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Lesson Plans

How to discuss what's happening in Gaza and Israel with your students

May 15, 2018

Full Lesson

Video summary
  • The U.S. relocated its embassy to Jerusalem from the city of Tel Aviv on Monday, May 14, 2018, the 70th anniversary of the formation of Israel.
  • The move was a campaign promise made by President Donald Trump and is highly controversial because Palestinians hope that some day they will have their own country or state with a capital in East Jerusalem.
  • Palestinians have been protesting along the border fence on the Gaza Strip. As of May 15, 61 Palestinians, including eight children, have been killed, and more than 2,000 injured.
  • The Gaza Strip, which is 1/10 the size of Rhode Island, is home to two million Palestinians. Unemployment stands at 40 percent.
  • Hamas, a Palestinian political and military organization, took control of Gaza in 2007, and is deemed by the U.S. and Israel to be a terrorist organization. Others in the international community do not agree with this designation. The U.S. and Israel say that Hamas is encouraging civilians in Gaza to take part in violent protests.
  • Danny Danon, Israeli ambassador to the U.N., said on the NewsHour that instead of blaming the U.S. embassy opening for the violence, the world should focus on Iran who is supporting the riots in Gaza. “We regret every casualty,” Danon said, “When we saw those pictures, we regret that, but they are being used by Hamas.”
  • Eight members of the European Union at the United Nations called on Israel to restrain from using excessive force and on Hamas to ensure protests in Gaza remain non-violent. Turkey recalled its ambassador to the United States over the Trump administration’s moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
  • Check out this background piece What moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem means for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks to learn why the embassy move was opposed by  many in the international community and Arab world, including the Palestinian people.
Discussion questions:
  1. Essential question: Why is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so complicated and difficult to resolve?
  2. Why did the U.S. move its embassy to Jerusalem?
  3. The conflict between Israeli and Palestinians has been going on since the middle of the 20th century, although historians say the conflict extends back to the end of the 19th century.
    • What do you know about it?
    • When learning about complicated foreign affairs, what are some strategies to implement so that you hear various viewpoints?
    • For broader context, you may want to research the Arab-Israel conflict.
  4. What will it take for peace to come to the Middle East? Who should be involved in the peace process?
  5. Media literacy: The New York Times was recently criticized for using biased wording in a tweet linking to its news piece. Monday’s tweet read “At Least 37 Palestinians Die in Protests as U.S. Prepares to Open Jerusalem Embassy,” while the actual news story read, “Israel Kills Dozens at Gaza Border as U.S. Embassy Opens in Jerusalem.”
    • What is the difference between the two headlines?
    • Do you think the criticism of the Times’ tweet was warranted? Why or why not?
Extension activity:

In order to find out about the humanitarian crisis that has been taking place in Gaza for many years, watch NewsHour’s “Would alleviating Gaza humanitarian concerns ease violence?” Should the U.S. government spend time and money on helping to solve the problems in the Gaza Strip? Why or why not?