“It turned the conflict from something that I have studied to something that I have felt”
History Teacher writes after attending a training course with Solutions Not Sides
My introduction to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict came when I was about 16 after I attended a play called ‘Go to Gaza, Drink the Sea’. Watching this play was a moment of political awakening for me, of political consciousness. I became aware of how little I knew about the world outside of my continent, comforted in a bubble that atrocities are confined to history, they’re something we study, not something we experience. The very foundations of the world as I knew it had been shaken for me. I realised that my problem was not apathy, but lack of knowledge and the only solution for me would be an education. From then I committed myself to learn more about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, something which was difficult due to contradictory muddy narratives as well as a notable absence of it on school and university curricular.
The school I worked in for my NQT year was unusual in that it taught the ‘Arab-Israeli’ conflict as coursework to year 11. I found this a difficult task being that I knew how politicised this history is. This was an important reminder to me about the role of the History teacher, of how political the role is as well as the power of the role, as students see your knowledge as authoritative. I struggled that year to present the conflict as fairly as possible, conducting extra research into the perspective of both sides in order to leave students with an empathetic understanding to as why a solution is not as simple as carving the land into an Israeli and Palestinian side.
Empathy is central as I find that both sides of the conflict look to dehumanise and delegitimise each other and that common understanding of humanity is lost. This is why I feel that learning about the conflict has an important place in secondary schools. This is because all of us will be faced with this conflict in the news or in public spaces. I feel that one of the casualties of this conflict is the perception of Jewish people who are often targets of abuse and held accountable for the actions of the Israeli government. This is the consequence of a poor understanding, something which the teaching community is well positioned to remedy, although not necessarily well resourced. – By Ms McCombe, History Teacher in Brent, North West London”It turned the conflict from something that I have studied to something that I have felt”