THE USE OF COLLECTIVE
VICTIMHOOD

– and its example in the
Palestinian – Israeli conflict

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(essay)

I chose
this topis for my essay because as an university student I think it is
important that academics all around the world are using their right of freedom
of speech and academic knowledge to bring the factographical discussion on what
is currently happening in historical Palestine to academic grounds. My paper is
not, in any way, anti-semitic, I write this as a synopsis of the use
of collective victimhood in Zionist’s propaganda which led to the
creation of current apartheid state of Israel (UN report: 2017).

The Zionist’s idea of the Jewish state did not come
after World War II., as a compensation for war crimes against Jews, when United
Kingdom offered their territories to those Jews people, who didn’t want to live
in Europe anymore. “Modern political
Zionism – Jewish nationalism focusing on Palestine – originated in Russia,
where anti-Semitism was most virulent. Following the pogroms of the early
1880s, Jewish groups were formed with the specific objective of assisting
Jewish settlement in Palestine. In 1884 these scattered groups were organized
under a central coordinating agency and took the name the Lovers of Zion.”
(Cleveland, W. L. – Bunton, M.; 2009: 241). This Zionist idea of Jewish settlements in
Palestine then continued to spread by Theodor Herzl, who wrote The Jewish state (1896) and further
during the first Zionist Congress in 1897 (Cleveland, W. L. – Bunton, M.; 2009:
242)

The base for collective victimhood could be any past
events in which actions were used against the groups of people who see
themselves as some kind of community. Therefore the experiences and their
consequences that came from those events are understood as a collective memory
of the particular group: „This experience is
considered as a ‘chosen trauma’ and leads to the
collective focus on the group’s past experiences of victimization, to the point
where the entire identity of the group’s members mat centre on it. It is
maintained in the culture and transmitted to the new generations.”1 (Bar-Tal, D.
ed.; 2009: 237).

In the study from 2009 A sense
of self-perceived collective victimhood in intractable conflicts (Bar-Tal,
D. ed.; 2009) readers can read examples on how the issue of collective
victimhood reflects itself in an Israeli occupation of Palestine, both among
Israelis and Palestinians. Hovewer authors of the study didn’t clarify the significant difference between Israelis and Palestinians
which makes the collective victimhood of Palestinians, as it was described in
the study, questionable since the authors did not include some important facts
which I write about later.

The state of Israel, which claims itself
as democratic, currently operates on the policy that allows all Jewish people
around the world to “return to their homeland”, even though they, nor their direct
ancestors were not born there, so the Jews will not have to face any form of
anti-Semitism as they did during Holocaust. It is the clear example of
collective victimhood – there was an event in a past which caused
a significant harm to Jewish people and therefore they reflect it as their
narrative and are passing it to the new generations as their ‘chosen trauma’ (Bar-Tal, D. ed.; 2009: 237) with a strong sense that Jewish are constant
victims of anti-Semitism and therefore „insist
they are the victims of Arab aggression” (Bar-Tal, D. ed.; 2009: 247). Here it is important to point out that
anti-Semitism is still happening – there cannot be any denial of that – but it
is illegal in every democratic country around the world and the victims of such
crimes are able to take legal actions against it.

Hovewer when it comes to Palestinians
and the massacres of Palestinians by Jewish gangs during 1948 – so-called Nakba
(arabic word for ‘disaster’), we need to realize
that all living Palestinians suffered or still suffer from this event. Those
Palestinians who fled after Israeli state declared independence and have now
a status of refugees are not allowed to return to their actual homeland.
Those who stayed and now live in West Bank or Gaza strip face the racial
oppresion from the Israeli goverment as they are governed under the military
law (UN report 2017: 4). Not to mention their prohibition from voting in Israel’s elections as the state of Israel has „Basic Law that prohibit political parties
from challenging the Jewish” (UN report 2017: 6). Those
Palestinians who are legal citizens of Israel still do not have the same rights
as Israeli Jewish citizens. They are governed under the civil law but with
special restrictions, which segregate them from the citizens whose nationality
is Jewish. Therefore it would be quite incorrect to suggest they suffer from
collective victimhood rather than from injustice, which they have to face on
daily basis in every aspect of their lives.

I want to
end my essay with a conclusion that collective victimhood is a big part of
Zionist’s propaganda and it is used as an excuse for state’s policy. Zionist’s
use of the Holocaust as a factographical
event contributes to their propaganda to cover their occupation of Palestine
and they claim that the state of Israel is the only way how to protect Jewish
from anti-Semitism, „Yet the evils of the Holocaust
cannot disguise the fact that the state of Israel was founded as a result
of a gross injustice against the Palestinians, a people who had
nothing to do with the Nazis’
crimes” (Cronin, D., 2011: 4).

1 Reference
in citation: „42 See V. Volkan, above note 4; H.
Krystal, Massive Psychic Trauma,
International Universities Press: New York 1968