Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Sociology

Self-Identity and Readiness for Interethnic Contact among Young Palestinians in the West Bank

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Sociology

Self-Identity and Readiness for Interethnic Contact among Young Palestinians in the West Bank

Article excerpt

1. The author, associate professor of sociology, wishes to thank his students of methodology course, which he offered in Birzeit University, West Bank, Palestine, in 1993/94, for participating in designing the research and collecting the data.

Abstract: This paper argues that among Palestinians in the West Bank, Palestinian national identity is the strongest, followed, in order, by local identity, Arab identity, religious identity and lastly clan identity. Moreover, the paper argues that while Palestinians' readiness to contact Jews is weak, the greatest readiness is to work in the same office, followed by readiness to make Jewish friends and readiness to live in the same neighbourhood, and that readiness to marry Jews is the lowest. Multiple regression analysis shows that readiness for interethnic contact is not significantly correlated to self-identity, but rather is significantly correlated to other variables, and primarily to party support. Supporters of Islamic organizations and of Marxist organizations are less ready to contact Jews than supporters of Fatah. The former have rejected the Israeli-Palestinian agreement, while the latter have approved it. Survey interview data were collected from a total sample of 496 students at Birzeit University in 1994.

Resume: Cette etude montre que l'identite nationale palestinienne est l'identite la plus forte chez les Palestiniens de Cisjordanie, suivie dans l'ordre par: l'identite locale, l'identite arabe, l'identite religieuse et, enfin, l'identite clanique. Il apparait en outre que si les Palestiniens sont en general peu disposes a entrer en contact avec des Juifs, en revanche, l'inclination a travailler dans le meme bureau est forte suivie en cela par l'inclination le meme bureau est forte suivie en cela par l'inclination a habiter le meme quartier. Par contre, ils sont peu favorables au mariage interethnique. De multiples analyses de regression montrent que la tendance au contact interethnique n'est pas en correlation significative avec l'identite propre; elle l'est plutot avec d'autres variables et, en particulier, avec l'appartenance politique. Ainsi, les partisans des organisations islamiques ou marxistes sont moins enclins a avoir des contacts avec les Juifs que ceux du Fatah, les premiers ayant rejete l'accord israelo-palestinien, les seconds l'ayant soutenu. Les donnees ont ete recueillies a partir d'interviews realisees sur un echantillon de 496 etudiants de l'Universite de Birzeit en 1994.


Research Problem and Significance

The present paper focuses on the following questions:

1. How do Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip identify themselves? More specifically, to what extent do they identify themselves as Palestinians, as Arabs and as Muslims or Christians?

2. To what extent are these Palestinians ready to coexist with Jews and to have social relations with them?

3. Has the start of the implementation of the Israeli-Palestinian agreement, the DOP (Declaration of Principles), affected Palestinians' identity and readiness to have social relations with Jews?

4. Is there a relationship between the self-identity of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and their readiness to contact Jews?

This research is significant not only because no empirical studies have been conducted on the topic in the occupied Palestinian territories, but also because its findings may contribute to the existing limited empirical knowledge regarding identity and interethnic contact in colonial and post-colonial societies. In addition, the research is significant because it examines the effect of an important event in Palestinian history, that is the start of implementing the DOP in Spring 1994, on Palestinians' identity and readiness for interethnic contact. The collection of data before and after that event allows us to study its effect on Palestinians' identity and readiness. …

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