A comparison of special education in Israel and Palestine: Surface and deep structures

Thomas P. Gumpel*, Sana Awartani

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Comparative studies of special education policy typically compare the provision of special education services in different countries, based primarily on comparative variables such as legal mandates, rules and regulations, and budgetary allocations. Aside from the analysis of these surface structures, it is imperative also to take into account the deep structures (i.e., sociohistorical background) of the culture that created those policies. In this study, different aspects of Israeli and Palestinian Authority special educational policies were compared on both surface and deep levels. The surface analysis revealed that both systems are currently undergoing major revisions and restructuring. On the one hand, the Israeli system is redefining how it will educate children with special educational needs in more inclusive settings (in stark contrast to previous segregationist policy). On the other hand, special education in the Palestinian Authority is an emerging field, currently experimenting with different models of inclusionary practices. Despite their differences, both systems are similar in that teachers are being asked to implement these changes. On a deep-structure level, Palestinian teachers tended to have a more radical view of issues concerning education and equity as they pertained to the necessity of educating all children in order to build a strong nation. Israelis tended to see their role as less steeped in the language of equity.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)33-48
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Special Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2003


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