Did it my way.

October 26, 2009

I should have kept up with how – or rather, when – I finished my Conflict Management & Negotiation degree at Bar Ilan last year. Must have slipped my mind with everything else that has been going on for me – not to mention with how long it took towards the end, totally from a bureaucratic point of view.

But I did it. I have the Masters, minus the official gishur course. I’d like to get around to getting certified in the next year or so anyway, even if I don’t go into the field here in Israel.

You can read more about my work to finish the MA at Bar Ilan here.

Would I do it all again?

Yes, but differently.


The future of mediation… and me.

October 26, 2009

Out of the blue I received an email yesterday seeking my knowledge of mediation as a career and process in Israel: How do you study? How long does it take? What requirements are there?

The answer I gave is a bit depressing, but I guess, for now, it’s how I see it:


I studied for a Masters at Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan. They have a program there called Conflict Management and Negotiation, and a part of it is to take the official Gishur (mediation) course, which, when passed, certifies you to become a mediator. Along with that, if I’m remembering correctly, you need at least five years working for someone (lawyer, etc) related to mediation, a BA in psychology, sociology, law, or something related, and there may be other reqs I’m not recalling.

I didn’t end up doing the Gishur course (life got in the way). They offered by all different organizations, so you could actually be a lawyer and take it, etc. It’s a matter of being officially recognized. But it takes more work than just the course, as I outlined.

Mediation as a private practice is not very popular here – yet. The court system uses mediation in family and small claims cases many times, and that is the main way to break into it. It’s not easy to break into though as there are limited positions. As one of my professors said, if you want to get into gishur here in Israel, don’t make it your main job.

It’s unfortunate, of course. This is a country where many folks are very interested in alternative resolution to many other problems – health, stress, physical wellbeing especially. But culturally, it’s a place where people often have trouble listening to authority. Let alone volunteering to be counseled by it.

Sorry if that sounds depressing! At the same time that I was studying for the MA I was working in hi tech and ended up finding that I could actually make a living in hi tech, and didn’t have time for both. So the mediation is on hold for me now.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

I might be wrong; it might be more optimistic if you ask someone else. I hope it is. This is where I am right now, and I don’t know what will be for me or the future of mediation in Israel in general. There is a lot to be gained here by accepting the process.

Some things just can’t be mediated.

April 28, 2008

I consider myself a realist who dabbles often in optimism. I do like to think that more often than not, a family can be transformed if all participants are willing to submit to their own self determination.

However this is the most horrific, psychotic, terrifying family situation I have ever read… ever:

Father confesses to sex dungeon horrors

The story is still developing, but it goes something like this:

Mr.F. has confessed to holding his daughter hostage for 24 years and fathering seven children by her.

A 73-year-old man has confessed to holding his daughter captive in his home cellar for nearly 24 years and fathering seven children by her, Austrian police say.

Mr. F. has confessed to imprisoning his daughter for 24 years and having seven children with her.

Austrian police spokesman Franz Polzer told CNN, the man, known as Mr. F., admitted holding his daughter hostage in a windowless cell in the basement of his home for more than two decades. (CNN)

Not surprisingly, the daughter, who is now 42-years-old, is extremely traumatized and having a difficult time talking about her ordeal.

It’s all weird because I took a final today in Ethical Dilemmas in Mediation. Aside from the fact that I rocked it, I can’t help but read this story from the point of view of what i learned concerning family mediation and the sensitive ethics involved. Obviously, here, there’s not much to do but skin this man alive.

I will point out the weird twist of fate that world-renown psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud was born in Austria. If this incredibly fucked up father had done his homework, maybe he would have realized something about himself earlier…

New Zealander prisoners and restorative justice.

April 15, 2008

A recent mediator blah… blah… blog post title caught my eye; apparently there is a demand in New Zealand for conducting restorative justice for prisoners and their victims, two-thirds of which is on the part of the prisoners.

I found this interesting – and you know what, not that surprising – after my recent visit to an Israeli prison in the center of Israel for a class trip. I’m glad I got the chance to meet prisoners face to face, so that reading this news story is way more real for me.

Coming to the end of the big bad Bar Ilan conflict.

April 9, 2008

This kind of passed by yesterday without much notice (until other people brought it up) but it was my last class at Bar Ilan. It’s possible I didn’t notice because I haven’t been to a class in two weeks; now c’mon, I had reasons for all the missed classes. Mainly that I’m so done with school. Subconsciously I was done two weeks ago.

It’s sad. I’m so not done with school, I’m so done with the Bar Ilan experience. I think I did pretty well to be positive and make the most of it. I’ve learned a lot about the field of conflict management and mediation, though a lot of it was self-taught and done through independent channels (including this blog and people I have ‘met’ through it so far).

Before I get all celebratory, I still have a lot of work to finish before I’m truly done with school: papers, a final, an internship, mediation certification. I plan for it all to be finished and handed in by the end of this summer. Then I can celebrate.

How can a mediator be both impartial and fair?

April 5, 2008

I’m spending my Saturday night writing a short paper for my course in Ethical Dilemmas in Mediation. The paper is covering an article by Susan Nauss Exon called, “How Can a Mediator Be Both Impartial and Fair?:
Why Ethical Standards of Conduct Create Chaos for Mediators.”

She makes a great point: The Standards of Conduct meant for mediators are either too vague or too restricting, depending on how you view them. Impartiality and fairness could be mutually exclusive one way, or totally  harmonious another.

On top of that, they are both difficult goals to attain, however necessary they might be. So shouldn’t that be resolved if mediators are truly having so  much trouble with it? Well, are they?

If a bumper sticker can communicate…

March 16, 2008

Walking through a residential Jerusalem neighborhood today, I spotted this Israeli bumper sticker I thought I’d share:

Israeli bumper sticker
“Ze lo yigamair ad she’nidabair”
“It won’t end until we talk”

While I’m not so interested in bloodying myself with Palestinian Israeli politics at the moment (it’s too pretty of a day), I do want to mention how true this statement is for any conflict – especially our own personal ones.

For instance, how often have I thought I disliked someone until I had a meaningful conversation with them? We all go through this and it seems that we all forget the power of communication until we find ourselves doing it.

Just can’t communicate that enough!