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A Pilot Study of a Group Relations Conference 


Submitted by 


In partial fulfillment of the requirements 

for the degree of 

Doctor of Philosophy 


November 24, 2010 



Let's wake up the wortd! 

Fh,D, Program in Educational Studies 

Student's Name: Tracy Wallach 

Dissertation Title: Authority,, Leadership, and Peacemaking: The Role of the 
Diasporas A Pilot Study of a Group Relations Conference 

School: Lesley University, School of Education 

Degree for which Dissertation is submitted: Ph. D. in Educational Studies 


In the judgment of the following signatories, this Dissertation meets the academic standards 
that have been established for the Doctor of Philosophy degree. 

Dissertation Committee Chair. 

Dissertation Committee Memb 

Dissertation Committee Member 

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Coordinator of the Ph. D. Program (jiu-filMtf^ vh&hC U I f 7 HO 

(signature) (date) , I ' 

Dean, School of Education f^^^u^—' ~~7^ ^}fi&&Y 

(signature) (date) 


Research suggests that conflicts are much more likely to re-ignite in societies 
which have large Diaspora communities in the United States. This study examines the 
role of American Jewish, Arab, and other Middle Eastern Diaspora communities in the 
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and addresses the generally neglected role of trauma and 
emotions in perpetuating conflict. 

The project employed group relations conference methodology to conduct the 
inquiry. A group relations lens allows one to look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at 
multiple levels: on the psychological level (looking at issues of trauma, identity, 
collective narrative, emotions and unconscious processes); on the social level (looking at 
inter-group relations); and on the political level (examining the role of leadership, 
authority and power dynamics). A pilot conference, Authority, Leadership, and 
Peacemaking: The Role of the Diasporas was convened April 16-18, 2010. Surveys and 
interviews were administered before and after the conference in order to examine the 
impact of the conference on participants. The conference evaluation addressed the 
following questions: what did participants in the conference learn about the conflict? 
How did conference participants perceive their individual roles and the collective roles of 
their respective Diasporas in perpetuating the conflict there? What part might these 
conferences play in helping participants, as members of their respective Diaspora 
communities to contribute to the peace process? What processes/variables are at work 
during the conferences and afterwards that contribute to participant learning and action? 

The dissertation describes the particular innovations and adaptations made to the 
group relations conference model; the ways in which the pre-conference and conference 

dynamics mirrored the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; research design and 
preliminary findings up to three months post conference. Recommendations for future 
conferences on the topic are made and implications of the findings for group relations are 

In loving memory 

Jacques Burton Wallach 


A project such as this cannot happen without the support of many people, whom I would 
gratefully like to acknowledge here: 

Earl T. Braxton, my mentor, colleague and friend, who believed in me before I believed 
in myself. With almost no notice, he generously offered his organization, Innovative 
Cultural Education and Training Institute, Inc. (ICETI) to serve as fiscal agent for the 

My doctoral committee: Arlene Dallalfar, my senior advisor, who provided me with 
unwavering support along the way, even as she made me learn things I didn't wish to 
know. Along with Eleanor Roffman, she helped me to open my eyes to aspects of the 
conflict that I was blind to. Finally, though she may not remember it, Mary McRae was 
one of the earliest supporters of this project, before it became the reason for me to return 
to school. 

Zachary Green and Rene Molenkamp of Group Relations International were early 
supporters of the project. Zachary Green offered invaluable emotional and consultative 
support to the project. Both he and Earl Braxton encouraged me to take up my authority 
around the project and act as primary sponsor at a time when it seemed as if it would all 
fall apart. 

My doctoral cohort (in alphabetical order): especially Celia Bianconi, Laura Douglass, 
Jan Wall, Nancy Young, who provided lots of support and laughter throughout and who 
made returning to school at such an advanced age fun. This was one of the healthiest 
working groups I have ever belonged to! 

Ruth Duek, who back in 1997 first introduced me to the work of Besod Siach, and who 
facilitated my introduction to the organization when she invited me to staff a conference 
she directed in 2002. 

Anat Sarel, Ada Mayer, Nimer Said, and Shay Ben Yosef, who took up my invitation to 
present at the AK Rice Institute's 2003 Scientific Meeting, when initial plans for this 
project were made. 

Tal Alon, the board and members of Besod Siach, who first dared to use these methods in 
the midst of a real conflict, and who were behind me and the project from the start. 

Special thanks to the conference directors, Peter Shapiro and Nimer Said, who took a risk 
in taking on the project, and hung in there through all the uncertainties, and through our 
conflicts. They did a brilliant job and rolled with the punches. Many thanks are due also 
to the staff that had the willingness and the flexibility to shift to the member role. I am 
grateful to all members of the conference, who took the risk to come and who worked 
hard to make the conference a meaningful learning experience. 

I am grateful to Virginia Reiber, my dear friend, who spent countless hours reading, re- 
reading and editing this document, above and beyond the call of duty. Kim Wallach also 
read through and edited drafts of several chapters. 

Thanks to my family: my mother, Doris F. Wallach, who taught me my first lessons on 
human and civil rights; my sisters, Lisa (Wallach) Auteri, and Kim Wallach; my brother- 
in-law Anthony Auteri; and nephews and niece (in chronological order): Gabriel, Jonah 
and Zachary Auteri, and Ariel Temple. Much love to you all. 

Hilary Rantisi and Yamila Hussein provided encouragement, honesty, and challenging 

The conference had six organizational sponsors (in alphabetical order), who I wish to 
acknowledge here: 

The A. K. Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems (AKRI) is a national 
educational institution that advances the study of social systems and group relations. It 
has eight affiliate organizations around the US and over 240 associates and friends. The 
Institute seeks to deepen the understanding and the analysis of complex systemic 
psychodynamic and covert processes which give rise to non-rational behavior in 
individuals, groups, organizations, communities and nations. Using experiential and 
participatory theories and methodologies that derive from the Tavistock tradition, the 
Institute sponsors group relations conferences, research and publications, professional 
meetings, and training and application events. 

Besod Siach (Israel): Since 1991, Besod Siach, an Organization for the Promotion of 
Dialogue between Conflict Groups in Israeli Society, has been on the cutting edge of 
promoting dialogue and innovating methodology for dialogue processes between various 
conflict groups in Israeli society. Its mission is to transform the antagonistic and 
intolerant climate within which religious, political, social and ethnic-cultural differences 
are dealt with in Israel; to promote a pluralistic and democratic value system; and to help 
leaders from all sides find better solutions to the challenges of mutual co-existence in an 
evolving Israeli culture. 

Group Relations International: GRI promotes consciousness for a just world. Our 
purpose is to increases awareness, access and applicability of group relations learning on 
authority, identity, and leadership to wider populations. We do so by supporting the 
creation of experiences in personal and organizational transformation that serve as a 
catalyst for social justice action. 

Innovative Cultural Education and Training Institute, Inc. (ICETI): The mission of 
ICETI is to develop, implement, and promote events which increase cultural awareness, 
serve to bridge the diversity amongst us and strengthen the humanity in each of us. 
ICETI works to promote the following goals: to create and promote alternative 
cultural/historical programs and workshops for children and families; to develop and 

promote multi-cultural books and materials for children and families; to create and 
provide workshops for parents and professionals focused on cultural awareness; to 
network with organizations and groups with similar missions; to evaluate and document 
the models utilized. 

Middle East Non-Violence and Democracy (MEND, Palestine): Middle East 
Nonviolence and Democracy (MEND) promotes active nonviolence and encourages 
alternatives to violence among youth and adults throughout Palestine. MEND employs 
innovative methods, especially with the media, and is widely respected for working with 
authenticity, professionalism and courage. 

MEND is registered in three locations: England (since July 2005) - launched Nov. 14 
2005 at the London School of Economics; The West Bank/PA areas (since August 2004); 
Israel (as an "amuta' - since February 1998). MEND has no political affiliations and its 
sole political goal is to promote peace in the Middle East. 

Philadelphia Center for Organizational Dynamics: The Philadelphia Center for 
Organizational Dynamics (PCOD) is both an independent group relations organization 
and an affiliate of the A. K. Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems. It is PCOD's 
mission to advance the understanding of groups and organizations through the study of 
their psychodynamic processes. This work is undertaken through research, educational, 
experiential and consulting activities. PCOD members have experience in a variety of 
fields, including psychology, business, organizational consulting, and education. 

The Northeast Society for Group Psychotherapy and Lesley University provided 
research grants for the project. 

The following individuals generously offered financial support to the project: 

Louise Adler 

Ayman Ashour 

Lisa and Tony Auteri 

Carol Delia Croce 

Ruth Duek 

Bonnie Scott Jelinek 

Virginia Reiber 

Peter Shapiro 

Ruth Wachspress 

Jan Wall 

Lee Anne Wallach Saltzman and Bill Saltzman 

Nancy Young 





Introduction 20 

Jewish and Palestinian Identities and Collective Narratives 22 

Large Group Identity and the Role of Collective Narratives 22 

Nationalist Narratives 24 

The Zionist Narrative 26 

Palestinian Narratives 37 

The Role of the Diasporas 48 

The Formation of Diasporas 48 

The American Jewish Diaspora, Zionism, and Israel 52 

The Palestinian and Arab Diasporas in the US 58 

The Hegemony of the Zionist Narrative 61 

The Role of Trauma 62 

Identity, Peacemaking, and the Diasporas 65 

Dialogic Approaches to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict 68 

Introduction 68 

Approaches to Working with Conflict 70 

Evaluation of Models and Methods 75 

Summary 80 

A Group Relations Approach to Conflict 82 

Introduction 82 

Emotions in Groups 82 

Work Groups 84 

Basic Assumption Groups 82 

Splitting and Projective Identification in an Inter-Group Context 89 

Group Relations Conference Methods 92 

Group Relations Conference Research 97 

Summary 100 



Introduction 101 

Pre-Conference Activities 101 

Project Partners: Roles and Responsibilities 101 

Conference Brochure and Marketing 102 

Budgeting 103 

Conference Staff and Staff Work 104 

Pre-Conference Data Collection 1066 

The Conference 106 

Conference Task 106 

Conference Design 107 

Participant Demographics 110 

Conference Data Collection: Reflexivity, Subjectivity and Participant Observation. Ill 

Post-Conference Data Collection 110 

Surveys 115 

Interviews 118 

Summary 121 



Introduction 122 

Data Analysis 122 

Pre-Conference Dynamics 124 

Conflict, Anxiety and Parallel Process 128 

Conference Themes and Dynamics 130 

Gendered Roles and the Role of Gender 131 

Conflict and Differentiation vs. Avoidance/Disengagement 136 

"Twinning" vs. Trinity 141 

Peacemaking vs. Conflict or the Terror of Peacemaking 145 

Conference Theme vs. Conference Process ("Double Task" of the conference) 146 

The Complexity of Identity 147 

Diaspora vs. Exile 148 

Truth vs. Lies 149 

Researcher vs. Conference Creator 149 

Summary 150 



Introduction 152 

Participant Experience and Learning Goals 153 

Conference and Post-Conference Learning 157 

Personal Learning 162 

Learning about Leadership and Authority 163 

Role of the Diasporas 164 

Identity 166 

Learning about the Other 168 

Learning about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict 169 

Group Relations Learning 172 

Peacemaking/universality of human condition 175 

Three Month Follow-Up 175 

Learning about the Other and Personal Bias 178 

Learning about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict 180 

The Role of the Diasporas 182 

Leadership and Authority 183 

Applications of Conference Learning 184 

Participant Recommendations 185 

Recruitment 190 

Summary 195 



The Conference and the Conflict: A Parallel Process 196 

Learning During and After the Conference 200 

Recommendations for Future Conferences on the Topic 201 

Strengths and Limitations of Group Relations Methods 204 

Implications for Group Relations: Innovation and Adaptation 205 

Implications for Group Relations Research 207 




Appendix A: Chronological Timeline of Select Events 243 

Appendix B: Israeli and Palestinian Narratives of Select Events 204 

Appendix C: Partial Listing of American Jewish Peace Organizations 205 

Appendix D: Partial Listing of Arab American Organizations 207 

Appendix E: Partial Listing of Palestinian Rights Groups/Organizations 265 

Appendix F: Dialogic Models 204 

Appendix G: Roles and Responsibilities of Project Partners 205 

Appendix H: Conference Brochure Text 207 

Appendix I: Pre-Conference Survey 279 

Appendix J: Schedule and Conference Events 204 

Appendix K: Conference Opening 205 

Appendix L: Disclosure Form Conference Research and Evaluation 207 

Appendix M: Institutional Event Opening 287 

Appendix N: Post-Conference Evaluation Form 204 

Appendix O: Three Month Follow-Up Survey 205 

Appendix P: Letter of Consent 296 

Appendix Q: Member Interview: Immediately Post Conference 297 

Appendix R: Director Interview: Immediately Post Conference 298 

Appendix S: Three Month Follow-Up Interview Protocol 299 

Introduction 12 

Chapter 1 

The project described here stems from longstanding personal and professional 
interests. On a personal level, it is connected to the development of my Jewish identity in 
relation to Israel and Zionism. On a professional level, it is connected to my ongoing 
interest in group relations theory and its applications 1 . The study takes an inter- 
disciplinary approach to understanding and working with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 
While it considers the socio-political history of Israel/Palestine, it also takes into account 
the crucial relationship between the region and its Diaspora communities. 

This dissertation reports on a pilot study of a group relations conference that took 
place April 16-18, 2010. The task of Authority, Leadership, and Peacemaking: The Role 
of the Diasporas was to bring together members of Jewish and Arab Diaspora 
communities in the US to examine their personal and collective roles in contributing to 
the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and the potential role they might take in peacemaking. 
The project also aimed to contribute to the field of conflict resolution by illuminating 
some of the Diaspora-homeland dynamics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and by 
addressing the generally neglected role of trauma and emotions in perpetuating conflict. 
A group relations lens allows one to look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at multiple 

1 This method of learning is sometimes referred to as the Tavistock model or approach, as it derives from 
the work of Wilfred Bion, A. Kenneth Rice, and others at the Tavistock Institute after World War II. It has 
been adapted by Besod Siach, one of the project partners, to facilitate dialogue between communities in 
conflict in Israel. 

Introduction 13 

• Psychological level: issues of trauma, identity, collective narrative, 
emotions and unconscious processes 

• Social level: inter-group relations 

• Political level: the role of leadership, authority and power dynamics. 
Collective identity and narrative are where the personal and the political intersect. 

As the youngest child of a Jewish father and Lutheran mother, I was raised to be devoutly 
secular and to distrust organized religious institutions. I was also raised with the idea that 
anti-Semitism was everywhere and Jews faced discrimination in all aspects of life. While 
my family was not overtly Zionist, I became one after my first trip to Israel (with my 
family) in 1973, and spent two subsequent summers in Israel with a Zionist youth group. 
I recall being made acutely aware of the fragility of the state, the only democracy 
surrounded by Arab nations, who "wanted to throw us all into the sea." The Arabs and 
Muslims have many nations where they can belong, I learned, while the Jews have but 
one. I don't even fully recall where or how I learned these things: I just knew they were 

While I have always considered my experience and relationship to Israel as 
somewhat unique, I have come to see it as a manifestation of a narrative much larger than 
myself. My story very much reflects and parallels the historical relationship between the 
American Jewish Diaspora, Zionism, and Israel. Rogers (2006) notes that traumatic 
memories that are actively resisted become "unsayable," but may be spoken through 
"unconscious re-enactments" (p. 72). Traumas such as war and genocide, which affect 
whole societies, are beyond words. Such trauma inevitably repeats and may be 
transmitted to later generations (Rogers, 2006; Volkan, 2001). The trauma gets translated 

Introduction 14 

into a victim mentality. In my mind, this victim mentality seemed somehow inseparable 
from my Jewish identity. 

The time I spent living in Israel cemented the notion that Judaism and victimhood 
were somehow intertwined, and that Zionism and Israel were the solution. This idea is 
embedded in the dominant discourse in the Jewish community, which lives on in 
everyday discussion. It is a discourse that many Jews in this country implicitly recognize 
and understand without necessarily having to think about it. The discourse includes the 
following "talking points": 

• Israel is the only place where Jewish people can be truly safe. 

• The Arabs and the Muslims have many countries, but Jews have only this tiny 
sliver of land. 

• There is no partner for peace: Israel wants peace, but the Palestinians consistently 
choose war. 

• The Palestinians "never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity," 2 evidenced, 
for example, by their refusal to accept the "very generous" proposals offered by 
Israel under Prime Minister Ehud Barak. 

• Palestinians are not interested in peace and only want to "throw us into the sea." 
There are variations on these themes, but the core elements of victimhood and 

being under siege and surrounded by dangerous enemies are astonishingly consistent. 
They are cogently expressed by AIPAC, the American Jewish Committee, the Anti- 
Defamation League, as well as many Jewish congregations, in the US and elsewhere. 
They are echoed in non-Jewish Zionist groups, the American media and halls of 

2 Famously quoted by Abba Ebban 

Introduction 15 

Congress, evidenced by a three billion dollar annual military aid package to Israel, which 
boasts the world's fourth largest military. 

Participation in group relations conferences has been a major force in my own 
internal transformation of my relationship to my Jewish identity, Zionism, and Israel. 
This internal work has helped me to recognize the stubborn clinging to the victim 
narrative in the larger Jewish community. Israel, born in the shadow of the Holocaust 
evokes the trauma of it repeatedly. The trauma provides rationale for government policies 
of discrimination against Palestinians within Israel and collective punishment of 
Palestinians in the occupied territories. At the same time, there is a striking lack of 
awareness about the traumatic impact of these policies and actions on Palestinians. In the 
Zionist and Jewish narrative, the aggression is located in "Palestinian terrorists." Jewish 
victimhood becomes transformed into a sense of entitlement and not being bound by 
rules. The victim has now become the bully, justifying its actions by laying claim to its 

Group relations conferences provide a unique structure in which the inter- 
relatedness of the personal and the political can be examined. I was first introduced to 
group relations work in 1990 as part of my clinical training to be a group therapist. Over 
the course of the last three decades, I have participated in numerous group relations 
conferences, in member and staff roles. Since 1995, group relations work has been central 
to my professional life, informing both my teaching and consulting work. I served on the 
boards of both the national group relations organization and the local Boston affiliate 
(serving as president of the latter). My experiences with group relations conferences and 
organizations have been rewarding, challenging, and frustrating. Over the years, I have 

Introduction 16 

developed some very clear notions about what I think is effective and problematic in 

group relations culture. 

All conferences share some common elements: 

• Participants examine their behavior as it occurs in the "here and now" of 
the group: group dynamics are not discussed on a theoretical level, they 
are directly experienced. 

• The focus on the conscious and unconscious processes: consultants offer 
working hypotheses or interpretations of what they see and think might be 
going on in the group beneath the surface. Aside from these interventions 
and the tight boundaries around time and conference task, consultants 
offer no direction to participants about what should be done. 

• The unit of analysis is the group-as-a- whole (as opposed to a particular 
individual or inter-personal interaction): when individual behavior is 
highlighted, it is in terms of the role that individual is taking up on the 
group 's behalf. Paradoxically, focus on the group-as-a- whole can free the 
individual to explore personal questions and behaviors, without becoming 

My experiences convinced me that group relations theory and conferences, with 
their focus on authority relations, leadership, and the non-rational processes in groups, 
could illuminate processes underlying our often dysfunctional political and societal 
systems. Given the pivotal role that group relations conferences have played in my own 
personal, professional and political transformation, I wondered whether these methods 

3 The processes of projection and projective identification by which this occurs are discussed in the next 

Introduction 17 

might also play a role in transforming the discourse in the US around the conflict which 
is rigidly polarized, often toxic, and marked by ever hardening positions. 

Authority, Leadership, and Peacemaking was inspired by the work of Besod 
Siach, an Israel-based group relations organization, which has been using the group 
relations model for almost 20 years to facilitate dialogue between conflict groups in 
Israel. I first discussed the project with colleagues in Besod Siach in February of 2002, 
when I was invited to consult at a Besod Siach conference in Israel. They were 
enthusiastic about being part of a project in the United States which would look at the 
role of the Diasporas in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

In order to introduce their work to the A.K. Rice Institute (AKRI), I arranged for 
Besod Siach to give a presentation at AKRI's Scientific Meeting in Boston in 2003. It 
was at this meeting that I received authorization from AKRI to begin planning and 
fundraising for this conference. Neither AKRI nor Besod Siach had the funds to mount 
such a conference, so available funds would depend entirely on my own fundraising 
efforts. My original intent was to turn over the sponsorship and planning of the 
conference to AKRI once the funds were raised, so that I could serve in a staff consulting 
role. Over time, I became increasingly invested in the project and in doing the research 
myself. The project then became a reason for me return to school to obtain a doctorate. 
The project also evolved from the idea of simply replicating the Besod Siach model to 
building on it (and addressing some of its weaknesses). 

The research addresses the following questions: what do participants in the 
conference learn about the conflict? How do conference participants perceive their 
individual roles and the collective roles of their respective Diasporas in perpetuating the 

Introduction 18 

conflict there? What part might these conferences play in helping participants, as 
members of their respective Diaspora communities to contribute to the peace process? 
What processes/variables are at work during the conferences and afterwards that 
contribute to participant learning and action? The research tools (survey and interview 
protocols) used in this study were piloted at two separate group relations conferences. 
The survey tools were piloted at a group relations conference convened in January 2008, 
and the interview protocols were piloted at an international conference held in September 
2008. Both tools were revised for use in this conference. 

Chapter Two reviews the literature in four areas: first I define large group identity 
and collective national narratives in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I provide 
an overview of the development of both national identities and narratives that includes 
counter-narratives for each group. The second area explores the Jewish American and 
Arab American Diaspora communities and the inter-relationship between these groups 
and their respective homelands, and includes their role vis-a-vis the conflict. The 
hegemony of the Zionist narrative in the United States, and problems associated with it 
are also discussed. The third section surveys the conflict resolution literature pertaining 
to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in particular. It looks at various models of dialogic 
interventions that have been used both in Israel/Palestine and with Diaspora communities 
in the US, and evaluations of the models. Finally, I provide an overview of group 
relations theory and the conference model, and how it may be applied to the 
understanding of conflict. I also discuss previous group relations research. 

Chapter Three documents the planning, implementation, and data collection 
activities engaged in by the researcher, project partners, conference directors and staff 

Introduction 19 

before, during, and after the conference. It describes innovations to the group relations 
conference model devised for this project, and the complications of taking on multiple 
roles in the project. This chapter also describes the survey and interview tools used for 
this study. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the role of reflexivity and 
participant observation in psycho-social research. 

Chapters Four and Five report on data collected before, during, and after the 
conference. Chapter Four discusses the planning process and pre-conference dynamics. 
Conference dynamics and salient themes are also explored, particularly in relation to the 
ways that they mirrored dynamics of the conflict. 

Chapter Five reports findings on participant learning, gleaned from interviews and 
surveys immediately post-conference, and again three months following the conference. 

Chapter Six discusses the findings and considers the implications of this study: for 
group relations theory and conference work; for dialogue/conflict resolution work in 
general; and for the Israeli Palestinian conflict in particular. I offer my thoughts on future 
directions for continuing this work. 

Literature Review 

Chapter 2 

For many decades the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has preoccupied and confounded 
politicians, conflict resolution scholars and practitioners, not to mention the members of 
each group, both in the Middle East and in the Diasporas 4 . Rooted in the political Zionist 
movement at the end of the 19 th century and the Arab nationalist movements of the 19 th 
and 20 th centuries, it involves both sociopolitical and socio-psychological elements 
(Dowty, 2006; Salomon, 2004). The sociopolitical element concerns land, governance, 
independence, military might, water resources, civil rights, economic, political and 
cultural dominance, etc. The socio-psychological element concerns "a community's sense 
of identity, the way it perceives itself, the story it tells about itself, its history, the way it 
portrays its role in the conflict, and its views of its adversary — in short, its collective 
narrative " (Salomon, 2004, p. p. 273). In response to each other and to external events, 
each side has developed its own narrative discourse defining the conflict, which has 
evolved over the decades (Adwan & Bar-On, 2003; D. Bar Tal, 1998; Gur-Ze'ev & 
Pappe, 2003; Kelman, 1999b; Rouhana & Bar Tal, 1998; Salomon, 2004). Miall (2007) 
notes that it began: 

4 The word Diaspora means dispersion: it derives from the Greek diaspeirein to scatter, from dia- + 
speirein to sow. Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines the word as follows: 1 capitalized a: the 
settling of scattered colonies of Jews outside Palestine after the Babylonian exile b: the area outside 
Palestine settled by Jews c: the Jews living outside Palestine or modern Israel 2 a: the movement, 
migration, or scattering of a people away from an established or ancestral homeland <the black diaspora to 
northern cities> b: people settled far from their ancestral homelands <African diaspora> c: the place where 
these people live Retrieved March 3, 2008 from: 
In this paper, I use the term to describe Jews, Palestinians and other Arabs from other Middle Eastern 
countries who are living outside of Israel/Palestine. The notion that the Jewish Diaspora refers to all Jews 
living outside of Israel has been challenged by Shohat (1988). 

Literature Review 

... as a nationalist programme on the part of Zionists and resistance to it on the 
part of Arabs who lived in Palestine. It then developed into a communal conflict, 
then after the establishment of Israel it became an international conflict linked to 
an internal conflict, and subsequently it spawned important internal conflicts 
among the Israelis and between different groups of Palestinians and other Arabs. 
Arab and Israeli nationalisms have defined themselves in relation to each other; in 
other words, actors and structure defined each other. The conflict has undergone 
drastic transformations and will no doubt undergo more before the conflict 
formation is dissolved (pp. 175-176) 5 . 

With the evolution of the conflict over the past century and the accompanying 
politicization of individual and collective identity, the sociopolitical and socio- 
psychological elements have become very much intertwined (Moghadam, 1994; Shiran, 
1993; Yuval-Davis, 1994). Thus, in order to make any headway in the resolution of the 
conflict, both the political and psychological elements must be addressed. 

This chapter is divided into four sections. The first reviews the literature related to 
the development of Jewish and Palestinian national identities and collective narratives. 
Narratives serve to define the discourse, providing the emotional fuel that perpetuates it. 
They are also, in turn, shaped by the conflict. I begin this section by defining the concepts 
of large group identity and collective narrative in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian 
conflict. Next, I provide an overview of the development of both the Zionist and 
Palestinian national identities and narratives, including counter-narratives in each group. 
In the second section, I discuss the Jewish American and Arab American Diaspora 

5 Miall does not discuss the power asymmetry between Israel, which has achieved statehood through 
occupation of Palestinian land, and Palestinians, who have yet to achieve statehood. 

Literature Review 

communities and the inter-relationship between these groups and their respective 
homelands, including their potential role in the conflict. The hegemony of the Zionist 
narrative in the United States, and problems associated with it will also be discussed. 
The third section explores conflict resolution literature pertaining to the Israeli- 
Palestinian conflict in particular. Specifically, I look at various models of dialogic 
interventions that have been used both in Israel/Palestine and with Diaspora communities 
in the US. I describe problems with the various models, and with the intervention 
research. I conclude the chapter with an overview of group relations theory, conference 
methods, and research: the approach taken in this study. 
Jewish and Palestinian Identities and Collective Narratives 
Large Group Identity and the Role of Collective Narratives 

Collective narratives, embedded as they are in everyday culture, national and 
religious holidays, the media, and school textbooks, play an essential role in the 
development of an individual's social identity, as well as in the creation of a shared group 
identity (Adwan and Bar-On, 2003; Bar Tal 1998; Rouhana and Bar Tal, 1998). 

Volkan (2001) defines large group identity — "whether it refers to religion, 
nationality or ethnicity— as the subjective experience of thousands or millions of people 
who are linked by a persistent sense of sameness while also sharing numerous 
characteristics with others in foreign groups" (p. 81). Individuals hold both a personal 
identity and large group identity. However, in times of collective stress, such as economic 
crisis, drastic political change, social upheaval or war, it is the large group identity that 
takes precedence (Volkan, 2001). Internal differences in the group are minimized in 

Literature Review 

relation to the external "other" and each group tends to view the other group 
monolithic ally. 

In the context of intractable conflict, collective narratives serve a number of 
functions. They: 

• Illuminate the conflict situation 

• Justify the acts of the in-group toward the enemy, including violence and 

• Create a sense of differentiation and superiority 

• Inspire mobilization and action 

• Affect political events by ascribing particular meanings to them 

• Contribute to the formation, maintenance and strengthening of social 
identity (Daniel Bar Tal & Salomon, 2006) 

Collective narratives encompass the societal beliefs 6 that enable the group to develop the 
psychological coping mechanisms necessary to manage in an environment ridden by 
conflict. Such beliefs include: beliefs in one's positive self-image, the justness of one's 
cause, patriotism, unity, and hopes for peace, along with beliefs about the illegitimacy of 
the other's goals; about being victimized by the other, and about security. Societal beliefs 
may serve as social defenses 7 against the intolerable feelings that would arise if the 
group faced difficult truths about itself. They form a kind of ideology which helps society 
develop the solidarity, determination, readiness for sacrifice, persistence, and courage 

6 "Societal beliefs are the cognitions shared by society members on topics and issues that are of special 
concern for the particular society and which contribute to the sense of uniqueness of the society's 
members" (Bar Tal, 1998, p. 4). 

7 Social defenses, originally described by Menzies Lyth (1997), are psychological defense mechanisms 
which manifest on a collective level. They may be evidenced in projective processes, structures, or rituals 
that serve to protect a group from intolerable anxiety. 

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necessary to endure long-term conflict (Bar Tal, 1998). All societal institutions (cultural, 
educational, legal, military, etc.) work in conjunction to support these beliefs. At the 
same time, through rationalization of the conflict and de-legitimization of the enemy, 
they stir up fear, anxiety, and hatred, which serve to further fuel the conflict. Societal 
beliefs and their accompanying emotions may color each group's perception and 
interpretation of historical events (Salomon, 2004; Rouhana and Bar Tal, 1998). 
Nationalist Narratives 

Jewish and Palestinian national identities developed in parallel to each other and 
continue to develop in relation to the other. Israeli life, while always centered upon the 
military, is increasingly militarized to combat real and perceived threats, and the 
Palestinian experience is defined and increasingly limited by Israeli occupation, which 
determined borders, and checkpoints. Both national identities are determined by 
geographical boundaries that are fairly recent, yet based on elements that go much further 
back in history. Both groups had begun to assert a national identity before either had the 
trappings of an independent state. Only one (Israel) has achieved statehood. Each 
narrative has within it an element of victimization and triumph over oppression and 
impossible odds, although it is expressed differently by each (Khalidi, 1997). While there 
have been numerous challenges to Zionist ideology, the narrative remains coherent and 
retains a strong hold on Jewish communities in Israel and in the Diasporas. In contrast, 
Palestinian narratives have been much more fragmented. Three reasons are cited for the 
failure of Arabs/Palestinians to create a coherent Arab narrative: 

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1. The Arab narrative is fragmented not only across national lines, but also within 
them, on class and sectoral (e.g., military vs. civilian) lines, varying with changes 
in Arab political doctrines and strategies. 

2. Arab historians failed to disentangle themselves from the Israeli 

3. Arab historians have lacked access to documentary and archival material, from 
which historical scholarship is drawn. Israeli military forces systematically 
destroyed libraries, municipal buildings containing archival documents and 
personal diaries. Material not destroyed was taken and stored in Israeli archives, 
to which Palestinian or Arab historians do not have access. Arab historians have 
also faced censorship in Arab countries (Jawad, 2006; Khalidi, 2006). 

The complex history of the Zionist and Palestinian Liberation movements and the 
conflict between them has been explored at length elsewhere 8 . A chronological timeline 
of some of the significant events in the history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict can be 
found in Appendix A. Not all parties necessarily agree that particular events occurred, or 
they may view specific events in entirely different ways. This is demonstrated in 
Appendix B, which depicts narrative differences of select events from the Israeli and 
Palestinian perspectives. I begin with a discussion of Zionism, providing a brief historical 
overview of the movement before outlining the Zionist narrative and accompanying 
societal beliefs. 

8 See, for example, Abdo & Lentin (2002); BeitHallahmi (1993); Khalidi (1997, 2006); Pappe (2007); and 
Segev (1991, 2000) 

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The Zionist Narrative 

Zionism was born in 1897 at the first World Zionist Congress in Basel, 
Switzerland. It developed in Eastern and Central Europe as an outgrowth of continuing 
anti-Semitism there and with the inspiration of other European nationalist movements of 
the 19 th century. Zion refers to Jerusalem, and by extension, the whole "Land of Israel" 
(Eretz Yisrael). According to Jewish theology, the Land of Israel was promised to the 
Jewish people as part of God's covenant with them. Following the destruction of the 
second temple in 70 C.E., the Jews were forced into exile. In "the end of days," spoken of 
by the Hebrew prophets, God will redeem the children of Israel and return them to Zion 
("the in-gathering of the exiles"). While initially a predominantly secular movement, 
Zionism alludes to this messianic vision, which has been used to legitimize the territorial 
claim to the Land of Israel (Klug, 2006). The notion of what Jewish nationhood entails, 
as well as the link between Zionism and the Jewish religion has been a matter of 
considerable dispute within the Jewish community 9 . 

Within the Zionist movement itself, there has historically been a range of opinion: 
the Revisionists (followers of Ze-ev Jabotinsky) promoted an expansionist Jewish state 
encompassing "Greater Israel"; while the Labor Zionists (led by David Ben Gurion) 
advocated a pioneering "return to the land" in a secular socialist state for the Jews. Other 
groups envisioned a Jewish enclave in Palestine or another territory 10 , without statehood, 
or a bi-national state in Palestine. The leftist MAP AM party in Israel supported a bi- 

9 Beit Hallahmi (1993) notes that the Jewish nation lacked two essential components of any national 
liberation movement: territory and population. 

10 Uganda, Argentina, and Australia were options that were considered (Rouhana, 2006). 

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national socialist state until it finally gave up the idea following the 1948 war (Beit- 
Hallahmi, 1993). 

In the European Diaspora, Zionism was but one of a number of Jewish 
movements competing for Jewish support. Jewish ideologies were aimed at either 
preservation of Jewish identity or at integration and assimilation into the surrounding 
culture. Movements aimed at preserving Jewish identity provided two alternatives: 
religious Orthodoxy, or cultural autonomy (with full individual rights and separate 
cultural identity), within their existing societies. A few efforts were made to combine 
socialism and Jewish nationalism, the most important of which was the Bund. Bundism 
directly challenged the socialist credentials of the Zionist movement as counter to 
universalist socialist ideology. According to this view, Jewish self-determination should 
be achieved in Europe, where they were obligated to overturn the class relations in their 
own societies. Anti-Semitism, considered to be a function of the petty-bourgeoisie, would 
end with the rise of the proletariat as a political force. While Zionism reviled the weak 
Diaspora Jew, Bundism promoted secular Yiddish culture. Liberal intellectual Jews 
advocated complete assimilation (indeed, this was the position of Theodore Herzl, one of 
the founding fathers of the Zionist movement, prior to his conversion to political 
Zionism), while others viewed participation in revolutionary movements as an alternative 
to Zionism (Beit-Hallahmi, 1993; Kovel, 2007). 

While Zionists used religious discourse and symbolism to legitimize its claims for 
a state in Palestine, Orthodox and Ultra- Orthodox (Haredim or "God fearing") Jews in 
Palestine and in the Diasporas were staunchly opposed to it (Tress, 1994). Only after the 
establishment of the state and the first elections in 1948 did the National Religious Party 

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(NRP) join the government (the elected labor party, Mapai, rather than forming a 
coalition with right wing revisionist parties chose instead to invite the NRP to join the 
government). The 1967 war and the conquest of the West Bank and Gaza, and especially 
East Jerusalem served to further facilitate the fusion of religious and national identity. 
Since then, the Ultra- Orthodox have become increasingly Zionist as they have used the 
Israeli state to gain institutional resources and impose religious practices on Israeli Jewish 
society (Yuval-Davis, 2001). Religious Zionists (such as Gush Emmunim — Block of the 
Faithful) currently play an important role in the settler movement 11 . 

The foundational myths upon which the Zionist narrative was built encompass the 
following societal beliefs: 

• The Land of Israel is the historical homeland of the Jews: Jews were 
forced into exile and have yearned to return for 2000 years 

• The Jewish people comprise a nation, and Zionism is the national 
liberation movement of the Jewish nation 

• Since their exile, Jews have been subject to anti-Semitism, which has 
taken the form of discrimination, isolation, pograms, culminating with the 

11 The movement has been involved in building settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, territories 
conquered and occupied by Israel since 1967. Gorenberg (2006) characterizes the settlement activity in the 
years following the conquest of the territories as a series of accidents, resulting from the lack of any 
coherent policy or strategy on Israel's part in regard to the territories. At the same time, the international 
community did not put any pressure on Israel to withdraw to the Armistice lines. The modus operandi of 
militant Zionist groups, beginning in the mid 1970s, was to start settlements, get evicted by the Israeli 
Defense Forces, only to return. The cycle would continue to repeat itself until the government allowed the 
settlers to stay. In this way, settlements have been allowed to multiply in the occupied territories without 
regard to international law (and in many cases, also against Israeli law) (Gorenberg, 2006; Tress, 1994). 
The creation of the network of roads and settlements that leave Palestinian towns and villages increasingly 
isolated from each other, and the building up of the "Greater Jerusalem" area challenges the notion that 
settlement activity has been "accidental" (Halper, 2006; Mukdasi, 2009). 

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• Living in the Diaspora has created an "abnormal" and "parasitic" Jewish 
existence, with Jews cut off from nature, the land, physical labor, etc. 

• The root of the "Jewish Problem" in Europe is in this abnormal life 
created in the Diaspora 

• To be redeemed, and become a "normal" nation, Jews must be returned to 
the land of Israel: the "ingathering of the exiles" 

• The Jewish people can find safe haven only in a Jewish state 

• The Land of Israel was essentially un-occupied — "a land without a people 
for a people without a land." The Zionists arrived in this desolate land and 
"made the desert bloom." 

• While a small indigenous population lived in the land, there was no 
particular Palestinian culture or civilization in the territory prior to the 
arrival of the Jews. Golda Meir, a former Prime Minister of Israel has been 
famously quoted to say "there is no such thing as a Palestinian" (Daniel 
Bar Tal & Salomon, 2006; Beit-Hallahmi, 1993; Finkelstein, 2008; Segev, 
2000; Warschawski, 2005) 

The collective narrative serves to maintain internal coherence in a pluralistic 
culture, with significant intra-group differences of race, ethnicity, culture, religion 12 and 
class, while maximizing differences with the other (Salomon, 2004). The "other" (i.e., the 
Palestinians) becomes the receptacle for the intolerable split off 1 3 elements of the in- 

12 from secular to ultra-orthodox 

13 In psychoanalytic terms, splitting is a defensive process in which internal conflicts are contained by 
dividing them into all good or all bad parts. Holding both the good and the bad elements creates a paradox, 
which threatens internal coherence and creates anxiety. Projection is the process by which the split-off, 

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group. Israeli identity has been constructed in direct opposition to both East European 
Diaspora culture and to the indigenous Arab culture (Beit-Hallahmi, 1993; Rabinowitz, 
2002; Warschawski, 2005). 
Societal Beliefs in Israel Today 

There is a wide spectrum of political positions within Israeli society today vis a 
vis the Palestinians: the political right, continuing the tradition of the pre-state 
Revisionists, advocates for state expansion to encompass all of "greater Israel" (including 
the Palestinian territories) requiring "transfer" of the Palestinians. At the far political left 
of the spectrum is the anti -Zionist perspective, which advocates a bi-national state with 
full civil rights for all its citizens (this comprises a very small percentage of the Israeli 
Jewish population, though for many years was the predominant choice for the 
Palestinians); with the "two-state solution" somewhere in the center 14 . Despite the wide 
range of political opinion, the following societal beliefs continue to dominate the Israeli 
(Jewish) narrative, particularly the public face presented to the global community: 

• Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East 

• The people of Israel long for peace, yet are surrounded by Arab countries 
that are intent on her destruction: "They want to throw us into the sea" 

intolerable elements are dis-owned and deposited onto the other. Defense mechanisms can be mobilized on 
an intra-psychic, inter -personal, group or inter-group level (Wallach, 2006). 

l4 With the exponential increase of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, that continued throughout the peace 
process, under the leadership of the left wing Labor Party, many scholars have concluded that the two state 
solution is no longer a viable one. Indeed, some suggest it was neither viable nor the intent of the Israeli 
government to fulfill (Abunimah, 2009; Aruri, 2009; Barghouti, 2009; Benvenisti, 2009; Ghanem, 2009; 
Pappe, 2009a, 2009b). During the 2009 war on Gaza, Israeli public opinion polls showed that the majority 
of Jewish Israelis were in favor of the actions taken. This fact, in conjunction with the installation of a far 
right wing government in 2009, demonstrates that an increasing proportion of the Israeli population has 
moved to the political right (Murray, 2009; Pappe, 2009a, 2009b). Surprisingly, some in the settler 
movement on the political right, are now beginning to advocate for a one state solution, granting citizenship 
to Palestinian residents. What that citizenship would entail, is not entirely clear. 

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• Israel's military actions are entirely for self-defense and aimed at 
protecting her from terrorist attack. The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) is the 
"most moral army in the world." 

• Arabs/Palestinians only understand the language of force (Rouhana, 

• The Palestinians have many Arab/Muslim countries where they can go. 
The Jews have but one state to call their own. 

• "The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity." 
Israel has offered the Palestinians, as well as the surrounding Arab states 
many opportunities to make peace, and each time they have chosen war. 
The most recent example, at the July 2000 Camp David Summit, was 
Arafat's refusal of Prime Minister Ehud Barak's "very generous offer" to 
the Palestinians as brokered by President Clinton in his last days in office 
(Finkelstein, 2008). 

These societal beliefs have informed and colored the collective narrative, in which 
the conflict has become a central part of Israeli Jews' self-definition. Convinced that the 
Arabs are intent on destroying the Jewish state, "indeed, that its own destruction is 
inherent in the other's ideology (Kelman, 1999, p. 589)," the narrative accentuates Israeli 
victimization 15 . At the same time, the Zionist narrative minimizes Israel's contribution to 
Palestinian suffering. Paradoxically, despite the central role of the victim mentality 
within Israeli historiography and public discourse, "weakness" has been viewed with 
contempt in Israeli culture. In Zionist discourse, the weak Diaspora Jew would be 

15 A variation of the victim theme can be seen in the Palestinian narrative, discussed later in this chapter. 

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transformed into a new Israeli — strong, masculine, even Aryan 16 (Saposnik, 2003; 
Warschawski, 2005). The revisionist faction of the Zionist movement was greatly 
influenced and inspired by European fascism (before the Holocaust), with its masculine 
ideals of toughness, militarism, and order (Beit-Hallahmi, 1993). 

Historical events have become interwoven with and are framed (and re-framed) 
by the collective narrative and societal beliefs that inform Jewish identity. For example, 
Israel's military history is framed in terms of the danger to Israel's survival and Israel's 
victimization by stronger, more powerful enemies. The dominant Israeli discourse about 
the War of Independence depicts a fledgling young state that is attacked on all fronts by 
more powerful, aggressive neighbors. The David vs. Goliath scenario has been 
challenged by new historians who note that despite the public discourse about the danger 
of a "second Holocaust," the Zionist leadership was aware that the Arab armies were no 
match for their superior forces (Pappe, 2007). The 1967 war is framed in similar terms, 
even though it was Israel that struck preemptively and quickly overwhelmed its enemies. 
Internal Dissent 

Since the founding of the State of Israel, dissident viewpoints have been largely 
silenced or marginalized 17 (Motzafi-Haller, 2005). Challenges to the dominant Zionist 
narrative have come from the "new historians", Palestinian scholars, and most recently 

16 The derogatory "savonette" (bar of soap) has been used in Israel to describe people who weren't "tough 
enough": the term references what Nazis did with the fat of Jews massacred at death camps (Warschawski, 

17 There have been an increasing number of crackdowns on Israeli Jewish dissenters as well as Palestinians. 
In May 2009, Yisrael Beitenu (Israel Our Homeland), the far right wing party led by Israeli foreign minister 
Avigdor Leiberman proposed a bill in the Knesset that would prohibit Nakba commemorations. He has 
previously called for Palestinian Israelis to take loyalty oaths to the state of Israel (Reuters, 2009). 

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from Mizrahi feminist scholars 18 . The notion of Diaspora or exile as an abnormal 
condition for the Jews has been challenged on a number of fronts. Beit Hallahmi (1993) 
notes, that contrary to the dominant narrative, the Diaspora has been part of Jewish 
history long before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E. A Jewish Diaspora 
thrived in Mesopotamia and Egypt as early as the 6 th Century B.C.E. Others note that 
historically, Jews have been most successful (and safest) in pluralistic societies or in 
Muslim countries. That the Jewish population in Israel continues to fear for its survival, 
and that Diaspora communities particularly in North America continue to thrive, 
contradicts the notion that world Jewry can only find a "safe haven" in a Jewish state 
(Beit-Hallahmi, 1993). 

Zionism is being re-defined as a settler-colonialist movement rather than, or in 
addition to its characterization as a national liberation movement (Abarjel & Lavie, 2009; 
Said, 1979/2000; Warschawski, 2005). New historians have uncovered the role of Israel's 
founding fathers in the deliberate and systematic expulsion of Palestinians from their 
homes, and in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, before and after the Israel's War of 
Independence 19 . This contrasts to the Zionist narrative that the "tragic" Palestinian 
displacement was an unintended outcome of the War of Independence, fought only when 

18 For examples of new historians, see Segev (2000); Gorenberg (2006); Pappe (2007). Palestinian scholars 
include Said (1978, 2000), and Khalidi (1997, 2006). Mizrahi and feminist criticism can be found in Abdo 
and Lentin (2002); Behar (2008); Lavie(2008); Motzafi-Haller (1998, 2000, 2001, 2005); Shohat (1988, 
2001, 2002, 2003, 2006); Yosef (2006). 

Mizrahi refers to Jews who have originally come from Arab and North African countries. Mizrahi Jews are 
also sometimes referred to as Sephardim (from the Hebrew word for Spain) to describe Jews who lived in 
the Iberian Peninsula, until their expulsion in 1492. Ashkenazi (from the Hebrew word for Germany) refers 
to Jews who have come from Central and East European countries, where the Zionist movement originated. 
It has been suggested that Ashkenazi Jews are descendants of Khazars who were converts to Judaism, 
rather than the twelve tribes, and therefore had no legitimate claim to the land of Israel. 2.html 
1 ' Referred to as the "Nakba" or catastrophe, by Palestinians 

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the beleaguered nation was attacked on all sides by surrounding Arab nations (Beit- 
Hallahmi, 1993; Pappe, 2007; Segev, 2000). 
Feminist and Mizrahi Challenges to Zionism 

Feminist critical analysis challenges masculinist notions of the state and of 
citizenship which accompany militarization (Joseph, 2000; Mohanty, 2003, 2006). These 
analyses have asserted that nationalist projects and narratives have used women (as 
biological reproducers of ethnic national collectivities) to propagate patriarchal societal 
ideals (including the proper role and behavior of women). In such societies, women's 
roles as wives and mothers may become "fetishized." That is, the "proper" role and 
behavior of women is elevated to be a matter of community interest and scrutiny: women 
come to symbolize the community (Moghadam, 1994; Papanek, 1994; Stasiulis, 1999). 
Sered (2000) illustrates how patriarchal institutions in Israeli Jewish society (the religious 
establishment, the medical establishment, and the state) collude and compete for control 
over women's bodies 20 . Collective responsibility as cultural reproducers of "the nation" is 
attributed to women, while men hold collective authority. Having responsibility without 
authority is, according to Sered, what makes women sick 2 ' . 

Beginning in the 1970s, feminist scholars began to address gender inequalities 
within Israel, though often from an Ashkenazi perspective exhibiting orientalist 22 bias 

20 Sered notes that each institution has its own vision of and agenda for women's bodies: for religious 

establishment, it is purity and modesty; the state requires fertile women's bodies to bear and raise the next 

generation of citizens; the medical establishment understands women's bodies to be especially prone to 

disease and in need of expert management. 

2I " Israeli women's poor health is rooted in the institutionalization of gender patterns that consistently and 

programmatically deny women access to power, while at the same time holding them responsible for the 

continuity and purity of the collective" (Sered, 2000, p. 169). 

" Said (1978) defines "Orientalism" as a Western construct which defines Oriental or Eastern identity in 

opposition to that of the West: "one is the absolute and systematic difference between the West, which is 

rational, developed, humane, superior, and the Orient, which is aberrant, undeveloped, inferior" (p. 300). 

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(Dallalfar, 2009; Motzafi-Haller, 2001; Raday, 2001; Roffman, 2009; Swirski, 1993; 

Swirski & Safir, 1993). Israeli identity evolved in opposition to the notion of the weak 

(feminized) Diaspora Jew (as well as the feminized Arab/Oriental culture), and the 

society has become an increasingly masculinized and militarized. Feminist critique in 

Israel challenges the veracity of the notion of egalitarianism that has infused the Zionist 

socialist narrative. For Jewish women in the Israeli state, citizenship is constructed 

primarily through their family roles as wives and mothers. Personal status issues and the 

private lives of women fall under the jurisdiction of religious courts 23 . Religious courts 

control marriage, divorce, and child custody issues (Swirski, 2000). In Israel, the 

deference to religious courts (Jewish, Christian, and Muslim) has resulted in patriarchal 

norms and values being enshrined into the law. When secular and religious laws come 

into conflict, women may waive some of their civil rights (e.g., to property), because they 

are dependent upon religious courts in matters regarding their personal status (Raday, 

2001). Jewish religious courts are increasingly under the control of the Ultra-Orthodox 

(Gorenberg, 2008). 

Within the feminist discourse, Mizrahi feminist scholars have challenged the 

hegemony of the Ashkenazi perspective that has dominated the Zionist narrative by 

examining the experience of Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews in Israel. Between the 1940s and 

1960s, there was a large influx of Jews from Arab countries. From 1949-1950, 49,000 

Yemenite Jews were brought to Israel and 1 14,000 Iraqis immigrated to Israel in 1951. 

Thus, Orientalism can be viewed as a projection of the West's unwanted elements. Oriental studies have 
been used by the West to justify European occupation and colonization. Said suggests the relationship 
between the colonizing West and the Orient was sexualized, as the Orient was often depicted in 
feminine/feminized terms: "The Middle East is resistant, as any virgin would be, but the male scholar wins 
the prize by bursting open, penetrating through the Gordian knot..." (p. 309) 

23 Similarly, personal status issues for Muslims and Christians also fall under the jurisdiction of their 
respective courts. 

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Zionist historiography depicts the aliyah 24 of Arab Jews in orientalist terms: Arab Jews 
needed to be rescued from oppressive and primitive conditions in their countries of 
origin, and required modernization. The names given to the operations that brought in 
these groups, such as "Operation Magic Carpet," or "Operation Moses" are further 
indications of the paternalistic attitude of the Ashkenazi Zionist leadership towards the 
Jewish Arab immigrants. 

Mizrahi feminist scholars have brought to light the complexities of Arab Jewish 
immigration to Israel, calling into question the amount of free will Arab Jews actually 
exercised in coming to the country 25 . The failure of European immigration to Israel and 
the wish for Jewish labor to replace Arab agricultural workers led to the decision to bring 
in Sephardic and Mizrahi workers in large numbers. Zionist activists worked to promote 
fear 26 amongst the Jewish population in Arab countries in order to encourage them to 
emigrate, while secret agreements were made between Arab and Israeli leaders. The 
dominant discourse, as propagated by the Ashkenazi leadership, viewed Arab-ness and 
Jewish-ness as mutually exclusive. Absorption and acceptance into Israeli society (with 
its European orientation) required denial and suppression of their Arab culture (Abarjel & 
Lavie, 2009; Lavie, 2009; Motzafi-Haller, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2005; Shohat, 1988, 2001, 
2002, 2003; Yosef, 2006). 

The multiplicity and complexity of identities in Israel have sometimes put 
feminist and nationalist discourses at odds with each other. Dominated by Ashkenazi 
women, feminist groups have often not recognized or addressed particular concerns and 

24 Immigration to Israel is referred to as aliyah — from the Hebrew word meaning to ascend, or to go up. 

25 Indeed, in 1929, the Chief Rabbi of Iraq denounced Zionism and the Balfour Declaration. 

26 This included the use of terror tactics to create panic and disorientation. 

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inequalities faced by Mizrahi women. Mizrahi groups, who might find natural allies in 
Palestinian groups, with whom there is a cultural affinity and shared experience of 
discrimination in Israel, have split along lines of nationalist discourse. Conflicting 
identity loyalties (i.e., to one's gender group vs. one's national group) have resulted in 
fissures between respective liberation movements. There is a thin line between 
'oppressed' and 'oppressor': groups that are 'oppressed' in the context of the larger 
Israeli society, may become 'oppressors' vis-a-vis other 'oppressed' groups 27 . These 
fissures have negatively impacted the capacities of these groups to more effectively 
challenge the hegemonic Zionist discourse (Lavie, 2009; Shiran, 1993; Swirski, 1993). 
Abarjel and Lavie (2009) cogently explore dilemmas faced by Mizrahim whose 
"Arabness" has been denied or exoticized in Israeli society, while at the same time they 
are co-opted into the Ashkenazi Zionist establishment. Mizrahi activists trying to forge 
alliances with Palestinians face criticism and anti-Arab sentiment (and cries of "death to 
the Arabs") within their own community. 
Palestinian Narratives 
Development of Palestinian Identity 

From the beginning, Palestinians struggled for acceptance and legitimacy of their 
national identity. Development of Palestinian national consciousness dates to the early 
twentieth century, when the region was still under the rule of the Ottomans. Their 
national consciousness developed in response to external threats, but was rooted in a 
long-standing concern for Jerusalem and Palestine as sacred (Khalidi, 1997). At that time, 
the emerging identity of Palestine was comprised of multiple loyalties: to religion, the 

27 Ashkenazi women vis-a-vis Mizrahi women, Mizrahim vis-a-vis Palestinians, etc. 

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Ottoman state, Arabic language, the emerging Arabism, as well as country, local, and 
familial loyalties. With World War I and the fall of the Ottoman Empire, two elements of 
that identity faded: Ottomanism and religious affiliation. Palestinian identity was further 
shaped by Zionism, in opposition to the Jewish-Israeli narrative, and continues to unfold 
and reconfigure itself in the context of historical events (Khalidi, 1997). 

