What should one make of an Arab-Jewish women’s “dialogue group,” presumably concerned with the catastrophe in Palestine, one of whose Jewish members led the suppression of activism on Palestine in a general peace and justice group she also helped found? What if the group is being touted as a model of cooperation and learning, and has become the subject of a film made by the Jewish member in question? What if the film omitted the views of one Palestinian woman who dropped out because the group wasn’t politically active? An experienced observer might be surprised, because the “dialogue group” and its assumptions have long since come under criticism.
The late Edward Said described his experience in dialogue groups in these terms.
[T]hrough the period from 1969 to 1991, I and many other Palestinians had had private, even secret, meetings and peace discussions with Israelis, American Jews, and others who were concerned about the issue. . . By the period of the intifadah I had lost interest in the encounter groups principally because they were often manipulated by professional “conflict resolution” technicians, and also because they were now being used by the PLO not to argue the Palestinian case but, in my opinion, to try to prove to Israelis how many concessions the PLO was prepared to make. I also found that most members of the Israeli Left (including Peace Now) were focused on asking for more Palestinian concessions (recognize us, give up on the National Charter, etc.) without offering anything in return. In other words, these private attempts at reconciliation, with some notable exceptions…reflected the exact balance of power between us, a very weak partner and a very strong one, some of whose advocates shamelessly kept asking the victims of military occupation and dispossession for various moral acknowledgements from their victims.
Entire article (PDF with notes) is at Michigan Peaceworks on Palestine
on CounterPunch, March 28, 2007 at Michigan Peaceworks on Palestine