Potential and Limitations of Multicultural Education in Conflict-Ridden Areas: Bilingual Palestinian-Jewish Schools in Israel
by Zvi Bekerman — 2004
In recent years, a new integrative bilingual multicultural educational initiative has been developed in Israel. Its main purpose is to offer dignity and equality to the two Israeli groups who have for the last 100 years denied each other's humanity: Palestinians and Jews. The research examines this attempt at encouraging each group to take pride in their own cultural heritage while respecting and experiencing the heritage of the other. Through the ethnographic analysis of data gathered at four ceremonial events held at two of the three currently functioning integrated schools in Israel, the study inquires into the potential of school ritual events to support this endeavor. Probing into the ways in which these efforts may shape individual and group perspectives and help to overcome intergroup tensions and conflict, I expect this research to shed some light on the potential and limitations of multicultural education in conflict ridden areas. In focusing on the treatment of special ceremonial events in these schools I wish to explore the fruit of multicultural educational approaches and to question how these are shaped by contextual conditions specific to conflict-ridden areas. If multicultural education is to alleviate interethnic tension, it must offer options to refashion teachers', parents', and students' understandings of cultural borders and their positions and relations within the different cultural arenas.
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