Wednesday, January 14, 2015

1948 Arab-Israeli War

Teaching about the Middle East is challenging, but teaching about the Middle East in the Middle East can be daunting. Although I taught the course for several years in the United States, I am now fortunate to work with the woman who literally wrote the book on teaching the Middle East in high schools, Mrs. Abigail Chill. She teaches one section of the course and I teach the other one.

There is no one textbook to use on this topic (although Congressional Quarterly has a great one) and almost every resource is controversial. However, I found a good one to teach the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, a film by the BBC called the Birth of Israel. What is important to note is that we teach lessons prior to watching the film to contextualize what happens in 1948 beginning with Ancient Jewish and Arab history, continuing on to the Enlightenment and Colonialism.

While watching this film, I asked students to answer the question, "Who is responsible for the refugee crisis as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War?" Possible answers could be the IDF, Arab States, Palestinians, British, and the United Nations. I also ask them to look for bias. After the film, the students took a position on the question and also noted the bias they observed. They asked questions and several students stayed after class to continue the conversation.

What better assessment of a lesson is there than students missing part of their sacred lunch period to talk about history?

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