conflict & communication online, Vol. 2, No. 1, 2003
ISSN 1618-0747




Dov Shinar
Peace process in cultural conflict: The role of the media

This article explores (1) the cultural nature of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict; (2) the "intractability" of cultural conflicts; (3) conflict management models: reconciliation/"end-of-conflict" versus "conflict transformation" and their relation to cultural conflict; (4) the serious consequences of the wrong matching of models and conflicts, such as using the reconciliation model in cultural conflict; (5) the changing role of the media in international relations, and their contribution to the "crisis of expectations" that came to fruition in September 2000, with the eruption of the Intifada; (6) the possibility of the media contributing to peace processes; and (7) implications of the media adoption of the conflict transformation model.
The premises are that, unlike other violent confrontations, the Middle Eastern conflict is fundamentally cultural, particularly in its Palestinian-Israeli version; that cultural conflicts are "intractable" (Lederach, 1998; Burgess&Burgess, 1996; Kraybill, 1995), in the sense that they are very difficult, perhaps impossible to resolve; that reconciliation is not the only possible or desirable outcome of conflict: transformation (Vayrynen, 1991) is another viable option; that mistaken interpretations of conflict-resolution strategies can lead to "crises of expectations" in policy-making, in the media, and in public opinion; and that the media can play important roles in these processes.


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On the author: Dov Shinar, Professor and Chair, Department of Communication Studies; Director, The Burda Center for Innovative Communications, Ben Gurion University, Israel; Professor Emeritus, Concordia University, Montreal. His fields of interest include the socio-cultural dimensions of communication technologies; international communications; media in war and peace; media and development, emphasizing collective identities, institutional change, media education, and minority/community media.

Address: Department of Communication Studies, Ben Gurion University of the Negev (, P.O. Box 653, Beer Sheva 84105. e-mail: