Alex McDonald has researched and worked on the Israel/Palestine issue since the early 2000s. He is a founder of the Texas Coalition for Human Rights, an organization dedicated to improving textbook and teaching accuracy related to the Middle East—and Israel/Palestine in particular.
He has traveled to the region and met with both Israeli and Palestinian peace activists. He has seen and experienced glimpses of daily life in the different parts of Israel and the West Bank. He has seen and heard Israeli perspectives as well as Palestinian ones. He has worked with Jewish and Palestinian solidarity groups. He also participates in a regular dialog with Zionists and Palestinians.
After much research and personal experience, he realized that many people have different views on the situation because of different understandings of Israel’s history and today’s reality. And the differing understandings are often based on vocabulary and messaging.
Since the United States is intimately involved with Israel and Palestinians militarily, financially, and politically, McDonald believes it is important for Americans to be able to talk about the issues and talk about them with a common vocabulary.
As a result of his research, McDonald realized that the different sides on the Israel/Palestine issue have different definitions for such words as peace, security, defensive, democracy. His writings make those distinctions conscious. His view is that if the speaker and listener use the same words with different meanings, then we are not really communicating and can never achieve peace.
How I Learned to Speak Israel shares McDonald’s journey in learning about the history and current situation and a language he calls “Israel.”
He wrote When They Speak Israel as a reference guide for those wanting to bridge the gap and have conversations while respecting everyone’s human rights. It is a guide to help people be able to understand each other and this important issue. His hope is that friendships and understanding will blossom.