Society and Its Legitimation in School Books

By: Nurit Elhanan-Peled  

This study examines the multimoal 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.