Reconciliation in the Making: Overcoming Competitive Victimhood Through Inter-group Dialogue in Palestine/Israel

  • Olga Burkhardt-Vetter
Part of the St Antony's Series book series (STANTS)


This chapter explores the phenomenon of competitive victimhood (CV), which refers to the dynamic in intractable conflicts when groups seek to establish that they have suffered more than their adversary. Significantly, CV has been found to severely impede conflict resolution and reconciliation. In order to overcome CV, the creation of a superordinate shared identity has been proposed. However, whilst previous studies have emphasised the need for an inclusive victim identity, this small-sample case study, drawing on interviews with members of a reconciliation-oriented group of bereaved Israelis and Palestinians, suggests that the key may lie in an identity construct that emphasises the shared humanity instead. Mutual humanisation and acknowledgement, facilitated through sustained inter-group dialogue, was not only found to reduce CV, facilitate reconciliation and foster a piercing vision of peace: Significantly, respondents explicitly expressed the desire to reject victimhood altogether as a defining part of their sense of self.


Common victim identity Competitive victimhood Israeli-Palestinian conflict Moral imagination Peace vision Reconciliation Rehumanisation 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Olga Burkhardt-Vetter
    • 1
  1. 1.School of International RelationsUniversity of St AndrewsSt AndrewsUK

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