Understanding Prejudice
Understanding Prejudice
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Teacher's Corner
College Student Assignments

Prejudice in the Middle East


To understand the role that anti-Semitism and anti-Arab prejudice play in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


In this assignment, students are asked to visit two web sites -- one pro-Palestinian and one pro-Israeli -- and write a report on the role of prejudice in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There are three parts to the assignment:

  1. Ask students to spend at least 30 minutes visiting the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) web site, adopting the perspective of a Palestinian concerned that Israel is violating human rights.

  2. Ask students to spend at least 30 minutes reading through the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) archives, adopting the perspective of an Israeli concerned about Palestinian terrorism.

  3. Using information found on these web sites, write a 3-5 page paper answering the following questions:

    • What did you learn from these web sites? Any surprises?
    • What are the main ways that prejudice affects this conflict?
    • Is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict unusual in the degree to which prejudice is involved, or is it typical of international conflicts?
    • In your view, what practical steps can be taken to reduce prejudice in the Middle East?
    • What steps, if any, can be taken by people living outside the Middle East?
    • What lessons from the Middle East can be applied to other conflicts?


Instead of requiring a paper, instructors may simply ask students to visit the PCHR and MEMRI web sites and be prepared to answer the questions above in class.

One other variation is to ask students to visit the 30-minute slide show of a third site, the Stanford Prison Experiment, and apply the lessons of this classic study to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Chief among these lessons are: (1) the power of the situation and roles, and (2) the ease with which dehumanization and deinviduation can be triggered.


Section VI of Understanding Prejudice and Discrimination ends with a page of quotes from the MEMRI web site. These quotes can be used to introduce the topic of prejudice in the Middle East.

Students using this book can also be asked to describe how psychological factors from the introductory overview contribute to prejudice and conflict in the Middle East. Some relevant factors include categorical thinking, ingroup bias, outgroup homogeneity biases, the fundamental attriubution error, the ultimate attribution error, illusory correlation, and self-perpetuating stereotypes.