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Arab-Israeli Conflict Simulation Mentor Seminar

Winter Term 2009 Wednesdays 10-1, 2229 SEB Instructor: Jeff Stanzler ( 763-5950 (office) 663-2895 (home) Office hours Mondays 1-2 in 2202 School of Education, or by appointment

AIC Project Website:
Course Purpose
This course is based on the idea that the most meaningful learning happens when one is actively engaged in a purposeful activity. By participating in AIC as a mentor, we hope that you will get a chance to think deeply about (among other things) what is important to you as a learner and a teacher, about what it takes to foster thoughtful discourse, and about the nature of diplomacy itself. AIC is also a project in the School of Education, and part of its purpose is to develop new ways that technology can support meaningful learning experiences with high school students. We hope that each mentor seminar will generate ideas that will help make AIC a better activity in the future.


Each year hundreds of students and many teachers participate in AIC. A significant part of their experience depends on the work of the mentor team. Because your role is so important, we ask that you make a commitment to fulfilling your responsibilities until the end of the term. By taking this course, you are taking on the job of a teacher.

Course requirements

Your responsibilities include the following: 1) Learn the simulation. Read the rules, learn how to use the website, and be familiar with the characters and the scenario. There will be several activities in the first few weeks related to this. 2) Check in on-line every day during the 9 weeks of simulation "play.” Yes, you really need to check in to the game EVERY weekday. If you absolutely cannot get on line a certain day, you must let Jeff know by e-mail or phone and make sure one of your colleagues can cover for you. Exactly what you will do on-line, and how we will divide up the mentoring work, will be discussed in the first several meetings. 3) Attend the weekly meetings. There will be many issues that come up as you go along, and while you should contact Jeff immediately with urgent issues, the meetings are the place to solve problems together and share ideas. Seminar meetings are also times for you (and your team) to determine what needs to be done in the simulation. If, because of unavoidable circumstances, you must miss a class meeting, you must contact Jeff ahead of time.

4) Reflect on what you do. We want to know what was challenging, what was frustrating, what was rewarding, and what you think could be done to make AIC better for the participants as well as the mentors. Take note of these thoughts as you have them, and bring them up in the seminar. There will be periodic written assignments that will ask you to engage in specific reflective tasks.


Grades will be determined based on the following: Quality and consistency of online mentoring work (25%) Attendance (25%) Class assignments (25%) Seminar participation & Final Reflection (25%)

*You must do your mentoring work on time without "prodding," and if you are unavoidably unable to do your work at a certain time, you must give the rest of your group as much notice as possible and arrange for another mentor to cover for you. Every time an assignment is late or you miss a day on line without prior notice, it will affect your grade. In general, because of the nature of AIC, it is not possible to make up missed work. Doing an excellent job some of the time cannot make up for missed work.*

For class #2:

1) Read the all the country profiles related to the Arab countries on the AIC website: Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria and both Lebanese profiles (March 14 Coalition and Hezbollah Coalition). Be prepared to share some thoughts about the strategic interests of the countries you’ve read about…what is your sense of their position vis-à-vis other nations of the region, and of what they would consider to be important political considerations. The country profiles are on the AIC wiki site at: 2) Read Jon Papernick’s “An Unwelcome Guest” (taken from the book “The Ascent of Eli Israel and Other Stories, Arcade Publishing: New York, 2002, pgs. 27-46) and be prepared to discuss your reactions to the story, and to specifically consider what you think the author is trying to convey to his readers, and the means that he uses to communicate what he wants to say.

For class #3:

1) Read the all the country profiles related to Iran and the western countries on the AIC website: Iran, United States, Russia, Great Britain, France and the “Quartet.” 2) Compare and Contrast Essay: Choose one of the countries that we’ve read about for class #2 and once of the countries we read about for class #3 (except for the US), and in a double-spaced, three page essay (to be handed in on CTools) compare and contrast their strategic interests in the Middle East as you’ve come to understand them. Please be sure to talk about each country's strategic interests along with contrasting those interests, and discuss the strategic relationship between the two nations as well. Please be careful to support your assertions. **Due on CTools by 5 p.m. Tuesday, January 20th**

“Lemon Tree”: 1/28, 2/4 and 2/11

We will be reading and discussing the book “The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East,” by Sandy Tolan (New York: Bloomsbury USA, 2006). For January 28th and February 4th: Choose a passage from the week’s reading that really caught your attention… a new insight, an illuminating perspective, an instructive bit of history. Be prepared to share and discuss the passage you’ve selected, and to tell your colleagues about your reaction to the passage, what it made you think about, what questions it raised, etc. Due February 11th, 3 page essay: Do you see “The Lemon Tree” as being hopeful? In a short essay (to be handed in on CTools) articulating your opinion, please support your response by discussing at least a couple of specific references from the book. We'll continue this discussion in class. “Lemon Tree” is available at Shaman Drum Books, 315 S. State St. tel. 6627407

Mentor Journals

Once the simulation begins, I will ask you to keep a weekly online reflective blog in which you share and reflect upon some of your experiences as a mentor. Specific assignments to be announced in class and on our blog site.

AIC Website

The web site is at: and is also linked via CTools

Schedule (Other assignments and classroom activities will be added as
needed—all written assignments due on CTools unless otherwise noted)
Date Class Topics 1-7 Introduction to AIC activity Recent History of the Middle East (in brief!) Readings for next week: Country Profiles for Arab Nations; “An Unwelcome Guest” short story. 1-14 More on the history of the conflict & closer look at the countries of the Middle East, part one. Discussion of “An Unwelcome Guest” short story. Readings for next week: Country Profiles for Iran and Western nations Assignment for next week: Compare and Contrast Essay 1-21 Countries of the Middle East, pt. 2 Discussion of Country Profiles Readings for next week: Lemon Tree, Chapters 1-5 Assignments Due

Papernick Reading Country Profiles for Arab countries

Country Profiles for Iran and Western nations Compare and Contrast Essay (handed in on CTools)



2-11 2-18 3-4 3-11 3-18 3-25 4-1 4-8 4-15

Phase 1 of activity (preparation period) begins on January 26 Countries of the Middle East, pt. 3 Discussion of “Lemon Tree” Preparation for simulation—Part 1 Readings for next week: Lemon Tree, chapters 5-10 Discussion of “Lemon Tree” Preparation for start of simulation—Part 2 Assignment of mentoring roles & discussion of introductory posts. Readings for next week: Lemon Tree, chapters 11-14 Assignment for next week: Lemon Tree essay Weekly, in-class team meetings begin Simulation Begins on February 9 Group discussion of simulation, team meetings

Lemon Tree chaps. 1-5 choose a passage of particular meaning of interest to you. Read Country Profiles for Palestinian Fatah and Hamas

Lemon Tree chaps. 6-10 Read Country Profiles for Israeli Center and Opposition Introductory posts due by noon, Friday, February 6th Daily on-line mentoring begins February 9 th.

Group discussion of simulation, team meeting Assignment for next week: First “Web Watch” Journal Group discussion of simulation, team meetings Continue daily on-line work, complete in-class log & Discuss Web Watch #1 online journal. First web watch due on March 3rd at 5 p.m. Group discussion of simulation, team meetings Continue daily on-line work, complete in-class log & Assignment for next week: Reflection on online journal. Mentoring (details in class) Group discussion of reflection on mentoring Continue daily on-line work, complete in-class log & essay, simulation, team meetings online journal. Reflection on Mentoring Due Group discussion of simulation, team meetings Continue daily on-line work, complete in-class log & Assignment for next week: Second “Web online journal. Watch” Journal Group discussion of simulation, team meetings Continue daily on-line work, complete in-class log & Discuss Web Watch #2 final online journal (#6). Second web watch due on March 31st at 5 p.m. Group discussion of simulation, team meetings Continue daily on-line work, complete final log (#7) NSA/mentor logs due today Debriefing Continue daily on-line work. Final Class Meeting Final Reflection paper due (on CTools) today Simulation ends April 10th Final updates/summaries/NSA messages must be posted by Sunday, April 12th at 5:00pm.

Lemon Tree chaps. 11-14 and essay (handed in on CTools) Start daily online mentoring work on 2/9. Continue daily on-line work, complete first nsa/mentor in-class log & first online journal.

Web Watch
Twice this semester I will ask each of you to write a “web watch” essay and hand it in on CTools (the essays are due on March 3rd and March 31st). The purpose for this assignment is to push each of you to spend some time exploring different perspectives on the Middle East, and different frames for understanding events taking place there. You are free to choose the source for the article you read each week (several good sites are listed below), though I ask that you choose a different source each time, and that you choose at least one article, and ideally both, from non-Western sources.

