Cross-cultural conflict resolution groups: American Palestinians and Jews in dialogue on the Middle East

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Sciences


Marshall Segall


Conflict resolution

Subject Categories



The small but growing Middle East dialogue group movement consists of cross-cultural groups originally organized for the purposes of conflict resolution between Arabs and Jews. However, after reaching limited agreement groups often seek to have an impact on the political process through mobilizing new recruits into the Middle East peace and justice movement. In the attempt to function as both a conflict resolution group and a social movement organization, dialogue groups face special challenges that raise important questions for the study of conflict resolution and social movements. This research is based on a six-year (1984-1989) participant observation study of a grass roots Middle East dialogue group which includes Jews, Palestinians, and other Americans.

This research addresses two questions: (1) How does a community-based conflict resolution group function over an extended period of time? This research shows that members of this dialogue group chose to move back and forth between dialogue (internally-oriented conflict resolution) and political action (externally-oriented social movement mobilization). This appears to be an issue facing other dialogue groups as such groups attempt to resolve conflicts with each other and have an impact on their communities at the same time. (2) How do such groups have an impact on society and what kind of role do they play in the social movements of their time? The dialogue group in the study was less successful as a social movement mobilizing group and more successful as a cross-cultural training group for Jewish and Palestinian community leaders who wish to make contact with members of each others' community.

This dissertation finishes by calling for further study into the ways in which community groups use both conflict resolution and social movement mobilization to expand their influence in the community.


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