Thanks to Brian Meyer, public high school teacher in Minneapolis, for sharing this resource and Great Idea.
Disclaimer: the website Solutions Not Sides has not been thoroughly vetted. Some Muslim organizations are calling for a strong critique of it, citing affiliations with Israeli government and/or Zionist groups. See here.
The world desperately needs people to be having the difficult, nuanced, complex conversations elicited by the conflict in Palestine and Israel. Peace is hard to come by when we jump to one side of disagreement, when we use language and imagery that conflates and contorts truth, when disinformation and misinformation are intentionally wide-spread, and when empathy, compassion, and basic kindness are pre-empted by fear, greed, power, hate, and/or vengeance.
Mix in religious affiliations and dialogue becomes virtually impossible.
Creating and facilitating a safe space for such conversations can be a highly tricky undertaking.
But silence and the vacuum of social media is insufficient to the open conflict and deep suffering experienced in Palestine and Israel.
Critiques notwithstanding, several Teacher Guides from Solutions Not Sides (SNS) could be useful in a Youth Ministry or Adult Ed context – and could lead to a broader community discussion.
SNS Teacher Guides include:
- How to Tackle Anti-Jewish and Anti-Muslim Bullying around the Issue of Israel-Palestine
- Avoiding Hate Speech around the Topic of Israel-Palestine
- Understanding Positions & Triggers Related to Israel-Palestine
- Conspiracy Theories
- Palestine-Israel Vocabulary
- How to Talk about Israel-Palestine in School
- Responding to Questions
- Organizations Working toward Peace & Justice in Palestine and Israel
While the tools are created for a public school setting, their intention of setting safe parameters and facilitating a balanced conversation are useful for church groups.
If a congregational small group can support a meaningful conversation without deepening division, perhaps that group could host a conversation for the broader community.
People – especially young people – want to talk about this painful, fearful, escalating conflict. Some simply to process their own feelings around it. Some in search of faithful understandings. Some, in search of possible paths to peace, ending injustice, and/or finding avenues of support for hurting peoples. The church can be a starting ground for the conversations that may, at the very least, build up community awareness and empathy, and potentially develop a stronger ethos of peace and peace-making here in the US, if not abroad.
For additional resources on Israel & Palestine, please see our lib guide.
For additional Peace-Making resources for all ages, please see our lib guide.