Teacher notes 7th grade social studies

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7th Grade Social Studies Teacher Notes for the Georgia Standards of Excellence in Social Studies

The Teacher Notes were developed to help teachers understand the depth and breadth of the standards. In some cases, information provided in this document goes beyond the scope of the standards and can be used for background and enrichment information. Please remember that the goal of Social Studies is not to have students memorize laundry lists of facts, but rather to help them understand the world around them so they can analyze issues, solve problems, think critically, and become informed

citizens. Children's Literature: A list of book titles aligned to the 6th-12th Grade Social Studies GSE may be found at the Georgia Council for the Social Studies website:


Southwest Asia


SS7H2 Analyze continuity and change in Southwest Asia (Middle East).

a. Explain how European partitioning in the Middle East following WWI led to regional conflict.

Prior to World War I, the Ottoman Empire controlled large swaths of the Middle East. During the war, the British and the French made the Sykes-Picot agreement (fig 1) which divided the Ottoman Empire's holding into a zone of French and a zone of British control. Following their defeat, the non-Turkish portions of the Ottoman Empire were given by the League of Nations to the French and the British as mandates formalizing the boundaries of the Sykes-Picot agreement. (Essentially colonies in this instance). These mandates ignored traditional ethnic boundaries and lumped together many different ethnic groups. Following independence, many different ethnic groups tried to form a government or gain control of the government in the new nation they resided in, which led to conflict. This can be seen in the ongoing conflict between Jews and Arabs in Israel, Sunnis and Shias in Iraq, and the attempt among the Kurds to obtain an independent homeland.

Figure 1 Map of Sykes-Picot Agreement showing zones of control. Reproduced from with permission (Mahmoud Abu Rumieleh, Webmaster). Free to use with acknowledgement.

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7th Grade Social Studies Teacher Notes for the Georgia Standards of Excellence in Social Studies

SS7H2 Analyze continuity and change in Southwest Asia (Middle East).

b. Explain the historical factors contributing to the establishment of the modern State of Israel in 1948; include the Jewish religious connection to the land, antisemitism, the development of Zionism in Europe, and the aftermath of the Holocaust.

During the period of the British Mandate, the British government allowed large numbers of Jews to

migrate to Palestine. Many of these Jews were Zionists, or

people who believe that Jews need to have a homeland in

Israel for religious reasons (Jews believe that God gave the

land to the Jewish people as part of his covenant with

Abraham) or in order to be protected from non-Jewish

governments. The need for protection is a response to the

history of anti-Semitism in Europe (hatred of Jews), which

dates at least back to the Middle Ages, and would periodically

lead to massacre of Jewish populations to which the non-

Jewish government would be indifferent or openly hostile.

While the initial Jewish settlers were welcomed, as more Jews

moved to Palestine they faced increasing hostility from the

Arab population, who feared that they would not get to create

an Arab state in that region following the end of the mandate.

Arabs believed that they had a right to the land for religious reasons (Arabs believe that God gave the land to Arab Muslims as part of his covenant with Abraham) and because

Figure 2 Buchenwald survivors arrive in Haifa to be arrested by the British, 15 July 1945. Reproduced from Wikimedia Commons.

they had been the dominant ethnic group in the region for

over a millennium. The Arabs, responding to growing Jewish immigration in the 1920s (which they

viewed as a threat to their future homeland), staged a militant uprising against the British Government.

The British responded by limiting and eventually banning further Jewish immigration until the end of

WWII. This led to militant Jewish Zionist groups staging an uprising against the British. After WWII, due

to guilt over the Holocaust, the British allowed Jewish immigration to resume. Meanwhile, tired of

being attacked by the Jews and the Arabs, the British asked the United Nation to divide Palestine into an

independent Jewish and Arab state so they could leave. Following the United Nation agreeing to a

division of land, Jewish groups declared an independent Nation of Israel in 1948. The Arabs immediately

rejected the deal because they felt the division of land was unfair. This began a series of conflicts over

control of the land that continues to the present.

