Clash of Identities

Clash of Identities: Explorations in Israeli and Palestinian Societies

Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 464
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  • Book Info
    Clash of Identities
    Book Description:

    By revisiting the past hundred years of shared Palestinian and Jewish-Israeli history, Baruch Kimmerling reveals surprising relations of influence between a stateless indigenous society and the settler-immigrants who would later form the state of Israel. Shattering our assumptions about these two seemingly irreconcilable cultures, Kimmerling composes a sophisticated portrait of one side's behavior and characteristics and the way in which they irrevocably shaped those of the other.

    Kimmerling focuses on the clashes, tensions, and complementarities that link Jewish, Palestinian, and Israeli identities. He explores the phenomena of reciprocal relationships between Jewish and Arab communities in mandatory Palestine, relations between state and society in Israel, patterns of militarism, the problems of jurisdiction in an immigrant-settler society, and the ongoing struggle of Israel to achieve legitimacy as both a Jewish and a democratic state. By merging Israeli and Jewish studies with a vast body of scholarship on Palestinians and the Middle East, Kimmerling introduces a unique conceptual framework for analyzing the cultural, political, and material overlap of both societies. A must read for those concerned with Israel and the relations between Jews and Arabs, Clash of Identities is a provocative exploration of the ever-evolving, always-contending identities available to Israelis and Palestinians and the fascinating contexts in which they take form.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-51249-7
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xx)
  4. CHAPTER ONE A Model for Analyzing Reciprocal Relations Between the Jewish and Arab Communities in Mandatory Palestine
    (pp. 1-24)

    This essay presents an interactional model for analyzing the effects of the reciprocal influences between two collectivities on the processes of crystallization and the building of society and identity within them—the first being the Jewish settlers in the territory referred to as the Land of Israel, and the second being the local Arab population. The time period considered begins with the first wave of Jewish immigration in the 1880s and concludes with the social, political, and military collapse of the latter collectivity in 1947. This essay deals with the past, but is not a historical study because it does...

  5. CHAPTER TWO Collective Identity as Agency and Structuration of Society: The Israeli Example
    (pp. 25-57)

    Filling the gap that lies between the individual, replete with a free will that appears in different degrees of unpredictable social conduct, and the whole or systematically structured society is one of the major puzzles in sociology and the social sciences. The problem is how to conceptualize and theorize the existence of the individual to match the concepts that we have of institutions, societies, and cultures. After all, it is the individual that provides our hard data, while institutions, cultures, and societies are theoretical constructs or metaphysical entities.

    The first substantial efforts to fill this gap were the Parsonian and...

  6. CHAPTER THREE The Formation Process of Palestinian Collective Identities: The Ottoman and Colonial Periods
    (pp. 58-84)

    Palestinian history reached a significant turning point with the signing of the Declaration of Principles by Yitzhak Rabin, the late Israeli prime minister, and Yasir Arafat, the late chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, on September 13, 1993. More agreements followed, and as they were gradually implemented in a part of historic Palestine—the West Bank and Gaza—they seemed at the time to point toward a full state of self-determination for the Palestinians. About a year before the signing of the Declaration of Principles, within the framework of a larger survey, the Arab population of the occupied territories was...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR Between Primordial and Civil Definitions of the Collective Identity: Eretz Israel or the State of Israel?
    (pp. 85-103)

    In 1974, Shmuel N. Eisenstadt investigated the nature of the Israeli collective identity with special regard to the extent of its Jewishness.¹ This issue gave rise to questions concerning Israel’s links to Diaspora Jewish communities and its status in the Middle East in particular and the world in general. This article analyzes collective identity, separating it into its component factors, seeking its roots, and examining its main trends, indicating therein one of the central problems of Zionism. Our primary a priori assumption is that the various elements that constitute the Zionist movement, both ideological and social, render it impossible to...

  8. CHAPTER FIVE State Building, State Autonomy, and the Identity of Society: The Case of the Israeli State
    (pp. 104-131)

    This article has a twofold purpose. The first is to solve a puzzle that is posed by analyzing the Israeli sociopolitical system. The other is to propose an analytical parameter that might be added to the expanding theoretical field in the sociology of politics and historical sociology, namely, the state–civil society paradigm that brings the state back into sociology, positioning it against or alongside civil society.¹ The puzzle pertaining to the Israeli sociopolitical system arises from contradictory evidence concerning the strength of the Israeli state, its capacity to govern, and its ability to make decisions.

    On the one hand,...

  9. CHAPTER SIX Patterns of Militarism in Israel
    (pp. 132-153)

    Like other issues linked to the Jewish-Arab conflict and Jewish-Arab relations, most of the studies concerned with Israel, such as the place of the military and militaristic culture in Israeli society, are heavily distorted compared with other themes prevalent in the discourse and debates in the social sciences.¹ Ideological considerations blur the issue; until the publication of Uri Ben-Eliezer’s The Making of Israeli Militarism, even using the term “militarism” in the canonical textbooks was taboo in Israel.² The main purpose of this paper is threefold: to survey briefly the present state of the literature on so-called civil-military relations in Israel;...

