Design, Monitoring and Evaluation for Peacebuilding

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Intractable Peacebuilding: Evaluating a Generation of Work Across the Israeli-Palestinian Divide

On May 21, 2015, the Network for Peacebuilding Evaluation was pleased to host Dr. Ned Lazarus of George Washington University who discussed "Intractable Peacebuilding:  Evaluating a Generation of Work Across the Israeli-Palestinian Divide."  


Since the 1990s, thousands of Israelis and Palestinians have participated in cross-conflict peacebuilding initiatives. During the same span, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has proved thoroughly intractable, lurching between episodes of failed negotiation and violent escalation. Can grassroots and civil society peacebuilding succeed if there is no parallel progress at the political level? How can we assess the contributions of Track II and III work when there is no prospect of peace on Track I? 

In the past three years, Ned has conducted evaluations encompassing more than 50 Israeli-Palestinian peacebuilding initiatives, on behalf of USAID’s Department of Conflict Management and Mitigation, The U.S. Institute of Peace, and the European Union Partnership for Peace Programme. In previous research, Ned studied the long-term impacts of peace education participation for more than 800 Israeli and Palestinian graduates of the Seeds of Peace program, tracing their engagement in peacebuilding activity from adolescence into adulthood. In this Thursday talk, Ned presented key findings from these studies, which find evidence of meaningful micro- and meso-level impacts, and provide foundations for an empirically rigorous, contextually grounded assessment of the Israeli-Palestinian peacebuilding field.

Too often, the outcomes of grassroots and civil society peacebuilding are conflated with the success or failure of an official peace process, a perspective that elides the complexity, diversity, and long-term perspective of conflict transformation work on the ground. In such a situation, evaluations can do more than provide insight on any particular program. Taken together, evaluative studies provide foundations for an empirical record of the field – enabling an evidence-based conversation about the contributions and limitations of peacebuilding in a context of unresolved conflict.


Summary: Check back soon for the summary.

Presentation Powerpoint: Ned's Powerpoint is available here.

About the Speaker: 

Ned Lazarus is Visiting Assistant Professor at the George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs. A conflict resolution scholar, practitioner and evaluator specializing in Israeli-Palestinian peacebuilding, Ned has conducted recent evaluations of Israeli-Palestinian civil society peace initiatives on behalf of USAID, the US Institute of Peace, and the European Union. Ned has taught Conflict Resolution previously at George Mason University, Georgetown University and the University of Massachusetts-Boston. Ned earned his doctorate in International Relations from American University's School of International Service in 2011; his dissertation assesses the long-term impacts of peace education for more than 800 Israeli and Palestinian youth before, during and after the second intifada. Before entering the academic field, Ned served as Middle East Program Director for Seeds of Peace, based in Jerusalem, from 1996-2004.
Additional Links from the Presentation

Posted on behalf of Deborah Trent:

Dr. Lazarus, thanks for your insights. Perhaps you could post on the DME website any links to your research that might treat the participation or lack of engagement with Jewish and Palestinian diasporas in multi-track peacebuilding and peace education?  I'm thinking of organizations including the Arab American Institute and of course J Street, as examples.

Dear Deborah,

Thanks for this important question regarding the role of Jewish and Palestinian diaspora organizations and donors in supporting multi-track peacebuilding.

I should offer a caveat that I'm not an expert on development and fundraising, which I regret in terms of career opportunities :) - so my response on this topic is informed by my own experience and perspective rather than systematic research.

In the big picture, the polarizing and asymmetric nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict influences the relations of Jewish and Palestinian diasporas to each other and to the types of civil society initiatives in the Middle East that are funded by diaspora individuals and organizations (in the United States, at least, which is the largest Jewish diaspora population and the one I'm familiar with).

What this means in practice is that just as in Israel and the oPt (occupied Palestinian territories), there are asymmetries between the diaspora communities in terms of funding and political activity vis-a-vis the conflict in the US.

Peacebuilding and peace education are not currently priorities of the mainstream communal fundraising organizations in either community, but within the larger American Jewish community there is a significant liberal donor constituency that has been and continues to be a crucial funding source for peace and dialogue initiatives, primarily for "shared society" initiatives involving Palestinian Arab and Jewish citizens in Israel but also "cross-border," between Israeli Jews and Palestinians in the oPt., e.g. the New Israel Fund, the Slifka Foundation, the Goodwin Foundation among numerous others. I would go so far as to say that liberal donors in the American Jewish community are likely the most common source of private funds for peacebuilding initiatives.

At the same time, governmental donors - primarily USAID and the EU through their annual grant programs (CMM APS and EU Partnership for Peace, respectively), as well as the U.S. Institute of Peace on a smaller scale, and a number of European governments - are today equally or more important than any private sources in terms of overall funding for the field.

