How to Talk About Israel and Palestine With Friends & Family

Jakub Ferencik
7 min readNov 27, 2023

There is a lot of moral fundamental disagreement on Israel and Palestine. In my view, that is primarily because we are all exposed to different arguments earlier in life.

There are those among us who have never even heard the Palestinian case from a Palestinian voice. And then there are those who never talked to the Israeli community about how they feel in constant threat of terrorism from violent jihadists.

Our social media echo chambers are not helping either, of course.

It has been my effort on this blog to show that we can have moral convictions (I do indeed blame politicians for their moral and political failures) and express nuance at the same time.

Must we choose between sides? I believe that we do not. It is possible to see the failures and successes of each political entity in the region. We all want peace but we fail in our solutions.

So, I thought that in this post I will be addressing how cognitive failures are built into our computation; in other words, I will argue that intuitive thinking often overrides our ability to see things clearly. This is a view I promote in my book, Beyond Reason: Why We Fail at Understanding Each Other.

When it comes to this debate in particular, these truths and observations might help prevent us from giving up on each other. We can indeed find common ground; in fact, we must.

Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

Cognitive biases and their prevalence are disheartening and may lead some of us to despair, especially because everyone professes certainty.

The author Joseph Heath writes in Enlightenment 2.0 that one of the most well-established claims in the literature on cognitive bias is that “people are terrible at distinguishing genuine irrationality from simple disagreement.”

The cognitive psychologist Jonathan Haidt explores this in more depth in his book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Religion and Politics.

In his book, Haidt, a self-proclaimed intuitionist, argues that “we must be wary of any individual’s ability to reason.”

Haidt writes that our Western tendency to worship reason above all else is “itself an illustration of one of the most…

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Jakub Ferencik

Author of “Up in the Air,” “Beyond Reason,” & "Surprised by Uncertainty" on AMAZON | MA McGill Uni | RA for EUROPEUM Prague | 700+ articles with 1+ mil. views