Ideological Perspectives of Israeli Jews Involved in Continuous Jewish-Arab Dialogue Encounters Regarding Israel’s character as a Jewish and Democratic State. Yiftach Ron The Hebrew University of Jerusalem Abstract The study explores the impact of continuous involvement in planned Jewish-Arab encounters on the ideological perspectives of Israeli-Jews regarding the chatacter of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. A thematic content analysis of 12 in-depth interviews with Jewish facilitators of major encounter programs in Israel reveals that the interviewees' continuous involvement in encounters is associated, in most cases, with a reported new awareness to the asymmetric relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel, and with a more critical perspectives regarding Zionism and regarding the character of Israel as a Jewish state. Methods - The encounter as an instructive experience in which Jews are confronted with their role in the conflict. - The encounter experience as a process of self-scrutiny. The Encounter with Power Asymmetries and Majority-Minority Relations in Israel - A new understanding of the asymmetry of power reigning in the relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel. - A first exposure to the perspective of Arab citizens on the Israeli society and the Israeli state. Changes in Jewish facilitators' perspective on Zionism and on Israel as a Jewish-democratic state - 10 out of 12 interviewees describe a significant transformation to a more critical perspectives regarding Zionism and regarding Israel as a Jewish state. Research Population: - 12 Jewish-Israeli interviewees, six women and six men. Their ages range from 28 to 54. - All interviewees have been involved, as participants and as facilitators, in Jewish-Arab dialogue groups in established encounter programs in Israel. - All hold academic degrees in the humanities or social sciences. The Interviews - Semi-structured interviews. Fully recorded and transcribed for analysis. - Each interview lasted from one and a half to two and a half hours. - All interviews were conducted in Hebrew, except one which was conducted in English at the request of the interviewee. Analysis of the Interviews -The interviews were analyzed thematically based on the grounded theory approach. Findings The Encounter as a Significant Experience, Confronting the Interviewees with their Role in the Jewish-Arab Conflict - The encounter experience fosters a new awareness and precludes self deception. TEMPLATE DESIGN © 2007 www.PosterPresentations.com Conclusion The findings of this study indicate that the repeated involvement of Israeli-Jewish facilitators in planned intercultural encounters with Arabs is associated, in the vast majority of cases, with a significant ideological shift. The interviewees described the encounters as raising their awareness to the Asymmetric relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel and to claims regarding the discrimination towards the Arab citizens of Israel. Moreover, the vast majority of the interviewees described their continuing encounter with Arabs as leading them to an increased detachment from Zionist ideology and to a significant decrease in their support of the definition of Israel as a Jewish state. Acknowledgements I would like to thank Prof. Ifat Maoz and Dr. Zvi Bekerman from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for their supervision and devoted guidance.