Lesson: What About Human Rights?
Lesson Name: Israel-Palestine- Religious Teachings Course: High School Language Arts by Anke al-Bataineh
Objective: Students identify arguments and evidence regarding human rights within the conflict in Israel-Palestine
Chapters 18-20, 22, 24, 27-28 of "The Case for Israel" http://www.amazon.com/Case-Israel-Alan-Dershowitz/dp/047146502X
Anticipatory Set: (10 min)
Is one side more respectful of human rights than the other? Is one side more in violation of international law than the other?
(ALERT!! These videos contain images of blood and even of slain children! This imagery is very commonly used on both sides to publicize violence suffered, but may not be appropriate for your classroom! Choose any of thousands of other videos if you do not want to show some graphic images!)
Edit: I project the Declaration of Human Rights (rephrased by me for best comprehension) in the classroom and review some of the main ideas with students before they embark on evidence-seeking. This is something I use in many different classes as a tool. Evidence-seeking on this topic may take more than one class, depending on how broadly you define the topics for discussion. If you are concerned about time or student overload, you might choose a few human rights issues to limit research to, like Palestinian rocket attacks and Israeli restriction of movement, or something.
Topic and Position Frames:
AC: Palestinians use violence against innocent, peaceful Israeli civilians, totally ignoring international law.
AC: Israeli military actions are always justified and taken in order to protect Israel's right to exist.
AR: Israel has made many efforts to establish peaceful agreements with the Palestinians, but they do not keep their word and turn around and talk about obliterating Israel. This shows they can not be trusted.
X: Israel has one of the most powerful militaries in the world, and is therefore capable of violence far beyond the wildest dreams of the Palestinians, and has at times committed that violence.
X: Palestinians often do not all support agreements made in negotiations with Israel, so different groups act differently. Their actions sometimes target innocent civilians because they believe every Israeli is being aggressive just by being Israeli.
NC: Israel is the greatest violator of human rights in the world and its very existence violates international law.
NC: Israel ignores peaceful requests from Palestinians and then grossly overreacts to minor acts of violence with collective punishment.
NR: Palestinians do not have access to an organized military, so they have to defend themselves with individual actions. That does not mean they are acting outside of a war context.
What went well?
What would you change?
What needs explanation?
Students generally fall right in the middle on this issue, thinking that both sides have crossed lines. Some students see the imbalance of attacks or deaths as justification for Palestinian actions. If they are really thinking about it, you might introduce the idea of "moral equivalency," which is intensely controversial. If they are just reacting out of emotion, I try to point them back the the complexity of international law.
If you are in an environment where it is not appropriate to show any graphic images, here are some alternative videos I have used. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCoJeUdKnvA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwypFj65rPY (contains some blood in second half)
Why do I include some graphic images? I don't do so lightly. I talk a lot about it first, and no one is obliged to watch it. I explain each type of image on each side and the purpose it serves. The bottom line is, if I can include a few such images, I do, because it is hard to understand the Palestinian psyche without knowing that children grow up seeing- even revering- these images constantly. They see many killings and many people refuse to hide the gruesomeness because they want the world to see how vicious life is under occupation. On the flip side, Israeli citizens hear about and see bus bombings on a regular basis and live in regular fear of them. For many, this image dominates their view of the conflict. This is important to understand, as much as students can. Note: for more about the significance of Jenin, where I have personally been, there is a well-known and respected film that may interest you. Its release was impactful around the world. http://www.arabfilm.com/item/242/