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Israel at 71, more religious, messianic and extreme

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans on forming the next coalition with ultra-Orthodox parties that in essence do not recognize the Declaration of Independence and Israel’s founding values.
PM Netanyahu at the special Cabinet meeting at Independence Hall in Tel Aviv
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As they do every year, on the eve of their country’s 71st Independence Day, Israeli children attending public religious schools (not independent ultra-Orthodox ones) learned about the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel (popularly known as the Declaration of Independence). The foreword to a handbook for junior high school students in religious schools used to teach the subject reads, “The Declaration of Independence is the founding document of the State of Israel.” It also determines that “the State of Israel is based on the principles of democracy and equal rights for all its citizens … principles and core values without which an enlightened society cannot exist.”

It is worth noting that a “leftist” education minister such as the late Yossi Sarid or Yuli Tamir did not write this text. It was adapted from remarks by Limor Livnat of the Likud Party who served as education minister from 2001 to 2006. What appeared obvious at the time is highly unlikely to have been approved by Israel’s previous Knesset, nor would it get through even an initial reading in Israel’s newly elected Knesset. The radical right-wing United Right party expected to be tasked with control of the Ministry of Education in Israel’s next government represents those who believe in Jewish supremacy (see, for example, the teachings of rabbis at the military preparatory academy Bnei David in the West Bank settlement of Eli) and educate a generation of nationalist religious zealots. One of the United Right’s leaders, Knesset member Bezalel Smotrich, advocates for the separation in hospitals of Jewish and Arab women who give birth.

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