Social Justice Day 2020 Workshop
Every spring, my school hosts a social justice event where students and teachers collaborate to run workshops relating to current and past social justice issues. Although members of the Watkinson staff play a large role in supporting the workshops, they are ultimately student made and lead. I have been a passive participant in this day, as 2020's social justice day was my sixth social justice day. This year, however, I decided to step up and collaborate with my classmate Adam Joseph to create the workshop titled Anti-Semitism, Anti-Israel, and Anti-Zionism. The goal of this workshop was to educate members of our community on the similarities and differences between anti-Semitism and anti-Israel, and to compare and explore Zionism and anti-Zionism as well. Above is the slideshow we used during the presentation, and below is a description of what we talked about during this workshop as well as why we did it.
With Slide 1 being a title slide, the presentation itself started with slide 2. We started with a short survey of 5 questions on the platform Kahoot. This was done to not only draw in the attention of the members of our workshop with a survey formatted as a game, but to gage the background knowledge of the people in the workshop. These questions prompted members with a scenario, and asked them if each scenario was an example of anti-Semitism, anti-Israel, both, or neither. This survey is still live, and can be played if at least two devices are present.
Slide 3 gave our first definition, anti-Semitism, which was the easiest of the 3 to create a concrete definition for. In order to compare and contrast the three concepts, there must be a foundation on what these concepts actually are. This definition was expertly worded by the Anti Defamation League, who also defined other things relating to anti-Semitism in this article.
The primary purpose of slides 4 and 5 was to provide an historical background on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Apart from the slides, we also gave numerous examples of past and present actions and policies of the Israeli Government. We chose what we believed were some of the more controversial actions of the government to create an idea of how and why a person could potentially be anti-Israel.
This lead into slide 6, in which we defined anti-Israel. We created this definition, and although not perfect, we believe is a very strong definition alongside that of anti-Semitism.
Slide 7 featured a quote about Zionism from Robert Wolfe of the Israel Forever Foundation. We chose to use this quote to introduce Zionism to the people in our workshop. In order to properly discuss Zionism, it is extremely important to establish how complex of a topic it is, and how many different viewpoints about Zionism exist. Because of this, we do not define Zionism throughout our entire workshop. At this point in the workshop we had been talking for a long time, and we wanted to keep the attention of those in our workshop before we concluded the presentation portion of the workshop. This is why we chose a video for slide 8, which we think helps explain Zionism without necessarily putting a definition on it.
Slide 9 is where our presentation ended, and where our group discussions began. We had our workshop split into four groups where we passed out articles relating to four perspectives on Zionism. These perspectives were those of Christians, Palestinians, Conservative Jews, and Orthodox Jews. After members read and understood each article pertaining to their assigned group, each group discussed their demographic's point of view on Zionism with each other, we then compared and contrasted each viewpoint as a workshop. This discussion quickly evolved to a general discussion about all 3 topics of the workshop. I came into leading this workshop thinking that Adam and I would be the primary educators, however once we had the discussion I was blown away about how wrong I was. The amount of information I did not know, and the new perspectives from the members in the workshop that were revealed to me during the discussion were invaluable to my understandings of these topics today. Many of the people in the workshop who had extensive background of the content already, including myself, used the presentation as a refresher, and then used the discussion to truly further our education and understandings. I am very thankful that we were able to create an optimal environment to discuss these topics, and although most of the discussion was unplanned, I think that it changed the workshop for the better.
After the discussion was over, which came by time rather than by choice, we turned to slide 10, which was our second Kahoot. This survey was similar to the first one, however it was more advanced. This survey not only had more complex scenarios, but also added anti-Zionism as an answer to each question. This not only gave the members of the workshop a way to test their newfound knowledge, but gave Adam and I closure on whether this workshop really helped our community understand these topics.
Finally, we moved onto slides 11 and 12. We did not have much time to go over these slides, however we wanted to mention how the ideas of anti-Israel, anti-Semitism, and anti-Zionism can develop into each other, potentially having one as a gateway into more radical and dangerous views. We were then going to move onto questions, however both Adam and I firmly believe that our discussion had answered any questions that anyone in the workshop had.
Overall, I am very pleased with how this workshop turned out. I am glad I chose to lead a workshop instead of just participating as an observer, because I gained more this year leading one than I have the past five years combined. I am very excited for next year's social justice day, when I hope to build upon the experience I gained this year by leading a new workshop.