Between Hope and Fear: A Dialogueon the Peace Process in the Middle East and the Polarized Israeli Society

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Abstract

The restarting of the peace process in the Middle East in 1993 raised the hopes of many in Israel for progress toward resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Yet the Oslo agreements raised not only hope but also fears. The latter triggered a deep schism and polarization within the Israeli society. These led to a delegitimization campaign by those opposing the peace process that was directed both against the rationale underlying the change of policies and its architects Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The escalation of polarization saw the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin and the seeming paradox of an election victory for the political rightist parties' candidate, Binyamin Netanyahu. Two Israeli social scientists present in dialogue form alternative psychopolitical perspectives and interpretations of the evolution of these critical events.

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