Introduction to Conversation on Israel-Palestine

We acknowledge that continued violence in Israel and Palestine is a personal and very difficult topic for many of us. One of the most important values of the Sisterhood is standing with our sisters. We have an opportunity amidst the pain, to shine a light on a different path and live out this value. We walk this path together by sharing our hopes and dreams with an open heart and listening to viewpoints different from our own. Our goal isn’t to agree, but rather to deepen our relationships by understanding the joys and sorrows of our sisters who may hold a very different perspective on the conflict. From that place of deep listening, it is often possible to discover shared values and actions that are respectful of all points of view. 

We understand that when tensions are highest, some sisters may be tempted to walk away from the Sisterhood. Others may feel uncomfortable sharing their perspectives. This is tough work, but we encourage all our members to stick with it and to continue to engage in conversation.

We will create opportunities for more in-depth dialogue in the near future.  In preparation, please read the Sisterhood’s dialogue resource. We also suggest reaching out to your sisters and holding space for healing and prayer circles.  

The Sisterhood reaffirms our commitment to standing with and supporting each other during difficult times. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to your Regional Coordinators, if you have them, or to Janet Penn, Director of Programs, Resource Development, and Training at [email protected].

Suggested Model for Holding Space

Anne Kjemtrup and Melanie Mages-Canale, Regional Coordinators in Sacramento, have created a model for holding space with their chapter, particularly during trying times. Prior to the chapter meeting designated for discussing the Israeli Palestinian conflict, Anne and Melanie sent the following letter to their chapter members. It is another way you can engage with your chapter members.

Introductory Letter from Sacramento Regional Coordinators

“Dear Chapter Sisters,

As Muslim and Jewish women, when flash points like what happened in Sheikh Jarrah in Jerusalem occur, many of us are shaken.  This geographic area is dear to both our identities.  The violence affects people who could be or are our friends and family, and what is happening may violate our core values. As it may become a topic of discussion in our respective communities, these discussions can be like an echo chamber: we hear over and over again the same perspectives. Our Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom chapter offers a relief to that echo chamber- we have the ability to think and discuss with diverse and equally valid perspectives.

We want to share the Sisterhood Board Statement developed in 2019 about Jerusalem. This statement provides background: 

The Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom holds a wide spectrum of views on Palestine and Israel. We recognize the complexity of these issues and the passion they invoke.

Our mission is to foster relationships between Muslim and Jewish women and teenage girls, to build bridges, and to fight hate. Inspired by our faith traditions, we believe any response to the conflict must be based on human rights, security, and self-determinations for Palestinians and Israelis alike.

We commit to working with individuals and organizations, especially those in the region, devoted to non-violent means of achieving peace and justice. We are compelled to engage with those working to transform the conflict, empower those most affected by the occupation, and foster the relationships necessary to build a just and peaceful future.’”

After considering the letter above, below is a suggested structure for your Sisterhood gathering.

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For additional information, please review the audio recording or video recording of a workshop led by Janet Penn on Facilitating Difficult Conversations on Israel and Palestine, which occurred on June 24, 2021. You can also view the slide presentation used during that workshop.


2 thoughts on “Introduction to Conversation on Israel-Palestine”

  1. Alicia Berrin Zahn

    I love everything in this letter and I appreciate the beauty of the suggested structure for a meeting about Israel/Palestine. I don’t think our chapter is up to it but when we are (if we ever are), I will look back on this. Thank You.

  2. Thank you – these are very helpful resources. I have entered into these difficult conversation recently and emerge with hope that the Sisterhood will walk this path and find the way to understanding of and respect for each other’s perspectives and feelings , even when we do not agree. When we are heard – and when we hear, we can move forward. We must work to succeed in living our mission – to prove that there can be peace and love between Muslims and Jews. With that there is hope for Peace.

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