Lately it seems that the Gaza Conflict is on everybody's mind, quite understandably, but there is precious little productive dialog between the two sides.
I often engage in conversation with people who hold different views from mine. I think that's what responsible voters do in a democracy. In addition, I learn more not only about the opposing side, but often my own side in such conversations. And answering questions requires me to examine, clarify, and sometimes change my beliefs and opinions.
Thus, attempting to have a discussion of "facts" does not solve anything because there is little agreement on a common set of facts. Without a common basis of facts, any discussion will be unproductive and usually devolves into a shouting match as often seen on TV, thus polarizing the sides even more.
And as with most things, one of the reasons for the intransigence of the problem is money. Follow the money. The war industry reaps massive profits by stoking the fear of citizens, and our Congress happily complies because they're paid by those corporations. Politicians across the political spectrum are so intimidated that the US Senate recently voted unanimously to give Israel even more money. What other significant bill can provoke a unanimous vote in Washington's contentious partisan environment?
I've found that asking questions can be a more productive approach to discussion because answering well-crafted questions requires examination of beliefs instead of responding with prepared sound bites.
So if you find yourself in a discussion with a pro-Israel person who seems willing to have a rational conversation (as opposed to just shouting slogans), I've come up with a list of questions you might consider asking. Be careful of a lot of responses you might get - often they're just hand-waving and exaggerations of minor exceptions to avoid directly confronting the question. Continue to bring the focus back to the cognitive dissonance between the pro-Israeli position and these questions. You can also get lot of good information from Richard Forer's book Breakthrough, Transforming Fear Into Compassion from http://www.richardforer.com and amazon.com
Here are some questions to ask.
QUESTION 1 - What should have been done (and what should be done now) with the many thousands of Palestinians who had lived on their land for centuries when the State of Israel was founded?
How is forcing them off their ancestral land and into refugee camps any different from what we did to the Native Americans in the 1800's (other than the time period) which is now almost universally regarded as genocide? Both situations feature intimidation, killing, and the taking of land.
Even though there is much controversy as to whether the Palestinians left voluntarily (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causes_of_the_1948_Palestinian_exodus), a number of even Israeli and IDF sources say that the exodus was primarily involuntary but due to the deliberate actions of the Israelis. Rich Forer's book covers this in detail.
Reports indicate that over 1 million Iraqis have fled their homes in northern Iraq. By leaving "voluntarily" in the face of the intimidation and brutality of ISIS, have they given up their rights to return to their homes?
QUESTION 2 - By what right does Israel continue to take over more Palestinian land, and continue to bulldoze Palestinian homes and orchards and build settlements in the territories that were declared to be Palestinian by the UN in 1948?
The entire rest of the world (even the US) has declared the settlements to be illegal, yet Israel continues to take more land. US leaders are all apparently too intimidated to stand up to Israel to force them to stop their illegal expansion. We continue to send them massive amounts of money and equipment. Again, how is that expansion different from the genocide and forced migrations perpetrated by the US on the Native Americans?