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Abstract

This study addresses the question of majority-minority relations in situations of intractable conflict (Bar-Tal 2000). The study focuses on processes involved in the majority Jewish group’s construction of images of the Palestinian minority group, all citizens of Israel, while participating in a structured dialogue encounter conducted at Tel Aviv University in Israel. In this dialogue, it was observed that negative inhumane images that the Jews have of the Palestinians were notably expressed by the Jewish group in three situations: to cope with distress when their morality was challenged by the Palestinian group; to preserve the Jewish group's superiority and hegemony in Israel; and to preserve or restore the Jewish group's power. The study also examines the gradual processes of change that the Jewish group experienced while becoming aware that dehumanization strategies are practices that preserve dominance. This study contributes to a better understanding of the importance of addressing the iconic representations and images that majority groups hold of minority groups, and suggests the need to challenge the practice of power through the use of these representations and images when facilitating group encounters.

Author Bio(s)

Nava Sonnenschein is Founder of The School for Peace and was its director for many years. She has been involved in developing much of its methodology and good practice, which have contributed to its international reputation for excellence in conflict analysis and transformation. The method was published in the book Identities in Dialogue in 2004 by Rutgers University Press. She has trained hundreds of Arab and Jewish facilitators to facilitate groups in conflict in Israel, Palestine and in other areas of conflict in the world. She has taught the subject at the Tel Aviv University over the last 21 years. She got her PhD from Hebrew University in 2006. The dissertation was published in the book called Dialogue Challenging Identity (in Hebrew). Email: nava.sfp@nswas.info

Zvi Bekerman teaches anthropology of education at the School of Education and the Melton Center, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and is a faculty member at the Mandel Leadership Institute in Jerusalem. His research interests are in the study of cultural, ethnic, and national identity, including identity processes and negotiation during intercultural encounters and in formal/informal learning contexts. In addition to publishing papers in a variety of journals, Bekerman is the coeditor (with Seonaigh MacPherson) of the refereed journal Diaspora, Indigenous, and Minority Education: An International Journal. He has also recently edited a number of books, including, with Diana Silberman-Keller, Henry A. Giroux, and Nicholas Burbules, Mirror Images: Popular Culture and Education (2008); with Ezra Kopelowitz, Cultural Education-Cultural Sustainability: Minority, Diaspora, Indigenous and Ethno-Religious Groups in Multicultural Societies (2009); with Claire McGlynn, Addressing Ethnic Conflict through Peace Education: International Perspectives (2007). Email: mszviman@mscc.huji.ac.il.

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