Sunday, February 01, 2009

Is an Israeli Jewish sense of victimization perpetuating the conflict with Palestinians?

The piece below by Akiva Eldar in Ha'aretz I'm afraid to have to say, very much confirms the impression I get about Jewish Israelis from their blogs and the numerous Internet conversations I've had with them over the years. It's a long article and I'm mainly reprinting the introduction here but it's very well worth reading the entire thing. Please do.

A new study of Jewish Israelis shows that most accept the 'official version' of the history of the conflict with the Palestinians. Is it any wonder, then, that the same public also buys the establishment explanation of the operation in Gaza?

A pioneering research study dealing with Israeli Jews' memory of the conflict with the Arabs, from its inception to the present, came into the world together with the war in Gaza. The sweeping support for Operation Cast Lead confirmed the main diagnosis that arises from the study, conducted by Daniel Bar-Tal, one of the world's leading political psychologists, and Rafi Nets-Zehngut, a doctoral student: Israeli Jews' consciousness is characterized by a sense of victimization, a siege mentality, blind patriotism, belligerence, self-righteousness, dehumanization of the Palestinians and insensitivity to their suffering. The fighting in Gaza dashed the little hope Bar-Tal had left - that this public would exchange the drums of war for the cooing of doves.

"Most of the nation retains a simplistic collective memory of the conflict, a black-and-white memory that portrays us in a very positive light and the Arabs in a very negative one," says the professor from Tel Aviv University. This memory, along with the ethos of the conflict and collective emotions such as fear, hatred and anger, turns into a psycho-social infrastructure of the kind experienced by nations that have been involved in a long-term violent conflict. This infrastructure gives rise to the culture of conflict in which we and the Palestinians are deeply immersed, fanning the flames and preventing progress toward peace. Bar-Tal claims that in such a situation, it is hard even to imagine a possibility that the two nations will be capable of overcoming the psychological obstacles without outside help.

Scholars the world over distinguish between two types of collective memory: popular collective memory - that is, representations of the past that have been adopted by the general public; and official collective memory, or representations of the past that have been adopted by the country's official institutions in the form of publications, books or textbooks.

The idea for researching the popular collective memory of Israeli Jews was raised by Nets-Zehngut, a Tel Aviv lawyer who decided to return to the academic world. At present he is completing his doctoral thesis in the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution at Columbia University's Teachers College. The study, by him and Bar-Tal, entitled "The Israeli-Jewish Collective Memory of the Israeli-Arab/Palestinian Conflict," examines how official collective memory in the State of Israel regarding the creation of the 1948 refugee problem has changed over time.

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At 3:39 AM, Blogger Frank Partisan said...

That study is very interesting. It's hinted at, that atitudes can be changed.

In addition there is world criticism of Israel, even from friendly countries.

Young people are more secular in Israel, and even vote against Zionism.

At 3:48 PM, Blogger Gert said...

What can be indoctrinated can be unindoctrinated...

At 4:26 PM, Blogger Nevin said...

I think this is a typical human psychology...

A child who was perpetually abused both physically and psychologically is so badly traumatized that when s/he grows up to be an adult, turns around does exactly what s/he knows... to continue with violence and abuse. The abused child (Zionist European Jew), is now abusing his/her child (the Palestinians).

So the cycle of violence continues... because the child (in this case the Palestinians), will turn around in the future and continue with the same unhealthy behavior....


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