Lesson: Palestine and Israel: A Story in Maps

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Lesson Objective

Students gain a basic understanding of the history of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, begin to gather evidence.

Lesson Plan


Lesson Name: A Story in Maps                        Course: High School Language Arts by Anke al-Bataineh

Objective:   Students gain a basic understanding of the history of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, begin to gather evidence

Essential Questions:            (write on board)
What are Palestinians and Israelis fighting over?

How long have they been fighting?

What events have happened between them?

What is the situation right now?


Internet Access

Recent Newspaper (national or international in scope)

Globe or World Maps (up-to-date)

The Dent Atlas of the Arab-Israeli Conflict http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dent-Atlas-Arab-Israeli-Conflict/dp/0460861786

Anticipatory Set:         (10 min)
Review debate terms from yesterday. Announce the resolution for the debate at the end of this unit: Resolved: The entirety of the land known as Historic Palestine should be the undisputed territory of the State of Israel.


Make a KWL chart of what students Know, Want to know (and later, Learned) about the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Pose lots of questions to get them thinking, especially about what is fact and what is opinion, "where is that?" and "what then?" They usually know a lot more than they think!

Input:         (10 min)
Watch the various youtube videos without comment. When finished, ask students what facts they got ('there was some law by the British...'). Ask if they noticed any opinions or bias.


Explain that we will debate what SHOULD happen with this little piece of land, just like people have been doing- violently and not- for decades. In order to gather evidence for what SHOULD happen, we have to know our facts on what HAS happened. We don't need to know what every guy said to every other guy the whole time, but there are certain issues that are hotly debated around the globe, and we have to know what the facts and opinions are about at least those key issues. Today we will try to pull some main ideas from maps of the area. Take note of facts that might help you argue for either side.

Guided Practice:         (10 min)
Model the work students will do by starting with the map "The Zionist Plan for Palestine: February 1919" and comparing it with "The Peel Commission Partition Plan: July 1937". Model for students how to decide what the controversy is here ("Legal Agreements about the Land"). Make an index card labeled that (or a large model of one on the overhead/board. Significant here, and you should think aloud, is that many arguments for Israel talk about the Holocaust. This makes the date of the Zionist Plan relevant, as it proceeds the Holocaust. Challenge students to think about why this matters. It is also relevant that the Zionist plan exceeds the land discussed in the Peel Plan ("Borders"). Also, note regarding Legal Agreements that the text box on the map says that Arabs did not even agree to this plan, which would only have allowed a tiny portion of the land to become Israel.  The plan was based on British authority. This may also go under a title like "Democratic Power for All Residents."

Independent Work:         (20 min)
Pass out index cards, boxes, pens and highlighters. Have students work in partners and analyze the rest of the maps in the scanned packet. A partial list of evidence topics includes:

            Legal Agreements about the Land


            Human Rights


            Historical Entitlement

            Emotional Attachments to the Land

            Democratic Power for All Residents

            Feasibility of Long-Term Plans

Challenge students to use maps to gather evidence and a global understanding.


Guided Practice:         (10 min)

Poll students about what they found. Tell students that the strongest evidence will show that another argument is absolutely wrong, but it is also useful to show that an argument is partly "off-target." Introduce the Opposition Organizer. Help them graph ideas they found in terms of opposition or partial opposition, using the evidence opposition organizer.

Conclusion/Assessment:         (5 min)
Ask each pair of students to demonstrate one idea and state its opposite.









Vocab to Watch Out For:






British Mandate

Lesson Reflection:


What went well?

What would you change?

What needs explanation?

Students understand the maps well and are shocked by the graphic changes of land ownership.

They need about twice as much time to read maps, since this wasn't a very mature skill for them. This will depend on the background of the students, I suppose.

The resolution is absolutely pro-Israel so as to set students up for polar opposites, since that is usually easier to conceptualize. It might be easiest to have AFF be all-Israel and NEG by all-Palestine. Kids will quickly realize, however, that the 2-state solution is the middle ground, but you should remind them that all these years we have not been able to implement such a compromise. Just for the record, I am a pretty serious pro-Palestinian, but the kids come to their own conclusions and I focus on the strength of their evidence. I am transparent about my view so that they can help me see if I'm ever being biased. I try to be clear but fair.




Lesson Resources

AStoryinMaps   Lesson Plan
DentAltas   Texts


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