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.
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.
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. So here it is:
Eight stories and pictures from East Jerusalem. Arabic and Hebrew. (2015)
“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.