Exploring the Reproduction of Conflict Through Narrative: Israeli Youth Motivated to Participate in a Coexistence Program

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Contemporary Israeli youth are socialized in the context of intractable nationalist conflict with Palestinians, characterized by a “master” historical narrative of Jewish Israeli identity that exacerbates the conflict. This exploratory study examines the relation between this master narrative and the personal narratives of youth motivated to participate in a coexistence program. Narratives of youth suggest points of both convergence and divergence with the master narrative in their form, thematic content, and ideological settings. Like the larger story of Jewish Israeli identity, the stories of youth assumed a redemptive form and integrated themes of existential insecurity, historical persecution, exceptionalism, and delegitimization of Palestinian identity. Divergence with the master narrative suggested the significance of local communities and the growing pluralism of Israeli society, as well as policy shifts in Israel regarding the legitimacy of Palestinian statehood. Despite motivation to participate in a coexistence program, youth narratives tended to reproduce the narrative conditions of conflict. Implications for peace-building efforts with Jewish Israeli youth are discussed.

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