With communication advances (in the form of trains and the telegraph) in the 
1800s, the Ottoman Empire was able to more firmly control its provinces. Until then, 
Palestine had been under the control of local tribal, sectarian and feudal leaders. Ottoman 
institutions in Palestine (educational, legal, etc.) were modernized and secularized. 
Religious/Islamic learning was no longer privileged as it had been. Western influence and 
literacy increased, leading to the formation of middle and professional classes. With the 
pressure for modern education, private schools burgeoned, and different educational 
systems developed throughout the Mandate. By the close of the Ottoman era, the terms 
"Palestine" and "Palestinians" were used increasingly in the Arab press (Khalidi, 1997). 
During the British Mandate period which followed, Palestine was the Middle East 
territory seen as being the most ready for statehood, and its residents were issued 
Palestinian passports (Akram, 2009). 

The Palestinian narrative consists of foundational myths, as well as components 
related to the Nakba (Jaw ad, 2006). Foundational myths consist of the following 

• Palestinians are people with an ancient and deeply rooted history in the land 

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• Palestine is a melting pot of nations, tribes and cultures over the centuries: 
Canaanites, Jebusites, and Philastines are lineal ancestors of Palestine (Khalidi, 

• Jewish presence on the land was marginal, even in biblical times, and absent for 
2000 years. 

• As part of the Arab world and civilization, Palestine has played an important role 
in human progress 

• Jews were part of this civilization and have always been treated with tolerance. 

• Jerusalem is important in Muslim history and religious practice, playing a crucial 
role in the early Islamic period (Jawad, 2006) 

There is wide acceptance of the above elements, though there are some differences 
between elite versus popular culture in the Arab world and in Palestinian society. There is 
general agreement that responsibility for the refugee problem belonged to the Western 
powers: especially Great Britain for establishing a Jewish state in an Arab land, and the 
Zionists/Israelis who ethnically cleansed the Palestinians from their homes. There is 
greater disagreement in the Arab world with regard to 1948 (referred to as al-Nakba, or 
the Catastrophe). There is no consensus regarding the role of Arab armies (as a whole, as 
well as particular states) in Palestinian displacement, or the relative strengths of military 
and civilian authorities (Jawad, 2006). Khalidi (1997) notes that Palestinians aided the 
Zionists through: selling land to them, failing to organize Palestinian society to overcome 
differences to stop the sales, and failing to win concessions from the British. The 
surrounding Arab states have been criticized for colluding with the Zionists on the one 
hand and reacting to the actions of Zionists and the state of Israel with a "dogmatic brand 

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of Arabism" where Israel was viewed as a tool of the West. Freedom of expression was 
curtailed and reference to Israel in print was prohibited. Censorship led to a 
consolidation of police states and human rights abuses were committed in the name of 
fighting Zionist aggression (Said, 1979/2000). 

From 1948 and through to the mid 1960s, outsiders saw few manifestations of 
Palestinian nationalism. During that time, the hegemonic ideology throughout the Arab 
world was pan- Arabism, that is, the notion that Arabs are a single people, with a single 
language, history and culture, which have been divided by imperialism. Palestinians led 
pan-Arab organizations that were aimed at liberating Palestine. The pan-Arabist 
movement culminated with Nasser's rise to power in Egypt, but lost its appeal with 
Palestinians as a result of the harassment of Palestinians in Gaza 28 by Egyptian 
intelligence. Nasser's pro-Palestinian rhetoric was now viewed more cynically. 
Nevertheless, seeds were being planted for the nascent Palestinian nationalist movement 
(Khalidi, 1997). 

In 1950, the Union of Palestinian Students was started at Cairo University by a 
student who came to be known as Yasser Arafat. At around the same time, George 
Habash formed a group at the American University of Beirut and other groups sprang up 
in Gaza. By the mid 1950s, a network of grassroots groups had formed, though they were 
small and often had their own agendas. After 1967, the Movement of Arab Nationalists 
(MAN) transformed from being a pan- Arab organization to one of the main Palestinian 
militant groups — the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine). Its main rival 
was Fatah. (Khalidi, 1997). 

28 then under Egyptian rule 

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Khalidi (1997) posits three stages in the development of Palestinian identity. 
Prior to World War I, the new elite of urban, literate and educated middle classes, along 
with traditional notables shared the notion that there existed a unique Palestinian identity. 
Stage two began following the trauma of World War I. During the years of the British 
Mandate between the world wars, a sense of having a shared fate broadened the numbers 
of people exposed to the idea of Palestinian identity. These ideas were transmitted 
through both the newly modernized educational system and the press. Stage three 
commenced in 1948. The Nakba erased many gaps between previously fragmented 
groups, diminishing the importance of many pre 1948 conflicts. The United Nations 
Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) further leveled the playing field by providing education 
in all refugee camps. Shared trauma, brought on by their new refugee status, along with 
callous treatment by Israel and Arab host states further cemented Palestinian identity 
(Khalidi, 1997). 

The Palestinian narrative, like the Zionist one, is replete with stories of heroism 
and survival against overwhelming odds, such as: the revolt of 1936-39 against the 
British and the Zionists; and stories of Palestinian villagers ("the heroic peasant") holding 
off overwhelming Jewish forces in 1948. One such case was the battle of al-Karama in 
March of 1968: in response to guerilla incursions into Israel, several brigades of Israeli 
troops attacked Fatah military bases in the abandoned Jordanian town of al-Karama. The 
battle of al-Karama was "a case of failure against overwhelming odds brilliantly narrated 
as heroic triumph" (Khalidi, 1997, p. 197). After a day of fighting, 28 Israeli soldiers 
were killed (much more than expected) and the Jordanians captured several Israeli tanks. 
While Israel achieved most of its military objectives, and Palestinians also incurred 

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significant losses, the Palestinians nevertheless viewed the battle as a symbolic victory. 
Yasser Arafat gained hero status. The narrative highlights martyrdom in battle while 
downplaying the mistakes and overall disorganization and losses suffered by Palestinians. 
After the battle, thousands of Arabs throughout the Middle East volunteered to join the 
fight for liberation. Over the next decade, they were joined by young European leftists, 
who had mobilized against the Vietnam War, and now took up the Palestinian cause and 
violent methods in fighting for it (Khalidi, 1997; Tolan, 2006). Following an Israeli 
crackdown on Palestinians in 1969, Abu Laila and others split off from the PFLP. Taking 
a more moderated stance, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) 
advocated co-existence, and saw the battle as one against Zionism, not against Jews 
(Tolan, 2006). 

The narrative of "failure as triumph" (Khalidi, 1997) was further developed by 
Palestinian nationalist organizations that later took over the PLO (Palestinian Liberation 
Organization 29 ). In 1974, the PLO was recognized by the Arab League as the "sole 
legitimate representative of the Palestinian people," and was granted observer status in 
the United Nations ("Background briefings: Who represents the Palestinians officially 
before the world community?," 2006-2007). 

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the PLO and Palestinian nationalism suffered a 
number of political and military setbacks, failing to examine or learn from its political 
mistakes (Said, 1995/2000). In 1970, the PLFP committed a series of air hijackings, 
leading to a few weeks of bloody battles in Palestinian refugee camps between the 
Jordanian army and Palestinian factions (PLO, PLFP, DFLP). In September of that year 

29 which had been formed by the Arab League in 1964 

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(later known as "Black September"), the Jordanian army expelled the PLO from Jordan. 
The PLO was also drawn into the war in Lebanon in 1975-6, provoking Syria, a former 
PLO ally, to intervene against the PLO and its Lebanese supporters. Phalangist and allied 
militias, backed by both Israel and Syria, invaded three Palestinian refugee camps near 
Beirut massacring and expelling their inhabitants. Over the next few years there was a 
series of intense clashes, many involving the PLO. This culminated in a massive Israeli 
invasion of Lebanon and siege of the PLO in Beirut in the summer of 1982 30 . The PLO, 
the Palestinian civilian population and the Lebanese suffered heavy casualties 3 ' . The end 
result was the expulsion of Palestinian leaders and institutions to Tunisia, Yemen, Sudan, 
Syria, Iraq, and Libya. The narrative of failure as triumph enabled the Palestinians "to 
make sense of a troubled history which involved enormous efforts against great odds 
simply for them to maintain their identity as a people" (Khalidi, 1997, p. 199). 

Disillusionment with PLO leadership in the 1980s (particularly amongst 
Palestinians in the Diaspora) resulted in the emergence of a counter-narrative. More 
Palestinians questioned the choices made by their leaders and fewer felt loyal to the PLO 
leadership in Tunis. In 1983 Syria supported a revolt within Fatah 32 . The popular uprising 
("intifada" in Arabic), which began in December 1987 in the occupied territories caught 
the PLO leadership off-guard, while boosting the flagging Palestinian national 
movement. The PLO later joined in supporting the intifada, though Palestine, rather than 
the Diaspora became the center of Palestinian politics once again (Khalidi, 1997). 

30 Massacres at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps occurred in September. 

31 estimated at 19,000 killed and 30,000 wounded (Khalidi, 1997) 

32 The main faction within the PLO, headed by Yasser Arafat 

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After the Oslo Peace Accords in 1993, the PLO was replaced (domestically) by 
the Palestinian Authority (PA) 33 . As a result, the Palestinian elite returned from exile and 
resettled in the West Bank and Gaza, causing further strain between Palestinians and their 
leadership (Nabulsi, 2009). The PA, led by Yasser Arafat and the Fatah party, was 
riddled with corruption (Aburish, 1993; Nusseibeh & David, 2007; Rabinowitz, 2000, 
2005). Furthermore, the accords failed to slow Israeli settlement activity in the West 
Bank, which burgeoned in the period following the signing of the accords. This further 
eroded support for the PA and the accords (though Palestinians still favored peace) 
(Rabinowitz, 2005; Said, 1995/2000, 2003). Arafat enjoyed a surge of popular support in 
2002, when Israel re-invaded parts of the West Bank and laid siege to his compound in 
Ramallah 34 . When he died in 2004, he was replaced by Mahmoud Abbas as head of 

Corruption continued to plague Fatah, and in January 2006, the Palestinian 
Legislative Council elections (which had been postponed from July 2005) resulted in the 
victory of Hamas over Fatah 35 . Following this outcome, the US, European Union (EU), 
Russia and UN (the "Quartet") demanded that the new Hamas government renounce 
violence, recognize Israel's right to exist, and accept the terms of all previous 
agreements. The Hamas government refused, instead offering a ten year ceasefire with 
Israel. In response, the Quartet shut off aid (~ $2 billion) to the PA, and Israel clamped 

33 The PLO retained responsibility for foreign affairs and is a signatory on all treaties (Becker, October 

34 As with Israeli Jews, Palestinians too tend to unite when under attack from the outside. The outside 
enemy distracts from internal conflict. 

35 Hamas was established by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and others following the eruption of the first intifada, 
and has roots in the Muslim Brotherhood (a Sunni religious and political organization established in Egypt 
in 1928). Israel initially supported the growth of Hamas as a counterweight to the PLO. Yassin was arrested 
during the 1987 intifada and held until 1997. The Israelis assassinated him in 2004. (Becker, October 2007) 

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down further on Palestinian freedom of movement, particularly in Gaza. Israel detained 
64 Hamas officials, including Legislative Council members. After the kidnapping of 
Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Israel launched a new military campaign in Gaza. The United 
States continued to pressure President Abbas to dissolve the Hamas government, 
promising (but not following through on) an $86 million aid package to dismantle 
terrorism and restore law and order (Murray, 2009; D. Rose, 2008; Shlaim, 2009). 

In 2007, violence again broke out between the two Palestinian factions, with the 
storming of Islamic University of Gaza by Fatah forces and Hamas retaliation. Under the 
auspices of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, a power sharing deal was struck to establish 
a National Unity government, where Ismail Haniya of Hamas remained Prime Minister, 
and Fatah members would hold important posts. Nevertheless, tensions between the 
groups continued, erupting with street battles in Gaza and resulting in the Hamas 
takeover of Gaza while Fatah maintained control of the West Bank. Israel continued its 
blockade of Gaza, (depriving its residents of basic needs such as electricity, water, and 
medicine), bringing the strip to the brink of humanitarian disaster. Israel invaded Gaza in 
January 2009 36 (Becker, October 2007; Murray, 2009; D. Rose, 2008; Shlaim, 2009). 
Since 2008, several attempts have been made by the Free Gaza movement (see Appendix 
E) to break the blockade. In May of 2010 Israeli forces attacked the "Gaza Flotilla" (a 
group of ships organized to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza) killing nine Turkish activists 
(one of whom was also a US citizen), and wounding dozens of others. The tragedy has 
kept the plight of Gaza in the headlines, and brought unprecedented worldwide 

36 1434 Palestinians were killed, including 960 civilians. Thirteen Israelis killed, including three civilians 
and soldiers who died from "friendly fire", (retrieved April 16, 2009 from: ) 

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condemnation of Israel 37 . There has been equally strong pushback from Israel, and from 
establishment Jewish organizations to the events, which continue to unfold 38 . 
Societal Beliefs amongst Palestinians Today 

Why haven't the Palestinians achieved statehood after all these years? Khalidi 
(2006) attributes this failure to both external and internal factors. During the Mandate, the 
British had already begun to construct an "iron cage." At the end of World War II, 
Palestinian leaders were highly critical of both the British and Zionist colonial forces, but 
themselves made a series of devastating errors, setting the stage for decades to come. In 
the larger Arab world, the Arab street was sympathetic to the Palestinian plight, but their 
governments often colluded with Israel in order to further their own domestic and inter 
Arab political agendas. For their part, Palestinians learned to play the Arab regimes off 
each other (Khalidi, 1997). 

Palestinians today are split geographically into four groups: Palestinian citizens of 
Israel; Palestinian refugees (including those living in camps in Lebanon and Jordan); 
Palestinians living in the occupied territories — the West Bank and Gaza — who may 
themselves be refugees from 1948; and the Palestinian Diaspora, living in the Arab states 
and in the United States (Abunimah, 2009; Bisharat, 2009; Brown, 2006). Given the 
geographical and political splits, it should not be surprising that today, there is little 
consensus amongst Palestinians regarding resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or 
what they envision for the future of their homeland. The vision each group espouses for 
the future has largely depended on where they ended up: constituencies within Palestine 

37 Increased Israeli aggression against Gaza also exacerbated the splits within the American Jewish 

38 Retrieved June 24, 2010 from http ://w w w. freegaza. org/en/home/pres s -releases . 

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tend to be against the creation of a new bi-national state. Within Israel Palestinians favor 
equal rights within the Israeli state, while the majority of Palestinians within the occupied 
territories prefer a two-state option: many cannot conceive of continuing to live with their 
oppressors. Refugees wishing to return to Palestine support de-facto a one state solution, 
as that would be the result of their return (Karmi, 2009); in the Diaspora, the majority of 
Palestinians want a single binational state. Formal messages from Palestine to the world 
have been and continue to be contradictory, reflecting the internal fragmentation of 
leadership 39 (Karmi, 2009). 

Within Israel, a new generation of Arab/Palestinian political leaders is emerging, 
with a proliferation of explicitly Arab political parties (both nationalist and Islamist) and 
NGOs, representing a growing national consciousness. They also mirror the internal 
fragmentation, a result not only of Israel's efforts to weaken new leaders, but also as a 
result of continuing traditional structures, such as extended families, a culture of notables 
(seen in the personalization of institutions), and patriarchy — especially the political 
exclusion of women (Jamal, 2006). Nabulsi (2009) understands the fragmentation of the 
Palestinian body politic as part of a de-democratization process that has been occurring 
since the Oslo peace process. Palestine lost many of its democratic traditions through 
both the design of its institutions and the processes and practices utilized. She posits that 
elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council were themselves one of the biggest 
causes of the de-democratization process. Scholars suggest that Palestinians have many 

39 In 1974, the PLO promoted a clear political position in favor of a single secular, humanistic state for 
Palestinians and Jews, it has since 1974, along with the Palestinian Authority (which replaced the PLO 
following the Oslo accords) promoted de facto the two state option, while other groups speak of a one state 
solution (Karmi, 2009). 

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issues to address in order to develop a coherent national narrative and identity, including: 

exploring what is meant by statehood; examining the values Palestinians should embrace, 

including the place of human rights; and deciding how to address the presence of 

Jews/Israelis in Palestine who wish to retain their Jewish/Israeli identity (Brown, 2006; 

Farsakh, 2009). 

The Role of the Diasporas 

The Formation of Diasporas 

In recent years as ethno-national Diasporas have increased in visibility and 
political importance 'Diaspora Studies' has become a legitimate field of inquiry (Sheffer, 
2006). The numbers of ethno-national Diasporas have grown significantly, and ethnic 
minorities have gained greater legitimacy in Western democracies. This has been further 
enhanced by the break-up of the Soviet Union. Diasporas form as a result of both 
voluntary and imposed migration to one of many host countries. Diaspora communities 
are frequently involved in acute conflicts not only in their homelands and host lands, but 
also in third and fourth countries where their ethnic groups reside (Sheffer, 2006). While 
ethno-national Diasporas 40 vary greatly, they share a number of features. Sheffer (2002) 
constructed a profile of Diaspora communities, which concerns their decision to settle in 
the host country; their level of integration and assimilation into the host society; the 
establishment of organizations; and questions of divided loyalties. 
The Decision to Settle 

40 Large groups of migrants who later become the predominant group (e.g., the English in the US, Canada 
and Australia) are not categorized as ethno-national Diasporas, even if they maintain a cultural affinity or 
ties with the country of origin. 

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The critical formative stage in the creation of a Diaspora occurs only after migrants 
overcome the initial shock involved in leaving their homeland and settling in a new host 
country. Most migrants decide only after arriving in their host country about whether to 
permanently settle there and join an existing Diasporic entity or to help establish one. 
These decisions are based on both emotional and rational considerations. Occasionally, 
migrants stay only temporarily in the intended host country and may be forced to move to 
another one due to restrictions on permanent settlement or because of economic, political 
or social difficulties. Members of migrant groups must decide about the main strategy 
they will pursue vis-a-vis their host society and government, homeland, and their 
Diasporas elsewhere (Sheffer, 2002). Peteet (2007) argues that Palestinians don't fit the 
classic profile of a Diaspora, lacking both a sense of hope and new beginnings as well as 
the communal formations-elites and new institutions that define Diaspora. 
Integration and assimilation vs. minority status and separation 

How well migrants integrate and assimilate into their host societies and the level 
of cohesion and solidarity of their group is dependent both on the migrants, as well as the 
host country. Differences of generation, class, education, and ideology need to be 
overcome to develop a cohesive community. Memories of being uprooted from the 
homeland, the hardships of settlement in a new country, the welcome they received from 
the host society, ties to the homeland, and decisions made about their future result in 
increased solidarity among members of these groups. As minorities in their host countries 
ethno -national diasporas may potentially be expelled, or face social, political and 
economic hardships and alienation. Members of Diaspora communities may also fully 

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assimilate into the host societies, resulting in demographic losses to the communities 

(Sheffer, 2002). 

Divided Loyalties 

Diasporic communities may potentially feel (or be perceived as feeling) divided 

loyalty between their homeland and host country. Occasionally, this real or perceived 

dual loyalty may cause tensions with the host country, prompting homelands to intervene 

on behalf of their Diasporas or likewise demand that "their" Diaspora express unswerving 

loyalty to the homeland and render services to it. Elaborate intra-state and trans-state 

networks may be developed in order to facilitate exchanges (such as the transfer of 

resources) between the homeland and the Diaspora. They may also be conduits for illegal 

and criminal activities, including terrorism, and to supply weapons and money transfers. 

Thus, Diaspora communities are pre-disposed to become involved in conflicts with their 

homelands, their host countries, and other international actors (Sheffer, 2002). 


The establishment of organizations is essential in the establishment, maintenance 

and revival of Diaspora communities. Without them, Diasporas cannot survive or thrive. 

Diasporic organizations function on many levels: at the local community level, looking 

after the cultural, social, political and economic needs of the community; at the level of 

host country's societies and governments, complementing services offered by the host 

society; and on the trans- state level, extending aid to their homelands. Yet, only certain 

core segments of the migrant groups become deeply involved in the operation of such 

organizations (Sheffer, 2002). 

Sheffer (2002) writes that state-linked Diasporas are interested in cooperating 

with their host societies and governments, whereas members of stateless Diasporas tend 

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to be more militant, adopt separatist strategies in regard to their homeland, and disregard 
rules in their host countries. Most members of Middle East Diasporic communities try to 
maintain their ethnic identity, pursue moderate policies and integrate into their host 
economic and political systems, while still maintaining their own voluntary associations 
and organizations, to complement those of the host nation (Sheffer, 2002). 

In the US, both Jewish and Arab Diaspora communities share some of the 
characteristics described above, but they differ greatly in terms of their level of 
organization and cohesion, reflecting the dynamics in their homelands. As will be 
discussed further below, the Jewish American community exhibits a high degree of 
organization and cohesion (along with an organizing dissident group), with many 
institutions promoting the Zionist perspective, and high degree of investment in Israel. In 
contrast, the Palestinian and other Arab Diaspora communities have been much slower to 
organize politically, though they have begun to mobilize in the last few years. The level 
of financial investment in Palestine does not begin to approach that of the Jewish 
community (Gillespie, Sayre, & Riddle, 2001). The Jewish community has been 
described as a "classic Diaspora," while the term Diaspora poses problems for Palestinian 
communities. Palestinian refugees may lose their legal status (and right of return) if they 
become citizens of another country (Peteet, 2007). Below, I describe the characteristics of 
each of these Diasporas in the United States. I attempt to delineate the dynamics within 
each of them, as well as between the Diasporas and their respective homelands. 

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The American Jewish Diaspora, Zionism, and Israel 

With six million people, the American Jews make up the largest Jewish Diaspora 

community in the world, and the most prosperous in history (Beit-Hallahmi, 1993) 41 . It is 
also the oldest and best organized Diaspora connected to a Middle Eastern country, and 
since 1948, to an independent state. The United States is Israel's strongest supporter, and 
the American Jewish Diaspora has been very influential in shaping U.S. foreign policy 
with regard to Israel. In this way, it has had a direct influence on the Israeli-Palestinian 
conflict. The relationship between the Jewish Diaspora in the United States and the state 
of Israel has a long and complex history, about which much has been written. Israel 
continues to have an enormous influence on American Jewish identity 42 (Saposnik, 2003; 
Second thoughts about the promised land," September 21, 2007; Segev, 2000; Shain, 
2000, 2002; Shain & Barth, 2003; Shain & Bristman, 2002; Sheffer, 2002). 

Today, it is not possible to discuss American Jewish identity out of the context of 
its relationship with Israel, or to examine Jewish identity in Israel without making 
reference to its relationship to the American Jewish Diaspora. The two groups have 
mutually influenced each other since the founding of the state of Israel in 1948, and 
increasingly since the 1967 war. Such influence encompasses questions of religious 
identity, which in turn helps to shape secular and nationalist identity and ultimately, the 
direction of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Saposnik, 2003; Shain, 2000, 2002). While 
many Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jews, both in the U.S. and in Israel were anti-Zionist 

41 Slightly outnumbering the number of Jews living in Israel. The number of Israelis living outside of Israel 
is also increasing. 

42 The American Jewish community has often been perceived as a homogeneous entity: usually as white, 
Ashkenazi, financially well-off, and Zionist. In actuality, the Jewish community in the United States is very 
diverse, in terms of race, ethnicity, culture, religious practice, and political affiliation (Dallalfar, 2009; 
Kaye/Kantrowitz, 2007). 

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in the early days of the Yishuv and statehood, many secular Jews embraced Zionism as a 
substitute for religious observance and as a way of staying connected to their Jewish 
identity and the larger Jewish community (Yuval-Davis, 2001). 

Following the six-day war of 1967 and through the 1970's, American Jewish 
identity became increasingly bound up with the state of Israel. Pro-Israeli organizations 
were established nationwide, and traditional Jewish- American institutions placed greater 
emphasis on Israel. Israel became the unifying force in an increasingly diverse and 
pluralistic Jewish population in the United States. This has been attributed to a number of 
factors: first, many Jews felt great pride at the Israeli victory as "a redemption from the 
image of the weak Jew" (Shain, 2000, p. 180). Second, the Orthodox, viewing victory as 
fulfilling a messianic prophecy, moved away from their previous opposition to Jewish 
nationalism and increased their political activism. Finally, identity politics became a 
greater factor in American society overall, as other liberation movements (women's 
liberation, gay rights) growing out of the civil rights and anti-war movements, began to 
take root in the US in the 1960s and 1970s (Gamson, 1991; Gamson & Meyer, 1996; 
Moghadam, 1994). Changes in the relationship between Jews and their former civil rights 
movement allies over differences concerning Israel as well as other issues also played a 
role. Identification with Israel led to the transformation of Jewish education and religious 
practice in the US: Israel took a prominent position in curricula of Jewish schools, and 
Israeli flags were displayed and prayers for Israel said in worship services (Shain, 2000). 

These practices have resulted in an increased blurring of boundaries between 
Judaism (the religion), Zionism (the political movement) and the state of Israel. This has 
manifested in confusion in the public discourse, where the three terms are often used 

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inter-changeably. This occurs both within and outside the Jewish community. In the 
2006 Annual Survey of American Jewish opinion sponsored by the American Jewish 
Committee, 74% of respondents agreed with the statement that "caring about Israel is a 
very important part of my being a Jew 43 ." Another poll noted that the majority of 
American Jews pay very close (55%) or somewhat close (37%) attention to the situation 
in the Middle East 44 . There is a growing minority within the American Jewish population 
which is attempting to differentiate between Judaism and Zionism, and which is critical 
of the Israeli state. Organizations representing this minority are listed in Appendix C. 

American Diaspora support for Israel continued almost unchallenged through the 
1980's. Even when there was disagreement, American Jewish groups were loathe to 
criticize, much less intervene in Israeli policy 45 . This may be due, in part, to the 
intervention of a number of well established elite Jewish organizations: the Jewish 
Federation(s), American Jewish Committee (AJC), Anti-Defamation League (ADL), 
Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), and AIPAC (American-Israel Public 
Affairs Committee) are among the better known. These organizations are highly 
organized and well funded. Together, they have quite successfully promoted the Zionist 
narrative — both within the Jewish community and in foreign policy. AIPAC boasts that it 
is among the most influential lobbying organizations in the United States 46 . 

43 American Jewish Committee 2006 Annual Survey of American Jewish opinion, retrieved October 20, 
2007 from: 17443 l&ct=3 152893 

44 Americans for Peace Now and the Arab American Institute Survey of Jewish American and Arab 
American public opinion by Zogby International in 2007. Retrieved October 21, 2007 from 
http://btvshalom.ore/resources/Poll 20070522 26 APN AAI Survey.pdf 

45 As noted by Sheffer (2002), the home country may also demand unswerving loyalty from its Diaspora 


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The blurring of boundaries between Jewish religion and Jewish nationalism has 
been facilitated by Israeli leadership, since the founding of the state 47 . The conflation of 
the two has become increasingly problematic, as opposition to, and outrage at Israeli 
policies has been increasingly directed at Jewish communities outside the state of Israel. 
Continuation of such policies may put Jewish communities around the globe at even 
greater risk, contrary to the Zionist promise of a safe haven. 

The American Jewish Diaspora community has played a vital role in perpetuating 
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict 48 (Shain, 2002; Shain & Barth, 2003). Diaspora influence 
in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has taken many forms: providing direct financial 
support to Israel 49 (Sheffer, 2002), including direct support of illegal settlements and 
outposts (Rutenberg, Mclntire, & Bronner, 2010); immigration to Israel 50 ; and funding 
pro-Israel candidates for U.S. political offices through Political Action Committees 
(Shain, 2000). The most influential Jewish lobby groups in the United States (e.g., 
AIPAC) have tended to align with the Israeli right wing (consistent with policies of 
neoconservative groups in the US) and the Zionist narrative described earlier ("Second 
thoughts about the promised land," September 21, 2007; Soros, 2007). 

47 During the Oslo peace process, right wing Jewish groups aligned with conservative lawmakers to try to 
get Congress to adopt initiatives to undermine Israeli-PLO negotiations. Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres 
told American Jews to stay out. At this point, American Jewish organizations began to look inward at their 
own identity and development. Jewish organizations have tended to get more involved with Israel when 
Israel faced crises (Shain, 2000). 

48 It has also made some contributions to the peace process, as in the pre-Oslo period when left-leaning 
American Jews promoted contact with the Palestine Liberation Organization (Shain & Bristman, 2002). 

49 The World Zionist Organization's Settlement Division provided the Israeli government with funding for 
settlement activity in the occupied territories (Gorenberg, 2006). American Jewish philanthropic 
organizations are also increasingly contributing to Palestinian NGOs in Israel (Haklai, 2007). 

30 Many of the most zealous settlers in the West Bank come from the United States ("Second thoughts 
about the promised land," September 21, 2007). Further, 80% of American immigrants to Israel are Ultra- 
Orthodox, while only comprising 10% of the Jewish population in the U.S. (Shain, 2000) 

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There is a diversity of political viewpoints within the American Jewish 
community that reflects political differences in Israel. However, those who dissent from 
the dominant Zionist narrative are not well tolerated 51 . Dissenters, both non- Jewish 
(Carter, 2006) and Jewish (Finkelstein, 2001; Kovel, 2007; J. Rose, 2005; Rothchild, 
2007) have faced charges of anti-Semitism or of being "self-hating Jews" 52 . Two 
prominent Jewish American academics (Finkelstein and Kovel) have lost their academic 
appointments or bid for tenure as a result of their anti-Zionist writing. The former was 
banned from Israel for ten years when he tried to enter the country in 2008 53 (Bannoura, 

The conflation of anti-Semitism with anti -Zionism is inextricably linked to 
societal beliefs and collective narrative about Jewish victimization. Such beliefs are 
intrinsic to the Jewish identity. The publication of Mearsheimer and Walt's (2006) article 
and follow-up book (2007) on the Israel lobby created enormous controversy within the 
Jewish community and in the general public. Mearsheimer and Walt argue that the Israel 
lobby exerts enormous influence on U.S. foreign policy throughout the Middle East. 
They assert that the consequences of these policies (one example being the Iraq war) are 
damaging to U.S. national interests and to Israel's security. Plitnick and Toensing (2007) 
take issue with Mearsheimer and Walt's contention that the Lobby was a deciding factor 

51 i.e., those that are anti-Zionist, or even "pro-Israel" voices that are critical of the occupation or other 
Israeli state policies 

52 Coined in the literature as the "new anti-Semitism" (Beller, 2007; Brownfeld, 2007; Reinharz, 2007; 
Rosenfeld, 2006) 

33 Organizations such as CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) , Campus Watch , and The David Project, promote the Zionist narrative on college campuses and in the media and attack 
media outlets, professors and others who offer alternative views and criticize the State of Israel. The newly 
minted Americans for Peace and Tolerance , is headed by Charles Jacobs, 
who also co-founded CAMERA and the David Project. 

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in the Iraq war (though its position is certainly aligned with Bush administration foreign 
policy). Foreign policy decisions, they contend, are not rooted in a deep solidarity and 
love of Israel. Rather, they assert that the U.S. has used Israel as a proxy in the cold war 
and is now using Israel to neutralize Iran. Finkelstein (2001) asserts that historically, the 
established "elite" Jewish community in the United States has always "acted in lockstep" 
and colluded with (non- Jewish) right wing organizations against left wing Jews (e.g., the 
McCarthy witch hunts), in order to assimilate and secure their position in American 
society. The shift in attitude of American Jews towards Israel was, he contends, fully in 
line with U.S. policy. 

Peace activists and scholars have become increasingly vocal in speaking out 
against Israeli policies vis-a-vis the Palestinians, U.S. policies that facilitate the 
occupation, and the conflation of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism (Lerner, 2007; Plitnick 
& Toensing, 2007; Remnick, 2007; Soros, 2007). There is a growing peace movement 
within the American Jewish community, which has been reported to represent the 
majority of Jewish opinion (Plitnick, 2007a, 2007b, October 17, 2007). Nevertheless, it 
still lags far behind established Jewish organizations and Jewish groups subscribing to 
neo-conservative ideology in terms of organization, fundraising capacity, resources, and, 
most importantly, political influence. Appendix C provides a partial listing of American 
Jewish organizations engaged in peace advocacy work. They range from "pro-Israel" 
groups, such as J Street advocating a two state solution to Palestinian solidarity groups, 
such as Birthright Unplugged that challenge the Zionist notion of a Jewish right to return 
to the State of Israel. A number of groups include Zionist, non-Zionist and anti-Zionist 

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members that advocate an end to the occupation, but do not advocate any particular 

political solution (one vs. two states). 

The Palestinian and Arab Diasporas in the US 

The Palestinian community is one of a number of Arab communities in the US. 
There are approximately 250,000 Palestinian Americans, comprising about a quarter of 
the Arab American population, and five percent of the Palestinian Diaspora worldwide. 
Like the American Jewish community, the Arab Diaspora in the United States is 
religiously (Christian and Muslim) and ethnically diverse. While there were Jewish 
settlers in the US as far back as 1654, sizable numbers of Arab immigrants came to the 
US only in the late 19 th century. Reasons for Arab immigration included: tensions over 
economic and social transformation brought about by the end of the Ottoman Empire, 
periodic famine, drought and blight, and the 1860 massacres of Druze and Maronites in 
Lebanon. Arab immigrants came to the United States in three waves: the first wave came 
from Syria and Lebanon between 1878 and 1924, was ninety percent Christian and 
immigrated primarily for economic reasons. The second wave arrived from Palestine and 
Jordan, between 1948 and 1966. This group was sixty percent Muslim and comprised of 
generally well educated and wealthier immigrants trying to escape war and upheaval in 
their homelands. The communities of these first two waves kept separate and distinct 
from each other until the wars of 1967, 1973, and 1982. The third immigration wave from 
1967 to the present included immigrants from several countries came in the context of 
several wars in the region: the 1967 war and occupation of the West Bank and Gaza 
Strip; wars in Lebanon, Iraqi wars with Iran and Kuwait, and US wars in Iraq (Orfalea, 

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The Arab American community has been slow to organize politically, and Arab 
American organizations have operated largely in the social arena. Organizations that had 
been concerned with the Middle East tended to be short-lived and not well subscribed. 
There are a number of reasons for this: reluctance of the immigrant community to stand 
out in their host society; differential experiences in migration (e.g., whether they 
immigrated voluntarily or were forced out of their home countries); and cultural 
similarity or dissimilarity with American society. In addition, conflicts between regimes 
in the immigrants' countries of origin may have made it difficult for Arab Americans to 
find common ground on the issue of Middle East policy alone (Orfalea, 2006). 

Earlier immigrant waves were primarily concerned with assimilation (Orfalea, 
2006). Arab American Christians who descended from Lebanese-Syrian immigrants 
missed the pan-Arabism movements of the 1950s were least likely to develop a 
politicized ethnic identity and aimed first to achieve fuller integration (Wald, 2008). Later 
immigrant waves were less easily absorbed. Muslims and those who were displaced by 
Arab-Israeli wars and civil conflicts within Arab states (and who had a less benign 
reception in the US, and were more culturally dissimilar) were more likely to organize 
politically along ethnic lines (Wald, 2008). These two trends — towards assimilation and 
submersion of ethnic identity on the one hand, or towards greater identification as a 
separate group on the other — have continued 54 . 

54 Part of the community advocated obtaining minority group status, in order to receive the "privileges" of 
other minority groups. In 2000, the US Census form offered a voluntary ethnicity box for the first time, and 
1.25 million Arab Americans checked it. It backfired in the atmosphere of fear following 9/11, when this 
data was sent to the US Customs Service and the Department of Homeland Security (Orfalea, 2006). 

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Organizations addressing their concerns as residents of the US tend to be Arab 
based rather than Palestinian 55 . Even so, there have been only three national membership 
groups that were sustained for more than two decades: AAUG, the National Association 
of Arab University Graduates; the ADC, the Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee; and 
NAAA, the National Association of Arab Americans. By 2003, only the ADC remained, 
after merging with the NAAA 56 . The 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon spurred 
unprecedented Arab American activism, while the subsequent massacres at the Sabra and 
Shatila refugee camps (committed by Arabs against other Arabs) resulted in a 
precipitous decline (Orfalea, 2006). 

Anti-Arab sentiment, already ingrained in American popular culture, has become 
more prevalent and even acceptable in the US since 9/1 1 ("Reel bad Arabs: How 

S 7 

Hollywood villifies a people,") . However, surveillance of Arab Americans began long 
before the 9/1 1 attacks on the World Trade Center. During the first Gulf War hate crimes 
in the US against those of Arab origin (or believed to be Arabs) hit record highs 5 8 . 
Workplace and home harassment continued with the passage of the USA Patriot Act in 
October 2001 (Orfalea, 2006). This, along with the deterioration of conditions for 
Palestinians in the Occupied Territories has spurred greater activism in the past few years 

55 Palestinian communities in the United States formed village based associations, such as the Ramallah 
federation or al-Bireh club. Aside from PLO, it has been difficult to find a cohesive and overarching 
Palestinian organization in exile (Peteet, 2007). 

56 A partial listing of Arab American organizations can be found in Appendix D. 

37 Most Arab Americans believe that overwhelmingly pro-Israel US policies in the Middle East are directly 
connected to the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center (Orfalea, 2006). 

38 Between 1979 and 1985, there were six violent incidents that were traceable to the JDL (Jewish Defense 
League — an extreme right wing Jewish militant organization associated with the late Meir Kahane). There 
were 39 documented hate crimes in 1990 (where there had been four prior to Iraqi invasion of Kuwait). In 
1991 there were 1 19 hate crimes. Attacks on Arab Americans (or those believed to be Arab) increased after 
the Oklahoma City bombings in 1995 and the 1996 an ti -terrorism act which followed. One hundred fifty 
hate crimes were committed against Arab Americans in the aftermath of Oklahoma City. There were 700 
violent incidents against Arab Americans in year after World Trade Center attacks — most of which 
occurred in the first three months (Orfalea, 2006). 

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(Murray, 2009). A partial listing of Palestinian solidarity organizations (whose 
membership may also be open to non-Palestinians or non- Arabs) can be found in 
Appendix E. Nevertheless, the Zionist narrative continues to retain its hegemony in both 
public opinion and government policy. 
The Hegemony of the Zionist Narrative 

How has the Zionist narrative retained its hegemony in the discourse of the 
Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the United States? According to Palestinian American 
scholar Edward Said, the West has denied Palestinians "permission to narrate" by 1) 
labeling them as terrorist 2) labeling critics of Israeli policy as anti-Semitic and 3) 
denying the historical and lived reality of the Palestinian homeland. The terrorist label 
justifies everything the US and Israel does, while delegitimizing anything the Palestinians 
do (Said, 1984/2000). 

The hegemony of the Zionist discourse can be seen in the media which is 
overwhelmingly "pro-Israel" in its perspective (Murray, 2009), and is also manifest in US 
policy towards Israel. Since 1985, Israel has received nearly $3 billion dollars annually in 
grants from the US, and is the largest cumulative recipient of US foreign aid since WWII 
(Sharp, 2008). In contrast, US aid to the Palestinians averaged $75 million per year 
during the 1990s. The average has increased since 2000, but has fluctuated with the 
second intifada and with the growing role of Hamas in Palestinian politics (Zanotti, 

There have been some noticeable shifts of late in the media discourse, particularly 
since the Israeli invasion of Gaza in December 2008 to January 2009, and the attack on 
the Gaza Flotilla in May 2010. A 60 Minutes report on the lives of Palestinians under 

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occupation in Gaza (Simon, 2009), blogs, and op-ed pieces (R. Cohen, 2009a, 2009b, 
2009c, 2009d; Kristof, 2010) showing the Palestinian perspective are increasing, though 
they are still greatly outnumbered by the "pro-Israel" forces (Bennis, 2009; Hijab, 2009; 
Lynk, 2009; Murray, 2009). Political activity has increased substantially among other 
Arab Americans and Muslim Americans since 9/11, which may be attributed to the 
continuing US occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, and accompanying increase in anti- 
Arab sentiment and actions at home (Hijab, 2009). Israel's increasingly brutal military 
occupation and the United States' continued pro-Israel policy has mobilized the 
Palestinian community. The Gaza invasion has further buttressed political mobilization, 
evidenced by protests and demonstrations in cities across the United States, and a 
strengthened boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement (Murray, 2009). 
Despite increased mobilization and subtle changes in the mainstream media's reporting 
on Israel/Palestine, the Zionist narrative retains its hegemony vis-a-vis US foreign policy. 
The Role of Trauma 

Volkan (2001) contends that massive trauma involving dramatic "losses of life, 
property, or prestige, and/or humiliation by another group" (p.l 1) can result in regression 
in the whole society. Societal regression functions to protect or repair a sense of group 
identity. It is characterized by, among other things, "the loss of individuality, extensive 
use of projective mechanisms, leading to a sharp division of "us" and "them", and a sense 
of entitlement to do anything in order to maintain its shared group identity" 59 (Volkan, 

59 There are a number of examples of this in the last few years: in March of 2008, Qassam rockets fired 
from Gaza were aimed at the Israeli town of Sderot. Longer range rockets landed as far as the town of 
Ashkelon. Exercising its "right to self defense," Israel responded with a massive retaliatory strike, resulting 
in the deaths of over 100 Palestinians, many of whom were children. ("Israel pulls troops out of Gaza," 
2008). The sense of entitlement rooted in trauma can be seen in a quote by Israeli foreign minister at that 

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2001, p. 1 1). He further asserts that the failure to adequately work through the trauma and 
mourn these losses can lead to the transmission of the trauma to later generations. The 
trauma and stories around it become embedded in the collective narrative of each identity 
group. This happens on both the individual and the collective level. The less contact there 
is between the two communities, the more space there is for mutual projective processes. 
The building of the "separation" wall has further cut off contact between Israelis and 

In Israel and the United States, the traumatic history of anti-Semitism and the 
Holocaust continue to haunt and shape Jewish identity and narrative vis-a-vis other 
groups in the global community. Paradoxically, the Holocaust only became such a 
deciding factor in the American Jewish narrative after Israel's show of strength in the 
1967 war, leading to the creation of what Finkelstein (2001) refers to as "the Holocaust 
industry." Anxieties continue even with the enormous economic, social, and political 
success of the American Jewish community overall. In Israel, terror attacks continue, 

time, Tzipi Livni, who said: "I cannot accept condolences saying that there are victims on both sides. Well 
yes, there are victims on both sides, but there is no moral equation between these terrorists who are looking 
for civilians to kill and the Israeli soldiers who are looking for the terrorists." (quote from Jewish Peace 
News, March 4, 2008). This perspective has also been prevalent throughout the British and American press. 
The January 2009 Israeli invasion of Gaza resulted in the loss of 1434 Palestinians, most of whom were 
civilians. On March 20, 2009, a small group of extreme right wing Israelis were allowed to march through 
the Palestinian town of Um al Fahem, where, 3500 Israeli riot police used tear gas and bullets to control the 
resident Palestinians who threw stones). A number of scholars warn that these actions signal a disturbing 
escalation in Israeli violence that will result in an ethnic cleansing at the level of the 1948 Nakba 
(Barghouti, 2009; Ghanem, 2009; Hijab, 2009; Murray, 2009; Pappe, 2009b). This has been born out: in 
2010, the Israeli government has been cracking down on Palestinian non-violent activities, and even human 
rights groups in Israel (such as B'Tselem) that are concerned with Palestinian civil rights. There had been 
little mention of this in the American media until the May 31, 2010 Israeli attack on the Gaza Flotilla, a 
group of several ships carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza (including food, medical, and building supplies). 
The attacks, and demonstrations against the attacks across the US and Europe remained in the media 
(unusually), even weeks after they occurred. Israeli officials have defended the attack by saying that their 
soldiers were acting in "self defense" against the "terrorists" aboard the Turkish ship Mavi Mamara. By 
labeling the activists as "terrorists," the government justifies its use of violence. As of this writing (in mid 
June, 2010), nine activists are reported dead, and several remain missing. It remains difficult to verify the 
narratives of either side, since the Israeli government confiscated all cameras and video equipment from the 

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though they are greatly reduced. Every attack re-ignites fears of being "thrown into the 
sea." The fact that the country maintains the strongest, most technologically advanced 
armed forces in the region (and is, indeed, one of the most powerful in the world) does 
not allay the fear. The fear serves as justification for increasingly brutal crackdowns on 
Palestinians under the guise of self-defense. A majority of the Israeli population approved 
of the Gaza war as necessary to Israeli self-defense (Luban, 2009; Murray, 2009). When 
Palestinians respond to Israeli provocations with violence, they confirm Israeli fears that 
they are terrorists. Each act of violence provides "proof of the correctness of the group's 
narrative, creating a rationale for counter-attack, and thus perpetuating the cycle of 
violence. Such beliefs are not subject to rational explication of the facts. 

For Palestinians in Israel and the Occupied Territories, the trauma is ongoing. 
Palestinians within Israel were subject to military rule until 1967 and continue to face 
ongoing discrimination at all levels of Israeli society today. A majority of those 
Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza have never experienced life free from 
military occupation, which has become increasingly brutal. Generations of Palestinians 
have been traumatized by an increasingly militarized and militaristic Israel (Rabinowitz, 
2005; Said, 1995/2000, 2003). The full extent of the trauma and its impact has yet to be 
played out but will undoubtedly impact generations to come. 

Memorials to Jewish victims of Palestinian attacks and to Palestinian martyrs who 
died on behalf of Palestinian liberation dot the landscape of Israel and Palestine. While 
state memorials can play an important role in helping individuals and societies to grieve 
and move on, in Israel/Palestine, they serve as a daily reminder of each group's 
victimization and the danger of the other, providing additional fuel to feed the conflict. 

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Identity, Peacemaking, and the Diasporas 

To develop a sustainable peace, conflict resolution and co-existence initiatives 
need to target de-legitimization of the other and address the conflict between the two 
narratives. Any peacemaking efforts or final political arrangements with regard to 
drawing political boundaries must be accompanied by processes which address the 
dominant societal beliefs, collective narratives and identities, impacted by massive 
societal trauma. Perception of the other (particularly dehumanization and perceived 
threat) can lead to public support of retaliatory aggressive policies, and public opinion 
does influence government policy in conflict situations (Brandt, Colaresi, & Freeman, 
2008; Maoz & McCauley, 2008). 

Gur-Ze'ev and Pappe (2003) argue that the construction of one group's national 
identity necessitates the destruction of the "collective memory of the other." Thus, Israeli 
identity depends on the negation of Palestinian identity, and legitimizing the Palestinian 
narrative would detract from Israel's own legitimacy. Israeli acceptance of the 
Palestinian Nakbah would mean taking responsibility for its role as a perpetrator (not just 
a victim) of violence. Salomon (2004) suggests that "accepting somebody else's narrative 
need not mean either agreeing with it or abandoning one's own narrative. It means only 
the acknowledgement of the narrative's "right to exist," accepting its validity on its own 
terms" (p. 278). In today's polarized discourse, this will be exceptionally difficult, but is 
a necessary first step towards reconciliation and healing. 

Acknowledgement of the past implies that there are two (legitimate) narratives of 
the conflict. This recognition is an important factor in reconciliation since the 
collective memories of each party about its own past underpin the continuation of 

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the conflict and obstruct peacemaking. Through the process of negotiation, in 
which one's own past is critically revised and synchronized with that of the other 
group, new narratives can emerge (Daniel Bar Tal & Salomon, 2006, p. 39). 
Societal beliefs, collective narratives and identity issues cannot transform without 
addressing the trauma and underlying emotions that permeate them. 

The conflict is not symmetrical, as Israel's greater military power and greater 
ability to produce victims indicates 60 . Nevertheless, both sides need to acknowledge the 
pain of the other and own up to their own role in the conflict. Only mutual recognition of 
wrongs will allow each side to acknowledge that it has been a victimizer as well as a 
victim. In order for real peace and reconciliation to be achieved in Israel/Palestine, the 
wrongs (even atrocities) that each has committed against the other need to be 
acknowledged. (Beit-Hallahmi, 1993; Pappe, 2007; Warschawski, 2005; Wineman, 2003) 
Warschawski (2005) notes: 

...Peace and reconciliation are incompatible with amnesia; on the contrary, they 
demand a truthful re-evaluation of one's own history and an honest self- 
examination. Only a sincere and encompassing plea for forgiveness for the crimes 
committed can create the conditions of real equality between those who 

60 The Israeli human rights organization, B'Tselem reports that from the start of the second intifada on 
September 29, 2000, through January 31, 2008 (until but not including fatalities from Operation Cast 
Lead), 4791 Palestinians were killed by Israelis (most by Israeli security forces, and most in the occupied 
territories. During the same time frame, 705 Israeli civilians (471 in Israel proper) and 326 Israeli security 
forces were killed by Palestinians. Palestinians sustained over four times as many casualties as Israelis. 
During Operation Cast Lead (the invasion of Gaza in 2008-09), 1397 Palestinians were killed (by Israeli 
security forces in the occupied territories) while 5 Israeli security forces were killed by Palestinians. Since 
Cast Lead, 78 Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces, and a total of 6 Israelis were killed (2 of 
them civilians). Retrieved June 26, 1010 from: 
=20 1 O&filterb y=event&oferet stat=after 

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perpetrated the crimes and their victims. It is the essential condition for enabling 
peace to become the starting point of a true reconciliation, (p. 207) 
Political scientist Matt James (2006) names eight requirements for an authentic 
political apology, which should: 1) be recorded officially in writing; 2) name the wrongs 
in question; 3) accept responsibility; 4) state regret; 5) promise non-repetition; 6) not 
demand forgiveness; 7) not be hypocritical or arbitrary; 8) undertake, through measures 
of publicity, ceremony, and concrete reparation to both morally engage those in whose 
name the apology is made and to assure the wronged group that it is sincere (quoted in 
Corntassel & Holder, July/September 2008, p. 4). 

Beit Hallahmi (1993) contends that Israel is haunted (and tainted) by the "original 
sin" (of colonialism and actions against the Palestinians) in which it was born. Israel's 
main problem, he contends, is 

to ask for forgiveness, for admitting the injustice done to the Palestinians is so 
terrifying that Israelis will try to avoid it at all costs. Their feeling is that if they 
admit any guilt, they will be punished severely and mortally, as the magnitude of 
their crime warrants. They are afraid of the natives' wish for revenge, (pp. 218- 
Israelis fear that to acknowledge that Zionism was a colonialist movement would destroy 
the moral justification for the state, and Israelis would lose their rights to live there 61 . He 
goes on to say that those born in Israel after 1950 have as much right to be there as 
anyone else, and cannot be held responsible for the crimes of their predecessors. 

61 Israeli insistence that Palestinians recognize their "right to exist" may be a function of this fear. It may 
also be seen as a projection, given the resistance of Israeli governments to recognize Palestinian existence 
as a people. 

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However, he maintains, they must be held accountable for what continues to happen 

Peace efforts in the region must involve Diaspora communities, particularly the 
American Jewish Diaspora. Having played a substantial role in fuelling the conflict, by 
providing direct financial or material support, as well as contributing to the emotional 
context in which militancy can be sustained, they must be a part of the peace process, if 
peace is to be sustainable. A study by the World Bank concluded that after five years in 
post-conflict situations, 

...the risk of renewed conflict is around six times higher in the societies with the 

largest diasporas in America than in those without American Diasporas. 

Presumably, this effect works through the financial contributions of Diasporas to 

rebel organizations. (Collier and Hoeffler, 2000, quoted in Shain and Barth, 2003, 

p. 449) 
While it is up to the parties in the region to negotiate final political agreements involving 
the final boundaries of the state or states, it is essential that the Diasporas be included in 
the psychological work of reconciliation and healing. The following section describes 
reconciliation and coexistence models that have been used in Israel/Palestine and in their 
respective Diaspora communities in the United States. 
Dialogic Approaches to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict 

The Israeli Palestinian conflict exemplifies what has been defined in the conflict 
resolution literature as a "deep-rooted" conflict (Burton, 1987), in that it involves deep 
feelings, values, and needs, which cannot be negotiated or settled through force. Other 

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theorists referred to such conflicts as "intractable" 62 or "identity conflicts." Mitchell 
(1990) notes that conflicts may end in three possible ways: through truce, in which the 
underlying issues are not dealt with; through settlements involving both compromise and 
abandonment of goals, but in which there may be some hope for a new positive 
relationship; and resolution, in which the underlying issues are addressed and a new 
acceptable relationship is established. Traditional diplomacy 63 has had limited success in 
resolving deep rooted conflicts, and multi-level, multi-track 64 diplomacy has increasingly 
been considered essential for peacemaking efforts (Bland, Powell, & Ross, 2006; Fabick, 
2006; Fitzduff, 2006; Volkan, 1988, 2006). 

62 defined as protracted, irreconcilable, violent, zero -sum in nature, total (concerning values and needs 
considered essential to survival), and central in the preoccupations of societal members (Bar Tal, 1998) 

63 Prior to World War II, conflict resolution was the domain of international relations and rooted in political 
realism. Political realism is based on the politics of power and the assumption that human beings are 
biologically pre-disposed to aggression and competition. Because of the human pre-disposition to 
aggression and self interest, conflict is viewed as a normal state of affairs in international relations. The 
structure of the nation-state and statesmanship are aimed at controlling this side of human nature. Political 
and societal interests are defined solely in terms of power and the state has a right to base its policies and 
decisions on its national interest. Therefore, war is justified as necessary to preserve the vital security 
interests of the state. In this view, it is appropriate to manage the inherent aggression or lawlessness of 
states through multi-lateral constraints, such as international institutions with coercive power or the 
employment of power -balancing and deterrent strategies by great powers (Donnelly, 1992; Morganthau, 
1948). The realist approach is critiqued for its downplaying of the role of morality in international relations. 
Burton revolutionized the field of international relations and conflict resolution with the introduction of the 
basic human needs approach and introduction of track 2 diplomacy. 

64 Track 1 refers to high level diplomacy between official state representatives; track 2 connotes diplomacy 
facilitated by conflict resolution experts with mid-level leaders from representative groups; track 3 involves 
leaders from the business communities of the groups; and track 4 involves meetings of grassroots 
community leaders (Fabick, 2006). 

Track 2 or multi -track diplomacy is rooted in the work of John Burton (1987), an Australian diplomat who 
worked on conflicts in Malaysia, and who challenged the political realist notion that conflict could be 
managed through the use of power and control. Basing his approach on Maslow's hierarchy of human 
needs, he posited that conflict was an outcome of the thwarting of basic human needs. Basic human needs 
included the need for identity, belonging, security, and recognition. The model has been critiqued along a 
number of lines. Focusing on human needs may be conflict promoting, as well as conflict resolving. That 
is, the need for security may manifest as dominance; the need for identity through creation of an outgroup 
enemy; and the need for belonging or love as a need for admiration, status or success at the other's expense. 
As a theoretical construct, the notion of "basic human needs" may be viewed differently by different 
theorists. Basic human needs can be seen as dynamic: that is, when basic material needs are met, 
individuals and groups may differ about what needs are essential (Mitchell, 1990). Approaches to conflict 
based on human needs theory have been critiqued for failing to address emotional aspects of conflict, such 
as underlying trauma (Hicks & Weisberg, 2002). 

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In the context of intractable conflicts, track 2 conflict resolution has four goals: 
accepting the other's narrative as legitimate, critically examining one's own group's acts 
and contributions to conflict; feeling and showing empathy for others' suffering while 
building a trust of the other; and finally, getting involved in nonviolent activities 
(Gawerc, 2006). Well run peace education programs can serve as a barrier against the 
deterioration of views and feelings in intractable conflicts (Biton & Salomon, 2006). In 
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there has been regular and ongoing contact between the 
two sides over the years, including numerous peace and co-existence initiatives both in 
Israel/Palestine, and the Diaspora. Such initiatives have taken place on all levels — from 
official state-level diplomacy to grass roots initiatives. There are a number of studies 
reporting on peace education programs in Israel. With the exception of Kelman's 
(Kelman, 1998, 1999a) work on interactive problem- solving workshops, few peace and 
coexistence initiatives between Arabs and Jews in the Diaspora have been formally 
studied or evaluated (Gawerc, 2006). There are, however a number of informal reports 
(Abramovich, 2005; Davis, 2002; Dessel, 2005; Dessel, Rogge, & Garlington, 2006; 
Halpern, 2006; Sarsar, 2002; Stephan, Hertz-Lazarowitz, Zelniker, & Stephan, 2004). 
Approaches to Working with Conflict 

Approaches to working with conflict derive from practitioners' theoretical 
understanding of the nature of conflict, its causes and effects. Encounter or dialogue 
workshops vary in: 

1 . Their goals for the encounter 

2. Structure or design of the workshop 

3. Number or types of participants involved (grass roots to high level 
leadership to students) 

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4. Methods used [training, experiential exercises, facilitated dialogue, 
cooperative planning and problem solving (CPPS)] 

5. Type of facilitation or consultation offered (teaching, confrontation, 
interpretation, etc.). 

Goals for these encounters may be prejudice reduction, healing and reconciliation, social 
justice/anti-racism, diversity/multi-culturalism, democracy building, or conflict 
management (Shapiro, 2006). Fisher (2006) situates the whole range of interventions 
under the umbrella of ICR (interactive conflict resolution). He views ICR as an unofficial 
approach meant to compliment, rather than replace official diplomatic activities. 
Appendix F provides an overview of the purposes, underlying theories or 
assumptions and activities of the models applied to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For 
the purposes of simplicity, I have grouped the models into four categories according to 
their primary aims: intercultural educational models; healing/therapeutic models; political 
action models; and hybrids. Under the first heading I have grouped a range of models — 
grassroots, contact, information, and meta- cognitive, as their primary aim appears to be 
education and inter-cultural understanding. The reconciliation and transformation 
(Bargal, 2004) and TRT (Albeck, Adwan, & Bar-On, 2002; Bar On, 2000; Steinberg, 
2004; Steinberg & Bar-On, 2002; Steinberg & Bar On, 2007) models have healing and 
"working through" of trauma as their primary aims. The interactive problem-solving and 
School of Peace/Givat Haviva models are all geared towards political action; though they 
are rooted in different theoretical traditions and are structured differently. The interactive 
problem solving approach, developed by Herb Kelman (1998, 1999a) is rooted in 
Burton's (1987) basic human needs approach and attempts to contribute to a more 

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complex understanding of the issues on the political level by building bridges and 
creating (non-binding) agreements to meet the needs and address the fears of all the 
parties. Though it aims to address psychological needs, the approach works on a rational 
level. The School of Peace/Givat Haviva models (Abu-Nimer, 2004; Halabi, 2004; 
Halabi & Sonnenschein, 2004) are more confrontational in nature and explicitly aim to 
empower the Palestinian minority, and to educate the Jewish majority. While a well run 
encounter program may contain components from all of these categories, each tends to 
emphasize one element over the others. 

Hybrid approaches have been developed to address some of the critiques of other 
models, and may use two or more specific methods (such as interactive problem solving 
and TRT) within the same workshop (Babbitt & Steiner, 2006; Desivilya, 2004). They 
may also use entirely new methodologies (Hicks, 2007, 2008) that have multiple goals 
(such as education, healing, and political action). 

The literature reports similar classification systems for Israeli-Palestinian 
encounter programs, two of which are described by Suleiman (2004). The first 
differentiates the kinds of encounters into three categories: workshops in the human 
relations tradition, workshops emphasizing cross-cultural learning, and those based on the 
conflict resolution approach. The second system of classification also describes three 
different models: the contact model, the information model, and the psychodynamic 
model. The contact model is based on the contact hypothesis, which suggests that inter- 
group contact will reduce stereotypes and prejudice, if certain conditions are met in the 
encounter situation. The information model is similar to the cross-cultural learning 
approach and suggests that inter-group relations can be improved and inter-group 

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prejudices reduced by providing information, either through media, education or 
encounter programs. Prejudice is understood to result from lack of information about the 
other (Ben-Ari, 2004), and stereotypes may be modified when participants can obtain 
more accurate information in an encounter with the other. The psychodynamic model 
views prejudice and stereotyping as a function of projective mechanisms. Psychological 
defense mechanisms serve to relieve a group of its anxiety by projecting its unwanted 
parts onto the out-group. The different theoretical traditions of these models inform the 
goals and structure of the encounter. 

Halabi and Sonnenschein (2004) describe a somewhat more complex 
classification system, categorizing models of encounter between groups in conflict along 
two axes. On one axis is the human relations- conflict resolution continuum: the former 
emphasizes psychological aspects of the conflict and commonalities between participants, 
while setting conflict issues aside. In contrast, the conflict resolution models start from 
the assumption that there is a basis in reality for the conflict, and that the groups involved 
need to find ways build bridges between the two groups. Emphasis is on participants' 
roles as representatives of their groups, with less emphasis on individual psychologies or 
inter-personal relationships. Under this category are interactive problem-solving 
workshops (Cross & Rosenthal, 1999; Kelman, 1999a; Rouhana & Kelman, 1994; 
Rouhana & Korper, 1997), which bring together "political influentials" to explore 
solutions to problems that concern both parties. Participants are asked to describe the 
fundamental needs that needed to be met in any agreement, and the fears that would need 
to be allayed for the agreement to be acceptable in their communities. The method takes a 
very rational approach to working with deep seated emotions and needs underlying 

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conflict. It may speak to or about needs and emotions — fears, anxieties, etc. — underlying 
the conflict, but does not work emotions in the context of the workshop. 

Hicks and Weisberg (2002) suggest that the interactive problem solving model 
needs to be expanded to address the multiple levels of conflict, including the pervasive 
and unacknowledged trauma. Further, the parties need to address not only their own and 
the others' underlying needs, but their own responsibility in perpetuating the conflict. 
They also suggest that intra-party work needs to be done in order to address hostile 
dynamics within each group that may serve to harden positions. 

The second axis has the contact hypothesis approach at one end, and the inter- 
group approach at the other. The contact hypothesis suggests that creating conditions for 
interpersonal interaction between the two groups can reduce stereotypes and hatred. In 
contrast, inter-group models suggest that such encounters are only useful when group 
identity is emphasized and interactions are of a group nature. The focus is on 
empowering the minority and helping the majority get insight into their power 
orientation. Only then can the personal experience in the encounter be generalized to life 
outside the group. The models used at Givat Haviva (Hansen, 2006) and the School of 
Peace at Neve Shalom/Wahat al Salaam (Abu-Nimer, 2004; Halabi & Sonnenschein, 
2004; Steinberg, 2004; Steinberg & Bar On, 2007) and Ben-Ari's (2004) meta-cognitive 
model exemplify the focus on inter-group, rather than individual or inter-personal 
relations. The axes are similar in that the emphasis moves on the continuum from an 
intra-psychic or inter-personal focus, to an inter-group level focus (Halabi and 
Sonnenschein, 2004). Many researchers conflate the human relations and contact 
hypothesis models, and indeed, the authors reviewed here do not offer much description 

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to distinguish between the two. In her evaluation of coexistence programs in Israel, Maoz 
(2004) categorized programs along one continuum, with coexistence programs 
emphasizing similarities between participants at one end, and confrontational programs, 
emphasizing difference and conflict, at the other, with hybrid approaches in the middle. 

Abu Nimer (2004) notes that coexistence programs in Israel have evolved from 
the 1950's to 2001. From the 1950's -1970's, the young state and its institutions 
employed a domination approach to co-existence, aimed at maintaining the status quo. 
From the 1970's to early 1990's, Israeli governmental institutions and society 
"discovered" Arab culture and encouraged participation in coexistence activities with a 
particular focus on intercultural sensitivity and prejudice reduction. By the late 1980's, 
several organizations began to employ a conflict approach, engaging participants in 
conflict analysis. Since the Oslo accords of 1993, a number of programs have begun to 
incorporate aspects of both conflict and intercultural approaches (Abu Nimer, 2004). 

There has been little rigorous study of the numerous peace and coexistence 
initiatives between Jews and Arabs or Jews and Muslims in the United States (Sarsar, 
2002; Halpern, 2006; Abramovich, 2005), the majority of which have been (un- 
facilitated) grass roots efforts 65 . 
Evaluation of Models and Methods 

Researchers disagree as to the importance of affective (psycho -cultural 
perspective) vs. political engagement (structural perspective) in dialogue encounters. The 
debate between the two approaches has implications for practice, as "structuralists focus 
on issues of rights, justice, and political issues, while those taking more of a 

65 Kelman's interactive problem-solving workshops, while convened at Harvard, invited political 
influentials from Israel/Palestine, rather than working with Diaspora communities. 

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psychocultural perspective have emphasized relationships and the need to work on 
eliminating the ignorance, misperceptions, fears, and hostility between the groups, often 
through cooperative activities and encounters" (Gawerc, 2006, pp. 437-438). Not 
surprisingly, those enamored of conflict resolution and inter-group approaches tend to be 
more critical of programs with a psychological focus, and vice versa. 

Intercultural education programs (based on human relations or contact theories) 
have been critiqued along a number of lines (Abu-Nimer, 2004; Davis, 2002; Hubbard, 
1997; Maoz, 2001; Rouhana & Korper, 1997; Yablon, 2007). According to the Contact 
Hypothesis, in which many of these approaches are rooted, many conditions need to be 
met for the program to have a positive impact. These conditions may be difficult to 
sustain, particularly in the volatile environment of the Middle East. One of the essential 
conditions for program success is symmetry, both in terms of attendance as well as active 
participation of equal numbers from both groups (Maoz, 2004, 2006). While contact 
approaches attempt to achieve symmetry in numbers of program participants, they have 
been critiqued for neglecting to address the structural realities of asymmetry in power and 
resources between the Jewish and Arab Israeli population. In this way they are seen to 
perpetuate the status quo (Abu-Nimer, 2004; Fitzduff, 2006; Rouhana & Fiske, 1995; 
Rouhana & Kelman, 1994; Steinberg, 2004; Steinberg & Bar On, 2007; Tausch, 
Ken worthy, & Hewstone, 2006). The asymmetry may be further reinforced when funding 
is provided by the Israeli Ministry of Education or Jewish non-governmental 
organizations unwittingly favoring the high power group (Suleiman, 2004). 

While many studies suggest that intercultural education encounters can change 
negative bias (Hurtado, 2005; Khuri, 2004; Maoz, 2003; Biren A. Nagda, 2006; Biran A. 

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Nagda, Kim, & Truelove, 2004; Biren A. Nagda, Tropp, & Paluck, 2006; Biren A. Nagda 
& Zuniga, 2003; Tausch, et al., 2006), there has been little correlation between personal 
attitude change and a change in national attitudes (Tausch, et. al., 2006). There has been a 
tendency for Jewish participants (higher power) to be more interested in discourse on the 
inter-personal level, while Palestinians have been more interested in group level 
discourse (Rouhana and Korper, 1997; Suleiman, 2004). Suleiman (2004) suggests that 
this is connected to the greater importance of group identity for minority groups. 

Encounter programs emphasizing similarities and shared humanity may limit the 
groups' capacity to cope with conflict or negative emotions and have little long-term 
impact as long as the external context remains the same (Steinberg, 2004; Suleiman, 
2004; Abu Nimer, 2004). Few models actually work explicitly with strong affect, or do it 
well. Thus, negative emotions in the contact situation may have a negative impact on 
inter-group perceptions (Ben Ari, 2004). In her ethnographic study of an ongoing 
leaderless Jewish Arab dialogue group in the US, Hubbard (1997, 1999) demonstrates 
how the group's inability to work with emotions eventually led to conflict avoidance in 
the group and hindered its work. Also criticized in encounter programs is the lack of 
facilitator commitment, training, or theoretical grounding and preparation; lack of 
opportunities for intra-group meetings within the encounter; poor selection process of 
participants; and lack of follow up (Abu Nimer, 2004; Suleiman, 2004). 

Many critics of the human relations/encounter approach point to the School of 
Peace model as a positive example of encounter programs. However, political action 
programs such as this one have also been criticized for their emphasis on conflict and 
confrontation over personal relationships (Maoz, 2004). The inter-active problem solving 

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model, with its rational approach to addressing the needs and fears of each group, 
neglects the affective work that needs to accompany cognitive insight. The lack of 
personal relations in the Givat Haviva and School of Peace encounters may prevent 
participants from differentiating and moving beyond their rigid collective perspectives 
(Steinberg, 2004). Further, these approaches promote one narrative over the other. 
Neither of these models has incorporated large group work into their program design. 
Given the particular emphasis on the larger societal context and on inter-group work, this 
is quite striking. Indeed, whether focused on developing inter-personal relationships or 
creating structural change in society, few programs work with more than 16-20 
participants at a time. 

Some hybrid approaches have been developed to attempt to bridge the gap 
between inter-cultural education models and problem solving approaches. Babbitt and 
Steiner (2006) have created a training model that has inter-active problem solving, 
consensus building and narrative storytelling (TRT) modules, which may be delivered at 
different phases of an intervention. Desivilya (2004) explores an integrated model that 
attempts to link systems thinking with conflict resolution approaches. Without a full 
description of the process and outcomes, it is difficult to evaluate the model. 

The model developed by Besod Siach (Duek, 2001; Sarel, Said, Mayer, & Ben- 
Yosef, 2003) shares with the Givat Haviva /School of Peace model some theoretical roots 
in systems theories of Bion and Lewin, and in the work of Martin Buber. It also shares an 
understanding of the system of the workshop or conference to be a microcosm of the 
larger environment. In both, analysis is at the group and inter-group level. Yet, Besod 
Siach and The School of Peace have fundamentally different philosophical approaches to 

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the work. Where School of Peace/Neve Shalom/Wahat al Salaam's work is aimed at 
empowering the Palestinian minority and helping the Jewish Israeli majority gain insight 
into its power, Besod Siach does not subscribe to the zero sum perspective in which one 
group's strength means the other's weakness. The model seeks to surface and address the 
non-rational processes and often unconscious emotions that exacerbate and fuel conflict. 
The aim of their work is not to resolve the disagreement over the two contradictory and 
competing narratives, which are not seen as reconcilable, but rather to create a space to 
hold both narratives. The assumption is that people come to Besod Siach conferences 
with a strong link to their identity. Meeting the other provides clarity into one's own 
identity. The aim is not change political opinions or beliefs (which is considered highly 
unlikely), but to create a space where participants can understand their own and the 
other's beliefs better. When space is created for these differences to co-exist, then 
agreements can be made, even in the context of the contradictory narrative (personal 
communication, Anat Ziff, 3/3/07). As with other models, the Besod Siach model 
appears to have had limited impact on society as a whole, even though it has had a great 
impact on individual participants 66 . The limited impact may be due in part to the fact that 
the conferences are embedded in Israeli Jewish society and politics, with its 
accompanying blind spots. 

In one example from a Besod Siach conference: a settler encouraged a leftist 
activist to continue to demonstrate against the occupation — "you are my conscience. . I 
need you to continue to do what you are doing." At the same time, the leftist recognized 

66 This is based on unpublished interview and survey research I conducted in June 2008 with Besod Siach 
members and conference participants (n=15). 

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that the settler was also holding some of his own paranoia and security concerns. Both 
had the experience of being affirmed by the other (interview, Besod Siach conference 
participant, June 2008). This vignette demonstrates important learning about the 
projective process, and is an extremely important first step. However, it stops short of 
allowing for change in either party's beliefs or behavior. For transformation to happen, 
the projection would need to be taken back, and re-owned by the projector (Wells, 1995). 
Only when the conflict is re-internalized, can the individual (or the group) actively 
grapple with the internal conflict, and make choices with that awareness. As long as the 
other holds the projection, there is no need to do anything differently. 

Long-term and sustainable resolution of the Middle East conflict requires multiple 
levels of intervention and dialogue that address both structural and emotional issues (S. 
M. Cohen & Kelman, 2005; Wallach, 2004, 2006). Informal civic society dialogue can 
serve as a complement to official political approaches. While the conflict is ongoing, 
civic engagement at all levels can serve to prepare participants for peace. When the 
conflict abates, working with emotions on the individual, group, and community levels 
can help create an environment where conflict is less likely to recur (Fitzduff, 2006; 
Fabick, 2006). 

Despite the vast literature on the topic of coexistence and dialogue work between 
Jews and Palestinians in Israel, there is a dearth of qualitative studies offering detailed 
descriptions of the activities, intended effects, and final outcomes of interventions. Such 
studies would allow researchers to see where the similarities and differences between the 
models actually exist (Fisher, 2006; Tausch, et. al., 2006). In addition, similar methods 

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may carry different labels, while the same label is applied to very different methods with 
different objectives resulting in terminological confusion. The lack of documentation and 
evaluation of interventions creates ongoing "confusion over what forms of intervention 
are being carried out at what levels of society with what intended effects" (Fisher, 2006, 
64). Evidence as to successful transfer effects from interventions to policy making is 
primarily anecdotal. Finally, even recently published reports describe groups that were 
conducted prior to 2002. More up-to-date research is needed. 

In the United States, the research on inter-cultural coexistence work is primarily 
focused on race relations. While there are numerous reports of the growing number of 
grassroots Jewish Palestinian or Jewish-Muslim peace initiatives, there are no empirical 
studies evaluating their outcomes, and few descriptive accounts of their processes and 
activities. Further research in this area will contribute to better understanding of the short 
and long term impact of these initiatives and will provide entry to further study of the 
dynamics of relationships between these Diaspora communities to their homelands and to 
each other. 

The study described here aims to develop a better understanding of these 
dynamics and address some of the gaps in the literature. First, it examines the role of 
trauma and emotions in conflict on both individual and systemic levels of the conflict. 
Unlike other models, this approach can work with groups of eighty or more participants 
at a time. The project was inspired by Besod Siach's innovations in group relations 
methods to understanding and working with conflict. It is intended to build upon, rather 
than replicate their and other group relations organizations' work. The focus on the role 
of Diaspora communities in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is unique. The theoretical 

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underpinnings of group relations, and how conflict might be understood through a group 
relations lens are described below. A description of conference methods is also provided. 
A Group Relations Approach to Conflict 

Group relations refers to both an experiential method of learning about leadership 
and authority, and to a theoretical orientation. The interdisciplinary field that is now 
called group relations integrates psychoanalytic theory, systems theory, and political 
science (with its attention to power and authority). Its early influences include 
contributions by sociologists (Le Bon and McDougall), psychoanalysts (Freud, Klein and 
Bion), social scientists (Lewin) and anthropologists (Rice and Miller) 67 . The work of 
British psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion (1952, 1961) and his ideas about basic assumption 
mentality and other aspects of unconscious functioning in groups forms the foundation 
upon which the field is built. I have previously written about how group relations theory 
can be applied to understand and work with conflict in and between groups (Wallach, 
2004, 2006). 
Emotions in Groups 

Working at the Center for Applied Social Research in London's Tavistock 
Institute of Human Relations, Bion explored the relationship between the individual and 
the group. He believed that individual members enter groups with their own rational and 
non-rational aims and needs, and employ psychosocial defenses 68 such as splitting 69 , 

67 For more about the history of the development of group relations as a field, see Fraher (2004b). 

68 Defense mechanisms offer a way to manage internal conflict and the anxiety it arouses. Just as countries 
develop various kinds of defenses and weaponry to protect themselves from perceived enemies, so, too, do 
individuals try to protect themselves from perceived dangers. Defense mechanisms and how they manifest 
on the individual and group level have been written about extensively in the psychoanalytic and group 

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projection 70 , and projective identification 7 ' in order to tolerate the powerful tensions of 
group life. The group and its leader serve as a container for the various projections of 
individual group members and the group takes on a life of its own as a consequence of 
these processes. As a result, individual group members act not only on their own behalf, 
but also on behalf of the larger group or system. These processes make up the 
unconscious of the group-as-a-whole. The group-as-a-whole becomes an entity much 
greater than its individual members, with a character of its own (Hayden & Molenkamp, 
2004). Just as individuals utilize defense mechanisms, such as splitting and projective 
identification, so do groups, organizations, communities and nations mobilize social 
defenses to protect themselves against unbearable feelings, unconscious anxieties, and 
conflicts (Menzies, 1975; Menzies Lyth, 1997). Groups may also avoid anxiety and other 
difficult feelings and decisions by substituting routines or rituals for direct engagement 
with the painful problem. 

relations literature. See, for example, (Bion, 1961; A. Freud, 1966; S. Freud, 1959a, 1959b; M. Klein, 1959; 
Obholzer, 1994; Obholzer & Zagier Roberts, 1994b; Ogden, 1982). 

69 Splitting is a defensive process in which we gain relief from internal conflicts by dividing emotions into 
either "all good" or "all bad" parts. We split our emotions due to our difficulty in holding two paradoxical 
experiences at the same time. Containing both the good and the bad parts of ourselves and seeing others as 
containing both good and bad aspects presents an intolerable conflict. We split in order to protect ourselves 
from the anxiety that the conflict arouses. 

70 Projection is a defense in which an individual disowns, and, then offloads onto someone else the 
disowned (split off) feelings s/he is experiencing. Whether the feelings are objectively 'good' or 'bad', the 
individual experiences them as intolerable. Projection is often seen in conjunction with splitting, with the 
split-off aspects of the self then projected onto another party because of the induced anxiety of holding onto 
the feelings oneself. Splitting and projective processes allow an internal conflict to be externalized and 
located outside the self (e.g., we are good, they are evil; we are rational, they are emotional; we are victims, 
they are perpetrators; we are peace loving, they are aggressive; we are heroes, they are cowards, etc.). Thus, 
the complex and ambiguous is made to seem simple and clear. 

Projective identification is a collusive process between two or more parties. In this process, once the 
projector has offloaded his intolerable feelings onto another, the recipient of the projection identifies with 
and internalizes the projected feelings as his own. The target of the projection thus changes in response to 
the projected feeling or impulse. The projector can manipulate or train an individual or group to act 
according to his projections by himself behaving as if those projections are true. The "projector" needs to 
stay in contact with the recipient in order to maintain a connection to the disowned, projected feelings 
(Horwitz, 1983). 

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Bion (1961)suggested that membership in any group is inherently conflictual. We 
long to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, while at the same time, we fear the 
loss of our individual identity in a group (Bion, 1961; McCollom, 1990). Conflict may 
signify the normal ambivalences of individual and collective life and may also signify a 
particular challenge that needs to be faced in the life of a group at a particular time (D. N. 
Berg & Smith, 1987; Heifetz, 1994). 
Work Groups 

Groups tend to join together based on similarities and in order to pursue a 
common task. The primary task of any group is what it must do in order to survive. To 
accomplish a group's task, members must differentiate, by taking on different roles in 
service of the larger group task. Often, differences in skill, viewpoint, or values are also 
necessary to achieve a group's primary task. Boundaries are formed or created around a 
group and its subsystems, task, and roles to define what belongs to the group and what is 
to be excluded. Leadership is assigned to those most able to help a group achieve its 
primary task (Miller, 1989; Miller & Rice, 1975; Zagier Roberts, 1994). Bion (1961) 
referred to the above described overt and conscious level of group functioning as the 
work group. 

The concepts of task, role, boundary, leadership, and authority help us to 
understand the overt and covert dynamics of groups and systems. When these structural 
elements are agreed upon and in alignment with each other, groups and systems may 
function relatively well. Conflict can arise when there is disagreement, spoken or 
unspoken, or when task, role, boundaries, and authority are not in alignment. In groups, 
conflict may manifest between individuals in the group, between subgroups, between the 

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group as a whole and an individual, or between the group as a whole and a particular 


Basic Assumption Groups 

A group that is anxious about confronting a conflict directly may unconsciously 
find covert ways of containing or managing the conflict. For example, groups may use 
particular members or subgroups to contain a difficult emotion, thought, or point of view 
on behalf of the group as a whole. That is, an individual group member, a pair, or a sub- 
group may be compelled, through the processes of projective identification, to take up a 
role to meet the unconscious needs of the group. The group as a whole can maintain its 
equilibrium, as long as it can view "the problem" as located in one individual or 
subgroup. Groups which operate largely unconsciously, and in seeming opposition to 
their stated primary task are said to be operating under basic assumption mentality (Banet 
& Hayden, 1977; Bion, 1961; Hayden & Molenkamp, 2004; Lawrence, Bain, & Gould, 
1996; Miller, 1989; Rioch, 1975). Basic assumption groups assign leadership to those 
most able to help the group meet its unconscious survival needs and contain its anxiety. 
Basic assumption leaders collude with the group in avoiding reality, and may be extruded 
or replaced if they break this unconscious agreement. 

For example, a group with conflicts around dependency issues may find an 
"identified patient" in the group who it can take care of. By loading the dependency into 
one person or sub-group, the group-as-a- whole frees itself of the anxiety caused by the 
intolerable dependency, while at the same time maintaining the connection with those 
feelings in the person of the identified patient. Elements of the dependency assumption 
can be seen in the "new Israeli" of the Zionist narrative, in which all vulnerability is split 

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off and attached to the "weak Diaspora Jew". Israelis are good and strong, while Diaspora 
Jews are viewed with contempt for their weakness (and walking like sheep to their own 
extermination). Conversely, a group with anxieties related to competence may project all 
of its competence into one member or the leader and then rely on that leader to take care 
of the group 72 . The example of Judith and Holophernes in Apocrypha has been cited in 
the group relations literature as an example of the dangers of extreme dependency upon a 
leader. Judith cut off the head of the Assyrian leader, Holophernes, and then displayed it 
to his army. Without their leader, or "head," the army acted as if they had "all lost their 
own heads" (Obholzer & Zagier Roberts, 1994a), and were quickly defeated by the 

A group that struggles with its own aggression may find a member or sub-group 
onto whom it may project its own aggressive tendencies (or other characteristic that 
contradicts the group's perception of itself). Through the processes of splitting and 
projective identification, the group locates the intolerable characteristic in one individual 
and can then scapegoat that individual for owning the characteristic 73 . In this way, the 
group manages its anxiety around a particular problem or conflict. By locating the 
intolerable feeling or point of view, group members may divest themselves of 
responsibility, and can continue to deny their own contribution to the problem. By 
scapegoating a particular individual, the group maintains a connection with the split off 
aspects of itself, without having to actually take ownership of those parts, or to feel the 
anxiety that such ownership would involve: "The deviancy is informing the group about 

72 Bion (1952) referred to this dynamic as basic assumption dependency. 

73 Bion (1952) referred to this dynamic as basic assumption fight/flight. 

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aspects of its nature of which it would prefer to remain ignorant" (Smith and Berg, 1987, 
p. 91). 

Scapegoating allows a group to manage its anxiety about conflict or a particular 
challenge it might be facing. Ultimately, it also interferes with a group's ability to 
effectively face that challenge or conflict, or to adapt to its environment. Real change or 
transformation can thus be avoided. In the Zionist narrative, Palestinians are the 
scapegoats: by putting all of the aggression into Palestinians and labeling them as 
"terrorists," Israeli Jews do not need to face their own aggression: with "the most moral 
army in the world," Israel acts only in self defense. Heifetz (1994) maintains that the role 
of the leader is to help the group face its adaptive challenges. If the group succeeds in 
extruding the scapegoat from the group, it is likely that the problem or conflict that the 
scapegoat represented will surface elsewhere in the system. 

A group may also offer up a pair who gives voice to the conflict existing in the 
group at a particular time. That is, the group may designate two of its members to fight 
with each other, while the remainder of the group observes passively. Thus, rather than 
the group as a whole engaging in a dialogue to reflect on the conflict, it may instead be 
lodged in two individuals who give voice to the conflict on behalf of the larger system. 
Pairs of members may also be asked to hold a sense of hope for the group 74 . This may 
still be problematic, as the group-as-a- whole continues to avoid dealing with reality. 
Much was made of the handshake between Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin at the 
signing of the Oslo accords in 1993. There followed a period of great hope, and 

74 Bion (1959) referred to this dynamic as basic assumption pairing. Basic assumption functioning is also 
discussed in Rioch (1970), Miller (1989), Lawrence, Bain, and Gould (1996), Banet and Hayden (1977); 
and Hayden and Molenkamp (2003). 

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numerous peace and coexistence initiatives were introduced. At the same time, little 
changed structurally that would allow a real peace to take place. Neither side addressed 
the difficult realities or the adaptive challenges that needed to be faced within their own 
constituencies, particularly the increase in Israeli settlement activity, and corruption and 
internal conflict within the Palestinian Authority. Israel and Palestine may also be viewed 
as a "fighting pair," in which they hold or contain the conflict on behalf of the entire 
global community. 

Groups can exert enormous pressure, both overt and covert, on an individual 
member, pair, or subgroup to take up a particular role on behalf of the whole group. 
Demographic characteristics, such as age, gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, 
and physical characteristics, may serve as the basis for which certain members are 
ascribed particular roles (D. N. Berg & Smith, 1987; Horwitz, 1983; McRae & Short, 
2010; Reed & Noumair, 2000). For example, women, based on cultural expectations, 
may be asked to take on caretaking roles on behalf of the larger group, or to give voice to 
emotions in the group. Sered's (2000) work, noted earlier, demonstrates this in her 
discussion of the roles of Israeli Jewish women, and the particular ways that Israeli 
patriarchal society uses them. Members of a particular ethnic group in a society may hold 
certain characteristics, such as aggression or sexuality, deemed intolerable by another 
ethnic group. Sometimes, these projections get translated into policy or law (Skolnick & 
Green, 2006). 

Basic assumption mentality, as described in the examples above, simplifies what 
is complex, and allows a group to manage anxiety and internal conflict without actually 
addressing the reality at hand. Groups that are invested in maintaining a particular view 

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of themselves (their group identity) and of other groups can exert similar pressure on its 
members to behave according to group norms/expectations as a way of keeping them "in 
line." Speaking against predominating group norms may carry the risk of being 
scapegoated. Those doing so may face sanction from their own group if they violate 
group norms in attempting to reach out to the other. This can be seen, for example with 
established organizations in the American Jewish community, which label criticism of 
Israeli government policies as the "new anti-Semitism." Anwar Sadat and Yitzhak Rabin 
were assassinated by members of their own constituencies for their attempts to make 
peace with the other without adequately addressing the profound anxieties in their own 
groups (Heifetz & Linsky, 2002). 
Splitting and Projective Identification in an Inter-Group Context 

Groups may attempt to avoid or deny their own internal conflicts by finding an 
external group or enemy onto whom it can project its unacceptable, split-off parts. This is 
the root of stereotyping, sexism, racism and other "isms". It is also the fuel that can fan 
the flames of war. The less personal contact we have with other groups or individuals 
who represent different group identities, the more they may serve as a blank screen onto 
which we project our own unwanted images, ideas, desires, longings, anxieties, and 
prejudices. The external groups may have a valence (propensity or predisposition) for the 
characteristic that is being projected, and may also be compelled to take on those 
characteristics by virtue of the behavior of the projecting group. The more we treat a 
group as if they have a particular characteristic, the more we actually encourage, or even 
create that behavior. 

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The invocation of an external enemy sets into motion a vicious cycle of projective 
identification, which serves to create internal unity while deflecting attention away from 
internal conflicts or adaptive challenges that need to be faced. As Israelis and Palestinians 
have less contact and younger generations have fewer opportunities to actually meet the 
other, dehumanization and demonization of the other increases. The cycles of projection 
and projective identification have boosted extremism and radicalization on both sides. In 
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the aggression and violence are projected onto the 
Palestinians, who then take up the role of "terrorists." Jewish Israelis can then remain in 
the more familiar and comfortable role of victim. The more the group-as-a- whole takes 
on the victim role and projects the aggression outward, the more likely it is (through 
processes of projective identification) to draw that aggression onto itself, thereby creating 
a self-fulfilling prophecy. This has also been referred to as inverse victimization 
(Roffman, 2008). This is not to dismiss actual instances of victimization and oppression 
of Jews throughout history. But, it is important to recognize the communal valences that 
continue to draw "anti-Semitism" or other forms of violence towards Jews. 

The larger socio-political context — global, regional, and intra-group — further 
complicates the dynamics of the conflict. On the international level, the parties have been 
viewed as proxies in the cold war (Plitnick & Toensing, 2007). On a regional level, Arab 
countries have used the issue of Palestine to distract from their own internal difficulties, 
while it is used by Israel to divert attention from its own internal conflicts (both with 
Palestinian citizens of Israel, and between Jewish groups: left and right wing, secular and 
religious, native Israelis and new immigrants, etc. Religion (and religious 
fundamentalisms) is another important dimension in the larger socio-political 

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environment. As the Holy Land for the three Abrahamic faiths, Israel/Palestine has long 
been the repository of hopes, dreams, longings, and other projections from around the 
globe. Religious beliefs and rituals (Jewish, Muslim, and Christian) have long been used 
to justify violent policies and reactions on both sides 75 . A group relations lens allows one 
to look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at multiple levels: at the psychological level of 
trauma; at the social level of inter- group relations; and at the political level of 
understanding the role of leadership, authority, and power. From this perspective, the 
conflict is not just about two peoples, but also about what these two groups are enacting 
on behalf of the global community, that is, why does the global community need these 
two groups to be in conflict? 

Many approaches to conflict resolution do not address the underlying anxieties 
and fears that exacerbate and fuel conflict. In contrast, group relations conferences 
engage participants on a deeply emotional as well as rational level; on an individual, as 
well as systemic level. Learning about the processes of group projection, and increasing 
awareness about how individuals participate in the projective process (that may manifest 
as de-humanization of the other) can clear a path to better understanding and more 
fruitful interactions within and between the groups, and may over time have an impact on 
the general discourse of the conflict. Group relations conferences bring to the surface the 
non-rational processes within and between groups. This is not to suggest that this 
approach could or should replace political and structural interventions. Rather, they need 
to accompany such processes. 

75 The "Christian Zionist" movement in the United States is one example of non -Jewish and non-Arab 
group's involvement in and impact on the conflict, in its alignment with the Israeli right wing. 

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Group Relations Conference Methods 

Group relations conferences offer a unique kind of experiential learning in which 
participants can explore and learn about issues of power and leadership, and the 
conscious and unconscious processes that influence the exercise of authority in groups. 
Each group relations conference becomes a temporary institution, designed to reproduce 
many of the psychodynamic and structural characteristics of organizational and 
community life: task systems, structures of authority, boundaries of task, role, time and 
territory. The temporary organization of the conference system provides the opportunity 
to learn about authority, leadership and group dynamics experientially, as they unfold in 
the "here and now" 76 . Working within this temporary organization, members learn how 
it functions, how they function in it, and then examine how this experiential learning can 
be applied to their work settings back-home 77 . 

The Tavistock Institute held the first group relations conference at the University 
of Leicester in the U.K. in 1957, and continues to run two-week conferences there on an 
annual basis. Hence, conferences of this sort are often referred to as "Tavistock" 
conferences. The first group relations conference in the U.S. took place in 1965, and was 
directed by A. Kenneth Rice, after whom the U.S. -based group relations organization was 
named. Group relations theory and conference methods continue to be developed at the 
Tavistock Institute in the U.K, the A.K. Rice Institute in the U.S., and other group 
relations organizations around the world. 

76 A full description of the conference experience can be found in Rice (1963), Banet and Hayden (1977); 
Hayden and Molenkamp (2003); and Miller (1989). 

77 Information obtained from AKRI's website 

Literature Review 

The word "conference" can be misleading and evoke the image of traditional 
academic or professional meeting in which expert faculty or speakers lecture or actively 
facilitate sessions, while the audience passively takes in the information. In contrast, a 
group relations conference is structured in a way that encourages participants to assert 
authority by bringing in their own experience and knowledge. Both participants and staff 
are "participant observers" who work together to make meaning of the temporary 
organization/system that they are co-creating (Banet & Hayden, 1977; Hayden & 
Molenkamp, 2004; Miller, 1989). 

Group relations conferences may be residential or non-residential and may be as 
short as a weekend, or as long as two weeks. Typically, they consist of five types of 
events. Three of these, small study groups, large study groups and the institutional event 
are "here and now" events. This means that the purpose is for participants (with the 
assistance of one or more consultants) to study their own experience and behavior as it 
occurs in the context of the group. A small study group (SSG) will consist of eight to 
twelve members and one or two consultants. Traditionally, small study group 
assignments are made by the staff prior to the conference, in order to create groups that 
are heterogeneous with respect to gender, age, and race/ethnicity. The large study group 
(LSG) consists of all of the conference participants and three to four consultants, 
traditionally seated in some kind of spiral, double spiral, or concentric circle 
configuration where participants cannot have face-to-face contact with everyone in the 
room. In this kind of arrangement, crowd dynamics may be elicited and studied. In the 
institutional event, members choose their own groups, whose task is to study not only 
their own experience and behavior, but also the relations between the groups and the 

Literature Review 

dynamics of the whole institution. Staff members may take up a variety of management 
or consulting roles in these sessions (Banet & Hayden, 1977; Hayden & Molenkamp, 
2004; Miller, 1989). 

In addition to the "here and now" events described above, traditional group 
relations conferences also have two kinds of reflective events: plenary sessions and 
review and application groups (RAG — sometimes referred to as role analysis groups). 
Plenary sessions include all of the members and staff and are designed to present and 
discuss questions regarding the conference in general and its component parts. 
Conferences generally begin and end with a plenary, as does the institutional event. 
Review and application groups consist of four to eight participants to first examine the 
roles they are taking and being given within the conference experience. Later on in the 
conference these sessions move toward focusing on what is being learned and how it may 
apply to their back-home roles and organizations (Banet & Hayden, 1977; Hayden & 
Molenkamp, 2004; Miller, 1989). 

The role of the staff is to encourage and support participant awareness, analysis, 
reflection, and understanding of the emerging conference dynamics. Staff consultants 
take an interpretive stance and attempt to offer hypotheses about conference dynamics in 
the moment. They make use of their own and conference participants' observations, 
thoughts, behaviors, associations, metaphors, fantasies, dreams, etc. as evidence to 
support their hypotheses. Participants are free to work with these hypotheses, discard 
them, or offer their own. Klein and Astrachan (1971) describe the consultant's task as 

Literature Review 

The consultant's task is to make learning opportunities available to the members, 
and he (sic) performs this task by staying in role. He does not define the activities 
of others, plan for the group or organize resources. He does not motivate others to 
attend to the group task, nor does he assess for the group how effectively it 
approximates its goal. He leads by attending to his task, by commenting on group 
dynamics, on relationships to him, on rivalries, and the like. (p. 668) 
Because consultants do not behave in ways consistent with what is expected in a 
group "leader," 78 group members are confronted immediately with conscious and 
unconscious expectations and beliefs that they may hold with regard to leadership, 
authority, and power. The consulting stance (an admittedly unusual way of interacting 
with others) may provoke anxiety and/or aggression. 

Conferences have a clear structure, with clear boundaries around time, task, and 
roles. At the same time, there is no pre-determined outcome or action agenda, as this is 
determined by conference participants and unfolds in the course of their work together. 
The assumption is that the conference serves as a microcosm of the external environment, 
so that by examining their behaviors and experiences within the "here and now" 
experience of the conference setting, participants will gain insight into the dynamics of 
the systems in which they work and live: at home, in the workplace and in their 
communities (Banet & Hayden, 1977; Hayden & Molenkamp, 2004; Miller, 1989) 79 . The 
dynamics that emerge within any particular group are influenced by the larger system and 
environment within which the group is embedded. For instance, within an organizational 

78 In the description and implementation of a group relations conference, we are careful to refer to staff not 
as leaders, but as consultants . 

79 This phenomenon has also been referred to as isomorphy (Agazarian & Philibossian, 1988). 

Literature Review 

context, the process of a particular group tends to reflect the larger organizational culture: 
its assumptions, values, and beliefs. The organizational culture, in turn, is influenced by 
the culture of the larger community and nation. Individuals are members of multiple 
groups in addition to their work groups. By virtue of their outside identity group 
memberships, group members import assumptions, values and beliefs from the larger 
environment (Berg and Smith, 1987). Examining the dynamics in the microcosm of the 
conference can elucidate processes in the society at large (Alford, 2004). In the United 
States, group relations conferences have been used to explore various themes related to 
identity, including gender, race, ethnicity, etc. (Braxton, Hayden, McRae, & Monroe, 
2008; McRae & Short, 2010). 

Overseas, two organizations, Besod Siach (which was the original inspiration for 
the project), and Partners for Confronting Collective Atrocities 80 (an ad hoc group which 
includes group relations practitioners from Europe and Israel) have conducted 
conferences (in Israel and Cyprus, respectively) with themes related to the Israeli- 
Palestinian conflict. One Besod Siach conference was took place in a Palestinian village 
in Israel and was directed by a Palestinian citizen of Israel 8 ' . The International Forum for 
Social Innovation (IFSI), a group relations organization based in France co-sponsored a 
conference with Al-Quds University in East Jerusalem in July of 1996. While this was 

Partnership for Confronting Collective Atrocities has used the model to bring together descendants of 
Nazis and descendants of Holocaust survivors in Germany and Israel on a biannual basis. The last two 
conferences, convened in Cyprus in 2008 and 2010, have widened the focus to include Palestinians and 
"others" (Erlich, 2006). 

81 While this has not been written about in the literature, I learned about it in an interview with the 
conference director in 2008. He described one incident in the conference where he had enacted a very 
personal (and universal) story of displacement. This occurred during the Institutional Event, when he 
realized that he had neglected to define a territory for the management team (which he headed) to work. 
Unconsciously, he displaced himself, repeating in microcosm his experience of displacement as an expelled 
Palestinian inside Israel (Besod Siach conference director, personal communication, 2008). 

Literature Review 

planned to take place on a regular basis, the conference was canceled by Al Quds in 1997 
(Gutmann, Pierre, Ternier David, & Verrier, 1997) 82 . 
Group Relations Conference Research 

Empirical studies of group relations conferences and their outcomes are few in 
number. Early on, A. Kenneth Rice expressed resistance to doing research at conferences 
due to its potential interference with the "here and now" experience of the conference. At 
the same time, he suggested that such research might be more acceptable once the field 
became more established (Lipgar, Bair, & Fichtner, 2004). 

Group relations outcomes research has occurred primarily in a few university 
settings: at Temple University, Northwestern, University of Chicago, New York 
University (Silver, 2001) and more recently at the University of California in San Diego. 
The research has attempted to measure various aspects of participant learning and factors 
that appear to help or hinder conference learning. Such variables examined include those 
related to individual member characteristics, and those that are related to characteristics 
of the conference. 

Conference research has been varied in both focus and method. Studies have been 
aimed at understanding group process and functioning from a psychodynamic perspective 
and at measuring individual member learning, including how individual and conference 
characteristics impact on learning. Methods used have included systematic observation 

82 The 1996 conference occurred after Rabin's assassination and Likud's rise into power). There were 36 
participants, 28 Palestinian (1 originally European), six Israelis (three Jews and three Arab), two other 
European. There were eight staff members of different nationalities, religions, and cultures: the two 
Palestinians on staff held administrative roles. Consulting staff came from the US, France, India, and Israel. 
The conference director was a French Jew. There was a high level of absenteeism, due to border/checkpoint 
issues. The conference was characterized by many challenges to the boundaries, which were seen as a 
barrier and to the non-Palestinian staff, not seen as trustworthy (Gutmann, et al., 1997). 

Literature Review 

with or without audio and videotape recording and coding in order to understand more 
about psychodynamic processes in groups. Researchers have also applied ethnographic 
and psychometric techniques in order to study groups as social systems, and factors 
affecting how individuals — both members and consulting staff — are impacted by the 
conference experience (Lipgar, et al., 2004) 

Research on individual member characteristics has looked at differences in 
cultural identity (Walker, 1993) or member learning styles as variables (Lipgar, Bair, & 
Fichtner, 2004). Conference variables studied include conference context (who sponsors 
the conference and number of conferences sponsored), design (including duration, 
number of events, and intensity — residential or non-residential), and linkages (that is the 
social and authority ties between staff and members of a conference). Residential 
conferences of greater intensity and complexity (that is longer residential conferences), 
with strong sponsors (that is, those who are able to successfully recruit and finance 
membership), and authority and social ties between members and staff were found to 
increase the amount of learning reported by participants (E. B. Klein & Astrachan, 1975; 
E. B. Klein, Correa, Howe, & Stone, 1983; E. B. Klein, Stone, Correa, Astrachan, & 
Kossek, 1989). Characteristics of conference consulting staff, such as their orientation 
toward or conceptualization of their roles (Lipgar, et al., 2004; McGarrigle, 1993), their 
gender and level of authority (Correa, et al., 1988; Cytrynbaum & Belkin, 2004) and the 
impact of those characteristics on conference dynamics and learning have also been 
important areas of study. 

Outcomes research for group relations conferences focuses on the group process 
or participant learning measured during (Wheelan, et al., 1991) or immediately following 

Literature Review 

a conference (Lipgar, et al., 2004; Lipgar & Struhl, 1993; McGarrigle, 1993). Longer 
term follow up studies (at six weeks and three months post-conference) have confirmed 
that conference participants increase their learning about authority, leadership, 
follower ship, power dynamics in groups, the group effect on task performance and 
interpersonal problems in the exercise of leadership (E. B. Klein & Astrachan, 1975; E. 
B. Klein, et al., 1989). There has been little follow-up on these earlier studies. 

Case studies have looked at the long-term impact of group relations conference 
training on organizational functioning (when a majority of employees have attended 
conferences) (Menninger, 1975, 1985) and on communities in conflict (Alevy, et al., 
1974; Doob & Foltz, 1973, 1974; E. B. Klein, 1985). These studies are also not current. 
Hupkens (2006) recently conducted a small pilot study consisting of intensive interviews 
of five people who attended between one and six group relations conferences. More such 
follow-up studies, conducted systematically, would greatly enhance our understanding of 
the processes at work during and after conferences; the variables that contribute to 
participant learning; the ways participants make meaning of their experiences, and how 
learning accumulates over time. 

Over the past five decades, group relations organizations around the world have 
sponsored numerous conferences, in which many have participated. The organizations 
that sponsor these events, and the consultants that staff them, are committed to offering 
this kind of experiential learning. Yet, the administration of conference evaluations, 
interviews, or other outcome measures, either at the conclusion of the conferences or in 
later follow-up, is not part of standard practice. The coming chapters describe a pilot 
study, Authority, leadership, and peacemaking: The role of the Diasporas, which uses 

Literature Review 

group relations theory and conference methods to bring together Jewish and Arab 
Diaspora communities, as well as affected others, in the United States. It seeks to address 
some of the gaps in the literature in regard to both group relations and conflict resolution. 
The next chapter describes the specific innovations and adaptations to the group relations 
model, and research methods used in this study. The remaining chapters report on 
themes and dynamics in the conference and learning outcomes for participants. 

This chapter has reviewed the literature in four areas of study: 1) Jewish and 
Palestinian identities and collective narratives; 2) Diaspora communities; 3) conflict 
resolution and dialogic interventions used with Jewish and Arab groups in Israel and in 
the US and 4) group relations theory, practice, and research. 


Chapter 3 

This chapter is divided into three sections. The first section discusses pre- 
conference planning activities, and includes information about project partners, brochure 
and marketing, budget, conference staff, and pre-conference data collection. The second 
section examines the conference itself: it includes a description of the conference task 
and design; participant demographics; and a discussion of reflexivity and participant 
observation as the method of data collection. The chapter concludes with a description of 
data collection in the post-conference stage, and includes a description of the survey and 
interview protocols. 
Pre-Conference Activities 
Project Partners: Roles and Responsibilities 

The conference had six sponsors: three in the US, and one each in the 
Netherlands, Israel, and Palestine. The project partners were finalized in November 2009. 
I wrote up a memorandum outlining my role and responsibilities, the roles and 
responsibilities agreed to by each partner, and the roles and responsibilities of conference 
directors and staff. This memo was forwarded to each of the sponsoring organizations. 

Most of the partners offered help in marketing and fundraising for the event. This 
included posting a link to our brochure and "fundraising widget 83 " on their websites; and 
announcing the conference through their electronic listserves. One organization offered to 
hold pre-or post-conference events to market the conference. One offered funds to pay for 

83 through which individuals could contribute to the conference scholarship fund on line 


the travel expenses of one of the co-directors. Another was to serve solely in the role of 
fiscal sponsor. The conference task, roles and responsibilities of conference directors and 
staff were also stated in the memorandum. The conference tasks I defined were "to 
promote dialogue between the Jewish, Palestinian, and Arab Diasporas and affected 
others around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; to learn about unconscious processes and 
group dynamics and how they affect the conflict; to explore identity issues in relation to 
the other." 

I communicated with the sponsors on a regular basis to inform them of progress 
and changes regarding the project. The full text of the memorandum can be found in 
Appendix G. 
Conference Brochure and Marketing 

The conference brochure was written over the summer and early fall of 2009. The 

full text for it can be found in Appendix H. The design and writing the brochure is 

typically the director's task. Because of the nature of the project, I took a larger role in 

this than is usual in conference work. The two directors and I each worked on parts of the 

brochure, although I had general oversight and did the final editing. The brochure stated 

that the primary task of the conference would be: 

... to learn - through experience - how groups function, how we exercise 
leadership in groups, and how we can become more effective leaders within 
the organizations and communities in which we live and work. Uniquely, we will 
have the opportunity to focus on those elements of leadership that can often be 
obscured from view - the hidden challenges. 

This was somewhat different than the way I had originally defined the task for the 

directors, and was worded along the lines of a traditional group relations conference, with 

the emphasis on the exercise of leadership in groups (Hayden & Molenkamp, 2004; 


Miller, 1989). However, I approved the text because I thought the rest of the brochure 
made clear that the focus would be on examining the dynamics of Jewish and Middle 
Eastern Diaspora communities in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and to 
explore possibilities for peacemaking. The brochure went online in November 2009. I 
developed a database of approximately 600 organizations, groups, and individuals: these 
included academic departments and institutions; activist groups; Arab American and 
Jewish American organizations (mainstream and activist); religious congregations 
(Muslim, Jewish, and Christian); mental health organizations and professional groups; 
and organizations and departments concerned with conflict resolution in general and the 
Palestinian-Israeli conflict in particular. E-mail flyers were sent out to this list three to 
four times between January and April 2010. 

In the budget prepared by one of the conference directors and me, all conference 
costs (staff honoraria; travel; room and lodging expenses; advertising; and participant 
room and board) would be covered by tuition costs for participants. Fees were set at 
$1695.00 (including tuition, room, and board) for a four day residential conference. In 
February 2010 (about two months before the conference was to begin), the directors and I 
decided to shorten the conference by one day, and make residency optional. This would 
substantially decrease the cost (fees were now $395.00, including tuition and food, with 
lodging extra) and was aimed to encourage enrollment. The conference was funded 
through small grants from Lesley University, the Northeast Society for Group 
Psychotherapy Foundation and Group Relations International; individual online 
donations made through a fundraising widget; tuition monies; and the researcher. 


