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Israeli-Palestinian course: two small, out of class writing assignments

Two possible writing assignments for the Palestinian-Israeli course

Version 1

“The Wittes volume asks whether Israelis and Palestinians do things in very different ways, and whether those contrasts of style reinforce the conflict between them. It answers neither question.?

Write a three page paper that evaluates this statement. “Evaluate? means to assess the accuracy of what the statement says about the Wittes book. Assume the audience for your paper is someone who is interested in the topic, genuinely wonders if the above statement is correct, and skimmed the book too fast to know whether this statement is correct or not.

The paper is due a week from today. Papers that receive “A? grades will be easy for the grader to understand, will accurately gauge how the statement relates to the book, and will support their argument with citations to specific pages of Wittes that are germane to assessing this statement.

Be sure your paper focuses on the claims of the statement.


Version 2

You are a columnist who writes on international issues three days a week and whose column is carried in 129 daily newspapers. You happen to pick up the Wittes volume because someone left one on your seat as they got off the plane in Chicago. You are now flying on that plane from Chicago to Anchorage, and you need to do another column anyway, and you decide to write a column arguing that Israelis and Palestinians each need to rethink how they negotiate. Since you are going to be on the plane for hours, it is a good time to do the column.

Your audience has no clue about this topic, particularly the kinds of things that the Dajani and the Kleiman chapters of Wittes discuss. Write a 3 page “column? or op-ed opinion piece that conveys the themes of those chapters to a general, intelligent, but non-expert audience. The column must be typed double space with arial or times roman font 12 or the equivalent.

In writing this you as a columnist know it is crucial to make your column interesting to the readers. You also know that telling people something that surprises them can be part of doing so.


This “column? is due a week from today. It will receive two separate grades, both pass/fail. One grade is based solely on the first and the last paragraphs. If the reader can discern what the column says from these two paragraphs, you pass – unless the paragraphs repeat themselves, in which case it is a fail.

The other grade is based on the entire paper. “Fail? corresponds to “columns? that do not leave the reader with a clear point and/or that seem unrelated to the Wittes volume and/or that do not have more than 5 paragraphs.