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Truman and the Modern State of Israel

Lesson Author
Required Time Frame
5-7 days
Grade Level(s)
Lesson Abstract
The development of the state of Israel

We will participate in cross curricular planning with the social studies teacher. Each student will work on a one page biography of an individual from this time period. Some students may draw maps of the present Middle East . Children will be encouraged to read a biography of an individual-Truman, Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir or someone else.

Some students will give oral reports to their classmates.

A suitable short film will be shown to the class.

Rationale (why are you doing this?)

The Israeli=Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been simmering for decades. It is important for students of history to understand how Israel came into being and its relationship to its Arab neighbors.

Lesson Objectives - the student will
  • Understand the time line of events leading up to the recognizing of Israel in May 1948.
  • Analyze documents of the time period
  • Reflect on the courage of President Truman who defied many of his top advisors who argued against recognition of the fledgling state
District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met
  • Curriculum Standards for Social Studies-Bulletin of the National Council for the Teaching of Social
  • Studies.
  • Chart,interpret,use and distinguish various representations…such as maps.
  • Explain how governments(presidents)attempt to achieve their stated ideas at home…and
  • abroad
  • Use and analyze primary sources in reports and oral communication.
Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed
  • Dr.Michael Benson-“Harry S. Truman and the Recognition of Israel.”
  • “1948”-David Pietrusza
  • “Quest for Peace in the Middle East”-Michael J.Devine
Primary sources needed (document, photograph, artifact, diary or letter, audio or visual recording, etc.) needed
  • Balfour Declaration of 1917
  • Announcement of the recognition of the new government on a de facto basis on 5/14/1948
  • Israeli postage stamp honoring President Truman
  • Notes that Truman made on his daily schedule for May of 1948. 
Fully describe the activity or assignment in detail. What will both the teacher and the students do?
  • We will explore the year 1948. Students will learn of the pressing issues facing

Truman during the crucial year of 1948. The young people will be encouraged to research magazines of the period-such as “Life” and “Time” in their local libraries and report on an eventful episode taking place. Students will see that Truman had a lot to contend with during that fateful year of 1948.

  • Students will analyze closely the Balfour Declaration and come to their own conclusions

as to what it really meant.

  • The teacher will provide copious handouts, including pertinent chapters from

books and magazines.

  • Guest speakers will be introduced.
Assessment: fully explain the assessment method in detail or create and attach a scoring guide
  • Students will take short answer quiz at the conclusion of the lessons.
  • Students will write an essay explaining whether or not they think President Truman did the right thing on May 14th.
  • Students who opt to give an oral report will be judged on content and delivery of speech.
  • Art work will be judged on its accuracy.