Workshop Part 9

 WORKSHOP VIDEO PART 9: Peace Movements – what do they do?

In Video Part 9 Itamar tells us of the excitement and fear of the first meeting between Israeli and Palestinian combatants, former mortal enemies. They had all individually renounced violence while not relinquishing their political aims. They later formed Combatants for Peace where together they fight against their common enemy the Occupation. Bassam later tells of a crisis within CFP, erupting as a parallel process of the external imbalance of power. The rupture was repaired by facing their differences as well as their shared aim to end the Occupation and their strengthened attachment.

Jessica Benjamin talks about the processes within a peace group which functions as a safe base offering support for moving out of denial and ‘transgressing’ against the collective narrative, constructing a new identity and ideology and the relationship between members of the group; she describes the value of witnessing and social witnessing, and talks of the world as a ‘failed witness’ by taking sides in conflicts, sending sons to kill or die, rather than acknowledge their suffering and seek a Third way.

Learning Objectives

  • To raise awareness of the function of protest and peace groups as a support system for enabling moving out of denial and constructing a new identity and collective narrative.
  • To look at the role of these groups’ individual and social witnessing and of providing support against the world when it acts as a ‘failed witness’.
  • To explore the relationship between members of the group in the light of external imbalance of power, individual and ethnic differences, and the internal processes and pressures inherent in groups.


  • Protest groups can provide support from which to step out of denial, transgress the collective narrative, and face the emotional and physical dangers of social exclusion. They can allow members to reconnect with humanity particularly after trauma or, as a new community with a belief system and narrative which does not put them in an ethical conflict.

Issues to Explore:

  • What happens to our identity when we become a member of a group?
  • How can differences between group members be recognised and supported?
  • How did dialogue, despite the external and internal imbalance of power, help members of Combatants for Peace when they were in conflict?
  • What measures could be used to diminish internal imbalance of power in a bi-national peace group in a conflict zone, e.g. the choice of language.
  • Explore the journey protest groups you have been involved in have taken? Would you say they succeeded, and if not why not? Why might protest groups fail: think of size, duration, finances, institutionalisation, coziness, hierarchy of power, external imbalance of power, failure to repair ruptures.

Facilitating the Workshop:

  1. Map where you would place Peace Groups on The Ethical Mindset diagram.
  1. Consider the importance of the ‘rupture and repair’ process in the Combatants for Peace internal crisis.

    What measures could be used to diminish the impact of external imbalance of power on the internal process of a bi-national peace group?

  1. Witnessing trauma and comforting pain is an important function of protest and peace groups, how would you build that in to a group?
  2. Think about the different ways protest groups are perceived: as anti-establishment resistance movements supporting the oppressed, or as divisive and destructive undermining the establishment and the rule of law.
  1. What strategies might members develop in order to see both sides and hold the contradictions while they may be ostracised from mainstream society. What support can the group and external sources offer members if members are emotionally or physically threatened or in danger.
  2. What team building skills might help a multi-ethnic group establish relationships and identify the aims and purpose of the group?

    Build an exercise with the group whereby members can be helped to identify their own and others’ identities, similarities and differences. Practice dialogue skills.

  1. Consider the importance of the ‘rupture and repair’ process as intrinsic to maintaining the Ethical Mindset.

    Ask participants to think about the functions of apology and justice. Possible responses: ending feelings of internal conflict, a tactic to move the focus to more important issues.