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8 ways to have hard conversations about ceasefire this Thanksgiving.

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In the past month, hundreds of thousands of people have joined JVP for the first time. Many of us are overwhelmed by the scale of devastation that we’re seeing each day in Palestine. And some of us might be new to having hard conversations about Israeli apartheid. All of us are fighting every day for an immediate ceasefire, a critical first step to end the Israeli military’s relentless destruction of Gaza.

As we move into the holidays, we may struggle to talk to our family members and loved ones about Israeli violence.

This year, JVP’s How to Have Hard Conversations toolkit offers some skills and approaches on how to bring our family members and loved ones into support for a ceasefire — and how to engage beyond this moment in support of a future of Palestinian liberation and justice for all people.

Take a breath.

1. Know that you might get upset: Remember, your goal is to move the person. Losing your temper is deeply justified – and almost always counterproductive to your goal. You’ll have the most productive conversation if you can remain calm, measured, and strategic in how you engage.

2. Think of this as an opportunity to organize: Be ready to listen, ask questions, and keep your goal in mind: support for an immediate ceasefire.

Approach the conversation intentionally.

3. Ground yourself in the facts. The onslaught of devastation in the news is overwhelming. See our breakout box below for some crucial facts, or read JVP’s news section for more in-depth coverage.

Useful facts and context

  • Well over 12,000 Palestinians, including over 4,500 children, have been killed by Israel’s relentless bombing of Gaza. At least 92% of those killed are civilians.
  • Hundreds of Palestinians have also been killed, abducted, and displaced in the West Bank since October 7.
  • At least 1.7 million people are displaced in Gaza. Drinkable water is scarce and the spread of disease is likely.
  • 20 of Gaza’s 30 hospitals are either destroyed or evacuated. Only 3 are still operating — and Israeli forces continue to target them with bombing and armed raids, forcing patients out at gunpoint.
  • Recent polls show that a majority of Americans — and over 75% of Democrats — support a ceasefire.
  • 70% of voters 18 to 34 disapprove of Biden’s handling of Israel’s genocide of Palestinians. And Biden’s approval rating is at an all-time low.

4. Explain yourself simply, and avoid shorthand or jargon. Describe the situation in your own words. When talking to a skeptical family member who is ready to be outraged, using terms like “genocide” may be less effective than simply describing how the Israeli government is indiscriminately and relentlessly bombing Palestinians.

5. Listen first — then ask them what they know! Often, people know less than they think they do. By simply asking calm questions and sharing facts, you can help them realize that they may be missing pieces of the story.

Reframe the problem.

6. Lead with shared values: “All people deserve to live in safety and freedom.” “Every life is precious.” Root the conversation in those values as the guidepost. 

7. Get to the point. A ceasefire is the starting point for any just future. If our value is human life, the only way we can preserve every life is by ending the current catastrophic violence against Palestinians. If your family member is focused on the safe return of hostages, you can remind them that the only way this is possible is if the Israeli military ceases its relentless bombardment of Gaza.

8. Stay on the subject: We know people might bring up counter-arguments. It’s important to stay respectful, while also shutting down disinformation and guiding the conversation back to the core point: Only a ceasefire can end the horrific violence we’re seeing right now.

Ceasefire is our demand, a just future is our goal

So, your loved one agrees that we need a ceasefire. What now?

  • Take the first step. They can sign our petition demanding that President Biden call for a ceasefire at jvp.org/ceasefire.

Focus on a vision for a just future – and how we get there.

A ceasefire is desperately needed, but we know that there will be no end to violence without an end to Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. Here are some guiding points for further discussion.

State your beliefs: Everyone should be able to live in freedom, without being bombed, without being discriminated against by their government, without being randomly arrested, or having their homes invaded by soldiers, or being shot at on the street and killed with impunity. None of this is true for Palestinians living in Israel, Gaza, or the West Bank, all of whom live under an apartheid regime.

This violence did not start on October 7.

  • 2023 was already one of the deadliest years for Palestinians in recent history. On October 5, the UN reported that 2023 was the deadliest year for Palestinians since it began recording deaths in 2006.
  • For the past 16 years, Gaza has suffered under a deadly blockade by land, air, and sea, under which Israel restricts Gaza’s access to food, water, medicine, and other resources.
  • In 2018, Palestinians in Gaza protested against these conditions in nonviolent demonstrations known as the Great March of Return. In response, Israeli forces killed more than 200 Palestinians, including 40 children, and injured almost 23,000 people.

The root cause of this violence is the creation of the state of Israel through the dispossession of Palestinians. Israel as a refuge for Jewish people was created on land where people were already living, through a process which displaced and killed many of them, and now continues to grab more land and resources at the expense of the Palestinian population.

There cannot be an end to tragedy in Palestine and Israel without an end to Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. Justice and safety for everyone across Palestine and Israel requires not only an immediate ceasefire, but an end to the siege on Gaza, an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and an end to Israel’s apartheid regime under which Palestinians are oppressed. All of these systems of violence are illegal under international law.

Tell Biden: Peace means ending Israeli apartheid.

On Saturday, the Washington Post published an op-ed by President Joe Biden about Israel’s war on Gaza. In the op-ed, Biden portrays Israel’s devastating military assault as a war for democracy, and erases the context of 75 years of Israeli apartheid and oppression of Palestinians.

Write to the Washington Post now and tell Biden: Ending Israeli apartheid is the only path to peace.

“The dangers of weaponizing antisemitism”

Executive director of JVP Stefanie Fox joined political analyst Omar Baddar and professor Omer Bartov in discussing the rise of antisemitism and its dangerous weaponization in support of Israeli genocide, with Marc Lamont Hill on al-Jazeera yesterday.

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