To Do or Not To Do: Truman's Recognition of Israel

Lesson Author
Required Time Frame
Two 50 minute classroom meetings
Grade Level(s)
Lesson Abstract
To assist students in developing skills that will enable them to analyze primary documents and political cartoons which will help them develop an understanding of the different perspectives of Truman's recognition of Israel.

This lesson can be assigned to individual students and/or used as a cooperative learning endeavor. Students will utilize the Internet to access links a variety of primary and secondary documents.

Rationale (why are you doing this?)
  • To assist students in developing skills that will enable them to analyze primary documents and political cartoons which will help them develop an understanding of the different perspectives of Truman’s recognition of Israel
  • To introduce the Stanford  History Educational Group’s Reading Like A Historian teaching strategies to help students investigate historical questions by employing the following reading strategies
    • Sourcing
  • Contextualizing
  • Corroborating
  • Close reading
Lesson Objectives - the student will
  • Develop skills to think and read historical information like a historian
  • Analyze written documents and political cartoons via individual and cooperative learning activities
  • Do research of pertinent Internet websites that provide different perspectives of the creation of the state of Israel via political cartoons and written documents
District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met

SS 12.4.2 (US) Students will analyze and evaluate the impact of people, events, ideas, and symbols upon

US history using multiple types of sources.

SS 12.4.2.c (US) Analyze and evaluate the appropriate uses of primary and secondary sources

SS 12.4.3 (US) Students will analyze and evaluate historical and current events from multiple perspectives

SS 12.4.4.a (US) Compare and evaluate contradictory historical narratives of Twentieth-Century U.S. History

through determination of credibility, contextualization, and corroboration

SS 12.4.5.b (US) Obtain, analyze, evaluate, and cite appropriate sources for research about Twentieth-Century

U.S. History, incorporating primary and secondary sources (e.g., Cite sources using a prescribed format)

SS 12.4.5.c (US) Gather historical information about the United States (e.g., document archives, artifacts,

newspapers, interviews)

SS 12.4.5.d (US) Present an evaluation of historical information about the United States (e.g., pictures, posters,

oral/written narratives and electronic presentations)


Common Core

Key Ideas and Details

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.3 Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.

Craft and Structure

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including analyzing how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.5 Analyze in detail how a complex primary source is structured, including how key sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text contribute to the whole.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.6 Evaluate authors’ differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors’ claims, reasoning, and evidence.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.8 Evaluate an author’s premises, claims, and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.9 Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.
Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed

Booth, Amber. Parkway South High School. Who decides a nation?  Student guide sheet.

Israel’s Legal Borders Under International Law


Library of Congress.  American Memory Collection. Teachers. Teacher’s Guides and Analysis Tool


Library of Congress.  American Memory Collections.  Teachers.  Using Primary Sources


Pro Israel   Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Samia Shoman, Ed.D. Teaching the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Through Dual Narratives


Stanford History Education Group.  Reading Like A Historian


The Middle East in Transition: Question for U.S. Policy.  December, 2011.  The Choices Program. Watson Institute for International Studies. Brown U.


Primary sources needed (document, photograph, artifact, diary or letter, audio or visual recording, etc.) needed Political Humor


Avalon Project.  Yale Law School.  19th and 20th Century Documents


Bing. Creation of Israel State Political Cartoons


Cartoons from the Arab World


Israel and Palestine Political Cartoons

Harry S. Truman Library. Documents. The Recognition of the State of Israel

Modern History Internet Source Book. Fordham University.


            Mid East Since 1944


National Archives. Teaching with Documents. Lesson Plan: The U.S. Recognition of the State of



Punch Magazine. British.

United Nations Maps of Palestine 1947. 

Fully describe the activity or assignment in detail. What will both the teacher and the students do?

Background   (Excerpts from the National Archives. Teachers. Teaching With Documents Lesson Plan: The U.S. Recognition of the State of Israel)

In 1917 Chaim Weizmann, scientist, statesperson, and Zionist, persuaded the British government to issue a statement favoring the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine. The statement, which became known as the Balfour Declaration, was, in part, payment to the Jews for their support of the British against the Turks during World War I. After the war, the League of Nations ratified the declaration and in 1922 appointed Britain to rule Palestine.

This course of events caused Jews to be optimistic about the eventual establishment of a homeland. Their optimism inspired the immigration to Palestine of Jews from many countries, particularly from Germany when Nazi persecution of Jews began. The arrival of many Jewish immigrants in the 1930s awakened Arab fears that Palestine would become a national homeland for the Jews. By 1936 guerrilla fighting had broken out between the Jews and the Arabs. Unable to maintain peace, Britain issued a white paper in 1939 that restricted Jewish immigration into Palestine. The Jews, feeling betrayed, bitterly opposed the policy and looked to the United States for support.

When Harry S. Truman took office, he made clear that his sympathies were with the Jews and accepted the Balfour Declaration, explaining that it was in keeping with former President Woodrow Wilson’s principle of "self-determination." Truman initiated several studies of the Palestine situation that supported his belief that, as a result of the Holocaust, Jews were oppressed and also in need of a homeland. Throughout the Roosevelt and Truman administrations, the Departments of War and State, recognizing the possibility of a Soviet-Arab connection and the potential Arab restriction on oil supplies to this country, advised against U.S. intervention on behalf of the Jews.

  • The British Jewish terrorism in Palestine antagonized the British. Britain, anxious to rid itself of the problem, set the United Nations in motion, formally requesting on April 2, 1947, that the U.N. General Assembly set up the Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP). This committee recommended that the British mandate over Palestine be ended and that th