What Students Should Know

Jews moved to Palestine to find a safe homeland following WWII. Tension between the communities grew as Arabs became afraid that the Jewish immigrants would take over Palestine and deny the Palestinian Arabs a nation. After the UN proposed a partition in 1948, there was a war between the Arabs and the Jews, which led to the creation of Israel and the occupation of Palestinian territory by Israel. Many Palestinian Arabs remain angry about this and there is fighting between them and the Israelis.

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7th Grade Social Studies Teacher Notes for the Georgia Standards of Excellence in Social Studies

SS7H2 Analyze continuity and change in Southwest Asia (Middle East).

c. Describe how land and religion plays a role in continuing conflicts in the Middle East (i.e. the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the division between Sunni and Shia Muslims, and Kurdish nationalism).

One of the most problematic legacies of the British Mandate system is the existence of political boundaries that do not align with religious and ethnic boundaries. This means that many Middle Eastern nations have multiple ethnic and religious groups within their boundaries. This leads to political instability in countries in which ethnic groups vie for control of the government or in countries in which large concentrated ethnic minorities seek to secede from the central government to create a national homeland.

In Israel, many Palestinian Arabs seek to have the Palestinian Territories become free of the influence of the primarily Jewish Israeli government. They would rather have an independent state in which Palestinian Arabs are ruled by Palestinian Arabs. They are angry about their loss of land to Israel (fig 3-4). The situation is further complicated by the fact that both Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews claim that God gave the land of Israel to their people as part of the covenant and believe that their people should inherit all of the land and give nothing to the other religious/ethnic group. As resentment towards the Israeli Occupation has grown, some Palestinians have used both guerilla warfare and terrorism against Israeli civilians in an attempt to force the Israelis out of the Palestinian Territories. The Israelis insist that it is necessary to continue the occupation in order to prevent even worse acts of terrorism. The Palestinians perspective is that they are responding to Israeli aggression and expansion into what they view is Palestinian territory.

Figure 3. 1947 (proposal): Proposal per the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine. Arab state is in green. Israeli State is in white. Reproduced from Wikimedia Commons.

Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran all have large Kurdish minorities. The Kurdish people are ethnically distinct from the Turks, Arabs, and Persians that control the governments of those countries and many dream of a Kurdish homeland (fig 4), sometimes referred as Kurdistan, in which Kurds could be united into one nation that is ruled by Kurds. Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran all fear losing the large and valuable land that the Kurds inhabit to the new

Figure 4. Colored areas show regions with large numbers of Kurdish speakers. the large contiguous area is where many Kurds hope to establish a country. Reproduced from Wikimedia Commons.

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Figure 5. 1948?67 (actual). Reproduced from Wikimedia Commons.

7th Grade Social Studies Teacher Notes for the Georgia Standards of Excellence in Social Studies

Kurdish state and seek to suppress Kurdish independent movements. In some places, the Kurds have resorted to terrorism and guerilla tactics to try to gain their independence.

Throughout the Middle East there are frequent conflicts between Shia and Sunni Muslims for control of their governments. The Syrian civil war is caused by an uprising of Sunni Muslim (who are the majority of Syrians) against the Shia dictatorship of Bashar Al-Assad. Saddam Hussein, the Sunni dictator of Iraq, mistreated and brutally repressed the Shia and Kurds in that country during his rule. Following his ouster in 2003, the new Shia government of Iraq routinely mistreated Sunnis leading to conflict between antigovernment Sunni militias and pro-government Shia militias. Resources: Understanding the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Resource Packet from The World Affairs Council. Contains maps, factsheet, reading lists, and dozens of links to websites on the topic.

