Alon Ben-Meir

New York University
Center for Global Affairs

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Suite 11U
New York, NY
10025 |  Visit Personal Website

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Currently I am writing a book with a leading Israeli psychologist, Dr. David Rabinowitz, on the psychological dimension of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The overreaching theme of the book is is an effort to discern why it has been impossible to reach a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over so many decades when, in fact, the general parameters of such a solution have been obvious at least since the 1993 Oslo Accords. We maintain that the answer lies far beyond the political concessions on the ground and is deeply embedded in the psychological dimension of the conflict, which impacts every conflicting issue between the two parties. Biased and selective perceptions, reinforced by historical experience, religion and incompatible ideologies, have locked both sides into immobile positions. The factors that maintain and enhance these patterns include emotions such as fear, distrust and insecurity; the psychological outcome is mutual denial of the narrative of the other and mutual delegitimization. Put together, the operative result is stagnation and polarization. What is therefore needed is a consensus-oriented dialogue to reconcile the public narrative of every conflicting issue between the two sides. Such change in the public narrative should begin at the leadership level, by both officials and non-officials and encompass public and private institutions, especially educational institutions, to resolve the issues of perception–a tall order given the current environment that buttresses rather than ameliorates perceptions. We will attempt to answer three core questions: first, how exactly does the psychological substrate of the conflict actually impact on the failure to end the conflict? Second, what interventions are possible, and desirable, which could favorably alter the outcome of the conflict? And third, how can these interventions be effectively applied? The book will focus on how to mitigate these psychological impediments, which is a prerequisite to solving each and every conflicting issue.

Substantive Focus:
Governance SECONDARY
Defense and Security
International Relations PRIMARY

Theoretical Focus:
Policy History SECONDARY
Policy Analysis and Evaluation PRIMARY