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Hearts of Flesh - Not Stone

The Hearts of Flesh Project is an Interdisciplinary Study of Intergroup Reconciliation with a focus on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

No one needs to be convinced about the complexity and entrenchment of the conflict between the Israeli and the Palestinian people. The grim history of the region - of violence, broken promises, injustices, etc., could easily lead to pessimism about possibilities for reconciliation.
In terms of conflict resolution, it would be difficult to find a more intractable conflict or one more plagued by hard-bargaining tactics. Despite the general desire to end the violence and to move in the direction of stable and just political structures, the movement in that direction is impeded by collective emotions of pain, distrust and the desire for revenge. Profound insecurity and resentment permeates the psychologies of individuals in the region on cognitive and emotional levels.
There is much to be gained by viewing these phenomena in terms of groups. Members of a group share a "collective intentionality" about shared values, historical narratives and goals. This social reality is the subject of social psychologists and political scientists, and it is profoundly influenced by religious beliefs.

The project wants to advocate the discourse between both partners on the levels:

  • first, by the collaboration of the "cross-conflict" partnerships their cooperation on cultural and intellectual levels is to be cultivated
  • secondly, projects are to be established, which are to be of direct assistance to victims of the conflict
  • finally, it is about international and interdisciplinary cooperation, which is vital for illuminating the complex tensions between Israelis and Palestinians decidedly and considering approaches from different directions. Worth mentioned in this context are the disciplines of psychology, political sciences, theology and history.

» Prof. Dr. Martin Leiner (Chair for systematic theology/ ethics in Jena, Germany) has been dealing with topics like conciliation, conflict resolution and their causes and effects for years. The DFG-proposal for the trilateral project has been set up by him, in committed collaboration of:

» Dr. Martin O'Malley, associate at the Center of Ethics in Jena and prospective coordinator of the project on the German part. Jena will thereby serve as a branch point of the project and play a communicating role.

» Prof. Dr. Arie Nadler (Chair for social psychology in Tel Aviv, Israel) will coordinate the project as Israeli partner and enrich it due to his psychological know-how. Empirical research will play a major role in the process. He will i.a. explore, which conditions there are for improvement or impairment of understanding between groups with asymmetric relations.

Our partner on part of Palestine is not mentioned here due to the present boycott and resulting difficulties. For her/him pedagogic topics and intergroup dialogue will be of relevance.

A Summer School dealing with the Middle East is intended for presumably summer 2016. Further conferences in Germany and Israel are planned, to create additional levels of discussion between the operating groups. The subsequent results are to be published in the already existing series of books.