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Lesson Plan August 12, 2016

Afek: "Fractured Lands" K-12 Lesson Plan and Educational Resources



(Approximately 17 minutes to read)

  1. How does the author describe Azar?

  2. What does Azar mean when he says, “...This is not the time to talk, but to shoot ?” What is he referring to?

  3. What event is credited with starting the Arab Spring?

  4. How many nations succumbed to Arab Spring protests? Which nations?

  5. Why does the author feel that the Arab Spring was inevitable?

  6. How did Arab leaders consolidate their power before the Arab Spring? According to the author, how did leaders in the Arab Spring nations stay in  power?

  7. Why do students of the Middle East call countries like Iraq, Syria and Libya artificial states?

  8. What is the ‘divide and conquer approach’ to colonization, and why did the European powers adopt this approach to establishing nations in the Middle East? What are potential consequences to using this strategy?

  9. What is the symbolic significance of the removal of the statue of Saddam Hussein from Firdoz Square?

  10. What did Qaddafi predict would be the impact of the American invasion in Iraq?


Part 1: Origins
(Approximately 26 minutes to read)

1. Laila-Egypt

  1. Why is Egypt considered the capital of the Middle East?
  2. What role did Gamal Abdel Nasser play in modern Egyptian history?

  3. What is the baathist philosophy?

  4. What does the author suggest makes Egypt different from the rest of the Arab world?

  5. According to the author, how did Nasser, and his successor Anwar Sadat, maintain power?

  6. What drove Laila to activism?

What actions led to growing distrust of Mubarak, the leader who followed Sadat?

2. Madji-Libya

  1. How did Qaddafi come to power in Libya?
  2. How were the regimes of Nasser (Egypt), Qaddafi (Libya), Saddam Hussein (Iraq) and Hafez al-Assad similar (Syria)? How were they different?
  3.  What does Majdi mean when he says, ‘‘Everybody was connected to the state somehow?’’ Predict: What are potential consequences to these actions?
  4. What role has Majdi’s family played in Libyan history?
  5. How did Arab regimes view Islamic fundamentalists?
  6. What is the “naked emperor syndrome “?
  7. What juxtaposition does the author make at the end of the section?

3. Azar-Kurdistan:

  1. Who are the Kurds? Which countries are home to Kurdish communities? What is the relationship between the Kurds and the Arab states?
  2. What is the Pesh Merga? What is Azar’s connection to the Pesh Merga?

  3. How does the author describe the relationship between the U.S. and Iraq? What was the impact on the Kurds?

  4. What led to the establishment of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)? How was it formed and what was the significance of its formation?

    4. Majd-Syria

    1. Describe the religious composition of Homs, a city in Syria’s central valley.

    2. How did Bashar Al Assad come to power in Syria?

    3. Why was Syria on good standing with the U.S. in 2003?

    4. What was Majd’s relationship with the West?

    5. How did Egyptians feel about their government aligning itself with the U.S.?

Part Two: The Iraq War
(Approximately 35 minutes to read)

5. Khulood-Iraq

  1. What does Khulood describe as “The Iraqi system?” How did she feel about it?

  2. Where was Khulood when the U.S. invaded Iraq? How does she describe the U.S. invasion ?

  3. What was the Coalition Provisional Authority?

  4. What role did Khulood play in Iraq after the American invasion?

6. Wakaz-Iraq

  1. Where was Wakaz when the U.S. invaded? Why did the U.S. invade this region of Iraq?

  2. What does Wakaz mean when he says “So yes, our life was definitely much easier before the Americans came… Even if it wasn’t their fault directly, that’s when everything became much harder.”

7. Khulood-Iraq

  1. What does the author mean when he writes, “...the seeds of disaster for the American intervention had already been sown”?

  2. What was the impact of the dismissal of Baathist party members and military?

  3. Who attacked the CPA compound? What were their objectives?

  4. How was Khulood impacted by the attack?

  5. What was Khulood idea for a non-governmental organization (NGO)? What would be its mission, and what barriers did she face in creating it?

  6. What factors was Khulood considering when deciding whether or not she should stay in Iraq? What would you have done in her position?

8. Laila-Egypt

  1. What were Laila and Ahmed’s reputations in Egypt in 2005?

  2. What initiated protests in Egypt in 2005?

  3. What factors contributed to Mubarak losing public support? What groups then started to gain support?

  4. How did Egyptians interviewed feel about the United States? How does this compare to how the author describes to the perception of Egypt by the U.S.?