SS7H2 Analyze continuity and change in Southwest Asia (Middle East).

d. Explain U.S. presence and interest in Southwest Asia, include the Persian Gulf conflict and invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Throughout the 20th century the Gulf States were major oil exporters. The US became involved in the Middle East to protect its access to these vital oil reserves. When Saddam Hussein threatened the global oil supply by seizing oil rich Kuwait and threatening Saudi Arabian oil fields, the US intervened to defeat the Iraqi Army, liberate Kuwait, and protect Saudi Arabian oil fields in the 1991 Gulf War. The U.S. is also involved in the Middle East to disrupt terrorist groups. U.S. intervention in the Middle East, particularly its support for Israel, has made it unpopular with many Muslim Arabs upset about Israeli treatment of Palestinians. Some of these Arabs, like Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network, sought to use terrorism to drive the U.S. out of the Middle East. On September 11, 2001, members of the Al Qaeda network hijacked four planes, crashing two into the World Trade Center Towers in New York, one into the Pentagon, and one, as the passengers fought for control of the plane, into a field in Pennsylvania killing 2,996 people. At the time, Al Qaeda and its central leadership was based out of Afghanistan and was being protected by the Afghani Taliban Government. The U.S. lent its support to rebel groups in Afghanistan in 2001 in order to overthrow the Taliban and capture Osama bin Laden. While the initial invasion was successful in overthrowing the Taliban, the Taliban continues to fight against the new Afghani government today and Osama bin Laden was not captured in Afghanistan but remained at large for eight years until he was killed in Pakistan.

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7th Grade Social Studies Teacher Notes for the Georgia Standards of Excellence in Social Studies

This map shows the political forces involved and geographical features. It will help students understand how political forces and geography played a role in this conflict. (NOTE: Information for analysis: Political boundaries, topographical information, international involvement)

Following Saddam Hussein's defeat in 1991, the U.S. government came to believe that Iraq had an active nuclear weapons program. Given Hussein's dislike of the U.S. following the 1991 war, the U.S. demanded that Saddam Hussein dismantle the Iraqi nuclear weapons program. Saddam Hussein refused, saying no such program existed. The U.S. invaded Iraq again in 2003 in order to destroy the Iraqi nuclear weapons program and overthrow Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein was captured by U.S. soldiers and was tried and executed by the new Iraqi government in 2003. Conflicts erupted between the Sunni and Shia militias, which would keep the U.S. fighting in Iraq until 2011. There is no evidence that there was an active Iraqi nuclear weapons program in 2003. Resources: Persian Gulf War: History Channel. This site has an overview and short videos on different topics surrounding the conflict. Frontline's the gulf war has oral histories, firsthand accounts, and information about weapons and technology surrounding the Persian Gulf Crisis

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7th Grade Social Studies Teacher Notes for the Georgia Standards of Excellence in Social Studies


Southwest Asia

- Geographic Understandings -

The intent of this standard is for students to be able to locate selected countries and major physical features in Southwest Asia using a world and regional political-physical map. This will give students the necessary context to understand other standards which deal with these locations.

SS7G5 Locate selected features in Southwest Asia (Middle East).

a. Locate on a world and regional political-physical map: Euphrates River, Jordan River, Tigris River, Suez Canal, Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, Arabian Sea, Red Sea, and Gaza Strip.

Students are expected to be able to use a political-physical or physical map to locate where in Southwest Asia the listed physical features are located. They should be able to locate the physical features either on a world map or regional map of Southwest Asia, Asia or Eurasia. The following is included to give teachers basic background knowledge of each physical feature and why it matters in the greater context of the unit. Tigris and Euphrates Rivers - begin in Turkey and travel through Syria and Iraq before emptying into the Persian Gulf. They are the largest rivers in Southwest Asia and are an essential source of water for the nations they pass through. Because of the importance of their waters, they are also a source of conflict as nations argue over control of this important natural resource. Jordan River - forms the border between the nation of Jordan and the Palestinian Territory known as the West Bank. Control of the Jordan River's water is a source of dispute between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Suez Canal - connects the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. It is an important trade route. Strait of Hormuz - narrow shallow body of water that connects the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Sea. It is an important trade route connecting the rich oil fields of the gulf to the Arabian Sea and beyond. Arabian Sea - south of Saudi Arabia. For centuries, the Arabian Sea has been a key link in the Indian Ocean trade and remains a major trade route. Red Sea ? A sea separating Africa from South West Asia and connecting the Arabian Sea to the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal.

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