Creative Education
2013. Vol.4, No.7A2, 137-143
Published Online July 2013 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 137
Expression of Symbols and Their Message of Peace and
Conflict in Identity Drawing Map (IDM):
Arab and Jewish Students
Rachel Hertz-Lazarowitz1, Abeer Farah2, Tamar Zelniker3
1Faculty of Education, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel
2School of Social Work, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel
3Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel
Received April 11th, 2013; revised May 12 th, 2 013; accepted May 20th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Rachel Hertz-Lazarowitz et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative
Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium,
provided the origina l w o rk is properly cited.
In 2008, we conducted a large scale study following our methodology developed for the analysis of draw-
ings to assess identity (Hertz-Lazarowitz, Farah, & Yosef-Meitav, 2012). We gathered interviews and
asked for drawing Identity Drawing Map from 184 students aged from 20 - 30 years. The symbols in the
drawings were grouped in 5 categories: religious, national, emotional, secular-cultural and nature and
person figure symbols. The most frequent symbols were related to the nature and person figure category,
and the least frequent were symbols from the secular-cultural category. The symbol categories with most
indicative of identity conflicts were religious and national. The Arabs had more conflicted and complex
IDM messages than Jews and the evaluation of their emotions were less positive and less optimistic than
the Jews. The IDM methodology revealed the complex and multi-layered expression of identity construc-
tion. These findings can provide better understanding into the mechanism of identity construction in a so-
ciety and the University context which has been conflict ridden for many decades.
Keywords: Hyphenated Identity; University of Haifa; Jews; Arabs; Identity Drawing Map
Hyphenated Identity
The theory of “Hyphenated Identity” (HI) argues that people
living in complex political-social contexts construct a “new
identity” that includes many identities depended on the socio-
cultural and political contexts. Research had documented that
young adults include various sub-identities and “live on the
hyphen”, between identities found in contrast vs. harmony (Fa-
rah & Hertz-Lazarowitz, 2009).
Israeli society is bi-national, comprising a Jewish majority
and an Arab minority. For many years, the Arab population in
Israel was referred to by the majority as “the Arabsi”, as a mat-
ter of distinction from “the Jews”. Throughout the years, defini-
tions have changed and developed for and within each group
Jews and Arabs are now defining themselves by more identity
terms. Especially the Arab minority in Israel added many HI,
among their terms of collective identity: Palestinians, Arab-
Palestinians, and Palestinian citizens of Israel (Yosef-Meitav,
Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, identity
has been a core concept that challenged Israeli society. Particu-
larly challenging has been the term Jewish, as it refers to both
religion and nationality (Herman, 1977). Young Arabs and
Jews have encountered complex political changes, adjusting to
greater diversity of ethnicity, culture and religion, while con-
tinuing to live in the context of an intractable conflict (Jary-
mowicz & Bar-Tal, 2006; Rouhana, 2004a; White Stephan,
Hertz-Lazarowitz, Zelniker, & Stephan, 2004). Over time,
identity definitions in Israel changed moving from simple or
binary to multiple and more complex identities (Ghanem, 2006;
Maoz, Steinberg, Bar-On, & Fakhereldeen, 2002). Especially
Arabs and Jewish immigrants negotiated their identity via a
complex course of action (Gerges, 2003). The aim of this study
is to explore the deeper meaning youth in Israel assign to their
The Context of the University of Haifa
The University of Haifa is a unique environment for studying
how nationality, religion, and ethnicity contribute to students’
construction of their identity, and how identity in turn is related
to students’ perception of their experiences on campus. Univer-
sity of Haifa is a meeting place for Arab (Muslim, Christian,
and Druze) and Jewish students, from different ethnicities. All
the students are either religious or secular, with varied ethnic
background; political orientation, as well as different calendars
that mark their religious and civic life. Within this multifaceted
context identities are constantly under reconstruction as young
people live in a complex mixture of conflict and harmony.
Since 2001 and up to 2008 Hertz-Lazarowitz and a team of
Arab and Jewish researchers conducted annual studies as part
of a research seminar entitled “Social psychological aspects of
the University”. The full questionnaire asks the students to rate
attitude on a Likert scale and rates their perception of Haifa
University (HU). In those studies students choosed one identity
from a list, and there was an option to add an identity definition
(Zelniker, Hertz-Lazarowitz, Peretz, Azaiza, & Sharabany,
Generally, methods employed in identity research include
surveys, interviews, and identity drawing map (IDM). In the
2001 to 2008 studies, background independent variables were
Identity, nationality, and religion. The depended measures were
scales of psycho-sociological variables composed of positive
and negative perceptions of students’ experiences on campus.
