The current situation happening in Palestine and Israel is big and scary. There is a lot of history to learn. There is a lot of pain and fear and anger. There are a lot of people yelling at each other on social media and on the news about it. There is a lot of disinformation – there are different people and different news organizations saying the complete opposite of one another and it is hard to know what to believe. All of this can make us feel that the issue is so big that we can’t possibly understand it and therefore we should stay quiet. But I think that we have a responsibility to not stay quiet, we have a responsibility to talk with our kids about it. Our kids need us to help guide them through this issue. The kids in Palestine need us to speak up to save their lives. And the more we speak up, the more we help others to feel brave enough to speak up too.

To find the words to start this conversation with kids, I sat down and truly looked into my heart, and I came up with these three points – there is more to be said, but this is where I would start …

1. We Must Demand an Immediate Ceasefire

We must push our governments to demand an immediate ceasefire to save as many lives as possible.

To explain what a ceasefire is to kids, I would say that a ceasefire is a formal agreement between all parties to end the fighting. On top of ensuring that no more civilians are killed on either side, it would allow for humanitarian aid agencies to enter Gaza to bring water, food and medical supplies in, saving even more lives and reducing the amount of pain and suffering that people are currently experiencing. It would also provide an opportunity for parties to negotiate the release of hostages on both sides.

You can sign this petition by Amnesty International to show your support for an immediate ceasefire.

Then we must listen, learn and talk about how Palestine and Israel can move forward together in peace. I believe that the majority of the world’s citizens want peace and it is time that our leaders listen to us and act accordingly.

2. We Must Stand Up Against Antisemitism and Islamophobia

Simplifying these terms so that they can be explained to children, I would say the following:

* Antisemitism is the fear of, hatred of, or prejudice towards Jews.
* Islamophobia is the fear of, hatred of, or prejudice towards Muslims.

Both Antisemitism and Islamophobia are on the rise right now and we must stand up against this. We want to make sure that all our Jewish and Muslim friends and neighbours feel safe, loved and supported.

We can be against the actions of Israel without being against Jews in Israel and around the world. We can be against the actions of Hamas without being against Muslims in Palestine and around the world. We have to be able to hold these two truths together in our hearts. We have to make it clear that there is no room for hate in our communities.

3. We Must Be More Gentle With Each Other

There is a long history of people experiencing violence, and carrying trauma from this violence, for all the parties involved in this conflict. The fears that both Muslims and Jews feel for their safety right now, here in our communities and around the world, are all valid. We need to be very gentle with each other when we are having conversations about Palestine and Israel. We have to have these conversations from a place of love and peace and courage. Especially when having the conversations on social media.

It is so easy to be mean on social media. It is so easy to type away without thinking about who is receiving the message on the other end. It is so easy to share something without thinking about whether or not it is something you would actually say to someone in person. We have to remember our shared humanity. We have to remember that we are all more the same than we are different. We have to keep room in our hearts for each other.

As I said above, this is how I would start the conversation with kids. I would start with this and then let them lead with questions. I would start with this and then let them think about it for as long as they need to before they come back with questions. I would start with this so as not to overwhelm them. And I would let them know that I definitely don’t have all the answers, that I am very much learning with them, and I am a safe space for them to share their thoughts and feelings, that we will walk through this together. There is obviously much more that can be said, and should be said, but I think this is a good place to start. I think this sets up a good framework for future discussions.

One last thing, if you are interested in learning the story behind the signs in the photo above, you can click on this Facebook post.