Divisions are all in the mind, says boffin who put hate to the tes


A man whose son was killed by Hamas has devised a psychological method he claims can create peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Working with academics at the Interdisciplinary Centre, Herzliya, Yitzhak Frankenthal used what he calls the "Paradoxical Intervention" technique to alter the thinking of people who see conflict as the only way forward.

And when he put it to the test, two in three objectors to a two-state solution changed their minds after submitting themselves to his experiment.

Equally striking was the fact that their voting intentions changed in time for the 2013 election, views they still held when contacted a year after the pilot study.

In the initial experiment, 450 Israelis were asked about the conflict before, during and after being shown a series of videos. Before watching, they had to rate from one to six how far they agreed with statements such as: "As an Israeli, my anger can be destructive in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," and "My hope as an Israeli might turn me naïve, and thus cause me to miss crucial details, problems or risks related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

Then, out of 200 available six-minute clips, researchers chose videos that matched the subject's opinions.

For those against a two-state solution, the videos began with images of benevolent Israeli troops and phrases such as: "The IDF: without it we will never be moral" and "For our morality we probably need the conflict." But the last 30 seconds of the videos included the sound of screaming and gunshots, and images of bodybags.

A final questionnaire asked whether the IDF was "the most moral army in the world" and "to what extent did these videos make you rethink your perceptions about the conflict?"

Mr Frankenthal said: "The video shows them the future of their ideology. What they learn is that, while those may be the views they hold, they turn out not to be terribly viable views."

He confessed neither he nor the Dean of Psychology at the IDC, Professor Eran Halperin, believed the experiment could be so successful.

"People recognised their government wasn't doing enough to secure peace and that there is a lack of understanding of Palestinians as people," he said. "They were then prepared to make concessions over Jerusalem, which is one of the thorniest issues. All of this we did not expect."

Mr Frankenthal's soldier son Arik, 19, was kidnapped and murdered by Hamas in 1994. In 2004, the former businessman founded the Arik Institute of Reconciliation, Tolerance and Peace to, in his words, "show the Israeli public the wrongs we commit toward Palestinians."

He is now trying to raise the £1 million he needs to use the method nationwide.

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