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May 28th, 2009
Making a Difference in the Midst of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Lesson Overview

Funding for the educational materials was provided by The Overbrook Foundation.

For a printer-friendly version click here: (PDF) (RTF)


TIME ALLOTMENT: Two 45-minute class periods


Students explore the Palestinian-Israeli conflict using segments from the PBS program: Wide Angle: Heart of Jenin. In the Introductory Activity, students learn about the history and complexity of the conflict. In the Learning Activities, students learn about a Palestinian father who donated his son’s organs to six children, including an Orthodox Jewish girl, and reflect upon choices that organ donors make. Students also explore why conflict persists in the region. In the Culminating Activity, students explore grassroots efforts to promote peace and write essays about the role individuals/organizations can play in promoting peace in the region, citing examples from history.


Students will be able to:

  • Describe the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, citing at least three major events that have impacted the conflict.
  • Explain the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from different perspectives.
  • List ways that individuals or organizations have made a positive impact in the region.
  • Describe one individual or organization and the actions it is taking to promote communication and/or peace in the region.

Learning Standards

New York State Standards:

Standard 2: World History

Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of major ideas, eras, themes, developments, and turning points in world history and examine the broad sweep of history from a variety of perspectives.

  • Key Idea SS2.1: The study of world history requires an understanding of world cultures and civilizations, including an analysis of important ideas, social and cultural values, beliefs, and traditions. This study also examines the human condition and the connections and interactions of people across time and space and the ways different people view the same event or issue from a variety of perspectives.


  • Performance Indicator SS2.C.1A: Students define culture and civilization, explaining how they developed and changed over time. Investigate the various components of cultures and civilizations including social customs, norms, values, and traditions; political systems; economic systems; religions and spiritual beliefs; and socialization or educational practices.
  • Performance Indicator SS2.C.1C: Students analyze historic events from around the world by examining accounts written from different perspectives.
  • Performance Indicator SS2.C.1D: Students understand the broad patterns, relationships, and interactions of cultures and civilizations during particular eras and across eras.
  • Performance Indicator SS2.C.1E: Students analyze changing and competing interpretations of issues, events, and developments throughout world history.
  • Key Idea SS2.2: Establishing timeframes, exploring different periodizations, examining themes across time and within cultures, and focusing on important turning points in world history help organize the study of world cultures and civilizations.


Students analyze evidence critically and demonstrate an understanding of how circumstances of time and place influence perspective.

  • Key Idea SS2.3: Study of the major social, political, cultural, and religious developments in world history involves learning about the important roles and contributions of individuals and groups.


  • Performance Indicator SS2.C.3A: Students analyze the roles and contributions of individuals and groups to social, political, economic, cultural, and religious practices and activities.
  • Performance Indicator SS2.C.3B: Students explain the dynamics of cultural change and how interactions between and among cultures has affected various cultural groups throughout the world.
  • Performance Indicator SS2.C.3C: Students examine the social/cultural, political, economic, and religious norms and values of Western and other world cultures.

National Standards:

Standards available online at:

Historical Thinking Standards for Grades 5-12

Standard 1: Chronological Thinking: The student thinks chronologically. Therefore, the student is able to:

C. Establish temporal order in constructing their [students’] own historical narratives: working forward from some beginning through its development, to some end or outcome; working backward from some issue, problem, or event to explain its origins and its development over time.

E. Interpret data presented in timelines by designating appropriate equidistant intervals of time and recording events according to the temporal order in which they occurred

Standard 3: Historical Analysis and Interpretation: The student engages in historical analysis and interpretation. Therefore, the student is able to:

  1. Compare and contrast differing sets of ideas, values, personalities, behaviors, and institutions by identifying likenesses and differences.
  2. Consider multiple perspectives of various peoples in the past by demonstrating their differing motives, beliefs, interests, hopes, and fears.
  3. Analyze cause-and-effect relationships bearing in mind multiple causation including (a) the importance of the individual in history; (b) the influence of ideas, human interests, and beliefs; and (c) the role of chance, the accidental and the irrational.

Standard 5: Historical Issues-Analysis and Decision-Making

The student engages in historical issues-analysis and decision-making:
Therefore, the student is able to

  1. Identify issues and problems in the past and analyze the interests, values, perspectives, and points of view of those involved in the situation.
  2. Marshal evidence of antecedent circumstances and current factors contributing to contemporary problems and alternative courses of action.
  1. Formulate a position or course of action on an issue by identifying the nature of the problem, analyzing the underlying factors contributing to the problem, and choosing a plausible solution from a choice of carefully evaluated options.
  2. Evaluate the implementation of a decision by analyzing the interests it served; estimating the position, power, and priority of each player involved; assessing the ethical dimensions of the decision; and evaluating its costs and benefits from a variety of perspectives.

National Standards in World History for Grades 5-12

  • World History/ Era 9/ Standard 1C: The student understands how African, Asian, and Caribbean peoples achieved independence from European colonial rule. Therefore the student is able to explain how international conditions affected the creation of Israel and analyze why persistent conflict developed between Israel and both Arab Palestinians and neighboring states. [Interrogate historical data]
  • World History/ Era 9/ Standard 2D: The student understands major sources of tension and conflict in the contemporary world and efforts that have been made to address them. Therefore the student is able to assess the progress that has been made since the 1970s in resolving conflict between Israel and neighboring states. [Analyze multiple causation]


Wide Angle: Heart of Jenin, selected segments

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
An overview of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

The Gifts of Life
A look at how a tragic death provided life to 6 Israeli children.

In Search of Peace
A look at the lives of an Orthodox Jewish Israeli man and a Palestinian man and the ongoing struggle for a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Access the streaming video segments for this lesson at the Video Segments Page.


  • Crisis Guide: The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
  • This comprehensive Council on Foreign Relations resource about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict features an interactive timeline, maps, audio narrations and videos with information about the conflict.

  • Conflict
  • This website features a variety of information, including statistics, maps, timelines and pro and con statements related to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. The following resources could be helpful in this lesson:

    What are the solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?

  • 1-minute overview
  • 5-minute overview/ Top 10 Pros and Cons
  • These fact sheets outline arguments on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

  • Glossary
  • This glossary provides definitions of “Intifada,” “Jihad,” “Zionism” and other terms related to the conflict.

  • Wide Angle: Suicide Bombers website
  • This website for Wide Angle: Suicide Bombers, a PBS program that explores the minds of Palestinian Suicide Bombers, includes a variety of information and links to information about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The following pages could be helpful in this lesson:

  • Timeline: The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
  • This timeline outlines important dates in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

  • Resources
  • This page provides links to a variety of resources about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

For use in the Culminating Activity:

The following are websites of organizations that have taken steps to promote understanding and peace between Israelis and Palestinians. (See the Culminating Activity for details about each organization.):


  • Computers with internet access
  • Computer, projection screen and speakers (for class viewing of online/downloaded video segments)
  • A timeline with the years 1914, 1949, 1973, 1993 and the present. (See Prep for Teachers section for details.)

Before the Lesson

Prior to teaching this lesson, you will need to:

Preview all of the video segments and websites used in the lesson.

Download the video clips used in the lesson to your classroom computer(s) or prepare to watch them using your classroom’s Internet connection.

Bookmark all websites that you plan to use in the lesson on each computer in your classroom. Using a social bookmarking tool such as or diigo (or an online bookmarking utility such as portaportal) will allow you to organize all the links in a central location.

Create a blank timeline that looks like the timeline below. [Note: Create this timeline on a large sheet of paper or on a board. Students will be placing important dates from the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the timeline during the lesson.]

Proceed to Lesson Activities.

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