Narration of past and present in the Israeli education system - A case study of a university in Jerusalen
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The aim of this study is to investigate the narrations of past and present among students and professors of social science and history at an Israeli university in Jerusalem. Moreover, the goal is to address the perceived effect and value of encounters between Palestinian and Israeli youth on the university campus. The fieldwork was conducted in Palestine and Israel from August to October 2014. During the fieldwork, 15 semi-structured interviews were carried out with 17 informants – 14 students and 3 professors. This study suggests that the school system has the ability to influence relations between conflicting parts in negative and positive ways. The study further argues that history teaching effects the construction of Palestinian and Israeli social identities, and can thus inflame the conflict by presenting negative and biased images of the other group. Psychological barriers among individuals in Israel and Palestine are crucial for the understanding of the deep-rooted mechanisms in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. By offering different, and multiple narratives of Israel and Palestine, the school system and the academia have the potential to play a vital role in the achieving sustainable solution to the conflict. Findings of the study indicate that the university to a larger extent than primary education presents a variety of narratives of the Israeli and Palestinian past and present. Findings further show that the university avoids presentations of contested political issues. Thus, this seems to be an obstacle and challenge concerning the presence of the Palestinian narrative. The majority of the informants said that the university represented the first time when they could interact with members of the other group in an everyday setting. The study suggests that the encounters between Israeli and Palestinian students at the university can lead to an adjustment of prejudices and negative images of the other. Experiences from a dialogue group for Israeli and Palestinian students organised by the university, show that the university have the potential enabling fruitful encounters between the two groups. Essential for positive outcomes of dialogue seems to be that discrepancies in power relations and social barriers are addressed and discussed during the encounters. However, the dialogue group at the university represent the exceptions rather than the rule at the university. This study argues that the university has the potential to do more to reduce psychological barriers in the conflictual terrain between Israeli and Palestinian students.
Master i flerkulturell og internasjonal utdanning