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Shared Land/ Conflicting Identity

Trajectories of Israeli and Palestinian Symbol Use

Robert C. Rowland & David A Frank

Publication Year: 2002

Shared Land/Conflicting Identity: Trajectories of Israeli and Palestinian Symbol Use argues that rhetoric, ideology, and myth have played key roles in influencing the development of the 100-year conflict between first the Zionist settlers and the current Israeli people and the Palestinian residents in what is now Israel. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is usually treated as an issue of land and water. While these elements are the core of the conflict, they are heavily influenced by the symbols used by both peoples to describe, understand, and persuade each other. The authors argue that symbolic practices deeply influenced the Oslo Accords, and that the breakthrough in the peace process that led to Oslo could not have occurred without a breakthrough in communication styles.
     Rowland and Frank develop four crucial ideas on social development: the roles of rhetoric, ideology, and myth; the influence of symbolic factors; specific symbolic factors that played a key role in peace negotiations; and the identification and value of criteria for evaluating symbolic practices in any society.


Published by: Michigan State University Press


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pp. 1-5

Two of the most important developments of the twentieth century have been the return of large numbers of Jews to Israel (and the creation of the state of Israel following that return), along with the rise of a Palestinian people. In this book, we illuminate these events through an analysis of the trajectories of Palestinian and Israeli symbol use over roughly the last century. ...

Key Exigencies in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

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pp. 7-8

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Chapter 1: The Symbolic Roots of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

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pp. 9-19

The handshake between Yitzhak Rabin, prime minister of Israel, and Yasir Arafat, chair of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), on the White House lawn on 13 September 1993 symbolized to some the dawning of a new age in the Middle East. With that handshake, suddenly it seemed that the Palestinian and Israeli people, who had hated and ...

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Chapter 2: A Symbolic Template for Analyzing the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

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pp. 21-34

Sketching the evolution of Israeli and Palestinian symbol use over most of a century raises a significant problem. Many useful critical analyses focus in depth on a particular persuasive message or a specific person's use of persuasion.1 In such analytical "snapshots/' the critic has the luxury of being able to carefully describe in detail a given speech, essay, or book. ...

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Chapter 3: The Birth of the Symbolic Systems of Labor and Revisionist Zionism

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pp. 35-68

Most symbol systems are created like a seabed through a process of sedimentation. The new symbol system simply develops over time from the old one. Thus, the symbolic system of American conservatism in the 1990s clearly has evolved from an earlier conservative perspective. In other cases, however, a new symbol system may be created in response to ...

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Chapter 4: The Symbolic Construction of the Palestinian People

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pp. 69-96

The Arabs of Palestine maintained a strong communal identification with the land of Palestine and Jerusalem for many centuries, an expression that took a nationalist form in the early twentieth century.1 Before 1881, there was no need for a distinct "Palestinian" identity or nation. From 1514 to the end of World War I, the Arab residents of ...

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Chapter 5: Symbolic Trajectories in the Development of Labor and Revisionist Zionism

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pp. 97-115

In chapter 3, we described the genesis of the symbol systems of Labor and Revisionist Zionism. Here, we describe the development of the two systems from the birth of Israel until the Revisionist victory in the 1977 Knesset elections. ...

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Chapter 6: The Essential Palestinian

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pp. 117-131

In chapter 4, we described the movement of the Palestinian people from a symbol system based to varying degrees on Arab, Islamic, and nationalist impulses toward a Palestinian Arab identity and movement rooted in myth. By 1937, the Palestinians had developed a symbol system that was based on ideological and mythic foundations that collapsed the scene ...

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Chapter 7: From Camp David to Lebanon

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pp. 133-158

The slightly more than five-year period from Menachem Begin's election as prime minister of Israel in 1977 through the war in Lebanon represents one of the most crucial periods in symbolic development in the history of Israel. This period was dominated by conflicting aspects of the Revisionist symbol system. On the one hand, Begin led Israel first to the ...

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Chapter 8: From the Occupation to Intifada

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pp. 159-178

The 1967 war and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip produced a second al Nekba for the Palestinian people, compounding the tragedy of 1948. From 1967 until the 1993 Oslo Accords, Palestinian Arabs were either outside of historic Palestine in the Diaspora, in Israel proper as second-class citizens, or under occupation. During this ...

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Chapter 9: Symbolic Stagnation and Ideological Calcification in Israel

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pp. 179-206

The roughly fifteen-year period from Begin's resignation as prime minister to the election of Benjamin Netanyahu can best be understood as a period of symbolic stagnation. The symbolic equation that had been established in the late 1970s and early 1980s remained firmly in place. Labor's perspective, especially as enunciated by Shimon Peres, reduced ...

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Chapter 10: Palestinian Symbolic Trajectories to Oslo

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pp. 207-221

The intifada dramatically influenced the Palestinian symbol system. Writing in 1989, Rashid Khalidi observed that the intifada had created a "strong sense of national unity, of loyalty to a unified set of symbols and concepts and of mutual independence which were lacking in 1967."1 Without question, the engine of Palestinian symbol transformation was the ...

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Chapter 11: Palestinian Myth and the Reality of Oslo

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pp. 223-240

The Oslo Accords could not have occurred without a transformed Palestinian symbol system. Palestinians involved in the Oslo talks recounted that the terms used in describing the Palestinians and the contested land were in dispute at Oslo. However, the Israelis came to accept the phrase "Palestinian people" and the words "West Bank" and "Gaza" rather than ...

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Chapter 12: From Symbolic Stasis to the End of Revisionism

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pp. 241-281

The 1996 Israeli election reflected the stasis that characterized Israeli politics for the fifteen years following the war in Lebanon. Labor and Likud existed in a kind of symbolic balance. The pragmatic Labor approach gave the party the advantage on "peace/' while Likud's ideology and myth gave it the advantage on "security" and commitment to Eretz Israel. ...

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Chapter 13: Symbol Use and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

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pp. 283-306

In the previous chapters, we have described how the hundred years of conflict between first Zionism and then Israel and the Palestinians has been shaped by the interaction of the symbolic trajectories of Labor and Revisionist Zionism and of the Palestinian people in relation to the events in the world. We now turn to a discussion of their shared symbolic ...


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pp. 307-377

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 379-398


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pp. 399-406

E-ISBN-13: 9780870139499
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870136351
Print-ISBN-10: 0870136356

Page Count: 426
Publication Year: 2002

OCLC Number: 162128127
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Shared Land/ Conflicting Identity

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Subject Headings

  • Arab-Israeli conflict -- Psychological aspects.
  • Symbolism in politics.
  • Communication -- Political aspects -- Israel.
  • National characteristics, Israeli -- Psychological aspects.
  • Propaganda, Zionist -- History -- 20th century.
  • Propaganda, Arab -- History -- 20th century.
  • Political psychology.
  • Group identity -- Political aspects -- Israel
  • Signs and symbols -- Israel -- History -- 20th century.
  • National characteristics, Arab -- Psychological aspects.
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