Jewish Dialogue on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

December 2, 2010

One of the issues that the Public Conversations Project has worked on extensively is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We know that this is an issue charged with deeply held views from multiple religious, political, ethnic and national perspectives.

One of our contributions to this multifaceted conversation is the dialogue guide: Constructive Conversations About the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A Guide for Convening and Facilitating Dialogue in Jewish Communities in the U.S.—coauthored by Public Conversations Senior Associate Maggie Herzig and Mitch Chanin of the Jewish Dialogue Group.

We are always thrilled to hear about new ways that our work is being applied and adapted, and we are excited to be able to share some of those here.

Constructive Conversations in Minnesota

As part of a Jewish community in St. Paul Minnesota, Rabbi Amy Eilberg is actively engaged in both interfaith dialogue and dialogue within the Jewish community. As part of a vibrant, compassionate and united Jewish community that she describes as "exemplary in almost every possible way," Rabbi Eilberg was taken aback when disturbing fault lines emerged when it came to discussing the Israel-Palestine conflict. On this one issue, she notes, "every conversation weakened the fabric of relationship and of community."

In discussing the possibility of dialogue replacing this divisive mode of encounter, Rabbi Eilberg says, "the goal dialogue is to strengthen relationships and to strengthen community—to open the possibility for learning."

Watch the following video clip to learn more about how Rabbi Eilberg and her community have used the resources of the Jewish Dialogue Group and the Public Conversations Project to, as she puts it, "change the way we talk to each other."

Building Middle East Dialogue in Canada

Utilizing principles and strategies of the Public Conversations Project and the Jewish Dialogue Group, Canadian Academics for Peace in the Middle East has begun to work on numerous dialogue initiatives around issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in general, and specifically how this conflict is expressed on university campuses.

Intra and inter-group sessions have occurred, and more extensive workshops are being planned for the autumn. The integration of the work of the Public Conversations Project and the Jewish Dialogue Group into our repertoire in Canada, has helped us to “name” techniques and strategies we were already exploring. So too, the work of the Public Conversations Project and the Jewish Dialogue Group has helped us to hone in on skills to create a safe and inclusive environment wherein people are not only free to—but encouraged to—speak their mind, listen intently to one another and challenge their own beliefs and preconceived notions.

Oftentimes people are scared or intimidated by the word dialogue. However, the Public Conversations Project has a strong track record and successes that contribute credibility to the work that we are doing in Canada.

Ryla Braemer B.A., M.ED.
Manager, Campus Initiatives
Canadian Academics for Peace in the Middle East

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