Empathising with the enemy
Transformation of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict by overcoming psychological and structural obstacles
(update 1 May 2014)
The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is one of the most significant conflicts of our era. Not in terms of loss of human lives (the Sudan and Congo have lost more human beings from conflict in recent years). It is significant because of the amount of daily political and media exposure it receives in western countries. It is significant for those who have loved ones (regardless from what background) living in the region. It is significant for those who seek to ensure the international community upholds principles that are fair and just to all parties.
This blog contains:
1. My Master of Arts Thesis in Peace and Conflict Studies [PDF] from the Sydney University (completed January 2003).
2. A series of reflections and links relating to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
The thesis (and my subsequent writings) seeks to understand fundamental reasons for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and outlines a model for its resolution.
For my latest news see Israel and Palestine diary.
The bottom line of this blog:
There are 11 million human beings in this region that we know as the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights and Israel. My hope is that peace can be found for all our fellow human beings regardless of their background. Part of this process involves acknowledging how we have inflicted violence on another. This is the process of truth and reconciliation.
Each nation has their stories that we would prefer to keep quiet - 'our skeletons in the closet' -especially when it comes to nation-state creation stories. As an Australian I am aware of European atrocities towards Aboriginal people. Yes too I am aware of Aboriginal violence against Europeans, the point is when I went to school the history I was taught misrepresented the circumstances of the events from 1788-1988. It was not until 1988 with the bicentenary in Australia that it became mainstream for teachers to teach about European invasion rather than settlement. It was not until 1992 that our courts in the case of Mabo overruled the 'terra nullius' doctrine that Australia was an empty land 'a land with no people' doctrine.
Similarly, Israel and Palestinians too are not blameless and have their own skeletons. However, Israel as the militarily and economically stronger power needs to acknowledge that occupying another people as they have done since 1967 and blaming Palestinians for the war and their dispossession in 1948 only fuels violence against Israel and only hurts their loved ones and their families who are sent to enforce the military occupation each year. Similarly Palestinian leadership which fails to teach the necessity to end violent attacks within Israel or fail to teach children about the trauma of the Holocaust undermines steps towards establishing a sense of peace and security for Jewish-Israelis.
The way this blog is arranged:
The contents of the blog are found by scrolling down the right hand side of the blog. The contents include:
Following the thesis include the following reflections:
eg Barack Obama and Israel, Australia’s PM’s perspective, a response to Alan Dershowitz over the 2006 Lebanon war.
Reflecting on the debate in the 1940s between two leading Australian Jews on who favoured creation of a Jewish state and one against.
Examples of Jewish peace activists in Israel, US, UK, Australia and Canada.
The Goldstone Report
History of partition and the UN trusteeship
These blogs reflect on a background to the UN General Assembly partition plan and why this was rejected by the UN Security Council (Why was partition rejected?, UN trusteeship).
General History sites
Links here direct a user to the Guardian and Mideastweb.
Videos and photos shows the conflict through the eyes of Palestinians and Jewish-Israelis through images.
Deaths and Injuries due to conflict
This section looks at fatalities for Palestinians, and Israelis as a result of the conflict.
As a way to acknowledge the trauma suffered by the Jewish community links are directed to the history of oppression and persecution of Jewish people during the middle ages through to the Holocaust and afterwards.
Other blogs by the author
The author has initiated some general blogs on global peace building. He sees that there are four challenges to global peace
1. The human food and health question
2. The peace, security and ideology question
3. The energy and resource question
4. The global apathy question.
Another blog looks at the importance of interfaith dialogue.
Summary of the thesisThe primary thesis here advanced is that violent inter-group conflict, such as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, will continue while fundamental psychological and structural obstacles exist.
Overcoming these obstacles requires the development of 'psychological bridges'. These psychological bridges or conciliatory qualities when applied at the individual and societal level enable the fundamental needs and fears of each party to be addressed.
The first chapter provides an overview of conflict resolution theory, a broad discipline which has developed from psychology, sociology, anthropology, politics, history and law. The results show conflict resolution is traditionally viewed through the paradigms of realism, legalism or idealism. The conclusion of the first chapter is that idealism holds the key to conflict transformation and reconciliation whilst realism and legalism only serve to ‘manage’ conflict.
The second chapter proposes a general method for conflict resolution. Violent conflict is argued to be a consequence of fundamental need deprivation as such this chapter identifies eight fundamental human needs.
