Teaching About the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Introduction

In May 2021, tensions between the Israelis and Palestinians boiled over and quickly resulted in an outbreak of violence. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the world’s most enduring and tragic hostilities. At its core, the complex conflict is a fight about territory. In 1948, after World War II, the state of Israel was established in the area where the Palestinians had previously resided. Soon, war broke out. During this time, 700,000 Palestinians fled their homes and Israel gained control of all the disputed territory except for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which they would later gain control of after another war in 1967. Today, many Palestinians live in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, which is still occupied by Israel, and have not been allowed to return to their homes by the Israelis because it would disrupt their Jewish state. Teaching about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is important because students should learn about the contentious history between groups of people, especially if the tensions are still high. Likewise, this conflict has been politicized by countries around the world, particularly the United States. 

Resources

There are many resources available online for teaching about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These resources will help educators teach their students effectively about the history of the conflict and its present day implications while also helping them understand the different perspectives behind the conflict and its overall complexity.

Lesson Plans

  1. Making a Difference in the Midst of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: This lesson uses segments from the PBS program “Wide Angle” to explore the history and complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and examine the roles individuals and organizations can play in promoting understanding and peace. In addition to the directions for the introductory, learning, and culminating activities, the lesson includes links to websites and interactive activities that will help students better understand the conflict.
  2. Teaching About the Current Conflict in Gaza and Israel: The New York Times provides a lesson for teaching students about the current conflict in Gaza and Israel. In this lesson, students will learn about the latest violence in Israel and Gaza, the long history of conflict in the region, the perspectives of everyday people, and the role that social media has played. In addition, there are a great number of resources from NYT linked in the lesson!
  3. The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: TeachMideast has compiled a list of resources to spark meaningful conversations and help students become more thoughtful and well-informed citizens. These resources include background information, articles, lesson plans and teaching materials, YouTube videos, films/documentaries/filmed debates, and books (nonfiction and fiction), and podcasts.
  4. The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Through Children’s Eyes: Education World has put together a lesson plan in which students will learn about the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and explore the lives of three children who live in the troubled West Bank region. The lesson is geared towards students in grades 7-12 and includes a brief description, objectives, activity directions, a wrap-up discussion, and an assessment.
  5. Resources for Learning About Israel and Palestine: Learning for Justice has put together lists of teaching resources and perspectives from the region for educators to utilize when helping their students learn about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There are resources from TeachMideast, Rethinking Schools, Just Vision Films, and more organizations!

Articles

  1. After Years of Quiet, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Exploded. Why Now?: The New York Times provides an article explaining why the Israeli-Palestinian conflict exploded now after years of quiet. The article discusses how an incident in Jerusalem last month, which went overlooked by many at the time, was the turning point that would cause the situation between the Israelis and Palestinians to deteriorate. It then goes on to talk about the significant impact of this crisis and the other incidents that contributed to the shift in mood.
  2. An Israeli Death and the Tangled Conflict Left Behind: The New York Times provides another article discussing how a Palestinian rocket from Gaza struck an Israeli apartment building, killing a resident, and a Palestinian work crew from the West Bank cleaned up the mess. From the piece, students will gain a further understanding of not only this individual event and its effects but also how the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians may differ from the relationship between their governments.
  3. A New Word Is Defining the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in Washington: The Atlantic has published an article discussing how a new word—“equal”—is defining the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Washington. When President Biden announced the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, he said that both deserve “equal” freedom, prosperity, and democracy. The piece discusses the significance of the word “equal” and how it demonstrates a shift from focusing on a political situation to focusing on human rights.
  4. Lies on Social Media Inflame Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: The New York Times has published another article explaining how lies on social media have inflamed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The article gives examples of how misinformation has spread on Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, and other social media platforms, which has potentially deadly effects on the already tenuous relationship between Israelis and Palestinians.

Informational Sites

  1. What Is U.S. Policy on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?: The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) explains what the U.S. policy is on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The article provides detailed information on what the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is about, what the U.S. interests are in the dispute, how the U.S. has been involved in the conflict, what the U.S. position is on Palestinian statehood and Jerusalem, etc. 
  2. Israel-Gaza Violence: The Conflict Explained: BBC News discusses the history behind the Israel-Gaza violence. The article explains the 100-year-old issue, the creation of Israel and the ‘Catastrophe,’ the map of Israel’s boundaries today, what is happening now, what the main problems are, and more related topics. 
  3. The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict – A Chronology: The Washington Post has put together a timeline on the past several decades of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which will help students understand how the recent violent attacks between the Israelis and Palestinians before the cease fire were the result of an old problem.
  4. The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Explained: SBS News provides an informational article that breaks down how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict started and what the future holds for this enduring hostility.
  5. Global Conflict Tracker – Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) provides a global conflict tracker on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The global conflict tracker gives alerts, recent developments, concerns, and background on the conflict.

Conclusion

Teaching about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may seem difficult because it is complex and multifaceted. But it is also extremely important. While teaching this topic, educators should make sure to emphasize the misinformation that has been circulating about the recent violence between the Israelis and Palestinians on the internet. Unfortunately, not everything that students have been seeing on social media platforms regarding this conflict is true, so it is vital that educators explain this and provide them with accurate information.

Additional Resources

  1. The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict – A Lesson in Perspective: This presentation analyzes the different perspectives of the Israelis and Palestinians at after various significant events in the 1900s. Educators who want their students to understand how complex the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is should take a look at this resource!
  2. Tensions Between Israel and Palestinians Are Sky-High. Here’s What You Need to Know.: This article from CNN explains how the recent conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians began and escalated. Ultimately, this piece gives a good overview of the realities of Israel today!
  3. Israel-Palestinian Conflict Fuels Antisemitism in U.S. and Europe: CBS News provides an article that discusses how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has fueled antisemitism in U.S. and Europe. 
  4. Why the United Nations is Stuck on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: CNN offers a brief article discussing why the United Nations is stuck on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and has not yet taken action to lower tensions.

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