The goal of “traditional” research is to expand the existing knowledge base about a problem or issue, and to generate insights that may be useful in other settings. In this pilot study, which was conducted as the culminating effort of Dr. Micah B.D.C. Naziri’s second masters degree, the focus was on the research methods and approach of action research. Dr. Naziri deeply investigated action research, specifically as it applies and relates to the Hashlamah Project and the related Jam`at al-Fitrah (in the Palestinian Territories), which was the pseudonym and alternative naming of the Taliyah al-Mahdi during our years of occultation in the “underground.”
Of particular interest and focus, with respect to this pilot study was participatory action research. But action research has another purpose entirely, that is to undertake an empirical study in order to make decisions about specific problems in specific settings. Action research integrates theory and practice in an effort to simultaneously create change and knowledge.
In this action research pilot study Dr. Naziri worked closely with Hashlamah Project Study Circles, specifically chapters in Israel, at their request. While these specific chapters constitute a minority of the overall chapter list, the Israeli study circles, and those Taliyah chapters in the Palestinian Territories are at the heart of the Hashlamah Project’s work. Accordingly, this investigation into Participatory Action Research focuses on the practical side of Hashlamah ideas, looking at how – through action research – they can be discussed and digested in what is arguably the most volatile region with respect to Jewish and Muslim interaction.
Specifically, this study will examine the collaborative process of informing stakeholders about key historical solutions to Jewish and Muslim cooperation and coexistence. It will then look at how the participatory process can help stakeholders “re-imagine” proven solutions in ways that apply to today’s realities in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. To do this, it will employ the historical Constitution of Medina, apparently originally penned by Muhammad himself, as it provides precedence for a shared co-existence of Jews and Muslims in a single “Medinah” federation as an Ummatan Wahidatan – a single religious nation and family.
The New Constitution of Medinat Israel Hashlamah
Religion is very often seen as the source of bloodshed between groups in conflict. Rarely is religion, particularly when it comes to Judaism and Islam, or Western Religion in general, seen as something that might facilitate cooperation, conflict resolution and reconciliation. After all, if religion is what created the rift, how can it be what mends it together?
The role of religion in initiating and exacerbating intergroup conflicts has been studied extensively. Such research has viewed and presented religion primarily as a destructive factor in intergroup relations. The Hashlamah Project, however, holds that, based on the evidence, religion can be a vehicle for destruction and both personal or national quests for power and dominance, or it can serve as a basis for bringing people together. This latter function is no doubt the reason for its evolutionary success and universal existence.
More specifically, among human societies, the position this study takes is that religion is inherently human. Going back even before organized religion of any sort, presumably areligious, or (at the most), animistic homo-habilis hominids embarked on a land journey for Europe from African, only to rape, slaughter and ultimately commit genocide against the indigenous homo-neanderthalis hominids who had previously inhabited the continent. Throughout the evolution of homo sapiens to homo sapien sapiens, little changed, regardless of whether the pretext for violence was religion or the State.
Today, remarkably, violence is on the decline. We live in a world that is almost unbelievably, less violent than at any other period in the known history of human civilization. The assumption that the brutal Roman Empire was really the Pax Romana it purported to be, and that the advent of a Christianized Europe brought about the violence so synonymous with the Crusades and Inquisition – violence which some assume would not have existed without religion – is simply not borne out by evidence in the historical record.
Yes, religion, like any other human institution, or facet of culture, can and will be exploited and hijacked by those seeking power. The same is certainly true of all human endeavors and even the institution of civilization itself. But irrespective of its ability to be wielded as a weapon, religion emerged to fulfill integral human needs which has made it socio-evolutionarily successful for at least the past 25,000 or so years, when our ancestors began ritually burying their dead with shamanistic herbs, and painting depictions of what they saw as a spiritual world, on the walls of caves from South Africa to France. This is essential to bear in mind for the purposes of this pilot study, particularly because the research will showcase both the best and worst of religion.
Ultimately seeing this conflict as either the result of religion itself or completely secular and politically nationalistic in nature will cause us to miss the point. Although to some, it may seem that the Jewish-Muslim conflict is secular, political and being fought mainly over territory, it is also deeply rooted in a struggle between ideologies and has religious, cultural, and emotional aspects. Religion is embedded in all aspects of the conflict – it appears in the struggle over control and ownership of the holy places, and in the religious reasons given for going to war or for seeking peace. When Netanyahu tells Iran to “think [of] Amelek,” he is invoking religiously-sanctioned mass murder. The roots of the conflict itself are religious. When we look at the catalyst for the Jerusalem Riots of 1919 being the use of chairs at the Kotel (“Wailing Wall”), or in the primary religious orientation of early Zionism to the Levant rather than other geographical alternatives offered by Theodore Hertzl, it is clear that religion permeates the conflict on every level, even when many of those in conflict view it through secular lenses.
The very nature of the conflict impedes the development of transcendent identities of the two parties, as it stresses a negative interdependence whereby asserting one group’s identity requires negating the identity of the other, in a cultural zero-sum game. While Israeli educational authorities seem somewhat aware of the problems inherent in the conflict, having therefore allocated educational and budgetary resources to develop intervention programs designed to mitigate the negative aspects of the conflict within the school system – more than 200 different programs designed for dealing with the conflict in Israel (both for adults and for school students) have been implemented in recent years – they rarely fulfill their promise and do not result in positive, lasting change.
Meeting places that promote dialogue between the groups and provide opportunities for positive intergroup experiences are among the most popular methods used for enhancing peace, tolerance, and understanding between conflict groups. This is where the Hashlamah Project Foundation comes in. Gordon Allport’s contact hypothesis and Muzafer Sherif’s groundbreaking robbers’ cave study, both serve as a reference point for the study and implementation of contact intervention programs, and here act as reference points and corroboration of the approach being taken by the Hashlamah Project Study Circles and the vehicle for carrying out the action research pilot study to be described herein.
Participatory Action Research and Positionality
Scholars differ on the central characteristics that define action research, yet is widely agreed that action research focuses on real problems in social systems and seeks to provide assistance to identified stakeholders. Identifying stakeholders, in this case, was a somewhat simple endeavor. They were, and are, members of Hashlamah Project Study Circles – almost exclusively practicing Jews and Muslims in general, and for the purposes of this study, Jews and Muslims in the disputed region of Israel-Palestine. Demographically there is some variance, as the level of religious participation is not static between chapters.
Positionitity is important in all action research. My experience and position influences my perspective and role in this research. Positionality is my own position in relation to the study. That position may influence aspects of the study, such as the types of information collected, or even how it is interpreted. Robertson is critical of positionality as generic, “ready to wear” fixed categories and products of identity politics, speaks to the importance of delineating positionality.
Family history, ethnicity, sexuality, disability, and religion, among other distinctions, can be usefully woven into an ethnographic narrative, but only if they are not left self-evident as essentialized qualities that are magically synonymous with self-consciousness, or, for that matter, with intellectual engagement and theoretical rigour. Their usefulness must be articulated and demonstrated because such distinctions are not fixed points but emerge and shift in the contiguous processes of doing and writing about fieldwork.
In other words, then, positionality is useful insofar as one’s position is reflected upon, with respect to how it might influence research and fieldwork.
With respect to my own positionality, relative to the Hashlamah Project, I have been incapable of remaining silent in the face of injustice, or even conflict. I recall, when I was perhaps four or five years old, an argument – a debate really – which my parents were embroiled in at the dinner table. Instead of hearing one parent as “right” and the other as “wrong,” I heard two people arguing very valid points, and yet refusing to hear the validity of another perspective. Instead of leaving the room, or simply finishing my food quietly, I decided to speak up. These were my parents, of course, and I knew that their role as authority figures over me would preclude them from listening, were I to simply blurt out an idea that they saw as contradicting either one of them. I took my time, thought carefully about my words, and suggested to each that what they were saying was not quite so different, one from the other, and that they both had “really good points.”
I no longer remember what this argument was about, and I am even more certain that they do not either. My own assertion, I’m sure, was not watertight or cogent. They were, however, my parents, and hearing this diplomacy come from my mouth took them out of the momentum of the debate, and made them both lovingly smile. This was the first time I heard the word “diplomat” – ending the disagreement at once, they looked to each other and laughed, “he’ll be a great diplomat some day.”
Sometimes this seems a fair description of my approach, but as someone with feet in both Israeli and Palestinian worlds, I realize the importance of taking an ethical stand on black and white issues such as the killing of civilians on either side of the conflict(s).
As time went on, in my life, I came to realize that it was an anomaly for two views to truly diametrically oppose one another. There is a famous Jewish teaching about a rabbi who was called upon to settle a dispute between two of his students. The first talmid poured out his complaints to the rabbi, and when he finished, the rabbi confirmed, “You’re right.” But the second student interrupted, defensively stating his case. When he finished, the rabbi nodded and said, “Ah, you’re right.” The two, incensed, explained: “What do you mean, we can’t both be right!” To which the rabbi replied, “You’re right.”
The moral of the story is that there are many ways to see things, whether matters of religious law, or politics. The only perspective that is truly wrong, in most cases, is one that fails to recognize the validity of another perspective. In this way, both of the students of the rabbi were right, and yet they were both also right that they could not both be right, because each of them had failed to appreciate the other’s perspective, thus limiting their own, and failing to be right.
In relation to my own life, activism and even academic pursuits, this sort of diplomacy has proven both essential, and yet, an evolving work-in-progress. Sometimes things are a matter of perspective, relative, and we should try to look at them from the vantage point of the perceived “other.” As the Proverbs teach, “Every man is right in his own eyes” (21.2), and thus it is worth realizing that even points of view that are seemingly quite at odds with one another have some kernel of truth within them, which convinced the individual, initially, of that position. It may be that this truth is covered in lies, but it is our role in Jewish mysticism to “raise the sparks” of holiness within these “husk” like coverings (q’lippot), which bury the truth in lies, and hid fragments of light within the darkness of ignorance.
As the founder of the Hashlamah Project, I had been invited to take part in discussions for this Participatory Action Research, within the borders of Israel proper, as well as within neighboring Palestinian territories of East Jerusalem and even – it was proposed – within the Gaza Strip. I did not, unfortunately, have time to accept every offer this time around, but I plan to for my doctoral dissertation. The seminars that I conducted were restricted to the study circles of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, spanning a whirlwind trip within the borders of Israel proper that only lasted just under three days.
There is something of a scholarly consensus that action research seeks to change well-established patterns of thinking and acting that express norms and values. In participatory action research, the research is not only with and by people in a community, it is with, by, and of people in a community. Many projects claim to be participatory action research when in fact they are not, because they are missing this last, key requirement.
The mischaracterization of research as participatory action research is not uncommon. True participatory action research is essentially positioned on the farthest end of the action research continuum and is characterized by work that pushes boundaries. In participatory action research stakeholders are engaged in all aspects of the research, including problem definition, planning, collecting and making meaning of data, as well as determining next action steps. In participatory action research, members of the community are equals in the research process with those conducting the study. Everyone is regarded as a researcher and learner. This, in summary, defines my positionality and relationship with members of the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem chapters.
As the founder of the Hashlamah Project, my involvement is obvious, even while each particular chapter is self-initiated, and does not require the hierarchical oversight or approval of the project’s founder (or anyone else). This, however, must be emphasized as true so long as all is in alignment with guiding principles of non-aggression, whether with regards to the Israeli or Palestinian sides of the conflict and politics emanating therefrom. Simply in terms of precise linguistic definitions and word usage: something that advocates aggression cannot pretend to be “hashlamah,” reconciliation and “rebalancing.”
Towards A Historical-Proven Solution
Some of the goals that I had with respect to this pilot study were to become familiar with the ways in which action research is conceptualized and applied. This includes its use in dissertation research. Another goal was to design, review and reflect on an action research pilot study related to the Hashlamah Project Study Circles, and surveying responses relative to a proposed “Constitution” for an “Equilateral Federation” of Gaza, Israel and the West Bank (whether formally adopted by governments or informally agreed to by the people, on a grassroots level).
To help accomplish this, I read David Coghlan and Teresa Brannick’s Doing Action Research In Your Own Organization; Kathryn G. Herr and Gary L. Anderson’s The action research dissertation: A guide for students and faculty; Myles Horton and Paulo Freire’s We Make the Road by Walking: Conversations On Education and Social Change; Peter Reason and Hilary Bradbury-Huang’s Handbook of Action Research; as well as their The Sage Handbook of Action Research: Participative Inquiry and Practice; Susan E. Smith, Dennis G. Willms and Nancy A. Johnson’s Nurtured by Knowledge: Learning To Do Participatory Action Research, and last but not least, my mentor Ashley Lackovich-Van Gorp’s Positive Deviance and Child Marriage by Abduction in the Sidama Zone of Ethiopia
Additionally, this pilot study has purported from the very beginning, to be a preliminary version of a full research design. It approaches and sketches a draft of what is intended to be a larger version of the same study in my dissertation. In this case, however, it was conducted with a smaller number of participants and more informal data collection methods, than what is anticipated for the final dissertation. The most important outcome of the pilot study at hand is the information that will inform the design of a larger follow-up study in that dissertation.
In action research, a pilot study is often seen as the first cycle of a full study, in which reflection on the results of the pilot lead to a larger and more diverse group of stakeholders and a more informed action plan.
At the most foundational level, this study sought to identify who the key stakeholders are. But perhaps more importantly, it sought to answer whether the appropriate problem has been identified and what has to happen to make it likely that a full action research study would meet the four quality criteria, particularly the feasibility criterion.
In general, the abiding principles which quality action research should be concerned with are the accuracy of information about the practices studied, the need served by the research to a given audience, and the realistic and diplomatic feasibility of the action research. Finally, the ever-present concern for the ethical and legal propriety of the research must watch over the first three principles. As we will see, all of these concepts and considerations were key to my work with the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem chapters. The pilot study focused on each of these, and in the aftermath of the study, the last consideration of ethical propriety took center stage and is currently the focus of my dissertation.
The origins of Participatory Action Research can be traced to the work of Kurt Lewin. Lewin contended that “You cannot understand a system until you try to change it.” Lewin was a Prussian psychologist and a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany. His positionality informed and embodied the philosophy “that people would be more motivated about their work if they were involved in the decision-making about how the workplace was run.”
Lewin introduced the phrase “action research” as it relates to studying social systems while simultaneously attempting to change the system at the same time. Lewin’s action research paid particular attention to issues such as segregation, discrimination, and assimilation. He was concerned with assisting people in resolving issues and bringing about change while studying the impact of those changes in question.
Lewin’s ideas continue to influence researchers and Action Research methods, which include observing, reflecting, acting, evaluating, and modifying. Each iterative cycle can then turn into another cycle. Paulo Freire, another influential Participatory Action Research theorist believed that critical reflection was crucial for personal and social change.
The qualitative research methodology of Participatory Action Research integrates the methods and techniques of observing, documenting, analyzing, and interpreting characteristics, patterns, attributes, and meanings of psycho-social phenomena under study. Qualitative methodology, unlike quantitative seeks to “describe and understand,” rather than to predict and control.
Researchers who employ Participatory Action Research methods frequently face criticisms that from a quantitative perspective, this approach is a “soft” method of research. Researchers employing a Participatory Action Research methodology may thus face challenges from other researchers who are familiar with today’s widespread acceptance of qualitative and mixed methods research since Participatory Action Research “focuses on voice and everyday experiences” rather than quantitative data.
Kach and Kralik thus argued in their Participatory Action Research in Health Care that Participatory Action Research is democratic, equitable, liberating, and life-enhancing qualitative inquiry that remains distinct from other qualitative methodologies. Maguire suggested that Participatory Action Research includes “a method of social investigation of problems, involving the participation of oppressed and ordinary people in a problem posing and solving.”
Lincoln argued further that qualitative methods in general are naturalistic, and that participatory modes “disclose the lived experiences of individuals… there [is] no single, objective reality.” There are, he continued, “multiple realities based on subjective experience and circumstance.”
Marshall and Rossman describe Participatory Action Research as decentralized traditional research and an alternative approach to traditional social or scientific research, as it moves social inquiry from a linear cause and effect perspective, to a participatory framework considering the contexts and positions of stakeholders. It is recommended that at least three selected methods be used to transcend the limitations of each individual methodology, so as to “triangulate data generation” and be more effective at problem-solving.
Some of these methods which we employed in this participatory study include focus groups, participant observation, field notes, interviews, and personal logs, questionnaires, and surveys. For the purposes of this participatory study, discussion will focus on the three most commonly cited methods in the literature: focus groups, participant observation, and interviews.
Focus groups are considered a socially orientated process and a “form of group interview that capitalizes on communication between the research participants in order to generate data.” These sorts of groups are the heart of the Hashlamah Project. They typically consist of seven to 12 individuals, all sharing certain characteristics relevant to the focus of the study. Within the context of the Hashlamah Project Study Circles, these shared characteristics of stakeholders is obvious.
The small number of individuals in a focus group, generally speaking, facilitates an environment where communication amongst all participants is easier than in large groups. From the standpoint of the researcher, this increases the potential for useful data to be generated during sessions. Far from being removed or detached, however, in Participatory Action Research, the researcher creates or facilitates a supportive environment where discussion and differing points of view are encouraged or even teased out through innovative approaches to facilitation and dialogue.
In Participatory Action Research, all collaboratively involved in the research process are active participants “throughout the entire research process,” and “the facilitator typically provides some structure” only in a loose, decentralized sense, in order to guide or maintain the natural focus group or study circle.
This sort of participant observation provides the researcher with privileged access to research in social situations that capture the context in which individuals function. The researcher is immersed in the setting with the participants, and thereby becomes a participant. The researcher attains first-hand knowledge of social behavior as it unfolds over time in the social situation. As a result, the researcher obtains a broader view of what is occurring and has the opportunity to detail what is communicated and what is implicit in the situation.
Interviews are a key method used in Participatory Action Research, which “enable participants to describe their situation.” More than any other method, interviews have been central to this study. Interviewing is a theoretical approach to data collection, appropriate for collecting data related to human experiences. Reinhartz explains, “Interviewing offers researchers access to people’s ideas, thoughts, and memories in their own words, rather than the words of the researcher.” Both the researcher and the participant share and learn throughout the interviewing process in a reciprocal manner. Interview questions “be carefully formulated to ensure that participants are given maximum opportunity to present events and phenomena in their own terms and to follow agendas of their own choosing.”
Utilizing these methods and the over-arching approach of Participatory Action Research, the purpose this participatory study was manifold. Collectively, we wanted to emphasize the community as a unity of identity, while building on strengths within the community. We wanted to approach this research in a way that facilitated collaborative partnerships throughout the study. The study itself, and the research that is a part of it is for the mutual benefit, not for me alone as a researcher, but for the Hashlamah Project, Israeli and Palestinian society and even broader Jewish and Muslim interaction globally. Finally, the purpose of this research is to quite literally help develop the Hashlamah Project and its future approaches through developing trust and relationship building, and disseminating the findings of this research to stakeholders.
In presenting the topical area of interest for study and its relevance to existing research, literature and practice in the field, it is helpful to first note two earlier works, out of my critical review of the research on Religion As A Basis for Dialogue in Peace and Reconciliation. The critical review of research learning achievement was intended to identify relevant studies, and determine ways in which they most commonly intersect, therefore building upon this common ground as a foundation for my own work and doctoral dissertation as well as the pilot study at hand.
The studies in my Research Design were influenced by Yaacov Boaz Yablon’s “Religion as a basis for dialogue in peace education programs”, as well as Yetkin Yildirim’s “The Medina Charter: A Historical Case of Conflict Resolution”. In my Research Design, I went deeper into Yildirim’s study of the Constitution of Medina, drawing on my own previous research into the document, from my master’s thesis, and purporting a redesign of the Constitution itself, something which became a project of sorts with the Israeli chapters in this pilot, participatory action research study. There were two seminars I facilitated in Israel, both in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem alike. The first seminar given in each city was at the bequest of facilitators in each respective chapter. It was concerned with helping Israelis in particular overcome paralyzing fears of terrorism that seemed to overlap in many ways with the literature and research on Immunity to Change. But that was not the focus of my trip, from my perspective, nor of this pilot study. Instead, this study concerns itself with the focus of the second seminar I gave in each city.
That seminar grew out of my second study, in my Research Redesign. In it, I quantified responses to this redesigned New Constitution of Medina, in a manner similar to that which Yablon used, though working within the framework of the Hashlamah Project international study circles. In this pilot study my intention was to come up with a collaborative draft of New Constitution for an equilateral formal or informal federation of Gaza-Israel-West Bank. I wanted to engage through participation in chapters most directly involved, and learn more about what the response to this approach would be. For the sake of representing the perspectives and political concerns of all stakeholders, it was emphasized that one could view this either as a contract between governments and states, or as a voluntary contract between individuals on community levels.