Conference Staff and Staff Work 

I hired two conference directors in April of 2009: a Christian Palestinian man 
living in Israel, and a Jewish American man living in the US. The role of the directors 
was to direct a conference within the parameters that I had defined, in regard to the 
conference theme, primary task, conference title and the research portion of the 
conference. The directors agreed to convene a conference with as many as 50 
participants, and as few as eleven 84 . 

Other elements of the directors' roles included developing the conference design, 
preparing a conference budget, designing the conference brochure with a graphic 
designer that I had chosen, and hiring staff. The conference directors and I scheduled 
monthly meetings via Skype, and met more frequently as the dates of the conference 
drew near. 

The directors hired staff consultants whose cultural identities would reflect the 
different groups who would be attending the conference: Arab, Middle Eastern, Jewish, 
and "other." The consulting staff included: one Asian American, one Persian American, 
one Palestinian American, one Jewish American, one Arab Jew living in Israel, and one 
Christian Arab living in Europe 85 . An African American was hired to be conference 
administrator. In total, the conference staff had five women and four men. 

For all of the conference staff (except for the Palestinian co-director who had 
consulted at Besod Siach conferences), this application of group relations methods was 

84 The number eleven was chosen, because that was the smallest group relations conference that I had 
knowledge of to date. Not coincidentally, it had been directed by the Jewish American co -director, and I 
had served on staff. 

85 The Arab consultant from Europe had to withdraw from role two weeks before the conference, for 
medical reasons. 


completely new. All were interested in discovering what might be learned from this 
particular adaptation of the group relations model, and in seeing what further innovations 
might be developed. The directors in particular wanted to involve the consulting staff in 
designing the conference. The staff met three times via conference call from December 
2009 to March 2010. The purpose of these calls was 1) to get to know each other and 
discuss their connectedness to the conference task (often called "joining work") 2) 
discuss conference design and 3) discuss conference recruitment. They convened on the 
conference site two nights before the conference was to begin. 

About two months before the conference, the administrator had to withdraw for 
medical reasons. When it became clear that enrollment would not be sufficient to support 
all of the consultants, all of the staff expressed willingness to shift into member roles, if 
that became necessary 86 . This shift was finalized in the work done between the 
conference directors and staff the day before the conference was to begin. The directors 
decided (and I concurred) to use the time already set aside for staff work as a transition 
day 87 . The consulting staff did joining work in the morning, and discussed conference 
design ideas in the afternoon. After this, they shifted into their member roles. In essence, 
we were adding a "pre-conference" for the part of the group that had been hired to be on 

In the conference itself, we would now have a two tiered system of 
membership — a subgroup of members who were more privileged, and another set of 
members who were paying to attend (though they too were being subsidized to some 

Their travel and lodging expenses would still be covered by me. 
87 A number of staff were coming from out of state or out of the country, and could not change tickets 
without an additional fee. 


degree). We believed that if this difference were made transparent, and explored, then it 
would provide additional opportunities for learning about a conflict in which the two 
sides are unequal in terms of power and privilege. 
Pre-Conference Data Collection 

Pre-conference, I recorded notes during or just after all of my meetings with 
directors and during staff meetings, and saved all correspondence pertaining to the 
conference. The directors convened staff meetings, and I contributed to them when I 
thought it appropriate. In addition to participant observation in pre-conference staff 
meetings, I administered pre-conference surveys to the staff and people who had signed 
up for the conference (see appendix I). The purpose of the pre-conference survey was to 
elicit information about the participants' learning goals, hopes, concerns and expectations 
for the conference, prior involvement in dialogue or coexistence work with the other 
community; as well as previous encounters with experiential learning. Questions 
regarding demographic background and how participants defined their religion and 
ethnicity were also asked. Finally I asked respondents to define their political views vis- 
a-vis the conflict, in order to have a baseline to compare with post-conference responses. 
In addition to collecting data from conference participants, I also recorded my 
observations at various meetings or lectures I attended in regard to the conflict, and my 
own internal emotional experience while planning the conference. 
The Conference 
Conference Task 

Authority, Leadership, and Peacemaking was different from a typical group 
relations conference in a number of ways. Some of the changes to traditional ways of 


mounting conferences were deliberate and others were the result of environmental 
exigencies, and might better be labeled as adaptations. Deliberate innovations concerned 
the conference task and conference design, and the way in which the research was 
integrated into the conference. All of the innovations and adaptations had repercussions 
for conference dynamics, which will be discussed at greater length in the next chapter. 

A major difference from the traditional conference model was the introduction of 
a second task: to bring together Jewish, Arab, and other Middle Eastern Diaspora 
communities to explore their role in contributing to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and 
how they might contribute the peacemaking process. The "double task" model was 
introduced by Harold Bridger, one of the founders of the Tavistock Institute, who later 
founded the Bayswater Institute in the UK. This model puts equal emphasis on the 
unconscious process and the work task (L. Klein, 2005). With Bridger' s departure, the 
Tavistock and Bayswater models developed independently of each other. Group relations 
organizations in the US are more closely allied with the Tavistock model. For this project 
the group relations conference model would be the tool or method for dialogue (rather 
than an end in itself), with a greater emphasis on the theme of the role of the Diasporas in 
the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. 
Conference Design 

The conference structure ultimately resembled that of a traditional group relations 
conference, with traditional types of events, described in the literature review and below 
(Hayden & Molenkamp, 2004). The final conference design included opening and 
closing plenaries, study groups, an institutional event, review and application groups and 
a conference discussion, held at the end of the second day and meant to serve as a kind of 


review session for all conference members. The conference events are described below, 
and a full schedule may be found in Appendix J. 

The conference opening and closing sessions bookmarked the conference. Their 
task was to "provide an opportunity for members and staff to express their thoughts and 
feelings on crossing the boundaries from the outside environment into the conference and 
from within the conference to the outside environment" 88 . During these sessions, the 
entire conference sat in the designated "plenary room." The two directors sat in front 
facing all of the conference members, whose chairs were arranged in a straight line. I sat 
on the same side of the room as the directors, though several feet off to the side and a few 
steps behind. During the conference opening, the directors read an opening statement (see 
appendix K for full text) explaining the primary task of the conference, describing their 
roles, and talking about the conference theme, and the concepts of leadership and 
authority. During this time, I was also asked to say something about the research. I spoke 
very briefly, directing members to their conference folders, which contained the 
disclosure form (see appendix L). During the closing plenary, I shared some of my 
observations, as well as some of my experiences in the pre-conference planning, when I 
felt it would elucidate some of the dynamics being discussed. 

Study Groups (SG) met five times during the conference 89 : twice on the first and 
second days, and once on the last day. Their purpose was "to study processes as they 
occur - in the "here-and-now" — in this face-to-face group with special reference to the 

The phrasing of the tasks for these events is from the conference directors, as written in the conference 

89 There was some discussion about this during the pre-conference staff work. Staff considered having both 
a large and a small study group, or eliminating one of them. Given the size of the membership, it made 
sense to not differentiate between different types of study groups. 


exercise of authority and the emergence of leadership." This group met across the hall 
from the plenary room. Twelve chairs were set up in a circle to accommodate all 
conference members and the two directors. As the researcher, I sat outside the circle at 
the back of the room. 

There were six sessions plus a closing plenary for the Institutional Event (IE), 
which took place during the second and third (last) day of the conference. In this event, 
members were given the opportunity to form their own sub-systems, and negotiate their 
mission in relation to the institution. The primary task was "to explore the relationship 
between the sub-systems and the conference-as-a- whole in the 'here-and-now.'" The 
management (i.e., the conference directors) met in a separate room on the second floor. 
They did their work in public and members were free to observe or meet with them (with 
the authorization of their respective groups). The text for the event opening (read by the 
directors) can be found in Appendix M. The institutional event added the element of 
inviting members to co-design the final institutional event plenary in consultation with 
the directors. Members were informed of this opportunity in the fourth session of the 
event. This innovation has been used increasingly in group relations conferences. During 
the event, I observed the group formation process, and then split my time between the 
two member groups and the management group 90 . One of the member groups refused to 
allow me to observe during one of the last institutional event sessions, while they were 
planning for the final plenary. Otherwise, both groups agreed to my requests to observe. 

There were two Review and Application Group (RAG) sessions, whose task was 
"to provide members the opportunity to examine and discuss unresolved conference 

90 In this session, the three groups met simultaneously. 


issues, reflect upon experiences and learning during the various conference events, and 
consider application of conference learning to home institutions." There were four or 
five members in each RAG group, which met with one of the conference directors. The 
groups met in smaller rooms or sections of the plenary and study group rooms. Seating 
arrangements in these groups were less formal, but more or less in a circular 
configuration. Since there were two different RAG groups, I split my time between them, 
observing one the first night, and the other on the last day. I sat just outside the circle. 

The Conference Discussion (CD) took place at the end of the second day. Its task 
was "to provide the opportunity for all conference participants to reflect on conference 
issues, experiences and learning during the various conference events." The event 
included all conference members. Here the seating arrangement was somewhat similar to 
the opening and closing plenaries, though reversed: the directors and members were now 
sitting on opposite sides of the room from where they were in the opening 91 . 
Participant Demographics 92 

There were a total of twelve participants in the conference. The directorate 
included myself (a Jewish female), and the two male conference directors (one Jewish 
American and one Christian Palestinian). There were an additional five women and four 
male participants. Of these, four were Jewish (three of Eastern European origin, one of 
Arab background), two were Muslim (one Persian American and one Palestinian 
American) and three were from Catholic backgrounds (two from Western European 
origin, and one from Asian origin). All but two people (one Muslim, one Jewish) 

91 The purpose of this was to differentiate the two events. 

,2 To clarify the terminology: I use the word participants to include all who took part in the conference: 
directors, members, and me. "Members" refers to those participants in the conference who did not serve in 
a staff role, including those who began as staff, and later shifted into a membership role. 



described their religious practices as secular or eclectic. Table 1 below illustrates the 

demographics of conference participants and staff according to gender and religious 


Table 1: Participant Demographics (Conference Members and Directors) 





Conference Directors 

Conference Creator 
Conference Members 















Conference Data Collection: Reflexivity, Subjectivity, and Participant Observation 

While qualitative researchers have divergent opinions about the importance of 
"objectivity" (B. L. Berg, 2007; Creswell, 1998; Glesne, 2006; Reinharz, 1992), psycho- 
social researchers (Clarke, 2002; Clarke & Hoggett, 2009; Hollway & Jefferson, 2000) 
take for granted the subjectivity of the researcher. 

psycho-social research enhances the ethical dimension of knowledge production 
by revealing the projective dynamics of the researcher-researched relationship and 
utilizing it for the purpose of deeper understanding (Alexandrov, 2009, p. 38). 
Psycho -social research (Clarke, 2002; Clarke & Hoggett, 2009; Hollway & 
Jefferson, 2000) involves looking beneath the surface of what subjects say in order to 
ascertain additional meaning. The method assumes unconscious processes are present 
within and between both the researcher and the researched. Psycho-social research 
emphasizes reflexivity, recognizing the emotional involvement (conscious and 
unconscious) of the researcher in the project. Such reflexivity can aid in the 


understanding of transference and counter-transference dynamics in the research. An 
awareness of the practitioner's own values, prejudices and identifications can help the 
researcher delineate whether what is evoked belongs to the subject, is co-constructed, or 
belongs to the researcher (Clarke, 2002; Clarke & Hoggett, 2009; Hollway & Jefferson, 
2000). For that reason, I included a discussion of aspects of my own narrative relevant to 
the conference in the introduction of this dissertation, and present my affective 
experience of events before and during the conference as part of the data collected. 

In group relations conferences, members and staff are "participant observers" who 
try to make meaning of what they are experiencing together. Their observations, 
thoughts, fantasies, and emotions are all considered data to be used in the pursuit of the 
understanding of the conference process (Banet & Hayden, 1977; Hayden & Molenkamp, 
2004; Miller, 1989; Wells, 1995). The conference setting is understood to be a 
microcosm of the larger environment within which the conference is taking place. 
Meaning is negotiated in the conference setting, as both staff and members offer 
hypotheses about the meaning of conference events. Thus, attention is paid to what 
happens within the conference setting, and to how participants think and feel about those 
events, as a means of understanding the larger system. Thus, in this chapter and those that 
follow, my experiences, observations and emotions are presented as additional data to aid 
in the understanding of conference processes and dynamics. 
Roles of the Researcher 

Conference directors and staff were aware that research would be embedded into 
this conference, and were aware that I would observe conference events and staff 


meetings. At the conference, and throughout all events, I sat outside of the group with my 
laptop, and transcribed verbatim, as much as I was able, all that was said. 

The conference directors and I negotiated that I would be a "researcher with 
voice." This meant that I would be able to take up my authority to speak if I felt it 
important to do so 93 . The title of "researcher with voice" carried enough ambiguity to be 
both useful and problematic. In general, we agreed that I would not speak during the 
Study Group sessions, which were here and now events. The "there and then" events: 
plenary sessions, review and application groups and conference discussion, had reflective 
tasks, which allowed me to speak from my researcher role, sharing my observations and 
reflections, when I felt it would elucidate some of the dynamics being discussed. As 
noted earlier, this way of working is grounded in group relations theory and practice 
(Wells, 1995). 

Formal conference events ended at 8:30 PM on Friday and 9 PM on Saturday, 
after which members were free to do as they wished. Since only three of the members 
commuted, most would remain at the conference site socializing until late in the evening. 
While the directors were constrained by the boundaries of their roles in terms of 
interacting with members, I was more or less free to move between the member and staff 
groups. The directors often worked into the evenings, reviewing the day and preparing 
for the next. I sat in and took notes during these work meetings, and contributed ideas 
when asked, and/or when I felt it was important. On Thursday and Friday, these meetings 

93 Various models of incorporating research and observer roles have been tried in group relations 
conferences. One model is for the researcher to be on the staff, but completely silent, moving in and out of 
various conference events at will. Another model has the researcher/observer be mostly silent, but asked to 
speak and share observations at specified times. On occasion, the observer takes on the role of "consultant 
to the system" of the conference, with a voice in management. 


went on until late. On Saturday evening, after the directors finished working, I spent time 
with the members in the plenary room (with their permission) as they talked, laughed, 
drank wine, and danced. During meal times I ate primarily with the directors, but once or 
twice with the conference members. I did not take notes during the informal parts of the 
conference. While my observations during formal conference events were deliberate and 
planned, the decision to join informal events was spontaneous. I did not take notes at 
these times, and participated on a social level. 

In addition to being the conference researcher, I had several other conference 
roles: conference creator, sponsor, project director, and pre-conference administrator. 
These roles were made public on the conference website, and were openly discussed in 
conference sessions. Juggling the multiple roles was complex for all. My responsibilities 
included: negotiating partnerships, hiring the conference directors, fundraising, and 
providing oversight and final approval for the budget and conference brochure. 
As the conference creator who had been developing the project (over a period of seven 
years, from conception to implementation), I had a strong stake in the process and 
conference outcomes. My interest in both the theme and the methods is not purely 
academic. I am interested in facilitating change in the discourse (and ultimately actions) 
of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on individual, group, and larger communal and societal 
levels. I brought all of these personal, professional, and political views and biases with 
me to the development and implementation of this conference. All of these affected what 
I perceived and how I interpreted what I was seeing before, during, and after the 
conference. I influenced and was influenced by the dynamics of the institution we were 


co-creating, as well as my own understanding and judgments about how group relations 
conferences should work. 
Post-Conference Data Collection 

Following the conference, data was collected from surveys and in-depth 
interviews. In order to try to gain a better understanding of the larger context, I also 
interviewed two Palestinians who have been involved in Israel-Palestine education and 
activist work. My aim was to better understand the meaning of the low number of 
conference registrations, within the larger context of Arab-Jewish inter-group dialogue in 
the United States. 

Two surveys were administered post conference: an end-of-conference 
evaluation, and a three month follow-up survey. Survey protocols were largely adapted 
from the work of Patton (2002) and aimed to gather quantitative and qualitative 
information about what participants learned. All surveys were administered via Survey 
Monkey, a web-based survey organization. Participants were notified via email about the 
surveys, and were given one week to complete them. The deadline was extended to 
increase the response rate, and reminder notices were sent out. All nine conference 
members completed the end-of-conference evaluation. Eight completed the three-month 
follow-up survey. The evaluation and follow-up survey may be found in Appendices N 
and O respectively. 


Immediate Post-Conference Evaluation Survey 

Both qualitative and quantitative data were collected. The post-conference 
evaluation consisted of 22 Likert scale questions and eleven open-ended questions. Likert 
scale questions included questions about: 

• Goals and expectations: to what extent was the conference what you 
expected it to be? 

• Participant learning about group dynamics: to what extent did you learn 
about the ways leadership and authority emerges and is taken up in 

• Participant learning about the Israeli Palestinian conflict: how much have 
you learned about the Israeli narrative of the Israeli Palestinian conflict? 
How much have you learned about the Palestinian narrative? 

• The degree to which participants' expectations and goals were met: To 
what extent have you achieved your goals during the conference? 

• The contributions of particular conference events to participant learning: 
to what extent did each of the following events (study groups, institutional 
event, review and application groups) contribute to your learning? 

• Participants' views of conference staff effectiveness in assisting their 
learning: How effective were the directors in terms of 1) illuminating the 
dynamics of the various groups they participated in? 2) illuminating the 
dynamics of conflict? 3) illuminating the dynamics of the Israeli- 
Palestinian conflict? 4) helping participants to understand their identity 
group's role in the conflict 


• The impact of the conference on participants' personal, professional, and 
community lives: To what extent has participation in this conference 
affected you personally? To what extent do you think participation in this 
conference will affect your professional life? To what extent do you think 
participation in this conference will affect your activities with your own 
identity group? With the other identity group? 

• The extent to which the conference was worthwhile and the likelihood of 
recommending the conference to others. 

Surveys also included open-ended questions intended to gather data that better 
reflected dynamic complexities of the conference and participant learning. For example, 
participants were asked to describe the most meaningful part of the conference for them, 
the most important lesson they were taking from the conference, and what they would say 
if someone asked them to describe the conference experience. Respondents were also free 
to add comments to the Likert scale questions, and most did. 
Three-Month Follow -Up Survey 

Because the learning that participants take from group relations conferences is not 
always immediately evident, follow-up surveys were also administered three months 
following the conference 94 . The follow-up survey consisted of eight Likert scale 
questions and one open ended question. As with the evaluation, respondents were also 
free to comment upon their answers to the former. Several of the Likert questions were 
repeats of those asked in the conference evaluation, in order to measure whether 
participants learned more in the months following the conference. These included 

94 Follow-up will continue at the six and twelve month marks as well. Those findings will be documented 
in a later report. 


questions such as: to what extent has participation in the conference affected you 
personally; and to what extent has participation in the conference affected you 
professionally. Participants were also asked to rate their learning in the following areas: 

• How I take up authority and leadership 

• Understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict 

• Covert or unconscious processes in groups 

• Covert or unconscious processes in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict 

• Identity issues 

• Understanding of the role of the Diasporas in the Israeli-Palestinian 

• Other 

These questions had been modified based on responses to the conference evaluation and 
first interviews to address shortcomings with the original evaluation: I had neglected to 
ask participants to rate their learning in the above areas in the evaluation, but had instead 
asked them to rate the effectiveness of the directors in illuminating the dynamics related 
to particular areas of learning. 

The interviews were aimed at understanding how participants and staff 
experienced and made meaning of the conference, what impact the conference had on 
them, and how this may have changed over time. I also examined the processes at work 
during and after the conference that facilitated or hindered learning. Participants were 
interviewed twice: once immediately or shortly after the conference, and again three 
months later. I audio-taped and transcribed all interviews. They were asked to sign a 


consent letter prior to the first interview. Interview protocols were adapted from designs 
proposed by Patton (2002) and Seidman (1998). The consent letter can be found in 
Appendix P, post-conference interview protocols for members in Appendix Q, for 
directors in Appendix R and thee month follow up interviews in Appendix S. 
Immediate Post-Conference Interview 

Participants were emailed immediately after the conference to schedule a time for 
an interview. I followed up one or more times with participants who did not immediately 
respond. The first interviews took place between April 24 and May 18, 2010. Since the 
majority of participants lived out of state or overseas, most interviews took place over the 
phone or through Skype. Because of technical problems with Skype, the interviews with 
the two participants who lived in Israel took place over two sessions. Three interviews 
were face to face. I was able to interview all nine conference members and both 
conference directors following the conference. 

The first post-conference interviews were between one and one and a half hours 
in length. The interview protocol differed slightly for conference members and directors. 
The former consisted of sixteen open-ended questions while the latter consisted of twelve 
open-ended questions. Questions addressed to both members and directors asked about 
expectations/goals they had for the conference and the extent to which the conference 
met those expectations; what had they been concerned about before the conference, and 
which of those things occurred; what was the most meaningful part of the experience; 
what did they wish they had done differently; and whether there was anything that I 
hadn't asked about that I should have asked, or anything I should know. Some questions 
were somewhat repetitive, though phrased slightly differently, and meant to delve deeper 


into participants' experiences. These questions included how the conference affected 
participants personally and professionally; what they got out of the experience; and what 
was the most important lesson they were taking from the experience. Members were 
asked questions about the impact on them of the shift from staff to member roles; their 
experience in the IE, and why they chose to be in the group they did; the impact of the 
conference on their relatedness to their identity or to other identities; and what they 
would say if they were asked by a community group whether they should sponsor a 
conference like this. 
Three-Month Follow -Up Interviews 

The second round of interviews was conducted in July of 2010. For the sake of 
simplicity, the director and member interviews were the same. I also streamlined the 
protocol to seven questions, four of which also contained follow-up/probing questions. 
Both directors and eight of the conference participants were interviewed at this time. 
Second interviews ranged from 20 to 90 minutes in length. Participants were first asked 
to describe anything that stood out for them about the conference (highlights or low 
points). Like the first interview, they were then asked to speak about how the conference 
affected them: personally, professionally, in terms of their community involvement; and 
in terms of their understanding about or activities related to the Israeli-Palestinian 
conflict. Participants were asked whether there were other ways that the conference 
affected them and what experiences at the conference have carried over to their life since 
the conference. 


Interviews with Palestinian Activists 

After the conference (in May and June respectively), I interviewed two 
Palestinian activists. The purpose of these interviews was to gain a better understanding 
of the larger context and reasons for low conference turn-out. Interviews were very open- 
ended and conversational. The core questions were: what has been your experience in 
organizing or participating in Jewish- Arab inter-group work in the US? What have been 
the challenges? What have you done to address those challenges? 

All interviews were audio-taped. Participants were informed that they could go 
off the record at any time. One participant did so at the end of the first interview. I typed 
participants' responses into my computer during the interviews. After each interview I 
transcribed all of the tapes. This took an additional one to three hours per interview. 

This chapter documented the planning, implementation, and data collection 
activities engaged in by the researcher, project partners, conference directors and staff 
before, during, and after the conference. This chapter also described the psycho-social 
research approach taken, which emphasizes reflexivity and the dynamic interaction 
between researcher and researched. Chapters Four and Five report the research findings. 
The details and the dynamics of the conference planning process are described in the next 

Pre-Conference and Conference Dynamics 

Chapter 4 

The next two chapters report on findings from pre-conference and conference 
observation, surveys, and interviews. The first chapter (Pre-Conference and Conference 
Dynamics) provides a narrative account of processes and events before and during the 
conference, describes pre-conference and conference dynamics, and explores conference 
themes. It includes (1) a description of the approach taken here to data analysis (2) an 
account of the pre-conference planning process; (3) a discussion of conflict, anxiety, and 
parallel process; and (4) the salient themes and dynamics that arose within the 
conference. I describe the themes in narrative form, and bring in post-conference 
reflections of participants to triangulate that data. The second chapter (Participant 
Learning) reports on participant learning using data collected from interviews and 
Data Analysis 

Data collected from pre-conference and conference observation were analyzed 
as a whole for thematic content, using processes described by Patton (2002). I read 
through the transcripts of the conference observation several times. First, I looked at them 
as a whole to look for general themes, which I tentatively labeled: 1) the complexity of 
identity; 2) Diaspora vs. exile; 3) disengagement vs. dialogue; 4) conflict/differentiation 
vs. avoidance/disengagement; 5) peace vs. conflict; 6) truth vs. lies; 7) trinity/triumvirate 
vs. twinning; 8) gendered roles and the role of gender; 9) conference theme vs. 
conference process; 10) researcher vs. conference creator. Most of these themes had been 

Pre-Conference and Conference Dynamics 

explicitly discussed during the conference and in post-conference interviews by the 
directors and the members. I then reviewed each of the transcripts with the above themes 
in mind and coded them. I merged the two themes dealing with disengagement vs. 
dialogue and conflict/differentiation vs. avoidance/disengagement. I triangulated this data 
with data collected from the surveys and interviews. Relevant quotes from post 
conference interviews where participants reflected on conference themes are included 

Analysis was both inductive and deductive. I looked for themes that emerged 
from the data of the conference. At the same time, group relations theory provided the 
theoretical lens (of the directors and most participants, as well as the researcher) through 
which conference events were interpreted. The unit of analysis in a group relations 
conference is the group as a whole: thus, the emphasis is on what an individual or sub- 
group may hold on behalf of the entire group through processes of projection and 
projective identification (Hayden & Molenkamp, 2004; Wells, 1995). The method 
assumes unconscious processes are present within and between both researcher and 
subject. As a researcher, I benefited from the fact that all but two of my subjects had vast 
experience working in group relations, and were quite familiar with the interpretive frame 
being used. Throughout the conference, staff and members worked to make sense of 
conference dynamics and their own contribution to them. They brought a similar 
reflexivity to their interviews. 

Pre-Conference and Conference Dynamics 

Pre-Conference Dynamics 

In the early planning phase, I met with many people in both Jewish and 
Palestinian American communities in order to ascertain interest in the project and 
explored co- sponsorship opportunities with several individuals at organizations in the 
Boston area. These organizations included academic departments, co-existence groups 
and organizations aligned with either the Jewish or Arab American communities. My 
initial plan was to have several sponsoring organizations (in addition to the group 
relations organizations on board) to support the project with recruitment and funding: 
Arab, Jewish, and academic. The majority of people with whom I spoke were enthusiastic 
about the project. However, finding organizational sponsors and securing the funds for 
the conference were much more complex than anticipated. 

Early on in this process, I inadvertently walked in to a political conflict 
involving two of the individuals/organizations that I had approached. In one exchange, 
the leadership at an established American Jewish organization asked me for information 
about other organizations with which I was discussing co- sponsorship. At the mention of 
one organization, the person balked, claiming that the person in charge of the 
organization I had named was "anti-Semitic." 95 In a follow-up letter they wrote: 

"...we could not possibly engage in dialogue with groups or individuals that 
promote the demonization or de-legitimization of Israel or Zionism (as opposed to 
legitimate criticism). If one party cannot acknowledge the basic right of the other 
party to self-determination, such a position is a non-starter for community relations 
work in general and dialogue in particular." 


I am not clear whether or not the two ever met. 

Pre-Conference and Conference Dynamics 

This statement reflects a dynamic within established Jewish organizations in the US, 
whereby criticism of Israeli policy is labeled as anti-Semitic (described in chapter 2) % . I 
realized at this point that co-sponsorship with any partisan organizations would be a 
minefield for a project that addressed an already a politically loaded issue. I would 
continue to reach out to both Jewish and Arab American organizations, but decided that 
my project could not be officially linked to them. 97 

Boundaries around the conference were constantly shifting. There were two 
postponements, three sets of directors, and several different configurations of sponsoring 
organizations, which did not become finalized until about six months prior to the 
scheduled dates of the conference 98 . 

96 I received only two other negative responses to the conference. Two people, one Jewish and one 
Palestinian both reacted very negatively to the same paragraph in the conference brochure, referring to the 
"cycle of violence" in the Middle East. One wrote: 

"Looks interesting. However, I find the phrase "ongoing cycle of violence" offensive. It implies an even 
handedness that is not there. Israel has been consistently asking for peace and educating their children that 
peace is the goal. The Palestinians and surrounding Arab States have been advocating the destruction of 
Israel since its inception and train their children to die as martyrs and hate the Jews. There should be peace, 
and there is room for compromise, but you have to have two sides willing to negotiate in good faith." 
The next one wrote: 

"The first sentence in your flyer makes me turn my back in dismay. "Cycle of Violence"??? Aren't we, 
those truly working to bring peace, equality freedom and justice to that piece of land for all living there, 
beyond that rhetoric by now? With the burning of the children of Gaza and the continued colonization of 
the West Bank in day light, in defiance of the whole world, arrest of children on a daily basis, harassment 
of human rights non violent actors in the West Bank, the ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem, Hebron, the 
Apartheid Wall, house demolitions, razing and theft of land ...??? Need I say more? I refuse to work with 
any group that does not acknowledge the reality of what we are dealing with. We are a people who have 
been colonized, occupied and are living under what has been described as "worse than apartheid" by many 
simply for the fact that we are dispensable, to be gotten rid of, ethnically cleansed! 
And you start your flyer with "The Cycle of Violence"???" 

The wording of the flier was problematic in other ways, and this will be discussed further in the final 

97 In fact, project partners included both a Jewish/Israeli and a Palestinian organization. Both organizations 
were based in Israel/Palestine. With the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement gaining steam, 
this may have had some impact on conference recruitment. 

,! The original organizational sponsor withdrew from the project after some miscommunication and/or 
misunderstanding about our respective roles and authorization. The board wanted oversight and final 
approval of conference directors and staff, the brochure, and the budget, which I found to be not entirely 
reasonable since all legal and financial liability for the project rested with me . They re-joined the project 
several months before the conference, after the new directors were hired. 

Pre-Conference and Conference Dynamics 

Staffing the conference was marked by misfortune, conflict, and tragedy. An 
Israeli member of Besod Siach was hired early on as co-director of the conference, and 
was able to recruit a very experienced Palestinian co-director. Unfortunately, the 
Palestinian co-director died in 2007, after a long illness. Another Palestinian director was 
hired in December of 2008. After a few conversations, it became clear that we had very 
different visions for the project and how it should be managed. Both directors were 
uncomfortable with a single individual serving as the primary sponsor, fearing it would 
put too much power in the hands of one person. By March of 2009, both the Israeli and 
Palestinian co-directors had withdrawn from their roles. I posit that my conflict with 
these directors mirrored, in microcosm, a dynamic aspect of the conflict: with a Jewish 
American perceived as exerting too much power over the Israeli and Palestinian partners. 
Various dynamics of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict continued to play out throughout the 
planning process and into the conference itself. 

With the conference eight months away, time was short. After conversations with 
several potential directors and a postponement of the event, I hired both a Jewish and 
Palestinian director. Both of these directors were relatively or completely new to 
directing, and were open to taking an innovative approach to group relations conference 
work. Both directors were already acquainted with each other, and eager to work 
together. Interestingly, both of them were men, while the original co-directors were both 
women. The conference was postponed one more time (to April, 2010) to allow for time 
to recruit staff. 

The registration process for this conference was particularly turbulent. The 
directors had previously agreed to direct a conference with as few as ten or twelve 

Pre-Conference and Conference Dynamics 

participants, and as many as fifty". We had a few dozen serious inquiries about the 
conference, and several people applied. With only five applications in hand the week 
before the conference was to begin, one of the directors suggested that we postpone the 
conference yet again. We decided to proceed. In the final week before the conference, 
four members dropped out (one who had just registered), and three subsequently joined, 
the last one just one hour before the conference. Only one of the original five applicants 
actually attended the conference. While it is not uncommon to have one or two last 
minute cancellations, this level of turnover is highly unusual, and mirrors the larger 
dynamic of disengagement that has characterized Israeli-Palestinian relations over the last 
several years. 

In the months prior to the conference conditions in Israel-Palestine continued to 
deteriorate: the Israeli government had accelerated its crack down on Palestinian and 
Israeli human rights groups, as regular non-violent demonstrations against home 
demolitions and other anti-occupation activities increased 100 . In Europe and the US, the 
BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement (against Israel) was gaining 
momentum. The Goldstone report (stating that Israel, as well as Hamas had engaged in 
war crimes during the Israeli invasion of Gaza in 2008) was approved by the United 
Nations in October 2009 (Clifton, 2010). The Report faced a good deal of opposition both 
in Israel and from established Jewish organizations in the US. In March 2010, fissures in 
the US Israeli relationship were in the headlines. During Vice President Joe Biden's trip 

99 Typically (and preferably), conferences can accommodate 20 to 90 participants and are often canceled 
with fewer than 20 participants. I once served on staff of a conference with a membership of 11. This tends 
to be the exception, rather than the rule. Conferences require a lot of meeting space and staff, and so can be 
an expensive undertaking. 

100 On the other hand, the crackdown also signified the increasing success of non -violent, anti-occupation 

Pre-Conference and Conference Dynamics 

to Israel the Israeli interior minister announced that Israel would continue building in 
occupied East Jerusalem. This was labeled by the media and the diplomatic community 
as "a slap in the face" to the US. Special envoy George Mitchell was to mediate indirect 
talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis: a big step backward after many years of 
face-to-face talks between the two sides. Anxiety about the potential explosiveness and 
despair about the current situation may also have played a role in the ambivalence of 
conference sponsors to commit to the project, and for potential participants to apply. 
Conflict, Anxiety and Parallel Process 

My relationship with the two male co-directors was rife with conflict. In contrast, 
their exchanges with each other were filled with warmth (calling each other "buddy," or 
signing their emails "hugs"), and were seemingly devoid of conflict. The conflict was 
expressed in ways that felt particularly gendered. I often felt shut out: the image in my 
mind was of standing outside of a boys' clubhouse, plastered with a big sign reading "no 
girls allowed." There were a number of behaviors such as non-responsiveness to my 
emails, not showing up to meetings, or cancelling at the last minute that I experienced not 
just as a challenge to my authority, but also as a show of disrespect. 

I was more forgiving of the Palestinian director due to the numerous very real 
medical and technological issues he was facing (swine flu, technological problems as a 
result of computer hacking, and other family medical issues), and his regular reiteration 
of his commitment to the project. When I challenged the Jewish director about his 
commitment 101 , he often became exasperated with me. Once, he told me that my 
questioning "feels like nagging." Another time he stated, "I don't know what it would 

101 who was, he later acknowledged, ambivalent about the project for a number of reasons 

Pre-Conference and Conference Dynamics 

take to convince you," suggesting that I was the one with a problem. Group relations 
literature speaks to the dilemmas faced by women in authority roles. Women may be 
expected to behave in certain ways, as unconscious stereotypes collide with unconscious 
expectations of leadership. They may be viewed as either too aggressive or too wishy- 
washy (Kram & McCollom Hampton, 1998). I felt drawn into the role of a stereotypical 
intrusive, demanding and hyper-critical Jewish mother to a misbehaving son. We did not 
talk about or work through the conflict at all prior to the conference 102 . We had brief 
skirmishes, followed by tense moments and periods of working together very 

When the conflict between the Jewish director and me threatened to explode, the 
Palestinian director would intervene with an interpretation linking our conflict to the 
wider system. He was surprised at the role reversal: instead of Diaspora communities 
offering assistance in mediating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it was the Jewish 
communities in the US that required assistance from the Palestinian. He interpreted the 
conflict between the Jewish director and me as a reflection of the splits within the Jewish 
community in the US. While these splits within the American Jewish Diaspora (discussed 
in the review of the literature) are very real, my interpretation of our conflict was 
different. My experience of the planning process and working with the directors was of 
being isolated and without any real partners in the process, and of continually facing 
broken promises and broken commitments. While I experienced periods of hope, these 
were embedded in isolation and despair. These experiences seemed more a reflection of 

102 1 told myself that it didn't matter whether or not they liked me, only that they be able to do a good job. I 
told myself that it was more important that they have a good working relationship with each other, and that 
my response to being shut out was petty. Nevertheless, I still felt frustrated and isolated by it. I hated being 
so dependent on others to carry through a project in which I had such a vested interest. 

Pre-Conference and Conference Dynamics 

the Palestinian experience of the peace process, than of the splits within the American 
Jewish community. In psychoanalytic and group relations work, the experience of affects 
or emotions that are unusual or foreign (not part of one's usual valence) may be 
indicative of projective identification (Halton, 1994; Obholzer & Zagier Roberts, 1994b; 
Wallach, 2004). In this case, the level of rage and despair that I experienced was so 
overwhelming and debilitating, that I had fantasies of destroying the whole project and 
walking away (a metaphorical suicide bombing). Since the intensity of these emotions 
was so foreign to me, I understood them to be a mirroring of the experience of 
Palestinians who resorted to violence in the face of such hopelessness and despair. 

Conference Themes and Dynamics 

The conference was rich and dynamic. Discussions moved fluidly from topic to 

topic, past to present, political to personal, and outside to inside; and so, these reflections 
cannot do full justice to the conference experience. I describe salient conference themes 
below, most of which were discussed explicitly by conference directors and participants 
during and after the conference. While I present the themes separately and in linear 
fashion, most of the themes are inter-related and dynamic. Thus, an entirely 
chronological rendering of events here is not possible. 

The conference opened on Friday afternoon in a plenary session. Two members 
(those with no previous group relations experience) arrived several minutes late and 
missed the opening comments read by the conference directors. A number of participants 
had gotten lost on the way to the conference site. They mused about how the experience 
of being lost might be a metaphor for Diaspora. They introduced themselves to each 
other, shared the meanings of their names, and offered associations to their names and to 
the conference theme. There was a warmth and intimacy to the opening session that is 

Pre-Conference and Conference Dynamics 

rarely seen in large conferences. The remainder of the chapter will discuss conference 

events thematically. 

Gendered Roles and the Role of Gender 

Gender issues that had been present between the co-directors and me continued 
to play out in the pre-conference staff transition work. In the first staff meeting at the 
conference site, the women expressed apprehension about the lack of female consultants 
on staff. While they recognized that I had a strong role as conference creator, and was 
"the woman behind the men" with "the power to reimburse," they were still concerned 
that my role would be mostly non-speaking 103 , and the impact the lack of a female 
consulting voice would have on the dynamics of the conference. 

In the first half of the conference, the male directors and I often perceived or 
interpreted the same conference event entirely differently, in ways that were clearly 
framed by gender. It was initially very frustrating for me not to be able to offer my 
interpretation of this. For example, in one of the first small study groups, a number of 
men were sharing their experiences, some disclosing traumas from childhood. The 
disclosures had a practiced quality to them, and were not accompanied by much affect. I 
could not help but notice that the women had been silent for most of the group. The 
directors felt moved by the men's disclosure of sadness during the Study Group, while I 
felt more attuned to what I perceived as the silencing of strong women's voices. When 
women spoke more in the group, I thought the group came alive: whereas the directors 
interpreted the same moments as an attack on them (the directors) or an inability to 

103 Though as a "researcher with voice," I had the option to speak. As I noted in the previous chapter, the 
role was ambiguous. During conference events, I sat slightly outside the circle, taking notes on my laptop. 
Though I did not often speak, I remained a presence in the group. 

Pre-Conference and Conference Dynamics 

tolerate male sadness 104 . It seemed that it was intolerable for the group to see either 

passionate/powerful women or depressed men. 

Members were aware of and remarked on gendered patterns in their seating 

configurations: in one study group, members noted they were seated in pairs of men and 

pairs of women. In another, they were seated in a yin/yang pattern, with women on one 

side and men on the other. During one study group session, there was a discussion about 

the meaning of three women (Muslim, Jewish and Catholic) bringing in chairs from the 

other work room, thus disrupting the circular configuration set up by the directors. The 

group wondered: was this a series of individual acts by women (who found these smaller 

chairs more comfortable); an attack on the conference directors; or an act of leadership? 

One of the women challenged the directors: did they take into account that there were 

short women in the conference, who might find the big chairs uncomfortable? Or were 

they more concerned that the room look pretty? A male participant remarked, "Is this 

how women take leadership in society? They change the whole social structure, and then 

say 'I'm just cooking.'" The group tried to make sense of the fact that the conference was 

created by a woman and directed by two men. Post-conference interviews revealed that 

some women had greater difficulty finding their voices, and felt disempowered by not 

having a female representative on the consulting staff: 

The fact that there was a woman director not speaking but she was there. There 
was a woman who owned the conference, who was paying for the salaries of 

104 In another example from the study group, a few men explored fantasies of being a woman or of having 
breasts. I understood the men's fantasies as an attempt to explore and understand their more feminine parts, 
while the directors offered interpretations that sexualized the fantasy — from the desire to be a woman, to 
the desire for a woman. A woman in the group responded to this discussion in a visceral way — and literally 
felt nauseous, as if something had been ripped out from inside of her. Another woman responded by saying, 
"I could never imagine wanting to have a dick. "A conference participant later offered another interpretation 
of the event: "That was a very interesting communication. I could use it as an analogy, I could never 
imagine to be a Jew or to be a Palestinian or to be a man or to be a woman. . . and it could go on." 

Pre-Conference and Conference Dynamics 

people, paying for it, and yet she didn't have a voice. What does that mean in 
Israel? If the Israeli government listened to more women or the feminine side of 
themselves, maybe we wouldn't be in so much trouble. . . The dynamic between 
the directors and you was very obvious to all of us. Not that we saw the conflict 
between you, but that here was this woman who had created this, who was silent. 
And then there was all this about the women who were marginalizing 
themselves. . .there were women who were silencing themselves. . . (Conference 
member, three month follow-up interview) 

. . . But I don't really think I could see the women in them (the directors). And I 
don't think that that was necessarily available to us. I think softer emotions were 
maybe. I don't think being a woman was, through them. I don't know how hard 
we're supposed to try to push as members to have access to these things or 
whether we should just have access to what gets represented to us. I do feel a little 
bit like a woman should have been part of that thing, but that it would have 
shifted things, and you (the researcher) were there, in a way, so originally, I 
thought you're actually there and in a way you're really the puppeteer. . .But for a 
talking person and to have someone make interpretations and who has the body of 
the woman, it might have. (Conference member, immediate post-conference 

In the study group sessions, two female conference members (a Palestinian 

originally from the West Bank, and a Jew currently living in Israel) were particularly 

quiet. Members linked the silence of women in the group to the disappearance of women 

(specifically Hanan Ashrawri) on the political scene in Palestine following the 

breakdown of the Oslo peace process. In this way, the group enacted a piece of the 

gendered dynamic of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict within the group. One male 

conference member linked it to the larger Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the following 


In different ways it (the gender issue) was showing itself. Like the first 
(transition) day, when the staff was meeting — first four men talked, then women 
talked, and during the conference there were groups of men and women going in 
separate. So I thought probably what I can take from that, is there should be a 
very different way in which women as a group, look at Middle East issues and 
men as a group. And who is running the show, in terms of power relations? That 
would be men. So (it) would be interesting, to imagine if women had the 
authority, control about decision making and dialogue, how it would turn out to 
be. (Conference member, immediate post-conference interview) 

Pre-Conference and Conference Dynamics 

In the Institutional Event (IE), gender once again played a role. In the event's 
opening, members were tasked with breaking up into groups, for the purpose of studying 
the relatedness between groups in the context of the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Members 
suggested ideas for groups and themes they wanted to explore. A woman suggested a 
group in which they could use creative means to express what was going on in the 
conference. As the group began playing with names for a group, one suggestion — the 
"Pap Smears 105 " — drew a good amount of feminine energy and laughter. One man 
proposed forming a group called "Ghostbusters" to explore hidden meanings in the 
conference. One woman was very put off by the name of the former, and decided to join 
Ghostbusters, which had three men. The energy for the Pap Smears group dissipated. In 
the end, two groups formed: one had three men and one woman, and the other had four 
women and one man. The former group was Ghostbusters. The latter called itself 
"Ognieh Orange" or song of the orange (the first word being Arabic for song). 

Ghostbusters met on the sun porch, a small room, just off of a larger meeting 
room (which was across the hall from the room where the plenary was held, and where 
the other group was meeting). The door between the larger meeting room and the hallway 
was left open, and the door to the sun porch was closed. The glass door afforded them a 
view of the larger meeting room. As the group talked, members of the Ognieh Orange 
group entered the larger meeting space adjacent to the sun porch. Two women played 
"heart and soul" on the piano. Some danced around and then sang songs from Fiddler on 
the Roof. While all this was happening in the next room, the Ghostbusters group 

105 This related to an earlier discussion in the study group about whether there existed a "Palestinian- 
American princess" or PAP (as a counterpart to a Jewish American princess, or JAP. 

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continued to talk. They were clearly disturbed by the women 106 , but seemed at a loss as to 
how to deal with them. Should they try to find another room in which to meet? Should 
they ask the women to move or to be quiet? If they had left the door open, they reasoned, 
they could have demonstrated their displeasure simply by closing it. "Maybe they'll 
stop." They seemed to me to be terrified to directly face the women in the next room. 
They resolved the dilemma by ignoring the women and continuing their discussion. The 
dynamic reminded me of my relationship with the conference directors, who I sometimes 
experienced as fearful and avoidant of me. 

Both groups mirrored the management team: in that each contained 
predominantly one gender, with a lone member of the opposite sex. In each group, the 
minority member was also the least experienced in group relations work. Both groups 
also dispatched these less experienced members to meet with the management team, with 
little direction of what they were to do. Curiously, during the IE, while women missed 
having a female consulting voice, no women joined the management team during the IE 
session 107 . Two men joined the management team in the third and fourth sessions. In this 
way, the groups (men and women) continued to collude to deprive women of having a 
voice on the management team. 

That gender themes were salient throughout the conference should not be a 
surprise. The silencing of women's voices in the conference mirrored the loss of the 
feminine voice in public life in Israel Palestine as a result of increased militarization and 
masculinization of those societies (Abdo & Lentin, 2002; Joseph, 2000; Mohanty, 2003, 

106 While there was one man in that group, it was the women that the Ghostbusters group talked about. 

107 During the Institutional Event, individual participants had the option of joining the management team 
for a session, if they were authorized by their groups to do so. 

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2006; Peterson & Runyan, 1999; Sered, 2000). In group relations terms, this would be 
seen as a splitting off and projection onto women of weakness and vulnerability, and 
simultaneous splitting off and projection onto men of their strength and power. The 
silencing of women's voices in the conference (and in Israeli and Palestinian society) 
might be seen as a group level defense against the fear of women's power (by both men 
and women who collude in the process). I realized later that I had also unconsciously 
colluded with this dynamic in the planning process and in the conference itself, by hiring 
two male co-directors, taking up a role of "researcher with voice," while muzzling my 
voice at the same time. 
Conflict and Differentiation vs. Avoidance/Disengagement 

The conflict that had been brewing between the conference directors and me 
finally hit a breaking point at the beginning of the second session of the IE. I had just 
returned from observing the two groups in the IE, where the gender issues were 
impossible to overlook. I felt strongly that the directors needed to address it. After I 
entered the room, the directors continued to talk together, without acknowledging my 
presence. They wondered (to each other) what was happening with the members (who I 
had been observing until that point). I offered that I had some information that might be 
pertinent, which they summarily dismissed. While their point about whether my sharing 
my observations with them would be appropriate (e.g., whether conference members 
would perceive my sharing observations of them as "spying") was well taken, the manner 
in which I was dismissed brought back all of the anger and frustration of the preceding 
year. My feeling of being muzzled by the conference directors appeared to parallel the 
difficulty that women conference members had finding their voices. I thought that our 

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difficulty facing our conflict was preventing the members from working conflicts 

between themselves, and with us as a management group in the event. Fearing the 

consequences of engaging the directors at that point with my anger, I left the 

management room and called a trusted mentor for a consultation. I spent the remainder of 

the session observing the other groups as they worked. During the break, clearly aware 

that I was angry, the directors invited me to walk with them. At this time, I began to share 

my pent up fury, which was aimed particularly at the Jewish director. We decided that it 

was important for the work of the conference for us to continue this discussion during the 

IE event (when the management group did its work publicly and could be observed). The 

Palestinian director agreed to mediate. The discussion was, in fact, observed by the two 

men who joined the management team, and thus the information was (presumably) 

available to the membership. Once we were able to talk through the conflict, it seemed to 

me that the directors were much more attuned to the women within the system. 

Conflict avoidance in the membership manifested in a few ways. Many 

conference members remarked during the conference that the two people who 

represented the conflict — a Muslim Palestinian woman, and a Jewish woman living in 

Israel were the most silent members of the study group. The Jewish woman felt shut 

down, or silenced by the group. As she noted later: 

. . .1 felt like I sort of kept being silenced, or silencing myself or something. In that 
sense that I felt there was something dynamic about that. Not really jumping in 
and actually dealing with it (specifically Israel/Palestine) in a more direct 
way. . . some of the conflicts or the differences, or whatever. I think that's what I 
wished I had done... I kept defaulting to silence. That felt dynamic — it felt I 
couldn't quite overcome it. Normally I would be a lot more engaged in a 
particular way. In this conference I was a bit more silent. That increased towards 
the end of the conference, that sense of silence. (Conference member, immediate 
post-conference interview) 

Pre-Conference and Conference Dynamics 

She and others hypothesized that the group might be conspiring to keep certain pairs 

apart, such as the Palestinian and Jewish women, or men and women: 

... I felt (the Palestinian woman) was a bit of a counterpart for me. . . I felt like the 
two of us, there was something of a fear of actually having us really take each 
other on. Not that I — I'm not sure what that would look like. It was not a personal 
thing. .. (Conference member, immediate post-conference interview) 

One participant reflected on the ways he avoided conflict during the conference, relating 

it to inner conflicts about his Jewish identity: 

My father growing up believing that no one could be counted on, and hanging out 
with Jews was dangerous, even though it was so out of his awareness that he 
couldn't even speak to it. To him safety was money and dis-identification. I'm 
thinking is that part of why I wasn't so aggressive in this conference? Because I 
somehow had this association with being a pushy, aggressive Jew. What I 
probably would have been aggressive about — anti- Jewish things. When I think 
about some of conflicts I avoided. There may have been this quality of — I don't 
want to be like a settler. .. (Conference member, immediate post-conference 

Another member also felt the group had: 

. . . difficulty going to the Middle East or to go to some place of conflict that 
looked like the Middle East. When we would get close to it, and the group would 
retract. . . One example is the people who were from that region were more silent. 
And the last session, the last minutes of the last session, there was some kind of 
heated discussion between (the Palestinian woman and Orthodox Jewish man), 
and there was some kind of spark. . . It stayed there. It would get to silence when it 
was pursued. When conflict was pursued and silence would come and it would 
shift to another thing. (Conference member, immediate post-conference 

The Palestinian woman in question had a different perspective, feeling as if the group 

was pushing her to fight: 

... So people looking for these things (for tears, for sadness). I thought myself, no, 
I'm looking for sun, I look for flower, I look for these things. But these people 
(are) looking for tears — looking for sadness. And they want to see the part of me, 
the conflict. Sorry, why you guys want me always to cry. Sorry, I get really tired 
of that. You want to project all your stuff on me. You want the Palestinian people 
to. . . What about you. This is your problem not my problem. I know my problem. I 
know occupation. I don't need anyone to teach me about occupation. I live 

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occupation. I grow up with it. And I know the solution — to get rid of occupation. 
Period. Clear. You want me, you need to hear me. . . Give me my state let me feel 
independent. That's my solution. People listen what they need to listen. Looking 
for tears, looking for sadness, looking for conflict. Really, they want conflict. 
Therefore I don't know if they saw conflict on my side. I have conflict. But way I 
express it is different from them. I also have my own approach. I believe in peace, 
I don't believe in conflict. I felt really very clear about these things at the 
conference. (Conference member, immediate post-conference interview) 

The group finally succeeded in getting her into a conflict. In the final minutes of the last 

study group, in which there had been a fair amount of discussion about Israel Palestine, 

the Orthodox Jewish man asked her what she was doing there (in Palestine). Her response 

was loud and impassioned, beginning with "I BORN THERE! WHERE DO YOU 

WANT ME TO GO?" and continuing on in this vein beyond the time boundaries of the 

event (the directors left at the start of her response). This moment was referred to by a 

number of participants as being particularly memorable. It was the most forceful way that 

the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was brought into the here and now of the conference. 

