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Activities: Community work, multimedia film-making , dialogue-based initiatives, leadership development, health projects. The wall, embedded in a wider tale of politics, land grabbing, control over people and militarization, radicalized a situation that was already inclined toward restrictions on movement. Its disruptive impact on Israeli and Palestinian civil society is affected through:.
To counter the disruptive impact of the wall, organizations have put in place the following strategies:. This study did not encounter any effective response to the stigma of normalization attributed to joint initiatives. Arguably, the phenomenon of the anti-normalization drive expresses a collective need and, as such, it is particularly hard to counter with arguments centred on mutual understanding. Joint organizations, it is felt, do not directly address the need for self-determination of the Palestinians.
For the Palestinians, the wall embodies a deep violation of the sense of belonging to the land, which in itself has deep symbolic meaning. The violent uprooting that resulted from the construction of the wall represents an offense to the Palestinian spatial identity as it is felt to be a denial of their relationship with their land — a denial actualized in the loss of the land as well as the restrictions on movement. In fact, the land is conceived to be both a fundamental resource for livelihood and a symbol of identity, as agriculture has always had strong cultural, social and economic significance for Palestinians.
For example, the olive tree symbolizes their connection with the land and is the object of positive associations with heritage, tradition and roots. Territories are not only spaces inhabited and contended for by people but come to define the people themselves. This perspective can explain how the displacement and land grabbing following the erection of the wall could deeply affect people in the region, not only economically but culturally as well.
Arguably, the Palestinian need for a spatial identity based on a strong connection with the territory, rather than its loss, did not find expression in dialogue-based approaches. At the same time, this need has found expression in the work of other grassroots organizations that work to connect Palestinian NGO networks and Palestinian communities within and outside of Jerusalem, such as Stop the Wall and Grassroots Jerusalem.
These movements flourished as a direct reaction to the wall, with the purpose of counteracting its negative impact by connecting Palestinian communities on either side of the barrier. Grassroots Jerusalem argues that modern maps are actively perpetuating colonialist practices by not showing streets or shops in Palestinian villages.
Voices of reconciliation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict | Peace Insight
As suggested by the lack of satellite navigator indications, cartography is not untouched by political biases. Google Maps, by far the most widely used map application in the world, does not provide information on West Bank roads and routes although it provides detailed information about cites in Israel with the exception of East Jerusalem and the Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Grassroots Jerusalem created an online platform in collaboration with partners from 80 community organizations in 40 Palestinian communities around Jerusalem.
The organization planned to tackle the fragmentation between Palestinian communities in the Jerusalem area by encouraging a participatory mapping process. Participatory mapping is a way for people to define their territory and, by doing so, to reaffirm their spatial identity. In other words, participatory mapping is a tool for regaining spatial control. In practice, participants are given a GPS and are asked to provide information about Palestinian street names, the amount of land that was confiscated in their neighborhood, and the places that the community would like to mark on a map, such as hotels, schools, public institutions, etc.
This assessment of whether the achievement of dialogue and common spaces is a feasible goal in the current situation, albeit limited, has demonstrated that the main obstacle to joint endeavors relates to the inability of Palestinians to move freely in and out of Palestine and Israel. In addition, findings revealed that dialogue-based initiatives do not seem to meet the needs for affirming a Palestinian spatial identity based on the sense of belonging to the land. In conclusion, is it possible to work for peace through dialogue in a fenced region?
Arguably it is, but with great limitations. Possibilities for cooperation still exist and are supported by the following strategies:. On the whole, the positive impacts of these initiatives are impoverished by the structural imbalance — lack of freedom of movement and unequal civil rights — of the discriminatory system in place. Alternative spaces are destined to remain weak until the system of segregation is not at least mitigated.
Consequently, spatial planning and urban design have key roles to play in achieving reconciliation. Public spaces are a critical force in determining the level of dialogue and tension within a contested place; they can provide an arena for reconciliation or for disputation. For example, in the case of urban design as a force for peace, contested spaces can be transformed into shared spaces that display the symbolic affirmation of a shared identity.
The Israeli government should give priority to projects with the potential to integrate rather than segregate, in Jerusalem and elsewhere. Finally, the removal of defensive walls and barriers should be considered a long-term objective and should begin with a gradual reduction in the appearance of permanence in these structures. All Rights Reserved. Articles, excerpts, and translations may not be reproduced in any form without written permission. Documents Arabic Supplements Hebrew Supplements. Login Register. By Silvia Hassouna. PIJ Vol. Challenges to Joint Activities The wall, embedded in a wider tale of politics, land grabbing, control over people and militarization, radicalized a situation that was already inclined toward restrictions on movement.
