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A Workshop on Israel and Palestine

I led a short workshop in Vancouver (British Columbia, Canada) for people to discharge on Israel and Palestine. There were eleven of us—three of us Jewish and the rest Protestant and Catholic.

I had spoken the day before to the one Palestinian Co-Counselor and the one Israeli Co-Counselor in our Region,1 both of whom were unable to attend the workshop. I had asked them if there was anything they’d like me to pass on for them, and then listened and taken notes.

I started the workshop by asking if anyone was a tiny bit scared or overwhelmed by what was happening in Israel and Palestine. There was wild laughter as hands shot into the air. I could see that just the act of bringing people together was a good idea.

I reviewed RC theory about human goodness and the value of human connection and held out many times that it was possible to be completely supportive of the Israelis and completely supportive of the Palestinians. We then did a round of sharing about Israeli and Palestinian individuals we knew and loved. That brought lots of tears.

I went through a number of ways that people could work on the topic, including working on discouragement; early conflicts in the family; memories of war; hopeful actions in the present; racism; anti-Jewish and anti-Arab oppression; feelings of North American superiority; the colonization of North America, particularly Canada; and feelings about Native Land Claims, some of which are currently before the courts in Canada. I encouraged people to distinguish between what’s useful to read and what isn’t and talked about having sessions on facing the unfaceable. I said that the places where we can’t bear to look in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are probably attached to something we haven’t yet faced in ourselves.

Finally I talked about how useful it is to discharge enough to have attention for listening to non-RCers who have big feelings when we hold out a rational perspective about going for2 a win-win solution.

All of this was, of course, interspersed with many mini-sessions and demonstrations, and we had a longer discharge time in the evening. One of my goals was to get people well connected with each other on the topic, and that seemed to go well.

Elizabeth Shefrin
Gabriola Island, British Columbia, Canada
Reprinted from the RC e-mail
discussion list for leaders of Jews

1 A Region is a subdivision of the International RC Community, usually consisting of several Areas (local RC Communities).
2 “Going for” means pursuing.

Last modified: 2020-07-02 14:27:35+00