Sociopsychological Infrastructure of intractable conflict through the lens of Palestinians: Analysis...
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Sociopsychological Infrastructure of intractable conflict through the lens of Palestinians: Analysis of children & youth's writings in the Palestinian newspapers (1996-2007) Meytal Nasie, M.A., under the guidance of Prof. Daniel Bar-Tal Tel-Aviv University. Abstract

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Abstract

Sociopsychological Infrastructure of intractable conflict through the lens of Palestinians: Analysis of children & youth's writings in the Palestinian newspapers (1996-2007)

Meytal Nasie, M.A., under the guidance of Prof. Daniel Bar-Tal

Tel-Aviv University

Abstract

The present study attempts to investigate the sociopsychological infrastructure of the Palestinian society, coping with the realities of the intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In particular, the study examines the views of Palestinian children and youths (aged 9-18) toward the conflict, as expressed in their writings in Palestinian newspapers. The study identifies 278 newspaper items – letters, poems, stories, and articles written by Palestinian children and youths, and published in the children and youth’s newspaper “Yara’at”. The timeline of this study focuses on three distinct conflict periods: the peace process (1996-1997), peak of the conflict (2001-2002), and relative calm period (2005-2007). By examining on the sociopsychological infrastructure in the Palestinian case, the study aims to contribute to the existing research on the sociopsychological foundations of intractable conflict, which has so far focused predominantly on the Israeli society. The key findings of the study show that about a third of the selected newspaper items dealt with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These findings confirm one of the key characteristic of an intractable conflict – its center of gravity in the life of the society which experiences it. In addition, using quantitive analysis, the findings demonstrate the existence of the sociopsychological infrastructure and its key elements in the writings of Palestinian children and youth, albeit in different magnitude. In particular, their writings reflect mainly the following three key elements: (1) societal beliefs of one’s own victimization, (2) patriotism, and (3) collective emotional orientation of hope.

Background

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an intractable conflict, characterized by persisting conditions of fear, insecurity, stress, frustration, despondency, pain, and bereavement. According to a conceptual model of the sociopsychological foundations of intractable conflicts, societies in conflict develop a sociopsychological infrastructure in order to cope with these challenges. This infrastructure consists of shared beliefs, attitudes, feelings, motivations and emotions that shape, maintain, and strengthen the collective social identity of a society in conflict. In particular, the infrastructure is based on the following three key elements: (1) ethos of conflict, comprised of eight societal beliefs: the justness of one’s own goals, security, patriotism, unity, peace, one’s own victimization, positive ingroup image, and delegitimizing of the rival; (2) collective memory, and (3) collective emotional orientations of fear, hope, anger, hatred, and revenge. The sociopsychological infrastructure becomes a prism through which society members construe their reality, collect new information, interpret their experiences and make decisions.

Main Objective

Portraying the sociopsychological infrastructure of the Palestinian society.

% patriotism, one's own victimization and hope change by the intensity of

the conflict.

Key findings

Example of one's own victimization item

Pain (14 years old girl from Ramallah)

The bats are living in our houses, the fear is in our children hearts, the anarchy reigns on our kingdom and our pain becomes stronger... they killed our youth, deported our families, decried our women,humiliated our men […] and our pain becomes stronger… they uprooted our tents, destroyed our homes, burned our fields and stole our land […] we opened our mouths, talked and talked […] but nobody listen to us. All these words went out from our mouths and disappear. What is the benefit of the words, besides the relief of the pain? and how long our pain will last?

(translated from Arabic)

Elements of the sociopsychological infrastructure exist in the writings(%)

Discussion

Through their messages disseminated in newspapers, the Palestinian children and youth serve as socialization agents with a potential to significantly influence not only their peer groups but also adults. Their expressions about the conflict are relatively moderate and include onlyfew negative terms of hatred, delegitimizing and calling for revenge toward the Israeli side. However, at the same time, their expressions are not directed toward peace. In this perspective, this study shows how Palestinian children and youth channel their daily struggle and experiences through their writings, expressing their distress and suffering, and providing a creative and active path to participate in the conflict itself. Their writings can provide a relevant case study of children and youth worldwide, who live in shadows of violent intractable conflicts.

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