Gaza: A Human Rights Story


Grade Level: 9-12
Subject: World History, American Democracy, Civics, Current Events
Author: Kate Daher, Pittsburgh Public Schools, Fulbright Hays GPA 2009 participant

Rational: In July 2009, several teachers on scholarship traveled to Egypt for four weeks as part of a study tour of the country. While our stated goal was to witness Islam through an Egyptian Lens and produce curriculum for our classes on said topic, we found that an essential concern of the Egyptian people was the Israel/Palestine conflict, especially the December, 2009 war on Gaza. No matter where our discussions began, we often came back to this topic. Egyptians questioned why the U.S. government supported Israel and not Palestine. They questioned how familiar we were with Mideast history and current issues, and while the newly elected President Barak Obama was a welcomed change from our previous administration, they were hopeful, but still not completely convinced that U.S. policy would change.

This lesson explores the sometimes difficult discussion about the Israel and Palestine conflict and the question of human rights. The lesson begins with the U.N Declaration of Human Rights, the war on Gaza and its place within international law. Students will be introduced to the investigation work of Richard J. Goldstone, a former South African Constitutional court judge who served as the chief prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda from 15 August 1994 to September 1996, and in 2009 led an independent fact-finding mission created by the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate international human rights and humanitarian law violations related to the Gaza War. Students will then discuss the work of other human rights organizations and take a position.

Photo credit: samdaq (AT) hotmail / / CC BY-ND