There are Palestinian or Arab-American diaspora private funders for these initiatives as well, but on a smaller scale, which I would ascribe to three conditions: 1) The Palestinian and Arab-American diaspora communities are not equally established or organized in the US; 2) As mentioned in our discussion, peacebuilding initiatives struggle for legitimacy in the oPt and the larger Palestinian community due to the anti-normalization campaign and the apparent lack of prospects for a negotiated end to the Israeli occupation and settlement of the West Bank, and this is reflected in the diaspora as well; 3) Urgent humanitarian, development and advocacy campaigns are prioritized over cross-conflict peacebuilding (this is true in both Jewish and Arab-American communities).

Again, I am not an expert and I would welcome input from others more expert in funding and diaspora organizing around these issues...



Dear Ned, 

Thanks for your thoughtful reply, with apologies for not seeing it sooner. I was not aware of the philanthropies you mention running "shared society"  and "cross-border" initiatives in the oPt and appreciate the information. I agree that there are asymmetries between the two diasporas, as reflected in the first of the three conditions you describe for diaspora organization funding. The other two conditions also reflect my experience/research and are compelling reasons for our peacebuilding evaluation community to continue generating robust evidence from inclusive/participatory (in this case referring to diaspora engagement) DM&E of transnational social, scientific, and business programs.  

Evidence of collaborative peacebuilding, humanitarian, and development programs that work and don't work strengthen the legitimacy of peacebuilding on which conflict transformation can be based.  Just one example of USG programs promoting public-private partnerships that yours truly is researching includes the Department of State, USAID, and a civil society organization they support.   

Staying on the participatory DM&E topic, the people-to-people framing by USAID and Dept. of State funding of (for example) Seeds of Peace signals to me a substantial overlap in the missions of those agencies (CMM at USAID and public diplomacy units at State). I consider this overlap heartening, but it opens up an important research question regarding DM&E inpeacebuilding, development, and public diplomacy, that is, how can the three fields collaborate more, and generate more funding and application of inclusive/participatory evaluation research? 

I guess you can tell that I’m advocating for more interdisciplinary, inter-agency, and cross-sector research efforts in evaluation.  That kind of collaboration is how to get even more attention paid to the merits of DM&E for peacebuilding and, as you put it, to ‘scale the programs that work.’

I join you in hoping that more folks chime in on the diaspora engagement issue and more generally on how to collaborate and advocate more.


Thanks again, for sharing your research and perspective,


Debbie Trent

Posted on behalf of Joel Braunold from ALLMEP:

So its Joel Braunold from ALLMEP - if the methodlogy works what is missing?

Posted on behalf of Robert Zwang: 

Hi Ned, good to hear your voice. Have you learned anything regarding sector specific cross-border iniatives,where there are mutualy benificial relationships?

Posted on behalf of Michael Gizzi:

Two questions: 

1) Are most of the people-to-people programs bringing together Jews and Israeli-Arabs as opposed to Jews and Palestinians on the West Bank/Gaza?

2) How do schools like Hand in Hand impact these programs?

Posted on behalf of Eva Komlossyova:

In your research, have you used other methodological approaches to peacebuilding evaluation, apart from the longitudinal study? Is it possible to asess the impact of Seeds of Peace initiatives beyond the personal effect on the individuals involved in the project?

Posted on behalf of Krista Johnson Weicksel:

Last week at the AFP conference you shared that continued engagement of Seeds of Peace alumni  in peacebuilding work was to some extent related to follow-up work with participants beyond one time participation in the camps.  Can you say more about that follow-up and the challenges to follow up in a very divided context?


Posted on behalf of Bruce Hemmer:

Hi Ned, have you found evidence of effective ways to link people-to-people methods to Track 1 or 1.5 efforts?  In particular, ways of connecting them to political competition and narratives without risking the political capture or tainting of the peacebuilding organizations?  And how can evaluation help us get our own government past a generally short-term perspective which doesn't lead to funding and political support informed by a suitably long-term game plan that creates the meso-level connections that are needed?

Posted on behalf of Wendy Wicker:

Thank you Dr. Lazarus.  As demographics in the Israeli Palestinian conflict setting appear to be changing to increase the impact of populations on both sides with more extreme opinions regarding negotiating a solution, these are clearly groups who will need to be engaged in order for change to occur.  Can these P2P programs effectively engage these segments of the populations?

Posted on behalf of Ashley Bates:

What are some examples of Palestinian leaders who graduated from people-to-people programs? Your presentation only listed Jewish Israelis.

Posted on behalf of Kerry Abbott:

Everyone recognizes Seeds of Peace as trying something like PB..Do you find the term is too broadly used to have much clear meaning? A lot of the groups you listed are nominally active.

What did you note about the disappearance of israeli peace networks (meaning Israelis who believe peace is possible, who support those political parties and belong to those networks) over  the past 15 years?

Most Significant Change.... 

Dr. Lazarus, you mentioned the Most Significant Change method when responding to a viewers question about concrete results. Do you see any issues with this methodology? We essentially ask participants 'How have we changed your life?" in some cases respondents know we will be selecting the best responses among them. Is there something flawed and comprimised about that model? If so, can you speak to the limitations as you see them in this context?