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Prefiguring Peace

Israeli-Palestinian Peacebuilding Partnerships

Michelle I. Gawerc

Prefiguring Peace: Israeli-Palestinian Peacebuilding Partnerships, a longitudinal study of more than ten years (1993–2008), focuses on the major peacebuilding initiatives with an educational encounter-based approach in Israel and Palestine. It examines how non-governmental peacebuilding initiatives adapt to radically changing environments, the challenges they face, and why some are able to adapt and survive while others do not. Michelle I. Gawerc explores two aspects of adaptation—the ability to maintain resources and legitimacy with critical constituencies outside the organization, and the ability to continue to function effectively as an organization.

Her study shows that when the environment became more tumultuous and hostile, the effectiveness and even survival of these organizations depended to a significant degree on their ability to manage the power asymmetry between the two sides and work as equally as possible. Indeed, it became critical for building and maintaining trust and respect in the partnership; for preserving legitimacy with one’s partner; for maintaining staff and active participant commitment; for managing internal conflict; and even for managing resources. Organizations that failed to deal effectively with matters of equality, and the needs and desires of both sides, ended up struggling to maintain commitment or were doused in conflict that could have been tempered if they strived for more equality.

Encompassing various fields, this research contributes to the broad fields of peace and conflict resolution, social movements, and organizational studies. It offers critical insight into how organizations adapt to sudden and drastic changes: what is problematic, what is possible, and what allows some groups to survive while others do not. In addition, it has great import for building sustainable coalitions across inequality, asymmetry, and difference.
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Lexington Books
Pages: 310Size: 6 1/4 x 9 3/8
978-0-7391-6610-9 • Hardback • May 2012 • $100.00 • (£70.00)
978-0-7391-6612-3 • eBook • May 2012 • $99.99 • (£70.00)
Michelle I. Gawerc is assistant professor of sociology and global studies at Loyola University Maryland.
Foreword by William A. Gamson
List of Abbreviations
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Twelve Organizations
Chapter 3: Political and Social Context: Three Environments
Chapter 4: The Challenge of Asymmetry
Chapter 5: A Dance of Legitimacy
Chapter 6: Maintaining and Distributing Resources
Chapter 7: Managing Internal Conflict
Chapter 8: Maintaining Commitment: Organizational Considerations
Chapter 9: Commitment, Community, and Collective Identity
Chapter 10: Conclusion
Appendix A: Organizational Updates
Appendix B: Israeli Peace NGO Forum Statement on the Gaza War and Palestinian Peace NGO Statement on the Gaza War
Prefiguring Peace: Israeli-Palestinian Peacebuilding Partnerships is a lucid, beautifully written, and important contribution to the literature on grass-roots peace-building and peace studies. In a richly textured analysis stretching over ten years of research in the region, Gawerc offers a nuanced in-depth analysis of Israeli and Palestinian “people to people” partnerships, showing that their ultimate success depends on contending with serious micro and macro power asymmetries. Her scholarship sets the standard for a conflict-resolution paradigm linking peace and justice.
Charles Derber, professor of sociology, Boston College; author of The Wilding of America and Corporation Nation

Courageous private individuals, both Israeli and Palestinian, struggled through the long years of the Middle East "Peace Process" to create mutual esteem and cooperative work among themselves while governments apathetically let the opportunities for peace slip through their fingers. Terrible disparities of power imperiled all their efforts. Many, for all their devotion, found themselves simply broken by the burden. Most often, they understood the nature of the conflict in sharply different ways. Michelle Gawerc, of a family of Holocaust survivors who understood the suffering of another displaced people, studied the relations of these pioneers of peace over a long period of years. She had to win the confidence of people who lived under constantly daunting pressure from one another's and their own communities and no one knows this heroic scene better than she. Hers is a true work of the transformation of conflict, recognizing that the human relations between conflicting parties constitute the most critical element in the healing of the society.
Raymond G. Helmick, Boston College

Michelle Gawerc opens a window into the world of Israeli and Palestinian activists striving to build partnerships of equality and respect, while struggling to maintain legitimacy in their polarized communities. Prefiguring Peace is a compelling chronicle of Israeli-Palestinian peace advocacy in an era of escalating conflict.
Ned Lazarus, George Mason University

Michelle Gawerc has written a captivating, well researched and accessible study of peacebuilding in Israel-Palestine. She provides an insightful analysis of how peacebuilding organizations overcome internal conflicts in order to affect the conflict at large. The book documents the peace camp's ability to survive in some of the darkest moments of the conflict without minimizing the challenges facing the existence of these organizations. In doing so, the author presents a clear model for how peacebuilding organizations can adapt to a fast-changing environment. Gawerc's book is proof that the path for peace is paved with education and cooperation, without which all peace agreements are doomed to failure. Overall, the book is a convincing and engaging tale of the vitality of the Israeli-Palestinian peace movement.
Aziz Abu Sarah, George Mason University