Between Past and Future: Persistent Conflicts, Collective Memory, and Reconciliation

Keynan, I.

In this paper, I use Jewish Israeli attitudes and emotions towards the Palestinian narrative of the 1948 war to study the connection between collective memory and readiness for reconciliation. In Palestinian collective memory, this war is viewed as the Nakba, a calamitous event. In the collective memory of Israeli Jews, however, the 1948 War of Independence represents a dream come true after 2,000 years of oppression and persecution. A public opinion survey was conducted to examine Jewish Israeli attitudes towards a possible official acknowledgment of the Palestinian collective memory of the Nakba. The survey reveals that disapproval of such acknowledgment is strongly connected to a lack of empathy for the other side’s sufferings, as well as to fear for the existence of Israel, rooted in Jewish collective memory. The survey also shows that the strength of tolerance (intolerance) for the other side’s narrative is highly correlated with the extent to which the respondents identify with the political ideology of the left (right). The same conclusions are reached by a follow-up study of the attitudes and actions of politicians from opposing ends of Israel’s political spectrum (left and right). Since in Israel the more left wing citizens and politicians are, the greater their willingness to make concessions required for a peace agreement, the survey indicates that ability to accept and tolerate the other side’s collective memory reflects readiness for reconciliation. My main conclusion is that the extent to which Israelis accept and express empathy to Palestinian collective memory and historical narratives reveals emotional readiness for reconciliation and the compromises it requires.



APA citation

  • Keynan, I. (2014). Between Past and Future: Persistent Conflicts, Collective Memory, and Reconciliation. International Journal of Social Sciences, III(1), 19–28.

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