The Palestinians in the Consciousness of Israeli Youth

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VOL. 4

1974/75

No. 2
P. 52
Articles
The Palestinians in the Consciousness of Israeli Youth
FULL TEXT

 

Until fairly recently there was a tendency among analysts in the Arab world to view Israeli society as a homogeneous and monolithic entity, despite their recognition that Israeli society comprised various immigrant and ethnic groups which do not share common cultural or linguistic characteristics. The fact that Israeli society was regarded as unified was above all the outcome of Israel's previous performances on the military front where until the 1973 October War, it managed to assert itself unchallenged. But since the average political spectator in the Arab world believed simultaneously that Israelis lacked a true sense of national identity and common geo-political experience, the result was a rather schizophrenic impression of Israel.

Perceptions of Israeli society as a monolithic entity have had serious repercussions; they have led to the formation of a highly exaggerated view of Israel's potential and capability, whether military, economic or political. This has been accomplished at the expense of recognizing the divided character of Israeli society and the presence of serious internal cleavages. Thus, it is assumed by many contemporary Arab analysts that on the ideological plane Israeli society is unified and continues to draw strength from a coherent set of tenets stemming from classical Zionism as conceived by Herzl and his followers.

While the cleavages should not be overstated, it is equally important not to adopt a deterministic perspective in examining Israeli society at a time when the Israelis are clearly undergoing a critical assessment of the validity of their ideological premises and the extent of their hegemony. Therefore the purpose of this article is to shed some light upon one important source of cleavage in Israeli society, that pertaining to the development of critical thought among young Israeli Jews of the kind that is directed at the fundamental pillars of Zionism and the state.

This is not to imply, by any means, that the dissatisfaction among the young is either the main or only source of cleavage facing Israeli society. Two major cleavages of equal importance which we propose to deal with in passing are based on ethnic, class and national factors. First, we refer to the Oriental/ European division within the Jewish population. Longitudinal data show that the income differential among the two groups has widened in the last two decades or so, and that the occupational distribution reflects a greater degree of polarization. [1] In both instances the European Jew has dominated the socio- economic fabric of Israeli society and there is no sign that the picture will change in the immediate future. An important offshoot of this economic dominance has been the continual monopoly by the European and Western Jew of Israeli culture and the higher echelons of the political and administrative apparatus of the state. Altogether these factors have led to the emergence of succinct patterns of prejudice whereby the Oriental Jew has become the "Jewish nigger" of Israel, to use a North American phrase in the Israeli context. Thus discrimination in housing, education, marriage patterns and so on appear to manifest themselves in salient forms in Israeli society. Indeed, the emergence of a much talked-about group of young dissenters, the Black Panthers movement, is a reaction among Israel's Oriental Jews to what they consider to be discriminatory in various spheres of social life. [2]

A second obvious cleavage is that between Arabs and Jews. The roots of this cleavage date back to the colonization of Palestine by Zionist settlers, which, like other processes of colonization, resulted in the subjugation of the indigenous Palestinian Arab population. Here, in addition to the economic and political disparities between the Arab and Jewish sector, the present author has documented in another article the socio-psychological consequences of the subordinate role of Arab youth in Israel. [3]

In addition to leaving out of this discussion the above two cleavages, i.e. Oriental/European and Arab/Jewish, we shall also relegate to another study the treatment of splinter, yet organized, dissenting groups, such as the Israeli New Left, Matzpen, Black Panthers and others. In this study our efforts will concentrate on the high school student, who is considerably more representative of the Jewish youth population and who seems to manifest spontaneous reactions to the state of affairs in Israel. Here too we would like to underscore the limitations of the study; we do not claim to deal with a statistically representative sample, and hence do not claim that our findings are generalizable to the entire Israeli high school population. Our main sources of information are public opinion polls, in-depth interviews by various Israeli newspaper correspondents with high school students and, whenever available and applicable, sociological studies of youth in Israel.

The evidence to be presented below is cast into a chronological order with three distinct periods: 1948 to the Six Day War, 1967; 1967 to the October 1973 War; 1973 to the present. It should be evident that the above division is not arbitrary, and that we have chosen to work within three crucial periods in Israel's history. The sociological significance for us in choosing these three periods is that we hope to be able to show that these cut-off dates signify turning points in the way of thinking among the young, especially in matters related to Zionism, the Palestinians and the entire issue of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

YOUTH IN SOCIETY

The importance of youth in society - and especially in a colonial settler regime such as that of Israel -is due to the fact that youth plays a central role in transmitting values across generations. Without this process, it is difficult to ensure the legitimacy and continuity of any regime. This legitimacy, we might add, is made possible through direct or indirect control by the ruling authorities of agencies of socialization such as the school, mass media, army and so on. