In May 2015, UConn was one of the co-sponsors of a workshop on the Middle East for Middle and High School teachers. The lead sponsor was the Hartford Seminary where the workshop was held. This list includes some ideas we discussed in a session I led called “Creative Approaches to Studying the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” I will add more suggestions over time. Feel free to email your own ideas to me, and I’d be happy to post them here while crediting you:
1. Simulation – simulate an Israeli-Palestinian peace conference. You could also have a US delegation. Or, have a few students represent the media. Another idea: I wrote up a shorter budget allocation simulation () of EcoPeace Middle East, “a unique organization that brings together Jordanian, Palestinian, and Israeli environmentalists. Our primary objective is the promotion of cooperative efforts to protect our shared environmental heritage.”
2. Video – Many options such as Arna’s Children, Bethlehem, the Gatekeepers, Omar, Paradise Now, and Promises. Don’t miss West Bank Story (about 20 minutes running time). TV Shows: Arab Labor, Fauda.
3. Use a graphic novel, e.g. Guy Delisle, Jerusalem (Montreal: Drawn & Quarterly, 2012); Joe Sacco, Palestine; Sarah Glidden, How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less.
4. Use Sandy Tolan, The Lemon Tree (New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2006). It is a non-fiction book that weaves together personal perspectives and national history. I wrote an article about how I used the book: Jeremy Pressman, “The Arab-Israeli Conflict and the Case of The Lemon Tree.” International Studies Perspectives 9, no. 4 (November 2008), pp. 430-441. Another book that may be useful: Colum McCann, Apeirogon: A Novel (NY: Random House, 2020) but be warned, imho, the discussions of violent episodes are emotionally hard to read.
5. Photographs – Pick one photograph. Or have students each pick one. Discuss or write about three stages. a) Describe the photo b) analyze the photo (e.g connect it to larger historical events; discuss why it happened) c) offers an opinion about the photo. You could do a similar exercise with postcards, prints, or other types of images.
6. Primary documents (Israeli, Palestinian, US) – Discuss a primary document. It could be a famous declaration or statement such as the Balfour Declaration (1917), UN Security Council Resolution 242 (1967), the PLO Charter (1968), or the Oslo I agreement (1993). Or it could be a formerly classified one like Document #136 here.
7. Social media – A class twitter feed with relevant articles?
8. Debate – Break the class into debate teams and stage a debate (or several). One way is to have a resolution and assign students to pro and con positions. For example, I once had students debate resolutions about 1948:
a) The Palestinian leaders were right to reject the 1947 UN partition plan.
b) In 1948, the Zionists/Israelis were primarily responsible for the dislocation of most of the Palestinian population.
c) The 1948 war between Jews and Palestinians was inevitable.
I needed a place to park links that might be useful for teaching about the conflict (videos, games, pictures, simulations etc.). Feel free to email me more suggestions.
“Can Israelis and Palestinians See Eye to Eye?” an episode of Middle Ground, November 12, 2018. (h/t Hugh McCann)
“PeaceMaker” is a game about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Download. (A heads up: Not all my students have been able to make this work on their computer.)
“Terrestrial Jerusalem.” Includes a lot of information, maps, and an iPad app.
al-Jazeera posted an extensive map and graphics collection in 2020.
Visualizing Palestine uses a 1940s British map of Palestine to study what Palestinian villages and cities changed as a result of the Nakba (1948). The site compares the British map to current satellite imagery.