A Simple Guide for Talking to Your Jewish & Israeli Friends

Here are some simple Do’s and Don’ts to help you discuss the current conflict in Israel with your Israeli or Jewish friends on social media. These suggestions are tongue-in-cheek. Except they aren’t. Because most everybody I know who lives in Israel has received one or more of these types of messages and folks – this is not helping.


DO NOT:

THE HATER

Hey! I’m angry about this! Why is your A) country B) government C) army D) people committing A) genocide B) such cruelty C) racism D) apartheid?!

DO:

Hey, this is really awful, are you okay? Can you help me understand what is going on?

DO NOT:

THE OTHER HATER

OMG! Be safe! Arabs are all A) terrorists B) animals C) stupid D) all of the above! You should A) get rid of them! B) hate them! C) cheer on the world to wipe them out!

DO:

Hey, this is really awful, are you okay? Can you help me understand what is going on?

DO NOT:

THE DUBIOUS PATRONIZER

I just love and support blessed Israel so much because the messiah and Jesus and stuff and bless Israel and I’m sending you a tee-shirt and our prayer group is praying for you because my agenda (aw, poor Jews) my agenda (if they’d only listened before) my personal belief system (this is so biblical!) my agenda. LOVE YOU!

DO:

Hey, this is really awful, are you okay? Can you help me understand what is going on?

DO NOT:

THE SLACKTIVIST

Israel is totally committing human right’s abuses, dude. TOTALLY.  Oh btdubs you should totally “like” this amazing non-violence/positive thinking/rainbow/pro-peace/pro-Palestian Facebook page? Because I’m serious (pause to put down your Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino here) – if everybody just stopped and listened – this would not be happening! That’s what we did on my street in Beverwood when things got really heated about the parking permit situation. It’s like the POLICE are like Israel, right? And the people just trying to PARK are the Palestinians! It’s horrible, dude, what if YOU just wanted to PARK?! Anyway, I’m going to meditate about peace now, okay? And then I have yoga. Be safe, love you, bye!

DO:

Hey, this is really awful, are you okay? Can you help me understand what is going on?

DO NOT:

THE CENSOR

I can’t believe you just posted that picture or video of  A) rockets and sirens B) Israelis running C) Gaza suffering D) your dog. What about the OTHER SIDE, why can’t you LOOK AT THE OTHER SIDE TOO?! How can you even POST that?!

DO:

Wow. A) that must have been frightening. B) That looks terrible. C) I like your dog. Are you okay? Can you help me understand what is going on?

Suggested responses:

Thank you for asking me how I am.
I am okay.
I am not okay.
Thank you for remembering that I live here and that makes it particularly confusing and painful for me.
I know a lot about this conflict.
I don’t know enough about this conflict.
I need a blueberry popsicle and can’t really talk about this right now, okay?

Resources to Read, Suggest and Share

*Send suggested additions to this list to Julie Gray or leave a comment.

Contested Land, Contested Memory by Jo Roberts: Probably the most important book I have ever read on the topic of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Highlights the need for acknowledgment of the pain and the history of each side. Thoughtfully written, thoroughly researched with copious sources.

From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas Friedman: a fantastic primer about the conflict, real politik and splinter groups of splinter groups in Lebanon, Israel and the Middle East in general. Complete with index and helpful timelines and maps.

Truth & Beauty in Wartime: FB page updated several times daily with diversity, personal accounts and credible sources.

From the Huffington Post: 7 Things to Consider Before Choosing Sides in the Middle East Conflict, by Ali Rizvi. A well reasoned and comprehensive article.

Be a Conscientious Objector in a Social Media War: An impassioned blog post from right here on Stories Without Borders about the massive and sometimes frightening influence of social media and how particularly during stressful times, we should use it wisely.

Learn more about Slacktivism and why it stinks. 

Postscript:

None of these absolutely true examples are meant to disparage anyone in particular or to intimate that the views of those outside of Israel don’t matter. They do.  You might be surprised by how an Israeli really feels about this situation (a few hints: upset. scared. defensive. confused. grieving. despairing. angry). If you truly want to have a conversation about this conflict and to learn more about it, don’t jump in with both feet and make sweeping statements or assumptions. You are entitled to your opinion but inviting a meaningful conversation of open dialogue with your friend doesn’t generally start with a sweeping statement or foggy ideals. Read up before you chime in. And if you don’t have the energy or time? Maybe just make sure your friend is okay.

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9 thoughts on “A Simple Guide for Talking to Your Jewish & Israeli Friends

  1. Bonna Devora Haberman says:

    Thank you for this post. Sober and in good taste. Among the resources you offer, may I humbly suggest my book, ReReading Israel: The Spirit of the Matter – inspiration for ethical, aesthetic and engaged Zionism in our time. Blessings!

    Like

  2. Palestinian propaganda must have done a big brainwashing job even in Germany. I would not believe it. We should have more political awareness. What can I do? Share informations — that’s my solution.

    Liked by 2 people

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