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A Meeting of World Leaders
Lesson Snapshot

Learning objectives
Students will gain an understanding of some of the background, motivation, and philosophy that shape political strategies proposed by world leaders to address the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Students will learn that there is a complexity of issues and viewpoints to be considered.

Grade level



NCSS standards

Time estimate
Two to three 45-minute sessions, with homework

  • Part 1: Introduction, choose world leader, research assignment
  • Part 2: Prepare and deliver presentations
  • Part 2: "Meeting" of world leaders

What you'll need (see Resources for links)

Lesson Plan

Part 1

  • The class will read and discuss the article "Palestine, Israel, and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Primer."

  • Working alone or in small groups, have students choose a leader from the list provided. The list is divided into six groups, each with four leaders. Each group is organized by its location and/or political tendencies. Either make sure that all the leaders are covered or that there is at least some representation from each group or "faction."

  • Moderate Palestinians

    • Yasser Arafat, leader of Palestinian Authority

    • Hanan Ashrawi, Palestinian leader, former minister of education

    • Sari Nusseibeh, Palestinian intellectual

    • Maha Abu-Dayyeh Shamas, director of the Jerusalem Women's Center for Legal Aid and Counseling

    Extremist Palestinians

    • Abd al-Aziz al-Rantisi, leader of Hamas

    • Ramadan Shallah, leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad

    • Marwan Barghouti, lieutenant of Yasser Arafat

    • Sheikh Ahmad Yasin, spiritual leader of Hamas

    Moderate Israelis

    • Shimon Peres, current foreign minister of Israel

    • Ehud Barak, former prime minister of Israel

    • Tzali Reshef, leader of Peace Now

    • Terry Greenblatt, director of Bat Shalom

    Extremist Israelis

    • Ariel Sharon, current prime minister of Israel

    • Benjamin Netanyahu, former prime minister of Israel

    • Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, a leader of Gush Emunim

    • Eli Yishai, leader of Shas party

    U.S. Leaders

    • George W. Bush, current president of the United States

    • Colin Powell, current U.S. secretary of state

    • Bill Clinton, former president of the United States

    • Edward Said, Palestinian-American intellectual

    Arab Leaders

    • King Abdullah of Jordan

    • Bashar al-Asad, president of Syria

    • Hosni Mubarak, president of Egypt

    • Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia

  • Students should, as a homework assignment, carry out research on their assigned leader to explore background, personal history, and statements or actions regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict. There are several Internet resources that are a good beginning for student research. These are listed in the Resources section.

  • Students will create a poster display on the leader they are researching. Posters should include a photograph of their personality, his or her title (and former title[s] if applicable), background and biographical information, and a brief description of her or his political views and values on the Israeli-Palestinian question, with changes over time, quotations, and actions taken where appropriate. For example, is religion important? Independence? Culture and identity issues?

Part 2

  • When students complete their posters, they should introduce "themselves" briefly in class. Students will then take part in an exercise in which they play the role of their characters.

  • The Saudi crown prince Abdullah proposed that if Israel were to withdraw to its pre-1967 lines, the Arab states would recognize Israel and offer full normalization of relations. Distribute copies of the article "The Saudi Initiative" to students.

  • Based on their research, each student should write a paragraph explaining how the interests and values of their character would lead them to react to the proposed Saudi peace plan.

    • Do they favor the Saudi initiative?

    • Are they not yet ready either to commit to this course of action or reject it?

    • Do they reject the plan outright and feel their interests would be better served by unilateral action, whether it be violence, disengagement, increased security measures, a fence, etc.?

Part 3

  • Students should introduce themselves as their character, stating their title and country represented, with a one-sentence summary of their feelings about the peace plan.

  • Staying in character, students will then attend a reception at a regional conference convened to discuss the Saudi initiative. Allow approximately 20 minutes for students to gather in small, informal groups to discuss their reaction to the plan. Students may move from group to group, staying in character at all times. At the reception, the leaders are seeking to garner support and would like to convince one another of their own views in regard to the peace initiative. Guide students' discussion with the following questions:

    • Why should the person with whom I am speaking come around to my point of view? What would they gain from this?

    • What objections or fears might they have, and how could they be overcome?

  • Students will "debrief" by returning to their seats and writing a second paragraph explaining with whom they spoke, some significant details of their conversations, and their final decision on the Saudi peace initiative.

    • Did they change their minds from the first round? Why or why not?

    • If not, what would have convinced them to do so?


  • The challenge is for students to take on the persona of their character and to think through the situation, not to get their character's decision "right."

    • How well can the student explain the background, political point of view and political position of one leader involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

    • Was the display complete and of high quality in terms of the information provided, organization of data, and neatness and visual organization of the final product?

    • Were the written assignments complete, logical, and well written?


Core Resources:

Global Connections Essays:

Internet Resources:

Related Video:

Print Resources:

  • AbuKhalil, As'ad. Historical Dictionary of Lebanon, Asian/Oceanic Historical Dictionaries #30.
    Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 1998.

  • Goldschmidt, Arthur, Jr. Biographical Dictionary of Modern Egypt.
    Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 200.

Related Activities:

NCSS standards

Power, authority, and governance

  • Analyze and explain ideas and mechanisms to meet needs and wants of citizens, regulate territory, manage conflict, establish order and security, and balance competing conceptions of a just society.

  • Compare and analyze the ways nations and organizations respond to conflicts between forces of unity and forces of diversity.

  • Compare different political systems (their ideologies, structure, institutions, processes, and political cultures) with that of the United States and identify representative political leaders from selected historical and contemporary settings.

  • Analyze and evaluate conditions, actions, and motivations that contribute to conflict and cooperation within and among nations.

Time, continuity, and change

  • Systematically employ processes of critical historical inquiry to reconstruct and reinterpret the past such as using a variety of sources and checking their credibility, validating and weighing evidence for claims, and searching for causality.

  • 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 judgment.

Individuals, groups, and institutions

  • Apply concepts such as role, status, and social class in describing the connections and interactions of individuals, groups, and institutions in society.

  • Describe and examine belief systems basic to specific traditions and laws in contemporary and historical movements.


  • Predict how data and experiences may be interpreted by people from diverse cultural perspectives and frames of reference.

For more information, see the National Standards for Social Studies Teachers, Volume I.

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