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Shared Narratives — Session 6

Session 6: Possibilities of Recognition and Reconciliation

Discussion of papers by Tamar S. Hermann (Open University of Israel and the Israel Democracy Institute) and Said Zeedani (al-Quds University). The papers are in the printed volume of Shared Narratives.

TAMAR HERMANN: In my paper I wasn't justifying anything, I wasn't defending anything, and I wasn't apologizing for anything. I tried to do an analysis of the development as I see it, rightly or wrongly, of the perceptions prevailing on the Zionist side regarding Palestinian nationalism. I should emphasize that I concentrated more on the issue of recognition than on the issue of reconciliation, and maybe I should put the bottom line right here on the table: I am not a great believer in the notion of reconciliation per se, and I'll come to the problems of the very notion of reconciliation later on. But I think that recognition is something very important and very timely. I am not so sure about the viability of reconciliation in the foreseeable future.

My point of departure is a semi-Marxist understanding of the notion of ideology. I see ideology as something that is more functional than basic, in the sense that normally ideologies expand into perhaps a frame, political and historical processes, more than create them. There are some massive changes on the ground, and then an ideology which frames these changes emerges, more than the other way around. It was not out of the blue skies that nationalism came to the fore in the 19th century. There was something there in the concrete life and in the economic and other processes which led to the emergence of 19th century nationalism. It didn't happen in the 15th century, it didn't happen in the 9th century, it didn't happen in the 1st century.

There was something there that created or encouraged the emergence of this kind of ideology. Therefore, I do believe that ideologies also change in content, along with the practical changes on the ground. If you take some examples of other places, Marxism turned into Leninism and into Stalinism, and it is the same thing but under different circumstances.

The same goes for other ideologies. We mentioned Northern Ireland yesterday. Certainly the IRA ideology of 1921, after the Easter Rising, was not the same as the IRA ideology regarding Irish nationalism in the post-Bloody Sunday era, nor is it the same ideology that Gerry Adams is advocating today. Things do change.


To read the entirety of Session 6, click here


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