Beliefs Predicting Peace, Beliefs Predicting War: Jewish Americans and the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict


  • Acknowledgments: The first author would like to thank Rachel Wallace, Craig Haney, Jean Fox Tree, and Sarah Anne Minkin for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this article.


Jewish Americans’ opinions on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict influence both the Israeli and the U.S. governments. Consequently, the Jewish American diaspora can act to promote or inhibit the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. Several different sociopsychological beliefs have been postulated to lead individuals to support the perpetuation of conflict. Among these beliefs are a sense of collective victimhood, dehumanization and delegitimization of the other side, a zero-sum view on the conflict, and a monolithic narrative about the conflict. In this exploratory study we examined the role of these beliefs in predicting Jewish Americans’ rejection or support of compromise solutions to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. A survey study of 176 Jewish Americans shows that a monolithic view on the conflict, dehumanizing and delegitimizing of the other side, and a zero-sum view on the conflict played an important role in predicting opposition to compromise solutions for the Palestinian–Israeli conflict. Beliefs about collective victimhood did not predict support for compromise solutions. Findings are discussed in terms of the centrality of narrative misrecognition in preventing agreement to concessions toward the other side.