Monday, March 10, 2008

Resources about the Israeli / Palestinian Conflict

Yesterday, I reviewed Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood, Ibtisam Barakat's gripping account of her childhood growing up on the war-torn West Bank.

As I mentioned in my review, found here, I found myself wishing to know more about the history of the war and of the long, ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine. But given the fact that Barakat stayed with the viewpoint of a young child, that kind of information just wouldn't have worked in this particular book. After reading the book, your children and students will be likely to have questions about the war and the continuing conflict that has been ongoing for decades.

Not surprisingly, I had difficulty finding neutral websites that stuck to the facts, but I did manage to find a couple here:

Social Studies for Kids This site gives a basic overview of the conflict.

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in a Nutshell A more detailed overview, with lots of links for more information.

In addition, in the back of the book, Barakat gives recommendations for books, websites, and films where you can learn more about the history. I'm most intrigued by these books:

Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak by Deborah Ellis
From booklist: " 'They murdered my friend.' Growing up separate and apart in a world of bombs, bullets, removals, checkpoints, and curfews, 20 Israeli and Palestinian young people talk about how the war has affected them. The author of Parvana's Journey (2002) and other novels about children in Afghanistan moves to nonfiction with 20 stirring first-person narratives by Jewish, Christian, and Muslim young people she interviewed in 2002. An accessible historical overview that is fair to all sides leads off, followed by brief individual profiles of the kids, which include a small photo, and the words of kids, who are traumatized, angry, hopeful, hateful, despairing, brave."

The Flag of Childhood: Poems From the Middle East by Naomi Shihab Nye
Book description from Amazon: "In this stirring anthology of sixty poems from the Middle East, honored anthologist Naomi Shihab Nye welcomes us to this lush, vivid world and beckons us to explore. Eloquent pieces from Palestine, Israel, Egypt, Iraq, and elsewhere open windows into the hearts and souls of people we usually meet only on the nightly news. What we see when we look through these windows is the love of family, friends, and for the Earth, the daily occurrences of life that touch us forever, the longing for a sense of place. What we learn is that beneath the veil of stereotypes, our human connections are stronger than our cultural differences."

Barakat also mentions the organization, Seeds of Peace. From the site: "Founded in 1993, Seeds of Peace is dedicated to empowering young leaders from regions of conflict with the leadership skills required to advance reconciliation and coexistence." It's well worth checking out.

These links, along with Tasting the Sky, will help your child learn more about the conflict between Israeli and Palestine and help put a face to the stories we read about and hear on the news.

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