Community engagement these days–about almost anything–is often intense, with more heat than light as a result. When it comes to talking about Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian situation, that heat can burn up even the most well meaning friendships, community relationships, family connections..
If you are looking for an example of how a community can move from discord to deep discourse, check this out, the results of a year-long process of intra communal dialogue and deliberation about Israel and the Israeli Palestinian situation: http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/63860/the-end-of-rude-did-the-year-of-civil-discourse-make-it-easier-to-talk-abou/)
This effort started 6 years ago, though it really gained traction when a public eruption occurred during the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. Almost 1000 people have gone through dialogue and deliberation training and facilitated conversations, in venues ranging from synagogues to workplaces, the very same Jewish Film Festival and book and Jewish text study circles.
Using deep spiritual teachings, communication skills, the latest neuroscience research, participants moved from relative fight/flight triggered responses to open hearted, deeply engaging conversations, proving this can be done on a large scale with one of the most hotly contested issues a community can face.
Rachel Eryn Kalish, M.C. has been engaging professionally in conflict trasformation work at the community, organizational, and interpersonal levels for 30 years. Her life’s work is in support of wise, deep, integrated, nonviolent ways for handling any hotly contested differences.