  5. How did the protest in 2005 impact Laila?


9. Majidi-Libya

  1. What was the “Libya Dawn”? When did it take place, and why?

  2. What was the impact of the Iraq war on Libya?

  3. How does the author end this section? Why do you think he chooses this image?


10. Khulood-Iraq/Jordan

  1. How does Khulood get to the U.S.?

  2. How does Khulood describe her life in the U.S.? How does this compare to your experience of the U.S.?

  3. Why does Khulood decide to leave the U.S.? Where does she go, and what is the impact of that decision?? What would you do in this situation?

11. Majd-Syria

  1. What is the shabiha?

  2. Why is the city of Homs considered the crossroads of Syria?

  3. How does the author end this section? Why do you think he ends it this way? Predict what might happen to Majd.

Part Three: Arab Spring

(Approximately 65 minutes to read)

12. Laila-Egypt

  1. What does Laila mean when she says, ‘‘Well, tomorrow we’re having a revolution, but if the revolution ends early, yes, I’ll be here “?

  2. Create a visualization that represents the events of the revolution in Cairo, Egypt’s capital.

  3. Who took charge when Mubarak fell?

  4. What does Laila describe as  a “critical moment” after Mubarak resigned from office?

13. Majdi-Libya

  1. Why did Majdi join the military?

  2. What was the zenga zenga speech? What led to the speech, and what happened after the speech was delivered?

  3. How does Majdi view the regime after the zenga zenga speech? What informs this opinion? OR How did Majdi’s life change after the zenga zenga speech?

  4. What was the ‘special mission’ Majdi was selected to conduct? Why was he selected?

  5. How does Majdi’s experience of the Arab Spring differ from Laila’s? How does the author use dramatic irony in this section?

14. Majd-Syria

  1. What does Assad mean when he says, “...Syria is stable. Why? Because you have to be very closely linked to the beliefs of the people..?”

  2. What was Majd’s role in the protests?

  3. What were protesters in Homs asking for?

  4. How does Assad’s image in the west compare with his image in Syria?)

  5. What did Assad say in his March 30 address?

  6. What sparked a change in the protests against Assad?

15. Majdi-Libya

  1. What did Majdi find upon returning to Misurata?

  2. How does his return to Misurata change his view of the war? What does he decide to do? How do you feel about his decision?

  3. Why doesn’t Majdi stay in Tunisia?

  4. How does the author describe the battles between the Libyan government and rebels? What was Majdi’s role?

  5. What does Majdi find out about his friend Jalal? How does the author describe Majdi’s journey to make this discovery?=

16. Majd-Syria

  1. What does the author suggest led to the relative calm in the Al Waar neighborhood where Majd lives?

  2. What is Majd referring to when he says “Most of them were just guys from the neighborhood that had managed to get their hands on guns”?

  3. How does Majd describe the Free Syrian Army? How does this compare to the American perception?

17. Majdi-Libya

  1. What does Majdi mean when he says “both sides used us. Both sides slaughtered us”?

  2. What does Majdi call the first mistake of the post-Qadaffi government, and why?

  3. How does Majdi feel about his military diploma?

  4. Why does Majdi call Libya “a failed state”?

  5. What image does the author use to close this section? Why do you think he concludes the section with this image?

18. Laila-Egypt

  1. Who were the final candidates in Egypt’s first election post-Mubarak?

  2. Who does Laila decide to support and why? What influenced this decision?

  3. What does the author mean when he writes, “On the day he assumed office, then, Morsi was barely more than a figurehead, the public face to a democracy already gutted”?

  4. What was Morsi’s relationship to the military.  

  5. What led to protests against Morsi? What was Laila’s role?

  6. How does the author describe Sisi’s response to the protest? What language does the author use to describe Sisi, and what is the impact?

  7. Describe Alaa’s role in the protests falling Mubarak’s fall. Why do you think the author closes the chapter with this detail?

19. Majd-Syria

  1. Why did Majd’s family, the Ibrahims, choose to stay in Homs?

  2. How does Majd survive his encounter with the Free Syrian Army?

20. Khulood-Jordan

  1. What does Khulood do to make a living in Jordan?

  2. What differences does Khulood observe between the Iraqi children and the Syrian children she works with? What about between the boys and the girls?

  3. What obstacles does Khulood encounter as she tries to seek asylum for her family?

21. Laila-Egypt

  1. How does the chapter begin? How does this image set the tone for the rest of the chapter?

  2. How does the author describe the Sisi regime?

22. Majd-Syria

  1. Why does the author describe Homs as ‘Syria’s Stalingrad’?

  2. How does the author end this section? Why do you think he ends the “Arab Spring” section of the article with this visual?


