From 2011 to 2015, the German-Israeli Textbook Commission conducted analyses of history, geography and civic/social studies textbooks from Germany and Israel, with particular emphasis on their depictions of the other country, its history and society, and their treatment of the Holocaust and its memory. From approximately 1,200 textbooks approved in Germany in the three subject areas, the commission narrowed down the selection to examine textbooks from five federal states: Bavaria, Berlin (and Brandenburg), Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westfalia, and Saxony. In total the study considered more than 400 volumes, of which it closely analysed 94 relevant texts for their depictions of Israel and 25 chapters from history textbooks for their portrayal of the Holocaust. On the Israeli side, all state-approved history, geography and civic/social studies textbooks used in Israel’s three state-controlled educational sectors (general, religious, and Arab) were examined for relevant content, and 44 books were then analysed more closely.
Initial findings of analyses focusing on images of Israel and Germany in the other country’s textbooks were presented at a conference held at the German Federal Foreign Office in December 2012. At the end of 2013, each of the working groups presented interim reports on this topic for discussion; in 2014 interim reports followed on the depiction of the Holocaust in German and Israeli textbooks. In late 2014, at a meeting of all three working groups in Tel Aviv, the DISBK approved the final findings of the working groups and discussed an initial draft of joint textbook recommendations. These were published in June 2015 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the commencement of diplomatic relations between Germany and Israel, as part of the GEI publication series Eckert.Expertise.
The DISBK’s recommendations include the joint development of teaching material to provide schoolchildren in Germany and Israel with a nuanced image of the other country, its history and society. In a second project phase, the textbook commission will create digital, interactive learning modules for the classroom by 2018. As the overriding theme of these teaching units, the commission chose ‘Migration in the German-Jewish or German-Israeli Context’. Among other topics, modules will cover the immigration of German Jews to the mandated territory of Palestine in the 1930s, the influence of migration on the urban development of Berlin and Tel Aviv, and the self-images of immigrants from CIS states to Israel and Germany. These modules’ technical realisation will take place for the most part at Tel Aviv’s Centre for Educational Technology (Matach), which has extensive experience in developing digital teaching media. Three groups – one for each subject – consisting of members of the textbook commission, staff from the Matach Centre and members of the GEI coordination team are responsible for source research and preparation of the content.
This project receives funding on the German side from the Federal Foreign Office and is coordinated by the Georg Eckert Institute. On the Israeli side, the country’s Ministry of Education is in charge of the project, while the Matach Centre takes care of coordination. Until the end of 2015, the GEI worked together with the Tel Aviv–based MOFET Institute for the Research and Development of Programmes in Teacher Education.
Members of the German-Israeli Textbook Commission
Working Group: History
- Dr. Elit Chemla, Open University, Tel Aviv
- Dr. Simcha Goldin, The Goldstein-Goren Diaspora Research Center, Tel Aviv University
- Dr. Orna Katz-Atar, Ministry of Education, Jerusalem
- Prof. Alfons Kenkmann, Department of History, Leipzig University
- Dr. Martin Liepach, Pedagogical Center – Fritz Bauer Institute & Jewish Museum Frankfurt
Working Group: Geography
- Sara Brom, Consultant for geography, Jerusalem
- Dalia Fenig, Ministry of Education, Jerusalem
- Prof. Michael Hemmer, Institute for the Didactics of Geography, University of Münster
- Dr. Arnon Medzini, Oranim Academic College of Education, Tivon
- Prof. Gabriele Schrüfer, Institute for the Didactics of Geography, University of Münster
- Prof. Ute Wardenga, Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography, Leipzig
Working Group: Civics
- Prof. Mark Arenhövel, Institute for Political Science, Technische Universität Dresden
- Frank Langner, Headmaster, Friedrich-Ebert-Gymnasium, Bonn
- Dr. Nava Rozen, Consultant for civics, Tel Aviv
- Prof. Wolfgang Sander, Department for the Didactics of Political Science, Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen
- Dr. Tali Yariv-Mashal, The Beracha Foundation, Jerusalem
In advisory capacity
- Prof. Dan Diner, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem / Simon Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and Culture, Leipzig
- Matach – Centre for Educational Technology, Tel Aviv
- Dr. Michal Golan, director, MOFET Institute
- Dr. Arie Kizel, University of Haifa/MOFET Institute, Israel; Israeli coordinator of the Textbook Commission
- German Federal Foreign Office