Security and Fear in Israeli and Palestinian Conflict Narratives: A Social-Psychological Study
The Israeli and Palestinian societies are involved in a long-lasting and violent conflict, where any considerable de-escalation has been conspicuously absent for the last twenty years. The seemingly never-ending spirals of escalation, de-escalation, negotiations, breakdowns and upheavals wear immensely on both societies, which, at the current stage are at an all-time low regarding their beliefs in finding a peaceful solution that involves co-existence with their adversaries. These dynamics also contribute to the creation of large social, political and cultural gaps between the conflicting parties. These differences are often developed on the basis of fear and resentment deriving from the conflict. The fear and resentment become particularly visible in conflict narratives, which express the collective understandings of the conflict itself, developed by the conflict-torn Israeli and Palestinian societies. In this thesis, a qualitative literature study is conducted with the aim to explore sociopsychological aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the help of conflict narratives. Emphasising demands for security and expressions of fear in Israeli and Palestinian societies, this thesis investigates: 1) What themes in the conflict narratives are revealed when exploring demands for security in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? 2) How are security aspects in the conflict narratives related to a collective sense of fear? and; 3) How do collective fear and demands for security affect Palestinian and Israeli mainstream interpretations of recent events? Through the analysis of security aspects in the conflict narratives, interesting findings related to collective fear emerge, and it becomes clear how security aspects in conflict narratives connect the narratives to fear experienced within the societies. Using the conflict narrative to interpret current events, the collective fear coupled with previous experiences blends with the fear generated by the current event, creating a cycle where the conflict narrative and collective fear work to enhance the fear in the Israeli and Palestinian societies.