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Reviewed by:
  • Political Learning and Citizenship under Conflict: The Political Socialization of Israeli and Palestinian Youngsters
  • Ilham Nasser
Political Learning and Citizenship under Conflict: The Political Socialization of Israeli and Palestinian Youngsters, by Orit Ichilov. London and New York: Routledge, 2004. 206 pp. $125.00.

Dr. Ichilov introduces the reader to the theory and research associated with political socialization. Her topic and review of literature is timely in its global analysis of power and civilizations. She starts with defining post-cold war-era global conflicts and citizenship and emphasizes the increase in national identification and the formation of global and national spheres as a model to critically view political socialization.

Dr. Ichilov dedicates a whole chapter to reviewing the formation and changes the family unit goes through in modern societies, the role of the media, and the major changes in communication devices and their impact on society and family. Her review is thorough and comprehensive, except that she takes a "Western" view of the family. I think we can advocate for the existence of an Eastern (non-Western) family model that she doesn't address in the same length and depth that she does the western view and theory of family formation, especially as it relates to Palestinian youngsters who are the target of her research. This is an important aspect since Dr. Ichilov later argues that the family has a critical role in the social politicization of Palestinians.

Dr. Ichilov's thorough review of the theory and research takes up the first four chapters of the book. Throughout this discussion the connection with the following chapters on Israeli and Palestinian youngsters' socialization is not introduced at all, as if the focus of the book is not really about those youngsters but only about the theory and research. I should mention that these chapters [End Page 192] are informative and interesting. The fourth chapter is the first one to introduce the Israeli-Palestinian focus of the book.

The chapters dedicated to the research on Palestinians and Israelis demonstrate the author's ability to introduce a wealth of information while ignoring the lack of balance between the oppressor and the oppressed, which in this case is the occupation itself. In fact, the author does not use the word occupation at all and instead chooses to refer to "the disputed" West bank and Gaza. Her discussion of training children to become martyrs early in life doesn't take into consideration the daily lives under occupation that these youngsters and their families experience, such as home demolitions, assassinations, closures, hours-long waits at checkpoints, etc. The political environment impacts the socialization of youth, and these hardships should be mentioned regardless of where the author stands politically on these issues. By the same token, the author fails to report that Israeli governments prepare their own "martyrs" by enforcing a military environment in schools early enough to prepare youth for mandatory military service once they turn 18 years of age.

In the fourth chapter there is a thorough discussion of the curriculum and textbooks of the Palestinian Authority, with their message of hatred for Jews, as they influence children's views and attitudes in a conflict situation. Unfortunately, however, the author emphasizes several examples of Palestinian terrorism (such as on page 54) without a critical look at Israeli society with its early preparation of youth to join the military. She ignores studies that have focused on how these military attitudes shape youngsters and their views about war, the "other" including women, and the increase of violence in Israeli society—in short, she does not address the occupation and what it is doing to Israeli youth and society. The whole discussion of the Arab media and its emphasis on hatred, etc. ignores again the issues of power and occupation (p. 83). It is disappointing to see such an unbalanced view of the conflict and its impact on political socialization on both sides.

The discussion of the "Divided Israeli society" later on in the book is elaborate and interesting. This examination of the different views in Israeli society is informative to the reader, especially those who don't realize the existence of minorities such as the Palestinian...


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pp. 192-194
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