Israel at War - Discussion Guidelines

Discussion Guidelines

Here are some guidelines and tips for speaking to your students about the situation:

  1. Check in with yourself first—make sure you are processing the events and are in a good place to speak with your students. Consider speaking with a peer/colleague or a school counselor before addressing your class. Find out what they know – for students in middle school and up, it is fair to assume they have heard or read something about the current war in Israel. Start with a conversation where they are able to express what they already know.
  2. Gently correct misconceptions. Make sure older students understand the difference between Hamas (a terrorist organization) and the Palestinian people and between acts of war and acts of cruelty. See this fact sheet for some background information.
  3. Encourage students to ask questions and answer their questions as directly as you are able. 
  4. Discuss safety plans with them:
    1. Help them to feel empowered—identify adults in school and in the community, they can go to if they are feeling insecure. 
    2. Talk to them about what is being done in your community to ensure safety—security guards, communal safety plans, etc.
  5. Put it in context:
    1. For younger children – Role play ways to speak sensitively to others. Keep it simple: “There have been some very sad events over the last few days for the Jewish people. Have you heard about anything that has happened?”
    2. For middle/high school – Perhaps provide a historical context and help them see that throughout the history of the State of Israel we have dealt with security threats and, though we have suffered many losses, we ultimately have always triumphed. Note: a history lesson is not the best way to engage students in reflective conversation. Any historical context should be used to increase their knowledge and understanding and to gear the conversation toward feelings of hopefulness. 
  6. Be honest – consider sharing your own feelings/fears (at an age-appropriate level). It is also OK to say “I don’t know.”