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Engage in Conversations​​

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Having an effective conversation with someone who doesn't share your views is possible! Here are some tips to consider, and a list of myths vs. facts to refer to.

Helpful Tips

Establish a mutually respectful environment.

  • Set goals for the conversation with the other person, such as seeking to build greater understanding.
  • Use language that recognizes the sensitivity and complexity of the issues, rather than words that can provoke anger and/or turn people against each other.
  • Since the antisemitic bias can be implicit (unconscious) or explicit (conscious), acknowledge the thought processes or emotions that may come up for you with curiosity rather than judgment.
  • Consider the time and place. As violence unfolds or the conflict escalates, people may be in greater need of emotional support rather than educational opportunities.
  • Most importantly, listen to the other person so you can truly understand their perspective.

Position yourself as a learner, not an expert.

  • The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has roots that predate current events, and there are a wide variety of historical, religious, political and cultural factors in play.  It is complex, nuanced, and multi-layered.
  • Therefore, avoid oversimplifications that lead to stereotyping and bias.  The best way to do that is to read a variety of informed sources from different perspectives.
  • Accept and expect that there won’t be closure at the end of the conversation. Not all of the questions will be answered and resolved – and that's okay.

Choose language that humanizes the people living in the region.

  • Use precise language. For example, distinguish between Hamas or other terrorist organizations and the Palestinian people.
  • Similarly insist that precise language be used by others. Israel, for instance, should be referred to by name, not some euphemism.
  • Do not use – nor accept the use of – dehumanizing depictions of individuals and groups of people as non-human, animals, vermin, or insects.  Same goes for stereotypes and myths that depict people as all “good” or all “evil” based on their identity group.

Challenge language that holds Jewish individuals and groups accountable for the actions of the state of Israel.

  • Recognize the historical harm caused by holding communities or individuals accountable for a nation's actions.
  • Point out when someone is treating Jewish individuals or groups as representatives of all Jewish people, considering the diverse opinions related to Israel's government and actions.
  • Note how acts like anti-Israel vandalism targeting Jewish individuals or buildings are antisemitic because they are targeting Jews, not the Israeli government.

Ground conversations in reliable informational resources.

  • Anchor conversations with texts or videos from credible organizations or experts.
  • Be aware of widespread misinformation during conflicts. Practice media literacy by assessing your sources.
  • Include nuanced perspectives and minimize one-sided views.

Source: ADL

Myths and Facts about Israel​

Understanding the prevailing myths surrounding Israel is crucial so that we can effectively counteract these misconceptions and promote accurate information.

MYTH: Israel is not interested in peace with the Palestinians

FACT: Israel has created peace and normalization with five Arab countries in the region and entered into peace accords with the Palestinians called the Oslo Accords. Israel has accepted proposals related to a two-state solution on five different occasions while the Palestinians have rejected each one including an offer of 93.5% of territory in the West Bank and Gaza and a share of East Jerusalem.​ Sources:​ ADL​, Jewish Virtual Library​

MYTH: Israel is an apartheid state

FACT: Israel is a democratic nation with safeguards designed to ensure the equal treatment of all citizens – Jewish and Arab. Israeli laws and democratic institutions, including the independent courts and robust free press, are assigned to uphold and speak out for these rights. Israeli Arab citizens serve as judges, ambassadors, legislators, journalists, professors, artists and play prominent roles in all aspects of Israeli society. And for the first time, in 2021, an Islamist Arab political party is a partner in a governing coalition.​ Source:​ ADL

MYTH: Gaza is an open-air prison

FACT: Hamas is the ruling authority in Gaza and has been responsible for the well-being of Palestinian citizens there since this terrorist organization took over in 2005. Israel supplies Gaza with only 50 percent of its electricity and 13 percent of its water supply. Gaza is not cut off from the outside world. In the last year, the markets of Gaza have been flooded with produce and merchandise. The border of Gaza and Israel is guarded on the Israeli side just as any sovereign nation monitors its borders.​ Sources:​ Times of Israel, Times of Israel

MYTH: Israel is engaged in genocide​

FACT: There is no Israeli ideology, movement, policy or plan to exterminate or expel the Palestinian population. In fact, the country’s Palestinian population has more than doubled since 1997. Supporters of Hamas use the term “genocide” to demonize the state of Israel’s efforts to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks.​ ​Sources:​ ADL​​, Times of Israel

MYTH: “From the River to the Sea” is a slogan for Palestinian independence

FACT: This slogan advocates for the state of Israel not to exist and for all Jews to be expelled. It is a call for the genocide of Jews, not peaceful co-existence.​ Source: ​AJC

MYTH: Antisemitism is not a big problem in the United States

FACT: Over 55% of all religiously motivated hate crimes targeted the Jewish community in 2022, despite being just 2.4% of the US population. Since Hamas’ terrorist attack of Israel on October 7, 2023, preliminary studies show an increase of harassment, vandalism and assault targeting Jewish people of 360 percent. At the same time, reports found more than 100 anti-Israel rallies in the U.S. that explicitly or implicitly supported Hamas and/or violence against Jews in October 2023.​ Sources:​ ADL​, ADL