This month we are doing a one month intensive study on the Middle East. I had never really learned about that region, and I was NOT going to let that go under the radar in my homeschool. Since we are now in the Middle Ages, having done the ancient world rather in depth, I thought, “Even though our history book only says a little about the Middle East, this is the perfect time to make that region a priority.”
Having done my own research on it, I retold the ancient stories that they already know: about the beginning of the Jewish nation, and the highlights of their story; the birth of Christianity, and why the Jews and the Christians parted ways even though Christ was a Jew; and then the beginning of the Muslim religion, and the growth of the Muslim empire even from its earliest decades. Fascinating, really, that the three monotheistic religions were all born in the Middle East.
Then, leaving the middle ages, we clarified how the Muslims were living in Palestine since about 650 A.D., only twenty years after the death of Muhammed, and have been there, without interruption, ever since. We then traced how the Jews, having occupied that area for only 75 years in the time of Kings David and Solomon, underwent the diaspora; then some returned due to Cyrus the Great; but others remained settled elsewhere; then after the defeat by the Romans, all Jews were permanently sent into exile, taking the diaspora to a new level. We went through major dates in the Jewish history and major influences on the difficulties they faced, including Constantine, the Crusades, and then, in the 20th Century, Hitler.
Finally, we discussed the terrors of WWII, and how there was a global shift of attitude toward the Jews after the war, a shift toward sympathy and compassion. Hence the creation of the State of Israel. That made sense to the kids. But I said, “There was just one problem: that land was already taken!” And we discussed the Palestinians having been there for over a thousand years. We went through some of the historical facts about the Zionists, the War of Independence, the United Nations, the parceling out of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and why there has been fighting ever since 1948. (I definitely wished Aunt Leah and Aunt Swanee were in the room at that point).
I explained how hard some U.S. presidents have tried to settle the conflict and bring about resolution. I explained what I knew about why their efforts have failed. Jake said, “When I go into politics, maybe I can bring resolution!” After encouraging him (no 12 year old needs a bomb of pessimism dropped on them at the first glimmer of optimism), I then said, “Well, if you want that, then start praying now for leaders of both the Palestinians and the Jews in that area who WANT to bring resolution to the conflict enough to compromise. Without them having that attitude, the best solution imaginable will fall on deaf ears.”
God, help us all. We are a broken human race. Help us to help one another!