Positive scales included multicultural experiences, democracy,
contact, closeness, and friendship with students from the other
group. Negative scales included feelings of discrimination,
racism, desire for segregation, and political tension. All of the
variables were measured using 1 - 5 Likert scales.
In general, Arabs and Jews were found to have similar posi-
tive perception of the university, with the Arabs being more
positive than the Jews. The Arabs expressed greater desire for
integration, but at the same time they also showed greater de-
sire for segregation. Both groups viewed political tensions as an
important variable exerting negative influence on life on cam-
pus. Arabs, mostly Muslims, who included the term Palestinian
in their HI, were more negative about the university than the
Christians and Druze and viewed the university as a space of
racism and alienation (Hertz-Lazarowitz, Azaiza, Peretz, Zelni-
ker, Kupermintz, & Sharabany, 2007). The research on HU
indicates that the groups that earn the most from academic
studies is women in general and Arab women in particularly
(Arar, Shapira, Azaiza, & Hertz-Lazarowitz, 2013; Gilat & Hertz-
Lazarowitz, 2009).
In addition to the measured employed in our 2001-2005
studies, 25% of the participants in the 2006 and 2008 study
were interviewed in order to explore identity construction. At
the end of the interview students were given a blank page and
were asked to write their identity definition. They were also
asked to draw a picture expressing their identity and write text
related to the drawing. Their written identity definition, plus the
drawing, plus the text related to the drawing, constituted the
Identity Drawing Map (IDM). This method followed the pro-
cedure used by Michelle Fine in her study of HI (Fine 1994).
The maps were examined by qualitative and quantitative meth-
ods of analyses; and added important understanding of the HI in
it s current construction (Farah & Hertz-Lazarowitz, 2009; Hertz-
Lazarowitz, Yosef-Meitav, & Zoabi, 2007).
We assumed that in Israel we will also find HI and student
that “live on the hyphen”, between identities in contrast vs.
harmony (Farah & Hertz-Lazarowitz, 2009; Hertz-Lazarowitz,
Yosef-Meitav, & Zoabi, 2007). This study focuses is on the
IDM methodology to explore HI in a UH mixed University. We
aim to find differences as well as similarities in Arab and Jews
based on using the IDM methodology.
In the year of 2008, 76 Jews (27 from Ethiopia, 32 from
Former Soviet Union, 17 born in Israel) and 109 Arabs (31
Druze, 35 Muslims and 43 Christian) participated in the study.
All of them UH Students in their third year, from various de-
partments participated voluntarily in the study. They created the
IDM as part of the questionnaire; all of the 184 maps were
documented and analyzed (Farah & Hertz-Lazarowitz, 2009).
Following a 90 minutes semi structured interviews; students
were interviewed on their life in general and specifically on
campus. At the end of the interview they were asked to write an
identity definition, draw their identity map, and add a brief text
related to their map (Yosef-Meitav, 2008; Hertz-Lazarowitz,
Yosef-Meitav, Farah, & Zoabi, 2010).
Coding in this study was based on method developed by
Katsiafics, Hertz-Lazarowitz, Sirin. Fine, Yosef-Meitav, Farah
& Zoabi’ (2008). Three coders proceed through three stages of
coding the IDM:
1) Categorization of objects to groups of symbols: First, all
objects in the drawing were counted. The total number of ob-
jects counted was 100. Then up to 3 most salient objects were
coded in the fitting category of symbols and entered later to the
SPSS analysis. The five categories were:
Religious symbols : Mosque, Synagogue, and Cross;
National symbols: geographical maps, Israel flag, Palestin-
ian flag;
Emotional symbols: Heart, family, sadness-te a r s;
Secular and Cultural symbols: T.V, books, university, vil-
Nature and person figure: person, parts of body, animals,
buildings, flowers.
2) The massage of the maps: The coders defined the IDM
according to the following distinctions:
Integrated maps: If symbols of identities (at least two) and
text were blended in in t e gration;
Conflicted maps: if symbols of identities (at least two) and
text were depicted with high tension, and intense rage;
Separated/parallel Maps: if symbols of identities (at least
two) and text were separated or parallel.
The above three types of the massages could appear in three
types of ma ps:
Complex/mixed map: Concomitant expressions of the dif-
ferent types of messages (e.g., both integrated and separated,
or other combinations of message types);
Personal map: Symbols (more than half) expressing per-
sonal attributes (e.g., personal talents or constraints);
Collective map: symbols (more than half) expressing most-
ly group attributes (e.g., religious symbols).
3) Evaluation of emotion: The coders used 12 emotions.
