Evolution to reach Israeli middle schools

"Evolution will soon be a mandatory part of the middle-school science curriculum, after years of being an optional subject that most students were never taught," according (registration required) to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz (June 1, 2014). "Until now, evolution was taught in high school, and only as an optional part of the biology curriculum. Consequently, most students graduated without ever having been exposed to the theory."

A spokesperson for the Education Ministry told Haaretz that "we felt we hadn’t given [proper] expression to a scientific theory accepted worldwide, which offers an explanation for developments and processes in our world. It’s impossible to teach the curriculum without the theoretical scientific basis that explains these developments. ... Now, it will be in the curriculum, and also in the textbooks."

According to the Times of Israel (June 1, 2014), however, human evolution will not be addressed "out of concern about potential criticism from the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox populations in Israel." Hagai Netzer of Tel Aviv University, a member of the advisory committee responsible for the decision, was quoted as saying that the topic of human evolution is "a very sensitive subject in the state of Israel."

A 2006 survey in Israel found that "a minority of only 28% accepts the scientific theory of the evolution [sic], while the majority (59%) believes that man was created by god"; according (PDF, p. 49) to the 2000 International Social Survey Programme, a total of 54% of Israeli respondents described "Human beings developed from earlier species of animals" as definitely or probably true, placing Israel ahead of the United States (46%) for its public acceptance of evolution.

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