Peace And Justice

Dear all,
As a psychologist I would like to contribute to the vision of the doughut model by promoting
1.Government Funded Education on Emotion Regulation
2. Building peaceful relationships between countries now in conflict by creating awareness of how traumatic experiences influence our actions and keep us rotating in destructive cylces of violence:
utilizing state of the art interventions of trauma treatment and collective trauma resolution. I am very much interested to start a discussion with other peace building stakeholders in particular those working on the Israeli Palestinian Conflict.

Delighted to read your post, thanks for taking the time.
I am a humanist and have a further perspective to offer the discussion.
I agree that emotional development, (not sure I like the word regulation) in particular empathy, should be an important part of the educational curriculum.
Without this first step, your second point on dispute resolution, is less likely to succeed.
In addition Israel and Palestine have the added complexity of counter-factual religious beliefs underpinning their conflict.
Perhaps our education system could also look to shed superstitious belief systems and encourage our shared humanity?

That’s an interesting point. Although Emotion Regulation sounds too mechanical for what should be the domain of ethics and culture. Fixing emotional trauma is not battling the cause - the trauma is the effect. And the strong emotion is not the cause either - there should be something before it is triggered. One case is not enough, a strong emotion had to reappear again and again to lead to trauma. If it reappears, then there is a reason for that. That reason need to be addressed. And the reason is economical.

In Israeli Palestinian conflict - would there be a conflict if both people had enough land to breed?

That brings another question - would anyone risk their life is they had the choice to live peacefully? I had examples that say - no. People (man) leaving families and join the army to escape the psychological pressure of caring about children together or inability to raise money. I don’t think they had money for psychologists, and if we talks about state sponsored psychologists for every such family, then something in the economic gameplay is definitely broken.

I agree that growing empathy is a must have for any education and culture. In Asia it is part of religion, which is in turn is part of modern life. I am not sure the empathy had left much space in capitalist countries, but I may be biased.

Dear Phillip,
Thank you so much for your comment. I realize that the term regulating emotions sounds a bit cold. It comes from Polyvagal Theory by Stephen Porges , a neuroscientist who gave us insight how our autonomic nervous system shapes our reactions. He proposes that all our responses are actions in service of survival. Our autonomic nervous system does not make a judgement about good or bad, it simply acts to manage risk and always seeks safety.This is why understanding perception particularly in political conflicts ,is far more important than reality . " If we are not safe we are chronically in a state of evaluation and defensiveness" ( Porges, 2011) It is however very hopeful that we can learn how to navigate our autonomous nervous system from danger into safety ,from being in a state of freeze or fight/flight reaction to feeling more connected to ourselves and therefore also to others. It should be a 21 st century skill available to anybody.

I totally agree with you that developing empathy and compassion are crucial , but in a political conflict this can only happen if we can see cues of safety and perceive safe relationships. It is therefore the question whether peace buidling can actually happen where it is most needed or that it has to be in a neutral Safe Space with other parties that are considered as safe to both parties and that can create new opportunities for connection.
The recent events make us more than ever aware of our shared humanity. I agree with you that religious beliefs should not be part of the public educational system , but something that people can seek privately if they want to.
In the Israeli Palestinian conflict perhaps looking at religion as a psychological resource for some people and involving the interfaith community ,bridges could be build. When something is so emotional it needs an emotional response and that is what I feel, very much lacking in todays politics.
Lovely to meet you in this forum dear Phillip and looking forward to more sharing of ideas.
Warmly , Sylvia Silberg Healthcare Psychologist ,The Hague, The Netherlands
(City of the Peace Palace )

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Thank you for your post relating to collective trauma and peace work.

I wrote an extended reply (just over a page long) with several hyperlinks. As I’m only allowed 5 links, I copied my reply entitled ‘*Peace-Making and Collective Trauma in the Israeli Palestinian Conflict’ which can be accessed as a PDF file by Clicking Here.

I cover issues relating to collective trauma and the Israeli Palestinian conflict in reference to Solution Focused (Strength-Based) approaches (historical and contemporary peace initiatives), the different ways collective trauma manifests between Israelis and Palestinians, some systems issues relating to selection and skills of politicians, structures which may allow for better resolution and the impacts of both the process and outcomes of resolution on trauma to enable lasting peace.

