Skip to main content

Victimhood as a driving force in the intractability of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: reflections on collective memory, conflict ethos, and collective emotional orientations.

Moussa, E. S., 2020. Victimhood as a driving force in the intractability of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: reflections on collective memory, conflict ethos, and collective emotional orientations. Doctoral Thesis (Doctoral). Bournemouth University.

Full text available as:

MOUSSA, Emad_Ph.D._2020.pdf



In intractable conflicts the feelings and claims of victimhood are as mature and well-entrenched as the conflict itself. The longer a conflict is waged, the more the geopolitical reasons for victimisation shift to the psychological. This gradually blurs the difference between facts and perceptions, rendering the conflict harder to resolve (e.g. Coleman 2003; Bar-Tal 2013). The general assumption in this study is that due to unique historical and political circumstances, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict draws heavily — perhaps more than other conflicts — from past and present victimisations to rationalise, justify, and perpetuate the status quo. The study seeks to examine the extent to which the narratives of victimhood add to intractability and therefore hinder settlement. It mainly but not exclusively draws on Bar-Tal’s socio-psychological framework of collective memory, conflict ethos, and collective emotional orientations to guide the discussion. First, the study proposes that Israel’s victimhood draws much of its validity from the Jewish collective memory, especially the Shoah. That among other things gave rise to ethos that established the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as part of the Jewish continuum of suffering, and not entirely as a political struggle with defined geopolitical causes. It is also proposed that collective memory and the current conflict have established certain emotional responses ranging from soft emotions like guilt and shame, which have subtle but significant reverberations, to strong emotions like fear. Building on Bar-Tal’s claims (2001) that fear dominates Israel’s emotional sate, it is suggested that fear also represents a main force behind Israel’s 'hyper security,’ which is seen as the most destructive manifestation of Israel’s victimhood narratives. Second, it is argued that even though Palestinian and Israeli-Jewish victimhood narratives are socio-psychologically similar, there are factors mainly determined by the conflict power hierarchy which make certain aspects of Palestinian victimhood different and more salient. Whilst Israel’s collective memory is premised on the fear of annihilation, Palestinian memory is mainly centred on the fear of being forgotten. And, whilst Israel’s dominant emotion is fear, Palestinian emotional orientation is largely steered by a sense of collective humiliation. The conflict ethos, as a result, seems to excessively focus on muqawama (resistance) as a reformative measure against humiliation. Even though the societal beliefs about victimhood in Israel or Palestine are not completely homogenous, they are prominent enough to have a detrimental effect on conflict resolution.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information:If you feel that this work infringes your copyright please contact the BURO manager.
Uncontrolled Keywords:victimhood; victimisation; victims; Israeli-Palestinian conflict; intractable conflict; conflict ethos; collective memory; collective emotional orientations; Zionism; Zionist; occupied territories; occupation; Gaza; West Bank; Shabak; Mossad; power asymmetry; power hierarchy; PLO; narratives; Shoah; Holocaust; Nakba; Intifada; socio-psychological dynamics; chosen trauma; conflict attractors; Nazi; Concentration Camps; intractability; mechabel; shaheed; shahada; muqawama; isteshhadi; Yishuv; Kanafani; galut; diaspora; shataat; Ashkenazi; Mizrachi; negative identity; negative interdependence; narrative research; positionality; reflexivity; Arafat; Netanyahu; Ben-Gurion; Herzl; Abbas; Fatah; Hamas; Likud; Labour; Hitler; Nasser; 1967 war; 1948 war; First Intifada 1987; Second Intifada 2000; 1982 Lebanon invasion; security; hyper security; Iran; Egypt; Jordan; US; terrorism; perception; guilt displacement; shame displacement; identifying with the aggressor; fear of normality; humiliation; revenge; masculinity; gender; self-sacrifice; counter-narrative es
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:33949
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:01 May 2020 09:18
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:21


Downloads per month over past year

More statistics for this item...
Repository Staff Only -