ARAB-ISRAELI CONFLICT: Israeli and Palestinian Identities in Dialogue: The School for Peace Approach

By Scham, Paul L. | The Middle East Journal, Autumn 2004 | Go to article overview

ARAB-ISRAELI CONFLICT: Israeli and Palestinian Identities in Dialogue: The School for Peace Approach


Scham, Paul L., The Middle East Journal


Israeli and Palestinian Identities in Dialogue: The School for Peace Approach, ed. by Rabah Haiabi. Trans, by Deb Reich. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2004. viii + 189 pages. Bibl. to 196. Contribs. to p. 198. Index to p. 204. [First published in Hebrew by Hakibbutz Hameuchad Press. Tel Aviv, Israel, 2000.] $29.95 paper.

While the "Israeli-Palestinian conflict" nowadays seems to denote for most people suicide bombings, tank incursions, and the building of an aggressive wall (or defensive fence, depending on your perspective), the more prosaic and generally less violent work of Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs (or Palestinians) trying to live in the same state continues apace. Israeli Arabs constitute about 20% of the Israeli population and have full legal rights as citizens, but it is universally, if unofficially, agreed that their citizenship, de facto if not de jure, is second class. Neve Shalom/Walat al-Salaam is a unique Arab-Israeli cooperative village founded in 1976 with the goal of breaking down barriers between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel. Its School for Peace has run workshops for many years which give the two groups an opportunity to interact in a structured, forthright manner with each other, with the hope that greater understanding of and experience with dealing with each other will incrementally improve the state of relations within the State of Israel.

This collection of ten essays by Jewish and Arab program facilitators and scholars who have worked with NS/WS is written primarily for the professional in Israeli Jewish-Arab dialogue, a limited but not infinitesimal group, as well as those who are interested in the phenomenon, and also those who conduct similar dialogues elsewhere in the world. As such, it suffers from trying to reach very different audiences; explaining some of the differences between Jewish and Arab status that are obvious to anyone with a basic knowledge of the subject, but also contributing to the scholarly literature. Most of the essays try to reach all audiences, so any reader will have to pick and choose within each essay as to which parts are of interest and potential use.

The tone of the book is not optimistic, even though the essays were originally written and published in Hebrew and Arabic editions just before the outbreak of the current lntifada. Apart from the strain of the Intifada itself, all Israelis know that within weeks of its outbreak, 13 Israeli Arab citizens were killed by police, and all agree that those killings began a new, grimmer, chapter of relations between Jews and Arabs within Israel. …

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