Does contact work in protracted asymmetrical conflict? Appraising 20 of reconciliation-aimed encounters between Israeli Jews and Palestinians
Department of Communication and Journalism
Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
Reference: Journal of Peace Research, Revised and Resubmitted
In the past few decades, planned contact interventions between groups in conflict have played an important role in attempts at improving intergroup relations and achieving peace and reconciliation. This article focuses on such reconciliation-aimed intergroup encounters between Israeli Jews and Palestinians that seek to reduce hostility and increase understanding and cooperation between the two nationalities. Like other contact interventions conducted in settings of intergroup conflict, encounters between Israeli Jews and Palestinians represent a paradoxical project: this is a project that aspires to generate equality and cooperation between groups that are embedded in a protracted, asymmetrical conflict. Though existing research teaches us valuable lessons on the effectiveness of contact conducted under optimal conditions, little is said about contact between groups involved in asymmetrical protracted dispute. The goal of this analysis is to examine the evolution of reconciliation-aimed contact interventions between Israeli Jews and Palestinians in the past 20 years. The research method is qualitative, relying on ethnographic data assembled during the relevant period of time. The findings identify and trace the evolution of four major models used in Jewish-Palestinian planned encounters: The Coexistence Model, the Joint Projects Model, the Confrontational Model and the Narrative-Story-Telling Model. The strengths and limitations of each model in transforming intergroup attitudes in asymmetric conflict are discussed.
Does Contact Work in Protracted Asymmetrical Conflict? Appraising 20 Years of Reconciliation-Aimed Encounters between Israeli Jews and Palestinians
Ethno-political conflicts tend to be accompanied by psychological phenomena such as mutual prejudice, delegitimization, and dehumanization (Bar-On, 2008; Bar-Tal, 2000; 2001). In the past few decades, planned contact interventions between groups in conflict have played an important role in attempts to improve intergroup relations and achieve peace and reconciliation (Bekerman, 2009; Kelman, 1998; Maoz, 2000c; Salomon, 2004). This article focuses on those reconciliation-aimed intergroup encounters that attempt to reduce hostility and increase understanding and cooperation between Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel. Structured encounters between Israeli Jews and Palestinians are encounters that take place between two groups with asymmetric power-relations, engaged in competition over scarce resources; the Jewish majority (some 80 percent of the Israeli population) is in control of most material and political resources and determines the national character of the country. The relationship between the Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel is also significantly affected by the larger protracted, asymmetrical conflict between the State of Israel and the Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip territories. Thus, like other contact interventions conducted in settings of intergroup conflict, encounters between Israeli Jews and Palestinians represent a paradoxical project that aims to produce equality and cooperation between groups embedded in a reality of conflict and asymmetry (Bekerman, 2002; 2009). Although existing research teaches us valuable lessons on the efficacy of contact interventions conducted under optimal conditions (Pettigrew, 1998; Pettigrew and Tropp, 2000; 2006), little is said about the efficacy of such interventions between groups involved in an acute, asymmetrical dispute (for important exceptions see Bekerman, 2002;...