The War for Control of The Suez Canal

This video is about Israel’s least-known war: the 1956 Sinai Campaign. The video goes through the tactics, negotiations and military actions that Israel put in place, with the secret help of the British and French. It explains Israel’s “second war of independence” as some have called it and introduces military and political leaders Moshe Dayan and Ariel Sharon. Using this video and educator resources, students will learn about Israel-Egypt relations, pan-Arabism, and Israel in the international arena.

  1. What were the most important outcomes of the Sinai Campaign?
  2. What role did Britain, France and the U.S. play in these events?
  3. In what year did the Sinai Campaign take place?
    • 1948
    • 1950
    • 1956
    • 1967
  4. Which future Israeli prime minister was a key player in the Sinai Campaign?
    • Ariel Sharon
    • Yitzhak Rabin
    • Menachem Begin
    • Benjamin Netanyahu
  5. Who was the Egyptian leader who advocated for Pan-Arabism at the time?
    • Gamal Abdel Nasser
    • Anwar Sadat
    • Hosni Mubarak
    • King Pharaoh
  1. Why do you think this is Israel’s least-known war?
  2. David Ben-Gurion, Shimon Peres and Moshe Dayan had to decide whether or not to agree to a secret plan devised by the French and British. What factors do you think they considered when making this decision?
  3. David Ben-Gurion made the decision not to annex the Sinai Peninsula, though he probably could have. U.S. president Eisenhower was not supportive of this idea. The U.S. and France and Britain did not want to risk their relationship with the Arab world by encouraging Israel’s conquest. Ben-Gurion let the matter drop – why do you think he did so?
  1. Based on the history and context given in the video, why do you think many Israelis think of the Sinai Campaign as their second War of Independence? Split your students into pairs for a Think-Pair-Share.
  2. At the time, Israel was experiencing incessant terror attacks emanating from Egyptian and Jordanian territory and one of the goals of the Sinai Campaign was to curb the terrorist attacks on Israeli soil. How would you compare this situation to Israel’s current situation vis a vis terrrorism? Is it similar or different? Why? Discuss.
  3. Engage your students in an experiential learning activity around the theme of Self-Determination, a theme found in the accompanying video.
  4. Give your students our Kahoot on the War for Control of the Suez Canal!
  1. Did you know about the Sinai Campaign before watching this video? If not, did it change your view of Israel in any way? How? If yes, what new insight do you have into the event, if any?
  2. What do you think Israel’s Jews felt about this campaign at the time? Many of them were Holocaust survivors whose families had been murdered. Egyptian president Nasser was a Holocaust denier. What do you think it meant to these people to defeat him?
  3. Imagine what Arabs of the Middle East were experiencing in the 1950’s, shortly after Israel’s victories and establishment. Could you explain why Pan-Arabism caught hold? Why would one identify with the movement, even over one’s own country?
  1. Daniel Gordis, Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn, chapter 10
  2. Yotam Berger, “How Israel Gave Up the Idea of Annexing Sinai and Gaza”
  3. Matt Plen, “The Sinai Campaign: Israel’s First Military Offensive”

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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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