Those Who Don’t Know History…
Each study which I have engaged in, within my doctoral program on Leadership and Change, whether in my Research Redesign or Integrated Learning Achievement(s), has sought to address the overarching question: how history can be used to inform and inspire Jewish and Muslim reconciliation and peace. In practice, the Hashlamah Project aims to draw Jews and Muslims together in co-worship: together, under one roof and to then use that as a pivot to add momentum to grassroots peace-building that cannot be impeded by even the most rhetorical political venom currently holding sway over the minds, hearts and even the very lives of innocents on both sides of the illusionary divide.
This pilot study took on Yildrim’s challenge to look to the historical Constitution of Medina as a model for Jewish-Islamic pluralism and co-existence within the same society. I argue that even more than Yildirim asserts in his study, the Constitution of Medina is a poignant example of harmonious religious pluralism between Jews and Muslims, residing in the same massive city in Late Antiquity.
The Constitution is recorded within the late Sirat Rasul Allah, the traditional name for biographies of Muhammad, often simply referred to as the “Sirah” account. While this account within which it preserved is a somewhat late source, it seems, as it purports to record a historical treaty of sorts, to have been widely attested. Even within the two recensions of the Sirah account, the language usage is considerably different in the passages purporting to record the Constitution. Within the framework of the criteria of historical-criticism, all of this attests to its high probability of historicity.
Inspired by this document, though perhaps not understanding just how important it is, Yildirim, like Yablon, concluded from his study that religion can in fact play a positive role in intergroup relations between Jews and Muslims. In fact, Yildirim concludes that there are many examples in Islamic history of Muslims coexisting with various religious groups, a sub-genre of historical inquiry in Judaic Studies, which the Hashlamah Project explores in even greater depth, to provide similar sources of inspiration, was a key historical example of conflict resolution in Islam, particular between Jews. Yildirim examines the methods of conflict resolution in the Constitution, in comparison with the modern ideas of Western conflict resolution theory – mediation, fractioning in particular. Yildirim focuses on goals and interests more than individual religion, and power balancing.
This action research asks how we can take things further. Working directly with the chapters most directly affected by the Israel-Palestine conflicts, I endeavored to engage participants directly, to involve them and draw from their experiential knowledge in theorizing working solutions, borne out of historical knowledge.
This began with my relaying the project at hand to a number of chapters throughout the world and asking for input. Almost immediately, the Israeli chapters in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem responded that they wanted to be directly involved, as well as some contacts in Gaza, the West Bank and the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim.
The focus of my work in each city (Haifa is planning a similar workshop this spring or summer) was on participatory research into how a working draft of the New Constitution could be composed collaboratively, as well as discussion and input in composing and adjusting such a draft relevant to how it would be received – first within activist communities, and then throughout broader society.
An Unexpected Twist In the Research
The primary concerns for the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem chapters with respect to my workshops were two-fold:
- Help the chapter get rooted more deeply in the historical knowledge of Jewish-Islamic co-worship and pluralism historically.
- As a secondary concern, there was a desire for me to help them confront their own fears of backlash and terrorism, and to help them help new, and potential participants to confront those fears and engage in this activism in spite of those fears.
The second concern hit home very hard. But at the time, I felt like this aspect of the seminar, there were actually two separate seminars at each, was a walk in the proverbial park to address. As I have been employed in the capacity of executive protection for an array of clients including record executives on the West Coast, I have spent my fair share of time in very rough neighborhoods. I have, in recent years, traveled to areas of conflict abroad. As a martial arts teacher, I always emphasize security, preparedness and training for everyone who faces threats to safety due to social activism, but especially for activists and political dissidents. It would be no exaggeration to suggest that my near-obsessive level of training in martial arts was driven by feelings of need for security during the course of my early activism and direct action in my teenage years.
When I returned home from Israel, towards the beginning of December 2014, these concerns of the Israeli stakeholders became all too understandable to me. I had just conducted two nearly identical seminar sessions on the topic of confronting these fears, threats and yet – in spite of them – still driving forward with the activism and dissenting opinions, which we know we must continue on with. When I gave these talks I felt incredibly self-assured. I believed in each word I spoke without any wavering. But upon returning home I learned that one individual who had feigned interest in Hashlamah Project endeavors in California and later in Illinois, was in fact collecting information on us, to pass to his Shaykh, `Abdullah Ibrahim Faisal.
Shaykh Faisal is well known within the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and throughout Wahhabist and ISIS circles. Since the inception of that group and prototypes it eventually absorbed, Faisal has been a major proponent, even missionary for their activities and Neo-Caliphate ambitions. Before them he was the sort of ideologue who gave birth to their emerging structure and politico-religious ideology. The individual who had feigned interest in the Hashlamah Project turned out in fact to be Faisal’s right hand man, and his primary representative in the United States.
To make a long story – which will no doubt be expanded upon in my thesis – as short as it can be: when I returned, Jay had contacted my family with multiple threats against my life, my wife’s life and my children’s lives. Members of law enforcement who had been investigating this guy – who is cited in the 9/11 Commission Report under the name “Jay Steven Barlow” (the contact point for the 9/11 hijackers who came in through San Diego) – told me that these threats were “credible” and “should be taken very seriously.”
I finally understood a bit more of what so many in Israel had been expressing to me – even though I very much thought I understood before. In my change project I spoke in my reflective conclusion about how the project highlighted my privilege as an American Jew. I did not have the concerns that the Egyptian chapter – for instance – had during that change project (another long story, addressed in that particular learning achievement). Living in America, I believed, insulated me from at least any threats that were credible. This belief was a bubble that burst when I returned home, confronted by the threats from Jay. It was further dissolved after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, just weeks later.
Without making this Integrated Learning Achievement focused on these threats, and their relation to what seems to be a shifting focus for at least half of my dissertation, I will say that it was a strange twist of irony and fate, perhaps, that half of my workshops in Israel were focused upon this very topic which I admittedly felt more insulated from. I can no longer say that I feel this insulation. I also completely understand the concerns of participants in Israel and elsewhere – perhaps even more so, in that my name has been mentioned specifically in one of Shaykh Faisal’s fatawat targeting me and the Hashlamah Project as kaffir endeavors which it is obligator or wajib for the “believer” to fight against.
Towards A New Constitution of Medinat Yisrael Hashlamah
With that said, the focus that I had on these workshops in Israel was the participatory action research that concerned how we theorized a New Constitution of Medinat Yisrael Hashlamah. The name itself was merely a proposal that I drafted and inquired about at the workshops. Few in either Tel Aviv, or even the Jerusalem chapter, thought it was a good title, in terms of inclusiveness with Palestinians and their theoretical acceptance thereof. While “Isra’il” is far from a dirty word in the Qur’an, socio-politically, it is very difficult to get the bad taste out of a Muslim participants mouth when they say the name. That, I believed and still believe, is unfortunate from a Jewish and Qur’anic perspective. But primarily Jewish participants agreed that any such Constitution should avoid using the names of either political entity – Israeli or Palestinian.
“Medinah” or “Medinat” is an interesting term, since it is well understood in the Islamic world, where it means “city” but also has clear connotations in many contexts to the government of Medinat al-Yathrib, where Muhammad was the tribally-“elected” leader, nearly a millennia and a half ago. In Hebrew, the term means “State”, as in “Medinat Yisrael,” the State of Israel.