  10. CHAPTER SEVEN The Social Construction of Israel’s National Security
    (pp. 154-178)

    Since Plato’s well-known cave fable, philosophers and social scientists have been perpetually troubled by the puzzle of what are hard or objective facts and what are artifacts, and how one can distinguish among them.¹ Today some social scientists argue that any search for objectivity is a lost cause, as all so-called realities are culturally or socially constructed; the experts and scientists themselves are products of hegemonic world-orders, rather than being, say, neutral value-free observers from Mars. Most of them do not deny the existence of objective conditions, even in their extreme manifestations, such as wars, epidemics, or disasters that kill...

  11. CHAPTER EIGHT Jurisdiction in an Immigrant-Settler Society: The Jewish and Democratic State
    (pp. 179-198)

    In 1995, a couple by the name of Adel and Iman Qa’adan from the Arab-Israeli town of Baqa al-Garbiya made a request to purchase a plot of land to build a home in the Jewish communal settlement of Katzir, in the Wadi Ara area south of Hadera. The council clerk of Tel Eiron refused to sell them the land based on the area’s official policy, which prohibits the sale of plots to non- Jews. A petition was filed on the couple’s behalf by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel in October of 1995. Chief Justice Aharon Barak, the president...

  12. CHAPTER NINE Exchanging Territories for Peace: A Macrosociological Approach
    (pp. 199-221)

    The most outstanding feature of the removal of Israeli settlements from the Sinai Peninsula, especially from the town of Yamit, was the prevailing confusion, disorientation, and uncertainty affecting all parties involved. Up to the last minute before the removal, the government of Israel postponed decisions and contravened previous positions. Furthermore, several of the Sinai settler-evacuees’ questions remained unanswered. Should they have resisted the evacuation? What form and quantity of compensation for evacuating the settlements should have been demanded? Should there have been negotiations with the government, and if so, how should they have been conducted? Should they have enlisted the...

  13. CHAPTER TEN Nationalism, Identity, and Citizenship: An Epilogue to the Yehoshua-Shammas Controversy: A Non-Platonic Dialogue
    (pp. 222-234)

    On September 13, 1985, the eve of the Jewish New Year, Anton Shammas— the Christian Israeli-Arab writer, essayist, translator, journalist, and author of Arabesque,¹ an autobiographical Hebrew novel of a youngster growing up as a hybrid of Jewish-Arab culture and identity in the village Fasuta— aroused bitter controversy among the Israeli elite. His brief article accused Israel of excluding Israeli Palestinians from participation in the common political, cultural, and collective identity and nationality.²

    His accusations of extreme discriminatory policy against Israel’s Arab citizens were by no means a new issue on the Israeli political agenda. Between 1949 and 1966 Israeli...

  14. CHAPTER ELEVEN The Power-Oriented Settlement: PLO-Israel: The Road to the Oslo Agreement and Back?
    (pp. 235-255)

    Since the Zionist movement’s first attempts to settle the territory known by the Jews as Eretz Israel,¹ Zionists and the pan-Arab movement, and before that, the pan-Syrian movement, have shared a common interest: preventing the rise of a distinct Arab people or entity in Palestine. Both nationalistic movements have stressed that the Arabs of Palestine are an indivisible part of the great Arab nation and their problem, no matter how it is defined, must be solved within a framework of Arab nationalism and Arab space.²

    Palestinian identity began among parts of the local Arab population who gradually considered themselves a...

  15. CHAPTER TWELVE Politicide: Ariel Sharon’s Legacy and the Palestinians
    (pp. 256-270)

    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s political troubles began when a mainly grassroots movement rose up inside Israel and demanded the construction of a barrier around major Israeli urban centers. Supporters of the fence—which in some strategic locations, such as Jerusalem, is being built as a wall— hoped it would prevent suicide bombers from entering Israel. The settlers and most of the Israeli far right opposed the fence because it could create an implicit border, repartitioning Palestine and leaving many settlements outside of the state’s boundaries. Many feared it would also mean the end of the Greater Israel ideology. Most of...

  16. Epilogue
    (pp. 271-302)

    Collective identities constitute the most basic components of any social order and are products of culture, but they are not fixed social and political variables. They are flexible, oscillating, and changeable, sometimes dramatically and visibly, other times subtly and gradually. They include a wide range of different identities that individuals and collectivities hold simultaneously. The changes in the relative salience and ranking of these various identities may be the result of shifts in political reality or territorial boundaries, but they can also become the causes of social and political changes, including alterations of regimes, although not always in intended or...

  17. Chronology of Major Events
    (pp. 303-334)

    1200 bce According to Jewish mythology, the ancient Israelites, led by Joshua, conquer part of the Land of Canaan, annihilating most of the local inhabitants of the country and establishing the territorial base for a semi-monotheistic religion and civilization as well as a tiny regional empire. This land later becomes known as Palestine, named by the Romans after the Philistines, who settled the coastal plain of the country in 1190 BC and were annihilated by King David in a series of bitter battles. In the modern day, some Palestinians are trying to construct a counter-myth referring to themselves as the...

  18. NOTES
    (pp. 335-414)
  19. INDEX
    (pp. 415-432)