New Book by Dr. Maya Kahanoff

July 7, 2016

Jews and Arabs in Israel Encountering Their Identities: Transformations in Dialogue
by Maya Kahanoff

Co-published by Lexington Books and Van Leer Institute Press

This book describes the process of inter-group dialogue meetings between Israeli Jews and Arabs that took place between students attending the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. It presents a thorough analysis of the process undertaken by participants from both national groups, as well as the group dynamic of the encounters. It conveys the voices of Jews and Arabs whose personal life experiences are colored by political attitudes and cultural expectations, and talks about the limitations and potential of dialogue during a time of conflict. The book, which reveals the powerful emotional dynamics of the inter-group encounter, contributes to understanding the psychological dimension of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

 The conversations presented in this book highlight the immense vulnerability hidden behind the aggressive behavior of each side, as well as the sense of existential threat, victimization and fear that reinforces segregation. They also reveal how both sides have a strong need for recognition and approval. At the same time, they demonstrate the far-reaching human and creative potential that lies within the encounter. The author, an experienced group facilitator and researcher, suggests that dialogue has the potential to break mental and emotional barriers and reveal the human behind abstract categories of Jew and Arab, majority and minority, oppressor and oppressed. The author argues that dialogue contains the potential to destabilize a person's  sense of identity and that the seeming failure of overt dialogue may signal the beginning of a process of inner dialogue and transformation. The book presents participants’ inner dialogues as they shift in response to the encounter with conflicting perspectives. The author maintains that it is precisely this destabilization of identity that offers the potential for serious transformation and change within the participants. An awareness of the limitations of dialogue, without renouncing it altogether, is perhaps the most realistic 

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