When They Speak Israel: A Guide to Clarity in Conversations about Israel

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When They Speak Israel bridges the gap between people who are concerned about Israeli policies and those who defend Israel’s actions. Use the tips in this guide to avoid stepping on conversational mines, to develop listening skills, and to build understanding relationships.

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by Alex McDonald 

When They Speak Israel is a guide for better understanding one’s own and others’ association with Israel. It is a guide written primarily for people who oppose racism and stand for human rights yet want to build relationships and conversations with others who may have different views. When They Speak Israel responds to talking points that we hear in the press and from politicians about Israel, Palestine, and everyone in between. The guide offers queries to unpack these talking points offering potential bridges for thinking, caring, and conversations where they would otherwise be almost impossible.

“That comment is so anti-Semitic.”
“Why are you singling out Israel?”
“Do you believe Israel has a right to exist?”

Having conversations about the state of Israel is difficult. Many consider conversations about politics impolite.  Even worse, many conflate criticism of the state of Israel with criticism of Jews. No one wants to be called anti-Semitic.

Unfortunately, Americans are losing a lot by not having these conversations.  Israel has been the largest recipient of US foreign aid. The US military has reported that US support for Israeli policies hurts our anti-terrorism efforts. In recent decades, the United States has also defended Israel with most of its UN Security Council vetoes, protecting Israel from condemnation for its human rights violations.  We have gone so far to protect Israel that we have passed state laws to limit free speech and how we teach world history to American children. To have a healthy democracy, Americans need to be able to discuss issues that affect our pocketbooks, our safety, and especially our rights.

When They Speak Israel bridges the gap between people who are concerned about Israeli policies and those who defend Israel’s actions. Use the tips in this guide to avoid stepping on conversational mines, to develop listening skills, and to build understanding relationships.

Peace is not possible without conversations. When They Speak Israel is a tool to get conversations started.

About Alex McDonald

Alex McDonald is a Quaker committed to the values of peace, equality, integrity, freedom, and democracy. He became interested in the Middle East conflict when he heard something in the news which did not fit with his previous understanding of the situation. He has since dedicated several years studying the Israel/Palestine issue, visiting the land, and learning from its people. Because of the significant role the United States has played and continues to play in the conflict, he decided it was important for Americans to be well informed on the situation. His books relate to what he has learned and how he has found it most productive to engage in conversations on the region, a subject that is extremely polarized and emotional for many. He is a co-founder of the Texas Coalition for Human Rights, has presented to the Texas Council for Social Studies on the Israel/Palestine issue.

Review
From 1949 to 1961 I lived in Saudi Arabia and listened to the eyewitness accounts of Palestinians who were recent victims of the Nakba. I was also aboard the USS Liberty when the Israeli military attacked the ship on June 8, 1967. A lifetime of research into both catastrophes has enabled me to take part in fact-based discussions of both. Alex McDonald has provided a valuable service to those unfamiliar with the specifics of the Israel/Palestine issues who want to engage in a conversation based on facts and not hyperbole. I highly recommend his work.
— Joe Meadors

Additional information

Weight 0.5 lbs
Book Specifications

published 2012 • 5 1/4" x 8" • 152 pages • b&w photos
ISBN 9781566568869 • paperback