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  • The Arab-Israeli Conflict
    Companion Article: A politician’s peril
    The assassination of a right-wing Israeli cabinet member again pushes the Mideast to the brink.
    From Issue: High Anxiety, 10-29-01. Page(s) 38.

    Grade Level  9-12

    Subject Area  World History, Historical Understanding, Geography

    Objective  Students will
    1. review key events that have fueled the conflict between Arabs and Israelis during the last century;
    2. research and prepare a chronology that outlines the course of events of the conflict; and
    3. suggest points for negotiation that could act as a basis for peace between the Arabs and Israelis.
    • Copies of the U.S. News Article
    • Newspaper and magazine articles on the Arab-Israeli conflict
    • Encyclopedias
    • Access to the school library or computer lab
    • Internet access
    • Map of Israel (Requires Adobe Acrobat plug-in)
    • Poster board or construction paper
    • Scissors, glue, or tape
    Discussion Questions

    What do you already know about the conflict between the Arabs and Israelis? Why has the United States been a strong ally of Israel since the country was formed in 1948? Should this policy change or remain the same? What grievances do the Palestinians have against Israel? What is the difference between being a “freedom fighter” and being a terrorist?


    1. This activity’s duration is estimated to be one 90-minute block period or two to three 45-minute periods, with time devoted to homework. Students should read the related U.S. News article and discuss the questions above before they begin the activity.
    2. Divide students into small groups. Explain that each group will research a key event relating to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Groups will use their research to create an informative poster that will be presented to the class and displayed on a time line.
    3. Assign one of the following events to each group. (Depending on class size and the size of student groups, some of the events may not be covered.)
      • 1896: Theodor Herzl proposes the Jewish state
      • 1917: Balfour Declaration is written
      • 1933-1945: The Holocaust
      • 1948: UN partition of Palestine
      • 1948: Independence and war
      • 1967: Six Day War of 1967
      • 1973: Yom Kippur War of 1973
      • 1978: Camp David Accords signed
      • 1987: First Intifada begins; Palestine declares independence one year later
      • 1982: Israeli invasion of Lebanon
      • 1993: Israel and Palestinians sign Oslo Accords
      • 1995: Rabin assassinated
      • 1998: Hebron turned over to Palestinians
      • 2000: Second Intifada begins

    4. Each group will need to research the following information on their assigned topic and use it to create their poster:

      The title: The title should name the event being researched and presented. Students can develop the title using computer text or clip art, or write or draw it on poster board.

      Written information: Students will need to summarize their research in at least three well-developed paragraphs. Students are looking for information regarding the conflict between the Palestinians and the state of Israel. The information should be typed (or neatly hand-written if computers are not available), printed, and placed on construction paper or poster board. Students should use the Internet, CD-ROMs, books, and periodicals to locate critical information.

      Map: Each event on the time line has a geographical element. Students should trace or copy maps that deal with their topic. If a map does not exist, students should use the written data to their own. Students should label key battles, areas of conflict, territories, neighboring Arab nations, and cities. They should place a one-sentence caption near the map to show how it relates to the topic.

      Biography: Students must locate one important historical figure to include in the written overview regarding their topic. They can illustrate the biography by photocopying or scanning a photo or by drawing an image of the person and event they are covering. Their poster should include a caption of one or more sentences stating how the historical figure fits into their topic.

      Additional illustrations: Students can print or copy additional images from magazines, newspapers, or encyclopedias that illustrate the topics they are researching or presenting.

      Questions and answers: As students conduct their research, they should create a historical question about the topic for their poster. The question can be written on an index card, and its answer can be copied onto a second card, placed behind the question. Students viewing the poster can flip the question index card up to see the answer. Questions and answers should be fairly brief.
    5. Provide research time in the media center, library, or computer lab so that students can gather data on their topics. Inform students that if they cannot complete their research during their time in the media center, they must complete their research at home.
    6. Help students locate information in reference works such as encyclopedias, Internet Web sites, and CD-ROMs such as Encarta and Grolier’s. Provide assistance with printing via computer or making photocopies of photographs, maps, and other images.
    7. Instruct groups to paste all of their written paragraphs, questions and answers, printed images, print-media clippings, and photocopied materials onto a piece of construction paper or poster board. Each group will present their poster to the class and display it along the time line of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
    8. Review the completed time line as a class and discuss the evolution of the conflict. Moderate a class discussion on how peace can be negotiated between the Arabs and Israelis.
    Extension Ideas

    For further study: This topic can be explored through numerous media, such as television news broadcasts and documentaries. Almost every major news organization has a well-documented Web site that outlines the major events and players of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Encourage students to use those Web sites to gain a basic understanding of the history and current events regarding the Palestinians and Israel. One such resource is available through the BBC at

    A Complex Issue
    Inform students that the Arab-Israeli conflict is a multifaceted problem that is not easily settled. Along with the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the conflict involves other issues:
    • Control over Jerusalem and its holiest worship sites
    • Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights near Syria
    • “Right of return” for Palestinian refugees
    • Equal rights for Palestinian Israeli citizens
    • Control of water resources in the region
    • Jewish settlements in the occupied areas
    • Arab determination to destroy Israel
    Have students write a short editorial stating their position on how peace might be brought to the Middle East by choosing one of the positions below:

    Position A: Israel must give up the West Bank and Gaza Strip and allow the establishment of a Palestinian state.

    Position B: The Palestinian Authority must renounce the use of terror and allow Israel its right to exist.

    Additional Resources:
    1. The Foundation for Middle East Peace
    2. The Institute for Counter-Terrorism: The Arab-Israeli Conflict
    3. The Houston Chronicle: Israel at 50
    4. A to Z History: The Discovery Channel School
    5. The Middle East Research and Information Project’s “Palestine, Israel, and the Arab-Israeli Conflict”
    6. Ha’Aretz Daily
    7. Palestine Daily
    8. The Shepherdstown Peace Talks: Israel and Syria on the Road to Peace

    1. brazenness
      “.this was an assault of unprecedented enormity and brazenness.”

      Definition: Any action that is characterized by inappropriately bold action.
    2. extradite
      “Arafat says he will not extradite Zeevi’s killers, and Washington is not asking him to do so.”

      Definition: The giving up of an accused criminal by the country holding the individual to a nation that has jurisdiction to try the case. The provisions of a treaty or statute usually control the process.
    3. intifada
      “Israel has a political purpose: to win U.S. support for a stepped-up military campaign against the Palestinian intifada.”

      Definition: The name given to the broad uprising by the Palestinians in the occupied territories of Gaza and the West Bank that began in late 1987 and was renewed in 2000. The word means “shaking” in Arabic.
    4. Knesset
      “. he was the most aggressive anti-Arab nationalist in the Knesset.”

      Definition: The Knesset is the lawmaking body or unicameral parliament of the state of Israel.
    5. ultraright-wing
      “For Israel, it was like September 11, or so Prime Minister Ariel Sharon portrayed the assassination of his old army buddy, ultraright-wing cabinet minister Rehavam Zeevi.”

      Definition: A political position marked by extremely conservative or old-fashioned views that often call for a return to a formerly existing situation.
    NCSS Standards

    Time, Continuity, and Change; People, Places, and Environments. For details, link to


    George Cassutto, author, Web master, and teacher of U.S. history at a middle school in northern Virginia.