Thursday, April 06, 2006

Empathising with the enemy

Transformation of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict by overcoming psychological and structural obstacles

(update 22 August 2022)

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is one of the most significant conflicts of our era. Not in terms of loss of human lives (the Syria and Yemen conflict 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 is an attempt to show that peace is possible for Palestinians; Palestinian citizens and residents of Israel; and Jewish-Israelis. The hope is that each community will be able to be brave and fearless in addressing wrongs committed in the past, and to work towards building a community for all in the region.

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 about 14 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 First Nations people of Australia. Yes too I am aware of First Nations 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:

The thesis [PDF] included 4 chapters, bibliography and an Appendix.

Following the thesis include the following reflections:

Author’s perspectives

Historical debate
Reflecting on the debate in the 1940s between two leading Australian Jews on who favoured creation of a Jewish state and one against.

Peace activists
Examples of Jewish peace activists in Israel, US, UK, Australia and Canada.
Including a section of videos on real life heroes and bravery e.g Tristan Anderson

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.
e.g. Acts of intimidation; the shooting of American peace activist Tristan Anderson (March 2009)

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 thesis
The 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.

Stewart Mills
Sydney, Australia

Also see:

Apartheid, Israel and Palestine, 12 March 2022

Senate Committee - Apartheid - Palestine and Israel - 16 February 2022

Administrative divisions of Ottoman Palestine, February 2021

Separate and unequal: Apartheid, persecution and occupied Palestine, 16 August 2020

Parliamentary Friends of Palestine (Commonwealth), 16 August 2020

What was the population of Palestine, prior to British conquest in 1917-18?, 19 April 2020

Letter to the Minister for Foreign Affairs about Australia's application to the International Criminal Court regarding Palestine, 16 February 2020

Application for Leave by Prof John Quigley to the International Criminal Court on Palestine, 16 February 2020

Australia's Application to Leave to the International Criminal Court on Palestine, 16 February 2020

'Rashida Tlaib: Coming from a place of love for equality and justice', 15 May 2019

'The Crimea Crisis and International Law', 27 April 2019

'The inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war', 26 April 2019

'What was the population of Palestine?', 24 March 2019

'The British mandate for Palestine', 7 March 2019

'Using antisemitism to silence criticism of Israel: Ilhan Omar and the bill on dual loyalty', 5 March 2019

'Media Bias - Palestine and Israel: How objective is the reporting in the mainstream news on the conflict in Palestine and Israel?', 3 January 2019

'Origins of a people: Palestine', 31 December 2018

'A Christian response to Palestine and Israel', 10 November 2018

'Mark Regev: Defending the indefensible - More propagandist than spruiker', 23 July 2018

'Palestine in the 1800s: Images from Ottoman Palestine in the 1860s', 15 July 2018

'In support of justice for Palestine and Israel: Stephen Sizer', 6 April 2018

Why did the 'Arabs' reject the 1947 UN partition plan?, 6 April 2018

'Trump's decision on Jerusalem/Al-Quds', 3 January 2018

'Why Facts Don’t Convince People - and what you can do about it (Alex Cequea)', 5 November 2017

'Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and Antisemitism', 22 April 2017

'Liz Wahl falls victim to CLUMSY: When seekers of 'truth' potentially fall for their own biased agenda', 13 February 2016

'Alan Rickman, Rachel Corrie and Palestine', 15 January 2016

'Was Jesus, Palestinian? Or was Jesus, Jewish? The false binary', 31 December 2015

Uniting Church - Palestine/Israel: Settlement Boycott (July 2015)', 23 December 2015

'Church motion 'hurtful' only to supporters of occupation of Palestinians', 23 December 2015

'The rationale of a Church boycott of settlement goods', 23 December 2015

'Why the ALP should recognize Palestine: a response to BICOM’s Alan Johnston', 25 July 2015

'Press Council agrees Gaza cartoon 'might be justifiable if linked with Israeli nationality', 18 January 2015

'Apartheid, boycotts and the Free South Africa Movement', 13 January 2015

'Israel, Palestine and the Asian Football Confederation Cup', 12 January 2015

'Letter to SMH: Palestinian leadership has declared themselves in favour of two states', 5 January 2015

'Failure by the United States and Australia to support peace timeline for the Israel-Palestine conflict', 1 January 2015

'Australia votes no to ending Israel's occupation of Palestine in three years - claiming unbalanced', 31 December 2014

'The twitter wars on Israel and Palestine aboard the International Space Station', 29 December 2014

'Looking for leadership on Palestine and Israel (Response to Wertheim and Ryvchin)', 11 November 2014

'Defenders of Israel's attacks on Gaza, cling to analogies which are fundamentally flawed', 3 September 2014

'Using your celebrity for good, Cruz and Bardem', 14 August 2014

'Israeli Deputy Speaker calls for annexation of the West Bank and Gaza: 'One state for one people i.e. the Jewish People', 5 August 2015

'Cartoons as political satire and a reflection on our ugly reality: A response to the complaint by the ECAJ', 1 August 2014

'MK Moshe Feiglin: Gaza is part of our Land and we will remain there forever', 20 July 2014

'The tragedy of Gaza - Letter', 18 July 2014

'Julie Bishop letter - East Jerusalem - The UN calls it 'territories occupied' not 'disputed', 16 June 2014

'Senator Brandis - legal status of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza - Letter 1', 15 June 2015

Senate Estimates - Palestine - June 2014', 8 June 2018

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

'Israeli Government Propaganda and the Gaza Flotilla', 28 July 2010

Gaza Flotilla I Transcript

Mepeace Profile