Human Stories

How to connect beyond opinion difference? (Isreal-Palestine)

Each time I’m in Israel, I have a fight with my Mom. A fight over opinions:

She thinks it is so important to be Jewish. 

And I think that to define ourselves as Jewish is dangerous, it is a source of war.

It is painful for her when I say I do not want to call myself Jewish, and it is painful for me when she say it is important to maintain our Jewish roots.

Are we really different?

Opinions are strategies to meet needs. When we have an ‘opinions difference’, we experience the other as a threat to our needs: I think that her opinion bring WAR (endanger my need for peace), and she thinks that my opinion will lead to the end of our country (endanger her need for safety and belonging).

So what to do?

Whenever I encounter a difference in opinion, I aim at going deeper- to move from the ‘what to do’ (strategy) to the ‘what is really important’ (Need)- When I connect with the need of the other person, I no longer experience them as a threat, and rather it allows me to feel compassion toward them:

So I had a talk with my Mom the other day. I asked her- “I really want to understand you deeper, why is it so important for you to be Jewish?”. Then she shared…for 30 minutes… and I listened.

I got touched to understand the depth of the fear she experiences. Her family got killed in World War II. The family of my father was evacuated from their home in Poland and one got raped by the Polish soldiers. There is a deep Fear living in her body it touch her on the depth of survival. Having a Jewish state, is where she learned to experience safety. I feel compassion to her, I wish to hold her softly with that and get to know more and more the depth of her fears (it is not easy for her to share these…). I trust that whenever I will meet her real fear, something will transform- in her and between us.

Then I explain to her the need behind my opinion: I grew up in a country where people continuously killing each other because they define themselves as Jewish or Arabs. Since I was born, there is war. It is horrible for me. I want safety for myself, and for everyone.

Both me and my Mom have fear, and need safety. She could fully understand that.

We didn’t solve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict (yet), but I do feel hopeful about a deeper connection with my Mom (and inspired to see a door toward the sort of ‘world transformation’ I believe can bring a sustainable peace). 

Before this talk, I always wanted to change her (I hated her fears). Whenever she sensed I wanted to change her, she was fighting back.

Because I so wanted peace in Israel, I created war with my Mom. Funny isn’t it?

I always think about Ghandi’s phrase: ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’, or my version of it: ‘Be the need you want to experience in the world’. If I want to experience peace, I want to be peace in any action that is aimed toward creating peace.