Epistemology of the Nakba in Israeli education

I. Gideon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In Israel, the Israeli–Palestinian conflict is the most fundamental political and moral issue current and future citizens face. If we accept the maxim that schools should prepare citizens for participation in determining the future of their state, Israeli students must be introduced to the historical, political and moral questions at the heart of the conflict. But this responsibility of Israeli schools and teachers is a highly contentious issue. The most important issue in Israeli political education is thus the hardest to teach. In this article I argue that, despite considerable educational and political risks, teaching Jewish Israeli students about the 1948 Palestinian Nakba (alternatively known as the Israeli War of Independence) holds substantial potential for their epistemic development as capable knowers. I begin by reviewing the political, dialogical, cognitive and epistemic deficits in Israeli education, highlighting how the Nakba is suppressed in history and citizenship education. By analysing the epistemic context of the Nakba in Israeli society and education, I present two pedagogical approaches for teaching controversial issues, arguing for an inquiry-based approach over the widely held approach. I demonstrate the benefits of an inquiry-based approach in the context of history education. In the final section of the article, I build on the case of the Nakba to argue for a new epistemic framework for Israeli citizenship education. I begin by outlining the shortcomings of the current epistemic framework of the subject and point to possible future directions for the subject.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-200
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Educational Research Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022


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