Part Four: ISIS Rising
(Approximately 35 minutes to read)

23. Wakaz-Iraq

  1. How did Wakaz become aware of ISIS? What did he learn about its mission?

  2. Why does the author describe the ISIS offensive in June 2015 as “one of the most stunning military feats in modern history”?

  3. How does the author describe Maliki’s regime in Iraq? Predict how this might contribute to the rise of ISIS.

  4. How does Wakaz respond to ISIS? What informs his decision?? What factors influenced him?

  5. Describe the ISIS training.

24. Azar-Kurdistan

  1. What is Azar’s connection to the Kurdish army Pesh Merga?

  2. Why does Azar describe as  a ‘golden moment’ for the Kurds? Why?

  3. How does Azar describe the relationship between the Kurds and the rest of Iraq?

  4. Who are the Yazidis? How are they viewed by other Kurds?

  5. What happened when ISIS invaded Sinjar? What was Azar’s connection?

26. Majd-Syria

  1. How does the author describe Majd’s life in Syria after the citywide ceasefire in Homs?

  2. How does the chapter conclude? Predict: How do you think Majd and his family will respond?

26. Azar-Kurdistan

  1. How does Azar describe the strategy of a typical ISIS attack?

  2. To what does Azar attribute success by the Kurds in gaining territory from ISIS?

  3. How does Azar describe the relationship between the U.S. and the Pesh Merga?

  4. Who are the Barzani and Talabani tribes? What is their relationship?

  5. How does the author describe the treatment of women by ISIS? What struggles do Yazidi women face?


27. Wakaz-Iraq

  1. How long does Wakaz work with ISIS? Why does he decide to leave?

  2. Where does Wakaz decide to go, and why?

  3. Predict: What does do you think the author means by “the ISIS ‘ratline’"?

28. Majd-Syria/Greece

  1. Why does Majd decide to leave Syria?

  2. Describe Majd’s journey out of Syria. Where does he go and what does he encounter?

Part Five: Exodus

(Approximately 30 minutes to read)

29. Wakaz-Iraq

  1. Describe Wakaz’s journey out of Iraq. Where does he go and why?

  2. How does the author describe the situation along the Turkish border?

  3. How does the author close this section? Why do you think he chose this image to end the chapter?

30. Majd-Syria

  1. How does Majd end up in Dresden, Germany?

  2. How does Majd describe attitude towards refugees in Dresden?

  3. What does Majd predict will happen to Syria? Does he plan to return? Why or why not?

31. Khulood-Jordan

  1. What is Khulood’s plan for gaining asylum for her family?

  2. Describe Khulood and her sister’s journey to Europe.

  3. Why do you think the author chose the final quotation as the end of this chapter?

32.  Wakaz-Iraq

  1. Where is Wakaz at the start of the chapter?

  2. How does the author describe his interview with Wakaz?

  3. How does the KRG officer describe differences between treatment of former ISIS fighters by the Kurds and the Iraqis?

33. Laila-Egypt

  1. How does the author describe changes in American influence on Egypt? What has been the impact?

  2. What does Laila think will happen to Egypt?

34. Azar-Kurdistan

  1. How does the author describe Sinjar?

  2. Why does Azar say that he wants to destroy the Arab homes in Sinjar?

  3. How does the author describe the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)?

  4. What questions does the author pose about the Middle East while describing the KRG?

(Approximately 5 minutes)


  1. What is Majdi’s hope for Libya? Why?

  2. What led to anti-Sisi protests in Egypt in April 2016?

  3. How does the piece end? Why do you think the author chose this to conclude the piece?

  4. Stop and jot: Where is each character by the end of the piece? What are the states of their countries?  What questions do you still have?

The Fight for Fallujah Comprehension and Reflection Questions

  1. Think about cityscapes — how do the images in the VR compare to Anderson’s descriptions of places like Homs and Mt. Sinjar? What is the impact of seeing Fallujah in a virtual reality film?

  2. How does the Iraqi army look/behave? Is this different from the way you imagine your country’s army?

  3. From this film, what can you gather about the way ISIS treats its prisoners?

  4. What are the conditions for the refugees of Fallujah?

  5. What is Solomon’s tone? Why do you think he feels this way?

  6. Why do you think The New York Times decided to juxtapose Anderson’s writing with Solomon’s video?

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