Guest author: Oliver Fink, University of Basel
Intractable conflicts are one of the most difficult problems of contemporary human society. They involve mass violence and fundamentally harm the well-being of the involved citizens as well as hindering the potential development of the involved societies.
Prof. Eran Halperin
THE PROJECT IDEA
Unlike a natural disaster, intractable conflicts cannot only be approached in a technical or logical way. They are less about real disagreements but rather about conflicting ideologies, differing values which will not be compromised under any circumstances and are leading to emotional reactions to conflict related events. Understanding these emotions – especially group-based emotions – are crucial in our efforts of contributing to lasting peace.
All peace proposals currently on the table are based on mutual fear and distrust.
S., Palestinian Peace Activist
The biggest weapon of mass destruction is the hatred in our hearts.
I., Medical Doctor from Gaza
In the last years, the principle of “evidence-based interventions” has become more and more important. Focusing on the question “does what I aim to achieve in a well-intentioned way really has the impact I want it to have?” Well intended is not always well done!
Especially in the field of intractable conflict, as for example the Israel/Palestine situation, there is – according to the economists of the well-known “Copenhagen Consensus” – a strong need for better programs. Our innovative collaboration between Social Psychology, Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya with Political Sciences and University of Basel can be ground breaking here.
Your research sounds very important and gives hope for new ways to solve the Israeli Palestinian conflict.
A., Physicians for Human Rights
WHAT DID WE ACHIEVE IN THE FIRST YEAR?
- Setting up a network of partners and contacts, such as a Jewish Rabbi, peace activists from both sides, a Fatah-politicians and former political prisoners.
- Experiencing the full reality of living in the Holy Land. It is especially important to us as a family to be connected to both sides of the conflict. We deliberately decided to live in Israel, but work and send our kids to a school in the West Bank; our kids speak fluent Arabic by now.
WHAT IS THE SITUATION FROM A SCIENTIFIC VIEWPOINT?
- Having successfully finalized two important quantitative studies on how conflict events impact the emotions of Palestinians as well as their related action tendencies.
- A qualitative study regarding emotional and behavioural changes from life events of former combatants and resistance activists is still in ongoing.
WHAT DO WE WANT TO ACHIEVE IN THE NEXT YEAR?
- Finalizing two further studies, ideally already with a focus on possible interventions. This is a sensitive topic though and we want to be deliberate.
- Several focus-group workshops about the possible application of the research results with respective participants and activists from both sides.
- In particular we’re in discussion with the Friedrich-Naumann Foundation regarding a possible applied project.