Diversity Icebreaker used in group dialoge, related to conflict in the Middle East
I would like to share with you some thoughts following the experience of using the Diversity Icebreaker® (DI) in a situation of group dialogue, related to conflict.

This was a 1 day workshop for young Jewish volunteers from the US, who spend a year in Israel working in schools and social change organizations. The group members all knew each other, and in previous discussions about Israeli society they discovered that they view Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in very different ways. These differences caused a lot of tension in the group, and raised basic questions related to morality and identity. We were asked to help the participants discuss their differences in a more open and less judgmental way.

We used the DI as the first unit of the day. As usual, facilitating this was a lot of fun – I think that the humor embedded in the DI really helped participants (as well as facilitators) relax and feel comfortable. This is particularly important in a group that experienced conflict in past discussions.

In my view, the DI helped to create a good and open atmosphere and get to know the other group members from a new direction. I think it gave a lot of legitimacy to the existence of differences, which resonated to the other parts of the workshop. An important massage that came out of the DI was that we can see the same reality through different perspectives, which are not necessarily “right” or “wrong”.

I think that this perspective reappeared when we discuss the Israeli reality and their place in it. Though the participants did not explicitly link the two parts, they did emphasize that the atmosphere of the current workshop was very different than in previous sessions of this group. They were very careful not to hurt each other, and discussed their similarities and not only their differences.

One participant mentioned that she met a reporter who was much more “left wing” then her, and could better understand his perspective thanks to former discussions she has with another participant in the group.

I hope that we get more opportunities to work with the DI in conflict situations, particularly long term processes.

Tammy Rubel

Social psychologist (MA) and a PhD student at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem