Hosting and Facilitating a Discussion Meeting on the Mideast Crisis
Discussion meetings are very important at this critical moment in history. The current Mideast crisis has left many of us confused and concerned. Such meetings can provide a safe place for us to connect with others and think through the many disturbing events of recent days and process them on a personal and a political level.
* Consider hosting a meeting in a private home when possible as it provides more safety to share personal feelings and thoughts.
* Identify and prep a facilitator in advance. You might want multiple facilitators to break into smaller groups, especially with a large gathering.
* If possible, give participants a link to Brit Tzedek’s Resources webpage [http://btvshalom.org/btvshalom.org/resources/mideast_crisis.shtml] and identify a few articles you think are particularly important to read in advance.
* Provide a sign-in sheet and request that all attendees sign in. [Please make sure to send this in to the Brit Tzedek national office afterwards, so that we can follow up with them. Click here for a model sign-in form. http://btvshalom.org/btvshalom.org/resources/SignInSheet.rtf]
* Prepare handouts of a small number of relevant materials, e.g.Brit Tzedek’s “What You Can Do” list, Action Alert, FAQ, and/or articles.
* Provide time for Q&A. Pick a point person who will be prepared with substantive information about the current crisis. For assistance in preparing, see Brit Tzedek’s Resource Page and/or email email@example.com
* Provide follow-up opportunities:
--hosting and/or attending another meeting
--becoming a member of Brit Tzedek [have membership forms ready]
--finding a partner for future study or discussion
--attending events in the Jewish community
--receiving Brit Tzedek listserv messages
--forming a chapter of Brit Tzedek.
--signing the latest Brit Tzedek action alert
--getting involved in Brit Tzedek home district advocacy
* Open the meeting with an opportunity for everyone to express how they are feeling about the situation in Israel, Lebanon, and Gaza and about the Jewish community’s response.
* Request that people not interrupt others when they are talking, but in order to allow enough time for everyone to share you might limit speaking time to a minute or two.
* Make sure that everyone who has not talked has the opportunity to participate before others speak a second time.
* Maintain a hopeful perspective: that in spite of the present difficulties, Brit Tzedek is working to build a lasting grassroots movement for a true peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
* In a larger group, have people break up into smaller groups and then report back.
* Explain at the beginning of the meeting that this is intended to be a safe place; people should maintain a respectful tone.
* It is OK if people disagree as long as they stay respectful; the facilitator should step in if anyone is yelling, insulting others in the group, or making racial or ethnic comments.
* If people are engaged in passionate disagreement, it can be helpful to acknowledge that while it is difficult to stay composed when talking about this issue in which we as Jews are so emotionally invested, it is vital that we learn how to listen to each other.