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Abstract

This paper, based on a larger study that was carried out by a joint Palestinian – Israeli research team before and during the Al Aqsa Intifada, examines Israeli and Palestinian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that have worked on joint environmental projects. We focus here on three jointly run Palestinian – Israeli NGOs, 16 Israeli organizations and 12 Palestinian organizations that engaged in cooperative work, looking at the kind of work they did, their perceptions of the causes of environmental damage and its connection to the conflict, their perceptions of the roles of NGOs within their societies, and obstacles encountered in cooperative work. Data about the NGOs were collected through face-to-face audio taped interviews, their publications, and from their websites. Results showed that while the Israeli and Palestinian NGOs agree that joint work is needed to address ecological problems, they differ in their reasons for working together, their perceptions of the sources of environmental deterioration, the roles that NGOs should be taking within their society, the relationship of the Israeli – Palestinian conflict to the state of the environment, and the effect that a final peace agreement would have on solving these problems. It was concluded that the “environmental narratives” of the two sides differ greatly, and that the establishment of a “culture of peace” is a very long-term process.

Author Bio(s)

Julia Chaitin received her PhD in Social Psychology from Ben Gurion University of the Negev (Beer Sheva, Israel). Her research focuses on the long-term psycho-social impact of social traumas (the Holocaust, wars, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict) on survivors of the traumas and their descendants. In 2001-2002 she held the Lentz Post-doctoral Fellowship in Peace and Conflict Research at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Dr. Chaitin is a lecturer in the Faculties of Humanities and Social Sciences at Ben Gurion University where she also co-directs the Israeli Center for Qualitative Methodologies. In addition to this work, she is a researcher and grant writer for the Peace Research Institute in the Middle East (PRIME) and a member of To Reflect and Trust (TRT).

Fida Obeidi holds a doctorate in Environmental Sciences from the University of Utah. In 2000 – 20001, she was a lecturer at Al Quds University and was a post-doctorate researcher at PRIME – the Peace Research Institute in the Middle East. Dr. Obeidi currently resides in the US.

Sami Adwan earned his Ph.D. in 1987 in educational administration from the University of San Francisco. He is currently a professor of education at Bethlehem University. In conjunction with Israeli researchers and educators, he has undertaken a number of studies on education and peace-building, which include: learning to live together, comparative analyses of Israeli and Palestinian history and civil education textbooks, the role of history teachers in peace-building, and the historical perceptions of Israeli and Palestinian Youth. Professor Adwan is a member of To Reflect and Trust (TRT), and he co-directs the Peace Research Institute in the Middle East (PRIME). He has organized, participated and attended many conferences related to Palestinian education issues and peace education and has published many articles on these topics. Professor Adwan has been the recipient of grants from UNESCO/Paris, USIP, UNESCO Commission/Germany, Georg Eckert Institute/Germany, Friends of the Hebrew University, PCG, Rabin Center, and the UNICEF Commission in Italy, Palestine and EU.

Dan Bar-On received his Ph.D. in psychology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and is a professor of psychology in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Ben-Gurion University. Professor Bar-On initiated To Reflect and Trust (TRT) an international dialogue group composed of descendants of Nazis and Holocaust survivors, Catholics and Protestants from Northern Ireland, Blacks and Whites from South Africa and Palestinians and Israelis. In 1998, Bar-On held the Ida E. King Chair for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Stockton College of New Jersey. Professor Bar-On is the co-director of PRIME (Peace Research Institute in the Middle East) together with Professor Sami Adwan of Bethlehem University. In 2001, both scholars received the Alexander Langer Prize in Italy for their efforts in peace building between Palestinians and Israelis. He is the author of numerous books and articles that explore psycho-social aspects of Israeli identity and living with the traumas of the Holocaust and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

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