“Hashlamah” is the fourth verbal form of “Shalom” in the same way that “Al-Islam” is the masdar infinitive of aslama – the fourth verbal form of “Salaam.” So while the meaning of “Hashlamah” is very different than that of “Islam” or “Aslama,” the connection linguistically, in terms of cognates and verb forms, draws a powerful connection. This, of course, goes over quite well with Muslims and Jews alike in study circles. But, “it takes some breaking down,” as a resident of Tel Aviv who was particularly savvy with his English colloquialisms told me. Tentatively, we decided collectively on “The New Constitution,” for our description of the collaborative re-imagining of the Constitution of Medinah in our workshops, bearing in mind that this name will probably not do in the long run.
Description of the Study
The goal of this Learning Achievement was to reflect on the learning and determine applicability of action research to my intended dissertation. As such I “explored, reflected, stepped back, stepped in and stepped back and back in again,” as Ashley summarized the process from the beginning.
As long as the Hashlamah Project Study Circles have existed, every chapter has had input into the overall vision and plan for the group objectives. By providing the space for open dialogue and willingness to listen to new ideas, we have been able to create a deep investment in the Project by participating stakeholders. We have also been able to build trust by keeping the conversations within the Study Circles, thereby maintaining confidentiality and building trust and mutual respect.
The broad cultural transformation that the Hashlamah Project seeks to create does not happen across the board in an organization all at once. Instead it is initiated through the living personal transformation of leaders, and then further on an individual basis from participant to participant. Cultural transformation is by nature an adaptive work. It requires individuals to unlearn assumptions and indoctrination, learning from new, first hand information in place of these failed assumptions.
More than any other Hashlamah Project chapters there was an almost uniquely Israeli fear of bringing meetings to fruition. Some participants reflected on their apprehensiveness, saying “Once I put out fliers, it hit me: what if people actually show up to these things?”
As a result, there was an initial burst of fervor among Israeli supporters, that quickly degenerated into passive verbal support. Each Israeli chapter saw earlier incarnations of itself led by those who quickly gave up. One organizer in Tel Aviv said “I think what it really comes down to is that we are all too afraid of Muslims here.”
I tried to dispel this fear, and even note that the fear went both ways. But my Israeli colleague was correct: there was something different about Israeli-Jewish fear of the “other” that I had not witnessed in Palestinian quarters.
There was never a time that I was turned away from a Palestinian home when traveling. I had never found Palestinians anything but curious and overjoyed to discuss my research. There was no fear of me as a Jew, nor was there an unwillingness to host me or aggressively and insistently offer world-famous Palestinian hospitality towards me. It helped, naturally, that I was known and introduced as being highly critical of Israeli policies with respect to war, settlements and equal rights. Even with five years of Arabic under my belt, I am far from fluent in colloquial Palestinian Arabic in many different regions. But I understand enough to always catch introductions of me – in Arabic first – that highlight my politics, and note – excitedly – that yes, “he is Jewish!” It would seem that, admittedly, this hospitality is contingent upon those politics – and who could blame any Palestinian in question? But on the Israeli side, there was and is a fear of a different sort. The Tel Aviv organizer described it as “paralyzing,” and indeed it is.
I had significant time to devise the study in question. How would I address the concerns that the Israeli chapters had, and most importantly, how would I do so in a way that made participants self-aware of their paralyzing fears and how to overcome them? What I decided upon was two parts:
- Sit down with chapter participants and assess the composition of the chapters in question.
- Identify the fears, psychoanalytically talk through them, and help participants compose working solutions to neutralize those fears.
Step one did not surprise me very much at all. Upon arrival at Tel Aviv, then Jerusalem, I found what I expected: entirely Jewish study circles. The groups were small, as they are in nearly every city where Hashlamah Project Study Circles have formed. But there was no diversity, aside from amongst minchagim of Jewish participants. Tel Aviv had the typical mix of Ashkenazim with S’fardic heritage that always seemed to lose out to the dominant Ashkenazi paradigm. One black African Jew was involved, as was a new white immigrant to the Holy Land, who hailed from South Africa. Somewhat surprising to me was the fact that fear of the “other” did not seem to be any noticeably different among these two, than the general body of the study circle – no more than a dozen in total, on any given occasion. What this amounted to was a study circle that met and discussed progressive, even revolutionary ideas, as well as related history. But they were not actually doing any of the engagement that the Hashlamah Project is all about.
Jerusalem was an even more direr situation. The fear there was palpable. Study circle participants were significantly more conservative in their religious views, and even though there is a large Muslim population situated within the city, there seemed to have been no effort made at inviting Muslims to the discussion groups.
After taking silent account of the demographics of each group before giving the “workshops” that I had been invited out for, I decided to stir the pot a little.
“Why don’t we just go out and talk to some Muslims?”
The looks were somewhere between astonished and amused.
“I’m serious. Why not? Let’s just go out and talk with people on the street.”
No one thought this was a good idea, or even sane for that matter. “You don’t just go out and ‘meet Muslims’,” one participant told me, scoffing in an amused way that reminded me of how Americans often assume foreigners “just don’t get it” when they journey to the “New World.”
“What am I not getting then? What do you think will happen if you go up and talk to random Palestinian strangers?”
This became what I am now terming “Phase 1.”
The Tel Aviv seminar shaped the parallel session in Jerusalem. But in Jerusalem there was less scoffing, and more silent looks of nausea when I suggested the “grand conclusion” of “Phase 1.” Why not just go out and meet Muslims?
In Tel Aviv I made a joke about pick up artistry, but that was not going to fly in Jerusalem where the demographics were significantly more religiously orthoprax. In Tel Aviv I said something along the lines of “look, when you are young, you don’t know how to speak with someone you are attracted to. It’s because you haven’t tried to engage anyone in that way before. You are scared because there is an unknown, a fear of rejection, humiliation or in this case we have a fear of things that might be even worse.
“But as you get used to talking to people, asking them out, you realize that often times you get the answer you wanted just by being willing to ask and engage. If you are paralyzed by fear, you will always lose, you will never get what you want.”
One participant, a young man in his early twenties chimed in, “But you do not always get what you want. Sometimes you do get humiliated.”
“And so life goes on,” I rebutted. “There are ‘more fish in the sea’ as we say. You move on and don’t get hung up on the people who say no, even if most people might say no.”
The analogy made sense in Tel Aviv. In Jerusalem I tried to rephrase this as an analogy to “cold calls” and business, but the looks I saw remained uncomfortable, and as sick-to-the-stomach as an adolescent boy at his first school dance. Those who turned out to these workshops sat patiently through the analogy, and finally, one apparently “conservadox” woman voiced the worries that everyone was silently feeling. Her concerns were held until I took questions, but when she began to voice them, they rolled out one, right after the other, and over top of the concern before it.
“Here it is not that simple. If we put up posters, flyers, or hand out cards, or just go up and talk to people, what happens if it is the wrong person? What happens if it is not rejecting a sales pitch that we face, but a bomb, a knife or a gun? These are real concerns. I want to meet with good Muslims, but I do not know how to find them without also inviting terrorists.”
This became what I am now terming “Phase 2.”
