Monday, January 18, 2010

The Manhattan Peace Process on Israel and Palestine

In reading Betwa Sharma's story of an Israeli-Palestinian dialogue facilitated by Marcia Kannry in New York City, I am struck again by the failure of process. In this dialogue, as reported, a Palestinian woman< Ms. Rahsid, is complaining. To characterize a bomb attack on a Palestinian bus as an "operation," she says, is unacceptable and dehumanizing to her. Instead of stopping the conversation right there to explore this statement more deeply, the dialogue participants jumped in. An Israeli woman was apparently personally offended and the conflict cycle engaged. Ms. Kannry missed the moment. I see this so often in Israeli-Palestinian dialogues. The same cycle is poignantly depicted in the documentary "To Die for Jerusalem," and is repeated countless times wherever Israelis and Palestinians meet. What is needed are deeper skills to help these people process and work through their grief, anger, humiliation, and frustration. Facilitated dialogues hold excellent potential for reconciliation and understanding in the Israeli and Palestinian civic societies. To prevent conflict escalation, facilitators should be thinking about processes that engage participants, especially in moments of provocation or high emotion. Until we up the game, the results of the dialogues will continue to mirror the results of the political negotiations: stalemate, frustration, and blame.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost


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