conflict & communication online, Vol. 12, No. 2, 2013
ISSN 1618-0747




Claudia König
German volunteers’ experiences with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Positioning, emotional ambivalence and emotional closeness

This study analyzes how young Germans’ mental models of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict change during their voluntary service in Israel or Palestine. Thirty-three German volunteers answered a questionnaire on positioning, emotional ambivalence and emotional closeness before they left Germany. After a period of four months in Israel or Palestine they answered a second questionnaire. Although the study is not representative, it shows that nearly half of the participants changed their position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during their stay. Confirming the findings of prior research, the results indicate that emotional closeness to one or the other conflict party plays an important role in taking a stance on the conflict. Especially participants who developed a stronger emotional closeness to the Palestinians shifted towards a clearly pro-Palestinian position.



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The author:
After completing her A levels in 2006, Claudia König did eight months of voluntary service in a home for handicapped children in Israel and subsequently began to study psychology at the University of the Saarland and at the University of Konstanz. From 2009 until 2012 she was a member of the Peace Research Group (Projektgruppe Friedensforschung) at the University of Konstanz where she worked as a student assistant in the DFG project “Criticizing Israel, coming to terms with German history and differentiating aspects of modern anti-Semitism“ under the direction of Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Kempf. In the frame of the project, she dealt in her BA thesis with the present topic. Currently she is enrolled in a Masters program in psychology at the University of Konstanz.