A 3-Minute Read On Why a 3-Minute Read Isn’t Enough

by Roselyn Allen, May 27, 2021

When I lived in Israel in the 1990s and returned to study again in Canada, it was very easy to sit and have a conversation about my experiences with friends. Some of these friends didn’t agree with my assessment of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but we could sit and discuss it like reasonable people when we have an opportunity to have a face-to-face respectful conversation with another person.

With the rise of social media and celebrity culture, it’s very difficult for youth to have the same conversation with their friends. People who have only heard about conflict in the Middle East from a pop singer or actor they follow, or a comedian that covered the recent Israeli war with Hamas in a 10-minute segment on a satirical news program, don’t have the opportunity to understand the nuances of a problem that developed in British colonialism a century ago.

As Jews, we are lucky to be raised with some background on the historical problems in Israel, but for our children who have not yet had the opportunity to go on a Birthright trip or to study abroad, dealing with the challenges of Social Media bullies who don’t necessarily differentiate Jews with the current Israeli government and their policies, have exposed some for the first time to Anti-Semitism. But how can we help them to understand the background to the formation of Israel and this current conflict – the Jews who have always lived there, the early Aliyot born out of Pogroms and other persecution of Jewish people throughout Europe and Asia, additional migration to Israel after the Shoah, UN declarations of sovereignty for Jewish and Arab peoples and then the impetus for war after war and a humanitarian crisis for Palestinians to this day?

When I first met my husband and he knew how important Israel and my Jewish life were to me, he read a book on the Balfour Declaration. It took the poor guy months (Stephen King it ain’t) and he is still learning and reading about Israel and Jewish culture. But what happens when the general public read a tweet or see a meme about Israel is that they overestimate their knowledge of a very complicated situation. We see this, the Dunning-Kruger effect, with all kinds of topics that pop up on the internet. We see it with the science behind COVID-19, masks and vaccines. I’ve had clients come to my veterinary clinic with a list of possible diagnoses from their Google search, only to find out through my years of education and experience, that the lump they found on their dog’s chin is a whisker follicle. This is where having that conversation, with tone of voice and a respectful back and forth, works to clarify the matter.

Online, our kids don’t have that opportunity with people who only get 5 minutes deep into a subject that it’s taken PhD students years to master and even then, the subject of conflict in the Middle East evolves with new players every day. So we need to help our children form their own educated opinions. Let’s explain to our kids what is politics and what is Anti-Semitism. We need to equip kids to defend themselves and their opinions, and to know when they are facing someone who just won’t listen or is simply a troll.

You can start by reading the history of Israel in the Balfour Declaration —- just kidding. The URJ has a guide to understanding the current crisis and I suggest you start there. Look through yourself and try to discuss with your kids what is happening based on their age and internet exposure.


In the meantime, we on the Board of Solel are pleased that our security upgrades are complete. Peel Regional Police have kept us informed of any worrisome activity with regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or acts of Anti-Semitism, none of which have affected Solel directly. Feel free to reach out to me, any Board member, or staff if you have any questions or concerns and we will be happy to help.

Now let’s go enjoy the warm weather, the current peace, and the opening of the world again soon.

Filed under: President's Message

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