Ifat Maoz Department of Communication

Nasser: I don’t know anything about history

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Nasser: I don’t know anything about history.

Avner: I’m just asking, I’m trying to understand…

Nasser does not respond, perhaps because he feels he has not enough time left to go in to the issue or perhaps because he neither knows the facts nor wants to continue in that direction. It might be that the very presentation of the Palestinian narrative was more important for him than going into the complex maze of “who was here first.”

The second conflict between the two ends in a stalemate, as if Nasser and Avner have learned to appreciate each other’s strength. Toward the end of the encounter, Avner tries to divert the discussion between them. Perhaps he does it out of a last-minute desire to restore a personal, rather than a group context to the discussion.

Avner: I define myself according to my political views and according to my perceptions…I don’t think we are so far apart, you and I. I hope I am right, but you understood the things I said very differently, and you related to them in a very hostile manner. I don’t know where it’s coming from, but it definitely has to do with the atmosphere, which isn’t pleasant.

Avner uses here a well-known strategy of the dominant group in asymmetric group processes. He brings up his own vulnerability together with an attempt to create feelings of guilt in the other. Had Nasser accepted the complaint and asked himself why Avner felt hurt, Avner would have ended the meeting with the moral advantage of having aroused guilt. But Nasser seems quite practiced and ready for such attempts to “put him in the corner”:

Nasser: We came here to argue, to talk about things, and it isn’t at all personal.

Avner: You haven’t hurt me and I’m not having a hard time, I don’t have a problem with being attacked, I can take it…You attack me for things I didn’t mean. I meant that things sound completely different.

Nasser: You aren’t in touch with what you’re saying. You don’t know how things come across. How we understand you.

Nasser redefines the purpose of the workshop as he sees it, re-emphasizing the importance of its confrontational nature that concerns group identities and not personal relations. However, Nasser is also saying that he did not intend to hurt Avner, that he has nothing personal against him, perhaps implying that Avner is also important to him.

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