An Upper School Assembly to Teach about the Israel-Hamas War

An Upper School Assembly to Teach about the Israel-Hamas War
News History

Given the unusually impactful nature of the recent outbreak of war, the Upper School ended assembly last week with a moment of silence “seeking peace for those at war.” Fort Worth Country Day aims to model open, age-appropriate civil discourse. In the past, the Upper School has paused its planned curriculum for presentations and discussions about impactful world events from September 11, 2001, to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

On October 12, History Department Chair Colin Douglas ’06 spoke to all Upper School students in the Commons about the outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas. Acknowledging that he would be oversimplifying a complex situation, Douglas’s opening slide stated the situation: In early October 2023, war broke out between Israel and Hamas, the militant Islamist group that has controlled Gaza since 2006. He shared that, according to the Council on Foreign Relations, Hamas fighters fired rockets into Israel and stormed southern Israeli cities and towns across the border from the Gaza Strip, killing and injuring hundreds of soldiers and civilians and taking dozens of hostages. The attack took Israel by surprise, Douglas said, though the state quickly mounted a deadly retaliatory operation. He made sure the Upper School students knew that one day after the October 7 attack, the Israeli cabinet had formally declared war against Hamas, followed by a directive from the defense minister to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) to carry out a “complete siege” of Gaza.

Douglas’s goals in the 15-minute presentation were to provide a basic contextual understanding of the events that had happened and are happening in the region and to help FWCD students become better-informed citizens navigating the complexity of the world. “I want students to understand that you can understand and talk about what is happening without making sweeping generalizations about people.“History is complex,” Douglas emphasized. “It is our job as history teachers to try to simplify these stories. Yet, doing so can lead to oversimplifications about important issues.”  

Douglas also implored students to keep learning while practicing their media literacy skills. “They live and learn in the social media age, and I felt it was essential to get kids to think about who is behind the information, what evidence they are using, and what other sources are saying,” he said. “Ultimately, I wanted to help students better answer the question as relates to this war, ‘How did we get here, and how can I better understand?’” 

Douglas’s presentation wrapped up with a slide titled “Why this Matters” and a quote from President Joe Biden from October 10: “ … This is a moment for the United States to come together, to grieve with those who are mourning. Let’s be real clear: There is no place for hate in America — not against Jews, not against Muslims, not against anybody.  We reject … terrorism.  We condemn the indiscriminate evil, just as we’ve always done. That’s what America stands for.”


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An Upper School Assembly to Teach about the Israel-Hamas War

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