All of this had to be worked through before we could actually get down to the business of the second seminar, on the actual proposals for a New Constitution as a working prototype for a blueprint for peace and reconciliation between Jews and Muslims in the Holy Land.
These fears were ultimately talked through and worked through in what was a successful first seminar in both cities. In each case I tried my best to follow the Socratic Method, ask questions and allow people to voice their concerns. I noticed that when I proposed solutions – particularly in Jerusalem – each affirmative statement was met with doubt, resistance or rejection. When I noticed this, I recalibrated to the Socratic approach, returning to asking more than telling. In each case this yielded better results. It seemed that both chapters wanted a forum to discuss their fears, have them accepted as valid and come up with their own solutions to how they could and would proceed with their activism in spite of them. The solutions for each respective chapter were unique to the demographics of each, and the demographics and political climate of each city.
In Tel Aviv, it is no exaggeration to say that the fears were minimal in comparison to those of Jerusalem stakeholders. With very little prompting, the participants in Tel Aviv began pouring forth suggestions, and even outlining and organizing solutions, times, places and dates for grassroots outreach activism on their own. In Jerusalem, this was less the case. It reminded me more of a group therapy session, particularly for those coping with posttraumatic stress disorder or the like. It would not be inappropriate or incorrect to say that this was in fact, informally, what we were engaged in. At the time, I felt somewhat in over my head in terms of experience during this session in this city. As foreshadowed earlier, this would change upon returning to the United States.
The New Constitution Seminars: A Review of the Findings
The seminars in both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem went surprisingly smooth after that. The concept of a “New Constitution of Medina[t Yisrael Hashlamah]” was met with some skepticism, but all of this resistance was quelled in the opening 5 minutes of the seminar, as I introduced the topic, history and its relevance to both Jews and Muslims. As I often do at seminars on the Hashlamah Project, I gave a brief, but somewhat comprehensive overview of the history of Jewish and Muslim interaction, conflict and co-worship. This time, however, I traced the history backwards to the Constitution itself.
This seemed exponentially more effective (and less depressing) than working from history towards the situation we find ourselves in today. In explaining background which was largely covered in some of my earlier doctoral research, as well as my masters thesis, the entirely Jewish audiences were satisfied that there was sufficient historical precedence for peace and co-worship (and basic co-existence) between Jews and Muslims. Many had never heard or had heard very little of the Constitution of Medina. I passed out copies of the Constitution as it has been reconstructed in chronological articles by scholars, drawing from the Sirah accounts within which it was preserved.
I provided a few footnotes, pointing out the language and significance of key terms and phrases, as well distinctions and differentiations between the terms “Muslim” and “Mu’min” (Believer), both within the Constitution and in the Qur’an. Of particular interest and focus was the phrase Ummatan Wahidatan – “One Nation” or “Religious Community,” a phrase which the Constitution employs over and over to describe Jews and Muslim “Believers.” The Mu’minin, the Constitution says, are “One Ummah,” a Jewish and Islamic term of Nation. But Qur’anically, this term designates a united religious community and is translated accordingly. Muhammad literally said that Jews and Muslims should seem themselves as part of a single spectrum of religious belief.
Judaism, of course, teaches that many commandments in the Torah are specific only to the Children of Israel – a concept that the Qur’an reaffirms. Judaism further teaches that there are laws for all of the nations, but they do not include all of the nuances and strictures of halakhic Judaism. Islam too explains that there is a general path for all of the nations to follow, and from there one can determine increased personal strictness and religious practice for themselves, as “Believers.” The Constitution clearly reflects this understanding and frames Jewish and Islamic co-worship and co-existence in these terms and on this spectrum of belief.
In both of the second seminars, I asked stakeholders to silently read over the historical Constitution and make notes on the sheet about how or if a particular article could apply to Israeli and Palestinian peace and reconciliation. After given everyone some time to do this, we regrouped and I read through each of the articles and asked for suggestions from what people wrote down.
I summarized these suggestions for how each article applied today on a whiteboard, next to each article number. After lengthy discussion we had the beginnings of what could be considered a blueprint for a New Constitution.
The points as I listed them, and as the list grew, become something of an outline for a New Constitution:
- Discussion of each “Article” of the Constitution and its historical and linguistic background:
a) “those who followed them”
b) Those who “joined them” and
c) those who “worked with them”
- Articles referring to “Believers” as belonging to Muslim and Non-Muslim communities.
a) Use of the term Ma’min in Judaism
b) Use of Mu’min in the Qur’an and Constitution
c) Use in later hadith literature.
- “Ummah” in Judaism, the Qur’an and the Constitution: What it means for today
- The contexts and histories of the tribes and their situations, named in the Constitution and how they archetypally apply to groups today
- Differences “referred to God” or the Torah and “to Muhammad” or Islamic sources. Conflict resolution was negotiated via the middle ground that both the Torah and the Qur’an stand upon.
- Military protection is provided by voluntary taxation. Refusal to participate leaves one out of that compact and thus left to fend for themselves. There was no penalty for non-payment besides this. This highlights a voluntary confederation.
- Critical shortcomings of the document related to the historical context and prevalent sexism in all civilizations: “Protection only afford to women with the consent of their families.”
a) Recognizing the shortcomings
b) Calling them out
c) Account for and contextualizing them
d) Transcending these limitations.
Interestingly, the results and suggestions from both the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem seminars were strikingly similar to each other, with only about 3-5 new suggestions at each respective seminar. The above reflects the compilation of the points that were mutually agreed upon in both cities. As there were few who attended both seminars, this confirmed to me that the results were authentic, real and truly applicable. In a social scientific way, it seemed that we had conducted the same experiment twice and produced approximately identical outcomes, following the scientific method.
Beyond all of the take-away ideas and realizations from this change project, I am reminded by the results of the data collection, that the Hashlamah Project Foundation has a very difficult task that is not merely a matter of confronting problems, or providing solutions. It is not even as simple as providing methods for overcoming resistance or “immunities” to change. The implications of what we are doing are far reaching, extending into individual lives and families, at times putting participants in situations which could alienate them, or even estrange them, from segments of society, or their own families.
Though the first seminars that I facilitated in Israel were not the focus of this Integrated Learning Achievement (the second seminars were), upon returning home, the concerns that had been raised by members of the Israeli chapters hit home rather hard. As noted earlier in this work, it was only a matter of days after returning to our then home on the scenic Little Miami River right on the edge of Yellow Springs, Ohio that I began receiving Twitter notifications from the aforementioned “Jay Steven Barlow.” Jay had met me at a Hashlamah function in Southern California. He had, as noted, feigned interest in the group’s endeavors to learn more about me and others involved with a number of chapters nationally.
Jay had introduced himself to me by the pseudonym “Mustafa Pretlow” and “Mustafa bin Adam.” But as I investigated more about him, I learned his actual name was Jay Steven Barlow, and he is cited in the 9/11 Commission Report in FBI documents that name him as the local contact point for the 9/11 hijackers who entered the United States through San Diego. Those hijackers stayed at Jay’s Wahhabi-oriented apartment community, which he lived at back in 2001.
