How Storytelling Can Foster Empathy and Understanding for Palestine?


As the violence and oppression in Palestine continue, some educators are using storytelling as a way to teach their students about the history and humanity of the Palestinian people.


The Challenge of Teaching Palestine

Teaching about Palestine and Israel is not an easy task for educators in the United States. They face the risk of being silenced, threatened, or accused of antisemitism by those who equate any criticism of the Israeli government or military with hatred of Jews. They also have to deal with the lack of accurate and balanced information in the mainstream media, textbooks, and curriculum standards. Many teachers may feel unprepared, uncomfortable, or fearful to address this complex and controversial topic in their classrooms.

However, some educators believe that they have a moral and professional responsibility to bring Palestine into their classrooms, despite the challenges and obstacles. They argue that teaching about Palestine is not only a matter of human rights and social justice but also a way to foster critical thinking, global awareness, and empathy among their students. They also contend that teaching about Palestine is not antisemitic but rather a way to honor the diversity and dignity of all people, including Jews and Palestinians.

The Power of Storytelling

One of the strategies that these educators use to teach about Palestine is storytelling. Storytelling is a pedagogical tool that can help students connect with the lived experiences, emotions, and perspectives of others, especially those who are marginalized, oppressed, or silenced. Storytelling can also help students challenge the dominant narratives, stereotypes, and myths that often shape their understanding of the world.

For example, Corey Winchester, a public school educator in Evanston, Illinois, used storytelling to help his students learn about the history and culture of Palestine. He invited a Palestinian American guest speaker, who shared his personal stories of growing up in a refugee camp, witnessing the Israeli occupation, and resisting the erasure of his identity. He also showed his students a documentary film, “My Name is Palestine,” which features the stories of Palestinian children and youth living under occupation. Through these stories, Winchester’s students were able to see the human face of Palestine and empathize with the struggles and aspirations of the Palestinian people.

Another example is Sarah DeBolt Badawi, a teacher who integrated the history of Palestine and Israel into her middle and high school curriculum. She used various resources, such as documentaries, podcasts, books, and articles, to expose her students to the historical and political context of the conflict, as well as the diverse voices and experiences of Palestinians and Israelis. She also encouraged her students to share their own stories and opinions and to listen respectfully and critically to each other. Through these activities, Badawi’s students were able to develop a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the issues and realities of Palestine and Israel.

The Benefits of Storytelling

Storytelling can have many benefits for both educators and students who want to learn about Palestine. Storytelling can:

  • Engage students’ interest and curiosity, and motivate them to learn more.
  • Enhance students’ cognitive and emotional skills, such as comprehension, analysis, reflection, and compassion.
  • Promote students’ awareness and appreciation of the diversity and complexity of the world and the interconnection and interdependence of all people.
  • Inspire students’ action and agency, and empower them to become informed and responsible global citizens.

Storytelling can also have benefits for the storytellers themselves, especially the Palestinians who share their stories. Storytelling can:

  • Affirm their identity and dignity, and validate their experiences and feelings.
  • Heal their trauma and pain, and provide them with hope and resilience.
  • Amplify their voice and visibility, and challenge their oppression and marginalization.
  • Mobilize their solidarity and support, and create allies and advocates for their cause.

The Future of Storytelling

Storytelling is not a magic solution that can solve the conflict or end the suffering in Palestine. Storytelling is also not a substitute for factual and critical knowledge or political and ethical action. Storytelling is, however, a powerful and necessary component of any educational endeavor that aims to teach about Palestine in a just and humane way.

As the violence and oppression in Palestine continue, and as the misinformation and censorship in the United States persist, storytelling can be a vital and effective way to educate our students and ourselves about the history and humanity of the Palestinian people. Storytelling can also be a way to create dialogue and a bridge between different communities and perspectives and to foster a culture of empathy and understanding that can pave the way for peace and justice.

By Andrea Wilson

Andrea Wilson is a talented junior content and news writer at Scope Sweep. With a passion for writing and a dedication to delivering high-quality content, Andrea has quickly established herself as a valuable contributor to the team. Graduating from the prestigious University of Sydney, she brings a strong academic foundation and a keen eye for detail to her work. Andrea's articles cover a wide range of topics, from breaking news to informative features, ensuring that readers are well-informed and engaged. With her ability to research and present information in a clear and concise manner, Andrea Wilson is committed to providing readers with accurate and captivating content. Stay connected and up-to-date with Andrea's compelling articles on Scope Sweep

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