“They Understand Only Force” A Critical Examination of the Erruption of Verbal Violence in a Jewish-Palestinian Dialogue


This study focuses on an outburst of verbal violence during a Jewish-Palestinian dialogue, aimed at improving the relations between the sides. The turning point was when Waffa, a Palestinian female said to a Jewish male participant: ” …Would you be willing to be friends with a Nazi?” Following up with a clarification of the analogy she is drawing between Nazis and Jews: “I can understand why it is difficult for you to befriend Nazis. Your situation with Nazis that caused you pain and harm is the exact same situation that we have, and this is why I cannot befriend Jews, with what they do to us as we live in this state”. From this point forward the dialogue became highly destructive, with reciprocal exchanges of verbal attacks Through a critical examination of the processes that led up to verbal violence, we hope to contribute to the understanding of intergroup hatred and aggression on both the micro and macro levels of socio-political relations between the sides.

Author Bio(s)

Ifat Maoz, Ph.D. in social psychology from the (University of Haifa); Senior Lecturer in the Department of Communication, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel and was the Director of the Smart Communication Institute. She was a visiting Scholar at the Psychology Department of Stanford University and in the Asch Center for Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict, University of Pennsylvania; current main interests include psychological and media-related aspects in conflict and peace building. She can be reached at msifat@gmail.com.

Dan Bar-On, is a Professor of Psychology at the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Ben-Gurion University. He is also the co-director of PRIME (Peace Research Institute in the Middle East) near Beit Jala in the West Bank. He is the author of several books, among others - Legacy of Silence: Encounters with Children of the Third Reich (Harvard University Press, 1989), Fear and Hope: Three Generations of Holocaust Survivors' Families (Harvard University Press, 1998) and The Indescribable and the Undiscussable (Central European University Press, 1999). In 1996 he was awarded the David Lopatie Chair for Post-Holocaust Psychological Studies. In 2001 he received the Bundesverdienst Kreutz First Class, from German President Dr. Johannes Rau. In 2003 he received the Eric Maria Remarque Peace Prize in Osnabruck, Germany. In 2005 they received the Victor J. Goldberg IIE Prize for Peace in the Middle East and the EAEA 3rd Out-of-Europe Grundtvig Award on Active citizenship in a democratic society. He can be contacted at danbaronster@gmail.com.

Siham Yihya, an MA student in the Department of Education at Ben Gurion University. She participated in a supervised research on Jewish-Arab students' groups at Ben Gurion University in 2004-5 and she will write her MA thesis in 2008 under the supervision of Zvi Bekerman from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Prof Shifra Sagy at Ben Gurion University. He can be contacted at siham_yihyam@yahoo.com.


aggression, intergroup hatred, Jewish-Palestinian dialogue, socio-political relations, verbal violence

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