The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the most publicized conflicts in the world. However, when people are first learning about it, they are often only exposed to those perspectives that they are socially and culturally surrounded by. “Where Do We Stand?” is an attempt to change this and offer a new source for people to learn about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict where one can see the conflict through many different lenses. The website itself focuses on the major obstacles to peace today: borders, settlements, security, Jerusalem, and refugees/right of return. There are also topics that are not obstacles to peace but are often associated with the conflict: Narratives, BDS, and the apartheid label.
Each topic contains a brief introduction offering background information. Following the introduction, Israeli, Palestinian, and (a few) American academics former politicians or activists offer their perspectives on the issues. By presenting a wide range of perspectives, visitors can be exposed to prominent voices from across the political spectrum.
This website hopes to offer visitors many voices so they may develop more balanced, well-informed opinions. It can be a springboard for research; visitors can obtain multiple perspectives and be inspired to further investigate on their own. Importantly, it is not a comprehensive source on the history of the conflict, but a focus on where we stand today with regards to the peace process and prospects for a solution.
This project was inspired by the Fulbright Fellowship program and its emphasis on intercultural education.
“The essence of intercultural education is the acquisition of empathy–the ability to see the world as others see it, and to allow for the possibility that others may see something we have failed to see, or may see it more accurately…”
– William J. Fulbright
Introductions were carefully worded to be as neutral as possible. There are many books written on each topic, so it was the intention to provide a very brief introduction that was as neutral as possible without touching too deeply upon any sensitive or controversial aspects.
Following the introductions are “spectra.” Each “spectrum” has multiple categories of where people stand on an issue. I placed the participants’ approximate location on a particular issue based on their responses. Often, their responses did not fit exactly under one category, so they are placed in between the two categories which most closely resembled their stances. Occasionally, their placement represents what they think should happen rather than what they want.
All interviews were conducted in person or via phone or Skype by Ezra Bernstein.* Conversations were either directly transcribed, or recorded and then transcribed. Edits were made only for flow and content was not changed. Next, a copy of the conversation with comments and follow up questions was sent back to the interviewee. Mr. Bernstein did not include any of his own thoughts or opinions in any of the content. The same topics and questions were addressed with each interviewee. Follow-up questions differed depending on the response of the interviewee and were used for clarification of responses.
*Communication with Badran Jaber was executed with the help of Arabic translators. A second and separate translator was used to ensure that Mr. Jaber’s thoughts were accurately represented. Communication with Yossi Beilin was via email and by way of Gadi Baltiansky. Communication with Noam Chomsky and Alan Dershowitz was via email and largely involved the use of previously published work.
My name is Ezra Bernstein. I graduated from Brandeis University in 2011 with a BS in Biology. I carried out this project while I was on a Fulbright fellowship in Israel. I am now in Los Angeles finishing my final year of medical school at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. I am deeply interested in Middle Eastern politics. It was this interest, combined with the notion that most people are only exposed to one perspective when they are learning about the conflict, that inspired this project. Contact Ezra at firstname.lastname@example.org
A special thanks to Imri Grinberg and the entire Fulbright staff in Israel for guidance and support, all of the participants in this project for contributing their time, Professor Daniel Terris, Professor Nader Hashemi, Professor Emmanuel Navon, Emily Miller, Carmel Sandler, Nadine Badrieh, Theo Terris, Ahmad Fokra, Barbara Segal, and the many others who helped in some way.