Palestinians of the West Bank

Episode IV of this miniseries focuses on the Palestinian perspective on settlements. It’s based on articles and first-hand accounts that paint a picture of what life is like for Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, exploring both the history of the conflict and modern-day issues. The video expresses one of our core goals, which is to cultivate a passion for Zionism and Israel without sacrificing empathy for the other. Use this video and the prompts below to help your students develop empathy for people on every side of this challenging conflict.

  1. What does the PLO stand for?
    • Palestine Liberation Organization
    • People’s Liberation Organization
    • Palestine Liberty Organization
    • People’s Liberty Organization
  2. Who was the leader of the PLO at the time of the First Intifada and Oslo Accords?
    • Ahmad Shukeiri
    • Yahya Hammuda
    • Yasser Arafat
    • Mahmoud Abbas
  3. Name two differences between Gaza and the West Bank.
  4. What is the economic situation like in Gaza?
  5. Who controls Gaza today?
    • Israel
    • Hamas
    • PLO
    • U.N.
  1. What connotations or associations does the term “occupation” evoke for you? Why do you think the term is so contested?
  2. What is the difference between history and narrative, and how does narrative influence our understanding of people?
  3. Why do many Palestinians view Israeli settlements as an impediment to peace? Can you understand this perspective?
  4. How can two sides who have difficulty accepting the other’s claims form a lasting peace? Is it possible?
  5. Israeli author Micah Goodman argues that Israel’s driving force is often the need for security, while the Palestinians’ is the need for self-respect and independence: “The conflict between these two nations is a clash of emotions – specifically, a painful confrontation between fear and humiliation” (Catch-67, p. 8). These needs are consistently at odds with one another (ex. An Israeli security wall will ensure security while increasing Palestinian humiliation). Can you think of a way to bridge them, or minimize such tension?
  1. Read the following article with your students and discuss the following questions:
    • How does knowing the Palestinian narrative affect your perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
    • How can empathy be a tool for solving the conflict?
    • What are other ways to develop understanding between the two sides?
  2. Engage your students in an experiential learning activity around the theme of Narrative, a theme found in the accompanying video.
  3. Give your students our Kahoot on the Palestinians of the West Bank – Settlements Part 4!
  1. What might be the experience of people wishing for a state of their own? If you were in such a situation, what would you be feeling and how would you go about pursuing change?
  2. If you were Israeli, how would you feel about having checkpoints? If you were Palestinian, how would you feel about them?
  3. Reflect on Brene Brown’s famous quote about empathy: “Empathy is simply listening, holding space, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of you’re not alone.” Do you feel it is impossible to have this for the Palestinian people without sacrificing your passion for Zionism and Israel?
  4. Sam Bahour, a well known Palestinian Christian activist, writes that there are 101 ways to reduce the challenges Palestinians experience in the territories. Read these with a friend and consider which of these ideas are reasonable, which are not, and then ask yourself if there is a way to verify each of the aspects he cites.
  5. Mahmoud Darwish, prominent Palestinian poet, writes in I Come From There:
    I am from there and I have memories. Like any other
    Man I was born. I have a mother,
    A house with several windows, friends and brother.
    I have a prison cell’s cold window, a wave
    Snatched by seagulls, my own view, an extra blade
    Of grass, a moon at word’s end, a supply
    Of birds, and an olive tree that cannot die.
    I walked and crossed the land before the crossing.
    Of swords made a banquet table of a body.
    I come from there, and I return the sky
    To its mother when it cries for her, and cry
    For a cloud on its return
    To recognize me. I have learned
    All words befitting of blood’s court to break
    The rule; I have learned all the words to take
    The lexicon apart for one noun’s sake,
    The compound I must make:
    After reading this poem, what feelings does it engender for you? Empathy? Compassion? Frustration? Distrust? Misunderstanding? Grief? Pride? 
  1. Unpacked for Educators, “West Bank Annexation”
  2. Unpacked for Educators, “PA Restricts Freedom of Expression”
  4. Daniel Polisar, “What Do Palestinians Want?”
  5. Sari Nusseibeh, “Why Israel Can’t Be a ‘Jewish State’”
  6. Peter Beaumont, “A Day in the Life of the West Bank Occupation”
  7. Bret Stephens, “The Progressive Assault on Israel”
  9. Micah Goodman, Catch-67, chapter 7
  10. Raja Shehadeh, Where the Line is Drawn

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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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