Individual and Group Activities
The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
|ABALIA, -: The sister of Shadi Mhana cries during his funeral in the Jabalia refugee camp, northern of Gaza Strip 27 October 2005. (Photo: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images)||HADERA, ISRAEL: Relatives of Israeli Michael Coyfman, mourn during his funeral in the Israeli city of Hadera 27 October 2005. (Photo: Pedro Ugarte/AFP/Getty Images)|
Activity 1: Media Comparison (Individual Research)
Using Worldpress.org as your source:
Find two articles about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that look at the conflict from a primarily Palestinian perspective.
Find two articles about the conflict that look at it from a primarily Israeli perspective.
For each article, make a list in point form of the main statements and/or arguments.
For each article, make a list in point form of assumptions that you think the writer has implicitly made, but not explicitly stated.
Compare your lists by answering the following questions:
- What arguments or statements are being made about the conflict from a Palestinian perspective?
- What arguments or statements are being made about the conflict from an Israeli perspective?
- Did you find any arguments or statements that are common to both sides? If there are, what reasons might there be for supposed “enemies” to be saying the same thing?
- What assumptions are being made about the conflict or its people from a Palestinian perspective?
- What assumptions are being made about the conflict or its people from an Israeli perspective?
- Based on your reading, have you encountered anything that might make you doubt the accuracy of a writer’s assumptions? [Explain.]
- Based on your reading, do you think the writers from each side have been able to realistically portray (a) themselves and (b) “the other”? Why or why not?
Activity 2: Communication (Group Research, Presentation and Discussion)
Each student or group of students should pretend to be either Israelis or Palestinians and read as many articles as they can from a variety of sources that are written from the perspective of the group they have chosen.
Students can access newspapers from around the world on Worldpress.org.
Ideally, the class should be evenly divided.
Once they have read the articles, each student or group of students should make a list of the things that they believe their chosen side needs to make clear to “the other” in order to make their perspective understood.
Students should try not to make lists of demands, but to find those things that each group cares most deeply about, those things that have most affected each group, and those things that each group most desires.
After compiling their lists, each student or group of students should find a way to effectively express the contents of that list: a letter, an article, a play, a poster, a film, a story, a drawing, a radio segment, a comic, a “’zine”, a compact disc, etc. Anything is possible (depending on the context and confines of the course), as long as it accomplishes the primary purpose of allowing someone else to understand what the list is trying to convey.
When students have completed their projects, they can share their work in either of the following ways:
- Class presentations: Each student or group of students presents their work to the class as a whole. The students can describe their work, as much as they feel is necessary. The class can ask whatever questions they need to make the work clear. The class works together to decipher the message of each individual piece.
- Trade: Each student or group of students gives their work to someone who has been working from the “opposing” perspective. Students then work to decipher the message of the piece they have received to try to grasp what “the other” is trying to tell them. Students who have traded work should get together afterwards to see if their work has been understood. They should note what has been understood, and clarify whatever has been missed. Pair groups should then present their experiences to the class—what they each understood, what had to be explained, and so on.
Finally, students should write a brief (one page) report on their experience, trying to address the following points:
- Why communication is important.
- How communication can be difficult.
- What is necessary to make communication effective.
Activity 3: Sources and Perspectives (Group Research, Presentation and Discussion
Students should divide into groups of three or four.
Each group should pretend to be either Israelis or Palestinians and read as much as they can find that shows the conflict from the perspective of the group they have chosen.
Sources can include articles from world newspapers, timelines, official Web sites (i.e. the Israeli government, the Palestinian National Authority), analysis, history, etc.
While they are doing their research, students should make a list of the things that they believe form the core of the conflict for the group they have chosen.
This list could include such things as:
- Major events that have affected Israelis/Palestinians.
- How many Israelis/Palestinians have been killed and/or injured.
- How the conflict has affected the daily life of the Israeli/Palestinian civilians.
- How Israeli/Palestinian men/women/children have been particularly affected by the conflict.
- What different elements of Israeli/Palestinian society say they want the outcome to be, or demand.
- What beliefs/needs/desires/policies underlie the various Israeli/Palestinian positions.
- What conditions Israelis/Palestinians say need to be met for there to be peace.
Students should keep careful track of their sources in a bibliography comprised of two sections.
The first, “Recommended Sources,” should include those sources that students found to be most useful and reliable, and for each source students should write a sentence or brief paragraph (no more than 50-60 words) to explain what made that source particularly useful or reliable.
In the second section, “Supplemental Sources,” students should simply list alphabetically all the other sources that they used.
Once they have completed their lists and bibliographies, students should “switch sides”— students who had pretended to be Palestinians should pretend to be Israelis and vice versa—and redo the exercise.
Before undertaking the research, students should exchange copies of their bibliographies (making sure they keep a copy of the original) so that they can benefit from the work that their classmates have already done.
Students should not limit their research to the sources found by their classmates, but should find new sources and should update the bibliographies:
- By incorporating all new sources.
- By annotating any new sources they feel should go in the “Recommended Sources” section.
- By noting cases where they disagree with the previous group’s recommended sources, and why.
Once all students have researched the conflict from both points of view, the class together should discuss the research they did and the sources they found.
The following questions might be addressed in the discussion:
- Did knowing about the conflict from one perspective affect your research for the other perspective? In what way(s)?
- Did you feel you were able to be equally objective about the topic when researching both perspectives?
- Did you use the same criteria when judging your recommended sources in both parts of the exercise, or did you find the criteria changed after you had gained some knowledge of the conflict?
- In the second part of the exercise, did your knowledge of the opposite perspective affect how useful or reliable you found the recommended sources in the bibliography you were given? In what way(s)?
- Did you learn anything that surprised you about either perspective on the conflict?
- Knowing what you do now, can you think of a solution (or elements towards a solution) that would fairly address the needs of both Israelis and Palestinians?
- Knowing what you do now, do you think there is hope that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict can be resolved soon?