Positive emotions such as satisfaction, pride, hope, happiness,
elevation; and negative emotions such as anxiety, anger, sad-
ness, hostility, contempt, shame, disgust. Here also, the coders
decided if they are very certain that the emotion is presented in
the map (3) or very uncertain (1).
The coders were three students of psychology and education
on their B.A and M.A degree. They were trained 12 hours by
the main researcher. Each coder received an identity map, read
the text written beside the identity map and described it. They
start working individually and then rotated in pairs. At the same
time they wrote a protocol which provide a basis for testing the
reliability, the coders agreed 90% between them about the three
stages of coding of the IDM (Hertz-Lazarowitz, Yosef-Meitav,
& Zoabi, 2007).
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
First we present six IDMs represent the six major groups of
students: Arabs, all born in Israel (Muslims, Christians, and
Druze), and Jews (Born in Israel, born in former Soviet Union,
and Born in Ethiopia). The first two IDMs will be presented
with descriptive analyses based on the students’ background,
the drawing and its related text. Afterwards we present four
IDM with the very short explanation.
Then we move to the statistical analysis of category symbols,
massages of the maps and emotional evaluation of all the IDMs
(N = 184) (Farah, Hertz-Lazarowitz, 2009).
A’: Arab Mu slim Male
Background Information
A’ is 21 years old, single, traditional Muslim, Arab. He de-
fines his identity as an Arab Palestinian who lives in Israel. He
was born in Israel and lived in Arab village.
The Text near the Map
Maybe my drawing map is influence by the coming inde-
pendence day, but I feel that the flag meaning the Jewish Zion-
ist flag of the state, is crashing our Palestinian and Arab iden-
tity. I draw the Palestinian flag on the soil because it is the soil
of our land. The figure of Handala1 symbolize my Arab identity,
the Israeli flag symbolize the occupation that hides both Han-
dala and the Palestinian flag”.
Map Analysis and Summary
As appears in Figure 1, A’ draw three national symbols in
different sizes: a small Palestinian flag, a large sliced Israeli
flag and a figure of Handala, the three symbols are collective
symbols. The map expresses a massage of conflict between
national and civic identities; the emotions expressed are sadness
and other negative emotions
A’ drew the Israeli flag big over the whole page, and drew
under it a small Palestinian flag and a small figure of Handala
standing in the side. He writes that he (the student) is not satis-
fied with life in Israel. The Israeli flag painted over the whole
page; symbolize the consolidation and the oppression of the
Palestinian people. Under the flag he drew Handala on the side
of the page. On the legs of Handala he drew the Palestinian flag
(on the bottom of IDM). The Israeli flag is overruling the Pal-
estinian flag; and the figure Handala; which became a known
symbol for the Palestinians occupation (see Note).
S’: Jewish Male Born in Ethiopia
Background Information
S’ is 28 years old, single, traditional Jewish. He defines his
identity as a Jewish Ethiopian. He has born in Ethiopia and
lives in Jewish settlement.
The Text near the Map
I am a Jewish man that immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia,
I am very pleased here, I want to continue living in the land of
Israel, I want to grow roots, develop and help the Ethiopian
community. As my family has adapted to the new state and
overcome some difficulties, I want other Ethiopian families
develop and always remained in the land on Israel”.
Map Analysis and Summary
As appears in Figure 2, S’ drew many symbols in four cate-
gories: National: Three flags: An Israeli flag, an Ethiopian flag
and a map of Israel, Religious: Star of David; Secular and Cul-
tural: An Ethiopian house (the hot), Nature and Person figure
he draws himself. Some symbols are collective (Israeli flag and
Ethiopian flag) and some are personal symbols (a human figure
and w house). The map expresses an integral massage, and
expresses positive emotions such as proudness, hope and eleva-
S’ draw a human figure, his face is colored dark blue with
curly hair, on his body he draw a map of Israel. Above the fig-
ure he draws a large Israeli flag, around the flag he draws small
lines, and in the right side of the flag he draws two stars of
David. At the left side of the flag he draws the Ethiopian with
colors. Under the flag of Ethiopia S’ draw a straw hut which
typical in Ethiopia. S’ defined his identity as Jewish-Ethiopian,
he writes about the close connection with the Ethiopian com-
munity and his desire to help them. The flag and the map of
Israel are symbols of being a Jews, But he draws also an Ethio-
pian flag, a home from Ethiopia and Ethiopian human figure.
Figure 1.
The IDM.
1From approximately 1975 through 1987 Naji Al-Ali created cartoons that
depict the complexities of the plight of Palestinian refugees. These cartoons
are still relevant today and Handala, the refugee child who is present in
every cartoon, remains a potent symbol of the struggle of the Palestinian
eople for justice and self-determination.
