Tuesday, April 5, 2011

ZEEK: Articles: "We Are Not Like Them": Itamar Massacre Activates A Dangerous Israeli-Jewish Ethnocentrism

ZEEK: Articles: "We Are Not Like Them": Itamar Massacre Activates A Dangerous Israeli-Jewish Ethnocentrism In an interview with Haaretz, Yuli Edelstein, Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, defended his decision to release the graphic photos of the slain Fogel family to the general public by stating that it will cause people to recognize the reality that Israel is dealing with. When questioned about his decision, he replied: “Every time the topic of public relations and information in Israel and abroad is raised, I’m always asked – why don’t we publish the photos? I say with a bit of cynicism that I can already answer this question in several languages. I always explained that there was the matter of the family and a desire not to cause further suffering – and also that we are not like them, we are not like the Palestinians.”

Interviewer: “So are we like the Palestinians now?”

“No, there is a huge difference. They have no problem issuing such photos a few minutes after the incident, without asking the family and without blurring anything out. It is also needless to say that, in some cases, fabricated images are released too.”

In the field of psychology, the idea that groups in conflict have an inverted image of one another falls under the rubric of Social Identity Theory (SIT). SIT stipulates that people strive to achieve/maintain a positive self-image, and that their sense of self-esteem is derived from both personal and social identity. Their social identity, to the degree that it’s positive, comes about from a perception of group accomplishments, but also from favorable comparisons with an out-group. In other words: “We are great because we are better than them,” or, “We are great because we are not them.” In times of group conflict, this dynamic is often exacerbated, increasing both in-group favoritism and out-group hostility.

..... A number of people on the left blamed it on the occupation and/or the settlers themselves. The settlers, the argument went, are responsible for putting their children in harm’s way and for oppressing the Palestinians. As blogger Richard Silverstein put it: “Do I wish Itamar’s residents to be ‘targets for brutal violence?’ No. But the fact is that they make themselves a target not only by living there but by engaging in brutal acts of violence and murder against surrounding Palestinian villages and international human rights workers who support them.”

Many on the right alternated between dispositional and situational explanations. Some blamed it on the workings of Amalek (the eternal and implacably evil spiritual enemy of the Jewish people), while others on Palestinian and Israeli (left-wing) incitement. David Wilder, a spokesman for the Jewish settlers in Hebron, wrote that the real blame lies with the Jewish leaders and public who have turned their backs on the settlers: “The source of incitement leading to the butchering of the Fogel family are Jewish leaders who are willing to again abandon our land and our people, ‘returning’ all the heavily Arab-populated cities in Judea and Samaria to monkeys dressed up as people.” Unfortunately, such dehumanizing language characterized a great deal of the discourse following the massacre. Talkbacks abound with noxious statements such as: “It’s a natural reaction of bloodthirsty animals. Muslims celebrate death just as we celebrate life.”

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