Israeli Democracy: Free Speech vs. Hate Speech

Free speech is a central element of democracy -- but are there limits? This activity explores the difference between free speech and hate speech, using contemporary examples to create relateable situations for campers to consider.

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Israel is a democracy that supports free speech.
Free speech is different than hate speech.


1. Distribute pencils or pens to all participants and divide them into groups (the number of groups should be the same as the number of photos on display in separate corners of the room or activity space).

2. Send one group to each photo. Ask everyone to study the photo and its caption, and decide: is this an example of free speech or hate speech? Mark your answer either on a sheet provided or by putting a sticker on or near the photo, and then move on to the next photo and decide again.

3. While campers are moving between the photos, staff should circulate and be available to answer questions and provide background information or translations of the Hebrew text.

4. Once everyone has viewed each photo, bring everyone back together. Ask for a few general comments about the pictures and captions. Were people startled by any of them? Upset? Amused? What can we tell about Israel from the photos?

5. Then ask everyone to approach one photo, and to decide if they think that photo is an example of free speech or hate speech. At the photo, they should divide into 2 groups: one that thinks it is an example of free speech, and one that thinks it's an example of hate speech. Staff should be prepared to bolster any small group if the split is very uneven.

6. The leader then facilitates a brief conversation between the sides. Questions might include:

  • What can you tell from this image?
  • How does it make you feel?
  • Who might not like it?
  • Is it a legitimate form of free speech? Why or why not?

7. After debriefing on each picture, the leader brings the group back together in a central place.

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Shorashim/Club Israel - Sharna Marcus