It has been two years since Israel launched one of its most brutal attacks on the Palestinian people of Gaza. For 51 days, Israel waged a ground and aerial attack on a besieged population and killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians, including 1462 civilians, of whom 551 were children; orphaned 1,500 children; left 370,000 children in need of psychosocial treatment; completely destroyed 18,000 homes; and, at the height of the onslaught, displaced half a million Palestinians. During the onslaught, 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians were killed.
Despite overwhelming evidence of the disparity of power between Israel and Palestinians of Gaza, mainstream American media have repeatedly framed Israel as the victim, and critical pedagogical approaches continue to be policed, as demonstrated by the incendiary campaigns targeting Joseph Massad, Nadia Abu El-Haj, and others. For decades, the mainstream narrative has cast Gaza as the problem, even as Israel has engaged in excessive and brutal force and collective punishment in the form of occupation, siege, and frequent military assaults. This conversation has led to the treatment of Israel’s assaults on the coastal enclave as a national security issue, exceptional and distinct from the broader question of Palestine.
Now, a new pedagogical project, Gaza in Context, aims to correct the biases and misrepresentations reproduced, again and again, in mainstream media and educational coverage. The project provides historical context, situating Gaza within the larger narrative of Israeli settler-colonialism. Its lesson: Israel does not have a Hamas problem; it does not have a Gaza problem; it has a Palestine problem.
The project’s components include a teaching guide for instructional purposes, a bibliography for research purposes, and a compendium of Jadaliyya articles featured in what we call a Jad Mag. All of these elements are housed on the project’s website, which is part of a broader research initiative on Gaza led by the Forum on Arab and Muslim Affairs, a subsidiary organization of Arab Studies Institute.
The project also features the short film Gaza in Context, which seeks to explain the long and troubled history of Israel’s policies towards the Gaza Strip—policies that preceded the advent of Hamas suicide bombings and rocket fire and are distinct from its West Bank policies. The 20-minute film is available in four five-minute parts, and each part is accompanied by a teaching guide that can be used in the classroom and beyond.
The above video is Part 3 of the film; it should be read together with the curriculum on the History of Israel-Palestine.