Teaching the Arab-Israeli Conflict in the former Yugoslavia: Lessons and Challenges

By Jeffrey A. VanDenBerg
Submitted to Session P3044 (Teaching Middle Eastern Studies: Promises, Pitfalls and Practicalities, 2012 Annual Meeting
Educ
All Middle East;
19th-21st Centuries;
This paper draws upon my experience of teaching Middle East politics for a semester in one of the countries of the former Yugoslavia. Its main focus will be on the comparative pedagogical and cultural lessons involved in teaching the Arab-Israeli conflict in a place that itself witnessed intense violence around nationalist and identity issues. What insights can be gained on teaching conflict and conflict resolution in this setting? How are religion, history, and ethnicity as variables in the Middle East interpreted by students? How do students understand and compare the role of external actors (US, Europe, Russia, UN, etc.) in modern nationalist conflicts? The course includes a simulation of the Final Status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. How will the dynamics of the simulation be affected by the historical context of the former Yugoslavia? What lessons does this offer for teaching the course to students in the United States?