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Dear Jon,
Thank you so much for your reply and all the very useful links you added. I really appreciate that you put so much work into this !

You are absolutely right. There are many wonderful Israeli and Palestinian initiatives and collaborations.Many of them I know and wholeheartedly support them. I wish they would gain strength and reach a momentum to turn things aound. . The Parents Circle Family Forum for instance , is a group of 620 Palestinian and Israeli bereaved parents who lost a child or first degree relative because of the conflict .They have done incredible internal work together and went from feelings of hate and retaliation to reconciliation and to new connection. Since 1995 they have been working with the public in Israel/ Palestine and all over the world advocating for peace. When you go to their meetings you see what peace could look like and people who do not live in Israel are incredibly moved by what they have achieved. It is very hard to witness that in Israel itself there is a very divided popularity. Part of the population sees them as traitors , collaborating with the murderers. The beauty and wonder what these parents have achieved cannot be taken in because there is too much unresolved pain.

This is what motivated me to think out of the box and to bring psychology to the political arena.
It would mean to create a safe space without blame and judgement where Israeli and Palestinian delegates could speak freely and start processing their experiences assisted by trauma experts .Other leaders from other countries would join to support both groups .I am looking for a ritual of repair and reconciliation within the frame of politics because that is where decisions are made that affect millions of lives. I also believe that something radically different needs to happen to change the atmosphere of the dark past . A new type of connection not only for the Israelis and Palestinians but for other leaders who are there to support them as well. It would mean that other leaders support the act of taking responsibiility for peace.

If any of this resonates with you Jon or anybody else on this forum , please leave your thoughts.
Warmly Sylvia Silberg

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Dear Jon,
I just wanted to to tell you that I found the links you sent me very helpful and I am now able to go futher with my search for a possible "political ritual " that could be a corrective emotional experience for both Israelis and Palestinans with the help of other stakeholders. Thank you for all your efforts !

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Thank you for your comments dear abitrolly . I have noticed that empathy is easier cultivated when one is safe oneself. When one feels personally threatened it seems very very difficult. As for the cause of trauma we have to go back generations on the Israeli side and look at the Nakba on the Palestinian side. Perhaps the land is so small and so narrow that we must all contemplate what is really the most important. Yes the economics but also the relationships . It appears obvious to me that the Israeli Palestinian Conflict is also an emotional conflict between two traumatized parties one and therefore needs to be addressed and treated as such. Once the relationship improves everything else changes towards the positive as well. As I live in The Hague I am hoping and am currently working towards help from my Dutch government to facilitate such a process.


Hi Sylvia,
Thanks for your feedback.
A very long time ago I used to do psychodrama. One of the powerful primary action learning techniques was to use role reversal. I feel this could be quite useful in bringing together people who are Palestinian & Israeli (or pro-Palestinian & pro-Israeli.) In this scenario, each group explains their position from their perspective - key point are taken on a white board. Then they role reverse, initially repeating back who they are and how they feel in their new roles. After this, they negotiate their needs, solutions, etc from their role-reversed position. Finally, they reverse back to their former roles to have a general discussion on what was discovered and where to next (in terms of peace). This all requires some minimal facilitation to help participants stay in role, to give everyone voice, and to keep people on track.

The other thing you might find useful is this very long, but very helpful video from Women Wage Peace. It deals with some very pragmatic and well-developed peace processes which employ a very pragmatic approach - (the introduction is a bit long - you could possibly skip to 11 min to start)…
All the best with your project :slightly_smiling_face:
Jon Rose.

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So true. And when we know that, then we can spot the people who are cultivating feelings of fear and unsafety, and with empathy towards them, try to get to them to help them dig their true motives.

Dutch government or any other government are executives. They can not change people. Only people themselves can change.

Thank you Abitrolly. Indeed . One could also combine that attitude with creating opportunities and spaces for this to happen. The more we can authentically connect to each other with the purpose of creating safety, the more safety could become contageous.