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A Message for Educators on the Crisis in Israel and Palestine

We recognize that addressing the recent violence in Israel and Gaza will require careful preparation by both educators and students.

As the ceasefire in Israel and Gaza continues to hold, Facing History and Ourselves mourns the loss of life and bears witness to the trauma wrought by the conflict. We recognize that addressing the recent violence will require careful preparation by both educators and students.

At Facing History, we believe that violence is not a viable substitute for negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. We are dismayed that the immediate crisis has now spilled out of the region, with hate-fueled incidents of violence against both Jews and Muslims reported in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Toronto, and London, and with clashes between pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian groups in New York. As always, Facing History denounces identity-based, violent attacks, whether antisemitic, Islamophobic, or xenophobic. And we hold up active, positive, and nonviolent civic engagement of individuals who seek a peaceful resolution to this painful, longstanding conflict.

Students in every classroom should confront difficult histories, wrestle with contemporary issues, and navigate challenging conversations. The complexity of this conflict demands thoughtful, fact-based historical inquiry and nuanced ethical reflection. Too often people engage through quick sound bites, which lend fuel to oversimplifications rather than deep understanding. Instead, we encourage informed and respectful dialogue that references primary sources and multiple perspectives and that inspires empathy for all who are suffering.

If you choose to engage with your students about these issues, we recommend reviewing our Teaching With Current Events Checklist. You may want to consult several articles that present a range of opinions and perspectives to help you and your students understand the roots, causes, and impact of these events:

As students navigate the news coverage of the recent events and the historical narratives of the conflict, they may need to grapple more generally with ways in which distrust and hatred can engender violence and be reinforced by it. Facing History has resources analyzing the dynamics of “us” versus “them” that can illuminate how this dynamic connects to conflict and injustice. These resources also facilitate building empathy and trust across divides.