Societal beliefs in times of intractable conflict: The Israeli case

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Intractable conflicts are characterized as protracted, irreconcilable, violent, of zero-sum nature, total, and central. They are demanding, stressful, exhausting, and costly both in human and material terms. Societies involved in this type of conflict develop appropriate psychological conditions which enable them to cope successfully with the conflictual situation. The present paper proposes the following societal beliefs which are conducive to the development of these psychological conditions: beliefs about the justness of one's own goals, beliefs about security, beliefs of delegitimizing the opponent, beliefs of positive self-image, beliefs about patriotism, beliefs about unity and beliefs about peace. These beliefs constitute a kind of ideology which supports the continuation of the conflict. The paper analyzes as an example one such intractable conflict, namely the one between Israel and Arabs, concentrating on the Israeli society. Specifically, it demonstrates the reflection of the discussed societal beliefs in the Israeli school textbooks. Finally, implications of the presented framework for peaceful conflict resolution are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-50
Number of pages29
JournalInternational Journal of Conflict Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1998


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