Many teachers are reluctant to teach about Palestine. We worry about negative reactions from administrators or parents. Few of us learned much about the Middle East in our own schooling, and it's difficult to find good curriculum.
But just as it's important to teach the real history of Columbus, it's important that students learn factual history and are able to think critically about Palestine and Israel. Otherwise, they are left with the stereotypes so widely disseminated in the mainstream media. The increasing volatility in the region only makes the issue more urgent.
As program manager for cross-cultural programs at the Middle East Children's Alliance (mecaforpeace.org) in Berkeley, California, Ziad Abbas works with teachers, teacher educators, and students. As a Palestinian refugee himself, born in a camp in the West Bank, he shares his family history, his knowledge of the region, and his commitment to critical thinking and social justice. He spoke recently with RS Managing Editor Jody Sokolower about his own background, the context for teaching about Palestine, and ways to approach the topic with students in the United States.