This member's experience of being pressured into talking about conflict, while 

other women were feeling shut down, reflects the thinking in group relations literature 

that particular ethnic groups, through processes of projection and projective identification 

hold particular roles on behalf of society (D. N. Berg & Smith, 1987; Horwitz, 1983; 

Reed & Noumair, 2000; Skolnick & Green, 2006). In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is 

the Palestinians that are ascribed the role of "terrorist," while the Israelis are viewed as 

the peace-seeking people. While her words were far from violent or terroristic, they were 

powerful, loud, and impassioned, to the point that one of the directors felt it important to 

"hang around" outside the room during the break as the discussion went on. This may 

also be linked to a fear of women's aggression, which was also evident throughout the 


Pre-Conference and Conference Dynamics 

Two participants (below) suggested that the lack of political diversity within the 

conference membership may have served to dampen conflicts: 

I was concerned also a bit about the political diversity, that it would be not so 
much, that it would be pretty much people who identified with the peace camp 
and who would recognize that in each other, you can have people in the peace 
camp who say I'm in the peace camp and you're not — to each other — but I 
assumed it would be people who recognized that in each other, and it was. Insofar 
as one can tell, we didn't talk about that stuff a whole lot. There was some stuff 
that was said that didn't get challenged, and probably, if there were people who 
had clearly different views than all of that, some of that stuff would have been 
challenged. (Conference participant, immediate post-conference interview) 

Since my expectation changed, I didn't get disappointed. If I had kept the 
expectations, I would have been disappointed that this was not, that we didn't 
have enough members. One thing that was disappointing, is that therefore, in US 
we don't get people who are opposite, who are opposing opinions to come to one 
place and interact as opposing poles. Those who believe the same go and interact 
among themselves. We didn't have a member who was very adamantly pro- 
occupation, for instance, or against Palestinians, or adamantly against Jews, even. 
Therefore it was hard to have a debate in a way. (Conference participant, 
immediate post-conference interview) 

One member hypothesized that conflict was avoided out of fear of potential repercussions 

if one were discovered to be in dialogue with the other: 

Maybe how much. . .this conflict is very violent conflict, maybe we need also to 
ask ourselves how much that violence and fear that is there, would affect people 
in terms of way able to go there and examine the conflict. It would have an 
important effect. People especially from the region, come over here, were very 
conscious of what they would say, so it would not end up haunting them back in 
the region. . .and I can tell you that I was in discussions between sessions, during 
the break time, people had an easier time to go and discuss a little more details in 
terms of facts of life over there, life over there, in smaller groups, trusting each 
other and that would not be brought up in the conference sessions. And also 
talking about it, to say, yes, I am afraid. Even other people, including myself, 
expressed a fear. . . this conference was on the net, and anybody looking under my 
name could see that I am going to some conference on this issue, and check the 
names of others... So I could be, we could be persecuted in a way. . . that feeling of 
fear that this one could be persecuted because he sat down with Palestinians and 
wanted to be active, and do some social network, or one sat down with an 
Israeli. . .We didn't explore it that much during the conference, how much that 
affect our interaction. When we were in the large group, for example, there was 
silence, we asked people from the region, we would like to know more. But they 

Pre-Conference and Conference Dynamics 

would not come forward to share more... Outside of conference session, people 
would find each other, three or four people, that wouldn't get offended to talk 
about certain things. So there we talk about it. So some gatherings would happen, 
with a certain theme that would be easier get to into it deeper. (Conference 
participant, three month follow-up interview) 

The avoidance of conflict in the conference may be understood in a number of 
ways. The anxiety attached to both inter-personal conflict and in relation to the 
Palestinian Israeli conflict was present from the start of the planning process. The 
inability of the directors and me to manage our anxiety and face the conflict directly was 
likely communicating the impression, both consciously and unconsciously, that we were 
ill-equipped to work with member conflicts. Once we were able to talk about our 
conflicts, then conflict became more visible in the membership. The intimacy of the 
conference may have further contributed to the difficulty addressing conflict. Finally, the 
avoidance, or what was described at times to be "disengagement" may also reflect the 
larger issue of disengagement from the conflict in Israel-Palestine 108 . The avoidance of 
dialogue may be a defense against having to face painful truths about one's own group, 
were one to truly engage with the other. The group stated its desire to hear from the 
representatives from the conflict region. At the same time the group behaved in ways that 
actually kept the parties from interacting. Finally, the avoidance of conflict may be 
understood through the next theme. 
"Twinning" vs. Trinity 

The conference directorate consisted of three people (the two conference directors 
and me). As reported earlier, the two conference directors maintained a very friendly 

108 It was noted that the word "disengagement" refers to the name given by the Israelis to the dismantlement 
of Jewish settlements in Gaza. The building of the separation barrier is another example of Israel's 
increased level of disengagement from Palestinians. 

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relationship, built upon previous group relations experiences, and often referred to 

themselves as "brothers." From the opening session, 109 the conference membership did 

not see the directors as being particularly differentiated from each other and often 

referred to them as "twins." Some members felt that their closeness made it hard to 

discuss conflict. As one remarked: 

The conference felt that it stayed very safe. I wondered if something to do with a 
co-director pair that they seemed to get along together so well. Somehow 
everything seemed so correct and comfortable. On the whole, of course there were 
uncomfortable moments. But I think I expected it to be more difficult, and I think 
maybe it was size, or maybe it was contained. I don't think it was less rich 
because of it. I just think that there was something that was containing, and 
maybe that was a positive thing. . . I think the co-directors in a way made 
everything about unity and peace. .. (Conference member, immediate post- 
conference interview) 

In addition to this pairing of the directors 1 10 , the number three took on significance 

throughout the conference. One member made meaning of it in the following way: 

... I noticed the significance of three — three as being the unit of democracy. This 
is what came to me, and I hadn't thought of it before. . . When you have a two 
party system, for example, it's not a democracy yet. You need at least three 
components. It is like either/or. . . I noticed that a lot of people, more than just one 
or two, they were speaking in threes. I also noticed three coming up. . . There is 
something in this three. There were three of you. It ended up there were three, 
When the IE happened, there were three subgroups, then we had when we were 
sitting in the study group, I was seeing threes being enacted, in terms of sitting, 
three chairs different from the other chairs. One time we had three pairs. And we 
had discussions that started with the dove pin 1 ' ' -a Palestinian woman giving it to 
Jewish woman who sold it to (the Orthodox Jew) had the three component to it. 
So I kept seeing the three repeating itself. So I thought, the debate is either this or 
that, so when the first conflict comes in even if you want a vote, you need at least 
three people. Even when you want to do research, to have any meaningful result, 
you need an "N" of three. So I thought, three is unit of democracy or unit of 


when one conference member (who had shifted from a staff role) noted that the two directors could 
exchange one of their shoes, and still have matching shoes 

110 Pairing is one of the basic assumptions posited by Bion (1961) to describe aparticular form of non- 
rational processes in groups. It is often accompanied by a sense of hope for the future, in a group that is 
avoiding dealing with difficult realities at hand. This phenomenon was described in chapter 2. 
1 ' ' During one study group, a Palestinian admired the pin of a dove worn by the Orthodox Jew. The pin was 
made by a Palestinian woman, and given to a Jewish woman, who sold it to this conference member. 

Pre-Conference and Conference Dynamics 

complex way of thinking, so I'm not thinking either/or. . . for peacemaking. I kept 
thinking throughout the conference, what does anything have to do with 
peacemaking? And then I thought how does three have to do with peacemaking. 
So this is how I put it together. . . (Conference member, immediate post-conference 

During the IE, one group referred to the management team as the "Trinity": the 
men were assigned the roles of father and son. I was named the Holy Spirit, as I was 
perceived to have the capacity to waft in and out of the groups, permeating all the 
boundaries. The theme of twinning vs. Trinity was enacted during the IE closing plenary. 
Members were offered (and took up) the opportunity to organize the IE closing plenary, 
in consultation with the management. It was agreed that each of the two groups, as well 
as the management team would present (in skit form) their learning from the event. One 
of the groups presented a skit in which the two directors, now represented by two women, 
leaned in exactly the same way with exactly the same expression, and changing position 
at exactly the same time. Behind them, the researcher, now represented by a man, sat 
behind them typing on his laptop and whispering into their ears. As they did this, three 
members, Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim, sang simultaneously in three different 
languages: Turkish, Hebrew, and Arabic. 

As a staff group, our skit was strikingly similar, in which the two male directors 
walked in lock-step with each other, and gradually began moving in different directions, 
becoming startled as they encountered the other. At first, they avoided me as I sat typing, 
and our initial encounters were hostile. At the end of the skit they sat down next to me 
(one on each side), as I held up a sign that read "BOO!" Our skit reflected the evolution 
of our relationship: as the directors became more differentiated from each other, my 
relationship with them became easier: that is, as long as they were twinning, the conflict 

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played out between them and me. As they became more differentiated, I was more freed 

from being the center or target of the conflict. 

The significance of twinning and of the meaning of three may also be seen in the 

larger context of the Israeli Palestinian conflict. While the conflict is often framed as a 

two party one between two peoples — Israelis and Palestinians — there are in fact other 

parties involved 112 , all of which are using this "fighting pair" for their own purposes. In a 

follow-up interview, one of the conference directors spoke specifically about the role of 

religion in this regard. 

I think the Conference was about — the very design was around a conflict between 
two peoples, when the actual conflict. . .may be expressed by two people but is 
very much a broader conflict between east and west. . . Jerusalem isn't a city of 
two religions, it's a city of three religions. So much of the conflict on the ground 
has as much to do with Christianity and Christian countries as it does Palestinians 
and Jews. Or Arabs and Israelis. So aren't we at some level — the whole design of 
the conference was . . . built on this kind of scapegoating the used parties. 
(Conference co-director, three month follow-up interview) 

A conference member described the dynamic of Israelis and Palestinians as a fighting 

pair in the following way: 

I had strong feeling towards the conflict before and still have. My strong feelings 
include pain, sadness, and anger. My attitude is towards uniting people of both 
groups against their common enemy: Those who benefit from having Jews and 
Palestinians hating and killing each other. The beneficiaries are like those who 
gather around and enjoy betting on a cockfight. We know that to have a good 
fight each group needs to support and cheer their animal. The fight is not even a 
fair fight. The game is a corrupt game. What is most saddening for me is that the 
mere corruption makes most people who are against corruption cheer the fight 
anyway, just with more passion, hoping that the weak starved rooster would one 
day win the fight. This continues to work well for those who bet on the stronger to 
win. The more powerful corrupt section keeps the fight uneven and unjust, the 
group opposing unfairness keep the game excited by cheering the victim 
passionately and loud, which attracts millions of people to take side and 


The United States government, as well as Diaspora communities of each group in the US; the Arab 
world; Christian groups; European nations, etc. may each use the conflict and its parties to further their own 
policy or imperialistic goals, as well as to distract from internal domestic conflicts. 

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participate in betting, in turn the powerful better adds to excitement by special 
effects of media technology and psychology, resulting to perpetuation of corrupt 
dynamics and winning of the powerful exploiters and misery of both "roosters"; 
the stronger and the weaker roosters are both full of fear, and both fight for their 
lives regardless of the fact that the stronger wins every time. (Conference 
member, three month follow-up survey) 

The United States government, as well as Diaspora communities of each group in the US; 

the Arab world; Christian groups; European nations, etc. each use the conflict and its 

parties to further their own policy or imperialistic goals, as well as to distract from 

internal domestic conflicts. 

Peacemaking vs. Conflict or the Terror of Peacemaking 

Themes of death and mourning appeared throughout the conference. On the first 

day, a participant referred to the room in which the study group met as "the wake room" 

or the "mourning parlor." There were other references to suicide and suicide bombers (in 

the opening session when one member noted that his/her name was the same as a 

renowned suicide bomber). Some hypothesized that the conference was small because 

people hesitated to come to a peacemaking conference where they might be forced to face 

the losses they sustained and the resulting sadness. Conflict is easier than peacemaking: 

with conflict comes passion and excitement, while peace brings sadness and mourning. 

As one of the conference directors noted after the conference: 

. . . , talking about peace or peacemaking is a very very hard thing to do. I don't 
want to be very simplistic right now, but one of my impressions is that in order to 
do peace or to make peace or peacemaking in general, there's a lot of things have 
to be contained or (held). And one of it is that peacemaking is a very very sad 
thing to do. And at the same time. . . if you don't deal with this choice, if you 
don't deal with this content, the other choices will be more hazardous, and more 
fatal, more harmful. So peacemaking is an uneasy — I'm not trying to be 
simplistic, just something about sadness, depression, and to be in contact with the 
very primitive emotional experiences. (Conference co-director, post-conference 

Pre-Conference and Conference Dynamics 

Conference Theme vs. Conference Process ("Double Task" of the conference) 

Many in the conference, particularly those with prior group relations 
experience, struggled with how to integrate the double task of the conference: that is how 
to incorporate the conference theme of trying to understand the role of Diaspora 
communities in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with group relations methods. The former 
implies "there and then" reflection and discussion of events outside of the conference 
setting. Group relations methodology traditionally focuses on the "here and now" in the 
temporary institution of the conference. Former staff members, in addition to bringing in 
their wealth of experience and knowledge about group relations theory and practice, also 
imported their experiences with group relations traditions and organizations 113 , and were 
not entirely convinced that the method could be applied in this way. As previously noted, 
this skepticism had considerable impact on pre-conference dynamics and recruitment. 
The conference allowed them to see how the political manifests in the personal. As one 
member described it after the conference, "I think you did something that was very very 
powerful, relative to parallel process to the conflict of any nation. You took the 
government, and you made them into citizens. That's what it felt like." 

While experienced group relations conference members came to appreciate the 
value of applying the method to larger political issues, there were times when it seemed 
that the pre-occupation with the dynamics of the group relations world, as well as 
assumptions about what "is supposed to happen" in group relations conferences, 
interfered with the focus on the conference theme. One member, who had never attended 
a group relations conference before noted: 

113 many of which are currently struggling. 

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I learned (whether it's true or not) that people schooled in the Tavistock approach 
too readily assume the presence of unconsciously active aggression, imputing it to 
the group as a whole, without specifying anyone, or to individual members 
without identifying any persuasive evidence of that aggression beyond their own 
inclination to perceive it. This seems to me to be itself an act of both aggression 
and projection. I heard a lot of plausible talk about parallel processes, but without 
much apparent foundation beyond the expectation and speculation. Later addition, 
on further reflection: I'm aware that as much as I value the attempt to "tune in" to 
unconscious processes, I also tend to perceive it, at least as practiced at the 
conference, as unfounded and usually ungenerous speculation that contradicts the 
mitzvah of having a "good eye"; that is, seeing the actions of others in the best 
possible light (i.e., attributing only positive motivations). (Conference member, 
immediate post-conference evaluation) 

As one of the directors noted, the double task could be used defensively: anxiety about 

the personal could evoke a flight to the political, and anxiety about the political could 

evoke a flight to the personal. 

The Complexity of Identity 

Conference membership was diverse in terms of religious, ethnic and 

geographic representation. Members and staff of the conference had multiple identities 114 

and sometimes ambivalent relationships to parts of their identity: e.g., a child of Asian 

immigrants with little attachment to the parents' homeland; a Palestinian with Israeli 

citizenship; a Jewish American ambivalent about the Jewish aspect of his identity; an 

Arab Jew who grew up in Asia, and a Palestinian woman with "incomplete" identity 

(manifested in the two-year "temporary" passports). Some Jewish participants expressed 

anxiety about facing various aspects of their identity, or being put in the position of being 

a "representative" of that particular identity group, and particularly feared being in the 

role of "occupier." 

114 The complexities of multiple identities and crossing the boundaries of identity have been cogently 
described by Dallalfar (2009), Roffan (2009) and Farsakh (2009). 

Pre-Conference and Conference Dynamics 

Throughout, it felt like a very heterogeneous sort of group — certainly in terms of 
religious representation, but also, geographic — Israelis, Palestinian American, it 
felt like everything was there — Palestinians living within Israel, then a Palestinian 
from (the West Bank). Everything was represented: then I had to represent the 
Jews from Israel. It felt something like that. . .1 think something about me being 
(the) only person from Israel who was Jewish. I felt like that was the world I was 
pulled into. I think that had there been more people, had it been a larger 
conference, possibly, I might have been freer to be more fluid with other parts of 
my identity. (Conference member, immediate post-conference interview) 

Members pondered whether complex and conflicted identity was inherent to living in the 


Diaspora vs. Exile 

Participants explored the meaning of Diaspora on a personal level: a Jewish man 

viewed himself more as part of an Eastern European Diaspora, rather than of a Jewish 

one dispersed from the Holy Land. A Palestinian citizen of Israel felt as though he lived 

in the Diaspora, even while living in his homeland. A Persian American described the 

conflict of living in Diaspora, and the guilt of living in the US when others could not. 

Returning to the homeland was like being again in Diaspora. For the Arab Jewish woman 

who lived in Asia, Europe, and the US, Diaspora is exile. She found pieces of her identity 

in each of the places where she lived, and hasn't felt able to bring all of herself anywhere. 

In one of the first study groups, a member was surprised to suddenly find herself feeling 

overwhelmed by tears thinking about Jerusalem. Neither Jewish nor Arab, she wondered, 

"What right do I have to stake a claim on Jerusalem?" Diaspora implies leaving — a land 

or a people — and being an outsider. Members who had originally been hired to be in the 

staff role discussed the experience of being exiled to the membership Diaspora of the 


Pre-Conference and Conference Dynamics 

Truth vs. Lies 

The theme of truth vs. lies arose in relation to two issues: 1) the number of 
conference members and 2) the conference theme. Staff talked about whether participants 
were made aware that the conference would be so small, and that some of the staff had 
lied to their families about the number of participants. In pre-conference transition work, 
the transitioning staff confronted the directors about truthfulness to themselves and new 
members about the number of people who would take part in the conference. Did we lie 
to potential participants about the size of the conference? Were the directors truthful 
during the planning day with staff about how much of a say they would have in the 
design? Who owns the truth in the Palestinian Israeli conflict? 
Researcher vs. Conference Creator 

As noted in the previous chapter, I carried multiple roles before and during the 

conference. In addition, I had multiple professional and social connections to participants. 

I had met all but two participants previously. None of the participants reported on the 

research aspect of the conference in a negative light: 

The question was brought up about what effect it has on us that Tracy is sitting 
there typing away? But it wasn't explored much. (Conference member, three 
month follow-up interview) 

The presence of you in the room in a lot of the sessions pretty quickly became 
pretty much in the background. I think it was a baseline presence that I don't think 
brought a lot up. (Conference member, three month follow-up interview) 

One participant thought that these multiple roles and connections I had to most 

conference participants may have made it easier to integrate the research component into 

the conference: 

In fact being in conferences where there has been research. ... I think, that your 
presence was I think some of it had to do with not just your identity, but that you 

Pre-Conference and Conference Dynamics 

were just one person, and you were very personally involved, so it was sort of - 
hard to project on you in the same way that I imagine was projected on a team of 
people who looked like traditional consultants. . .Part of it was because we were 
all very supportive of the task. If there were people who were less aware of the 
history — who were less connected to you or staff members, I think it might have 
been experienced very differently. There might have been a lot more paranoia 
about it than there was. I think being the creator as well as researcher was a 
different thing. I was imagining if it had not been you, if it had been someone 
else, might have been a different thing as well. I think it helped in terms of not 
reinforcing the paranoia and stuff. (Conference member, immediate post- 
conference interview) 

My multiple connections with participants may have pushed negative feelings 
about both researcher and creator roles underground. As previously stated, I was the 
"Holy Spirit" in the Trinity of the conference directorate. Not incidentally, it was the 
predominantly male group in the IE that named itself "Ghostbusters," perhaps expressing 
the resistance to/aggression towards the female authority figure/researcher in the system 
that was lurking beneath the surface. 

This chapter reported on the major themes and dynamics that played out in the 
planning and implementation of the Authority, Leadership and Peacemaking conference. 
These themes were concerned with gender, conflict and disengagement, peacemaking and 
conflict, the complexity of identity, "twinning" vs. Trinity, Diaspora and exile, and truth 
and lies, and not surprisingly, reflected some of the salient dynamics in the Israeli- 
Palestinian conflict. Additional themes (conference theme vs. conference process, and 
conference creator vs. conference researcher) reflected some of the dynamics in group 
relations organizations in the US. 

The ambivalence of the sponsoring organizations and directorate (as well as the 
wider public, as evidenced by the low registration) reflects the anxiety of addressing the 

Pre-Conference and Conference Dynamics 

topic of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the truths that might be revealed if it were 
addressed head on. While the intimacy of the conference offered rich opportunities for 
learning, it also precluded other opportunities (e.g., for studying large group dynamics 
and conflict). 

The next chapter explores participant learning. Some, but not all of the themes 
described here were areas of learning for participants. While a few participants remarked 
on gender as an issue in the conference, only one declared it to be an area of learning. 

Participant Learning 

Chapter 5 

This chapter reports findings from participant surveys and interviews immediately 
post-conference and three months after the conference, with a focus on participant 
learning. The chapter is divided into two sections: the first section reports on 1) prior 
experience of participants (with group relations or with Israeli-Palestinian dialogue) and 
2) learning goals. The second reports on participant learning at and after the conference. 

Since the purpose of the interviews and surveys was to evaluate the impact of the 
conference on participant learning and action, survey and interview questions were 
framed and data analyzed according to specific sensitizing concepts (Patton, 2002). I was 
specifically looking for what participants learned about the conference theme of the 
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the role of Diaspora communities in it, and about group 
relations concepts of authority and leadership. Having conducted research at two previous 
group relations conferences, I also looked to see whether there might be similar learning 
patterns here (such as highly individual personal learning, vs. systemic learning). I first 
looked at interview transcripts individually. Then I cut the data by question, examining 
responses in aggregate and looking for themes. Finally I cut the data by theme. Survey 
data was also aggregated by question and examined for thematic content. Some of the 
learning themes (around identity, Diaspora and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict) 
overlapped with conference themes outlined in the previous chapter, though others did 

Participant Learning 

Participant Experience and Learning Goals 

Members came to the conference with a variety of goals and levels of experience, 
in regard both to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and to group relations work. Of the nine 
conference members, two had never attended a group relations conference, three had 
attended one to three previously, and four had more extensive experience in member and 
staff roles at group relations conferences 115 . Those with previous group relations 
experience were especially enthusiastic about participating in a project using a new 
application of the model. Only one of the directors had previous experience in Jewish- 
Arab dialogue work. In the membership, only one participant had such experience. 
Participants also reported different levels of knowledge and understanding of the Israeli- 
Palestinian conflict in general and of each side's narrative in particular. At the same time, 
the group was fairly homogeneous in terms of political orientation vis-a-vis the conflict. 
All tended to be left of center and had some empathy toward the position of the 
Palestinians. There were no participants who characterized themselves as "Zionist" or 
"pro-occupation," though I had approached organizations from across the political 
spectrum (staying away from extremes on both sides). The issue of recruitment will be 
examined further later in this chapter and in the discussion. 

Those surveyed had a wide range of response from little understanding of the 
conflict to a very good understanding of the conflict. Four of the respondents felt they 
had a good understanding of the conflict, and one reported having some understanding. 
Similarly, participants also had a range of levels of familiarity with each side's narrative 

115 For the sake of clarity, the word "member" is used to designate all conference participants not in a staff 
role, and will include those on the staff who transitioned into the member role. The word "participants" will 
be used to describe all who were present at the conference, including the conference directors, conference 
members and me. 

Participant Learning 

of the conflict. All had at least a little familiarity with each side's narrative. Participants 
had somewhat more familiarity with the Israeli narrative than with the Palestinian 
narrative: one was a little familiar, three were somewhat familiar, four were familiar, and 
two were very familiar with the Israeli narrative. With the Palestinian narrative, two were 
a little familiar, four were somewhat familiar, two were familiar and two were very 
familiar. Higher levels of familiarity with the former may be due to the ubiquity of this 
Israeli narrative in the American media. 

The combined responses to the pre-conference survey questions of staff and 
participants can be found in Table 1 below. 

Table 1: Pre-Conference Survey Responses 116 

How do you rate your knowledge/understanding of the Israeli Palestinian conflict? (N=7) 

How familiar are you with the Israeli narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? (N=10) 

How familiar are you with the Palestinian narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? (N=10) 

1= no understanding/not at all familiar 

2= a little understanding/a little familiar 

3= some understanding/somewhat familiar 

4= a good understanding/familiar 

5= a very good understanding/very familiar 

Participants were asked about their goals for themselves in the conference in pre and 

post-conference surveys, and in interviews. A few did not report any particular goals 

prior to coming to the conference, but when asked in interviews reported a general goal to 

learn more about themselves. One said that experiential learning was like "an adventure 

in self-discovery." A few wanted to learn more about group dynamics and managing 

interpersonal conflict: "to understand the nature of misunderstanding between people." 







116 Prior to the conference, questionnaires were sent to all those who were going to serve on staff. This 
questionnaire was administered a few months prior to, and was slightly different from the pre-conference 
survey distributed to members in the week before the conference. Therefore, only those who were 
previously designated as staff are included in the results for the first question. 

Participant Learning 

Several participants noted multiple goals that were personal, intellectual, professional, 

and political: 

I wanted to learn about Tavistock work, I wanted to learn what that work could 
teach me about group relations, to see how group identity forms, to see if, to find 
out if I could see something that looked to me like a group unconscious 
developing. To see through what processes group become a group. . .to look at the 
relationship between individuals and the group, what groups do through 
individuals, and what individuals do with each other to constitute a group — what 
those two things do to articulate with each other. I was hoping to meet people who 
would be interested in ongoing Israel-Palestine work after sharing this experience, 
but I wasn't necessarily expecting that. I wanted to look specifically at dynamics 
around leadership and authority and power, and responsibility, how people do or 
don't take those, how they respond to them, accept them or reject them, not just 
how people do that, but how group does that. I also wanted to. . . part of thing 
about diversity, I was looking forward to making closer connections than I 
generally do, especially with Palestinians. (Conference Member, evaluation 
survey response) 

At the same time there was an interest in learning more about the Palestinian Israeli 

conflict in particular: 

I've always been kind of interested in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as I've 
always been interested in any conflicts that seem unresolved-able like that, and 
how that impacts people who live and try to thrive in that kind of environment, 
how do they go about doing that, and what are the impediments to it, and I 
probably as I think about of all had some question about my own ability to attach 
to it, because that's thousands of miles away and I've never been there, and so I 
don't really know it. Secondly, I just wondered if there was any similarity or 
difference between other types of environments of abuse, are the words that I 
would use, and how I handled it in my own life, and how they handled it, (they 
being the Palestinians and Israelis) handle it in their lives. . . I was also very 
interested in (and I don't know if the conference completely answered it for me), 
the whole notion of coexistence in that kind of environment where there has been 
so much abuse. You just wonder: what is the path to forgiveness for everyone? 
How do you learn to live with it and move on? I don't think any one has any 
answers. . . (Conference Member, Interview) 

For directors and for most staff who transitioned to a member role, there was personal 

interest in the topic, as well as specific interest in seeing how or whether a group relations 

Participant Learning 

model could be applied to conflict resolution work in general, and to the Israeli- 
Palestinian conflict in particular: 

I wanted to feel successful. I wanted to accomplish. . .to have it be both a group 
relations conference and something that addressed issues related to Israeli- 
Palestinian conflict. . . so those were my first goals— to see if those two things 
could happen in one. I wanted to have a larger membership, than we had, so my 
goal was to have... I wanted to come away with some clarity around. . . how and if 
group relations work could be applied to. . .issues related to conflict 
resolution. .. (Conference participant, immediate post-conference interview) 

For some that were actively involved in group relations organizations in the US, interest 

in this conference was also connected to various struggles of group relations 

organizations to survive, and to keep the work relevant: 

. . .the idea that this conference needed to happen for reasons larger than your 
dissertation, for reasons that were linked to group relations system in the US, and 
to (the sponsoring organizations) — all those factors were sort of tied into goals. 
(Conference participant, immediate post-conference interview) 

Some participants were interested particularly in understanding more about the role of 

Diasporas. As one noted: 

I wanted to explore my experience as well as others' with living in Diaspora. 
Also, group experiential learning makes me better understand the dynamics of 
society at large in relation to question of occupation and ability of having open 
dialogue about the issues such as ethnocentricity, power relations, human rights, 
and citizenship when it comes to religion and state. Third, my goal was to be a 
part of an ongoing group experiential learning about how people in Diaspora 
could gain authority and esteem in direction of peace-making in Middle East and 
the rest of the world, since the two are inter-related. (Conference Participant, 
survey response) 

Salient goals of participants prior to coming to the conference are noted in Table 2 

below. The number of participants listing a particular goal is in the right hand column: 

Participant Learning 

Table 2 Learning Goals 

Learning Goals 

Number 1 

Get a better understanding of managing 
interpersonal conflict 


Palestinian-Israeli conflict and 




Explore personal identity issues 


Group relations and Tavistock methods 


Learn more about self 


Authority and leadership 


Personal biases and prejudices 


Meet and stay engaged with people 
involved in I-P work 


Obtain continuing education credits 


Help out (conference creator and 
conference co-director 


Conference and Post-Conference Learning 

Members' responses to the survey questions in the post-conference evaluation 
were highly individualized and variable. Responses to questions on the post conference 
evaluation are noted in table 3. There was a wide range of responses to Likert questions 

• What participants learned about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (including the 
effectiveness of the directors in contributing to such learning) 

• Changes in feelings or attitudes towards one's own or other identity group 

• Contributions of the various conference events to learning 

This is consistent with anecdotal reports, group relations literature (described in chapter 
2), and with my own research of two conferences in 2008. 


Participant Learning 

Table 3: Post Conference Evaluation Responses 

To what extent did the conference provide learning opportunities 

described in the brochure? 

To what extent was the conference what you expected it to be? 

To what extent have you achieved your learning goals during the 


To what extent did you learn about the ways leadership and 

authority emerges and is taken up in groups? 

To what extent did each of the following events contribute to your 


Study Group 

Institutional Event 

Review and Role Analysis Group* 

Conference Discussion 

How much have you learned about the Israeli Palestinian conflict? 

How much have you learned about the Israeli narrative of the 

Israeli-Palestinian conflict? 

How much have you learned about the Palestinian narrative of the 

Israeli-Palestinian conflict? 

To what extent has participation in this conference affected you 


To what extent do you think participation in this conference will 

affect you professionally? 

To what extent have your feelings/attitudes toward your own identity 

group been affected by participation in the conference? 

To what extent have your feelings/attitudes toward the other identity 

group been affected by participation in the conference? 

To what extent do you think participation in this conference will 

affect your activities within your own community? 

To what extent do you think participation in this conference will 

affect your activities with the other identity group? 

How effective did you find the conference directors/consulting staff 

to be in: 

Illuminating the dynamics of the various events you participated in? 

33.3% (3) 66.6% (6) 


11.1% (1) 
11.1% (1) 

22.2% (2) 

11.1% (1) 
11.1% (1) 

22.2% (2) 
33.3% (3) 

22.2% (2) 
22.2% (2) 
22.2% (2) 
44.4% (4) 
11.1% (1) 
11.1% (1) 

44.4% (4) 
33.3% (3) 
44.4% (4) 
33.3% (3) 
55.5% (5) 
22.2% (2) 

33.3% (3) 
33.3% (3) 
22.2% (2) 
11.1% (1) 

11.1% (1) 


22.2% (2) 

22.2% (2) 

55.6% (5) 


11.1% (1) 

11.1% (1) 
33.3% (3) 



33.3% (3) 

33.3% (3) 
22.2% (2) 

11.1% (1) 


22.2% (2) 

22.2% (2) 

22.2% (2) 


22.2% (2) 

33.3% (3) 

33.3% (3) 

11.1% (1) 


44.4% (4) 

33.3% (3) 

22.2% (2) 

22.2% (2) 


11.1% (1) 

44.4% (4) 

44.4% (4) 


22.2% (2) 

55.6%(5) 22.2% (2) 



Participant Learning 

Illuminating the dynamics of conflict? 

33.3% (3) 

11.1% (1) 

44.4% (4) 

11.1% (1) 


Illuminating the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? 

11.1% (1) 

22.2% (2) 

22.2% (2) 

33.3% (3) 

11.1% (1) 


Helping you to understand your community's role in the conflict? 

11.1% (1) 

22.2% (2) 

55.6% (5) 

11.1% (1) 


Helping you to understand the relationship between your conference 

11.1% (1) 

22.2% (2) 

33.3% (3) 

22.2% (2) 


roles and your external roles? 

Relative to other kinds of experiential or learning or dialogue 

100% (8) 


frameworks you have experienced, how effective did you find this 

conference to be? 

To what extent was your overall experience of the conference 

22.2% (2) 

77.8% (7) 





1= very little or none/ not very or not at all effective 

2= a little/a little effective 

3= some/somewhat effective 

4= a great deal/effective 

5= a very great deal/very effective 

Participant Learning 

It is notable that despite this variability in responses, members unanimously found 

the conference to be very effective relative to other kinds of experiential learning or 

dialogue frameworks they have experienced. In addition, members found their overall 

experience of the conference to be worthwhile or very worthwhile. All but one of the 

members would recommend the conference to others. One would recommend it "with 

preparation." The member who said they would not recommend the conference noted: 

However, I would participate in such a conference again, if I had certain 
assurances about who would participate, and would then reconsider whether to 
recommend it. 

Later addition: The sense of enthusiasm I convey about the conference has grown 
as I've spoken about it with a few people. (Conference Member, survey) 

This suggests that the conference experience and learning is much greater than the sum of 

its parts, and that conference learning does not stop at the conference boundary. Rather, 

participants continued to think about and make meaning of their conference experiences 

long after the conference ended. For some, there was a sense that something had shifted, 

but it was more difficult to pinpoint. Learning is still percolating: 

It's too soon to tell. I think that at least for some time, and maybe for a long time, 
I'll have a different pair of shades to wear when I'm in a group. To watch and 
perceive and think a little differently about what's going on and maybe as a result 
act somewhat differently. But I don't know really. Most of what I learned from 
the conference, I didn't learn at the conference, but afterward. Most of what I 
learned at the conference was things I knew already as concepts, but that I had 
very vivid experiences of. Since the conference I learned a thing or two that I 
didn't know as before. So how that will change me as a person, I don't know. But 
it's present to me, and wasn't before. (Conference participant, immediate post- 
conference interview) 

The unanimously positive response to the conference is unusual, and may be 

due in part to the way that participants self selected. Typically, there will be participants 

who love the experience and wish to return, and those who hate it. This kind of intensive 

experiential learning isn't for everyone. The intimacy and the commitment of all 

Participant Learning 

participants to this conference likely contributed to the sense of it as a worthwhile 

What participants (directors and members) took from the conference was often 
personal and highly variable. Eight participants reported that the most important learning 
they took was of a personal nature. Related to this was learning about identity and 
learning about leadership and authority (particularly how participants personally take up 
authority). Participants also learned about Diaspora from both a personal and political 
perspective. Some learned more about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Participants who 
were deeply involved in group relations work gained a greater understanding of possible 
new applications of the method, and the sense that the personal is political. Table 4 below 
illustrates salient learning participants took from the conference. The left hand column 
refers to the theme around which the learning took place. The right hand column refers to 
the number of participants who reported learning in that area: 
Table 4 

Participant Learning (Themes) 

Number of Participants 

Personal Learning (greater confidence, 
greater courage, more "grounded," different 
view of childhood experience) 




Israeli-Palestinian Conflict 


Leadership and Authority 


Group Relations (how it can be used for 
peacemaking/conflict resolution/other 


Personal is Political 


The Role of "Others" (in learning about 
personal identity) 


Learning about the "other" and personal 


Participant Learning 

Personal Learning 

Personal learning took many forms, including greater confidence, a sense of 

feeling more "grounded," "reinvigorated," or having more courage. For some, the 

learning felt transformational. 

The most meaningful was the last closing session. When I was sitting in that room 
and I was completely turned around. Literally for the first 15 minutes of that 
closing session, I was really disoriented. Wait, what room is this? Where am I? 
Was I in this room? Is this where we started? Where are we? I was totally turned 
around. Which I think for me was a metaphor of how totally transformative that 
experience was. Because everyone said — this is the same room we were in on 
Friday afternoon. . . That was a very very very powerful moment for me. That my 
whole perspective had shifted. .. (Conference participant, immediate post- 
conference interview) 

Another participant remarked on the same incident, while sharing his own experience of 


. . . what she said and how she said it was an incredibly (for me) accurate depiction 
of the experience. So even all the questions you're asking me — I have some 
content in them, There was something else that happened — I'm back to where I 
started, but something shifted. It is the quality of the way this work is that 
something on a fairly deep level can be moved that can take time to be aware of 
or even be integrated, to hear her say that got, not just my marketing self, but that 
got another part of me to pay attention. At the end I had some — a really strong 
feeling about tenderness. About my experience of growing up with parents who 
were good people, but weren't very tender. Maybe the fear in the conference that 
it would be all fight and hate. Somehow, finding some place of tenderness seemed 
extremely important. (Conference participant, immediate post-conference 

At the same time, it may be difficult to hold on to that feeling over time, after returning 


This is the interesting thing. Because after the conference I was on this high. I 
came to work and was telling my colleagues about it and I was feeling, my God, I 
thought this was so great. And it was like oh God, this is the kind of work I want 
to be doing — I was all fired up. Now I'm speaking to you and it's like two weeks, 
three weeks after the fact. And it was like, oh yeah, the conference — it was really 
good, hmmm. And I haven't really held on to the fire of inspiration. (Conference 
participant, immediate post-conference interview) 

Participant Learning 

I don't know. I think. . .it's a hard question. There's not a lot of time to dwell on it 
for me. . .in that sense you have intense experiences and then you get plopped 
back in your life. You know there's movement, but then that's it. (Conference 
participant, immediate post-conference interview) 

Learning from group relations conferences is cumulative. One of the major advantages of 

this approach is that participants from a wide range of backgrounds, experiences and 

knowledge can learn. It is possible to attend multiple conferences and to have completely 

different experiences, or to deepen learning about oneself, leadership, and authority. One 

participant, who served on staff of two other conferences in the few months prior to the 

conference remarked on the ways that these experiences "flow into each other and inform 

each other." This finding is consistent with group relations literature, and with 

unpublished research I have conducted at two prior group relations conferences since 

2008. One of the advantages of the conference structure is that participants from a wide 

range of backgrounds, experience, and knowledge can have opportunities to learn. 

Because each conference is different (due to the different make-up of participants and 

different group dynamics), participants may attend multiple conferences, and continue to 

learn about themselves in role, leadership, and authority. 

Learning about Leadership and Authority 

Some of the personal learning reported by members was linked to the ways they 

take up (or don't take up) their own authority: 

I guess that there are several things I've been thinking about recently, and I think 
that in a way the conference brought several of them to the fore, issues that I 
struggle with around claiming my authority or specifically, just the patterns of 
behavior that I get into that somehow played itself out in the conference. In RAG 
group I realized I was doing something that I tend to do (outside of conference 
setting)... (Conference participant, immediate post-conference interview) 

I think it was just using my gut with total comfort and not being afraid to take any 
risks at all. I just went with it. It gave me an incredible sense of self esteem 

Participant Learning 

professionally. I felt very powerful. Don't usually feel that way in groups — that's 
not totally true— more powerful than I ever felt in a group. I think really being 
grounded in myself professionally, and feeling immense affection for the people 
there. (Conference participant, immediate post-conference interview) 

One participant was able to look at some childhood experiences with authority figures in 

a new light as a result of the conference. This revelation came after the conference. 

Group relations conferences are designed to provide opportunities to learn about 

groups, organizations, and larger social systems. Consultant interventions are aimed at 

the group as a whole, rather than at individuals or interpersonal interactions. The model 

purposely does not legislate what one should learn in any given conference. The 

assumption is that participants will take up their own authority to set their own learning 

goals and to take whatever learning they need from the conference. The primary concern, 

theoretically and methodologically, is with the whole system and with the exercise of 

leadership and authority (Hayden & Molenkamp, 2004; Miller, 1989; Wells, 1995). This 

is one of the great strengths of group relations conference methodology: people of widely 

different backgrounds and levels of experience can take from it highly personal and 

individualized learning. Participants' responses to the survey questions were highly 

variable in terms of what and how much was learned. This is also consistent with 

anecdotal reports and my own research of previous conferences. 

Role of the Diasporas 

Several participants reported learning something about Diaspora. One reported 

learning more about the role of the Diasporas in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: 

One of my big learnings as well was something about the Diasporas claim to the 
region. Suddenly I felt that this isn't about just Israelis and Palestinians and I 
realized in the conference it's not. It is a much much much much wider thing. . I 
was thinking about two things: one, that it's not just about Israelis and 
Palestinians. It's also about Christians — people, with Jerusalem being such a 

Participant Learning 

religious place, that other people having some sort of claim to Jerusalem as well. 
Other people having a vested interest. . .1 think there is something about keeping 
the conflict in the Middle East as it is. I think there is something about keeping it 
going as a way to have the fight between the Israelis and Palestinians on behalf of 
everyone else. Something like that. If there were no Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I 
don't know what would be for the Diaspora. So by the same token the Diaspora 
has a huge role in peacemaking or can play a large role in peacemaking. 
(Conference participant, immediate post-conference interview) 

For most, the learning about Diaspora was personal, rather than political: 

On a personal level, it affected me in terms of my own understanding of Diaspora, 
it affected me a lot in that I started to pay attention to it more on a personal level 
more than, ok, groups of people migrate, and they are in Diaspora. So here I 
personally was enriching. Not only in my own experience as a person in Diaspora 
and understanding it better, exploring it. One way — it made so much sense — to 
be moved from one place to another place, and then to return to place of origin, it 
is not a returning, really, it is like going to a third place. So what moved, our 
reason to move, in a way. And that was a very interesting realization for me. That 
had sadness for me. and at the same time more humbling, also a humbling place. 
This move can have a developmental effect on me. In with development, you 
cannot go back to an previous stage. . . Another thing I found interesting was when 
(a conference member) talked about her relationship to the Diaspora, she felt odd. 
And I thought oh, that' s another outcome that gets transmitted to you. There is an 
oddness to the experience of the Diaspora. I feel odd myself, and feel other people 
will see things about me that are odd. When I look around me I think, it makes 
sense that all of us who are there, feel some oddness about each one of us. .. So 
these personally, I felt enriched and better and deeper understanding of what it 
means to be in Diaspora and people who are in Diaspora, not just a group of 
people like Jews and blacks who are moved from one country to another country. 
(Conference participant, immediate post-conference interview) 

After the conference, the Palestinian who experienced himself in the Diaspora despite 

living in his homeland, made a decision to stay in Israel, rather than to emigrate: 

For me personally, it was very personal for me in the very last session of the 
conference when I cried and talked about the confiscation of my father's land. It 
was so personal. The other thing I think is, I took with me a lot of things to think 
about my personal issue of belonging — to whom I belong, to what I belong, and 
yes it is, there was a bit of affect on me. (I made a decision) that I don't want to 
be far away from my father. And it's very shitty here. But I cannot leave others to 
deal. I want to deal with them. I think my real main homeland is my relationship 
with my intimacy and others here. That is my real homeland. (Conference 
participant, immediate post-conference interview) 

Participant Learning 

At the same time, this participant missed the opportunity to understand the dynamics of 

Diaspora on a more global level: 

I had a deep understanding on a personal level about the Diaspora experience. I 
think that what was not happening what was not occurring was the understanding 
of Diaspora in the large sense — in a group sense, in the very large group sense. 
The learning of the Diaspora issues. Diaspora was talked about a lot, in its very 
deep and intimate relatedness. But as a very personal one to each one. But I 
wanted to know more about that, about how it is netted and connected to the 
larger sphere. In the large group, about the dynamics of the Diaspora content and 
issues in large groups. (Conference participant, immediate post-conference 

Larger conferences, with more members of various Middle East and Jewish Diaspora 

communities may provide greater opportunities to look at the theme of Diaspora on a 

more global and systemic level. 


An important area of learning for several conference participants was around the 

theme of identity. One participant remarked that she was able to look at aspects of her 

identity in a different way: 

Having a sense of re-visiting my Asian parts in a different way. Being more 
accepting of the Asian bits that go against the culture here. . .Feeling more like 
that's actually a part of something that goes beyond me. It's actually cultural and 
familial. So it brings me closer to that. 

One became aware of how having multiple identities impacts his/her behavior: 

It's still not clear in my mind- something to do with my being in a situation, for 
example, having so many components to my identity, and not really making a 
choice about what I will commit to, so I sometimes stay out of things. I don't 
engage fully, because I don't know what parts of myself I can bring to it, so I 
don't really engage. (Conference member, immediate post-conference interview) 

Three of the Jewish participants expressed ambivalence about elements of their Jewish 

identity. This reflects some of the current splits within the American Jewish community. 

As one remarked: 

Participant Learning 

I think I am more tuned into my own internal conflict about my ambivalence 
about being Jewish and like I said, my increased awareness of a desire for place 
and home and kind of belonging, while at the same time being afraid of 
belonging, not unlike the way in which the theory is about people's ambivalence 
about joining groups. (Conference member, immediate post-conference interview) 

Some had concerns about the kinds of projections they would attract because of their 


The ambivalence really had to do with my own feeling about being Jewish. . . one 
of my concerns, people were going to identify me about being Jewish, and it's not 
something I felt particularly very happy about. So how was I going to be in a 
place where I didn't particularly want to be... Would I feel my identity would be 
oversimplified, and I would hold all the projections. Which I knew ahead of time, 
but increasingly became aware of how implanted they are. . . (Conference 
member, immediate post-conference interview) 

One was able to accept his Jewish-ness in a different way: 

I feel like I understand things around my own identity better — that I feel very 
connected to my Jewish-ness, without feeling like it needs to be more or less. It's 
a way of being ok with me defining my Jewish-ness. (Conference participant, 
immediate post-conference interview) 

The presence of "others" (that is, non-Jews and non-Palestinians) was seen by some to be 

crucial in understanding one's own identity: 

Microcosm — that it was a small sample or microcosm of people with very 
different experiences, and I think that it will be a reminder of the differences that 
aren't so apparent. I was also hearing about different people's experiences — . . I 
think it was humbling in some ways, about the difficulties they've confronted that 
I've never had to confront. It's humbling, I learned from it, can see parts of 
myself in that, but in a different context. Helped me get in touch with some 
struggles, that I don't feel entitled to. Because there is some privilege. I can talk 
about my exile, but it is a more cultural exile, which is different from their 
experience, which is much more violent. (Conference participant, immediate post- 
conference interview) 

Actually, first of all, when there's others, not only Palestinians and Jews in this 
conference, how much it's helpful to be with others, like (conference participant) 
and other identities that were there, and that help others also to negotiate identities 
and the group and intergroup event. It was very meaningful in that. One specific 
learning, was that in this conference was that otherness is also needed in order to 
reach out my identities. That (the) other is needed. Actually to be in Diaspora is 

Participant Learning 

not just Jews and Palestinians, also Palestinians and others — and others were 
there — . . . in any direction you want, it is very helpful and enriching experience 
and very framing the learning, it is a way that we want that to be with others, not 
only by national or other identity. Coming to this conference only Palestinians 
and Jews is not that helpful. Others (are) also needed to come for this conference. 
It is not only for Jews and Palestinians in the US. It is fascinating to see how 
others can play a very significant role. (Conference participant, immediate post- 
conference interview) 

As noted in the literature review, group relations conferences in the US have been used to 

explore themes of identity, including gender, race, and ethnicity (Braxton, et al., 2008; 

McRae & Short, 2010). This study is consistent with previous research, which suggests 

that this method can be a powerful way of exploring identity issues. 

Learning about the Other 

For some, the opportunity to be with people different from oneself was 

meaningful. Participants did not necessarily change their attitudes or beliefs toward the 

other, though it served as an important reminder: 

Well it increased my knowledge, no doubt, about dealing with others. If I disagree 
with others. Acceptance, even if they are different. I have that before, but it 
increase that. And increase also my giving, my toleration, give people more. 
(Conference participant, immediate post-conference interview) 

I think just being able to get close to these issues, and get close to someone like 
(conference members) who I feel have such a different experience. I guess it was 
meaningful I wouldn't call them other, I guess there was a sense of "other", it was 
the opportunity to work with and be around people I would probably rarely 
interact with in that way in my day to day life. I have Palestinian friends who I've 
worked with them or whatever, but not in that way. . . I don't know if it' s actually 
made a change in my attitudes and beliefs. . .1 think maybe not. . .maybe because 
I've been around it a lot and thinking about all of this a lot so, it's not something 
new to me, thinking about this conflict. (Conference participant, immediate post- 
conference interview) 

Participant Learning 

Learning about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict 

For participants who had no intimate knowledge of the Palestinian-Israeli 

conflict or people involved, the conference provided a valuable opportunity to learn about 


Wish I could say it brought peace and happiness to world, but maybe that would 
have been too grand. . .to have a different perspective on this. This is not the 
Israeli-Palestinian conflict to me anymore. I put people's faces to it now. I see 
these people's those who I was in this conference with when I think about this at 
that point. And I did not do that before I started this session on Friday. They 
weren't human beings — they were some concept of who an Israeli was, some 
concept of who a Palestinian was. And now they're people. . .It's made me 
understand how intractable this entire situation is. And has given me great 
empathy for the plight of the Palestinians, and how impossible their lives are, and 
really makes me wonder, makes me want to understand more about this conflict 
than I currently understand. (Conference participant, immediate post-conference 

... I think I have more of a picture of a place that I've never been to — from the 
way people described it and their experiences there. It makes it almost like a place 
I am familiar with. I think that's pretty significant. . .1 have images of going from 
Boston to Cambridge but having it look like it's a little more like it's in the 
Mideast — and having roadblocks along the bridge, along the way. So there's just 
these pictures of sun and lush ground, because (conference participant) said on the 
drive there that's what her home looks like. So trying to think about that, but with 
intense sun. And then market places. . . Just images. (Conference participant, 
immediate post-conference interview) 

For those who came to the conference with more familiarity with the conflict, the 

conference provided an opportunity to learn more about the Palestinian narrative. These 

opportunities came through the presence of the Palestinian co-director and the Palestinian 

member. Participants often remarked on the moment in the study group when the 

Palestinian member spoke passionately about her experience: 

. . . I'm thinking, what justification do we as Jewish people have for treatment of 
Palestinians. I just felt that question that I asked myself on my trip (to Israel), and 
was voiced by (conference participant) was very cathartic for me. We're human 
beings. It was just very powerful for me. I was very happy because I hadn't heard 

Participant Learning 

(conference member's) voice before that... (Conference participant, immediate 
post-conference interview) 

Participants learned and found the experience meaningful. At the same time, they hoped 

to have had (and to have in the future) the opportunity to learn more: 

. . . and being outside of Israel in Diaspora in the States, I felt that I heard more of 
(Palestinian participant's) voice. And I felt that I saw more of the pain. . .not that it 
changed my attitudes. I saw the pain of the situation being Palestinian Christian 
in Israel, and the loss around it. In that sense, that was something I didn't expect 
at all. My goal was to understand some of the dynamics, and I guess I did 
understand more. I think that I would have liked to have heard more from 
(Palestinian member) within the boundaries of the conference. We spoke a lot 
outside, but I would have liked to have learned more. . I probably would have 
expected to hear more about that voice, not the voice which is Israeli Arab ... or 
Palestinian within Israel. I would have liked to have heard more or understood 
more from someone in (Palestinian member's) role. I think it might have helped 
me learn more about mine or about some of the issues. . . (Conference participant, 
immediate post-conference interview) 

Because there were only two Palestinians in the conference (one director and one 

member), and the overall conference membership was small, conference participants had 

fewer opportunities to gain a more nuanced understanding of the conflict or of 

possibilities for peacemaking (such as the differences within each group). One Palestinian 

hoped to have (in future conferences) opportunities for intra-group work: 

I'm relying on what I experienced in this conference. I think something about the 
in-group — actually what I hold in mind for a long time — not just counting my 
experience in this specific conference. There is something about in-group 
conflicts that has to go deeper and be clarified. I think that if we had other 
Palestinians in the conference more than (conference member) — we would have 
opportunity to know more about that question and explore that more. But from the 
fragments in the conference . . .you can see how fragmented is the idea of 
Palestinian society — it is not that cohesed, and consolidated, meaning a lot of 
conflicts and a lot of domestic issues have to be done between Palestinians 
themselves. I think it is also an issue in the Palestinian Diaspora in the US — 
there's a lot of parties, a lot of Palestinians that are not in dialogue within 
themselves. And there's something about that that should be done. And I think 
groups like that, or conferences like that can be a very good and rich atmosphere 
for every group to do inside itself, to explore more about internal conflicts. 
(Conference participant, immediate post-conference interview) 

Participant Learning 

Had the conference membership been larger, the design would have included 

opportunities to work within identity groups. 

