Does contact work in protracted asymmetrical conflict? Appraising 20 years of reconciliation-aimed encounters between Israeli Jews and Palestinians
In the past few decades, planned contact interventions between groups in conflict have played an important role in attempts at improving intergroup relations and achieving peace and reconciliation. This article focuses on such reconciliation-aimed intergroup encounters between Israeli Jews and Palestinians that seek to reduce hostility and increase understanding and cooperation between the two nationalities. Like other contact interventions conducted in settings of intergroup conflict, encounters between Israeli Jews and Palestinians represent a paradoxical project: this is a project that aspires to generate equality and cooperation between groups that are embedded in a protracted asymmetrical conflict. Though existing research teaches us valuable lessons on the effectiveness of contact conducted under optimal conditions, little is said about contact between groups involved in asymmetrical protracted dispute. The goal of this analysis is to examine the evolution of reconciliation-aimed contact interventions between Israeli Jews and Palestinians in the past 20 years. The research method is qualitative, relying on ethnographic data assembled during the relevant period of time. The findings identify and trace the evolution of four major models of Jewish-Palestinian planned encounters: the Coexistence Model, the Joint Projects Model, the Confrontational Model, and the Narrative-Story-Telling Model. The strengths and limitations of each model in transforming intergroup attitudes in asymmetric conflict are discussed.
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