Earlier this summer, OneVoice Israel ran a Town Hall Meeting in Beer Sheva designed to introduce participants to our recent poll and help them begin to think about taboo major issues. Initially, the participants had many questions about the poll itself -- how it was handled, who took part, how do we know it really represents the public, were all groups in Israeli and Palestinian societies represented, and so forth. They found it difficult, at first, to accept that this poll really says something about either community, and they kept on trying to check the accuracy of the presented data. As the meeting went on, their interest shifted to the issues themselves.
We then gave out sample questionnaires and asked the participants to fill them in, they could share the experience that the the survey participants went through. This was also meant as a "warm-up" exercise so that they would start thinking about the issues before the discussion began. They seemed to really get into it and wanted more time to fill out the questionnaires properly. Next, we went one by one through the major issues: final status, refugees, settlements, Jerusalem, borders, security, and then also through the issues of process -- the "blame game", trust-building measures, etc.
Participants were really interested to know the percentages on issues that were not mentioned in our initial presentation (for instance: how many Israelis and Palestinians support remaining in status-quo). We learned from this that each moderator should be accompanied by at least one other Youth Leader who can follow the presentation with the poll in his hands and be ready to assist the moderator and answering such questions.
--Kelly Breakstone, OneVoice Israel