One Palestinian wanted the opportunity to speak with more Jews: 

Myself, honestly, I wish there are other people in the conference for me to act 
more and face more — I wish there are other people — more Jewish people. 
Because these people I need them to listen to me. I like other people, but I like 
Jews to be in conference like that. Since this touch Palestinian Israeli conflict, 
needs to be like that. (I'd) like to see more religious people, not just Jewish, but 
also Muslim. Would like to see more. . .Mizrahi, more Arab Jews. I'm just 
searching, what's wrong in their mind? I have a lot of questions I need to have 
answered. These people can answer me, if they can. Or we can help each other to 
answer. . . Why they treat me like that. Like (conference participant), I told him? — 
why do you want to kick me out? Why I pay the price of Holocaust? I'm not 
responsible of that but they make me I am responsible for this. Are they aware of 
what they doing there? I don't believe that they don't have feeling. I don't believe 
that they don't thinking of what's going on. . .But what's going on with them with 
what they do in the West Bank and in Gaza. So I look to mirror these things, to 
understand. (Conference participant, immediate post-conference interview) 

The low membership had different impact on participant learning. For some, it meant that 

it would be impossible to hide or be anonymous: 

I was nervous. As the day approached, I thought I'm gonna spend the whole 
weekend with, I don't know however many strangers, who I didn't know. So I did 
have a bit of apprehension. . . when I read the brochure, it said limited to 50. 1 
thought great! Fifty people — I can hide. Then when you and I emailed you and 
said how many people will be there and you said 10-15, and I thought oh my god! 
So I thought oh God, you really can't hide. You really have to be in there. But I 
think it worked out fine with the number of people you had. I'd be curious to do 
another one with a larger amount of people to compare what the experience is 
like. (Conference participant, immediate post-conference interview) 

One participant felt that the intimacy of the conference made it possible to get a more 

nuanced version of the conflict: 

The thing that really struck me was that in some ways, with the small number, I 
hadn't thought of it in comparison with conferences with more members, it was 
almost like everybody had to hold a piece of what it was. That everybody had the 
opportunity to really show up. I guess it's sort of like the dynamic of the small 
group vs. the large group, so everybody's identity., Everybody had a leading role 

Participant Learning 

in the process. No one could hide, in a way that sometimes happens if you have 
more people. So the complexity of Everyone's identity was very much a part of 
what we were looking at. It wasn't just that the Jews are over here, and the 
Palestinians are over there and the Christians are there. It was sort of like Every 
individual person had differentiating qualities that were very apparent. . .it sort of 
checked the tendency to over simplify the conflict, or to characterize a group of 
people in one particular. . . as being the same. It made it into a much more personal 
dialogue rather than political dialogue about sort of two different abstract 
positions. (Conference participant, immediate post-conference interview) 

One participant found that the intimacy of the conference was containing: 

. . . But I think I expected it to be more difficult, and I think maybe it was size, or 
maybe it was contained. I don't think it was less rich because of it. I just think 
that there was something that was containing, and maybe that was a positive 
thing. (Conference participant, immediate post-conference interview) 

The intensity of the conference, with participants living and working together 
over three days, provided a context in which learning could happen. Moments that 
provided participants with the opportunity to see the "other" differently than expected, 
often happened during break times between sessions. Tight boundaries around time, 
territory and the conference task provided containment for potentially explosive feelings. 
By not actively facilitating or setting an agenda, the staff provided a space for 
participants to take up their own authority. Participants in the study were clear in 
speaking to the importance of the staff in containing the potentially explosive feelings of 
the conference. 
Group Relations Learning 

For conference participants experienced in group relations work, this conference 

represented a new application of the method, and offered new possibilities for the work 

of group relations: 

I think one thing is that making a political topic around a group relations 
conference is really a good idea. It has a lot of merit. It feels more applicable. . . so 
for instance, who knows if I've changed, but I have a feeling about a place 

Participant Learning 

now. . . about a place that has a lot of meaning for people. I don't know — that 
seems different. (Conference participant, immediate post-conference interview) 

At the same time, some were anxious to see how and whether group relations methods 

could be integrated into the conference theme. Group relations offered a way to link the 

personal with the political: 

. . .Well I, although I can't say I feel that much more, what's the word. . I can't say 
that my opinion about Israel and what Israel is doing has shifted. I definitely, it 
sort of opened some possibilities in my mind about how group relations work can 
be used. . . This is important work and I believe in it. The relationship between the 
personal and the political — it just comes back to me that the folly of looking at 
politics without going pretty deep into the personal. And then thinking, ok, how 
does that actually apply, other than getting everybody in Middle East to do 
personal work in various ways. . . In some ways it's optimistic, and in some ways 
it's pessimistic. Are people involved in these huge global conflicts in a position, 
willing or interested or even capable of looking at the personal element to some 
degree? (Conference participant, immediate post-conference interview) 

Historically, US based group relations organizations have been ambivalent at best 

about using conference methods to understand and intervene in larger societal problems 

(Fraher, 2004a). At its founding, the Tavistock Institute functioned as a social science 

research organization focused on the "study and amelioration of wider social problems in 

family, industry and community" (Fraher, 2004a, p. 125). In this way, it is considered 

among the first to engage in action research. 

For the conference co-director, who had been skeptical from the beginning, the 

conference was a revelation: 

. . .From moment it started it felt to me like we were working with issues around 
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the role of the Diasporas. It felt like it was a 
Diaspora conference done in group relations way. . . I think I am quite inspired by 
what we did, and I was not expecting to be inspired by what we did. . . You came 
to us with the title, so, I never really spent a lot of time thinking about the word 
until we got to the conference. I spent a lot of time thinking about conflict 
resolution, and now I feel like those are radically different things. It was 
constructed in my head as group relations applied to conflict resolution. Seeing it 
as group relations applied to peacemaking is very inspiring and I see all sorts 

Participant Learning 

potential and future for it. . .if I think of peacemaking, if I flip the words around a 
little bit — it's about making peace with things — and the things we have to make 
peace with, within ourselves, in our context, about other people. I learned whole 
lot about peacemaking if you define it that way. I believe that the Arab-Israeli 
conflict — the only way to resolve that conflict is through peacemaking, is through 
a whole lot of people making peace within themselves, and with the other and to 
be clear about who the other is they need to make peace with. All that stuff is very 
much alive in me. (Conference participant, immediate post-conference interview) 

As noted in the previous chapter, one conference participant, who came with no prior 

group relations experience questioned to what degree the more experienced members 

were importing issues that weren't necessarily present in the conference. This was in line 

with some of my observations during the conference: 

The knowledge was in a sense not knowledge, it was a knowledge of what to 
expect. That led to a re-enactment. . .1 talked about feeling ripped off from having 
the experience of being thrown in with bunch of newbies. So the reenactment is 
based on that expectation, that this is what's going to happen, so we know how to 
do this. But they didn't know what was going to happen, except they made a 
certain thing happen, by doing it. Who knows what may have happened 
otherwise. . .They jumped quickly into free association process with a certain set 
of assumptions that I think were shared by the management team. . . That has to do 
with the psychoanalytic basis of the work. I talked earlier about the omission of 
Eros. That is actually the flip side of this. This is about the over valorizing of 
Thanatos. There was an expectation of conflict and aggression and hostility and 
all that kind of stuff, and an assumption of it, of its presence in the room and in 
the consciousness of members of the group and in the collective consciousness of 
the group. The problem is not that it wasn't there, the problem is that it was 
identified on the basis of the assumption and the expectation rather than on 
perceiving it happening. One way that happened is by someone saying something 
like, I'm sensing the presence of aggression in the room, without identifying any 
locus or source or way that they're sensing it. (Conference participant, immediate 
post-conference interview) 

This speaks to one of the limitations of group relations work, which will be discussed 

further in the next chapter. The intensity of group relations conference experiences is 

very appealing to some. Members who come to conferences multiple times may 

consciously or unconsciously re-create previous conference experiences by importing 

dynamics from previous conferences. 

Participant Learning 

Peacemaking/universality of human condition 

One participant remarked on a greater sense of humanity after the conference: 

What I got out of the experience was. ..What I can say is, that universality of 
human condition. That diverse way of relating to Diaspora, like how (conference 
participant) talked about how he got there, and the way he got there and 
(conference participant), how he feels he lives in Diaspora, though in his 
homeland. All these people, I get to see them in same place of human, so that's 
what I get from — more humanness — more human as I am a part of them and they 
are a part of me. I think that brings peace. When people think, I am part of them 
and they are part of me. So, I got peace out of it too. (Conference participant, 
immediate post-conference interview) 

Three Month Follow-Up 

Responses to questions on the three month follow-up survey are noted in table 5. 
As with the evaluations administered immediately post conference, there was a wide 
range of responses to Likert questions regarding: 

• How much participants learned about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the role 
of the Diasporas 

• Personal and professional impact of the conference 

• The impact of the conference on attitudes/feelings about and participation in 
activities with their own and the other identity groups. 


Participant Learning 

Table 5: Three-Month Follow-Up Survey Responses 

KiTtHJTffff WM 







To what extent have you been in touch with other conference 

50% (4) 

25% (2) 

25% (2) 



To what extent has participation in the conference affected you 

12.5% (1) 

12.5% (1) 

37.5% (3) 

25% (2) 

12.5% (1) 



To what extent has participation in the conference affected you 

25% (2) 

37.5% (3) 

25% (2) 

12.5% (1) 



How would you rate your learning in the following areas? 

How I take up authority and leadership 

50% (4) 

37.5% (3) 

12.5% (1) 


Understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict 

25% (2) 

12.5% (1) 

25% (2) 

37.5% (3) 


How the conflict impacts on me emotionally 

12.5% (1) 

12.5% (1) 

37.5% (3) 

25% (2) 

12.5% (1) 


Covert or unconscious processes in group and in the conflict 

12.5% (1) 

12.5% (1) 

62.5% (5) 

12.5% (1) 


Identity issues 

25% (2) 

62.5% (5) 

12.5% (1) 


Understanding the role of the Diasporas in the Israeli-Palestinian 

25% (2) 

12.5% (1) 

50% (4) 

12.5% (1) 




12.5% (1) 

12.5% (1) 

25% (2) 

50% (4) 


To what extent has participation in the conference affected your 

37.5% (3) 

12.5% (1) 

37.5% (3) 

12.5% (1) 


involvement toward your own community/identity group? 

To what extent has participation in the conference affected your 

37.5% (3) 

25% (2) 

12.5% (1) 

25% (2) 


involvement with the other community/identity group? 

To what extent has participation in the conference affected your 

25% (2) 

12.5% (1) 

25% (2) 

37.5% (3) 


attitudes/feelings towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? 

To what extent has participation in the conference affected your 

25% (2) 

25% (2) 

25% (2) 

25% (2) 


involvement with activities related to the Israeli-Palestinian 


How likely are you to recommend this conference to others? 

25% (2) 

25% (2) 

50% (4) 



1= very little or none/ 1 would never recommend this conference to anyone 

2= a little/ 1 might recommend this conference, but very selectively 

3= some/ 1 can think of one or two people that I would definitely recommend it to 

4= a great deal/ 1 can think of several people who would enjoy this kind of conference 

5= a very great deal/ 1 would recommend this conference without hesitation 

Participant Learning 

After three months, there was some overlap of learning themes from the first interviews. 

However, for most participants, conference learning evolved over time. The research 

intervention may also have played some role in the evolution of participant learning, 

providing an opportunity for participants to reflect further on the experience, and to keep 

it in mind. A few participants specifically commented on the ways in which the 

interviews helped them to further reflect on and learn from their conference experience: 

I think the phone calls are helpful, because it kind of gets you back there — gets it 
on the radar. If you weren't calling me and asking me, off it goes. (Conference 
member, three month follow-up interview) 

For some, learning that had previously been in the foreground (aspects of personal 

learning in particular) now receded further to the background and vice versa. 

What remains for me about the conference is the Palestinian-Israeli Diaspora 
stuff, as opposed to traditional group relations authority relations stuff. What 
seems to have got smaller is usual group relations stuff. The theme of the 
conference remained with me. .. (Conference member, three month follow-up 

One participant, who had described a powerful personal learning related to childhood 

experience during the first interview, could not remember what it was by the second 


I'm a little surprised, but not very, and a little disappointed, in how much it faded 
for me now— that I didn't know before this interview. Especially that aftermath 
stuff that was so powerful for me. The way that relates to your question is that I 
wish I continued to experience more of a lasting effect from it. And again, I knew 
right this away, it was only one experience and it was only a few days, and only a 
handful of people, and a lot left to be mined there in that sort of process for me. 
It's not like I feel I failed in some way, or that the process failed in some way. It 
was just the first in that kind of experience. 

Despite the disappointment, this participant would "absolutely" attend the conference 



Participant Learning 

The disappointment is my motivation, the disappointment is that I went in really 
hungry to get a good chunk of learning of a new thing that I could kind of see the 
contours of from reading about it and hearing from you a little about it. It looked 
really interesting and valuable and intriguing and mysterious. Coming out of it, it 
feels just about as mysterious as it did going in. maybe at least one new mystery. 
And I just feel like I got the barest little base of exposure to that juicy looking 
stuff that looked like it might be there. I could imagine, with more experience, 
that if I have enough more experience, the result will be that I'll conclude that 
there wasn't really anything that interesting there that I thought there might be. 
That could happen. But right now, looks like there's a whole unstudied discipline 
there that's of interest to me. And that's what my disappointment is -that I only 
got to audit one class. (Conference member, three month follow-up interview) 

Table 6 below notes the learning themes for participants at three months post 

conference, compared to immediately after the conference. 

Table 6 

Participant Learning (Themes) 


(immediately post 



(three months post 


Personal Learning (greater 
confidence, greater courage, 
more "grounded," different view 
of childhood experience) 





Israeli-Palestinian Conflict 



Leadership and Authority 



Group Relations (how it can be 
used for peacemaking/conflict 
resolution/other applications) 



Personal is Political 



The Role of "Others" (in 
learning about personal identity) 


Learning about the "other" and 
personal bias 





Learning about the Other and Personal Bias 

Learning about the other and one's own biases came to the forefront of several 
participants' minds at the three month mark: 

Participant Learning 

I think it makes me a little more sensitive, I suppose, to the experience of an 
identity group that is not mine. I think there's something about it becoming 
personalized, rather than just theoretical, knowing that their experience in life is 
difficult. Something about meeting with people and actually working with them 
personalized it a bit more. (Conference member, three month follow-up interview) 

However, this learning was not the same for all. For one, it was about seeing the other in 

a more differentiated way: 

. . . I've always felt extremely more sensitive to Palestinians living in Israel — or 
Arabs living in Israel. I have to say, the one thing there's been this weird shift 
around — I've been much more polarized in my view about Jews in Israel. I think 
I'm differentiating— there's more gray area in relation to Palestinians than there is 
around Jews. (Conference member, three month follow-up interview) 

For a Muslim, it was about learning more about the conflict from the perspective of 

religious Jews: 

But meeting (an Orthodox Jew) and we had discussion from this conflict 
especially from religion perspective. For me, the way how some religious people 
think — it really made me think about it. Especially when he talk about 
Jerusalem — it's only for particular people. I look to when I talk to him, but also, 
for Muslims, it is mentioned in Koran. It is also in Torah. Also in Koran. So we 
have boxes. So who's right who's wrong? 

. . .Maybe we need to think about the boxes, the Holy books. . .And people need to 
address these things. Why they afraid. Let's talk about it. Ok, I believe it's in your 
Torah. You need to believe me. . . so I think people shouldn't hold things inside, 
they need to talk about it. It was interesting I think. (Conference member, three 
month follow-up interview) 

For one, the learning was about personal bias towards the other: 

I got out of it something I wanted — , which was to understand my own bigotry — 
and I think that's what came out with (conference participant). I think it's 
connected to a lack of empathy in some ways, a judgmentalism. I understood it. 
I've always sort of understood it when it's happened to me, but I wanted to see if 
it would come out with someone different from me. It came out because he's an 
observant Jew — with the clothes and the beard. It's sort of like the reaction a lot 
of westerners have to women wear the head covering, "what is that, why do they 
have to dress like that, they're in the United States." And I was saying, why are 
you so loud, why do you have to pray so loud, why do you need the candles. . . 
(Conference member, three month follow-up interview) 

Participant Learning 

The conference allowed one participant to be with others in a different way, beyond the 


And I have a chance to speak more with people who are from other very faraway 
places. I'm more apt to want to give more room to know more room for all the 
things about them, that I don't know, that all my intuition, my guessing, my 
instinct would not really be telling me. In a sense, being less sure of myself is 
actually a good thing. Cause I really don't know. And I'm ok with that, I might 
add. Probably another time in my life that I would not have been ok with 
that. . .I'm probably more aware of gray right now than I was before the 
conference. (Conference member, three month follow-up interview) 

This finding is consistent with research suggesting that inter-group encounters (based on 
the contact hypothesis) can result in prejudice reduction (Hurtado, 2005; Khuri, 2004; 
Maoz, 2003; Biren A. Nagda, 2006; Biran A. Nagda, et al, 2004; Biren A. Nagda, et al., 
2006; Biren A. Nagda & Zuniga, 2003; Tausch, et al, 2006). 
Learning about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict 

Several participants reported greater awareness of and curiosity about the Israeli- 
Palestinian conflict than they had prior to the conference. Their greater interest 
manifested in paying closer attention to news stories related to the conflict, as well as 
having conversations about the conflict with others. 

I think I feel more involved in the issue. . .but my attentiveness to the Middle East 
conflict was heightened and my personal connection to it is much stronger. . . What 
I would amplify is being more comfortable and competent with the issue. I think 
that's the thing that stands out for me the most. I usually don't spend a lot of time 
talking about issues like the Middle East conflict, but I have been over the last 
few months. . . the first thing, is that I've been more attentive to it. What that 
means is literally looking for it more in the paper, and when an article comes 
along. . . I'll read the article. (Conference member, three month follow-up 

And in fact, in some ways it sort of heightened my noticing certain things, when 
articles are published in particular about what the nature of the Jewish community 
is in the Diaspora, is it increasingly polarized or is the Orthodox community 
taking control. Or even the issue that is going on in Israel right now between who 
defines conversions, all those issues. I'm definitely noticing that more or 

Participant Learning 

imagining the conversations more in my mind as a result of the conference 
experience. . .In some ways I feel like I had more of a peek of how it must feel like 
to be in Israel in the midst of these conversations. Up until then I felt like a 
complete outsider that had all these opinions that weren't based on very much 
experience in some ways — they were just my bias about certain things. In some 
way I feel more of a direct experience even though it still seems quite distanced 
from the actual place. (Conference member, three month follow-up interview) 

For some, it was meaningful to be able to connect news about the conflict with 

individuals they met at the conference: 

It certainly makes me more curious when I hear something on the radio, or when I 
read something in the paper. I think it's like anything when you have a personal 
human connection to something. I probably have met in my life Palestinians. I 
certainly have met in my life Israelis. But I don't really remember having met 
them. Now Palestinians have a face for me. Now they have a voice for me. I see 
this woman standing in front of me. I see a rabbi standing in front of me. I can 
picture him, I can picture an Israeli ... I can picture theses people in front of me. 
And in some sense, it becomes more personal. It's not something so ambiguous. 
Palestinians, Israelis. Until you meet one. And then Israelis breathe speak and talk 
and are thoughtful, etc. etc. In that sense it's had a lasting impression on me. 
Even though I forget most of their names, I might add. There's a lot of that. I 
don't know. I don't know why. By and large I don't remember the names of most 
of the people who were there 117 . But in my mind's eye, I can still see their faces, 
hear their voices, I can, even as I'm speaking to you now, see them moving or 
most often, sitting around in the circle of the study group. So they're nonetheless 
real. (Conference member, three month follow-up interview) 

Greater attention to and awareness of the conflict has not necessarily resulted in a 

change of attitude or understanding about the conflict: 

I think mainly when I read stuff in the newspapers, about a different kind of 
experience. I think about it in relation to the particular people I've met. Or when 
I'm walking down the street— I've been spending all this time in East Jerusalem, 
and somehow I think about peacemaking more, I think about Diaspora 
communities outside of Israel or outside of Palestine. . I don't know that it's 
changed my understanding. . .1 think my attitude globally, intellectually, I still 
have similar attitudes. (Conference member, three month follow-up interview) 

Though not all of the participants were part of Jewish or Middle Eastern Diaspora 

communities or even very familiar with the conflict, the conference nevertheless became 

117 Curiously, five participants had difficulty remembering the names of conference members. 

Participant Learning 

a microcosm of the larger socio-political system. By studying the microcosm in the here 

and now, participants learned about the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

Being able to connect news stories with individuals they had met at the conference was 

an important aspect of this learning. 

The Role of the Diasporas 

Immediately after the conference, participants discussed their learning about 

Diaspora on a personal level. At three month follow-up, Diaspora issues were discussed 

at a more systemic or global level. 

It all sort of coalesces these days around the word Diaspora, and it coalesces for 
me around the number of people in the conference, who were so personally and 
immediately affected by it. I do come away with it, I have to remind myself that it 
is so prevalent in this world, because it doesn't really touch my world on a daily 
basis. That's why I'm so glad I'm involved in this other project that's forcing me 
to think about it more often, than I have before. Conference life is so immediate 
and it's so real and so dynamic in the moment. Then we go back to the safety and 
protection and sameness of our lives, that it's not as prevalent. For me, it's not in 
the front of my mind. I always think about the conference whenever I'm at this 
particular corporate site, which is about 2-3 days every other week, and we talk 
about this stuff. . . And I never talked about it before the conference, and in fact I 
didn't even know how to pronounce it. (Conference member, three month follow- 
up interview) 

The Palestinian co-director, who had mediated the conflict between the Jewish co- 
director and I was pre-occupied with the Jewish Diaspora in the US: 

Of the issues of Diaspora. Something must be continued afterwards. What pops 
into my mind immediately, a little bit of, I'll say this, of worries about what's 
going on inside the states. . .1 think there's something happening inside the Jewish 
Diaspora in the States, but I'm not sure what's really happening, but I'm sure 
there is some change taking place. Implicitly I can think there's something 
changing, but explicitly I cannot describe it. I think something is moving, but I'm 
not sure what direction it is moving. (Conference member, three month follow-up 

This raises the question of whether a conference specifically focused on the 

Participant Learning 

Jewish Diaspora or Jewish Diaspora organizations might be useful. Such a conference 

would provide an opportunity to explore conflicts within the Jewish American 

communities. At the same time, heterogeneous conferences can foster greater awareness 

of intra-group issues through the presence of an "other." This was discussed earlier in this 

chapter. Heterogeneous conferences could provide the opportunity for both intra-group 

as well as inter-group work while addressing some of the issues discussed in the literature 

regarding the power asymmetries between the groups (Halabi, 2004; Halabi & 

Sonnenschein, 2004; Maoz, 2004, 2006). 

Leadership and Authority 

While four people discussed learning about leadership and authority in the first 

interview, only two did so in the second interview. A few more mentioned it as an area of 

learning in the surveys: 

Anything that comes from me they will take in a different way, so I need to be 
extremely careful. Because misunderstanding, judgment different way, so I also 
need to be in right way, when I lead, when I talk. When I appear or represent 
myself. I need to be really strong, not weak, as in the reality how people look to 
me. I'm not. . .I'm not. . ., I'm weak, which is true, in reality it's true. So therefore i 
don't want that. So I try to gather myself to understand all the game. So therefore 
I take time. Compared to others. . .Even inside I was really not comfortable with 
that. But this is destiny, this is the reality, I need to be patient with that. . . 
. . .it opened my eyes to understand what's going on, with different role. When 
you be in role as president, when you be in role as volunteer, when you be in role 
as instructor. . . as director. I can tell that, how switching role, where is the power, 
and where are you from that. In the conference also, how we take it. . . when you 
get power, you feel more relaxed, and you feel really, more comfortable, and you 
can. For me, it can be . . . more relaxed. But I think on some level you lose your 
fighting. Sometimes it's better to have less power because you stand up and hear 
what's going on, and you become a good fighter. But since I am a good fighter for 
a long time. Now it's time for me to relax and have power. I have been fighting 
for a long long while. (Conference member, three month follow-up interview) 

As previously noted, those with prior group relations experience had greater learning 

about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, whereas those with more knowledge about the 

Participant Learning 

conflict reported greater learning about leadership and authority, the traditional emphasis 

of group relations conferences. 

Applications of Conference Learning 

While the conference raised awareness about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, this 

awareness did not necessarily translate directly into action: 

... it hasn't made me want to give up a work assignment to go and do relief work, 
or to be more personally involved. But I am more personally aware. And maybe 
that's the progression of things, from awareness to action. It will be interesting as 
we continue to do these things. And also kind of interesting that as we talk about 
it, it reminds me of it and these touch points along the way may be springboards 
to doing something that I hadn't thought of doing. I've never been to Israel, 
though I have on a couple of occasions in these last three months wondered what 
it would be like to go there. And I've never had that thought before. (Conference 
member, three month follow-up interview) 

This has been one of the challenges of inter-group work documented in the conflict 

resolution literature. While these kinds of interventions may be effective in changing 

personal bias, these changes do not necessarily carry over to the societal level (Tausch, et 

al., 2006). It remains to be seen whether a re- structuring of the event (to be described 

further in the next chapter) may result in greater societal impact over time. 

One conference member did become more politically active following the conference: 

I mean it disturbed something in myself. I don't want to be the kind of person 
who doesn't say the kind of thing I need to say when I need to say it. Especially 
when it comes to my rights. I can always fight for the rights of others. But I have 
to fight for the rights of myself as well. And that includes if so is doing a lot of 
harsh judging in my presence — whether it be of me or another person. I have to 
say, I don't like that. What else am I going to do about it? I don't know, working 
on campaign, standing up for what I want. Following through on doing whatever I 
committed myself to do. . .1 found myself saying it very early on in conference I 
get depressed when I hear about Israel -Palestine and how they're destroying 
themselves. How Israel is destroying self and Palestine. Such a helpless depressed 
experience just watching it. So, what can I do about it? I can join Jewish Voice for 
Peace even though I'm not a Jew — and try to keep electing American congress 
people who have ethics, who can support the rest of government to do what it 
needs to do. Keep writing letters to the white house and my senators, and tell 

Participant Learning 

them what I think. That includes Israel. (Conference member, three month follow- 
up interview) 

One member decided to renew her clinical credentials as a result of the conference. 

Another was considering getting more involved in peace or dialogue work, but had not 

yet found a way to do so: 

Not yet, but keep thinking that I would like to do something more, and I haven't 
actually done anything. So it hasn't actually translated into my changing my 
activities. (I'm) not sure (about the type of activity I want to do), but, some sort 
of dialogue groups, getting involved in something more or volunteering to work. 
(Conference member, three month follow-up interview) 
One member became much more aware of gender dynamics and has been able to 

apply that learning to her organizational work: 

I observe that how much gender really affect things — especially with women. I 
look to my organization, how the men try to dominate and control. So, I do not 
allow that. And I observe it very fast. . . because the conference opened my eyes 
about the gender stuff. I had that before, but it opened my eyes more. . .How much 
women. . . she tries to lead that men really get threatened and try to take control. I 
noticed that— in a deep way. Before I maybe not take it like that. But today, no. I 
feel it now. (Conference member, three month follow-up interview) 

One member was determined to continue the emotional work of bringing people 

in conflict together: 

It reminds me that things happen that are necessary. We still have a long way to 
go. That we are few — those who are interested in peace are few. .. I'm more 
patient, more humble, more determined too, in working on forgiveness and 
reconciliation at the same time. (Conference member, three month follow-up 

Participant Recommendations 

Participants had several recommendations for the conference. These are noted 
below, and will be discussed further in the next chapter. 

Participant Learning 


While conference participants found the conference to be a rich learning 

experience, all suggested that future conferences would benefit with a greater number of 


I didn't feel that at the end (of the conference), but looking back I do wish it could 
have been larger. It's about recruitment. Not sure what can be done differently to 
make that happen. . . It felt like it was very powerful and I felt that the experience 
was very rich as it was. Looking back, I wish it had reached more people, I think 
it may have been richer if there had been more people. Maybe at the time also, I 
was with other kinds of learning, more traditional group relations stuff. Now what 
stays with me is learning about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I think that could 
have been more interesting if there were more people to work with around that. 
(Conference member, three month follow-up interview) 

I'm not sure it would be that different, I think the difference would be in terms of 
more positions, more energy, more complexity, as more and more people added. I 
think part of what this showed me the complexity of this particular conversation, 
and in some ways we had 30-40 members, I was sort of anxious about the 
dynamics before it went for a lot of reasons. I think I feel more confident about 
being able to manage the dynamics if there were 30 or 40 people, sort of multiple 
positions in the conflict. . . It would put me in a better position to say exactly what 
it is that people would be coming to. (Conference member, three month follow-up 

A conference co-director felt that we had made a fundamental error by not explicitly 

including (non-Arab) Christians in the conference task and brochure: 

There's a way in which we were heavily replicating that by framing this 
conference around the Arab-Israeli Diaspora community. And leaving out 
Christians — I was thinking of that in terms of the replication of the space, the 
crosses everywhere, maybe it was a way of the space telling us what we weren't 
doing. Because the land of Israel/ Palestine is the land of, the roots of where the 
Christian Diaspora came from too. This conflict is heavily heavily dominated, 
influenced, directed, propagated by the western Christian world. (Conference co- 
director, three month follow-up interview) 

Convene Conferences on Regular Basis 

Most participants also suggested that these conferences should be convened on a 

regular basis, from every few months to every year. As one member remarked: 

Participant Learning 

Kind of like a longitudinal study, but longitudinal conferences where dynamic 
themes that cannot be answered in a 3,5,7,14 day period of time, but really need a 
sustained effort, could be explored. It would also be really interesting to see how 
any of us would have changed in relationship to each other over a year or two. 
What would that dynamic be like, and how would that translate on an 
interpersonal level? Is it simply that we need to be filled with more facts figures, 
stories, and statistics about our lives, and the worlds we come from and the 
cultures we come from, or is it that we need more interaction with each other? 
What is change, or lasting change? How does it really occur? Where do we gain 
that true profound, deep, understanding that lingers and stays with us? 
(Conference member, three month follow-up interview) 

Provide More Free Time 

Two participants suggested that the conference be longer, but with more free time 

during the days to reflect, and for observant Muslims and Jews, to pray. As one stated: 

For me, what works better is to have more days, and have each day be a little bit 
less jam packed. . . And for me that was a problem. That set me up there. There are 
a million things that can set people up in that kind of situation. And that's grist for 
the mill. So, it wasn't terrible. But it would certainly be smoother for me, if I 
were able to do what I needed to do better without disrupting my own 
participation in the conference. . .but my schedule is free enough that I can give it 
extra days, and (that's) not true for most people. (Conference member, three 
month follow-up interview) 

Let people relax. I don't find any relaxation in the conference. I recommend it 
very highly. When you give people a break, they bring in more energetic, and get 
more with themselves. I don't know if this is purpose of the conference to keep 
people under pressure. But even in reality, people have also relaxation. So it's 
good to have in the conference, a couple of hours or one day, or V2 day, it's just 
for relaxation. (Conference member, three month follow-up interview) 

One participant missed the intimacy present in other experiential workshops attended, 

and suggested more time and/or a change of structure to remedy that: 

It's going to take more than two days to get to know people. That was my 
impression, with this particular process. That's the effect it had on me. It made 
me feel a little sad. If I compare it to a psychodynamic institute, where at the end 
of two days, you know people in a different way. I don't know whether it's 
because it's about conflict and authority, or the way it is structured. The boundary 
between the management and the participants is very artificial. It's clear that they 
are the ones in authority. But because there are all these structures, I think it 
breaks the intimacy. . . There is something in the structure for me that impeded the 
intimacy. I'm not sure now if it was because the staff were made into participants. 

Participant Learning 

I remember the other group relations conference I was at. I felt a lot of attachment 
to the other participants. This felt much less — I felt much less attached to the 
other participants. (Conference member, three month follow-up interview) 

It should be noted that generally speaking, the primary task of group relations 

conferences is not to foster intimacy, but rather to learn about the exercise of leadership 

and authority in groups. The conference structure and behavior of consultants reflects 

this, and can provoke anxiety or even rage. In my research and personal experiences in 

over twenty years of conference attendance in member and staff roles, the capacity to 

provoke anxiety and rage is not necessarily accompanied by the capacity to explore and 

work through these intense emotions. This seems to be an area where group relations 

practice could be improved 118 . This is also related to the following suggestion of a 

conference participant. 

More Clarity about Conference Tasks 

One participant, who had no previous group relations conference experience 

thought that some of the conference tasks might be presented with more clarity: 

I wanted to have more clarity. For me I kind of lost it a little bit when we broke up 
into groups (during the IE). Because I wasn't clear what was happening. Because 
then it became, ok, we have to do a project. And for some reason, I had lost the 
thread, maybe because it was kind of an overwhelming process to begin with. . . 
then I was like, whoa whoa whoa what are we doing here now? I was just a little 
confused. I got it eventually. I guess moving into that mode. Even if it was 
something that was made clear from the beginning, I for whatever reason lost it. 
(Conference member, three month follow-up interview) 

Greater Clarity about Conference Purpose/Objectives 

One participant suggested that the purpose of the conference should be made clearer: 

I like group relations conferences. I think they are intense. Because they deal with 
unconscious, they can do a lot of good work. But I think they need to have a 

118 Yvonne Agazarian (1988) suggests interesting and effective ways to work with powerful affect in 
groups focused on deep exploration, rather than avoidance of the feelings. 

Participant Learning 

reason. I believe in this process. I believe the work, but, what is the objective of 
the conference? (Conference member, three month follow-up interview) 

This same participant also suggested expanding the focus of the conference to immigrant 

populations in the US: 

Have it be for immigrant populations — immigrants and Americans. Rather than 
have it be the Israeli -Palestinian conflict, it's got to be immigrants and the conflict 
that they evoke in American society. Cause I think it's happening right here. 
(Conference member, three month follow-up interview) 

One of the conference co-directors pondered why there was such low attendance, when 

other (non-experiential) conferences convened in the area were filled to capacity (one 

with over 200 people) 119 , and suggested the need to "politicize" the conference: 

Why the experiential part of it is somehow not attended. People prefer to come to 
conferences and just to talk and to debate and not be in the full experience of 
these things. I'm thinking about that. I'm not sure what stands behind it, but I still 
keep thinking about that. Maybe I'm just jumping to answer other questions. But 
I'm quite sure that if we, somehow we need to politicize the group relations 
experiences. I mean by that, it must be done, that we can show this kind of work 
to political parties, to political leaders, not to just keep this clear, intermediate 
way of being in conferences. We have to bring this conference into the awareness 
of others. Even into the political territories. (Conference co-director, three month 
follow-up interview) 

The second conference director proposed that the next conference be constructed as an 

organizational intervention for five to seven organizations at once, where each might 

send five or more of their leaders to the conference. 

Pre-Conference Staff Work 

One member suggested that more than other group relations conferences, this type 

of conference requires greater preparation on the part of the staff. 

119 He was referring to a conference convened at University of Massachusetts Boston for two days in 2009. 
The conference was academic and consisted of presentations over the course of the weekend, and was 
attended by over 200 participants — academics and activists. It should be noted that this conference was also 
free of charge. 

Participant Learning 

Well the first thing that strikes me is the adaptation that we made in terms of 
members and staff, in some ways realizing the kind of preparatory work that a 
staff needs to do for a conference that has this kind of content is different than for 
a traditional conference. . .the capacity to hold the space and do interpretations to 
some degree is based on the ability to be a little bit out of the dynamic. . . my 
identity issues showed up differently in this than they would normally do in a 
conference, because it was so much about Jewish identity and my ambivalence 
and my own struggles and my politics about that. . .which I don't find to be so 
front and center in other conferences, even though those identity issues come up. 
(Conference member, three month follow-up interview) 

It may be that this particular conference served the purpose of preparing staff to do a 
different type of conference work. The positive experiences of participants may also 
serve to reduce organizational resistance (in group relations organizations) to this kind of 
application of group relations methods. 

Following the conference, I interviewed two Palestinian activists and educators 
(in May and June 2010 respectively), in order to ascertain what might be some of the 
underlying issues for the low attendance at this conference. Both activists had experience 
over many years organizing, convening and participating in educational events (regarding 
the Palestinian-Israeli conflict), including inter-group (Jewish-Palestinian) dialogue 
groups, and were well connected in the Palestinian community. I initially contacted them 
a few years ago about the project, and met with one periodically over time, and with the 
other again prior to the conference. Both had been supportive of my efforts and suggested 
other contacts within the Palestinian community. I had invited both of them to the 
conference, though neither was able to attend. I asked each of them about their 
experience organizing, convening, or participating in intergroup (Jewish- Arab- 
Palestinian) events and the challenges of that. I also asked them to share with me their 
reservations about this conference, and their thoughts about what might make attendance 

Participant Learning 

at this conference more attractive to them and/or other Palestinians. One issue that came 

up for each of them was the pain of participating in inter-group efforts: 

I'll try to articulate this correctly. For one, just thinking of me personally — when 
you first talked to me, four days feels like a lot of time and a very intensive 
situation. For me it's very painful, the reality of what's happening. It's not just 
political thing that I engage with — because this is something that is more part of 
my core. Other people might be more able to. . . so for me, I was hesitant to put 
myself in a situation that is painful -it goes on for a long time. If it's an hour or 
two or whatever, then, maybe it's more realistic. But then for me to be in lock 
down for like a day or two and come out of it and still be in pain. . . 
I think the political space has changed a lot now. But when people disbelieve or 
question things that are about who you are and are very basic about your 
narrative, your identity, then it becomes really hard to do anything beyond that. 
So I think, you know. . . since then, I've done different things and changed. . .but I 
think I was fearful of that. Fearful of my narrative being denied. Me having to 
prove myself over and over again and coming out with nothing as a result. So I 
think, that's painful. I have had some interesting experiences where I've had 
opportunities to engage and they've been rewarding. So I have to say, it hasn't all 
been negative. . .but not knowing what, and it's the length of time, it was like, how 
much can I do this for? (Palestinian activist, June 2009) 

The second activist described her experience in a Jewish-Arab dialogue group several 

years ago: 

. . . there was a lot of pressure on me as representing the Palestinians. And in that 
retreat, we're going back and forth with the usual arguments of the Holocaust 
justifies everything, and the Arabs don't like the Palestinians, they're also . . .the 
usual thing, and at some point (another member of the group) lost his temper, 
banging on the table, and he said, "you're right. We are strong, you are weak. We 
win, you lose." And I said thank you, now we can talk. For me, up until that point, 
it was bullshit. Now we can talk — yeah, you are strong, we are weak, you won the 
war, we lost it. Now let's talk. How do we move from here? At that point, my 
request for withdrawal from the discussion groups was approved. I had requested 
to be released from the discussions, and I said, they're bad for me — they're just 
bad for my sense of health, for my heart, for my mind. Every time I go home from 
these discussion groups I need two days to recover. I feel violated all over again. 
I'm re-living my traumas all over again. (Palestinian activist, May 2009) 

These responses reflect one of the conference themes of the pain involved in 

peacemaking, described in the previous chapter. The current political situation in 

Israel/Palestine, a result of two decades of broken promises and commitments made 

Participant Learning 

throughout the Oslo "peace process" was also cited as a reason to avoid events 

specifically focused on "dialogue." While many dialogue groups were convened during 

the Oslo years, Palestinians are reluctant to participate in these groups without 

acknowledgement of current realities on the ground. This is also consistent with the 

literature about the problem of conducting dialogue when there are power asymmetries 

between participants (Halabi, 2004; Halabi & Sonnenschein, 2004; Maoz, 2004, 2006): 

The idea of dialogue — is dialogue effective? What's the use of dialogue, when 
you don't recognize the power imbalances and the realities? And so that's an 
element there. . .how Palestinians might perceive a dialogue is different than a 
Jewish one or whatever. I don't know if it's about numbers, but it seems as 
though -the Palestinians that I know who have engaged in dialogue, it seems that 
a lot of them feel abused by it, because they are the tokens, and maybe there are 
not that many of them around, and in the end, like, when I participated in the 
dialogue with (a Jewish organization), I learned from it. But I think they, maybe 
they heard things they didn't want to hear. In the end they could say, we were part 
of a dialogue group. We engage with Palestinians all the time. We have dinners 
together. So it gives them a certain thing that I don't want to give them. And why 
should I? So that's another piece that comes out of previous bad experiences 
when you talk about dialogue, what that really means. (Palestinian activist, June 

There may be repercussions for Palestinians within their own community who participate 

in dialogue groups: 

In their mind, what I do, they perceive it as part of normalization, and they have a 
very clear position, which I understood. I understand that position. I think that the 
only way I feel comfortable engaging in projects that have this idea of people 
from both sides, however you want to define the both sides, I'm only comfortable 
doing it is as a teacher — that justifies in my mind, the compromises I make. 
I do have a fear deep inside that once I go back home to Palestine, I'm going to 
have difficulty finding jobs, because I think I have already been branded as a 
person who does normalization projects. I don't know for sure, it's a feeling. . I 
feel like I try to pretend that I haven't been branded, and I try to pretend that if 
given the chance, I can explain that I also — that it's more nuanced — than either 
yes or no. it's more nuanced. My anti -Zionist work does not necessarily mean that 
I don't talk to Jewish Americans or Jewish Israelis. I'm not interested in the "let's 
talk and feel good." I'm interested in let's talk and learn from each other and 
have a deep rigorous academic discussions that situate the conflict in context of 
colonization. Period. That I'd be interested in. (Palestinian activist, May 2009) 

Participant Learning 

One activist was recently invited to join a dialogue group, and had the following 

experience with its convener: 

Because in that meeting what I said was tell me, what in your mind are the basic 
premises for this dialogue. What is it that we're doing, and I need to understand 
how you understand the conflict, because if we don't agree on that ... I need to 
know that. (The convener) . . . sounded a bit vague, not complete enough as I 
needed, so I took another way around and said let me tell you what I think about 
this. I would participate in a dialogue group if there was space for us to talk about 
it as this is an act of colonization. The state of Israel is the embodiment of the 
extension of European white male heterosexual rich power that came up with a 
colonizing project. And within that historical perspective we are talking about, 
where do we go from here? I am not interested in any one single life lost. And 
I'm not interested in any particular form of statehood. I don't care. I need that 
acknowledged before I can even engage in a conversation and then share my 
experience and listen to other people's experiences with an open mind. If we're 
pretending that the conflict started in 1967 then I'm not interested. (Palestinian 
activist, May 2009) 

The importance of acknowledging the narrative of the other was discussed in the 

literature review as an essential component to the process of healing and reconciliation 

(Beit-Hallahmi, 1993; Gur-Ze'ev & Pappe, 2003; Pappe, 2006; Warschawski, 2005; 

Wineman, 2003). The pain of the trauma is intensified when the perpetrator denies 

responsibility. This is further exacerbated by the inherent power asymmetry of the 

conflict, both in Israel/Palestine, and in the US. The Zionist narrative maintains 

hegemony not only within the American Jewish community, but also in American media 

and foreign policy. 

The Palestinian conference member felt the conference offered opportunities to 

understand the internal walls constructed by both Israelis and Palestinians. This 

participant suggested that the Israeli separation barrier is an external manifestation of the 

Participant Learning 

internal barrier. Palestinians also have internal walls constructed on gender, culture, and 

religion, as well as the walls of occupation 


I think the peace process fail because people who try to find solution for both 
side, I don't think that they know deeply what is going on, on internal level with 
Jewish and Palestinian people, since both are traumatized in their life. I think 
(it's) very important, I recommend this conference. . . we need conference like 
(this) to break and demolish this wall. . .1 not feel give up. No. I get more serious 
and curious. How can I deal with this wall? ... In daily life, we live with settler, 
we deal with settler every day. So this is a reality. Therefore, you need to 
experience that, but more secure. Because when you deal with settler there. You 
threatened. You really could get killed. It's a risk to be with settler there. In this 
conference give you tool how to deal with settler there. You not feel very direct. 
Also the settler have something inside that is a human. You need to contact that. I 
always look where is the positive in each person— I always search for that. All of 
us we have negative, all of us we have weaknesses. I always look, where is the 
light, where is the positive. (Conference member, three month follow-up 

Palestinians and Jews have different needs and aims for inter-group work: 

I think that for American Jews and Israelis who may not have as many 
opportunities to engage with Palestinians, or it's new for them or they want to 
engage because it's interesting and new, they are going to come out of it 
differently than I am. Because I'm still going to come out of it being powerless — I 
haven't changed anything. . .But I wasn't sure what the result was — it wasn't clear 
and defined, you are going to come out of this, and this is what the result is. And 
trepidation, that I don't know what's going to happen here, and I can't control it. 
(Palestinian activist, June 2009) 

This supports a recommendation of one of the conference members, and suggests the 

importance of clarity about the conference task, both in the mind of the directors and 

sponsors, and in the way it is framed for the public. This will be discussed further in the 

next chapter. 

Also it might be helpful. It can help with organizing. And there are issues. How 
people can do things together or don't. I think it's different, because there's an 
objective people can work on. Not like going to a conference and not knowing if 
the person sitting next to you will be a settler, and would I be arguing with them 

120 This has been referred to as internalized oppression in the literature (Batts, 1983). 

Participant Learning 

the whole time. Maybe it was I just didn't want to engage, and it was a big time 
commitment for me. . . (Palestinian activist, June 2009) 

The Palestinian co-director of the conference wondered whether intra-group, 

rather than inter-group work would be more helpful in the current situation: 

On one hand I see many reasons of being very pessimistic. On the other hand, I 
can deeply understand that the two parties need to be retreated, to retrieve itself, 
to collect itself and to meet itself, and reflect inward, rather than to immediately 
interact with the other party. There's a time of war, there's a time for ceasefire. I 
think now, it's not that wrong to say this is a time of a cease of peace. It doesn't 
mean immediately that I am calling for a war. I think it is a time for each of the 
parties to contemplate what's going on. What he needs, what he wants from the 
other, and the self. Because I do perceive that neither the Israelis nor the 
Palestinians know right now what they want. I think ideologically, they know, but 
practically, on a daily basis, and concretely, they are very troubled or puzzled, and 
they don't know the road map. (Conference co-director, three month follow-up 


Participants in Authority, Leadership and Peacemaking: The Role of the 
Diasporas, were unanimous in their experience of the conference as worthwhile. They 
found the experience rich with learning on emotional, cognitive, and political levels. 
Learning encompassed several themes: identity, Diaspora, the Palestinian Israeli conflict, 
authority and leadership, group relations, and the nature of the learning varied from 
individual to individual. Learning continued beyond the boundaries of the conference and 
evolved beyond the conference boundaries, and from the first to the second interview. 
Interviews with two Palestinian activists offered some additional data about the difficulty 
recruiting conference participants, and how such difficulties might be addressed in future 
conferences. The next chapter will discuss these findings, as well as those reported in the 
previous chapter in more detail. 


Chapter 6 

The purpose of this study was to pilot the use of group relations conference 
methods to bring together members of Jewish and Palestinian/ Arab Diaspora 
communities (and affected others) in the US to examine the Palestinian Israeli conflict 
and the role of the Diasporas in the conflict. Preliminary findings from the study suggest 
that group relations methods may offer rich opportunities for learning about the Israeli- 
Palestinian conflict and the role of the Diasporas. In the area of group relations, it also 
offers some evidence for the usefulness of adding a second task, or otherwise applying 
the traditional model in new ways. In this chapter I will address what this conference 
teaches us about the conflict and role of Diaspora communities; what it teaches us about 
group relations methods and organizations; and what it teaches us about possible use of 
this method for the examination of other social and political issues. 

The chapter is divided into six sections. The first discusses the conference in 
relation to the conflict and takes a group relations approach to analyzing the conflict. 
Second I explore participant learning at and after the conference. This is followed by a 
section with recommendations for future conference iterations on this topic. Then I 
discuss the limitations of the group relations model. This is followed by a section on the 
implications for innovation and adaptation in group relations work. I conclude the 
chapter with a discussion of group relations research and its place in the work. 
The Conference and the Conflict: A Parallel Process 

Dialogue cannot take place in the absence of participants willing to engage with 
each other. In the current political climate, there is less interest in a real engagement with 


the other. This was evidenced first by the actual numbers of participants who made a 
commitment to attend the conference, and kept that commitment. 

The difficulty we had recruiting participants, and the themes that were expressed 
in the conference, reflect a very real dynamic of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: 
"disengagement" on the political and civil society levels. Direct talks have been re- 
started 121 and the current Obama administration insists on its commitment to "the peace 
process." However, official statements from the White House, both before the attack on 
the Gaza flotilla and since, ring hollow for many. As evidence of the reality on the 
ground, we have only to observe the ongoing siege of Gaza, the increase in Israeli 
settlements in the West Bank, the acceleration of Palestinian expulsions, and the 
construction of roads for Jews only throughout the West Bank. All of these activities by 
Israel continue to build a de-facto apartheid state. 

The continued promotion of the two- state solution, without any acknowledgement 

of these facts on the ground seems to be disengaged from reality. Thus, the parties are 

behaving "as if they are engaging in a peace process, without actually really engaging 

each other or changing behaviors. The disengagement is mirrored in US foreign policy 

and in discourse of Diaspora communities, described in Chapter 2. One participant in the 

conference hypothesized that the participants in this conference were "recruited on behalf 

of society" to "play the conscience of the society": 

Participation was so low that it was shocking to me. It felt as if the organizers had 
been told by the rest of society that this was the organizers' issue and nobody 
else'. It felt as if the society had decided to put its head in the snow and deny the 
genocide that is happening, exactly like when other genocides happen. Every time 
it is shocking to me how the society at large denies genocide as it is happening, 

121 Though as of this writing they are on fragile ground as the government of Israel has refused to extend 
the slowdown of settlement activity in the occupied West Bank. 


only to wake up and scream bloody murder after it has happened. We were 
recruited by the society to play the conscience of the society. I am glad I was a 
part of it and sad to witness huge participation in rallies defending one team 
against another, just for the sake of dividing into two fighting parties or teams, 
and not participate in thinking how we as citizens or Diaspora have influence in 
perpetuating genocide or preventing it. (Conference member, immediate post- 
conference evaluation) 

There is a basic assumption mentality at work. Basic assumption fight/flight is 
evident in the lack of civil discourse on the topic of the conflict. Voices that are critical of 
Israeli policy continue to be silenced 122 . Given that the Oslo "peace process" has made 
little progress after nearly two decades, one can hypothesize that the primary task of the 
"peace process" is not to actually make peace, but to perpetuate the conflict. As we 
experienced in the conference, real peacemaking is terrifying. To make a real peace, it is 
necessary to grieve and to mourn: to face the unbearable pain and loss that the conflict 
has wrought. As long as the groups remain in conflict, the focus can remain on blaming 
the other. Attention can then be diverted from facing the enormous destruction caused to 
the land and to those who live there. It is also necessary to give up long and deeply held 
beliefs about oneself, one's people, and the other. This loss of identity is truly terrifying: 
with what do you replace the vision of your own identity? What would it mean for Jews 
and Palestinians to give up their victim status? What would it mean for each to take 
responsibility for perpetrating violence on the other? 

A group relations perspective offers a different lens with which to view the 
conflict, that takes non-rational processes into account, and attends to the whole system, 
including the role that the two parties take up on behalf of the whole system. What are the 

122 This has been described in Chapter 2 and is also vividly demonstrated in the video at this link: 
https://salsa.democracyinaction.Org/o/30 l/t/10958/shop/custom.jsp?donate page KEY=6365 


roles of the other players: the US, UN, Russia, European Union (the "Quartet"), Arab 
nations, Diaspora communities, Christian Zionists and others in perpetuating the conflict? 
How are their rational and non-rational interests being served by perpetuating the 
conflict? What are the Israelis and Palestinians holding — what do they represent — on 
behalf of the rest of the world? How are the various stakeholders using the parties in 
conflict, both consciously and unconsciously? How do Israelis and Palestinians collude 
with this? 

As described in the literature review, each of these groups may use the "fighting 
pair" of Israel and Palestine to further their own imperial or domestic interests. The role 
of the United States in perpetuating the conflict cannot be denied. As Israel's strongest 
ally (and supplier of an annual three billion dollars in military aid), the US government 
supports and finances the occupation. The American Jewish Diaspora community has 
played a substantial role in fueling the conflict through direct financial or material 
support, as well as by contributing to the emotional context in which militancy can be 
sustained. Arab nations in the region can divert attention from their own domestic 
struggles by focusing on the conflict, while doing little to ameliorate it (including 
oppression of Palestinian populations in those countries). It is critical that we understand 
the non-rational processes, including the roles of trauma, victimization and projection 
that fuel the conflict. In the current politically polarized environment, dialogue seems less 
and less possible. However, engaging with the realities of the conflict is essential for 
learning, adaptation, and change. Diaspora communities (and the American Jewish 
Diaspora in particular) must be part of this process. 


Learning During and After the Conference 

The purpose of this study was to understand the impact of the conference on 
participants and the meaning they made of their experiences. The process of making 
meaning is complex, and does not happen instantly, or in a vacuum (R. Behar, 1996; 
Phillips & Hardy, 2002). Rather, it happens in relationship to others and over time. 
While the conference was only three days long, learning continued beyond those 
boundaries of time and space. For study participants, the interview process also served as 
a forum to organize their thoughts and feelings about the conference. 

Group relations conferences are designed to be "temporary organizations," with a 
beginning and an end. That learning continues beyond conference boundaries suggests 
that more formal follow-up experiences may be useful. The Center for the Study of 
Groups and Social Systems, a Boston based group relations organization and affiliate of 
the AK Rice Institute, routinely offers half day follow-up application groups for 
conference members one to three months post-conference. Such structures offer 
interested participants an additional outlet for understanding and making meaning of their 
experiences. Running a series of conferences on the theme, (in the same way the 
Nazareth conferences have done) may serve that purpose. As some participants noted, 
learning in conferences is cumulative, and returning participants can build on their 
learning from previous conferences. 

The research is consistent with previous group relations research about the ability 
of the method to facilitate powerful personal learning. The learning that each study 
participant took was uniquely his or her own. Conference structure allows for many 
levels of experience and understanding amongst the participants, and also allows 


participants to return and build upon learning in previous conferences. Because 
conference membership and staff is different each time, no conference is exactly the 

As described in the previous two chapters, the dynamics at play during the 
planning process and throughout the conference, mirrored dynamics of the Palestinian- 
Israeli conflict (around the role of gender, disengagement, complexity of identity, the role 
of the Diasporas, etc.). Therefore, exploring those themes in the here and now of a 
conference setting has the potential to help to illuminate the larger dynamics of the 
conflict and offer opportunities for learning and transformation. In this conference, there 
was great variability of learning about the conflict and the role of Diasporas in it. Those 
with less intimate knowledge of the conflict reported a greater amount of learning in that 
area. Those who spent time in the region or were actively engaged in the conflict reported 
little or no learning about the conflict, although they reported more personal learning. 
This raises the question of whether activists knowledgeable about the Palestinian Israeli 
conflict might be able to develop new perspectives on the conflict if they were to 
participate in such a conference with other activists and/or a more experienced staff. 
Variability in learning may reflect flaws in the conference design, as well as the initial 
ambivalence and skepticism of the sponsors and conference director about the feasibility 
of integrating the double tasks of the conference. Despite the variability in learning, all 
of the participants in this study found the experience worthwhile or very worthwhile. 
Recommendations for Future Conferences on the Topic 

Whether this form of learning can ultimately have an impact on the conflict itself 
remains to be seen. Conference learning and meaning-making build over time, and are 


not immediately evident. Participants in the conference will continue to be surveyed and 

interviewed until one year post-conference, in order to assess how they integrate and 

apply the learning over time. The original intent for this project was to pilot this method 

and run a series of conferences on the theme over time (much like the way the Nazareth 

series has run over the last 14 years). It would then be possible to measure the impact of 

the conferences on individuals over time, as well as the impact on individuals of 

attending multiple conferences. 

