Jerusalem: Sacred City or City of War?

23 Oct



Jerusalem: Sacred City or City of War?


History and Background


For over 3000 years Jerusalem has been a Holy City, first for the Jews, later for the Christians, and finally for the Muslims.  It was the site of Judaism’s Holiest Shrine, the Temple of Solomon.  The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem is one of the Holiest Shrines in Islam as Sunni tradition states this is where Muhammad ascended with Angel Gabriel.  For both Islam and Judaism, it is a Holy Site as the Dome covers the Foundation Stone where Abraham once stood.  Finally, for the Christians it is the site of Jesus Christ’s trial, crucifixion and resurrection.   At various times Jerusalem has been held by the Hebrews, the Mesopotamians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the European Christian Crusaders, the Muslim Empires, the British, the Palestinians, and, since 1967, by the Israelis.  It has been at the heart of the conflict for supremacy in these territories for millennia and still is today.  In fact, any successful resolution to the modern Arab-Israeli Conflict that has seethed for decades, hinges upon this ancient city claimed by so many.

The Arab-Israeli Conflict is not just a threat to the Middle Eastern States, but has international implications.  If war were to break out again, treaties of support between the various Middle Eastern states, the United States and some European nations could drag many players into the conflict.  Aside from the strategic value of the Middle East as the major oil-producing region in the world and the threat from the numerous terrorist cells that operate in the region, the Israelis are in the nuclear weapons fraternity, and Iran and various terrorist groups are attempting to join this small fraternity as well.  It has frightening implications globally.

In 2009, recognizing the seriousness of the threat, President Barack Obama and then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton selected former Senate Majority Leader and Senator from Maine, George Mitchell as the United States’ Special Envoy to the Middle East.  Senator Mitchell held a similar position under President Clinton in 2000.  It was his job to attempt (again) to bring the various parties together and find a solution.  He did not succeed and now Secretary of State John Kerry is attempting once again to broker a peace agreement.  That is your job as well.  None of the old solutions have worked, so what can you come up with that will?


Think, Pair, Share Assignment

  1. Each student will be assigned to a Team.
  2. Each Team will be broken down into the various interested parties to the Jerusalem equation. Depending upon the size of the Team, two or more students (a subteam) will represent one of the following parties.
    1. The Israelis: This subteam will research the various aspects of contemporary Israeli society, the government, political factions, major issues of concern to the Israelis, religious influences, and so on. This subteam will develop the Israeli position; what the Israelis are willing to negotiate and what they are not.
    2. The Palestinians: This subteam will research current Palestinian society, the government, political factions, major issues of concern to the Palestinians, religious influences, and so on. This subteam will develop the Palestinian position; what the Palestinians are agreeable to negotiate and what they are not.
    3. The League of Arab States: This subteam will research the current position of the Arab League on the Jerusalem question, political factions within the League, religious influences, and major areas of concern to them. This subteam will develop the League’s position; what the League is willing to accept and what it will not.
    4. The United States Government: This subteam will research the current position of the United States government, national security interests, political factions influencing the government, religious influences, and major areas of concern to the United States. This subteam will develop the United States position as it attempts to bring the warring parties together; what the U.S. will accept and what it will not.
    5. Fundamentalist, Christian Evangelical Churches: This subteam will research the current position of these American groups regarding the Jerusalem question, various factions within these groups, religious influences, and major areas of concern to them.  They focus on the Apocalypse and Biblical prophecies to define their interest.  Although they would not be an official party to the talks, they would attempt to influence both the Israeli and United States governments, and they do have some political and financial pull.
  3. While the subteams conduct their research, they will initially discuss possible positions, problems and solutions on the Discussion Board, and then come together in a full Team Meeting/Peace Conference to hammer out a solution to the Jerusalem Question, a Peace Plan, that satisfies all parties. A key theme throughout will be the role of religion in determining the outcome.  Each subteam should realistically represent their party’s position and negotiate as if this was a real negotiation conference.  Make it as real as possible.
  4. This is a two essay process. Each essay is a minimum of 1000 words.
    1. Essay 1 Research Paper covers Part I: This paper discusses the ancient and current history of the conflict. It goes into detail about the ancient history, then the situation beginning in the 19th Century, and finally since WWII.  Discuss the socio-political situation as it currently stands, as well as the politics and background of the negotiating position of your Subteam.  Include some of the key points of your Subteam’s negotiating position.  Why and how did you get there?
    2. Essay 2 Peace Treaty Paper covers Parts II and III: In Part II describe in detail your Subteam’s negotiating position, including key negotiating points, problems in the negotiations, how they were resolved, and what compromises you were willing to make.
    3. Part III: It describes in detail the Peace Treaty Plan you and the Team developed as a resolution: boundaries, governance of Jerusalem, realistic implementation strategies.  Include maps if needed. Break down not only what the plan entails, but how will it be implemented. How realistic is it?
  5. Some keys for your essay and research.
    1. For the Research Paper you must have a minimum of five references from professional, scholarly sources, including at least one book and two professional journal articles along with documentaries and feature length news articles.
    2. You may not use Wikipedia, Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, your textbook, college course websites, the Bible, Torah or Quran as reference sources. You may use and list in Works Cited the Bible, Torah and Quran for quotations to make a point, but they are not one of your five references.
    3. You may not use Internet sources unless they are either full e-books and e-articles, or full articles from acknowledged expert sites, such as the U.S. Department of State, Palestinian National Authority, United Nations, or Israel’s Foreign Ministry.
    4. You must show a Works Cited page and cite in the text of the paper according to MLA format (parenthetical referencing). You need to cite all material that is not your own (quotations, paraphrasing, summarizing of someone else’s words, ideas, theories, and concepts).
    5. See Norris’ Tips for Excellent Papers on the Blackboard Resources Page.


Developed by Dr. Thomas L. Norris


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Posted by on October 23, 2017 in academic writing, Academic Writing



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