Weird Ways Israel Won its War of Independence

This video focuses on two critical pieces of Israel’s War of Independence: the Davidka cannon and the Burma road. Each one highlights Israel’s scrappiness at a time when they seriously lacked resources. Today, Israelis have a strong and powerful military, but this was not always the case. Creativity, resourcefulness and teamwork allowed Israel, the David amongst the pan-Arab Goliath of the Middle East, to emerge victorious and become a sovereign state. This video examines parts of Israel’s beginnings that students may not know much about. Together with the educator guide, students will explore questions about what it means to be an underdog and whether or not Israel today should be viewed as a David, a Goliath or perhaps, neither.

  1. How was the Burma Road built, and what purpose did it serve?
  2. What was the Davidka, and what was its primary asset?
  3. According to legend, what did the Jews drop from air force planes in lieu of bombs?
    • Rocks
    • Water balloons
    • Soda bottles
    • Bullets
  4. From which country did Israel obtain its old, poorly conditioned planes?
    • Czechoslovakia
    • United States
    • United Kingdom
    • France
  5. Who was the first general in the Israeli army?
    • Moshe Dayan
    • Mickey Marcus
    • David Ben-Gurion
    • Kirk Douglas
  1. In Israel’s early years, what it lacked in resources it made up for in creativity. Generally speaking, what yields greater results: resourcefulness and ingenuity, or sheer resources (money, manpower, etc.)?
  2. Sometimes it is unclear who is the David and who is the Goliath. Watch this Ted Talk by Malcolm Gladwell, where he shifts how we all think about the concept and the story. Do you think there is a connection to the old story of David and the modern Jewish people?
  3. Why did the Israelis name their weapon “Davidka”? What does that say about their own self-image?
  1. Israel’s War of Independence showcased Israelis’ innovation and resourcefulness. Watch our video and use our resources on Israel as the Startup Nation.
  2. Play “spectrum” with your students. Designate one side of the room as agree and the other side as disagree. Have them stand along the spectrum where they most identify based on the statements below. After moving to where they most agree, students should discuss with the other students there why they chose that area and then open the conversation to the whole group to explain their stances. Students may change where they stand based on the conversation
    • Israel is the David in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
    • “Israel is the David in the Arab-Israeli conflict.”
  3. Engage your students in an experiential learning activity around the theme of Initiative, a theme found in the accompanying video.
  4. Give your students our Kahoot on Weird Ways Israel won the War of Independence!
  1. Of the stories described in this video, do you connect more to the story of the Davidka or the story of the Burma road, and why?
  2. Israel is frequently ranked as one of the most powerful countries in the world. Yet when it was fighting for its independence, it resorted to all sorts of tactics described in the video. People tend to root for the underdog, but should they do that, or is that something more suited for sports? Do you think that support for Israel should be contingent upon its being a classic underdog, an entity that’s easy to root for because it’s expected to lose?
  3. On the one hand, some view Israel as the Goliath in the battle against the Palestinians, where the Palestinians represent David. Yet if one zooms out, Israel is still the David in a region of many hostile Arab countries. Read this article and think about whether or not you view Israelis as the David or Goliath. Better yet, if Israel is the “Goliath” in your view, does your attachment to the state and its people waiver?
  1. Benny Morris, 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War
  2. Primary Source: Center for Israel Education, Yitzhak Rabin Leads a Relief Convoy into Jerusalem | CIE
  3. Ami Isseroff, “The Burma Road–Israel
  4. Testimonial: Toldot Yisrael:

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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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