Hanna, Helen. “Refugee Dealing with Difference in the Divided Educational Context: Balancing Freedom of Expression and Non-Discrimination in Northern Ireland and Israel.” Compare (early view; online first).
It has long been established that an effective citizenship education in a multicultural society must incorporate some exposure to a variety of views on different topics. However, the ability and willingness to deal with difference relating to controversial matters of national identity, narrative and conflict vary. This is not least the case in the ethno-nationally divided and conflict-affected jurisdictions of Northern Ireland and Israel. This article relates qualitative research conducted among students, teachers and policy-makers in these two jurisdictions that explores the area of dealing with difference within citizenship education. Using the starting point of a framework based on international law on education, the article goes on to consider how freedom of expression and non-discrimination are variously interpreted and balanced when exploring controversial issues in the classroom of a divided society.
This study analyzes two case studies: the Unionist–Republican conflict and the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. These disputes are comparable in that peace accords depend on majorities ceding rights to subordinate nationalist groups. However, dominant nationalist groups in the two cases have behaved differently. Unionists have proven more willing to make the necessary political concessions for peace. Testing hypotheses derived from theories of negotiation, trust, opportunity, positive and negative contact and covenants, the findings suggest these variations may be partially explained by the level of trust in subordinate nationalists, perceived threats to dominant labor, and the level of religiosity among dominant nationalists. Trust is a function of both the cessation of violence and a commitment to not engage in future violence. The impact of compromise on dominant labor played a greater role in Northern Ireland than in Israel. Religiosity also serves as a major obstacle toward concessions. Secularization plays a crucial role in opening dominant nationalists to compromise.
Wehrenfennig, Daniel. The Missing Link: Citizen Dialogue in Northern Ireland and Israel/Palestine. Irvine: University of California, Irvine, 2009.
The past three decades have brought major changes in the conflicts in Northern Ireland and Israel/Palestine. While both have had a peace process, Northern Ireland seems farther on its way to sustainable peace; Israel/Palestine is far away from it. Though both conflicts and peace processes have been intensively studied, the factor of citizen dialogue in these processes of change is a missing link that has hardly been explored.
This thesis is based upon extensive theoretical work. It assumes that citizen dialogue plays an important role in peacebuilding and that it can at least partially account for the different outcomes in the cases studied.
Hypothesizing that citizen dialogue is more likely to succeed in bringing peaceful change when it is: ongoing over a longer period of time, proactive and strategic in nature, and integrates various civil society and grassroots actors/groups into a peace constituency that is linked with the political decision-making process. To explore this hypothesis, 125 comparative field interviews with academic experts, participants and practitioners of citizen dialogue were personally conducted in Northern Ireland and Israel/Palestine.
These interviews are further supported by secondary interviews and material. The thesis concludes that indeed citizen dialogue took place very differently in both situations over time, though the cases had similar contextual circumstances at some points (e.g. the early 1990’s). In particular, the ongoing, linking and strategic qualities of the citizen dialogue processes as a whole were lacking in quality in the Israel/Palestine context. Citizen dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians in general are short term or frequently interrupted, limiting their trust-building impact. There are missing links between the political elites and civil society and grassroots actors in Israel/ Palestine and citizen dialogue processes generally lack a long-term strategic perspective. This leads to a suboptimal outcome of citizen dialogue and limits its impact for peacebuilding. In contrast, in Northern Ireland the long-term sustained relationships carried the peace process forward and the linkages between the official and unofficial levels became of major importance. In addition, strategies of key civil society actors and major funders to build peace capacities within and between each group paid off in the long-term.