Jay had made a series of violent, threatening Twitter comments about me while I had been in Israel, which continued after I returned. He had threatened to kidnap, rape and murder my wife, as well as threatening to murder each of my sons, and, of course, to murder me as well. He has even highlighted March 13th, 2015 as a “deadline” by which he promises to have accomplished his crimes. Jay, it turned out, was and is the right hand man of a pro-ISIS Wahhabi preacher known as Shaykh Abdullah Ibrahaim Faisal.
The Jamaican-borne Shaykh Faisal was made famous by his propaganda in the United Kingdom, after graduating from the same extremist Saudi madrassah as some other Wahhabi heavyweights like Bilal Philips. For decades, Faisal has made literally thousands of propaganda tapes, which are today traded among ISIS members like baseball cards. This is no metaphor, some of Faisal’s tapes are rarer than others, and ISIS members in Syria and Iraq have been documented commenting on how they trade such tapes based on their rarity.
Jay not only issued threats to me, but he also convinced his Shaykh, Abdullah Faisal to issue a fatwah against me, declaring my blood not only “halaal” (permissible), but “wajib” (obligatory) for the “believer” to shed. The fatwah did not extend to my family, as Jay would have liked. Faisal, no doubt, believes he is following shari`yah by targeting me specifically, whereas Jay is apparently looser in his political maneuverings and contortions of shari`yah.
In any event, the decision, which is tantamount to having a bounty or hit placed upon you, was made because the Hashlamah Project itself was seen as subversive to the ideas and ideals of those who would promote a revived Caliphate. I suddenly knew what is was like to feel the concerns of those in the Israeli chapters, and in fact to feel those concerns in what is a more direct and personal way. To me this was odd, as I sincerely could not relate to these concerns on a personal level. I understand and respected them, but I did not understand them in the way that the Sufi poet Rumi spoke of the smell of a rose that can yet only be understood by someone else who has smelled it. In this case, however, the smell was not that of roses, but of something much more foul.
Moving forward, the path is not quite as straight and clear as it had seemed when I began this Integrated Learning Achievement. There is now the additional consideration of addressing this fatwah with all of the Hashlamah Project stakeholders. I have communicated this, and the related concerns and considerations to be taken, to every facilitator who I am in regular contact with, and informed them that our ethics dictate that they in turn inform their chapter participants of this reality and allow them to decide how or if they wish to continue participating in the Hashlamah Study Circles.
But what should we do from there? That question remains, at this time, unanswered. Upon meeting a new potential participant to we interrupt greetings to inform them of the situation? Do we simply post a notice of this on our website and leave it to people to find? Announcing this publicly is logical, and ethically understood, but at what point in the timeline of meeting new or prospective allies are we violating our moral duties if we do not announce these concerns to each new person to walk into the room? Is this more a disease that we must disclose or is it a matter of course and rite of passage, given the grandeur endeavors we have set forth. The answer seems to be that even though the seminars on activism in the face of fear and threats of violence were secondary to the mission of my trip, that topic and focus may now – more than ever – come to the forefront of my doctoral work, moving forward.
Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books
Bar-Tal, Daniel. (2007). Living with the conflict: Socio-psychological analysis of the Israeli-Jewish society. Jerusalem: Carmel. (in Hebrew)
Coghlan, D., and Brannick, T. (2014). Doing action research in your own organization (4th Ed.). Sage.
Frazer, Sir James. The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion, London: Wordsworth, 1993.
Gillis, A., & Jackson, W. (2002). Research methods for nurses: Methods and interpretation. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Company.
Harvey, O. J., White, B. J., Hood, W. R., & Sherif, C. W. (1961). Intergroup conflict and cooperation: The Robbers Cave experiment (Vol. 10). Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.
Heifetz, R. A. (1994). Leadership Without Easy Answers. Cambridge Massachusetts: Harvard Business Press.
Herr, K. G., and Anderson, G. L. (2015). The action research dissertation: A guide for students and faculty (2nd Ed.). Sage.
Hortolà P, Martínez-Navarro B (2013). “The Quaternary megafaunal extinction and the fate of Neanderthals: An integrative working hypothesis”. Quaternary International 295: 69–72
Horton, M., and Freire, P. (1990). We make the road by walking: Conversations on education and social change. Temple University Press.
Kelman, Herbert C. “Transforming the relationship between former enemies: A social-psychological analysis.” In R.L. Rothstein (Ed.), After the peace: Resistance and reconciliation. Boulder, CO, and London: Lynne Rienner; 1999. pp. 193-205
Kitzinger, J. (1995). “Qualitative Research: Introducing Focus Groups.” British Medical Journal, 311, 299-302
Lackovich-Van Gorp, Ashley (2014). Positive Deviance and Child Marriage by Abduction in the Sidama Zone of Ethiopia
Lewin, K. (1946) Action research and minority problems. J Soc. Issues 2(4): 34-46
McNiff, J., Whitehead, J. (2006) Programme for Joan Whitehead and for Jean McNiff’s and Jack Whitehead’s Action Research Workshops in South Africa, 19 Feb. to 3 March 2006
Mohammed Abu-Nimer. Reconciliation, Justice, and Coexistence: Theory & Practice (Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2001)
Mulhall, A. (2003). “In the field: Notes on observation in qualitative research”. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 41(3), 1-19.
Pettigrew, T. F., & Tropp, L. R. (2006). “A meta-analytic test of intergroup contact theory”. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90(5), 751–783.
Reason, P., and Bradbury, H. (2006). Handbook of action research: Concise paperback edition. Part I: “Groundings.” Sage.
Reason, P., and Bradbury, H. (2008). The Sage handbook of action research: Participative inquiry and practice (2nd Ed.). Introduction and Part I: “Groundings”. Sage.
Reinharz, Shulamit. (1992) Feminist Methods in Social Research. Oxford University Press.
Robertson, J. 2002. Reflexivity redux: A pithy polemic on “positionality.” Anthropological Quarterly, 75: 785-92
Smith, S. E., Willms, D. G., and Johnson, N. A. (1997). Nurtured by knowledge: Learning to do participatory action research. Forward (by Paulo Freire), Introduction, and Chapter 7, “Deepening Participatory Action Research.” New York: Apex Press.
Stringer, E. & Genat, W. J. (2004). Action research in health. Columbus, Ohio: Person Prince Hall.
Stringer, Ernest T. (1999) Action Research (Second Edition). London: Sage.
Streubert, H. J. & Carpenter, D. R. (1995). Qualitative research in nursing: Advancing the humanistic imperative. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company
Winer, A., Bar-On, A. and Weiner, E. (Eds.). (1992). Directory of Institutions and Organizations Fostering Coexistence between Jews and Arabs in Israel. New York. Abraham Fund.
Wuest, J. (1995). Breaking the barriers to nursing research. The Canadian Nurse, 91 (4), 29- 33.
Yablon, Y. B. (2007). Cognitive rather than emotional modification in peace education programs: Advantages and limitations. Journal of Moral Education, 36, 51-65.
