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Shifting Away From a Monolithic Narrative on Conflict: Israelis, Palestinians, and Americans in Conversation

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Clashing narratives and power asymmetry can serve as obstacles to promoting reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. In this study, we examine transcripts from a contact encounter among Israeli, Palestinian, and American adolescents. The first aim of this study was to identify the basic root narratives articulated by the Israeli and Palestinian participants in conversation. The second aim was to test conversational conditions associated with moments of perspective taking. Our analysis of two separate dialogue groups indicated that the Jewish participants tended to articulate a root narrative in which the Jews have good intentions to live in peace but must defend themselves. Palestinian participants tended to invoke a narrative in which they own the land but have been dispossessed and humiliated due to Jewish occupation. A comparison of different dialogue sessions indicated that when the conversation focused on the present as opposed to the past and when there was active involvement of an American third party, there were more moments in which members of each group acknowledged the narrative of the other. Our findings highlight the importance of third party involvement and concentrating discussion on the present to create more instances in which individuals can incorporate the other into their accounts of the conflict.© 2013 American Psychological Association.

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