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.
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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.
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