As we process and deal with the current issue at hand, it can be difficult to have some of these conversations with our neighbours, friends, and those near to our hearts.
Below is a suggested framework for a conversation:
1. Is the right time to be having this conversation?
This is a difficult time for many of your friends, families, and colleagues. Many Canadians, both Jewish, Christian, and Muslim, have been affected by the horrific violence their friends and families are going through in Israel and Palestine. We don’t recommend getting into pitched arguments with folks in a way that isn’t productive, or that creates more feelings of anger and sadness. It’s okay not to have a conversation, as well. You know your neighbours, friends, and families, so make your decision based on being clear and intentional.
2. If you do decide to have the conversation, be clear on what is right and what is just. Here are some talking points to guide you:
- I believe that everyone has the right to live with freedom, peace, and safety, including Palestinians.
- Attacks on innocent civilians - including those committed on Israeli citizens are unacceptable. There is no justification for those acts.
- (If asked about Gaza): There is a very long history - but here’s what you should know about Gaza. Nothing enters or exits Gaza except through Israel’s approval. Their food, electricity and water are all controlled by Israel. This makes life for those inside Gaza very challenging, as has been decried by many international observers. It also makes future prospects for a just peace much harder. I encourage you to do more research through valid sources to learn more.
- Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has said, “No electricity, no food, no water, no fuel. Everything is closed. We are fighting human animals, and we act accordingly.” This is a direct call for mass killing and forced removal of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes. The dehumanization of Palestinians has been troubling and appalling. I believe that we, as Canadians, need to do more to support peace and justice for everyone.
- Here at home, the Muslim community is facing a major surge in Islamophobic incidents. This is not who we are as Canadians. We need everyone to work together to end hate and stereotypes against not only Muslims but those with different opinions than our own.
- The only thing we need to do now is work to push our elected officials to help build a just peace.
3. Listen and ask questions.
Don’t just throw arguments at those you are conversing with. Make sure you are listening. The suffering that others go through may be real suffering, too. Make sure you listen, try to be empathetic, and ask questions to learn about their perspective.