Plenary 3: Disrupting the consequences of difficult histories through education

By way of evoking your interest, we are going to post brief abstracts of some of the plenary panelists for our upcoming meeting in Toronto. Here is a glimpse of what Dr. Tsafrir Goldberg, in the Department. of Learning, Instruction and Teacher Education in the University of Haifa, Israel will be presenting.

How do Jewish and Muslim adolescents react to learning about the other?

How do Jewish and Muslim adolescents react to learning about the other (seemingly hostile) religion and about Jewish-Muslim historical relations? Religion and the priming of religious sensibilities are assumed to be predictors of intergroup prejudice and conflict, however, acquaintance with the other religion may facilitate intergroup empathy and stereotype reduction.

Our research project traces the effects of learning about the history of Islam and about Jewish-Muslim cultural relationships had on Jewish students’ anti Muslim prejudice. It then goes on to present the effects of a similar intervention on Muslim students attitudes towards Jews. Findings showed a significant positive effect of studying about Islam and Jewish Muslim relations on Jewish students’ stereotypes and historical perceptions. Learning about Islam had a significantly higher positive effect on right wing conservative Jewish students. By contrast, studying Jewish Muslim religious commonalities and treatment of minorities had a negative effect on Muslim students’ attitudes towards Judaism and Jews.

Relying on intercultural education and social identity theories, we discuss the affirmative effect that studying about inter-religious relations may have on Jewish and Muslim adolescents, as well as the potential identity threat that may accompany the awareness of similarity and mutual influence. We outline the promise the learning about inter-religious relations holds for multicultural education and a more tolerant society in the context of prolonged conflict.

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