Figure 2.
The IDM.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 139
He strongly values his national identity and his connection to
the Ethiopian co mmunity
As shown in Figure 3, the student draws in the middle the
Star of David with two branches of olive tree by each side, and
symbols of gender. She draws airplane and write the words
peace and war.
As shown in Figure 4, the students draw Shabbat candles as
a religious symbol, a women as a gender symbol, Israeli flag as
a national symbol, a shirt and mounts as a culture symbol.
As shown in Figure 5, the symbols are connecting Christian-
ity (Cross), Muslim Hillal, Jewish Star of David, and the Druze
diamond, expressing coexistence and peace. the students write
that: “I hope to be peace in Israel which is a is multi religious
As shown in Figure 6, She draws a Cross which symbolizes
the Christianity. She writes in Hebrew: “the cross represent my
great love to my religion”. She draws a Palestinian and Israeli
flag and feels conflict between them, she writes beside it: “I
would like to define my civic identity as Palestinian and not as
Israeli and this option doesnt exist in the ID”. She draws a
third flag and write “motherhood” in Arabic and writes: “I
wrote motherhood because this overcomes all identity hard-
Figure 3.
J’, Jewish female born in former Soviet Union.
Figure 4.
F’, Jewish female born in Israel.
Figure 5.
C, Arab druze female.
Figure 6.
F, Arab christian female.
Statistical Analysis
Similarities between Arabs and Jews, the two groups gener-
ated the same symbol categories and had similar percentages of
symbols in each of the categories. For both groups, percentages
of Nature and person figure symbols were highest; followed by
national and emotional Categories, as shown in Table 1.
Arabs have more religious symbols and emotional symbols.
Jews have slightly more Sec ular-cultural and Nature and person
figure. It proves that both groups express their identity by the
same categories with nature and person symbol that highest and
secular and culture the least, as shown in Table 1.
We will look now at the frequencies of symbols within each
category. When we calculate and mean for each category within
each national group by dividing the frequency of symbols by
category and divided it by the total of the symbols separately
for Jews and Arabs.
When we look specifically at the national category, we found
that the most frequent symbols was drawing the flag, the Israeli
flag 38% of the Jews and the Palestinian flag 15% of the Arab,
interestingly the Druze flag appear at the 13% of the Arabs map,
as shown in Table 2.
As mentioned in Table 3, for the religious symbols t he most
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Table 1.
Summary of category of symbols for Jews and Arabs.
Arabs % Jews %
Religious 17 13
National 24 24
Secular-cultural 11 14
Emotional 21 19
Nature and person figure 27 30
Table 2.
National category by Arab and J ews.
Jews Arabs
% N % N
38 26 9 8 Israeli Flag
3 2 15 13 Palestine Flag
0 - 13 11 Druze flag
4 3 9 8 Maps
9 6 - - Ethiopian flag
2 1 1 1 Olive tree
100 68 100 88 Total of symbols
Table 3.
Religious category by Arab and Jews.
Jews Arabs
% N % N
33 12 15 10 Star of David
- 25 18 Cross
3 1 10 7 Hilal (Islamic moon)
3 1 7 5 Druze star
6 2 1 1 Mosque
6 2 - - Torah
3 1 1 1 Candles
- 3 2 Clothes
6 2 - - holy food/objects-wine, bread
100 35 100 71 Total of symbols
frequent symbol was the Star of David 33% for Jews and 15%
for Arabs, followed by the Christian cross 25%, Hilal 10% and
Druze star 7% for the Arabs.
Frequency of emotional symbols were high in general, face
smile 52% by the Jew and 33% by the Arabs, relationship in the
family and heart were 22% for that Arabs and 19% for Jews, as
shown in Table 4.
As mentioned in Table 5 for map massages, Arabs and Jews
did not differ in integrated massage of maps, Arabs were higher
Table 4.
Emotional category by Ara b a nd Jew s.
Arabs Jews
N % N %
Face smile 23 33 25 52
Letter word 23 33 9 19
Relationsh ips: Family9 13 7 15
Heart 6 9 2 4
Face-anger 3 4 1 2
Tears 2 3 - -
Family-mother 2 3 2 4
Face-Fear 1 2 2 4
Total of symbols 69 100 48 100
Table 5.
Map massages by Arabs and Jews.
