Following intense public pressure including a campaign by NIF grantee Zazim – Community Action, the Ministry of Education has announced a number of changes to a controversial proposed civics textbook. The campaign protested the fact that the textbook, Being Citizens in Israel, presented Israel as primarily a Jewish society, downplayed its character as a liberal democracy, and marginalized Arab citizens. Other groups protesting the book include the Civics Teachers Council, the Academic Forum for Civics Instruction, the Israel Political Science Association, and Israeli-Arab heads of education departments.
Changes will reportedly include an extra section on minority rights and edits to the section on judicial review. There will also be an increase in the number of minorities represented in the book. In a statement, Zazim said: “The struggle over the book is far from over, but in the meantime. we should be proud of this achievement – more than 1,600 people supported the students’ letter to the Minister Bennett, took part in a protest outside the Education Ministry…and helped spread the word…[We are] proud to have had a part in this success.”
Zazim is a campaigning community for social and political change, which runs online and offline campaigns on key issues related to human rights, social justice, combating racism and the occupation, environmental protection, government transparency and independent media. It was incubated as a New Israel Fund project under the New Initiatives For Democracy (NIFD) program in 2014, and started operations this year. The campaign against the new civics textbook was its first online organizing effort, and set the stage for more impactful use of online organizing for progressive causes.