The fundamental need system developed in this chapter is based on four fundamental rational needs: control, security, justice and rational stimulation; and four fundamental emotional needs: esteem, meaning, identity and emotional stimulation. What this chapter develops is that the attainment of these fundamental needs provides a sense of peace and reconciliation for an individual.
The second part of chapter two identifies that the attainment of these fundamental needs requires the overcoming of psychological obstacles which are enabled by psychological bridges. Those psychological bridges include five fundamental conciliatory qualities: hope or a belief in the possibility of conflict resolution; empathy of the ‘other’; nonviolent or inclusive worldviews; and the action of building trust—as evidenced by cooperation.
The third part of chapter two identifies the necessity to implement within the structures of society those factors which encourage fundamental need satisfaction. These changes are required within the social, political, religious, legal and economic systems.
The third chapter provides practical approaches to resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. This chapter outlines issues relating to the fundamental needs of meaning, identity, control, security and justice. Analysis is made of agreed and contentious political positions on the issues of security, settlements, Jerusalem, refugees and water, as well as religious, educational and economic issues.The chapter concludes that the Israeli leadership only superficially demonstrates a movement towards peace. The evidence of a the West Bank Wall built beyond the Green Line, continuation in settlement expansion by Israel highlights that the tried and tested expansionist approach of ‘getting facts on the ground’ is preferable as it advances future bargaining power. Secondly this chapter concludes that the Palestinian community needs to address elements which perpetuate threats and breaches of security within the Israeli Jewish community.
The final chapter makes a number of research implications which include commenting on the gap between theory and practice on successive Israeli government’s approach to settlements within the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This chapter also identifies the need for future research to provide further evidence for the general method of conflict resolution developed in chapter two. Research is also suggested for a number of aspects of the fundamental needs of the Jewish, Palestinian and Arab communities’. In particular recommendation is made for further tests of the hypothesis that resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli-Arab conflict requires Arab and Palestinian assurance that the Jewish community will enjoy security in the region.
Israel's settlements: disposing of the assets of the Palestinian people, 3 February 2014
Rielly, missing the reality for both Jewish-Israelis and Palestinians, 31 January 2014
Palestinian Israeli artist - Ahlam Shibli, 14 July 2013
Bruce Schneier: The security mirage (TED talk), 26 June 2013
A short history of Palestine and Israel - Jewish Voices for Peace
Understanding Rock Throwing, 9 April 2013
Brokers of Deceit - Rashid Khalidi on US politics and Israel, 27 March 2013
Jewish peace activist Avigail Abarbanel at Wayside Chapel, Sydney, 28 November 2012
Jews Against the Occupation respond to critics, 24 November 2012
Missing the point of the Munich massacre - 'No' to all forms of terrorism - state and political, 27 June 2012
Change is possible - Jewish-American, Rich Forer tells of his transformation on Israel and Palestine, 5 May 2012
US Churches divesting from Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, 27 April 2012
The Gaza armed conflict (2008-09) and the International Criminal Court, 4 April 2012
Fadi Quran assaulted by Israeli soldiers/police, 27 February 2012
Freedom of Expression must include a licence to offend - Kosminky's The Promise, 16 February 2012
Kosminsky's The Promise, 16 January 2012
Courageous Israeli peace activists attacked by settlers from Anatot, 10 October 2011
Australia's obligation to recognise Palestine, 27 July 2011
Petition for Palestinian Statehood
Failure to account: The use of force by the IDF and settlers in the killing of more than 2,297 Palestinians who were not involved in hostilities: A Response to Danny Lamm
Mepeace and resolving disputes for online communities
Orange County Criminal Justice System – enlightened or archaic?
Israeli settler boycott, the NCCA and interfaith
Finding a common narrative for Palestine and Israel
[early 1900s to 1940s]
Loewenstein's father's plea for rabbis to speak out
Images of Palestine and Israel 1948
Noam Chomsky on Israel
Likud charter calls for a one state solution
UN Office Reports on Palestine
The IV Geneva Convention Commentary
This is happening in Northern Ireland
This is happening in Israel
The NSW and ACT Uniting Church’s statement on Palestine and Israel, 12 July 2010
The ECAJ and the Australian Churches on Israel and the situation in Gaza
Gaza Flotilla I Transcript