Working together in the context of protracted asymmetric conflict: Israeli Jews and Palestinians in joint medical work teams.

Michal Raz-Rotem*, Helena Desivilya Syna, Ifat Maoz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This study examines intergroup contact in a real-life work setting of Jewish and Palestinian nurses working in joint medical work teams in Israel where membership is involuntary. Specifically, it investigates Jewish and Palestinian nurses’ experiences of working together in a hospital in Israel in the context of the protracted and asymmetric conflict between Israeli Jews and Palestinians. Thematic content analysis of 42 in-depth interviews, based on a grounded theory approach, reveals that Jewish and Palestinian employees alike experienced a sense of inequality and unfairness in the joint medical teams, blaming the other group for the asymmetric power relations. This, in turn, impaired the work atmosphere and made Jewish—Palestinian cooperation difficult in this real-life organizational setting. The findings contribute to the understanding of the complexity of asymmetric power relations in a joint Jewish—Palestinian medical work team within the context of protracted conflict. It shows that even when there are factors that are assumed to encourage an effective intergroup contact, such as superordinate goals and similar professional status, the influence of the broad sociopolitical context prevails and constitutes a hindrance to an effective intergroup contact in a mixed work environment. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)Public Significance Statement—This research provides a direct perspective on a paradoxical reality: the need to maintain work relations based on equality and fairness vis-a-vis a dominant social discourse that fosters inequality and antagonism toward the other group. The study’s main contribution lies in the suggestion that real-life encounters in a reality that includes promotive intergroup relations factors, such as positive contact with outgroup members, a superordinate goal, support of the authority figures and equality status, may not be sufficient to overcome bias and sense of inequality and fairness when historic and contemporary asymmetric protracted conflict situations persist.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)427-436
Number of pages10
JournalPeace and Conflict
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Psychological Association


  • Israeli Jewish–Palestinian relations
  • contact hypothesis
  • intergroup contact
  • protracted asymmetric conflict
  • real-life encounters


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