The dialogue between the 'self' and the 'other': A process analysis of Palestinian-Jewish encounters in Israel

Ifat Maoz*, Shoshana Steinberg, Dan Bar-On, Mueen Fakhereldeen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


This study assumes that the collective identities of both Jews and Palestinians in Israel have long been constructed around the Jewish-Palestinian conflict a major focus of social and historical reality in the Middle East region. Monolithic in their early stages these constructions of identity underwent a process of deconstruction and reconstruction, primarily due to changes in the political reality (the peace process), globalization, and the surfacing of conflicts that were hidden within the monolithic construction. The deconstruction process, though painful and problematic, creates new opportunities for a dialogue that engages elements of identity, which no longer 'fit' the contenders. Such a dialogue took place in 'laboratory' form at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev from October 1996 and June 1997 between two leading participants in an ongoing workshop for Jewish and Palestinian Israeli students. Most conflict group encounters are measured by outcomes, not by process, We identified problems when the method common for these groups was used at Jewish-Palestinian encounters and this led us to try another way. This study employs a qualitative methodology to analyse the process of groups in conflict It looks into how the process of questioning one's own self and the other's perception takes place in this context. In describing the dialogue that evolved between a Jew, Avner and a Palestinian, Nasser (both pseudonyms), the tension between the individual and collective identity levels, between the internal group process and the asymmetric social and political reality, is revealed. We suggest that the confrontation and friendship between Avner and Nasser created a new quality of dialogue, enabling a more complex identity construction to emerge on both the Jewish and the Palestinian sides.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)931-962
Number of pages32
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2002


  • Dialogue
  • Empathy
  • Identity construction
  • Jewish-Palestinian
  • Self and Other


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