Constructive Conversations about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

by Maggie Herzig of the Public Conversations Project with Mitch Chanin of the Jewish Dialogue Group

Read and Download (Free of Charge)

This guidebook, co-authored with the Public Conversations Project in 2006, will provide you with step-by-step instructions and other materials you can use to conduct dialogue programs that bring people together to:

  • listen to and learn about one another across political divides
  • reflect on their experiences, ideas, feelings, and dilemmas
  • explore difficult ethical and intellectual questions
  • seek common ground and grapple with their differences

How can the guide be used?

A “dialogue” is a conversation in which people seek mutual understanding rather than trying to convince each other, come to agreement, or reach a solution. Dialogue can occur spontaneously, among friends, in classrooms, in synagogue discussions, or among strangers. When people are experiencing polarized conflict, however, they may need to agree on an explicit purpose and structure for the conversation in order to hold a constructive dialogue. In the sessions that the guidebook describes, participants meet in small groups to listen carefully to each other and reflect on their own perspectives. An evenhanded facilitator works with the participants to create a structure for the conversation and then guides them through it.

People have used this approach to dialogue for many purposes, including to:

  • repair painful divisions in synagogues, schools, or organizations that are wracked by internal conflict
  • open up new conversations in communities that have shied away discussion of Israel
  • give people an opportunity to explore their questions and dilemmas in a welcoming atmosphere
  • bring together activists with differing perspectives to find more useful ways to talk with each other

What is contained in the guide?

The guidebook provides step-by-step instructions for convening and facilitating dialogue programs, plus background information, Jewish texts that support the practice of dialogue, and sample handouts. The book will lead you through each step of the process: determining what kind of dialogue might be helpful in a community, deciding who to invite, planning an agenda, facilitating the program, gathering feedback, and following up. You can use the guidebook for small and large groups, and for one-time meetings as well as multi-session programs.

Who uses the guidebook?

The guidebook is designed to be useful to both beginning and experienced facilitators. No specialized training is needed. People with a wide range of backgrounds and occupations have led successful dialogue sessions using our approach. We invite you to read testimonials from people who have used the guidebook.

How can I access the guide?

To access the guidebook, you can:

  • Read and download a PDF file free of charge.
  • Purchase printed, bound copies through Cafe Press. They will be mailed to you for $18 each. (Bulk discounts are available for larger purchases � contact us for more information.)

Read testimonials from people who have used the guide.


Other Materials for Facilitators:

We have begun creating a number of supplements and updates to the guidebook that you can download, modify, print, and use in your dialogue programs. They include:

  • Sample dialogue agendas — handouts that guide each participant through a dialogue session, plus some new questions for dialogues of different kinds
  • Sample invitations that you can use to reach out to potential dialogue participants
  • Pre-dialogue survey forms that you can use to gather information about participants’ needs and interests before a dialogue
  • Post-dialogue evaluation forms that you can use to gather feedback from participants after a dialogue
  • Supplemental activities — instructions for additional activities that do not appear in the guidebook

You may browse through a complete list of facilitator materials and use them in any way that is helpful to you.