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Victims under Siege: Lessons for Polish–Jewish Relations and Beyond


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In this chapter, we review Daniel Bar-Tal’s pioneering work on collective victim beliefs and how they influence intractable conflicts and intergroup relations more generally. Bar-Tal’s early work on siege mentality and on societal beliefs related to collective victimhood stimulated research in social and political psychology on this important, understudied topic. We discuss his contributions and review empirical evidence of his postulates as well as more recent conceptualizations of collective victimhood that build on his work. In the second part of this chapter, we discuss collective victimhood in Poland where Bar-Tal grew up. Although Poland is not involved in an intractable conflict, centuries of occupation by surrounding empires and countries contribute to a powerful self-view of Poland as the “Christ of Nations.” We discuss research on the relationship between this victimhood-based identity and anti-Semitism as well as reactions to the role of Poles during the Holocaust. We also discuss some evidence of positive consequences of victim beliefs for the support of refugees in Poland, and end with a discussion of interventions and moral exemplars that may help transform collective victimhood and improve contemporary relations between historically victimized groups—in Poland, Israel, and beyond.




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Link to article (paywalled), Victims under Siege: Lessons for Polish–Jewish Relations and Beyond

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Vollhardt, Johanna Ray, Bilewicz, Michał, Olechowski, Mateusz Victims under Siege: Lessons for Polish–Jewish Relations and Beyond. The Social Psychology of Intractable Conflicts. Springer. 2015: 75-87.  https://archive.jpr.org.uk/10.1007/978-3-319-17861-5_6