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No way out: How Israeli Jewish dissidents attempt to use alternative national identity discourses to connect with their Palestinian other

Attwell, Kathryn (2012) No way out: How Israeli Jewish dissidents attempt to use alternative national identity discourses to connect with their Palestinian other. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This thesis explores the national identity dilemma arising within ethnocratic states when individuals belonging to the 'privileged majority' seek to rectify the privations of their ethnic Other. Ethnocratic states have been set up by activists seeking to protect those they see as belonging to the ethnic nation with which they identify. In the process, the activists marginalise those depicted as Others within the state 19s borders, institutionalising a demonising discourse which justifies those Others 19 lack of privilege. Dissidents from the privileged majority may seek to remodel the ethnocratic state or challenge its dominant discourse without necessarily opposing the underpinning view of the nation therein, generating dilemmas about how justice for the Other ought to look and how the Us might be reconstituted to attain it. A study of the narratives of dissident Israeli Jews employs the theoretical concepts of ethnocracy and ressentiment to understand these dilemmas.

Existing literature on ethnocratic states is riddled with 18groupism 19 13 the tendency to treat ethnic groups or nations as objectively real entities. This thesis emphasises the processes of reification occurring when nationalist activists institutionalise their particular discourse. The concept of ressentiment is used to describe how demonisation of the Other becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy through mistreatment, enabling me to examine how ethnocracy is both discursively constructed and resisted.

The thesis engages qualitatively with interview transcripts and previously published works by eleven Israeli Jewish dissidents. Using narrative analysis, I pay attention to discontinuities, such as omissions and inconsistencies, to explore how the dissidents do not say certain things, or profess contradictory opinions about the place of the Other, 18national 19 history and what the future should hold. I argue that the dissidents largely move between six variants of nationalist discourse because no single discourse allows them to construct a vision of equality and justice for the Other alongside a thick national identity. Those who do employ a single discourse end up well outside the 18national 19 consensus, suggesting that for many dissidents, there is no way out of the current malaise. However, the dissidents 19 efforts can be read as a challenge to the simplicity of ressentiment 19s moral certainty, and hence as a contributor to political change.

Publication Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Politics and International Studies
Supervisor: Brown, David and Hutchinson, Jane
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