Category: CCAS Newsmagazine

Title: Teaching Israel-Palestine

Two CCAS instructors reflect on their experiences of teaching Palestine in this historic moment.


Khaled ElgindyDr. Khaled Elgindy
“Palestinian Politics”—Fall 2023

Last fall, my seminar on Palestinian Politics (ARST 4467) started off much as it had the previous three occasions I had taught the class since 2021. The course was designed to explore the history and development of the modern Palestinian national movement from its origins in the years before and after the 1948 Nakba, through the trials and tribulations of the Palestine Liberation Organization during the 1970s and 80s, the advent of the Oslo peace process and the creation of the Palestinian Authority in the 1990s, up to the present-day schism between Fatah and Hamas.

Barely a month into the semester—ironically just after discussing Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon—the attacks of October 7, 2023 and Israel’s subsequent assault on Gaza radically transformed both the region and the nature of our class. For several weeks after 10/7, I set aside time at the start of each class to talk through the ongoing events and what they meant. Unlike previous cohorts, a majority of the students enrolled in the class either hailed from or had family in various Arab countries, including two students with relatives inside Gaza. Moreover, given the unprecedented scale and brutality of both the 10/7 attack and the war on Gaza, I felt it was important to acknowledge and address the very real and profound trauma that my students, particularly the two from Gaza, (and I) were experiencing.

At the same time, the events taking place in Gaza and the region presented a unique learning/teaching opportunity. Questions about the ongoing Fateh-Hamas split, the future of Palestinian leadership (or lack thereof), the impact of regional dynamics on internal Palestinian decision-making, as well as the interplay between internal Palestinian politics and the US-sponsored peace process were no longer abstract concepts relegated to the past but tangible and highly fluid realities unfolding before our eyes.

Khaled Elgindy is an adjunct instructor at CCAS and a senior fellow and director of the Program on Palestine and Palestinian-Israeli Affairs at the Middle East Institute.


Yousef Munayyer-headshotDr. Yousef Munayyer
“Arguing Israel Palestine” – Spring 2024

When I had first agreed to teach a class on Palestine at Georgetown it was months before the October 2023 outbreak of the war on Gaza that would rock the region and the world. “Arguing Palestine/Israel,” what I decided to name the course, would commence in the spring semester of the following year—by which time the war had grinded on for several months. I wanted to design a class that would approach the issue in a different way and decided to teach about the confrontation between the Palestinian people and Zionism over the past 130 years through the prism of public debate. Given current events and the heated debates around the war on Gaza, the class registration was full and had numerous students on the waitlist.

Students in my seminar grapple with primary sources over this history in the shape of arguments made from various perspectives. For a mid-term assignment, I challenge the students to “find an argument and make an argument.” They are tasked with finding a compelling argument through a primary source document that isn’t already included in our readings and then to make an argument themselves for why that source should be included in a future version of the syllabus. The exercise gets the students to familiarize themselves with the archives, dig through material they are unfamiliar with, think about how it relates to other material in the class, and then make a pitch for its inclusion. It also affords them a unique opportunity to express themselves and take some ownership over shaping the class. The quality of the papers they submitted, like the students themselves, has been very strong.

It has been a rewarding experience, for both myself and the bright and dedicated students in the class. Teaching a class like this, in this moment when there is so much argument over Palestine/Israel in the public discourse, allows the students to reflect on just how much has changed in the way this issue is debated and just how much hasn’t.

Dr. Yousef Munayyer is an adjunct assistant professor at CCAS and a senior fellow at the Arab Center Washington DC, where he heads the Palestine/Israel Program.

This article was published in the Fall 2023-Spring 2024 issue of the CCAS Newsmagazine.