History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

It might sound pretty simple: the Jews want a state and the Palestinians want a state, so why not give them each a state of their own? If only it were that easy. This episode goes through the many attempts at negotiations, peace plans, and compromise between these two peoples living in a tiny slice of land in the Middle East. It gives an overview of the past 100 years of conflict in the region in order to understand today’s political and demographic landscape. Watch the video and use these prompts to dissect this complex issue with your students.

  1. What was the 1947 Partition Plan?
  2. What is the “green line”?
  3. The Camp David Summit of 2000 took place between:
    • Barak, Arafat, and Clinton
    • Olmert, Abbas, and Clinton
    • Begin, Sadat, and Carter
    • Barak, Abbas, and Carter
  4. Rather than try to solve the conflict, author Micah Goodman suggests ______ it:
    • Ignoring it
    • Shrinking it
    • Understanding it
    • Embracing it
  1. People on the Israeli right often argue that Israel has no peace partner. After viewing this video, what legitimacy do you give this point of view? Where do you push back to this idea?
  2. What makes an entity a state in the first place? There are currently 138 states that recognize Palestine as a state. Does that make it a state or do other factors?
  3. People on the Israeli left argue that Israel hasn’t done enough to provide the Palestinians with a state. What legitimacy do you give this point of view? Where do you push back to this idea?
  4. As mentioned in question #2, there are 138 countries that recognize the State of Palestine and the UN gives it the status of an observer state. Is this constructive or detrimental to the peace process?
  5. In 1967, eight Arab countries stated their three famous no’s in the Khartoum resolution: no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, and no negotiations with Israel. Have things changed since then?
  6. Assess the following statement by Abba Eban, “The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” Do you agree with this pithy assertion or do you see some factors that may have made it very challenging for the Arabs and Palestinians to make concessions?
  7. Read Professor Dajani’s article here and debate: what do you think is more important: a big dream or a small hope?
  1. Use the videos and articles listed below, with their discussion questions and classroom tips, to delve deeply into this topic.
  2. Read Professor Dajani’s article here and debate: what do you think is more important: a big dream or a small hope?
  3. Engage your students in an experiential learning activity around the theme of Narrative, a theme found in the accompanying video.
  4. Give your students our Kahoot on the history of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict!
  1. A major difference between the 1978 Camp David Accords between Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, and the 2000 Camp David Summit between Ehud Barak and Yassir Arafat, was that the former two parties “wanted it to succeed and were prepared to compromise” (Anita Shapira, Israel: A History). When we compromise, both sides lose something and gain something worthwhile. Is compromise always the best approach? Was there a time in your life when compromise served you well, or had a negative result?
  2. When Egyptian president Anwar Sadat made peace with Israel, he was later assassinated. Some argue that Yassir Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas turned down peace offers because they were afraid for their lives. As political leaders, is that fear justified? Or should a leader be expected to tuck away this fear? Ultimately, what role does leadership play in this whole stalemate?
  3. A theme of the Palestinian State issue is responsibility: Who’s responsible for the fact that there is no Palestinian State? Is it Israel’s responsibility to give the Palestinians a state? Have the Palestinians shot themselves in the foot by rejecting many proposed plans? What role do you think responsibility plays in this issue? Would it help if one side claimed total responsibility, or if both took on more? Is that even fair to expect?
  4. The Israeli left was a much stronger body before the Second Intifada, when Palestinian violence was so intense that many Israelis became disillusioned by the prospect of peace with them. In light of these events and further terror attacks, is it surprising that Israeli society has shifted to the right? Is there a way to rebuild the trust needed for renewed negotiations or fresh ideas towards peace? What must the Israelis do and what must the Palestinians do?
  5. In Rashid Khalidi’s The Iron Cage, he asks many questions about what the Palestinian Arabs could have done differently and he concludes that it is difficult to imagine a reconciliation between Zionist and Palestinian national aspirations. Is this challenge intractable or is it possible for both peoples to be able to dream?
  6. Put yourself in the position of a Jew from the last few centuries and envision having a state of your own. What do you feel? Do the same, but put yourself in the shoes of a Palestinian. How do you feel?


  1. Mahmoud Darwoush,  A Lover from Palestine https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/a-lover-from-palestine/
  2. Anita Shapira, Israel: A History, Part III
  3. Efraim Karsh, The Arab-Israeli Conflict: The Palestine War 1948
  4. Neil Caplan, The Israel-Palestine Conflict, Chapter 11
  5. https://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/67/L.28
  6. Micah Goodman, The Atlantic, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/04/eight-steps-shrink-israeli-palestinian-conflict/585964/
  7. https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/fikraforum/view/half-of-palestinians-still-want-all-of-palestine-but-most-would-compromise
  8. Micah Goodman, Catch 67, Chapter 12

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Experiential Learning is a proactive way to educate with a focus on reflection and can take place in any academic setting: day school, supplementary school, camp, youth group, synagogue, college campus or university. 

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