confronted the authors of school
textbooks at the end of the 19th century differed from
those confronted by authors at later periods. For early authors,
such as Yudelevich (1894), Belkind (1897) and Grazowski (1903),
the internal boundaries of the Land of Israel of the
Turkish Ottoman Empire did not correspond with the
concept of the Land of Israel (Brawer, 1988; Biger, 1983). The boundaries
of the country presented to pupils in the Hebrew educational
system at the end of the Ottoman period were, with
the exception of the maritime boundary, amorphous, and unclear by
any objective standards. These rested on general descriptions
of divinely promised borders and the boundaries attained
during the early Israelite period, in addition to some physical
geographical 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, and
land of springs of water'. Biblical perspective aided the
definition of the borders of the country such as 'a
land flowing with milk and honey' in the midst of an 'infertile
desert environment'. This way of describing the country
during the Ottoman period emanated not only from an
historical-religious approach to the question of the borders but
also from the lack of clear physical geographical elements
bounding it, and the rejection of the Ottoman 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 stressing
natural boundaries, the 1930s Diaspora textbooks continued
to see the Land of Israel as straddling both sides
of the Jordan and covering an area of about 30 000 sq. kms (Blanc,
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 elų 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 lacėbib 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
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.
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
system. Government control of education includes 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
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
'The country extends from the east to the Mediterranean
Sea, from the south to
In another book, by Orni and Efrat, the authors discuss at the
outset the issue of what
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
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
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
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,
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
the Land of Israel within these boundaries. (p. 5)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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