Palestinians carry defaced photo of UK PM Theresa May and Arthur Balfour on 100th anniversary of Balfour Declaration, Nov. 2., 2017. (AP/Nasser Nasser) (AP/Nasser Nasser)
Palestinians Balfour Anniversary

Educators launched a series of five videos and activities to teach students in the Diaspora about some of the key moments that shaped modern Israeli history.

By Sharon Givati

Ask any casual student of modern Jewish history to identify the most pivotal day in Israel’s creation, most if not all will answer the 15th of May, 1948, the day the modern State was created.

Yet, there is little doubt that the month of November holds the large number of other critical dates in modern Israeli history and that recognition has compelled a team of educators to call for the branding of Israel History Month in November each year.

The educators have launched a series of five videos, accompanying lesson plans and experiential activities where teachers and community organizations can find new ways to teach students in the Diaspora about some of the key moments that shaped modern Israel’s history. The series is a program of Unpacked for Educators, a project of Jerusalem U, which offers other resources, films and weekly educator-focused newsletters year-round to help transform the teaching experience.

“The goal of labeling November as Israel History Month is to create an avenue to explore the Jewish story in all its complexity, intellectual depth and sophistication, but in a way that makes it easy for today’s students to understand and appreciate,” says Noam Weissman, Senior Vice President of Education at Unpacked for Educators.

November is in fact a period of both tragedy and triumph in the chronicles of modern Israeli history.

The most recent key event was that of November 1994 and the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin.  The events surrounding that murder have in many ways defined Israeli history and society ever since.

But the month of November is also home to several events that mark triumph and success in the modern Zionist and Israeli experience.

Notably, the document that is arguably the most important statement in modern Zionist history- the Balfour Declaration – was released in this month. The Declaration provided the early Zionists with an official stamp of approval and set the stage for the events that would eventually lead to Independence.

No less consequential were the events of November 1947. Recognizing that Jewish statehood violently clashed with the wishes of the local Palestinian population, the United Nations proposed the ill-fated “Partition Plan” to split this small strip of land into two states for two people.

That history also marks a telling low-point for Israel in global affairs when the infamous ‘Zionism is Racism’ UN Resolution 3379 was passed on the 10th of November 1975.  This declaration is again far more than a historic document but is rather reflective of how the Jewish State has been denied any hope for international legitimacy despite our ongoing desperate attempts to make this a peaceful home for all of its residents – regardless of ethnicity, religion or political affiliation.

According to Weissman, the events of November are a glimpse into that complex and dueling identity where victory and achievement are intertwined with tragedy and frustration.  “The month serves as the ideal lens to share with students of all ages and backgrounds a crystalized view of the Israeli national history- and how these and other events impact on the nature of the country today – and promise to define its future.

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