Dan Bar-On's psychosocial approach sees identity as dynamic, constructed in contra-distinction to various 'Others'. Drawing parallels to other societies, he looks most closely at identity formation among Israelis, or more precisely, among the largely secular Jews from European lands who formed the hegemonic backbone of Israeli society. Case studies and analysis depict various stages in identity formation, as do 'personal windows' onto the author as he experienced these stages. Others such as Diaspora Jews, Jews from Muslim countries, and Arabs represent repressed aspects of the collective self. Monolithic identity disintegrates over time, in ways that are often confusing and painful. The perception of threat often creates a 'neo-monolithic backlash'. Yet the book holds out the possibility of a constructive dialogue, internal and among groups in society, that will give rise to a better-integrated and more inclusive identity construction.
Dan Bar-On is a Professor of Psychology in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Ben-Gurion University. He is also the co-director of PRIME (Peace Research Institute in the Middle East) near Beit Jala in the West Bank. He is the author of several books, among them Legacy of Silence: Encounters with Children of the Third Reich, Fear and Hope: Three Generations of Holocaust Survivors' Families, The Indescribable and the Undiscussable, and Tell Your Life Story. In 1996 he was awarded the David Lopatie Chair for Post-Holocaust Psychological Studies. In 2001 he received the BundesverdienstKreutz First Class, from German President Dr Johannes Rau. In 2003 he received the Eric Maria Remarque Peace Prize in Osnabruck, Germany. In 2005 he and Professor Sami Adwan, with whom he co-directs PRIME, received the Victor J. Goldberg IIE Prize for Peace in the Middle East and the EAEA 3rd Out-of-Europe Grundtvig Award on Active Citizenship in a Democratic Society. In 2007 they received a Fulbright scholarship at Monmouth University in New Jersey, USA.
1. The past: monolithic identity construction; 2. The present I: Disintegration of the monolithic construction; 3. The present II: the neo-monolithic construction; 4. The future: a dialogue between disintegrated aspects of identity; Postscript.