As we stated in the conference brochure: 

The primary task of the conference is to learn - through experience - how 
groups function, how we exercise leadership in groups, and how we can 
become more effective leaders within the organizations and communities in 
which we live and work. Uniquely, we will have the opportunity to focus on those 
elements of leadership that can often be obscured from view - the hidden 

The lack of clarity about how to integrate the double task was problematic in our 

recruitment campaign. Future conferences need to be much clearer in framing the 

primary task of the conference (to explore the role of Diaspora communities in the 

Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and their potential in peacemaking). Historically, it 

has been difficult to explain or "sell" group relations conferences in a succinct 

and coherent way, while still communicating the richness and complexity of the 

experience and the learning opportunities offered. In order to increase interest, 

recruitment might be done on an organizational, rather than individual level. 

Rather than mount free-standing conferences open to the public, they might 

instead be framed as organizational interventions. That is, organizations that are 

engaged with the conflict and with Diaspora communities might be approached to 

consider sending five or more of their staff to attend the conference. In this way 


they could bring learning about their internal organizational dynamics back to 
their home organizations. The conference could also provide a space where 
organizations might explore opportunities for collaboration. This might be part of 
the inter-group event. Such an intervention might begin with Arab and Palestinian 
organizations and the Jewish left, or within each community separately (as 
suggested by one of the participants). This brings the intervention more overtly 
into the action research realm. While we attempted to recruit a variety of 
participants along the political spectrum for this conference, it is likely no 
accident, that those who showed up were more allied with the peace camp. 

Future conferences might more effectively integrate the theme into the 
actual conference structure/design. For instance, the Institutional Event (IE) might 
be re-designed so that members are assigned to their own identity groups 
(including a group for "others"). From there, the task could be to examine the 
inter-relatedness of the groups, as well as the intra-group dynamics (a standard 
part of the IE task — see appendix R) in relation to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. 
The group assignments would bring issues regarding identity and conflict into the 
here and now event. Alternatively, as originally planned, study groups might also 
serve to better integrate the two tasks, by creating both heterogeneous (across 
identity) and homogeneous (same identity) groups. This allows space for the 
similarities to be seen in the differences, and the differences in the similarities 
(Agazarian & Philibossian, 1988). 


Limitations of Group Relations Methods 

The research and my own conference experiences over the past 25 years have 
raised questions for me about the limitations of the group relations conference model. 
The dynamics of the group relations world were salient throughout the conference. While 
this is a common occurrence in conferences, the dynamics were especially salient here 
where over half of the members were actively working in group relations and only two 
had no prior experience. One of the ongoing challenges that group relations organizations 
in the US have faced over time has been the struggle around the issue of internal vs. 
external focus — that is, the tendency to be self-referential and to operate as closed rather 
than open systems engaged with the larger world. While sponsoring organizations may 
not be able (or even desire) to avoid the importation of these dynamics, it is important to 
remain cognizant of them and the ways they may skew interpretation of conference 

While learning is variable across individuals and across conferences, there are 
issues/themes that tend to show up in most conferences: themes dealing with sexuality, 
aggression, power, authority and leadership. Part of this is rooted in psychoanalytic 
theory upon which the method is based, and part may be due to the group relations 
conference culture that develops. The danger for those who continually return to group 
relations conferences is that expectations and assumptions about what is "supposed to 
happen" at a conference may be imported by participants and unconsciously or 
consciously re-enacted. This is why the dynamics of group relations conferences often 
reflect the dynamics of their sponsoring organizations. Sponsoring organizations and 
practitioners must beware of continuously re-producing themselves in conferences. While 


such a re-creation can enhance learning about the internal dynamics of the sponsoring 
organizations (assuming that is the conference task), it may also create an "as-if ' kind of 
environment that inhibits new learning. New learning can happen if consultants and 
members alike can approach the work "without memory or desire" (Bion, 1988) 
Implications for Group Relations: Innovation and Adaptation 

Group relations conferences have the capacity to actively engage up to 100 or 
more people in understanding the nature of authority, leadership, and folio wership. Many 
current community and organizational engagement strategies 123 have their roots in the 
work of the Tavistock Institute. As practiced, they neglect the role of the unconscious in 
group, organizational and social behavior. This is something that group relations 
organizations can bring to understanding and engaging citizens about larger social issues. 

This conference has dealt specifically with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the 
role of their respective Diaspora communities. I am interested in building on this pilot 
project to see the impact of repeated interventions over time. Again, it should be noted 
that in the US Diasporas, as in the region, there is tremendous power asymmetry between 
the groups. However, this does not take away from the importance for both groups to 
work through the impact of the conflict. Dialogue in the absence of political and 
structural change will not resolve the conflict. At the same time, the conflict cannot be 
fully resolved without addressing the psycho-social impact of trauma on both groups over 

The method might be further adapted to work with other conflicts and their 
respective Diaspora communities, or as a way to engage civil society to examine the 

123 such as the Search Conference (Emery & Purser, 1996), Future Search (Emery & Purser, 1996; 
Weisbord & Janoff, 2000) and Open Space Technology (Owen, 2008) 


various challenges and conflicts we face. Research has suggested that conflicts around 
the world are more likely to re-ignite when the parties have Diaspora communities in the 
United States. The role of gender in conflict may also be explored using these methods. 
With an all female staff, and either an all female or mixed membership, a conference 
might specifically explore the role and impact of gender on war-making and peace- 

Historically, members of group relations organizations in the US have been 
conflicted about the application of these methods to the understanding of and intervention 
in larger societal problems. This may be part of the problem now faced by group relations 
centers across the US, many of which are struggling to survive 124 . They have become 
closed systems that are no longer engaged with the outside environment. Despite attempts 
to remake itself over the last decade, the survival of the national organization in the US is 
precarious. Group relations organizations, with goals of understanding the rational and 
non-rational processes in organizations, often get trapped in the web of their own non- 
rational process. Wilfred Bion (1961) developed his ideas about unconscious group 
processes and basic assumption groups in response to a larger societal crisis: the paucity 
of medical care and personnel for increasing numbers of shell-shocked soldiers returning 
from war. To stay relevant, group relations organizations in the US might do well to re- 
think the way we do business, including how we define our primary task. Is it to continue 
running free standing group relations conferences for their own sake? I assert that group 
relations conferences might be better thought of as a tool, a means to an end, rather than 

124 Indeed, one of the project's partner organizations decided to close this year. 


as an end in itself. To remain relevant, group relations conferences may best be used as a 
tool to understand or intervene in particular group, organizational or social problems. 

Group relations conference innovations are not just about how we structure 
conferences, or what new elements we had. We must also attend to our expectations and 
assumptions about what is "supposed" to happen in a conference setting. Without a 
change in our assumptions and expectations about group processes, an "innovation in the 
mind," structural change alone is unlikely to create an environment for innovation. 

Implications for Group Relations Research 

This study was an in depth qualitative case study of a group relations conference 
and program evaluation of conference outcomes. The study is limited in a few ways. 
First, my multiple roles plus my shared theoretical orientation (group relations) with the 
staff group and sponsoring organizations provided the framework in which I viewed and 
understood the data. Having this point of reference provides a structure for data 
interpretation, but may also be a source of bias. Second, the study focused on a single 
conference, and its small sample size does not allow for the findings to be generalized to 
all group relations conferences. Future research may serve to fill in some of the gaps of 
this study. Despite these limitations, the study does suggest areas for further inquiry and 

If group relations organizations are serious about continuing to hold and promote 
conferences, then it is essential for them to systematize an evaluation process for all of 
their conference offerings. The availability of online tools, which may be used to collect 
and tabulate data makes this relatively simple to implement. An ongoing evaluation 
process will provide further data to evaluate the effectiveness of these conferences over 
time, and to look for the existence of particular patterns. Depending on budget, future 


evaluation research might use survey methods exclusively, or employ mixed methods 
(interviews and surveys) such as in this study. Open-ended interviews of select 
participants will enhance our understanding of the processes at work during and after the 
conference that facilitate or hinder learning; discern some of the variables that contribute 
to participant learning; and offer more insight into how members make meaning of their 
conference experience over time. They might also suggest additional structures before, 
during, or after the conference that might facilitate participants' ability to make use of 
their conference learning. While I have limited the findings reported here to a three 
month period after the conference, I will be following up with participants over the 
course of one year post-conference. Those findings will be reported elsewhere. 

Longitudinal studies will help elucidate how participants make sense of their 
experience and how the meaning they make of their experiences changes over time. How 
attendance at multiple conferences impacts participants is another important area of 
inquiry. The combination of narrative reports with survey research can offer a broader 
perspective of particular conferences and evaluate the effectiveness of group relations 
conferences in facilitating learning and change. Such research may suggest conference 
design innovations, including post conference activities, to promote participants' ability 
to make sense of their conference learning. The dynamics of the larger organizational and 
social context and how they may influence the evolution of conference dynamics over 
time may also be studied. 

In conclusion this research offers some evidence that group relations can be a 
powerful tool for learning about and intervening in political and social issues and 
conflicts. The conference structure creates a unique space for where personal, social and 


political learning can be integrated. Group relations organizations have been struggling in 
recent years and have risked losing their relevancy as they remain internally focused. The 
hope for future group relations work may rest with applications aimed at tackling real- 
world problems and conflicts. 



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Appendix A: Chronological Timeline of Select Events in the History of the Israeli- 

Palestinian Conflict 


6 ,h Century B.C.E 

Thriving Jewish Diaspora in Mesopotamia and Egypt 

Palestine is melting pot of nations, tribes, and cultures: Canaanites, 

Jebusites, Philistines, viewed as lineal ancestors of Palestinians. 

70 C.E. 

Destruction of Jewish Temple in Jerusalem 

In Europe, Jewish modernization, enlightenment "Haskalah" 
period. Moses Mendelssohn formulates idea of integrating Jewish 
identity with modern values. Development of secular Jewish elite 
in opposition to the culture of Rabbinical Judaism (Beit-Hallahmi, 




Secularization and modernization trends continue. Jews actively 
participate in radical revolutionary movements, (such as 
communism), and are also involved in secular and religious Jewish 
identity movements (e.g., Orthodoxy, Zionism, Bundism). Revival 
of Hebrew language. 

Ottoman land code deprives Palestinians of their right to live on 
the land, cultivate it and pass it on to their heirs. The upper classes 
had manipulated the legal process and registered large areas of 
land as personal property (Khalidi, 1997). 

First Zionist agricultural colony in Palestine (Petah Tikvah) 

25,000 Jewish immigrants, mainly from Russia, begin to settle in 
Palestine, known in Israeli historiography as the First Aliyah 

' Unless otherwise noted, events from 1878-1948 are quoted from Pappe (2007, pp. 282-287), sometimes 
verbatim. Information about the 1956 Sinai campaign and the settler movement, post 1967 mostly gleaned 
from Gorenberg (2006). Statistics and other information about waves of immigration to Israel retrieved 
March 8, 2008 from: 
and http://en.wikipedia.Org/wiki/Aliyah#Middle Eastern Jews 

Information about PLO retrieved March 8, 2008 from: . Other 
information gleaned from (Beit-Hallahmi, 1993; Gorenberg, 2006; Khalidi, 2006; D. Rose, 2008; Shain, 

As further demonstrated in Appendix B, there is considerable dispute around how particular events are 
named (or even whether or not they occurred). The websites noted above are aligned with the Israeli and 
Palestinian perspectives, respectively, and some of the framing of particular events cited here may reflect 


1885 Pittsburgh Platform: declares American reform Jews do not 
consider themselves a nation and do not anticipate returning to 
Palestine (Shain, 2000) 

1886 Palestinian peasants attack settlement of Petah Tikvah. One settler 
is killed and others are wounded before Ottoman troops intervene 
(Khalidi, 1997). 

1896 Der Judenstaat, advocating the establishment of a Jewish state, is 
published by Austro-Hungarian Jewish writer Theodor Herzl. 
Jewish Colonization Association (JCA), founded by German Baron 
Maurice de Hirsch in 1881 to aid Zionist settlers begins operations 
in Palestine 

1897 First World Zionist Congress convenes in Basel, Switzerland. It 
creates the World Zionist Organization (WZO), which calls for a 
home for the Jewish people in Palestine. 

1901 Jewish National Fund (JNF) set up to acquire land in Palestine for 

the WZO; non-Palestinian absentee landlords sold land. Purchases 
are opposed by rural and urban elite. The land is to be used and 
worked solely by Jews (Khalidi, 1997). 

1901-1904 Tensions between Zionists and Palestinian farmers in Tiberias 

area. Arab labor is replaced by Jewish labor, leading to public 
expression of anti-Zionism and a nascent sense of shared identity 
by Palestinians (Khalidi, 1997). 

1904-1914 40,000 Zionist immigrants arrive in Palestine, mainly from Russia 

and Poland comprising 6% of population. Referred to as the 
Second Ally ah 

1 909 Establishment of first kibbutz 

Founding of Tel Aviv, north of Arab town of Jaffa 

1914 Beginning of World War I 

1916 Sykes-Picot agreement: secret document between Britain and 
France to divide the Middle East 

1917 Balfour Declaration: British Secretary of State Lord Balfour writes 
letter of support for "a Jewish national home in Palestine." 
Ottoman forces in Jerusalem surrender to British General Allenby 

1918 WWI ends and Ottoman rule in Palestine is over. Palestine is 
occupied by the allies, under General Allenby 



1919 First Palestinian National Congress in Jerusalem rejects Balfour 
declaration, demands independence. 

Chaim Weizmann, of the Zionist Commission at the Paris Peace 
Conference, calls for a Palestine "as Jewish as England is English," 
while other commissioners say "as many Arabs as possible should 
be persuaded to emigrate." Winston Churchill wrote that "there 
are Jews, whom we are pledged to introduce into Palestine, and 
who take it for granted that the local population will be cleared out 
to suit their convenience. 

1917-1923 In Arab press, noted shift from Arab/Ottoman identity to 

Palestinian/ Arab identity 

1919-1923 35,000 Zionists immigrate to Palestine, with Jews now 12% of 

population, and holding 3% of land. Known as the Third Aliyah, 
mostly from Russia 

1917-1923 In the Arab press, there is a noted shift from Arab/Ottoman identity 

to Palestinian/Arab identity (Khalidi, 1997). 

1920 Founding of Hagana, Zionist underground military organization 
Britain assigned Palestinian Mandate by the Supreme Council of 
San Remo Peace Conference 

1921 Protests in Jaffa against large-scale Zionist immigration 

1922 League of Nations Council approves Britain's Mandate for 

British census of Palestine: 78% Muslim, 11% Jewish, 9.6 % 
Christian, total population 757,182 

1923 British Mandate for Palestine officially comes into force 

1924-1932 67,000 Zionist immigrants come to Palestine, half of whom are 

from Poland. Known as the Fourth Aliyah. Jews now comprise 
16% of population and own 4% of land 

1925 Revisionist Party is founded in Paris, calling for Jewish state in 

Palestine and Transjordan 

1928 Muslim Brotherhood established in Egypt(Becker, October 2007) 

1929 Riots in Palestine over Jewish claims to Wailing Wall in 
Jerusalem, with 133 Jews and 116 Arabs killed, mainly by British 
Chief Rabbi of Iraq denounces Zionism and Balfour declaration 



1931 The underground military organization, Etzel (also known as the 
Irgun) founded to support more militancy against the Arabs. 
Jewish community now 16.9% of total population of 1.03 million 
British director of development for Palestine publishes report on 
"landless Arabs" caused by Zionist colonization 

1932 First regularly constituted Palestinian political party, the Istiliqlal 
(Independence) Party founded 

1933-1939 Wave of immigration from Germany, known as the Fifth Aliyah 

1936 A conference of Palestinian National Committees demands "no 
taxation without representation" (Pappe, 2007). 

Beginning of Palestinian revolt (referred to as riots in Zionist 
narrative), which lasts until 1939. 

1937 Peel Commission recommends partition of Palestine, with 33% of 
country to become Jewish state. Part of Palestinian population is to 
be transferred from this state. British dissolve all Palestinian 
political organizations, deport five leaders, establish military courts 
against Palestinian rebellion 

1939 White Paper is approved by British House of Commons, which 
plans conditional independence of Palestine after 10 years and 
immigration of 15,000 Jews into Palestine each year for next 5 

World War II begins 

1940 Land Transfer Regulations come into force, protecting Palestinian 
land against Zionist acquisition 

1945 World War II ends 

1947 Britain tells newly formed UN that it will withdraw from Palestine 

UN forms Special Committee for Palestine (UNSCOP) which 
recommends partition, offering Jews 56% of the land (after 
Zionists had demanded 80%) 

UN adopts Resolution 181 on partition of Palestine calling for 1) 
creation of Jewish and Arab states with specified boundaries 2) 
special international zone in Jerusalem 3) a constitution for the 
Jewish state 4) creation of economic union for two states 5) no 
expropriation of Arab land by Jewish state 6) residents become 
citizens of the state in which they reside 7) Jaffa was to be an Arab 
enclave in the Jewish state 



Zionists begin mass expulsion of Palestinians (Beit-Hallahmi, 

1948 War breaks out between Jews and Arabs. 

US delegate to UN announces that the role of the Security Council 

is peacekeeping rather than enforcing partition 

Israel declares independence in May 

Israeli "War of Independence" is Palestinian "Nakba" or 


Nearly 800,000 Palestinians dispossessed, 531 villages destroyed, 

and 1 1 urban neighborhoods emptied (Pappe, 2007) 

Mapai forms government with National Religious Party 

December 11, 1948: UN resolution 194 establishes Conciliation 

Commission, calling for, among other things, the return of refugees 

wishing to live in peace with their neighbors or compensation. 

(Laqueur & Rubin, 2008) . 

1949 Separate armistice agreements signed with Egypt, Lebanon, 
Jordan, and Syria 

1948-1952 Mass immigration from Europe and Arab countries 

"Operation Magic Carpet" brings entire (49,000) Yemenite 
community to Israel in 1949-50. In 1951, 114,000 Iraqi Jews 

1950 "Law of Return" one of the "Basic Laws" allows Jews from 
anywhere in the world to immigrate to Israel and obtain Israeli 
citizenship immediately. 

Union of Palestinian Students founded at Cairo University by 
engineering student later known as Yasser Arafat. George Habash 
and others form another student group at American University of 
Beirut. By mid-1950s, disparate groups formed a network, though 
each organization was small and had its own agenda (Khalidi, 

1956 President Nasser of Egypt nationalizes Suez Canal 

Sinai Campaign: Israel, in collusion with Britain and France, seizes 
the Sinai Peninsula. Immense pressure from US president 
Eisenhower leads to Israeli withdrawal to 1947 Armistice lines. 

1959 American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is formed 

1964 The Arab League founds Palestinian Liberation Organization 




1967 For Israel, the "Six-Day War", for Palestinians, the "June 5 


Israel occupies the West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, the 
Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights, later annexes East 
Jerusalem. Unlike Sinai Campaign, Israel meets with little pressure 
from the US to withdraw from the territories it occupied 
(Gorenberg, 2006) 

November 22: UN Security Council Resolution 242 calling for 
"withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the 
recent conflict", and "respect for and acknowledgement of the 
sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of 
every state in the area and their right to live in peace within secure 
and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force" 
("History of failed peace talks," 2007). 

1968-1970 September: Nasser dies of a heart attack (Tolan, 2006) 

Continued border conflicts with Egypt, known in Israel as the 
"War of Attrition" 

1970 "Black September" Jordanian army defeats PLO and expels it from 

Jordan (Khalidi, 1997). 

1972 Eight Palestinian gunmen from Black September (a splinter group 
of Fatah, after civil war in Jordan) entered Olympic village at 
Munich, holding hostage, and then killing Israeli athletes (Tolan, 

1973 "Yom Kippur War" Coordinated attack on Israel by Egypt and 
Syria. Element of surprise leaves Israelis very shaken 

UN Resolution Resolution 338 called for a ceasefire in the war of 
October 1973 and urged the implementation of 242 "in all its 

1974 Arab League recognizes the PLO as the "sole legitimate 
representative of the Palestinian people. PLO is granted observer 
status in the United Nations ("Background briefings: Who 
represents the Palestinians officially before the world 
community?," 2006-2007) 

1975 Gush Emunim (Block of the Faithful) confronts Rabin government 
with demand to settle on the outskirts of Nablus in the West Bank, 
marking a turning point in settler movement. 



1975-76 War in Lebanon: Syria intervenes against PLO. Three refugee 

camps overrun by Phalangists (backed by Israel and Syria) 
massacre and expulsion followed by series of clashes, many 
involving PLO. Culminates in Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 
(Khalidi, 1997). 

1977 Labor Party loses power to right wing Likud block, escalating 
trends towards increased militancy and settlement activity 
US Jewish Diaspora begins to assert its voice in Israeli policy, 
though still hesitates to voice criticism of Israeli settlement policy 
(Shain, 2000). 

November, 1977: Anwar Sadat makes historic visit to Jerusalem 
("History of failed peace talks," 2007) 

1978 Camp David Accords include framework for comprehensive peace 
in the Middle East and proposal for Palestinian self-government. 

1979 Emigration of 70,000 Iranian Jews following revolution (though 
most settled in the US). 

1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon 

Overall, 19,000 are killed, with 30,000 wounded since 1975. 
Palestinian leaders and institutions are expelled to Tunisia, Yemen, 
Sudan, Syria, Iraq, and Libya (Khalidi, 1997). 
Massacres at Palestinian refugee camps Sabra and Shatila. 

1987 First Palestinian Intifada (Uprising) or the "children's intifada" 
begins. PLO leadership surprised by uprising, though later backed 
it. Palestine, rather than Diaspora became the center of Palestinian 
politics (Khalidi, 1997). 

Beginning of mass immigration of Jews from former Soviet Union 
(over 1 million in total). 

Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and others establish Hamas (Harakat al- 
Muqawama al-Islamiya: Islamic Resistance Movement) 

1988 Pale stinian Declaration of Independence 

1988 First Israeli Orthodox attempt to alter Israeli policy on "who is a 

Jew," signaling a rise of diasporic intervention in Israeli domestic 
and foreign policy (Shain, 2000). 

1991 October- November 1991 Madrid Peace Conference, co-sponsored 

by US and Soviet Union. Jordan, Lebanon and Syria invited with 
Israel and Egypt. Palestinians invited as part of Jordanian 



delegation, not under the PLO ("History of failed peace talks," 


Direct talks begin between Israel and Syria 

"Operation Solomon": immigration of Jews from Ethiopia 

1980s- 1990s 

1993 Oslo Accords involving Israel and the PLO recognizing each other. 
Palestinians were to gain autonomy, first in the Gaza Strip and 
Jericho, and later in larger parts of the West Bank for a 5 year 
interim period, to be followed by a final peace agreement. Issues 
related to the future of Jerusalem and the holy sites, Palestinian 
refugees, settlements, and borders would be left for final-status 
negotiations. In large pieces of the West Bank, Israel is responsible 
for security, while the newly formed Palestinian Authority (PA) is 
responsible for civil administration. Palestinian Authority would be 
set up for five year transitional period, leading to a permanent 
settlement based on resolutions 242 and 338 ("History of failed 
peace talks," 2007). 

The Israeli right sees the agreement as a mortal threat to their 
vision of a Greater Israel. Hamas and other Palestinian groups did 
not accept Oslo and launched suicide attacks on Israelis. 
Accords are welcomed by majority of American Jews. Right wing 
Jewish groups and Orthodox groups in the US are solidly opposed. 
Oslo was only partially implemented. 

First attack on World Trade Center in NYC 

1994 Peace treaty between Jordan and Israel (stemming from 1991 
Madrid conference) 

1995 Oslo II accords at lay out Israel's withdrawal from the West 
Bank's cities 

Yitzhak Rabin assassinated by radical supporter of the Whole Land 
movement, Yigal Amir, in November 

1996 Passage of Anti-Terrorism and Death Penalty Act of 1996, 
allowing for the arrest and deportation of non-US citizens without 
due process under "guilt by association" standards (Orfalea, 2006). 

1998 Wye River summit with President Bill Clinton, PM Netanyahu, 

foreign minister Ariel Sharon and PA leader Yassir Arafat. Under 
Clinton's pressure, Netanyahu signed agreement to continue 
implementing Oslo accords by turning over an additional 13% of 
West Bank land to the PA. Afterwards, Sharon urged settlers to 
"grab more hills, expand the territory." (Gorenberg, 2006, p. 371) 



1999 Pittsburgh Convention of American reform movement moves away 
from 1885 platform to encourage aliyah to Israel (Shain, 2000) 

1991-2000 Continued settlement activity, land seizures, and the building of a 

network of bypass roads encircling Palestinian population in West 
Bank and Gaza. From 1993-2000, the population of Israeli 
settlements in the West Bank and Gaza (excluding East Jerusalem) 
increased to 198,000 from 116,000. 
Israel begins building separation wall. 

2000 Summer 2000 Camp David summit: attempt to address "final 

status" issues, including borders, Jerusalem and refugees. 
Second Palestinian or "Al-Aqsa" intifada breaks out, following 
appearance of Ariel Sharon on the Temple Mount (a site holy to 

2001 Taba peace talks, differences narrowed but not overcome. Ariel 

Sharon elected in February 2001. ("History of failed peace talks," 

9/1 1/01 attacks on World Trade Center Towers in NYC and 
Pentagon in Washington DC 

October: US invasion of Afghanistan 

10/26/01 passage of USA Patriot Act, giving the US government 

the power of search, seizure and wiretapping (Orfalea, 2006) 

12/3/01 Ariel Sharon returns from meeting with George W. Bush 
in Washington, and declares war on the Palestinian Authority. 
Suicide bombings in Israel increase and Israel re-occupies the 
Palestinian territories. Arafat's compound in Ramallah under siege, 
and he surges in popularity (Tolan, 2006) 

2002 Saudi Peace Plan, presented at Arab summit in Beirut. Israel would 
withdraw to lines of June 1967, a Palestinian state would be set up 
in the West Bank and Gaza, and there would be a "just solution" to 
the refugee issue. In return, Arab countries would recognize Israel. 
("History of failed peace talks," 2007). 

Summer: Ariel Sharon intensifies policy of home demolitions of 
relatives of suspected terrorists. Increase of suicide bombings in 
Israel. Israel re-occupies West Bank (Tolan, 2006) 



2003 Roadmap for peace negotiated under auspices of the "quartet" (the 
United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia), 
proposing a phased timetable: I: statements in support of two state 
solution from both sides, Palestinians would stop terror attacks, 
draw constitution and hold elections; Israel would stop settlement 
activities and act with military restraint. II: creation of a 
Palestinian state with "provisional borders"; III: final agreement 
talks (scheduled for 2005, but never happened) 

US invades Iraq 

Geneva Accord: informal agreement by Yossi Beilin (Israel) and 
Yasser Abed Rabbo (Palestine). Main compromise was Palestine 
giving up "right of return" in exchange for most of W. Bank, 
including a major settlement. Other settlements closer to border 
would be kept and swapped with land in Israel. No official status 
("History of failed peace talks," 2007). 

2004 PLO chair Yasir Arafat dies, replaced by Mahmoud Abbas as head 

2005 Mahmoud Abbas is elected president of PA. Legislative Council 
elections, originally set for July are postponed until January 2006. 
250,000 Israelis live in 125 officially recognized West Bank 
settlements. Another 180,000 live in annexed areas of East 
Jerusalem. 16,000 Israelis live in 32 settlements in the Golan 
Heights, which was annexed in 1981. 9000 Israeli settlers resided 
in 21 settlements in the Gaza strip until the "disengagement" in the 
summer of 2005. In addition to religious and militant settlers, the 
population also includes many who moved to the occupied 
territories for a better quality of life (Gorenberg, 2006). 

171 Palestinian civil society organizations call for boycott, 
divestment, and sanctions (BDS) (Hijab, 2009). 

2006 January: Palestinian Legislative Council elections result in victory 
of Hamas over Fateh. US, European Union (EU), Russia and UN 
(the "Quartet") demand that the new Hamas government renounce 
violence, recognize Israel's right to exist, and accept terms of all 
previous agreements. Hamas refuses, but offers 10 year ceasefire 
with Israel. Quartet shuts off aid (~ $2 billion) to PA. 

Israel clamps down on Palestinian freedom of movement, 
particularly in Gaza and detains 64 Hamas officials, including 
Legislative Council members. After kidnapping of Israeli soldier, 
Israel launches military campaign in Gaza. 


US pressures Abbas to dissolve Hamas government. Promises but 
does not follow through on $86 million aid package to dismantle 
terrorism and restore law and order. 

2007 Fatah forces storm Islamic University of Gaza, Hamas retaliates. 
Power sharing deal is struck under auspices of King Abdullah of 
Saudi Arabia to establish National Unity government, where Ismail 
Haniya of Hamas remains Prime Minister, and Fatah members 
hold important posts. 

Israeli blockade of Gaza intensifies. (D. Rose, 2008) 

2008 President George W. Bush vows to resume peace process and 
reach agreement between Palestinians and Israelis by end of his 
term of office. 

Israeli elections result in slight edge of "centrist" Kadima party. 
Party head Tzippi Livni unable to form a government. Benyamin 
Netanyahu of Likud is asked to form government. 
Violence intensifies: Hamas fires rockets into Israel; Israel 
escalates military incursions into Gaza. 

December 27: Israel begins sustained air assault on Gaza. 

2009 January: Israeli ground invasion of Gaza. 
January 19: Ceasefire declared in Gaza. A/?WebbTopicNumber=30&i 

1434 Palestinians killed, including 960 civilians. Thirteen Israelis 
killed, including three civilians and soldiers who died from 
"friendly fire". 

February: Hampshire College becomes first US college to divest 
from corporations supporting Israel's military occupation. 

March: Right wing Israeli government is formed including 
extremist Avigdor Leiberman of Yisrael Beitenu (Israel Our 
Homeland) party, who ran on platform of loyalty tests and 
"transfer" of Palestinians (Murray, 2009). 

September: The Goldstone report, formally known as the "Report 
of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict," 
found that both Hamas and the Israeli military committed war 
crimes during the 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009 Gaza 
assault (Clifton, 2010). 


November: Israel announces 10 month suspension of new building 

in the West Bank, under intense US pressure. 

http ://news .bbc .co .uk/2/hi/middle_east/8670726 . stm 

2010 March: Indirect talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders 

stopped when Palestinians pulled out of talks in March after Israeli 
municipal authorities approved plans for new homes in the East 
Jerusalem settlement of Ramat Shlomo. The announcement was 
made during a visit to Israel by US Vice-President Joe Biden and 
caused great strain in Israeli-US relations. 

May: Proximity talks scheduled to re- start, with US Middle East 
envoy George Mitchell shuttling between the two sides. 
http ://news .bbc .co .uk/2/hi/middle_east/8670726 . stm 

May 31: Israel attacks flotilla of eight humanitarian aid ships en 
route to Gaza. Ten activists are killed, and several dozen are 

June: Israel announces a "relaxation" of the blockade on Gaza 

July: Conversion law, which would make Orthodox Jewish law the 
basis of conversion and place authority for conversion in the hands 
of the chief rabbinate, passes a committee in Knesset. Prime 
Minister Netanyahu postpones submission of bill until January 
after American Jewish groups protest (fearing that their more 
lenient conversion processes would be invalidated) 

September: Direct talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders 

begin, but are halted when Israel fails to extend the slowdown of 

building in Israeli settlements. 



Jewish boat with humanitarian aid sets sail for Gaza and is 

intercepted in international waters. 

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Appendix B : Israeli and Palestinian Narratives of Select Events 

Israeli Narrative 

Palestinian Narrative 

1. Zionism: "The national movement of the Jewish 
people. Developed in Eastern and Central Europe as 
a result of disappointment with the promise of 
emancipation, continuation of anti-Semitism, the 
inspiration of other national movements and the 
continual connection between the people of Israel 
and the Land of Israel" (p. 18). 

1. Zionism: "A colonialist political movement 
ascribing a national character and racial attributes to 
Judaism ... Led to Jewish immigration to Palestine, 
claiming historical and religious rights" (p. 16). 

2. The Balfour Declaration: "The first time any 
country expressed support for Zionism... expressed 
the support of the British government for 
establishing a national home for the Jewish people 
in the Land of Israel" (p. 3). 

2. The Balfour Declaration: "The unholy marriage 
between Britain and the Zionist movement.. .this led 
to usurping a homeland and making an entire people 
homeless in an unprecedented manner" (p. 7-8). 

3. The War of Independence: "On November 29, 
1947, the United Nations approved by a large 
majority the proposal for two independent states 
alongside each other (Resolution 181). The Jewish 
community celebrated that night with dancing in the 
streets. However, the next morning acts of terror 
began, carried out by the country's Arabs and 
volunteers from Arab countries, who did not accept 
the Partition Plan" (p. 20-22). 

3. The Nakba (Catastrophe) of 1948: " On 
1 1/29/1947, the UN General Assembly passed 
Resolution 181 which calls for the partition of 
Palestine into two states, Arab and Jewish. This 
was the start of the countdown to the establishment 
of the state of Israel, on May 15, 1948, and the 1948 
Catastrophe which uprooted and dispersed the 
Palestinian people, (p. 20)... the word "catastrophe" 
(nakba) actually expresses what happened to this 
nation, which was ...the assassination of rights, 
murder of the land and uprooting of human beings. 
Lhis did not occur by chance" (p. 25). 

4. Palestinian refugees: "During the very first stages 
of the war Arab residents began leaving their 
communities in the land of Israel. The first were 
those who were well off economically..." Later, 
"Hagana forces began to deport Arabs. However, 
not all Arabs were deported and there were no high 
level political orders to do so, although military 
commanders were given the freedom to act as they 
saw fit. Thus the flight was due to deporting and 
frightening the Arabs, and because of their own 
fears without regard to Israeli actions. During the 
course of the war about 370 Arab villages were 
destroyed, (p. 25) 

4. Palestinian refugees: "The destruction of 418 
Palestinian villages inside the green line [pre-1967 
border], concealing the landmarks of Palestinian life 
and the massacres against the Palestinian people are 
the best evidence for the brutality to which the 
Palestinians were exposed. They were dispersed 
throughout the world. ..The behavior of the Zionist 
gangs was intended to sow terror and fear among 
the Arabs to cause them to leave their villages, 
especially after the massacre at Deir Yassin." (p. 

5. The Six-Day War June5-10, 1967): "During the 
month that preceded the war Egypt stationed 
armored units and troops in the Sinai Desert (in 
violation of agreements) signed a mutual defense 
pact with Syria Jordan and Iraq, while Egytian 
President Jamal Abdul Nasser delivered inciting 
speeches about going to war with Israel to destroy 
the Zionist state... With no other choice and in order 
to prevent being trapped, Israel delivered a 

5. The June 1967 war: "The war that Israel started 
against the Arab countries is known as the 'June 5 
aggression' because Israel was the initiator of the 
declaration of battle and opened an offensive." 
(Kashti, 2007, April 9) 

Passages are quoted from The Peace Research Institute in the Middle East (PRIME) project. Directed by 
Adwan and Bar-On (2003) the project brought together Israeli and Palestinian teachers to develop a school 
curriculum that would show both the Israeli and Palestinian historical narratives side by side. 



preemptive blow which came as a surprise to the 
enemies. ..Israel achieved a brilliant victory which 
changed the history of the land of Israel" (p. 37) 

6. Israeli policy in the occupied territories: "Israel 
instituted an occupation regime in Judea, Samaria 
and Gaza, at first with a military administration, and 
later with a civil administration. At first, the 
Palestinian population welcomed the occupation as 
a blessing; for the first time universities were 
established, there was plenty of work, the economy 
grew, quality of life improved, and there were 
emotional encounters with Israeli Arabs. At the 
same time, the members of the Greater Land of 
Israel movement proceeded with settlement activity 
in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, with the ultimate goal 
of remaining there forever" (p. 42). 

6. Israeli policy in the occupied territories: "For the 
first 5 years of occupation, the Israeli government 
did not have a clear policy regarding the occupied 
territories. Later on the occupation authorities 
started confiscating land and building settlements. 
Israel, whose only interest was security for the 
Israeli army and the settlers, imposed direct martial 
law in the occupied territories without taking into 
consideration the needs of the Palestinians" (p. 38- 

8. The PLO: "In keeping with the PLO Charter, 
during the 1970's-80's PLO organizations waged a 
bitter war of terror and violence. Planes were 
hijacked, passengers murdered; Israeli citizens were 
murdered throughout the world, and Jewish 
institutions and their workers were attacked. The 
terrorists also murdered Israelis within the country's 
borders" (p. 43) 

8. The PLO: "The period after the catastrophe was 
characterized by a political vacuum; there was no 
Palestinian leadership to take charge of affairs, 
organize the struggle, achieve demands for return, 
self-determination and defense of people's rights. 
This led to the blossoming of nationalism, which led 
to the rise of the PLO as the sole and legitimate 
representative of the Palestinian people in 1 964" 

9. The first intifada: "On December 8, 1987, an 
Israeli truck hit a Palestinian car in the Gaza Strip, 
killing four of its passengers. The Palestinians 
claimed it was a deliberate attack and described it as 
cold-blooded murder" (p. 46) 

9. The first intifada: "Just one day before the 
intifada erupted on December 8, 1987, an Israeli 
truck driver in Gaza deliberately crashed into an 
Arab car. Those killed were the first Palestinian 
martyrs of the Intifada. After the news spread, huge 
demonstrations erupted all over the West Bank and 
Gaza Strip" (p.41) 


Appendix C: Partial Listing of American Jewish Peace Organizations 


Name and Organizational Information 



American Jews for a Just Peace 

American Jews for a Just Peace (AJJP) 
was founded in Boston in September, 
2008. It is an alliance of activists in the 
United States working to ensure equal 
rights, safety, and dignity for all the 
people of historic Palestine. AJJP 
operates as an alliance of autonomous 
chapters and individual members across 
the United States. AJJP is a grassroots, 
membership -driven network with the goal 
of coordinating our collective work under 
a shared name and agreed statement of 
Common Ground principles. 

AJJP is committed to a peaceful and just resolution of the 
Israeli/Palestinian conflict, a resolution that will provide justice, safety, 
security and freedom for Jews, Palestinians, and all others living in the 
region. We are not committed to a specific solution, but are strongly 
committed to the principles of international law and human rights, and to 
the conviction that every state must be a state of and for all its citizens. 

We believe that the illegal occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East 
Jerusalem must end immediately, and that a just peace requires the 
international community to honor the national aspirations and human 
rights of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian Territories, 
within Israel, and in the Diaspora, as defined by international law and 
recognized principles of human rights. 

We recognize the powerful role of U.S. policy in the region and believe 
that America's unconditional support of Israeli government policy is 
profoundly harmful to the cause of peace with justice. We will work to 
combat the myth of American Jewish consensus in support of Israeli 
government policy. We will work to promote a U.S. policy that is 
consistent with international law and human rights. 

We therefore advocate for: 

1 . The rights of Israelis and Palestinians to collective sovereignty 
within a political entity or entities of their own choosing, 
including full equality, civil rights and economic justice for all; 

2. An immediate end to the Israeli government's military 
occupation of and land expropriation in the West Bank, Gaza 
and East Jerusalem, and an immediate end to preferential 
treatment of Jews over Palestinians; 

3. Removal of the wall Israel is erecting inside the West Bank and 
East Jerusalem in violation of international law; # Removal of 
settlements, and of the occupation infrastructure in the West 
Bank and East Jerusalem which violate the Geneva 

4. An immediate end to collective punishment (banned under 
international law) and human rights violations, including 
assassinations, military strikes on civilian areas, demolition of 
homes, arbitrary arrests, torture, the closure and encirclement of 

Members of American Jews for a Just Peace 
(AJJP) are involved in many projects that are 
focused on achieving a just peace in 
Israel/Palestine. In most of these, we work 
closely with other activists, both in the U.S. 
and abroad. 


Trees of Reconciliation 

Health and Human Rights Project 

Anti-Apartheid Working Group 

Gaza Working Group 

ICAHD (Israeli Committee Against 

Home Demolitions) Partnership 



villages and communities; and an end to travel restrictions, the 
uprooting of trees, and denial of access to education and medical 
care in the region; 

5. Call for Israel to acknowledge its responsibility for the 
displacement and dispossession of the Palestinian people and 
their descendants since 1948, including those internally 
displaced in Israel/Palestine, and to recognize the right of those 
refugees to return to their homelands or be compensated for 
their losses; 

6. An end to the siege and blockade of Gaza; 

7. A just and equitable solution to the question of Jerusalem, which 
includes universal and unhampered access to all holy sites and 
protects the political and economic rights of Israelis and 

8. A just and equitable resolution to the plight of Palestinian 
refugees that recognizes the right of return as guaranteed by 
international law and United Nations resolutions; 

9. Freedom from violence for all people of the Middle East; we 
condemn all acts of aggression, intimidation and violence 
against civilians, whether perpetrated by governments, private 
groups or individuals; 

10. Just and equitable distribution of critical natural resources, 
especially water; 

11. Cessation of U.S. aid to Israel until Israel ends its occupation 
and land expropriation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East 
Jerusalem and achieves a just peace. 

Americans for Peace Now 

Americans for Peace Now [APN] was 
founded in 1981 to support the activities 
of Shalom Achshav (Peace Now in 
Israel). APN is the leading United States 
advocate for peace in the Middle East. 
APN's mission is to help Israel and the 
Shalom Achshav movement to achieve a 
comprehensive political settlement of the 
Arab-Israeli conflict consistent with 
Israel's long-term security needs and its 
Jewish and democratic values. 

Has some regional offices around the 

APN strives to meet the following goals in order to fulfill its mission: 

1 . An American Jewish community and general American public 
educated about the strategic and economic benefits of security through 
peace in the Middle East. 

2. Active White House and State Department engagement in the peace 
process, especially Administration efforts to broker a new interim 
understanding between Israelis and Palestinians, facilitate final status 
arrangements that reconcile Israeli security with Palestinian statehood, 
and encourage negotiations between Israel, Syria, and Lebanon. 

3. Congressional support for the peace process through continued aid to 
Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinians. 

4. Broad awareness in the United States of the benefits of Shalom 

APN has a wide arrav of educational 
programs that reach out to communities 
around the country, and is a powerful force for 
mobilizing grassroots support among U.S. 
citizens. By demonstrating this support, and 
by working directly with decision makers and 
government officials, APN promotes U.S. 
policies that further the peace process. Finally, 
APN provides critical financial support to the 
work of Shalom Achshav in Israel. 




Achshav programs in Israel. 

5. A firm financial base for Shalom Achshav and APN activities. 

Birthright Unplugged 

Founded in 2003 by an Iraqi American 
woman of Jewish and Muslim descent, 
and an American Jewish woman. 
While this organization does not consider 
itself part of the Jewish peace movement, 
but rather of the Palestinian solidarity 
movement, its trips are geared towards 
(though not limited to) Jews. 

Not a membership organization 

We reject the notion of a "birthright," as embodied in Jewish-only fully- 
funded trips to Israel. Israel has ignored the internationally recognized 
right of return for refugees, but has created a "Law of Return" which 
extends citizenship benefits to any person of Jewish heritage, excluding 
millions of Palestinians born in the land that has become Israel. 

Our programs attempt to address this injustice by facilitating access 
typically denied to the communities with whom we work. Jewish people 
often face obstacles of fear and lack of knowledge which can deter them 
from pursuing this kind of experience on their own. Palestinian people 
face movement restrictions and other human rights violations which limit 
their ability to visit places we travel to during our trip. 

Birthright Unplugged offers opportunities for 
people to gain knowledge through first-hand 
experiences and to use that knowledge to 
make positive change in the world. 

Brit Tzedek v'Shalom 

Membership: Jewish Only 
39 chapters around the country 
Merged with J Street January 1, 2010 

The mission of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, the Jewish Alliance for Justice 
and Peace is to educate and mobilize American Jews in support of a 
negotiated two -state resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

The organization engages in educational, 
advocacy and lobbying activities 

Israel Policy Forum 

Founded in 1993 in the wake of the Oslo 
Accords, Israel Policy Forum (IPF) has 
grown to become the most important 
independent, mainstream organization 
dedicated to mobilizing American Jews in 
support of sustained U.S. diplomatic 
efforts in the Middle East. IPF is 
increasingly recognized as a central 
clearinghouse for policymakers seeking 
to more effectively engage the United 
States in the resolution of the Israeli- 
Palestinian conflict. 

Not a membership organization 

Israel Policy Forum (IPF) advocates for active and sustained American 
diplomatic efforts, which are essential to achieving a comprehensive 
settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict. 

Israel Policy Forum believes that through a two-state solution to the 
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israel and its Arab neighbors, as well as the 
region as a whole, will become more secure, prosperous and stable. IPF 
also sees such a resolution as critical to garnering the international 
support necessary to effectively wage war on terror and to increase global 
security. To achieve this goal - and strengthen its interests in the region - 
the United States must remain a consistent and fully engaged partner in 
the Middle East peace process. IPF is doing everything possible to 
encourage and support America in this effort. 

Education and advocacy of policy positions 
Meetings and correspondence with U.S. and 

foreign heads of state, policymakers and 

opinion leaders; 

o Community fact-finding missions to 
the Middle East; 

o Educational briefings throughout the 
country with scholars and 
policymakers from the Middle East 
and United States 

o Conference call briefings led by 
IPF's national scholars featuring 
scholars, journalists, and 
policymakers from the region; 

o IPF's weekly publications, IPF 
Friday and IPF Focus, which are 
widely distributed throughout the 
U.S. and Mideast,and are read by 
some of the key leaders on Capitol 



Op-ed columns and commentary in 
the national and Jewish press; 
o Mobilizing the Jewish community in 
support of active U.S. peacemaking 
efforts in the region. 

ITISAPARTHEID.ORG is a grass roots 
effort made up of activists, students, 
academics, young people, older people, 
Jews, Christians, Muslims, Palestinians 
and Israelis. We have no budget to 
speak of — we put money in the pot when 
we need it. We invite you to join the 
campaign, start a group in your town, or 
put up a sign or banner. 

The purpose of the ITISAPARTHEID.ORG web site is to use the tools 
of the internet and our own ingenuity to spread the word about 
apartheid in the Israeli Occupied Territories. This is sometimes referred 
to as Viral Marketing or a Guerrilla Marketing campaign bv web savvv 

Our facts are meticulously researched and can be a tool for helping to 
change how people think about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Since the 
media by and large ignore or are afraid to print the truth, it is our job to 
get the word out in other ways. 

Instead of a big advertising budget we rely on 
our own inventiveness, creativity, social 
networking and public displays of the phrase 
ITISAPARTHEID.ORG to spread the word 
about the web site and apartheid in the Israeli 
occupied territories. 

When people see the phrase 
ITISAPARTHEID.ORG multiple times, it 
will start to challenge the way people think 
about the conflict and some will come to the 
web site for more information. 

We want you to put the 
everywhere: put a bumper sticker on your 
car, or hang it on a banner. Use the tools of 
the internet to spread the word: blog about the 
site, or link the site to your Facebook page. 

Jewish Voices for Peace 

JVP formed in September, 1996 by Julia 
Caplan, Julie Iny, and Rachel Eisner in 
response to the provocative opening by 
the Netanyahu government of an 
archaeological tunnel under Jerusalem's 
Temple Mount that led to confrontations 
in which 65 Palestinians and 14 Israelis 
were killed. 

Membership: Jewish only, with wide 
spectrum of ideological diversity 
Has chapters around the country 

Jewish Voice for Peace is a diverse and democratic community of 
activists inspired by Jewish tradition to work together for peace, social 
justice, and human rights. We support the aspirations of Israelis and 
Palestinians for security and self-determination. We seek: 

• A U.S. foreign policy based on promoting peace, democracy, 
human rights, and respect 

for international law 

• An end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza 
Strip, and East Jerusalem 

• A resolution of the Palestinian refugee problem consistent with 
international law and equity 

• An end to all violence against civilians 

• Peace among the peoples of the Middle East 

JVP supports peace activists in Palestine and 
Israel, and works in broad coalition with other 
Jewish, Arab -American, faith-based, peace 
and social justice organizations. 

J Street 

J Street was founded to promote 
meaningful American leadership to end 

J Street represents Americans, primarily but not exclusively Jewish, who 
support Israel and its desire for security as the Jewish homeland, as well 
as the right of the Palestinians to a sovereign state of their own - two 
states living side-by-side in peace and security. We believe ending the 
Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in the best interests of Israel, the United 

J Street will advocate forcefully in the policy 
process, in Congress, in the media, and in the 
Jewish community to make sure public 
officials and community leaders clearly see 
the depth and breadth of support for our views 



the Arab -Israeli and Palestinian-Israel 
conflicts peacefully and diplomatically. 
We support a new direction for American 
policy in the Middle East and a broad 
public and policy debate about the U.S. 
role in the region. 

J Street is itself a 501(c)(4) organization 
and is part of the J Street family of 
organizations, which includes an 
independent, legally unconnected 
Political Action Committee, JStreetPAC. 

States, the Palestinians, and the region as a whole. 

J Street supports diplomatic solutions over military ones, including in 
Iran; multilateral over unilateral approaches to conflict resolution; and 
dialogue over confrontation with a wide range of countries and actors 
when conflicts do arise. 

on Middle East policy among voters and 
supporters in their states and districts. We 
seek to complement the work of existing 
organizations and individuals that share our 
agenda. In our lobbying and advocacy efforts, 
we will enlist individual supporters of other 
efforts as partners. 

Tikkun/ Network for Spiritual 


Although our organization will speak at 
times in the name of the best in the 
Jewish tradition, we will also honor all 
major spiritual traditions represented in 
our membership. We are a multi-ethnic, 
multi-religious, multi-spiritual 
community— and we believe that there are 
many paths to spiritual truth, and we want 
to honor all of those which are open to an 
Emancipatory Spirituality as presented in 
TIKKUN. So we draw upon the richness 
of Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, 
Hinduism, spiritual truths from 
indigenous peoples and from the often 
ignored spiritual wisdom of women. 
Has chapters around the country 

We are a community of people from many faiths and traditions, called 
together by TIKKUN magazine and its vision of healing and 
transforming our world. We include in this call both the outer 
transformation needed to achieve social justice, ecological sanity, and 
world peace, and the inner healing needed to foster loving relationships, a 
generous attitude toward the world and toward others unimpeded by the 
distortions of our egos. Our movement will encourage a habit of 
generosity and trust, and the ability to respond to the grandeur of creation 
with awe, wonder and radical amazement. 
Based on the following principles: 






We especially encourage the creation and 
strengthening of truly transnational grassroots 
movements focused not only on resisting 
corporate globalism but on creating a new 
democratic "globalization" — a planetary 
movement that is not controlled either by 
national governments or by corporations. We 
especially support efforts to require that 
corporations serve the public good such as the 
proposed Social Responsibility Amendment to 
the U.S. Constitution. 


Appendix D: Partial Listing of Arab American Organizations 


Name and Organizational information 



Arab American Institute 
http ://w 

Established in 1985 and based in Washington, DC, 
the Arab American Institute (AAI) is a non-profit 
nonpartisan national leadership organization. AAI 
was created to nurture and encourage the direct 
participation of Arab Americans in political and 
civic life in the United States. 

The Arab American Institute (AAI) represents the 
policy and community interests of Arab Americans 
throughout the United States and strives to promote 
Arab American participation in the U.S. electoral 
system. AAI focuses on two areas: campaigns and 
elections and policy formation and research. The 
Institute strives to serve as a central resource to 
government officials, the media, political leaders 
and community groups and a variety of public 
policy issues that concern Arab Americans and U.S. 
-Arab relations. 

As the only national organization that promotes 
Arab American participation in the U.S. electoral 
system, AAI has developed a host of services, from 
voter education to liaison with the national parties, 
to support the community's activities. We are also 
the leading policy and research organization on 
domestic and policy concerns of Arab Americans. 
Through ongoing meetings with members of the 
Administration and Congress, a variety of 
publications and issue briefs, media and direct 
member mobilization, AAI maintains a strong 
presence among policy makers who impact our 

Arab American Action Network 
http ://w 

(AAAN) is a nonprofit, grassroots, community- 
based organization working to improve the social, 
economic and political conditions of Arab 
immigrants and Arab Americans in the Chicago 
metropolitan area 

The Arab American Action Network (AAAN) 
strives to strengthen the Arab community in the 
Chicago area by building its capacity to be an 
active agent for positive social change. 

Our vision is for a strong Arab American 
community whose members have the power to 
make decisions about actions and policies that 
affect their lives and have access to a range of 
social, political, cultural and economic 
opportunities in a context of equity and social 

As a grassroots nonprofit, our strategies 
include community organizing, advocacy, 
education, providing social services, leadership 
development, cultural outreach and forging 
productive relationships with other communities. 
Program areas are: 

Family empowerment and youth programs offering 
a range of social, literacy and citizenship programs 
Youth programs 

Cultural outreach to raise awareness on issues 
pertaining to the Arab world and Arab Americans 
Community organizing and advocacy 

Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee 

ADC is a grassroots civil rights organization which 
welcomes people of all backgrounds, faiths and 
ethnicities as members. 

The ADC was founded in Washington, DC by 
U.S. Senator Jim Abourezk in 1980 

The American-Arab Anti-discrimination committee 
(ADC) is a civil rights organization committed to 
defending the rights of people of Arab descent and 
promoting their rich cultural heritage. 

Promotes cultural events and participates in 
community activities, in order to correct anti-Arab 
stereotypes and humanize the image of the Arab 
people, coordinating closely with other civil rights 
and human rights organizations on issues of 
common concern. 

Through its Department of Legal Services, ADC 
offers counseling in cases of discrimination and 
defamation and selected impact litigation in the 
areas of immigration. 



To educate the public and maintain regular 
communication with its members, the Media & 
Publications Department issues a bi-monthly 
newsletter, ADC Times, Issue Papers and Special 
Reports, which study key issues of defamation and 
discrimination; community studies, legal, media 
and educational guides; and action alerts, which 
call on members to act on issues necessitating 
grassroots response. 

