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Keeping It Real: Teaching Middle East Conflicts with Simulations
Unformatted Document Text:  The role-plays forced students to “personalize” their role through identification, and to some extent empathize, in order to answer questions and engage other groups. Students had to place themselves in the group's position and come up with what the justification or issue position would be, thinking in character on the spot. I learned a great deal as the Israeli Prime Minister and it made the experience more than worthwhile, I probably would not have looked through the amount of material that I did without this role. Role-playing forced us to dig up support for our viewpoints, even if we didn’t personally agree with them. I wonder if political leaders today do the same as their situations and circumstances evolve. [The best part was] the way that all participants identified with and argued for their own positions.[The best part was] the exchanges between the different actors, it forced you to get into the details of your assigned position, if you didn’t know the info, you looked like an idiot.… getting to dig into one part (side) of the conflict and understand all the different sides and alphabet of different organizations.… each portion made the participants think on their toes in contrast to canned answers. Promoting Alternative Perspectives The simulations brought new appreciation to different claims and altered thoughts on the conflicts and groups. In particular, students learned much about the minor players and groups not part of negotiations. It was these groups who were often picked as the moral "winner" by students. [I] found myself sympathizing with some part of what every participant said. It was good to have those "other" classes (ie refugees, Palestinian middle class) voicing their concerns).I liked how some of the minor parties were included, namely I learned a lot from the Labor Party, Jordan, and the exiled refugees and Hamas. The simulation gave me a better perspective on the views of the Palestinian middle class.While preparing for the character and reading the material you begin to see the civil war from the character's viewpoint…one walks away with a changed viewpoint of the civil war.[I was struck by the] moving appeals of excluded refugees from negotiations. Although I strongly disagree, they [the Israeli settlers] have many points to debate and must be included to come to a lasting peace.[The best part was the] different Israeli and Palestinian perceptions of the conflict were emphasized. Palestinian middle class and Israeli settlers expressed this the best. Palestinian middle class are in a no-win situation--every decision makes life worse.[The best part was] the way that all participants identified with and argued for their own positions.[The best part was the debate between] Israel and Hezbollah. Both used hard facts to back up their positions and the arguments were convincing on both sides. 7

Authors: Baylouny, Anne.
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The role-plays forced students to “personalize” their role through identification,
and to some extent empathize, in order to answer questions and engage other groups.
Students had to place themselves in the group's position and come up with what the
justification or issue position would be, thinking in character on the spot.
I learned a great deal as the Israeli Prime Minister and it made the experience
more than worthwhile, I probably would not have looked through the amount of
material that I did without this role.
Role-playing forced us to dig up support for our viewpoints, even if we didn’t
personally agree with them. I wonder if political leaders today do the same as
their situations and circumstances evolve.
[The best part was] the way that all participants identified with and argued for
their own positions.
[The best part was] the exchanges between the different actors, it forced you to
get into the details of your assigned position, if you didn’t know the info, you
looked like an idiot.
… getting to dig into one part (side) of the conflict and understand all the
different sides and alphabet of different organizations.
… each portion made the participants think on their toes in contrast to canned
answers.
Promoting Alternative Perspectives
The simulations brought new appreciation to different claims and altered thoughts
on the conflicts and groups. In particular, students learned much about the minor players
and groups not part of negotiations. It was these groups who were often picked as the
moral "winner" by students.
[I] found myself sympathizing with some part of what every participant said.
It was good to have those "other" classes (ie refugees, Palestinian middle class)
voicing their concerns).
I liked how some of the minor parties were included, namely I learned a lot from
the Labor Party, Jordan, and the exiled refugees and Hamas.
The simulation gave me a better perspective on the views of the Palestinian
middle class.
While preparing for the character and reading the material you begin to see the
civil war from the character's viewpoint…one walks away with a changed
viewpoint of the civil war.
[I was struck by the] moving appeals of excluded refugees from negotiations.
Although I strongly disagree, they [the Israeli settlers] have many points to debate
and must be included to come to a lasting peace.
[The best part was the] different Israeli and Palestinian perceptions of the conflict
were emphasized. Palestinian middle class and Israeli settlers expressed this the
best. Palestinian middle class are in a no-win situation--every decision makes life
worse.
[The best part was] the way that all participants identified with and argued for
their own positions.
[The best part was the debate between] Israel and Hezbollah. Both used hard facts
to back up their positions and the arguments were convincing on both sides.
7


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