The elephant in the room: teaching the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and conflict resolution

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the most controversial topics you can teach in a classroom. The topic can be divisive, polarising, aggressive, and confusing for students, especially those with a religious background. The debate doesn’t have to be this way. Our Solutions Not Sides program specialises in teaching students about conflict resolution and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, helping to approach the subject before they leave school and head into the wider world. Teaching students about conflict resolution doesn’t just help them better understand the conflict but also helps them in their day to day lives. We give pupils the opportunity to speak with people from the region which not only helps them to better understand the conflict but also broadens their life experience in general. Taking on such a controversial topic at school may seem like an incredible challenge but the Solutions Not Sides program has been created to help you do just that.

At OneVoice Europe we have been running our Israel-Palestine Education Programme for the past five years and so far in 2015 alone we have reached over 1500 students.

“Being able to talk face to face with Israelis and Palestinians is hugely valuable for the students, they develop their knowledge and some find preconceptions and stereotypes challenged.”
Moseley School, Birmingham

The sessions we do are between 60-120 minutes long depending on the school’s preferences and we always include the following:

  • Group activities on general conflict understanding and conflict resolution
  • A non-partisan explanation of the historical context of the conflict from the perspective of both Israelis and Palestinians
  • The opportunity for students to interact directly with youth leaders from Palestine and Israel
  • An introduction to OneVoice’s win-win approach to solving personal conflicts

Giving students the opportunity to hear from and ask questions to young activists from Israel and Palestine helps them to humanise the conflict, and understand the advantages of non-violent approaches to conflict. Pupils come away feeling inspired and with a much greater understanding of the complexities of the conflict.

We have created a few key bits of general advice for teachers wishing to discuss conflict resolution in the classroom:

  • Empathy is key: you have to encourage the students to empathise with different groups and to step into one another’s shoes.
  • Understand the history and grievances: In order for a well-rounded approach to any issue it is vital for students to have a good understanding of the build up to the conflict.
  • Past experiences: You can use pupils’ past experiences and encourage students to relate to other’s past experiences to help create a better understanding of the conflict.
  • Defeating stereotypes: Stereotypes isolate groups from one another, helping to break these down will make conflict resolution much more effective.

In addition to our programme we can offer teachers training and briefing materials on dealing with this issue both in the formal teaching environment and more informally with students. There are plenty of online resources you can access on conflict resolution, such as these teaching materials and these lesson plans.

“This issue is a very important issue to me as I have friends and family affected…so a massive thank you on trying to raise awareness.” Parrs Wood School, Manchester