A Broken Language, a Crippled
Debate, and the Gift of Art

Guidelines for the Discussion

This exhibit is offered in the spirit of the nineteenth century Chautauqua — an inclusive, nonjudgmental, learner-oriented forum dedicated to personal growth and a celebration of the arts. Proposed here are the social conventions — the ground rules — that ideally will govern this chautauqua.

1) No specialized or prior knowledge is required. Novices as well as experts are welcome to participate.

2) Everyone’s contributions will have equal consideration. No special value will be placed on the statements of anyone based on their religious, ethnic, cultural, or racial affiliations.

3) No special consideration will be given to any religious texts, interpretations, prophecies, or eschatological concepts. Participants are not required or expected to endorse any religious belief.

4) Participants are encouraged to relate the issues under discussion to the U.S. model of democracy, with its ideals as expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, and its history of expanding civil rights and redressing wrongs.

5) This dialogue will not be cancelled, postponed, or prohibited based on arguments about timing, intent, tone, or propriety.

6) Participants agree to refrain from stereotypes, racist remarks, ethnic slurs, ad hominem attacks, and the like. Participants are urged not to make anti-Arab, anti-Jewish, or anti-Muslim remarks.

7) Any criticism of Israel or U.S. Middle East policy toward Israel is considered Constitutionally protected speech and will not be considered, in and of itself, anti-Semitic. The charge of anti-Semitism will not be permitted at any point to derail the debate process.

8) Participants are encouraged to speak plainly: to avoid obfuscation and jargon, to define esoteric terms, and to clarify intent when words with multiple possible interpretations are used.

9) Discussion will be respectful. All participants agree to listen, to be open to new ideas, and to speak up when they have something to say.

10) The objective of this dialogue is not to advance any established political position or ideology. Its objective is to develop a new vocabulary, one that allows the American public to engage routinely, publicly, and unselfconsciously in the debate about the role of the U.S. in the Middle East. It will be judged by this objective alone.


Next Section: Launching the Discussion

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