In the Department of Educational Programs of 
ADC, the Research Institute (ADCRI) publishes 
information on issues of concern to Arab 
Americans and sponsors ADC's Reaching the 
Teachers campaign, which aims at ensuring an 
accurate, objective and fair portrayal of Arab 
history and culture in schools. ADCRI also 
administers a year-round college internship 
program for Arab American students and others. 

National Council on US -Arab Relations 

Founded in 1983, the National Council on U.S.- 
Arab Relations is an American non-profit, non- 
governmental, educational organization dedicated 
to improving American knowledge and 
understanding of the Arab world. 

The National Council's vision is a relationship 
between the United States and its Arab partners, 
friends, and allies that rests on as solid and 
enduring a foundation as possible. Such a 
foundation, viewed from both ends of the spectrum, 
is one that would be characterized by strengthened 
and expanded strategic, economic, political, 
commercial, and defense cooperation ties; increased 
joint ventures; a mutuality of benefit; reciprocal 
respect for each other's heritage and values; and 
overall acceptance of each other's legitimate needs, 
concerns, interests, and objectives. 
The National Council's mission is educational. It 
seeks to enhance American awareness, knowledge, 
and understanding of the Arab countries, the 
Mideast, and the Islamic world. 

Has programs for leadership development, people- 
to-people exchanges, lectures, publications, an 
annual Arab-U.S. policymakers conference, and the 
participation of American students and faculty in 
Arab world study experiences. As a public service, 
the Council also serves as an information 
clearinghouse and participant in national, state, and 
local grassroots outreach to media, think tanks, and 
select community, civic, educational, religious, 
business, and professional associations. In these 
ways the Council helps strengthen and expand the 
overall Arab-U.S. relationship. 

Middle East Studies Association (MESA) 
http :// 

The Middle East Studies Association (MESA) is a 
non-political association that fosters the study of 
the Middle East, promotes high standards of 
scholarship and teaching, and encourages public 
understanding of the region and its peoples through 
programs, publications and services that enhance 
education, further intellectual exchange, recognize 
professional distinction, and defend academic 

The Middle East Studies Association (MESA) is a 
private, non-profit, non-political learned society 
that brings together scholars, educators and those 
interested in the study of the region from all over 
the world. As part of its goal to advance learning, 
facilitate communication and promote cooperation, 
MESA sponsors an annual meeting that is a leading 
international forum for scholarship, intellectual 



exchange and pedagogical innovation. It is 
responsible for the International Journal of Middle 
East Studies, the premiere journal on the region, the 
MESA Bulletin and a quarterly newsletter. An 
awards program recognizes scholarly achievement, 
service to the profession and exemplary student 
mentoring. MESA is governed by a nine-member 
Board of Directors elected by the membership. 




Appendix E: Partial Listing of Palestinian Ri| 

*hts Groups/Organizations 

Name and Organizational information 



American Task Force on Palestine 
http ://w 

The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) is a a 
501(c)(3) non-profit, non-partisan organization based in 
Washington, DC. 

ATFP's President and Founder is Dr. Ziad J. Asali, a 
retired physician with a long history of activism in 
Palestinian and Arab-American organizations. 
ATFP is strictly opposed to all acts of violence against 
civilians no matter the cause and no matter who the 
victims or perpetrators may be. The Task Force 
advocates the development of a Palestinian state that is 
democratic, pluralistic, non-militarized and neutral in 
armed conflicts. 

ATFP is dedicated to advocating that it is in the 
American national interest to promote an end to 
the conflict in the Middle East through a 
negotiated agreement that provides for two states 
- Israel and Palestine - living side by side in 
peace and security. The Task Force was 
established in 2003 to provide an independent 
voice for Palestinian-Americans and their 
supporters and to promote peace. AFTP's Board 
of Directors is made up of a large group of noted 
Palestinian-Americans who agree with these 

ATFP works primarily in Washington, DC, and 
seeks to build strong working relationships with 
government departments and agencies, think 
tanks and NGOs and the media. It has developed 
lines of communication with the US, Palestinian, 
Israeli and Jordanian governments in order to 
pursue its policy advocacy goals. ATFP has also 
engaged in humanitarian fundraising to support 
health and education causes in the occupied 
Palestinian territories. 

Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights 

As people of conscience, working in solidarity 
with the Palestinian people, we, the Boston 
Coalition for Palestinian Rights (BCPR), are 
united by the belief that peace will only be 
possible when there is justice for the Palestinian 
people. A true peace will begin only when there 
is acknowledgement of the losses suffered by the 
Palestinian people and a recognition of their 
individual and collective rights. A just solution to 
the Palestinian-Israeli conflict necessitates an end 
to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East 
Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, including the 
evacuation of all Israeli settlements; self- 
determination for the Palestinian people; and the 
application of international laws and UN 
resolutions, including the Right of Return. 

We sponsor rallies, teach-ins and media 
campaigns throughout the Boston area to educate 
people about the history of the Palestinian-Israeli 
conflict and the current Intifada. 
The Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights has 
been a home for groups that take on special 
projects, such as the Boston to Palestine and the 
BootCAT groups, and collaborates closely with 
the American Arab Anti-Discrimination 
Committee (ADC), Palestinian Right of Return 
Coalition, Trans-Arab Research Institute (TARI), 
Grassroots International, Friends of Sabeel, 
Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South 
Asia, Boston Committee on the Middle East 
(BCOME), Jewish Women for Justice in 
Israel/Palestine, as well as various other 
individuals and organizations 

The Electronic Intifada 

EI was launched on 23 February 200 1 by four writers 
and activists: Ali Abunimah, Arjan El Fassed, Laurie 
King-Irani, and Nigel Parry. Two of our founders, Ali 
Abunimah and Arjan El Fassed, are Palestinians, Laurie 
King-Irani is American and Nigel Parry is Scottish. All 
four founders have lived in the Middle East for varying 

The Electronic Intifada (EI) is a not-for-profit, 
independent publication committed to 
comprehensive public education on the question 
of Palestine, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and 
the economic, political, legal, and human 
dimensions of Israel's 40-year occupation of 
Palestinian territories. EI provides a needed 
supplement to mainstream commercial media 
representations of the Israeli -Palestinian conflict. 

Launched 23 February 200 1 at as a pioneering online 
resource for media analysis, criticism, and 
activism, EI has progressively expanded its scope 
into new arenas: reference materials, live 
reporting, editorials, arts coverage, and satire, 
with the aim of presenting an accessible, credible, 
and responsible Palestinian narrative of 
developments on the ground to the American 



periods of time — Palestine, Jordan, and Lebanon. 

public and international community. 

The Free Gaza Movement 
http :// 

We are Italian, Irish, Canadian, Greek, Tunisian, 
German, Australian, American, English, Scottish, 
Danish, Israeli, and Palestinian. We are of all ages and 
backgrounds. We have years of experience volunteering 
in Gaza and the West Bank at the invitation of 
Palestinians. But now, because of the increasing 
stranglehold of Israel's illegal occupation of Palestine, 
many of us find it almost impossible to enter Gaza, and 
an increasing number have been refused entry to Israel 
and the West Bank as well. 

We want to break the siege of Gaza. We want to 
raise international awareness about the prison- 
like closure of the Gaza Strip and pressure the 
international community to review its sanctions 
policy and end its support for continued Israeli 
occupation. We want to uphold Palestine's right 
to welcome internationals as visitors, human 
rights observers, humanitarian aid workers, 
journalists, or otherwise. 

We have not and will not ask for Israel's 
permission. It is our intent to overcome this 
brutal siege through civil resistance and non- 
violent direct action, and establish a permanent 
sea lane between Gaza and the rest of the world. 

Since August 2008, the Free Gaza Movement has 
sailed from Cyprus to the Gaza Strip on several 
successful voyages, bringing in international 
witnesses to see firsthand the devastating effects 
of Israeli violence against the Palestinian people. 
Ours are the first international boats to journey to 
Gaza since 1967. 

Points of Unity 

All participants in the Free Gaza Movement 

accept the following principles and practices: 

1 . We respect the human rights of everyone, 
regardless of race, tribe, religion, ethnicity, 
nationality, citizenship or language. 

2. The lawful inhabitants of all territories 
occupied by Israel since June 5, 1967 must have 
unimpeded access to international waters and air 
space, in conformity with all UN resolutions and 
international law. 

3. The lawful inhabitants of all territories 
occupied by Israel since June 5, 1967 have the 
right to control all entry and exit to and from 
those territories without Israeli interference. 

4. Israel must withdraw its military presence from 
all territories occupied since June 5, 1967 and 
revoke all legislation, regulations, directives and 
practices that apply differently to different 
populations living in those territories. 

5. Israel must demolish all barriers built to restrict 
passage in all territories occupied by Israel since 
June 5, 1967. 

6. We recognize the right of all Palestinian 
refugees and exiles and their heirs to return to 
their homes in Israel and the occupied Palestinian 
territories; to recover their properties, and to 
receive compensation for damage, dispossession 



and unlawful use of such property. This is an 
individual and not a collective right, and cannot 
be negotiated except by the individual. 

7. We stand in solidarity with the Palestinian 
people, but support no particular political party or 
organization, without exception. 

8. We agree to adhere to the principles of 
nonviolence and nonviolent resistance in word 
and deed at all times. 

Institute for Middle East Understanding 

The IMEU was founded in 2005 by a group of 
concerned Americans who want to foster an increased 
understanding among Americans about Palestine and the 
Palestinians. The IMEU is an independent organization 
and is not affiliated with any government or political 
party. It is funded through individual donations and 

The Institute for Middle East Understanding 
(IMEU) is an independent non-profit 
organization that provides journalists with quick 
access to information about Palestine and the 
Palestinians, as well as expert sources, both in 
the United States and in the Middle East. Both 
through its website and its staff, the IMEU works 
with journalists to increase the public's 
understanding about the socio-economic, 
political and cultural aspects of Palestine, 
Palestinians and Palestinian Americans. 

The IMEU assists journalists who are working on 
stories about Palestine or the Palestinians by: 

• Providing access to the latest news stories, 
expert analysis, photographs and other 

• Maintaining an updated panel of 
credible experts and analysts who can 
comment publicly on the news, life and 
culture of Palestinians and Palestinian 

• Putting journalists in contact with 
Palestinian women and men from all walks 
of life - including artists, poets, 
businesspeople, medical professionals, 
policymakers and more - who are willing to 
be interviewed. 

• Compiling an extensive library of images, 
maps, studies, reports and polls relating to 
Palestine and the Palestinians 

• Providing a comprehensive set of answers 
to the most commonly asked questions 
about Palestine and the Palestinians 

• Supplying links to websites and other 
online materials that offer journalists a 
wide range of information on the 
Palestinian experience. The IMEU provides 
these links as a service to journalists but it 
does not necessarily endorse the views or 
opinions of the various sources. 

US Campaign to End the Occupation 

The US Campaign to End the Israeli 
Occupation is based on human rights 

The US Campaign focuses on US government, 
corporations, and other institutions that sustain 



The US Campaign to End the Israeli 
Occupation is a diverse coalition 
working for freedom from occupation 
and equal rights for all by challenging 
U.S. policy towards the Israeli- 
Palestinian conflict. 

and international law, providing a 
non-sectarian framework for everyone 
who supports its Call to Action. 
Its strategy is to inform, educate, and 
mobilize the public so as to change 
the U.S. role in the Israeli-Palestinian 
conflict to support peace, justice, 
human rights, and international law. 

Israel's domination of the Palestinian people and 
denial of their human rights. These human rights 
include an end to the occupation of Palestinian 
land in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, 
full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and 
the right of return for Palestinian refugees. 

US Palestinian Community Network 

The US Palestinian Community Network is a 
Palestinian community-based network that grew from 
the Palestinian Popular Conference that took place in 
Chicago on August 8-10, 2008, drawing 1000 members 
of the Palestinian community in the US together to 
empower our community, unify our voice, and affirm 
the right of Palestinians in the Shatat (exile) to 
participate fully in shaping our joint destiny. 

To contact the USPCN, please email us at 

The USPCN is anchored in the following 

• Self-determination and equality for the 
Palestinian people 

• The right of all Palestinian refugees to 
return to their original homes, lands, 
properties and villages (a natural right 
supported by international law and UN 
Resolution 194) 

• Ending Zionist occupation and 
colonization of Palestine 

The USPCN is an arena where individuals and 
organizations come together to coordinate and 
refine strategies, link efforts, plan united actions, 
and inform one another and the community about 
their work on behalf of Palestine. 

Alternative Media: 

http ://w 

http :// 

http ://e 

http :// 

http :// 

http :// 



Appendix F: Dialogic Models 

Intercultural Educational/Informational Models 



Goals of Encounter 


assumptions or 




Grassroots models, e.g., 

Only participants who 

Inter-cultural awareness; 


Dialogue; writing consensus 

Difficulties exploring or 

MERC (Hubbard, 1997, 

are amenable to 

getting to know the "other"; 



working with emotions; 

1999), Living room 

dialogue are invited 

socializing; limited activism in 

backgrounds not 

conflict avoidant 

dialogues (Davis, 2002; 

some groups 

clear, though inter- 

Sarsar, 2002; Halpern, 

cultural model is 



Contact Model (Khuri, 

Often students in 

Reduce bias; reduce prejudice 

Contact Hypothesis 

Weekly meetings over course 

Disregards political 

2004; Hurtado, 2005; 

university settings; 

and negative stereotyping; 

of semester or part of 

reality of asymmetric 

Nag da, 2006; Nag da, Kim 

often focused on race 

promote social inclusion 

semester; may include lecture, 

power relations; little long 

and Truelove, 2004; Nagda 


dialogue, or both; may be 

term impact, as long as 

and Zuniga, 2003; Tropp 

Small group work 

facilitated by peers or by 

external power structure 

and Bianchi, 2006; Tausch, 


remains; difficult to 

Kenworthy, and Hewstone, 

sustain conditions 


necessary for optimal 
contact; difficulty 
managing conflict or 
negative emotions; lack of 
correlation between 
personal and political/ 
national attitude change 


Not specified 

Reduce inter-group prejudices 


Media or educational 

Success requires 

models (Ben Ari, 2004) 

by providing information 

prejudice is result 
of lack of 


participants to be 
receptive to the new 
information provided, 
whether by contact or 
other means 

Meta-cognitive model (Ben 

Can be implemented 

Reduce prejudice through 

Raising awareness 

Training program involving 

Impact of program is 

Ari, 2004) 

in each group 

attaining "meta-cognitive 

and teaching 

verbal and audio-visual 

dependent upon 


awareness" of cognitive 

students how one's 

material, exercises, analyses of 

participants' motivation, 

processes underlying 

own and other 

incidents, discussions and role 

and pressure from social 

interpersonal and inter-group 

cognitive systems 

playing; may serve as 

context to invest the 

perceptions of out-group, e.g., 

operate will reduce 

preparation for information or 

necessary energy. 

categorization, differentiation, 


contact training 

in-group out-group 

"thinking about 

distinctions, and attribution 


Healing/Therapeutic Models 




Goals of Encounter 


assumptions or 





Youth, school settings 

Reduce cognitive 

Intra and inter-group 

Sharing of 

Expensive; lack of clarity about 


distortions, anger, 

dynamics Unclear 

feelings; self- 

approach to larger societal structure 

(Bargal, 2004) 

hostility and fear 


disclosure of 



TRT (To Reflect and to 

Small groups, preferably 

Healing; develop 


Sharing of feelings 

Bottom up process needs to be 

Trust) (Albeck, Adwan, and 

equal numbers from both 

relationships and 

working through of 

and personal 

synchronized with top-down process; 

Bar-On, 2002; Salomon, 

sides of conflict 

testing of stereotypic 

traumatic event; 


may be frustrating unless accompanied 

2004; Bar-On, 2000; 

views of the other; 


by larger structural change 

Steinberg, 2004; 2007) 

develop empathy 
and understanding of 
the other 

Inter-personal and 
psychological focus 
Emphasis on 


Political/Action Models 



Goals of Encounter 


assumptions or 




Interactive Problem-Solving 

Small groups of 3-6 

Build bridges across 

Theories of basic 

Workshop of several 

Does not address issues of trauma 

(Kelman, 1999; Rouhana 

participants, equal 

differences; develop 

human needs and 

days' length in phases: 

which impacts on the conflict. 

and Korper, 1997; Rouhana 

numbers from each side; 

Insight into each 

conflict resolution 

1) meet in single group 

Does not address responsibility each 

and Kelman, 1994; Cross 

plus 3-8 third party 

party's needs, fears, 

approaches (C-R); 

2) both groups meet 

party has in perpetuating the conflict 

and Rosenthal, 1999(Hicks 

members; participants are 

and concerns; Joint 

Non-official or non- 

together and share their 

& Weisberg, 2002)) 

representatives of their 

thinking about how 

binding nature may 

communities needs and 

groups; political 

mutually to meet 

serve to overcome 

fears of not getting 


these needs, fears, 

political, emotional 

needs met; listen 

Meet in 2 l A day 

and concerns; 

and technical 

actively to other side 3) 


Humanizing of the 

barriers faced by 

parties can ask 

enemy; transfer of 

official negotiators 

questions of each other 

ideas into the 

4) discuss broad shape 

political discourse 

to problem by options 
that meets basic needs 
and addresses fears of 
both groups 5)identify 
constraints 6) identify 
ways to overcome 
constraints 7) optional 
action planning 

Givat Haviva (Hansen, 

14-16 participants; 

Empower minority 


Meet in uninational and 

Lack of personal relations may 


many programs for youth, 

and help majority get 

emphasis, systems 

binational settings for 

prevent participants from moving 

School of Peace 

ages 16-17 

insight into their 

theories (Lewin); 

open dialogue; training 

beyond rigid collective perspectives; 

Neve Shalom 

power orientation. 

Martin Buber. 

activities and games 

promotes particular narrative and 

Wahat al Salaam (Abu 

Develop awareness 

Group is microcosm 

highlighting group 

perspective over the other; Jewish 

Nimer, 2004; Halabi, 2004; 

of conflict and roles 

of larger 

identity, peace, and 

participants tend to represent political 

Halabi and Sonnenschein, 

in it; enable 

environment; while 

conflict for youth 

left (rather than entire political 


participants to 
explore and 
construct their 
identities through 
interaction with the 

there is inter-group 
emphasis, it is 
individual who 
undergoes change. 



Hybrid Models 



Goals of Encounter 


assumptions or 




MACBE (Desivilya, 2004) 

Small group of 20 adult 

Improve inter -group 

Hybrid approach: 

Educational and 

Need ample resources, 

participants ideal; for 

relationships through 

attempt to link 

experiential components 

cooperation of local 

educators, mental health 

behavior and attitude 

systems thinking with 

such as exercises, 

communities, and 

professionals, community 

change by 1) imparting 

Conflict Resolution 

simulations and role 

patience of program 

workers and HR managers; 

knowledge about the 

theories (e.g., 

plays; conflict resolution 

initiators and participants 

can be adapted for other 

dynamics of the conflict 

interactive problem 

curriculum; cooperative 

populations. Groups in 

2) teaching constructive 

solving approach) 

learning and constructive 

conflict may meet 

conflict management 

controversy; specialized 

separately or together 

skills and 3) preparing 
participants to apply and 
implement those skills in 
their workplaces or 

programs like negotiation 
and mediation training 

TAMRA model(Babbitt and 

20 adults 

l)To train teams of 

Hybrid approach: C- 

3 four day sessions, which 

Works with relatively 

Steiner, 2006) 

Jewish-Arab facilitators to 

R interactive problem 

may be used in modular 

small groups of people; 

work with community 

solving + narrative 


method has not been 

2) develop empathy 

Consensus Building 
Institute Model 

1) problem solving 
workshop; 2) teaching 
facilitation and consensus 
building skills (developed 
by Susskind) 3) TRT 
narrative sessions: sharing 
personal experiences 


Dignity Model (Hicks, 2007, 

Small groups up to 30. 

Education; healing 


Educational (lecture about 

Works with relatively 


Has been used in various 


evolutionary psychology) 

small groups of people; 

age categories 

underlying every 
human interaction is 
a "primal desire for 

and restorative/healing 

method has not been 

Besod Siach (Duek, 2001; 

Between 20-60 participants 

Create a space where 

Psychoanalytic and 

Small group work in like 

Conferences require a 

Sard, et. al., 2003) 

per conference; all levels of 

differences can be held 

open systems 

identity and mixed 

large number of staff; 

leadership, formal and 

and contained, and 

theories; work of 

groups; large group 

method has not been 

informal; equal 

narratives can co -exist; 

Wilfred Bion; 

meetings; inter-group 



learn about own identity 

philosophy of Martin 

event; application events; 

through interaction with 

Buber; Intra-and 

examine covert and 

the other 

inter-group work 

unconscious processes in 
groups, as they occur 



Roles and Responsibilities of Project Partners 

Project Details 

• The primary task of Authority, Leadership and Peacemaking: The Role of the Diasporas 
is to promote dialogue between the Jewish, Palestinian, and Arab Diasporas and affected 
others around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; to learn about unconscious processes and 
group dynamics and how they affect the conflict; explore identity issues in relation to the 

• The event will take place April 15-18, 2010 at the Connors Family Retreat Center in 
Dover, MA (staff work begins April 13) 

• The event will use group relations conference methodology, with innovations of Besod 
Siach, and some added design elements, (e.g., that there be equal numbers of Jewish and 
Palestinian/ Arab staff, and that we aim for that in the membership as well). 

• This is a pilot project requiring flexibility in order to work with a changing context. We 
will aim to pilot the conference with 20 participants and 6 staff. At the same time we 
need to be prepared to grow if there is great interest (up to 50 members) and to design a 
smaller project for as few as 1 1 members. 

Tracy Wallach assumes the role of Conference Creator, Primary Sponsor and Principal 
Investigator. This includes taking primary responsibility for: 

Negotiating additional sponsorships 

Hiring and authorizing the directors 

Raising funds 

Marketing and recruiting for the conference 

Oversight and final approval of conference brochure 

Oversight and final approval of the budget 

Making final decisions (in consultation with conference director/s) about potential 


Assuming all financial risk for this project, responsibility for making payments 

Assuming all responsibility and liability for the research she conducts during and 

after the conference. 

Drafting reports for grantors 

Making research results available to interested parties 

Sharing information about use of fundraising widgets 

Observing public events and staff work throughout the conference, as well as before 

and after. This includes email staff work. Observe other conference events in 

consultation with director (and permission of participants). Sharing of observations 

with staff and/or members will be negotiated and agreed upon with conference 



Conference director/s commit to: 

• Directing the conference within the parameters outlined above (theme, primary task, title, 
research), and in accordance with established professional and ethical standards 

• Hiring and authorizing consulting staff (with equal numbers Jewish and Arab/Palestinian 

• Directing an event with as few as 1 1 and as many as 50 participants 

• Develop conference design (Directors will strongly consider added design element of 
single identity dialogue groups as well as mixed identity groups) 

• Prepare a balanced budget priced reasonably for members and submit to project director 
for final approval 

• Developing and designing conference brochure and application for members in 
conjunction with graphic designer Onix Marrero and submit to project director for final 

• Help with marketing and recruiting efforts (including forwarding fundraising widget to 
contacts, and posting of link to conference website/widget on website) 

• Assuming responsibility of accepting /declining any member's application to attend, and 
determining how to distribute any financial aid / scholarship funds 

• Complete surveys/and or interviews with Tracy Wallach following the conference 
(a consent form will be provided for interviews) 

Conference Staff commit to: 

• Taking up consulting roles in accordance with established professional and ethical 

• Help with marketing and recruiting efforts (including forwarding fundraising widget to 
contacts, and posting of link to conference website/widget on website) 

• Complete confidential surveys/and or interviews with Tracy Wallach following the 
conference (a consent form will be provided for interviews) 

AKRI commits to: 

• Use of its name and mission/description on marketing materials 

• Helping to market the conference (including forwarding fundraising widget to contacts, 
and posting of link to conference website/widget on website) 

• Providing insurance coverage for the conference site 

Besod Siach commits to: 

• Use of Besod Siach' s innovations on group relations conference methodology 

• Use of its name and mission/description on marketing materials 

• Helping to market the conference (including forwarding fundraising widget to contacts, 
and posting of link to conference website/widget on website) 

Sponsor 3 commits to: 

• Donating $1000 to be used towards plane ticket for (conference co-director) 


• Use of its name and mission/description on marketing materials 

• Helping to market the conference (including forwarding fundraising widget to contacts, 
and posting of link to conference website/widget on website) 

Sponsor 4 will assume the role of fiscal sponsor. It will serve as the 501c3 organization in order 
to collect grant monies. Any grant funding collected will be sent to ALP Project account, minus a 
10% administrative fee. 

Sponsor 5 commits to: 

• Use of its name and mission/description on marketing materials 

• Helping to market the conference (including forwarding fundraising widget to contacts, 
and posting of link to conference website/widget on website) 

Sponsor 6: 

• use of PCOD's name and mission / description on marketing materials 

• helping to market the conference (including forwarding fundraising widget to contacts, 
and posting of link to conference website/widget on website) 

• helping with local pre and/or post conference application events 

• potentially helping with pre-conference logistics in other concrete ways, as specific 
requests emerge. 


APPENDIX H: Brochure Text 
Conference Purpose 

Authority and Leadership 

Working in groups of any size is rarely easy. Despite our best efforts to be focused, calm and 
clear, we often find ourselves struggling with authority, and facing ambiguous tasks, disputed 
roles, and unclear boundaries. These boundaries may be the personal space between two people 
or a wall between two peoples. In large part, this is because so much of what happens in groups, 
large and small, happens beneath the surface. In the workplace, in families, in communities, and 
in nations, there are dynamics that we do not fully comprehend or sometimes even see. As a 
result of these unspoken, misunderstood or hidden dynamics, groups can repeatedly stumble on 
otherwise simple decisions and make problems seem intractable. The ability to understand and 
then manage these dynamics is an indispensable aspect of effective leadership. 

Israelis and Palestinians 

The unresolved conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has plagued the Middle East region 
and beyond for decades. Beginning with the Oslo peace process in the early nineties, oscillation 
between hope and despair has become, unfortunately, one of the most compelling facts in the 
minds of both collectives. The shadows of hope have faded in the face of extremism, enmity and 
destruction. The second Lebanon war and the recent war in Gaza have demonstrated sharply and 
painfully the fragility of the peace process. Many on both sides of the conflict feel that the 
possibility of moving toward a mutual and accepted resolution has plunged to its lowest point. 

Diaspora communities 

Along with residents in the Middle East, people throughout Europe, Asia, and especially the US, 
actively share interests and concerns regarding the conflict and the fledgling peace process. 
While the nature and intensity of media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict varies 
immensely between Europe, the Middle East and the US, the picture in the mind of many, if not 
most, is that the "road map" of the peace process is leading to nowhere. 

The emotional and physical traumas of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have an impact not only on 
those living in the midst of the turmoil in the region, but also on Diaspora communities. These 
traumas fuel the cycle of violence while reinforcing the anxieties and fears that each side has of 
the other. Some of the most contentious issues — the right of return, the future of Jerusalem, the 
separation wall, settlement activity and citizenship rights — are intensely debated within and 
between both communities. Research suggests that Diaspora communities have played a role in 
exacerbating the conflict, but may also play a role in peacemaking. In the United States, the role 
of American Palestinians and American Jews has not been adequately explored, particularly in 
relation to conflict resolution and peacemaking. 

Primary Task 

The primary task of the conference is to learn - through experience - how groups function, 
how we exercise leadership in groups, and how we can become more effective leaders within 
the organizations and communities in which we live and work. Uniquely, we will have the 
opportunity to focus on those elements of leadership that can often be obscured from view - the 
hidden challenges. 


A Systems Learning Model 

While intellectual learning about the dynamics of conflict is available in many different forums, 
this conference is a rare enterprise that gives its members the opportunity to learn from 

The conference design is rooted in a unique experiential learning method known as a group 
relations conference or the Tavistock method. It is a dynamic experiential learning laboratory. As 
staff and participants, we co-create a temporary institution that allows for opportunities to study 
the obvious and not-so-obvious dynamics of organizational and community life. By keeping 
certain factors constant (task, role, time, and place) while observing others that emerge in the 
"here and now," both staff and conference members become participant-observers. We are in the 
process of co-creating an institution or community, at the same time that we are studying the 
impact on our own and others' behavior as all of this is happening. Throughout the process, 
consultants provide observations that promote awareness of emerging issues and themes 
regarding leadership, authority, task, role and boundaries. 

As members of different generational, ethnic and religious identity groups, staff and conference 
members bring into the conference setting the range of perspectives, beliefs, values, and attitudes 
of those identity groups towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In this way, the temporary 
organization mirrors the patterns and relationships in our outside lives. By examining our beliefs, 
perspectives and behaviors within the conference setting, we will gain insight into the broader 
socio-political dynamics, and our own place in them. 
In summary, through the conference experience, there will be an opportunity to: 

Better understand how leadership and authority emerges and is taken up in groups. 

Work across boundaries of identity and difference between individuals, groups, and 

Better understand individual and collective roles in groups. 

Develop an awareness of the more hidden or covert dynamics in groups in general, and in 
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in particular. 

Explore the emotional impact of the conflict on a personal and communal level. 

Consider possibilities for contributing to the transformation of conflicts and the process 
of peace-making, 

The conference will be directed by XXXXX, a Palestinian citizen and resident of Israel and 
XXXXX, a Jewish citizen and resident of the US. By itself, the co -directorship of the conference 
reflects and represents the dynamics of authority, leadership, and peace-making. 

Our Commitment 

We will reflect on what is learned, make it more personal, and connect the experience to our 
lives outside the conference. It is our desire that through this experience we will find new ways 
to lead, and learn how to transform our corners of the world. It is also our explicit desire that this 


conference will provide an opportunity for personal and communal transformation in addressing 
the conflict. 

Continuing Education Credits for Social Workers 

The program has been approved for 17.5 Approved Entity Continuing Education hours for 
re-licensure, in accordance with 258 CMR. Collaborative of NASW and the Boston College 
and Simmons Schools of Social Work Authorization numberD41604b. 

Conference Structure 

The conference has different kinds of small and large group events, each having a different task 
and different vantage point for the examination of group and organizational dynamics that are 
integrated by the continuing overall focus on the problems encountered in the exercise of 
authority within and between groups 

The conference will begin promptly at 2:00 PM on Friday, April 16, 2010 (registration begins at 
1:00 PM) and will end at 4:30 PM on Sunday, April 18th. Working sessions will last well into 
the evening on Friday and Saturday. Please plan accordingly. (All meals are provided on site). 

Please note the change in the starting date! 

Conference Research and Evaluation 

All participants will be asked to complete a pre-conference survey, a post-conference evaluation 
immediately following the conference, and surveys 1, 3, 6, and 12 months after the conference. 
These online surveys are confidential and for the purpose of understanding: 

• the impact of the conference on participants' learning about the conflict in the short and 
longer term 

• the role group relations conference work may play in facilitating dialogue between 
Jewish and Arab Diaspora communities 

A select number of participants will be invited to participate in a series of interviews to explore 
how they make meaning of their conference experience. 

Those who wish to participate in the interview portion of the research will be given a consent 
form acknowledging their agreement to participate in the evaluation research of the conference. 
Anyone who thinks they might be interested is kindly requested to check the appropriate box on 
the registration form. 

Your acceptance as a member of this conference will not be affected in any way by your 
willingness or unwillingness to participate in any portion of the evaluation research. You may 
withdraw your participation at any time. 



Pre-Conference Survey (for all participants) 


1 . How did you find out about this conference? 

2. What are your goals in attending this conference? 

3. What, if any, previous experiences have you had in group relations conferences? 

4. What, if any, previous experiences have you had in Jewish/ Arab dialogue work? 

5. How would you rate your knowledge/understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? 
12 3 4 5 

6. How familiar are you with the Israeli narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? 
1 2 3 ' 4 5 

7. How familiar are you with the Palestinian narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? 
1 2 3 ' 4 5 

8. How would you define your (political) beliefs vis a vis the conflict? 

9. What about the conference appealed to you? 

10. What do you hope to get out of attending this conference? 

1 1 . What are your concerns about attending this conference? 

12. Please describe your involvement (social, professional, political) with (the other identity 
group) before this conference? 

13. Please describe your involvement (social, professional, political) with your own 
community/identity group before this conference? 













Study Group 







10:30 - 

Event Opening 

10:30 - 

Institutional Event 




Institutional Event 










Review and 
Application Group 




Study Group 








Closing Plenary 


Study Group 








Study Group 










Review and 




Conference Events 

The conference has different kinds of events, each having a different task and different vantage 
points for the examination of individual, group and organizational dynamics. These different 
events are integrated by the continuing overall focus on the problems encountered in the exercise 
of authority and leadership within and between groups. The events are described below: 

Conference Opening and Closing: These sessions provide an opportunity for members and 
staff to express their thoughts and feelings on crossing the boundaries from the outside 
environment into the conference and from within the conference to the outside environment. 

Study Groups: The task is to study processes as they occur - in the "here-and-now" — in this 
face-to-face group with special reference to the exercise of authority and the emergence of 
leadership. The group is assigned two consultants to assist with its task. 

Institutional Event: In this event, members will have the opportunity to form their own sub- 
systems, and negotiate their mission in relation to the institution. The primary task is to explore 
the relationship between the sub-systems and the conference-as-a-whole in the "here-and-now." 

Review and Application Groups: The task of these events are to provide members the 
opportunity to examine and discuss unresolved conference issues, reflect upon experiences and 
learning during the various conference events, and consider application of conference learning to 
home institutions. 

Conference Discussion: The task of this event is to provide the opportunity for all conference 
participants to reflect on conference issues, experiences and learning during the various 
conference events. 


Conference Opening 

Good afternoon. Welcome to the working conference Authority, Leadership, and Peace- 
Making: The role of the Diasporas. I am (director 1) and seated next to me is (director 2). We are 
the directors and consultants of this conference. We have been authorized in these roles by Tracy 
Wallach, the project creator. Tracy served as pre-conference administrator and will also be 
present in the role of researcher, which she will speak more about in a few minutes. 

The primary task of this conference is to learn — through experience — how groups 
function, how we exercise leadership and groups, and how we can become more effective leaders 
within the organizations and communities in which we live and work. Uniquely, we will have the 
opportunity to focus on those dynamics that can often be obscured or hidden from view. This 
task is taken up in the context of working to understand the role of the US Jewish, Arab, and 
Palestinian Diaspora communities in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

There have been many changes to the staff over the course of the development of the 
conference. The administrator (name of administrator) and consultant (name of consultant) are 
both unable to participate for medical reasons. In addition, the five other members of the 
consulting staff have shifted roles, and are now here as members. It was the decision of the 
management, with the concurrence of these consultants, who have been present and working 
with us for the past two days, to hold the conference with this configuration. We believe that 
these shifts in roles, the processes by which the decisions were made, and issues related to the 
size and composition of the membership in general, deserve to be studied in relation to the theme 
and primary task of the conference. As we mentioned earlier, Tracy Wallach will be in the role 


of researcher during the course of the conference. We will turn to Tracy to say a few words about 

her research. 

(I briefly spell out that the research is in relationship to my doctoral dissertation, that I will be 

observing all events in the conference, and direct their attention to their folders, in which they 

will find the disclosure form) 

Thank you Tracy. 

A few words on authority and leadership. . .our primary way of providing the opportunity 
for you to learn at this conference is to provide opportunities to study your behavior, as 
individuals, as a group, and as a whole system, in real time, what we call the "here-and-now," 
with special attention to the exercise of authority and the emergence of leadership. 

Authority: When a person goes before those in formal authority, such as a judge, or a 
local elected council, the configuration of the room and the comportment of the authority figures, 
even the attire, are in part a way to place an emphasis on the role, the task, boundaries, and the 
nature of authority. 

The purpose of this conference design, our demeanor, and the differing room 
configurations, now and to follow, are in part the same: too mirror, and even at times amplify 
those concepts. 

As staff, we gain our authority through contractual delegation from the sponsoring 
institutions. You confer authority on us by agreeing to be members. In terms of authority 
relations, so long as you remain present, you affirm our authority to conduct this conference 
within the boundaries of the manner outlined in the materials you have received. This statement 
is in no way an indication that you as members do not have authority. Quite the contrary. Each 
individual present carries with him or her, personal authority. In the language of this experience, 


everyone has the right to work. Everyone can embrace opportunities to explore and learn what 
happens when you seek, avoid, have thrust upon you or taken from you the formal and often 
informal authority of the group. 

Leadership: in this conference, we will also be examining leadership. And we see 
leadership as a function of the group. Rather than thinking about leadership as a set of talents or 
traits that a person possesses and can bring forth, in this approach, leadership emerges based on 
the needs of the group. As a consequence, leadership is extremely fluid, and will change based 
on the groups' perception of its needs. 

Our collective work is to learn who emerges in leadership, when and how, and for what 
purpose. How do our valences — the more typical ways we respond in groups — play into who 
emerges in leadership? How do the perceived characteristics of identity — religious and ethnic, 
yes, and also race, age, gender, sexual orientation, language, education, ability, etc., affect who 
leads and who follows? To this end, we will also, at different times throughout the experience, 
reflect with you on what is learned, and work with you to connect the experience to your lives 
outside the conference. 

Finally, I would remind you that this is an opportunity for learning. We, the staff are not 
creating this institution for you. We are co-creating this institution with all that we bring. The 
directorate, as consultants to the process, will give primary focus to the group. In the "here-and- 
now" events, we will be directing our comments not as much to individual behavior, but to what 
we believe the group is doing as the group is doing it. We recognize this experience may be quite 
different from how you are accustomed to seeing instructors or consultants behave in learning 
environments. It is our experience that this style of consultation allows for the group dynamics 


that are often present, just below the surface in any group, to emerge most clearly for our 
collective study and learning. 

Please also know that our focus on the group does not mean we do not recognize that 
every person here is an individual bringing your own particular experiences to the process. We 
simply wish to stress that our goal is to explore authority and leadership in groups. 
This conference provides tremendous freedom for exploration. 

Recognizing what we create here-and-now in this experience is our own doing, The only 
real task of members is to learn. There is no prescribed agenda more than that. There is no 
required outcome. Through study groups, plenaries, an institutional event, and reflection 
sessions, there will be abundant opportunities to learn about groups and to learn about ourselves. 

What may be most important is that you examine the choices you make in relation to 
Authority, leadership, especially as it relates to peace-making and the role of the Diasporas. 
Thank you. Who would like to start? 


Disclosure form 

Conference Research and Evaluation 

The conference will be evaluated by Tracy Wallach MSW, who has worked as a clinical social 
worker and organizational and leadership consultant and is a doctoral candidate at Lesley 
University. The purpose of the evaluation research is to understand: 

• the impact of the conference on participants' learning about the conflict in the short and 
longer term 

• the role group relations conference work may play in facilitating dialogue between 
Jewish and Arab Diaspora communities 

Findings from the evaluation research will be submitted as part of Tracy Wallach' s doctoral 
dissertation. It may also be published in professional or academic journals. Please note that this 
is an evaluation of the program and not of any individual. No identifying information will be 
included in any of these reports. The report of this study will be available for all participants, 
upon request. 

The research will be comprised of three parts: observation during the conference itself, surveys 
and interviews. Tracy Wallach will be present during conference events and will be taking notes 
on her observations on a laptop or by hand. 

All participants will be asked to complete a pre-conference survey, a post-conference evaluation 
immediately following the conference, and surveys 1, 3, 6, and 12 months after the conference. 

A select number of participants will be invited to participate in a series of interviews to explore 
how they make meaning of their conference experience. 

Those who wish to participate in the interview portion of the research will be given a consent 
form acknowledging their agreement to participate in the evaluation research of the conference. 
Anyone who thinks they might be interested in being interviewed at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months 
following the conference, is kindly requested to sign the form enclosed in this packet and 
returning it to Tracy Wallach before the end of the conference. 

Your participation in the survey and interview portion of the evaluation research is completely 
voluntary. You may withdraw your participation at any time. 


Institutional Event Opening 

Good Morning. This is the opening session of the Institutional Event. We are here in our 
role as Directors of the conference and members of the management team of this event. 

The Task of the IE is to provide an opportunity to experience and study relationships 
between groups and to explore and discover the "character" of this emerging temporary 
institution. It is also an opportunity to study how boundaries of time, territory, task and resources 
are managed and used in order to better understand the processes and dynamics that are related to 
authority, leadership and peace-making: the role of the diasporas - which is the theme of this 

As far as we know, you as the members are currently one group, but you may choose to 
break yourself up into more than one group to work on the task of this event. 

We have designated four formal workspaces for you. The Main Parlor, the Dover Parlor, 
and the sun room off the Dover Parlor are available for working groups. In addition, the 
conference room at the top of the main stairs is available for inter-group work. 

In addition to managing the event, we are also available to provide consultation. As 
examples, you may think about a consultation to the formation of your particular group, 
regarding the task of your group, your relationship to other groups, or to a relationship between 
two or more groups, for example an intergroup event. 

You can request consultation at the Management Room which is the Fireside Lounge on 
the 2 nd floor of the main house. 

One of the challenges of this event is for members of a group to differentiate. 
Differentiated work roles and clear delegation of authority are necessary if a group is to have a 


voice that is coherent, both inside and outside the group. This event will provide the opportunity 
to experience and reflect on problems involved in working in role, exercising authority on behalf 
of others, and delegating to others: in short, problems of management, leadership and 

The freedom that a representative has - to speak for and work on behalf of her or his 
group depends on the scope of the delegations the representative has been given by the group. 
The scope may be thought of as spanning a continuum from minimal to maximal authority. For 
example are you authorized by your group to observe and gather information from these 
observations? Or might you be authorized to deliver a message. Or perhaps you may be 
authorized to ask a question and gather information. Maximal authority might be that you are to 
negotiate on behalf of your group with other groups with full decision-making power. 

For this event, we are offering a shared management model. In addition to the two 
directors, we are making available a third seat on the management team. This will be a rotating 
seat. The seat will be available to any member who is authorized by their group to take up the 

This seat is available to the first person who requests it. We are open to this request in the 
Management room for the first five minutes of each session. The seat will be available for each 
of the Saturday afternoon and evening IE sessions and no member may take up the management 
role for more than one session. The third member of the management team may be available to 
consult based on the collective decision of the management team. 

As you engage in the task of the Institutional Event, the Management Team would 
appreciate hearing what you discover in this process and we invite you to develop any working 
assumptions about what is going on in the IE and to share those with us. Interactions like this 


will assist us in managing the event and may help you in getting additional insights into your 

As the Management staff, we have decided to do our work in public and you are welcome 
to observe our work. Perhaps the observation can be of some assistance in informing your own 
work. However, we prefer to have conversations with you — about your own experience, and 
any working assumptions that you may form about your own group in relation to the emerging 

A few words on the management of boundaries: During the IE in particular, you may 
want to pay attention to how the management of the boundaries plays a role in aiding the task. 
You will thus have an opportunity to study how boundaries, your own and those established by 
others, are regulated and what happens if they are not. 

A few final remarks concerning this event: Again, the primary task of this event is to 
provide learning opportunities to study the emerging institution and relationships between groups 
within it. I invite your thoughtful attention to the freedom and range of options open to you in 
this event that were not open to you in the events you have already experienced. You may or 
may not choose to exercise these options. But either way, your learning should be enhanced if 
you pay attention to your choices. 

Ultimately, you are free to do whatever you judge will be best to further your learning. 

We are aware that we have given you lots of information for this event. After you have 
organized yourselves into one or more groups, feel free to approach the Management Room and 
request consultation if you feel that you have missed some information. 
The event has now begun. 


Post-Conference Evaluation Form 127 


How would you define your ethnicity? 

How would you define your religion? 

What were your goals in attending this conference? 

What did you learn at this conference? 

Please use the following 5-point rating scale: 1= very little or none 2 = a little 3 = 

some 4 = a great deal 5 = a very great deal 

1. To what extent did the conference provide the learning opportunities described in the brochure? 

12 3 4 5 


2. To what extent was the conference what you expected it to be? 

12 3 4 5 


3. To what extent have you achieved your goals during the conference? 

1 2 3 4 5 


4.To what extent did you learn about the ways that leadership and authority emerges and is taken up in 
groups? 12 3 4 5 

5. To what extent did each of the following events contribute to your learning: 

12 3 4 5 

study groups 

1 2 3 4 5 

inter-group event 

12 3 4 5 

review and application (role analysis) sessions 
12 3 4 5 


6. How much have you learned about the Israeli Palestinian conflict? 

12 3 4 5 

7. How much have you learned about the Israeli narrative of Israeli Palestinian conflict? 

12 3 4 5 

127 127 Adapted from Patton (2002) 


8. How much have you learned about the Palestinian narrative of Israeli Palestinian conflict? 

1 2 3 4 5 

9. To what extent was the learning format/structure of the event appropriate to your level of knowledge and 

Not at all appropriate 

Somewhat appropriate 


Very appropriate 

9. Was there something you wish you had spent more time doing? 

10. To what degree has this conference changed your overall understanding of the 
conflict? " 12 3 4 5 


1 1. To what extent do you think participation in this conference will affect you 
professionally? 12 3 4 5 

12. To what extent has participation in this conference affected you personally? 

12 3 4 5 


13. To what extent has participation in this conference affected your beliefs/attitudes 
about the conflict? 12 3 4 5 


14. To what extent have your feelings/attitudes toward your own group been affected by 
participation in this conference? 

12 3 4 5 


15. To what extent have your feelings/attitudes toward the other group been affected by 
participation in this conference? 

12 3 4 5 


16. To what extent do you think participation in this conference will affect your activities 

within your own community? 
1 2 3 4 5 ~ 



17. To what extent do you think participation in this conference will affect your activities 
with the other identity group? 

1 2 3 4 5 


18. How effective did you find the conference directors to be in terms of the following: 

Illuminating the dynamics of the various events you participated in 

12 3 4 5 

Illuminating the dynamics of conflict 

12 3 4 5 

Illuminating the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict 

12 3 4 5 

Helping you to understand your identity group's role in the conflict 

1 2 3 4 5 

Helping you to understand the relationship between your conference roles and your 
external roles? 12 3 4 5 

19. How effective was the administration of the conference in terms of the following: 
Responsiveness to your questions about the conference 

12 3 4 5 

Pre-conference administration 

12 3 4 5 


12 3 4 5 


20. What other kinds of experiential learning or dialogue frameworks have you 

21. Relative to those, how effective did you find this conference to be? 

1 2 3 4 5 N/A 

18. To what extent was your overall experience of the conference worthwhile? 

12 3 4 5 

19. What was the most meaningful part of the conference for you? Please explain, if you 
are willing: 



21. Would you recommend this conference to others? 
1 2 3 4 5 

Why or why not? 

22. What, if anything, would you change about this conference? 
12 3 4 5 

23. Who, or what organization paid for your attendance here? 

24. Were you a commuter or residential member? 


25. What is the most important lesson you are taking from this conference? 

26. If someone asked you to briefly describe what this conference was about, what 
would you say? 

27. If you have other thoughts, comments, or reflections about the conference that you 
would like to share, please note them here. 

General comments: 



Three Month Follow-Up Surveys 128 

It has been three months since you've attended Authority, Leadership, and Peacemaking: 
The Role of the Diasporas. We appreciate your taking the time to think back on your 
conference experience to share with us your experience of the impact of the conference 
on you over time. 

How would you define your ethnicity? 

How would you define your religion? 

1 . To what extent has participation in the conference affected you personally? 

12 3 4 5 


2. To what extent has participation in the conference affected you professionally? 

12 3 4 5 


3. How would you rate your learning in the following areas? 

How I take up authority and leadership 
12 3 4 5 

Understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict 
12 3 4 5 

Covert or unconscious processes in groups 
1 2 3 4 5 ~ 

Covert or unconscious processes in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict 
12 3 4 5 

Identity issues 

12 3 4 5 

Understanding the role of the Diasporas in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict 
12 3 4 5 


12 3 4 5 


Adapted from Patton (2002) 



4. To what extent has participation in the conference affected your involvement with your 

Community/identity group? 

12 3 4 5 


5. To what extent has participation in the conference affected your involvement with the 
other community/identity group? 

12 3 4 5 


6. To what extent has participation in the conference affected your attitudes/feelings 

the Palestinian-Israeli conflict? 

12 3 4 5 


7. To what extent has participation in the conference affected your involvement with 
activities related to the Israeli Palestinian conflict? 

12 3 4 5 


8. How likely are you to recommend this conference to others? 

12 3 4 5 


9. Please share with us any other thoughts, ideas, comments, or feelings you have had 
since the conference about your conference experience that you feel comfortable 




Letter of Consent 

Thank you for agreeing to participate in this study about how participants make meaning 
of their experience in the conference Authority, Leadership and Peacemaking: The Role 
of the Diasporas. The sole researcher is Tracy Wallach, MSW, who has worked as a 
clinical social worker and organizational and leadership consultant and is a doctoral 
candidate at Lesley University. 

The purpose of this exploratory study is: 

• To explore participants' experience of the conference 

• To investigate the impact that the conference experience has had on participants 

• To understand what meaning participants make of their conference experience 

• To examine how participants make meaning of their experience 

Findings from the study will be submitted in a report as part of Tracy Wallach' s doctoral 
dissertation. It may also be published in professional or academic journals. No identifying 
information will be included in any of these reports. The report of this study will be 
available for all participants, upon request. 

For the purpose of this study, Ms. Wallach would like to interview a selected number of 
participants who attended the conference. Each volunteer will be interviewed four times, 
for approximately 60- 90 minutes each time — once just following the conference, and 
again 3,6, and 12 months later. Ms. Wallach will do all of the interviewing and analysis 
of information. Interviews will be recorded and transcribed. Tapes and transcriptions of 
the interviews will be stored in a locked file cabinet in Ms. Wallach' s home. 

Your participation offers you the opportunity to talk about and reflect upon your 
conference experience, and Ms. Wallach the opportunity to explore how conference 
participants make meaning of their experience. Your participation is entirely voluntary, 
and you may stop your participation at any time. 

Thank you for your participation! 
Sincerely yours: 

Tracy Wallach 

Your signature indicates your understanding of the above and agreement to participate in 
the study as described. 



Member Interview: immediately post-conference 

1 . What were your expectations/goals for the conference? 

2. To what extent was the conference what you expected it to be? 

3. To what extent were the things you were concerned about before the conference 
occur? Which things occurred, which didn't? 

4. How has the conference affected you personally? 

5. What changes in yourself do you see as a result of the conference? 

6. What would you say you got out of the experience? 

7. To what extent do you think this conference will affect you professionally? 

8. What was the most meaningful part of the conference for you? 

(e.g., What events at the conference had the most impact on you? Why? What was 
the high point of the conference for you? What was the low point?) 

9. What do you think made the conference have the effects that it did? 

10. What is the most important lesson you are taking from the conference? 

1 1 . Can you say something about the impact of the shift from staff to membership 
role on you? 

12. Can you say something about your experience in the IE — what group did you 
choose to be in? why? 

13. Say something about your relatedness to your own identity or other identities? 
And impact of conference on that. 

14. What, if anything, do you wish you had done differently? 

15. Suppose you were being asked by a government or community/activist group 
whether or not they should sponsor a conference like this, what would you say? 
what arguments would you give to support your opinion? 

16. Are there any questions I haven't asked that you think I should have? What do 
you think I should know that I haven't asked you about? 



Director Interview: immediately post-conference 

1 . What were your expectations/goals for the conference? 

2. To what extent was the conference what you expected it to be? Likert 1-5 — 1 is 
very little) 

3. To what extent were the things you were concerned about before the conference 
occur? Which things occurred, which didn't? 

4. To what extent has the conference affected you personally? 1= very little, 5= a 
very great deal 

5. What changes in yourself do you see as a result of the conference? 

6. What would you say you got out of the experience? 

7. To what extent do you think this conference will affect you professionally? 1= 
very little, 5= a very great deal 

8. What was the most meaningful part of the conference for you? 

(e.g., What events at the conference had the most impact on you? Why?; What 
was the high point of the conference for you? What was the low point?) 

9. What is the most important lesson you are taking from the conference? 

10. How much have you learned about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Israeli 
narrative? Palestinian narrative? 

11. What, if anything, do you wish you had done differently? 

12. Are there any questions I haven't asked that you think I should have? What do 
you think I should know that I haven't asked you about? 




Follow-Up Interview 129 (Three Months) 

This interview is being conducted about three months after your Dialogue conference 
experience to help us better understand what participants experienced so that we can 
improve further conferences. 

1. Looking back on your conference experience, I'd like to ask you to begin by 
describing for me what stands out for you about this conference? 

a. What do you remember as the highlight of the conference for you? 

b. What was the low point? 

2. How did the conference affect you? 

a. What would you say you got out of the experience? 

b. What changes in yourself do you see or feel as a result of the conference? 

c. How has participation in the conference affected you professionally? 

d. How has participation in the conference affected your involvement with 
your community? 

e. How has participation in the conference affected your involvement with 
the other community? 

3. How has the conference affected you vis-a-vis the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? 

a. How, if at all, has it changed your attitudes/understanding/feelings about 
the conflict? 

b. How, if at all, has it changed your involvement in activities related to the 

4. How do you think the conference has affected you that we haven't discussed? 
Which of the things you experienced during the conference carry over to your life 
since then? What plans have you made, or what actions, if any, have you taken as 
a result of this conference? 

5. What recommendations would you make to improve the conference? 

6. Suppose you were being asked by an organization in your community whether or 
not they should sponsor a conference like this. What would you say? Who 
shouldn't participate in a conference like this? 

7. Are there any questions I haven't asked that you think I should have? What do 
you think I should know that I haven't asked you about? 

129 Adapted from Patton (2002)