You could choose an editorial piece, or a news article on a topic of interest, or perhaps a governmental or organizational press release. I particularly want you to look for a slant, or an implicit way of viewing events, or an assumption being made that jumped out at you. With each web watch essay, I want you to briefly describe what the article is about, and then I want you report the perspective taken in the article, on its own terms, to the best of your ability. Please put extra effort into thinking about how things look from the author’s perspective, and to offering your thoughts about how clearly and cogently the author makes her case. As indicated, I will ask you to check out several sites over the course of the three web watch assignments. Feel free to make selective use of BBC Monitoring or World Press Review, two excellent sites that incorporate a wide array of sources:

BBC Monitoring (these are daily translations from press around the world,

including the ME). Your best bet to access this is through the UM Library. Go to the library main page at: From there, go to electronic journals and newspapers under electronic resources. Type BBC Monitoring in the search field and select the second option you get, viewing it through ProQuest. You’ll get a big list of links for each day’s foreign language press. There is always a link to general excerpts from both Arab and Hebrew press, and there are usually translations of individual articles on relevant topics.

World Press Review This is a terrific resource for newspapers from around the
world. There is a great section on the Middle East at: and you can also follow the link to WORLD NEWSPAPERS to get links to web-based papers, listed by country.

Some Suggested Websites

Al-Ahram Based in Egypt, this “pan-Arab” paper is supportive of the Egyptian government, but is often critical of American and Israeli policy, and maintains an active bureau in Gaza. Al-Hayat Independent newspaper published in Beirut and London. Al Jazeera Independent news agency attached to a television station widely viewed in the Arab world. Arab News Saudi-based, pro-government English language daily

Arabic News Selective daily country by country news, mainly from official Arabic sources. “presents Israeli and Palestinian viewpoints on prominent issues of concern.” Jointly written by Palestinians and Israelis sympathetic to the peace process. (see also Bitterlemons International, which takes a global look at Middle Eastern affairs: Daily Star This Lebanese independent paper is a good source of news in translation from across the Middle East, and is surprisingly frank in its editorial criticism of Syria. The Electronic Intifada (EI) “publishes news, commentary, analysis, and reference materials about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict from a Palestinian perspective. EI is the leading Palestinian portal for information about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its depiction in the media.” Excellent source for EU policy information The European Union’s web page on the Middle East peace process. France Diplomatie Information on French foreign policy, published by the Department of Foreign Affairs. “is an independent online journal and resource archive of the Israel-Palestine conflict.” Generally critical of current Israeli and American Mideast policies. Haaretz Independent Israeli daily newspaper with a broadly liberal outlook on both domestic issues and international affairs. Iran Daily “Reformist” perspective on the news, this is a paper that has been fairly critical of recent American policy towards Iran. See also:

Jerusalem Newswire Israeli news service tending towards a conservative outlook. Jordan Times Good source for pro-government perspective. MERIP - Middle East Research and Information Project An American magazine, generally critical of recent American policy in the Middle East. Middle East Times British weekly keeps a close eye on the Egyptian government, even archiving stories censored (by Egyptian government censors) from its print edition. Palestine Media Center Publishes articles sympathetic to the Palestinian cause from a variety of sources. Pravda is the official Russian news service. see also Gateway to Russia ( The Washington Institute for Near East Policy An American “think tank” tending towards the conservative end of the political spectrum.


Here are two good sources for collections of articles on Middle Eastern Affairs (you can even have the daily summaries e-mailed): The American Task Force for Palestine (ATFP) ATFP pulls together a daily collection of links to opinion pieces, in the American and international press, regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. You can even have the collection of links e-mailed to you each day. It's a good source for articles with clear opinions. Middle East Progress The Center for American Progress publishes this daily, thematic collection of articles and links on topics related to the Middle East.


SyriaComment An American academic named Joshua Landis has a blog that focuses on Syria and Syrian-American relations, tending to advocate that Israel and the west should open relations with Syria: Across the Bay Blogger Anton Efendi takes a very different tack from Landis, typically taking a highly critical stance regarding the Syrian government and its motives, and generally viewing Western efforts to open relationships with Syria as misguided. Speaking Truth to Power from Boston Boston University professor Augustus Richard Norton is one of foremost authorities on Middle Eastern politics, specializing in Lebanon. His blog offers links to the kinds of work that make for great web watch pieces
Prospects for Peace Israeli Daniel Levy has served in the Israeli diplomatic corps as a negotiator, and is currently Director of the Prospects for Peace Initiative at The Century Foundation. Obama Mideast Monitor Steve Rosen is a former member of AIPAC (the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee), an organization that is Israel's Washington lobby. Rosen has already been a vocal, conservative critic of some of Barack Obama's early statements on Israel. Mideast Brief Dan Sisken put together this clearinghouse site for blogs, articles and newsfeeds on the Middle East. His bloggers tend towards the dovish/peace camp end of things--you can finds lots of great "Web Watch" material here.