The effects of campus recreational programs on attitudes of Arabs and Jews toward each other




Leitner, Jessica Leah

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Problems exist in relations between Arabs and Jews in Israel. There are many recreational activity programs in Israel, mainly working with children, which aim to improve relations. Research conducted over the last eight years shows that these programs make a positive impact on the attitudes of Arabs and Jews toward each other (Galily, Leitner and Shimon, 2013; Litvak-Hirsch, Galily and Leitner, 2015). Arab and Jewish college students in Israel study at the same campuses. But, research (Sky and Arnon, 2017) conducted at one campus (The Wingate Institute) showed that merely having Arabs and Jews at the same campus does NOT make a significant positive impact on attitudes toward each other. The aim of this research was to study the effects of a new recreational activities program (which included dance) at three Israeli college and university campuses on the attitudes of Arab and Jewish students toward each other. Quantitative research (pretest and posttest questionnaires) and qualitative research (written reflections of participants and observations by the principal investigator) were utilized to evaluate the effects of the program on attitudes. The quantitative analysis found only three statistically significant differences in comparing pretest and posttest responses: An increase in Jewish Wingate students saying that they had an Arab friend; a decrease in Jewish Seminar HaKibbutzim students saying that they thought that most Arabs hate Jews; and an increase in Jewish BGU students saying that most Arabs hate Jews. The lack of statistically significant findings was in part due to the positive attitudes of participants from the beginning, leaving little room for improvement. Also, more Arabic-speaking participants were needed in the programs, despite extensive recruitment efforts. The qualitative analysis showed that many participants experienced positive attitude change and acquired knowledge that could help them implement similar programs in the future. Dance seemed to be an especially effective form of activity for facilitating positive interaction between Arabs and Jews. Continuation and expansion of these type of programs to college and university campuses throughout Israel is recommended as a way to try to improve relations between Arabs and Jews


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