Independent research on the IEA

Interfaith Encounter Association and its groups are constantly attracting researchers from various universities and disciplines. Below are some published papers that focus on our work.

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Dr. Ben Mollov and Ms. Gili Rozen, Bar-Ilan University – Qualitative research, 2014

Summary (taken from the paper’s conclusion):

A number of conclusions become relatively clear concerning the impact and conditions for the inter-religious dialogue to succeed in promoting love and forgiveness. First of all, it was evident that the inter-religious encounter made participants more open to the “religious other” while often making the particular identity of the participants stronger and more positive. The identification of commonalties in religious practices in the various religion, and discussion of them was a critical factor for success. However equal in importance to the formal encounters were the informal ties which developed between the participants and made many other processes such as relationship transformation possible. Many, but not all, of the participants had a generally positive  predisposition  for  participation in such activities, often generated by early family influences and a general curiosity, however meetings strengthened these tendencies.

While the number of participants in the very promising activities of the IEA is still relatively small, there is some discernible trend (which needs to be strengthened) of expanding the circle of participants and creating a larger ripple effect, particularly as each participant often affects the perceptions of others in their social and family circles.

Paper in English

Dr. Ben Mollov and Dr. Chaim Lavie, Bar-Ilan University – Quantitative research 2014

Summary (taken from the paper’s conclusion):

Four tables represent the composite quantitative data results measuring perception change of the participants in the several  IEA dialogue groups earlier assessed from the qualitative perspective.

Arab and Jewish participants were asked to fill out questionnaires in June 2014 asking for their perceptions of the other side from both the perspective of before participating in dialogue activity and also from their current perspective (after).

As can be seen the overall direction of the data shows a strengthening of existing positive dispositions following the dialogue work. (The one exception is the perception of “characteristics by Arabs towards Jews which did not change.)

The quantitative analysis corroborates the main findings of our qualitative report that the core participants in IEA were generally favorably disposed towards the “other” with a general willingness to engage; however these tendencies were strengthened as a result of the dialogue and relationship building activities. This indicates a discernible impact of the work of the dialogue activities and has important implications for maintaining “peace willingness” on the part of the core participants, which is not to be taken for granted in today’s environment. While a key challenge remains the expansion of the core group towards an increased number of participants from larger circles in both Jewish and Arab society, the maintenance of strengthening of relationships and perceptions of each side towards the other has important positive implications indicating the efficacy of the inter-religious approach to dialogue and peace building.

Paper in English

 

Prof. Frida Kerner Furman, DePaul University

Journal of Religion, Conflict, and Peace, Volume 4. Issue 2, Spring 2011

http://www.religionconflictpeace.org/node/99

Summary (taken from the paper’s conclusion):

Interfaith Encounter Association members claim to have been personally transformed by their participation in their organization. For them, stereotypes have been broken and enemies have been re-humanized and are now perceived as people who also face the difficulties of the conflict. Friendships have been forged, resulting, for some, in exposure to one another’s families, homes, and cultures. In many cases, trust has been developed across the divide, the legitimacy of the other’s narrative has been at least partially accepted, and fear has been concomitantly reduced. Everyone believes there will be peace some day, though some are not at all confident that it will arrive during their lifetime. Still, they refuse to give up hope. This refusal fuels members’ continuing participation in encounter groups in spite—or perhaps because—of suicide bombings, house demolitions, military incursions, and heightened tensions over mass arrests in the West Bank or civilian-targeting rockets from Gaza.

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Ms. Odelia Gross and Ms. Isabella Holostoy, Bar Ilan University , 2013

Part of Master’s degree in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program on Conflict Management and Negotiation

Summary (English):

First and foremost it is important to stress that undoubtedly we are both very happy for choosing this path of field project. We have no doubt that if we did not do so we would not have benefited from our studies what we learned during the year in which we took part in the encounters.

This connection, between the theories we studied so much and the reality on the ground, the meeting of theory and practice, was fascinating in our eyes. So much so, that even though we completed our hours’ quota and the paper is already written and ready, we continue to take part in these encounters.

We truly believe that such projects of dialogue contribute to mutual understanding and it is highly desirable that they will integrated in as many cities as possible … No doubt that this sitting in a circle and the open and relaxed conversation plays a very significant role. Behind the big conflicts between politicians and religions there are people exactly like us …

It should also be considered to introduce such a project into the education system and we are sure that it will be very beneficial and that education for the understanding of the other from an early age is extremely significant.

Full paper in Hebrew

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Ms. Laya Schwartz, Bar Ilan University , 2010

Part of Master’s degree in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program on Conflict Management and Negotiation

 Summary (taken from the conclusions section of the paper):

…Despite the fact that the participants come from a state of openness, the influence of the encounters improved their attitude towards the other in a significant way. It seems that the openness that characterizes many is not enough, but the encounters themselves generate strengthening of this openness and prevent deterioration. In addition, I found that through the participation in the encounters, this openness very slowly diffuses into the larger society. Many participants come to the encounters out of the reason that a friend brought them. Out of the responses of the interviewees about the influence of their participation in the organization’s encounters, it seems that there is a slow influence that causes the environment of the participants to open to the other and to the possibility of dialogue and coexistence.

… A significant additional difficulty, which also slows the pace advancement into the society is the lack of funding, without which it is not possible to widely publicize the organization. If more people were aware of the existence of the organization and of the existence of its encounters, more would have joined and thus it was possible to see wider change of attitudes.

… It is important to note, that even in cases when conflicts arose out of the difficult reality, which has many conflicts, the groups stood to the test. The Reut-Sadaqa group and the Women’s Group were active at the peak of the Intifada and managed to cope with suicide attacks, IDF retaliation activities etc. The ADAMA group continued its encounters even following the war in Gaza. It seems that the deep relations that developed in the groups helped their participants to cope with these difficult events and go through them together, instead of moving away from each other.

Full paper in English

Full paper in Hebrew

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