Palestinian Statehood: What the Children Say

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Amid the discussion around the Palestinian bid for full United Nations membership, we talk to sixth graders at schools from different faiths about the conflict. What do they know? How do they know it?

The Palestinian bid for U.N. membership was put off by the Security Council, announced today the council president, Portugal’s U.N. ambassador Jose Filipe Moraes Cabral. The Palestinian authority will now have to decide whether to press for a vote it is widely suspected to loose.

Children at Beginning With Children Charter School (Gloria Dawson / The Brooklyn Ink)

The quest for statehood began on September 23 after Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian authority, appeared before the General Assembly.

Palestinian hopes were high last month, as Israel agreed to exchange more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for Staff Sgt. Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier held for five years. On October 31, Unesco added Palestine to its members, a move that has cost the organization $60 million of its yearly American funding. However, with the United States expected to veto a Palestinian full U.N. membership, and other countries such as France and Britain saying they would abstain from voting, Palestine’s chances for statehood continue to appear slim.

Whatever happens, it is a historic moment in the Middle East. We wondered how the younger generation thinks about it. After decades of fighting, the Middle Eastern conflict is part of contemporary history and has been added to many school curriculums around the world. But in a multi-cultural and multi-faith borough, like Brooklyn, conversation about it is likely to reflect widely varying and passionate points of view. Rather than ask the teachers, we wanted the children’s thoughts.

We decided to ask sixth graders at schools from different faiths to take part in a candid conversation about the conflict. Unfortunately, due to security reasons, we weren’t given access to any 6th grade class of the 4 Islamic schools we contacted in Brooklyn. We spoke to a Jewish day school, a Christian school, a secular school, and to Muslim students from Brooklyn College. What do they know? How do they know it? And how do they relate to it? Here are four audio slide shows that address some of our questions.

The Secular School The Christian School
Palestinian Students at Brooklyn College The Jewish Day School

Slide shows produced by Omar Bilal Akhtar, Gloria Dawson, Tracy Jarrett, Emily Judem, Andrew Katz, Ravi Kumar, Xin Hui Lim, Joey Maestas and Hannah Olivennes.


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