Photo taken in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem on August 21, 2001 by Wendy Marx, teacher at Kehillath Shalom Synagogue in Cold Spring Harbor, NY

Using this photo: It is recommended that teachers use this photograph and the discussion questions below with students no younger than 9th Grade.

Description and background of the photograph: Israel has Hebrew as its primary official language, but Arabic and English are also officially acknowledged as well. Therefore most street signs in Israel contain all three languages. It appears that someone has spray-painted over the Arabic writing on the sign.

Students should be aware that there has been and continues to be a struggle between Israelis and Palestinians over how two peoples whose national homes are in the same place can each fulfill as well as compromise on their national aspirations.

Activities and/or questions for discussion:

  1. Without any background presentation, ask the students to write an imagined history of which describes how the flag and street sign came to be in their current state. Who put the flag there and why? Who wrote the graffiti and why? Ask them to approach the question as both a fiction writer and detective.
  2. The name of the street is "Habad Rd." What do you know about Habad?
  3. Have the group do research to find out what street signs look like in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City and in Israeli Arab towns in Israel. Who is in charge of the naming of the streets and what kinds of names and organizations are listed? What language are the signs in?
  4. Israel is a Jewish state; its founders established the state as a homeland for the Jewish people. But Israel is also a democratic state. Roughly 80% of the citizens of Israel are Jewish. Given these facts, what do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of Israel using the Star of David, a Jewish symbol, on its national flag?
  5. If you were living on this street, what would you do, if anything, about the street sign?
  6. Do you think there is a connection between the flag and the street sign? Explain.
  7. What feelings come up for you when looking at this picture? Do you feel pride in seeing the beautiful Israeli flag? Do you feel shame regarding the possibility that a Jewish graffiti artist felt compelled to cross out Arabic writing?

Help make this page more useful!
What other questions or background information might be added to this page? I'm also looking for links to maps of Jerusalem at a scale where you can read the street names. Send any feed back to me at shai@gluskin.org . Also please report your experience of having used this photo in a classroom discussion.