Its disruptive impact on Israeli and Palestinian civil society is affected through: 1. Logistics : The barrier is a physical deterrent to joint activities. The difficulties and uncertainties that moving in and out of the West Bank entails jeopardize the realization of projects requiring cross-border mobility. Restrictions on movement : When it comes to planning a public event, the choice of location also determines the scope of attendance. Any joint activity in Jerusalem excludes many of the potential participants. Palestinians in the West Bank are frequently denied permits to move, while activities in Palestine discourage the presence of the Israeli public as Israelis are forbidden by law to enter Areas A and B.
Worn social fabric : The wall contributes to the geographical fragmentation and isolation of Palestinian communities. The permanent division between Palestinian neighborhoods, divided between the West Bank and East Jerusalem, weakens the social fabric and inhibits the Palestinian disposition to trust and listen to the other side. The anti-normalization drive : Israeli-Palestinian cooperation is felt to ignore the imbalance between the oppressors and the oppressed.
Families and communities exercise what amounts to peer pressure on people who wish to participate in peace projects. The outcome is a lack of participants in many initiatives that are perceived to be normalizing the conflict. On the Israeli side as well, peace organizations are currently unpopular in public opinion and are often accused of being unpatriotic.
Thus, Israeli public opinion is embracing its own kind of anti-normalization approach by turning its back on the legitimacy of any Palestinian argument and focusing instead on internal socioeconomic issues.
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As observed by Dajani and Baskin , official statements coming from the Palestinian Authority PA or the Israeli government would help to place these activities in a better light. Yet no public legitimacy has been given to joint initiatives. Strategies to Tackle the Challenges To counter the disruptive impact of the wall, organizations have put in place the following strategies: 1.
Creation of alternative spaces : There is a range of alternative spaces and platforms for dialogue and discussion such as radio programs, joint publications and grassroots initiatives used to overcome geographical and psychological barriers. Examples are the commemoration of both Palestinian and Israeli deaths during the alternative Memorial Day held in Tel Aviv, introduced by Combatants for Peace CFP in , and the alternative tours held in the West Bank and East Jerusalem organized by both Israeli and Palestinian NGOs aimed at integrating conflicting narratives or building a new comprehensive narrative that challenges the hegemonic one.
Use of the media: Platforms such as All for Peace Radio and the Palestine- Israel Journal PIJ contribute to overcoming geographical boundaries by creating channels for debate and exchange on many aspects of the conflict, focusing particularly on Jerusalem. Flexibility : The unstable environment has led joint organizations to use flexible structures to minimize the impact of restrictions on movement. Meetings are kept to a minimum and organizations rely on computermediated communication CMC for coordination. This flexibility ensures continuity of their work under unpredictable circumstances.
For example, CFP has adopted a flexible internal structure: This NGO is composed of approximately activists who are divided into five regional bi-national groups but have no headquarters. The members meet only under specific circumstances that involve the physical presence of both Palestinians and Israelis, and the meetings take place in Area C, often in Beit Jala 30 km from Jerusalem , a location to which both sides have access.
Personal stories : Joint organizations have developed strategies based on storytelling to counteract processes of dehumanization. Personal stories facilitate the empathic identification of the audience with the narrator. Within this framework, the sense of belonging to the land, common to both Jews and Palestinians, ideally serves to unite rather than divide them. One pattern can be identified in the different personal stories: The speakers describe an initial state of lack of awareness or bias toward the other side followed by a significant experience of violence direct or indirect which led them to an epiphany regarding the need for a nonviolent struggle to end the occupation.
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Israeli Identity. David Tal. Nonviolent Resistance in the Second Intifada. Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Salahuddin Mustafa Muhammad. Deradicalizing Islamist Extremists. Angel Rabasa. Peaceful Selves. Laura Eramian. Yael S. Svante E. Sustaining Conflict. Katherine Natanel.
Table of contents
Beyond the Mountains of Darkness. Eliezer Ya'ari. The Second Palestinian Intifada. Julie M. Identity, Violence and Power. Stephen Reicher.
Voices of reconciliation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Elizabeth Faier. Israel's Colonial Project in Palestine. Elia Zureik. Muslim Women Online. Anna Piela. Dynamics of Asymmetric Territorial Conflict. Narrating Conflict in the Middle East.
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