I wrote an article which was recently posted on the Cross-Currents blog. Like many people, I'm frustrated with the vilification I'm hearing about points of view and decisions they disagree with. People talk past each other and impune the other's motives.
I had a 60 hour clinical training during law school with Professor Baruch Bush on how the theory and practice of transformative mediation (videos of Prof. Bush explaining transformative mediation above). It seems like it would be a very effective way to get the various sides to hear each other and, who knows, perhaps reach a long-term, consensual, and peaceful resolution and avoid further "culture war." The trick is getting the parties in the door.
I definitely recommend people read my article, the first few paragraphs of which I've copied below. Click here to read the full article.
Both sides on the chareidi draft issue in Eretz Yisroel see the other as an existential threat. The current coalition government apparently thought that they did not need to compromise on the imprisonment issue when they unilaterally negotiated and recently passed their draft bill. On the other hand, the various chareidi communities do not think they need to compromise in their total opposition to the law in any form and believe their show of solidarity on the issue at the Atzeres Tefillah gathering in Yerushalayim backs up that position. All they need to do it wait until the next election and give a majority to any coalition government which agrees to repeal the law.
When both sides look at the other, they feel simultaneously vulnerable and powerful. In reality, this is the perfect opening for leaders on both sides to participate in an open-ended dialogue that, based on past history, has a strong potential to not only enable them to reach a peaceable resolution to the conflict, but to bring them closer together. That framework for conversation is called “transformative mediation.”
The Transformative Model
The chareidi and non-chareidi communities in Eretz Yisroel need some framework within which to transform the downward spiral in their relationship. The current conflict is like a civil litigation. Both sides start with the intention of defeating the other, but in court, most cases are ultimately resolved consensually before trial. In this inter-communal Jewish dispute, however, it is not enough to settle individual issues with particular compromises while both sides continue to inwardly despise one another. We must transform the nature of the relationship between the two sides and reshape the form of the dialogue.
In the legal world, there are a variety of ways consensual resolutions are reached. Settlements arise from direct negotiation before or during litigation and sometimes through mediation. Most forms of mediation are mediator-driven. In other words, the mediator guides the parties through the issues to be resolved and sets the tone for what he believes a resolution should look like. In standard mediation, the mediator is an experienced professional with a good understanding of the strength of each side’s legal arguments and who is most likely to win on what issue in a full-blown litigation. He uses his knowledge and influence to guide the parties to what he believes is a workable solution. While this is often effective if the only goal is achieving a settlement, it often leaves parties with just as much animosity toward one another and feeling steamrolled into a settlement with the mediator taking the other party’s side on some issue.
But this method will not work here because the stakes are too critical. Neither side can risk participating in a process which could potentially force it to cede precious ground. This crisis demands a deeper response. The issues and values at stake are so personal and so nuanced for both sides that any outside intervention or coercion would not address the underlying issue; the relationship between the chareidi and non-chareidi communities in Eretz Yisroel.
More Than Compromise – Transforming the Dialogue
The good news is that transformative mediation is a participant-driven form of mediation which does not limit its goals to ironing out a compromise to a particular circumscribed conflict. Rather, it is structured to transform the form of the dialogue and the parties’ relationship... Click here to read more.