How do people change their minds?
On a subject like the Middle East, positions are so entrenched and feelings run so deep that it sometimes seems no change is possible. Yet even in the heart of the American-Jewish community, there is more diversity of opinion than one might imagine from the statements of the official Jewish organizations or the reports of the mainstream media. Change appears to be happening.
Consider Pittsburgh 11th grader Jesse Lieberfeld, who won the Martin Luther King Award in 2012 for an essay comparing uncritical support for Israel to the role played by segregationists in the white south. Young Jewish-Americans like Jesse have learned lessons from the success of the Civil Rights movement in refashioning a whole nation’s understanding of what is fair and what is possible. They are part of a sea change in common sense about justice and universal human rights.
“Some of My Best Friends Are Zionists” interviews both young people like Jesse and notable Jewish artists and intellectuals like Tony Kushner, Judith Butler, James Schamus, and Gary Shteyngart, asking them what they were told about Israel as they were growing up, why that world view was as compelling as it was, and how they came to change their minds.
The film is not about the history of the issue; it’s not a polemic for one political position or another. It’s about how people change their minds.