Prospects for peace in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
The state of Palestine was divided in 1947 to establish the nation of Israel, resulting in two separate homelands for the Arab and Jewish people. This land division has polarized Arabs and Israelis for over 50 years, resulting in ongoing violent conflicts. In this lesson, students examine the root causes of the crisis and analyze past and present attempts at peace.
Estimated class time: 3-6 classroom periods
the lesson, students should understand the history and current status
of the Middle East conflict. You can have them read these backgrounders
for homework or the beginning of class.
If you would like students to read the most recent news, please use an update from the Online NewsHour's special report.
1) Have students consider the typical causes of disputes, who is involved with them, what prolongs them and how they are resolved. Ask: What seem to be the key ingredients in resolving disputes? What has to occur between/among the involved parties in order for a dispute to end?
2) Explain that the ongoing conflict between Arabs and Israelis is based on a land dispute that began after the birth of Israel, the nation that evolved out of the division of Palestine in 1947. (Indicate on a map of Israel and the Palestinian territories the lands in dispute, noting boundaries prior to the land division.)
3) Review with students--or have students conduct research on--the history and current status of the Arab-Israeli crisis. (Use the Web sites noted in the Background section.) Pose the following discussion questions or print out this worksheet:
When did the Arab-Israeli crisis begin?
What is at the core of the ongoing conflict between the Arabs and Israelis?
Which areas of land are in dispute? Based on your research, whom do you view as the rightful owners of the land in question? Explain.
What are the basic arguments each group has regarding resolving the conflict? What concessions does each side expect of the other?
Why have efforts to resolve the conflict and establish peace failed?
In your opinion, particularly based on recent acts of violence in the Middle East, do you feel the conflict can be resolved? Discuss.
4) Explain that during the course of the Arab-Israeli conflict, peace-making efforts have been undertaken, but have typically lasted a very short period of time or have not taken at all. The Mitchell Report, the result of a presidential committee investigation of an Israeli/Palestinian peace process, proposes a halt to the current violence in order for the parties to resume peace negotiations.
5) If you have a
fast connection to the Internet, watch the NewsHour interview with George
Mitchell, head of the international committee
6) Divide students into small groups. Distribute a summary of the Mitchell Report. Have students review and discuss the pros and cons of the report's key recommendations, taking into consideration Arab and Israeli perspectives. Encourage students to research other peace initiatives like the Camp David Accords or Wye River Agreement. Invite each group to report its points of view to the class.
Activity and Assessment
Applying their understanding of the history and current status of the Arab/Israeli conflict and the Mitchell Report, have students work in small groups representing a presidential investigation committee to construct a recommended peace plan.
Have each group present its plan/recommendations at a mock international conference focused on resolving the Israeli/Arab conflict. Students, as conference attendees, may pose questions of the presenters to challenge or substantiate a proposed action.
Middle East Peace:
Treaties Historic Documents, Treaties, and Agreements
MidEast Web Gateway
Fact Sheet: The
Middle East Peace Process
National Council for the Social Studies
II. Time, Continuity, & Change
B. Apply key concepts such as time, chronology, causality, change, conflict, and complexity to explain, analyze, and show connections among patterns of historical change and continuity. E. Investigate, interpret, and analyze multiple historical and contemporary viewpoints within and across cultures related to important events, recurring dilemmas, and persistent issues, while employing empathy, skepticism, and critical judgement.
IX. Global Connections
B. Explain conditions and motivations that contribute to conflict, cooperation, and interdependence among groups, societies, and nations. E. Analyze the relationships and tensions between national sovereignty and global interests, in matters such as territory, economic development, nuclear and other weapons, use of natural resources, and conflicts related to universal human rights.
Author Michele Israel has been an educator for over 20 years. She has developed and managed innovative educational initiatives, created diverse educational materials and curricula, and designed professional development offerings. Currently, Israel is an independent educational consultant/writer for Educational Consulting Group, of which she is the founder and director.