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In the summer of 2006, as the Iranian-backed Hezbollah fought off Israelis in Lebanon and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad faced down President George Bush at the United Nations, a bus full of Iranian pilgrims left Tehran on a journey to the holy city of Karbala, deep inside a shattered Iraq. “Pilgrimage To Karbala” follows this intense journey into the heartlands of Shia Islam, revealing how two ancient crimes — the murder of Muhammad’s grandson and the disappearance of a six-year-old imam became the founding legends of Shiism and increasingly dominate events and attitudes in the Middle East today.

Target Grade Levels:
Grades 7-12

Conflict, U.S. Influence Abroad

Students play the role of a U.S. Green Beret in Iraq who must try to keep the peace during a community dispute.

In this lesson series, students will become aware of the history of the Middle East, including U.S. policy interests in the region, the history of colonialism and military conflict, and the current issues that impact the political, social, cultural, religious, economic and diplomatic landscapes. Students will be encouraged to discuss their views on these topics, to think outside-of-the-box, and even to formulate their own policy solutions to some of the ongoing conflicts involved.

Particular attention will be paid to:

• Iraq

• Iran

• Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

• Sunni/Shiite Divide,

• Lebanon, Hezbollah and Israel (including the military conflict in 2006)

• The role of Saudi Arabia in the region

• Other key players – including (but not limited to) Syria, Egypt, the Arab League, and OPEC

Middle East Lesson Plan Middle East Lesson Plan (59K) [download]

In September 2001 when the world was in shock by the attacks on the World Trade Center, in another part of the world, in a peaceful and mountainside area of Iran, a retired and paralyzed soldier of Iran-Iraq war is struggling to bring peace to the world in a miraculous way. In order to accomplish this miracle, he relies on the support of his brother, who on the contrary has no faith in miracles.

Source: Emory University

Ibn al-Nadim’s work al-Fihrist (“The Catalogue”) is an invaluable source, for it is something like the card catalogue of the books available in all the libraries of Baghdad in the late tenth century. Written in 987 C.E., it includes the titles of many works which no longer exist, having been lost, burned, eaten by insects, or damaged by floods. It thus throws light on the history of Arabic literature in the broad sense as well as medieval Islamic intellectual history in many fields. It is also one of the most valuable sources regarding the translation movement that took place between 750 and 950 C.E.. In addition, the Fihrist, like Dewey’s decimal system, is an exercise in mapping out the organization of human knowledge and not just an inventory of book titles. This unit provides a basic background for understanding the Fihrist, introduces some of the types of information it provides, and discusses the translation movement and the importance of “the ancient sciences” in medieval Baghdad.

The Fihrist Unit Complete [196k download]

Annissa Hambouz, The New York Times Learning Network
Javaid Khan, The Bank Street College of Education in New York City

Grades: 6-8, 9-12
Subjects: Geography, Global History, Language Arts, Teaching with The New York Times
Interdisciplinary Connections

Overview of Lesson Plan:In this lesson, students learn about the growing skepticism and disillusionment with religious extremism among Iraqi youth. They then write blog or diary entries, letters or scripts from the perspective of Iraqi teens grappling with changes in the religious, cultural and economic landscapes in this war-torn land.

Lesson Plan

America at a Crossroads


America at a Crossroads is a major public television event premiering on PBS in April 2007 that explores the challenges confronting the post-9/11 world — including the war on terrorism; the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan; the experience of American troops serving abroad; the struggle for balance within the Muslim world; and global perspectives on America’s role overseas.

America at a Crossroads


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