Jews N = 76 Arabs N = 109
- .84 1.85 2.00 .91 Integrat ed
2.03* .44 1.17 conflicted 1.34 .68
Separated - .62 1.34 .67 1.36
1.91* .50 1.12 .62 1.37 Complex
2.00 .88 - .91 2.09 Collective
- 2.25 .86 2.13 Personal .82
(M = 1.34, SD = 0.68) than Jews (M = 1.17, SD = 0.84) of the
conflict massages [t = 2.03, p < 0.05]. Arabs were also higher
(M = 1.37, SD = 0.67) than Jews (M = 1.12, SD = 0.5) of the
complex massages [t = 1.91, p < 0.05].
From a list of 12 emotions we found that positive emotions
(satisfaction, pride, hope, happiness, elevation) are most fre-
quent by the Jews and also by the Arabs, and we did not find
any significant differences in statistical terms. We found sig-
nificant differences in tow negative emotions where Arabs
emotions were evaluated more negatively in the categories of
anger and sadness and less happy from the Jews, as mentioned
in Table 6.
Over a period of ten years there have been numerous so-
cial-political-psychological studies of Arab and Jewish students
at the UH, a campus which constitutes a microcosm of the
strife-ridden Israeli society. Clearly, unresolved disputes be-
tween Jews and Arabs within Israel, and more broadly, within
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, influence the students’ feelings,
perceptions, identity, and behavior (Hertz-Lazarowitz, Zelniker,
& Azaiza, 2010; Hofman, 1988).
Given that the Arabs belong to a deprived and discriminated
against minority, we expected the Arab students to differ from
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 141
Table 6.
Evaluation of emoti ons by Arabs and Jews.
t Jews N = 76 Arabs N = 109
- S.D M S.D M
- .20 1.04 .40 1.12 Anxiety
1.86* .50 1.21 .78 1.39 Anger
2.01* .45 1.18 .66 1.35 Sadness
- .80 2.09 .80 1.94 Satisfaction
- .91 2.17 .95 1.97 Pride
- .88 1.80 .94 1.97 Hope
1.95* .89 2.18 .88 1.93 Happiness
- .31 1.11 .29 1.09 Hostility
- .11 1.01 .21 1.05 Contempt
- .28 1.05 .10 1.00 Shame
- .34 1.07 .38 1.10 Disgust
- .73 1.61 .70 1.59 Elevation
Jewish students in their identity construction and identity defi-
nitions in their IDM, but we found many similarities by catego-
ries and symbols.
For the Arabs, IDM messages entailed conflicted and com-
plex messages more than Jews. The meaning of these messa ges
for the Arabs was related to conflicts between the Arab minor-
ity and the Jewish majority. In the same time, among the Arabs
we see more options to the drawing of national symbols spe-
cially the flag. In the first IDM, the most restricted of either the
Israeli flag of the Palestinian is documented. However we also
see in Figures 5 and 6 a broader presentation of a national flag
and a search for a national flag that will include more options.
With respect to evaluated emotions, Arabs expressed more
negative emotions than Jews, including anger and sadness.
These emotions pertain to their difficult and discordant exis-
tence among the Jewish majority, and to the continuous op-
pressed existence of their Palestinian brothers under the Israeli
occupation. At the same time, Arabs also had significantly less
scores on happiness.
The most striking similarities between Arabs and Jews is the
fact that the two groups generated the same symbol categories
and had a similar content of IDM as expressed by the finding
that percentages of Nature and person figure symbols were
highest followed by national and emotional categori es. One can
suggest that for youth nature, person figure and emotional are
very important.
The national and the religious symbols are the womb for
contain conflict, oppression, unjust and occupation between
Jews and Arabs; they do so by direct statements and by expres-
sion of emotions. The students express positive and negative
emotion in regard to some national symbols. The war between
religions and national symbols is very deep and painful, but we
can imagine a future where all symbols receive respect and thus
are accompanied by more positive emotion.
It is a positive sign that student can express both positive and
negative emotion in regard to these symbols and toward the
University. But the Israeli-Jewish culture gives priority to the
Jewish religious symbols in the daily life on campus and in the
State. The reality today in Israel is that on one hand Arab can
express their love for the Palestinian flag-but this flag is not
recognized in Israel and thus is usually not included on campus
as part of political approved demonstrations.
However with time and slowly, positive changes are taking
place on campus: Some examples: more Arabs students enter
high prestige department and mixed classrooms are the routine
in all departments. Students live within an island of coexistence
and cooperation for the last forty years. Inter-religion dialogue
groups are forming: Prayer places are assigned to different
religion groups: Few civil groups continue for years to create a
dialogue and understanding sites for different groups. The
holidays of all religions are now acknowledged by UH authori-
ties, but still have to attend classes with some flexibility. Thus
some can dream and imagine a reality where national and reli-
gious symbols will reach more acceptances and respect from
UH authorities and vary groups of students.
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