Students will be able to identify the causes of conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians in the Middle East.
1. What do you know about Israel? Palestine? Gaza strip?
2. Discuss whole-group (10 minutes)
3. Each student needs a copy of “Student Worksheet 1: Israeli and Palestinian Claims to Land” to read and answer the questions individually. Then discuss whole-group (20 minutes)
4. Guiding Questions - What are the major issues dividing Israelis and Palestinians? Why are they so difficult to resolve? Why is the U.S. a supporter and ally of Israel?
I. Religious background
A. Israelis = Land of Israel (according to Torah) promised by God to the Children of Israel (Jews)
1. Christians support Jews because they recognize their ancestral rights to this and as explained in the New Testament.
B. Muslims claim religious priority in accordance with the Quran as descendants of Ishmael (Abraham’s elder son)
1. Land is referred to as “Canaan” or “Palestine”
II. Historical Background
A. Roman Diaspora (compare to “dead dandelions”) 72 A.D.
1. Non-Christians were kicked out of the Roman Empire – most fled to Palestine
B. Region controlled by Ottoman Empire for approximately 500 years
C. World War I: Allies needed support
1. End of war, Prime Minister David Lloyd George thanked the Jews by giving the “Balfour Declaration”
a. “The establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” but that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil & religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities”
2. Prime Minister Winston Churchill later denied that this was ever the intention of the Balfour Declaration
D. Between 1948-1952, 700,000 Jews moved to Israel.
1. 1948: Israel declared independence in a letter to the United Nations.
2. Initiated the Arab-Israeli War
3. Muslims reacted by exiling any Jews on the West Bank or in Gaza from their property and homes to Israel.
E. 1966-1967: Gamal Abdel Nasser (Egypt’s leader) – began a Pan-Arab campaign seeking unified support to conquer Israel and expel the Jewish population (backed by the Soviets)
1. Resolution - 1979: Camp David Accords – peace treaty between Israel and Egypt
Answer the following questions on a separate lined piece of paper to submit:
1. What is at the core of the ongoing conflicts between the Arabs and the Israelis?
2. What are the basic arguments each group has regarding the conflict?
3. In your opinion, who is the rightful owner of the land? Why?
Name: Date: Period:
Student Worksheet 1:
Israeli And Palestinian Claims To Land
Directions: The searing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has made almost impossible any statement about which both groups can agree. Read the following descriptions about the claim each has to the land Israelis call Israel and Palestinians Palestine. Then, based on what you have read, answer questions A-D below.
1. The history of the Jewish people and of its roots in the land of Israel spans some 35 centuries. In this land, its cultural, national, and religious identity was formed; here, its physical presence has been maintained unbroken throughout the centuries, even after the majority was forced into exile. With the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, Jewish independence, lost 2000 years earlier, was renewed. --American Jewish Committee
2. The Palestinians' claim is predicated on the right of ownership evidenced by uninterrupted possession and occupation since the dawn of recorded history. They lived in the country when the Hebrews (of whom the Jews claim descent) came and lived there for a comparatively short period. They continued to live there during the Hebrew (and Jewish) occupation. They remained there after the last Hebrew or Jew left the country nearly two thousand years ago....The people today called Palestinians...are largely the descendants of the Canaanites, the Edomites, and the Philistines who lived in Palestine when it was invaded by the Hebrews in ancient times. But the Hebrews finally left or were driven out two thousand years ago. --Frank S. Sakran, Palestine Still a Dilemma
3. There was no such thing as Palestinians. When was there an independent Palestinian people with a Palestinian state?... It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country from them. They did not exist. --Golda Meir, Israeli prime minister, New York Times
4. According to Genesis, this was the land that God gave to Abraham and his seed....Those Jews who rely on the biblical deed to the land take their history from the ancient period of 4,000 years or so ago, skipping easily over the centuries of Muslim rule that followed; those Arabs who regard history as their ally tend to begin with the Muslim conquests in the seventh century A.D., blithely ignoring the Jewish kingdoms that existed here 2,000 years before Muhammad made his appearance. --David K. Shipler, Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land
Please respond to the questions below by marking either J (Jews), P (Palestinians) or I (Impossible to determine).
A. Which people have lived in the land longer?
B. Which people have ruled over the land longer?
C. Whose historical claim to the land is stronger?
D. Which people have been present in the land as far back as records go?