How to "Talk Israel" with Your Mishpacha

Phil Brodsky, Executive Director of The David Project, discusses the best ways to talk Israel with your family this holiday season.

First year college students were born in the mid-90s. This means that they were born after the assassination of Rabin, and when Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005 they were about 10 years old. As they’ve come of age, college student have been exposed to Israel in the news through the frame of the withdrawl from Lebanon and several escalations between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

That framework for viewing Israel is much different than for those who were born in earlier decades.

At The David Project, one of our most important training sessions for Israel advocates is called Personal Narrative, which helps college students build awareness of their experiences with Israel and learn how to share with others why Israel is important to them.

To get us started we ask our workshop participants to think through their first, best and worst experiences, memories or interactions with Israel. As participants share those experiences we find that while we have all had different experiences with Israel, many of us connect to the Jewish state for similar reasons.

When starting the Israel conversation around the dinner table, it is much easier to lead with experiences rather than facts. Find out what your parents first memory of Israel is. Then share your first experience and talk about how the differences in these experiences have impacted your connection to Israel. By approaching the conversation in this manner, you’ll find that you will be able to talk about Israel more easily than if you had led with politics. Once a sense of trust and common ground is built around the fact that Israel has an important role in our lives, the topic of Israel’s policies or politics is a more manageable conversation.