Yildirim, Yetkin. “The Medina Charter: A Historical Case of Conflict Resolution.” Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, 20/4 (2009)
Young, L. (2006). Participatory action research (PAR): A research strategy for nursing? Western Journal of Nursing Research, 28(5), 499-504.
 e.g., Fox, 1999; Huntington, 2003
 Mohammed Abu-Nimer. Reconciliation, Justice, and Coexistence: Theory & Practice (Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2001)
 Hortolà P, Martínez-Navarro B (2013). “The Quaternary megafaunal extinction and the fate of Neanderthals: An integrative working hypothesis”. Quaternary International 295: 69–72; and specifically on the genocide hypothesis, Diamond, Jared (1992). The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal. Harper Perennial.
 Steven Pinker, a professor of psychology at Harvard, notes that though it may seem illogical and even obscene, the decline of violence from Biblical times to the present, argues that we are living in the most peaceful time in our species’ existence.
 The idea that religion is an inherent part of human societies, and pre-history is first noted in James George Frazer’s seminal The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion, which is concerned with the socio-religious emergence and evolution of belief.
 A good reference on the purpose, function of and inspiration for the cave paintings specifically is David S. Whitley’s Cave Paintings and the Human Spirit: The Origin of Creativity and Belief (just a good intro to the concept, but while accessible, this is not the best work on the subject).
 Bar-Tal, Daniel. (2007). Living with the conflict: Socio-psychological analysis of the Israeli-Jewish society. Jerusalem: Carmel.
 Kelman, Herbert C. “Transforming the relationship between former enemies: A social-psychological analysis.” In R.L. Rothstein (Ed.), After the peace: Resistance and reconciliation. Boulder, CO, and London: Lynne Rienner; 1999. pp. 193-205
 Taysir Jbara, Palestinian Leader Hajj Amin Al-Husayni (Princeton: Kingston Press, 1985), 82
 Winer, A., Bar-On, A. and Weiner, E. (Eds.). (1992). Directory of Institutions and Organizations Fostering Coexistence between Jews and Arabs in Israel. New York. Abraham Fund.
 Abraham Fund Initiatives, 2002
 e.g., Yablon, Y. B. (2007). “Cognitive rather than emotional modification in peace education programs: Advantages and limitations.” Journal of Moral Education, 36, 51-65.
 Pettigrew, T. F., & Tropp, L. R. (2006). A meta-analytic test of intergroup contact theory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90(5), 751–783.
 Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books
 Harvey, O. J., White, B. J., Hood, W. R.,; Sherif, C. W. (1961). Intergroup conflict and cooperation: The Robbers Cave experiment (Vol. 10). Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.
 Robertson, J. 2002. “Reflexivity redux: A pithy polemic on ‘positionality.’”Anthropological Quarterly, 75: 788
 ibid. 790
 Gillis, A.; Jackson, W. (2002). Research methods for nurses: Methods and interpretation. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Company.
 Lewin, K. (1946) “Action research and minority problems.” J Soc. Issues 2(4): 34-46
 McNiff, J. & Whitehead, J. (2006) Programme for Joan Whitehead and for Jean McNiff’s and Jack Whitehead’s Action Research Workshops in South Africa, 19 Feb. to 3 March 2006
 Gillis, A., & Jackson, W. (2002). Research methods for nurses: Methods and interpretation. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Company.; Leininger, M. M. (1985).
 Stringer, E.; Genat, W. J. (2004). Action research in health. Columbus, Ohio: Person Prince Hall.
 McNiff, J.; Whitehead, J. (2006). All you need to know about action research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
 Maguire, P. (1987) Doing Participatory Research: A Feminist Approach. UMass Center for Int’l Education/School of Education; McIntyre, A. (2002).
 Gillis & Jackson
 Streubert, H. J. & Carpenter, D. R. (1995). Qualitative research in nursing: Advancing the humanistic imperative. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company.
 Young, L. (2006). Participatory action research (PAR): “A research strategy for nursing?” Western Journal of Nursing Research, 28(5), 499-504.
 ibid. 501
 Koch, T.; Debbie Kralik. (2006) Participatory Action Research in Health Care. Wiley-Blackwell.
 ibid. 29
 Wuest, J. (1995). “Breaking the barriers to nursing research.” The Canadian Nurse, 91 (4), 30
 Marshall, C.; Rossman, G. (2006). Designing qualitative research, (4th Ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage.
 Streubert, H. J., Carpenter, D. R. (1995). Qualitative research in nursing: Advancing the humanistic imperative. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company
 Kitzinger, J. (1995). Qualitative Research: Introducing Focus Groups. British Medical Journal, p.299
 Marshall, C., Rossman, G. (2006). Designing qualitative research, (4th Ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage
 Greenwood, D. J., Levin, M. (1998).Introduction to action research: Social research for social change. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage; McNiff, J. & Whitehead, J. (2006); and in All you need to know about action research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. 235
 Gillis, A.; Jackson, W; Mulhall, A. (2003). “In the field: Notes on observation in qualitative research.” Journal of Advanced Nursing, 41(3), 1-19.
 Marshall, C. & Rossman, G.
 Spradley, J. (1980). “Doing participant observation.” In Participant Observation. New York;
Toronto: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
 Gillis, A.; Jackson, W.
 Streubert, H. J.; Carpenter, D. R. (1995). Qualitative research in nursing: Advancing the humanistic imperative. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company.
 Stringer, Ernest T. (1999) Action Research (Second Edition). London: Sage. 68
 Kaufman, B. A. (1992). “In pursuit of aesthetic research provocations.” The Qualitative Report, 1(4), 1-8; Kvale, S. (1996). “The interview situation.” In Interviews. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
 Reinharz, Shulamit. (1992) Feminist Methods in Social Research. Oxford University Press.19
 Stringer, 70
 Yablon, Yaacov Boaz: Religion as a Basis for Dialogue in Peace Education Programs 2010 (Journal Articles; Reports – Research), 341-351.
 Yildirim, Yetkin. “The Medina Charter: A Historical Case of Conflict Resolution.” Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, 20/4 (2009), 439-450
 The Constitution is preserved in two recensions of the author Ibn Ishaq’s (d. ca. 767) Sirah which preserve versions of this document (around two centuries after Muhammad). The Constitution describes Muhammad’s community in relation to the Jews of Medina as forming a single Ummah (an Ummatan Wahidatan), a term used in the Qur’an and elsewhere to describe a single “religious community” (e.g. 5.48; 10.19; 11.118; 11.213; 16.93; 21.92; 23.52; 42.8; 43.33)
 One of the most important elements of Yildirim’s study is its look at the issues of conflict resolution and culture, outlining the differences between basic Islamic and Western cultural assumptions that in turn shape their different approaches to conflict mediation. While comparing the two approaches, Yildirim finds universal assumptions of conflict resolution that persist despite differing cultural languages.
 Specifically, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem invited me out to give a workshop on this, piggybacked with a general discussion of how to engage in research and activism such as this in the face of the everyday fear that Jews and Muslims alike have of each other in Israel. This latter consideration and workshop was but a footnote in my very quick stay, but it would come to form what may in fact become the central backbone of my emerging thesis: how to do peace activism in the face of credible threats to one’s safety and life. Still, for the purposes of this participatory action research study, my emphasis was not on this topic – though it was a concern that these chapters had long asked me to come out and address.
 Heifetz, R. A. (1994). Leadership Without Easy Answers. Cambridge Massachusetts: Harvard Business Press.