Bridges over Troubled Water: A Comparative Study of Jews, Arabs, and Palestinians

Bridges over Troubled Water: A Comparative Study of Jews, Arabs, and Palestinians

Bridges over Troubled Water: A Comparative Study of Jews, Arabs, and Palestinians

Bridges over Troubled Water: A Comparative Study of Jews, Arabs, and Palestinians

Synopsis

This work determines the processes that strengthen hostility between opposing groups and identifies those who are willing to act in order to change these situations. The backdrop of the Arab-Israeli conflict is used to demonstrate how collective identities are shaped by membership in ethnic and religious groups, and how these identities influence attitudes and behavior. It examines political attitudes, hatred of "others," and willingness to assume responsibility for the various social issues of this conflict. This book takes a fresh approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict by relating it to three distinct societies: Jews, Arabs, and Palestinians. Though it deals with conflict, this assessment is optimistic in the sense that it shows that bridges can be built and maintained among these groups. These bridges are still small and fragile, but may be the structures upon which more elaborate relationships may be developed.

Excerpt

The conflict in the Middle East attracts the attention of many researchers from diverse fields like political science, sociology, and history, and the books and articles they write reflect a wide range of theories and viewpoints. The publications—both academic and nonacademic, concentrating on one side of the conflict or the other—are numerous. In many of them, the nationality of the writer determines the angle he or she presents. The unidimensional focus “silences” the voice of the other side, or accords it a minor role in the narrative.

Our book belongs to a much smaller category of publications. There is too litde academic collaboration in the Middle East, and few of the existing attempts reach successful completion. Ours is one of them. When we—an Israeli and a Palestinian—decided to work together we were aware that we live a few kilometers away from each other, but many miles apart because of the conflict tearing our societies apart. Although ideologically our collaboration was easily established, the technical aspects of working together proved to be more difficult than we had anticipated. We could not meet as often as we wanted to because of the frequent closures and curfews, and we could not read all each other’s sources as some were in Hebrew and some in Arabic. Still, this book is proof that cooperation is possible.

We do not claim to represent either the Israeli or the Palestinian view of the conflict, as there are many different perspectives in both societies. And we do not attempt to claim academic objectivity. However, our book endeavors to find a way to look at the conflict in a two-dimensional, integrated manner. First, we address both the Palestinian and the Israeli viewpoints, and base our analyses on one of the possible common grounds for both. Without losing sight of the national goals, aspirations, and dreams of both sides, we present a view of the conflict that both respects and is critical of the leadership’s theoretical and political philosophy in both contexts. The second dimension of integration is a theoretical one. Our approach is multifaceted in nature in that we incorporated theoretical, procedural, evaluative, and interpretive methods and instruments from multiple disciplines, especially sociology . . .

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