Current Event September 19, 2017
A message in a bottle washed up on a beach this week in Gaza, a small Palestinian territory. It traveled nearly 500 miles across the Mediterranean Sea, from the Greek island of Rhodes. It floated past Turkey and Cyprus and was found by a 54-year-old Palestinian fisherman. For a decade, the militant group Hamas has controlled the area of Gaza and mail sent there must first pass through Israeli security. The message in the bottle included an email address which provided a connection between the British couple who sent the message and the Palestinian fisherman. Listen to hear more about the extraordinary journey of this message.
ELA Middle School
Author Marjane Satrapi created the graphic novel “Persepolis”—later adapted as a movie—about her experience growing up during the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran. Satrapi was a rebellious teenager, fighting to maintain her beliefs and individuality while living under a government that dictated how its people should live—for example, mandating that women must wear veils. Listen to hear about the Iranian government’s reaction to the movie and how others reacted to it.
Current Event April 17, 2017
On Thursday, April 6, President Donald Trump authorized airstrikes against Syrian military infrastructure targets in response to an apparent chemical weapons attack by Syrian President Bashar Assad. Now, Congressional leaders are asking Trump to outline his broader strategy for dealing with the Middle East conflict. Among their questions are how Trump plans to defeat the Islamic state, or ISIS, and how he will deal with Assad’s regime in Syria without creating a failed state. Listen to hear more about the challenges of creating a broader Syrian strategy.
Current Event February 28, 2017
ISIS has been pushed out of the eastern part of the Iraqi city, Mosul. Under ISIS control, children in Mosul were not able to go to school. Now, schools in Mosul are beginning to reopen. In the years that schools were closed, students fell behind in their education. But recently teachers have returned to work, although they haven’t been paid, and schools are still without heat or electric light. Listen to learn more about how the Education Ministry in Mosul is working to rebuild the city’s school system.
Current Event November 1, 2016
The city of Mosul, Iraq is the largest city under ISIS control. After 2 years of violence in Mosul, Iraqi government forces and their allies are planning to retake the city of about one million people. The long-awaited military operations could take weeks or even months. Some people fleeing Mosul do not intend to return home when ISIS is defeated. Like many displaced people, they fear chaos and violence will continue in Mosul, and do not trust that local officials will maintain order. Listen to hear what Mosul may look like after the war.
Current Event October 13, 2016
Former Israeli President and statesman Shimon Peres was one of the founders of Israel. His participation and influence in Israeli politics spanned decades. After his recent passing, he is remembered for winning the Nobel Peace Prize and for his optimism about forming peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Listen to learn more about Peres’ legacy.
Current Event October 4, 2016
In the fifth year of the Syrian civil war, more than 250,000 Syrians have lost their lives and more than 11 million people have fled their homes. The city of Aleppo in Syria remains under siege and rebel areas are being bombarded daily by warplanes, killing hundreds of people. The cease-fire between the Russian supported Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and the U.S. backed rebel groups collapsed. There was a deadly attack on a humanitarian convoy, which led to the United Nations halting aid to Syria. In addition to aerial attacks, there are ground offensives, and the water supply was cut off to the opposition-held half of the city. Listen to hear more about the escalation of fighting in Syria.
ELA Middle School
The United States declared war on Afghanistan in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. But Afghanistan had already been a troubled and war torn country for many, many years. In 1996, the Taliban seized control of the country, imposing strict rule over all of its citizens. This story focuses on how the strict rules of society in Afghanistan continue to affect its people--especially children and girls. Listen to this interview with the author of “The Kids of Kabul” and learn more about the challenges faced by Afghan children and women, especially in the area of education.
ELA High School
In recent decades, Afghanistan has been a country plagued by war. Author Khaled Hosseini’s debut novel, “The Kite Runner,” is set in Afghanistan in the 1960s and 1970s through the 2000s. The book tells the story of two young friends, Amir and Hassan, who are from very different classes and ethnic groups. The story follows them as they navigate life before and after the coup that toppled the Afghan king in 1973, the Russian occupation in the 1980s, and the rule of the Taliban in the 1990s. Listen as the author Afghan-native Hosseini describes how his life experiences are significant to his novel and how he has set out to change the public perception of this Middle Eastern country.
Current Event January 12, 2016
The relationship between two powerhouses in the Middle East is deteriorating. Iran and Saudi Arabia are battling for domination and control of the Middle East. The withdrawal of the United States and the recent collapse of three Arab states has created a void of power. More recently there is also heightened tension between Sunnis and Shiites because Saudi Arabia recently executed a well known Shiite cleric. A mob in Iran then ransacked the Saudi Embassy. Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties with Iran and other Gulf states and recalled ambassadors from Shiite Iran. Listen to hear how this affects the United States policies and threatens peace talks in Syria.
Current Event November 11, 2015
U.S.Navy warships are often named after cities, presidents and battles. But a new Navy warship was recently named in honor of Marine Rafael Peralta, who died in Iraq. Sgt. Peralta was killed 11 years ago when he took the heroic act of throwing himself onto a grenade to protect his fellow soldiers. This interview is with Rafael Peralta’s brother Ricardo who describes him and the soldiers he saved. Listen to hear more about the bravery of this fallen marine.
Current Event October 30, 2015
United States airstrikes killed 22 people in a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan that was run by an international aid group, Doctors without Borders. The aid group had given their exact location to the U.S. military, Afghan forces and the Taliban in an effort to avoid being targeted by mistake. Doctors without Borders is calling this act a war crime and the United States is calling this a mistake. Listen to hear about both sides of this issue, and debate your students’ point of view on what constitutes a war crime.
Current Event October 26, 2015
Religious diversity is under threat in the Middle East according to a new report by the U.S. State Department. The threat is coming mainly from ISIS. The report recounts the ways ISIS, or the Islamic State, is threatening and attacking Christians and other minority groups. The State Department says these groups are being targeted, sold into slavery or killed. Some want the US. to call these attacks genocide. The U.S. has a special team working on this, acknowledging there is no magic button to fix these issues. Listen to hear about these increased attacks on religious diversity and what it means for the future of the Middle East.
Current Event October 19, 2015
Israelis and Palestinians have had conflicts for centuries. Recently the violence and death toll on both sides has dramatically increased. The focus of the dispute is on one site in the Holy Land that is sacred to both Jews and Muslims. It’s known as Temple Mount to Jews and the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims. According to an agreement in 1967, Muslim religious authorities administer the site, Israel controls security, and non-Muslims are not allowed to pray there. Jewish activists have recently decided that this is a holy place where Jews should pray, and their mass visits have caused protests. Listen to hear how control over Temple Mount has led to violence and threatens stability in the country.
Current Event October 5, 2015
Russia and the U.S. are conducting airstrikes in Syria, with the agreed target of ISIS. However, Russia has launched 20 airstrikes on other targets besides the terrorist group. The U.S. Defense Secretary said the strikes were expected, but to some, the targets may be a surprise. Russia is said to have targeted rebels who oppose Syrian President Assad, a Russian ally but no friend of the United States. The Defense Secretary said this development may prolong the civil war and drive Syrians toward ISIS. With both Russia and the U.S. conducting air operations in the same country, errors or mistakes are likely. This week, Russia and the U.S. will hold talks to make sure both sides’ pilots do not harm each other during the bombings. Listen to hear more about this developing conflict.