Socio–Psychological Barriers to Peace Making: The Case of the Israeli Jewish Society


  • The authors thank the anonymous reviewers as well as the editors, Jack Dovidio and Vicki Esses, for their very insightful comments on the submitted draft of this article.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Daniel Bar-Tal, School of Education, Tel-Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel [e-mail:]. During 2010–2011, he is a Visiting Scholar at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, Brandeis University [e-mail].


The present article describes the socio–psychological barriers that play a major role in Israeli Jewish society in the attempts to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict peacefully. After presenting the general conceptual framework of the socio–psychological barriers, our analysis of Israeli Jewish society focuses on two main aspects: conflict-supporting beliefs that provide well-based arguments that feed the continuation of the conflict, and emotions of fear and hatred that fuel it. Despite major changes in Israeli Jewish society through the years, many of these beliefs and emotions have remained dominant and continue to obstruct possible peaceful resolution of the conflict. They inhibit penetration of new information that could aid in facilitating the development of the peace process. The article presents the obstructing beliefs and emotions in detail, relying mostly on national surveys conducted between 2000 and 2009. Finally, it discusses the implications of the presented data and proposes ways to overcome these socio–psychological barriers.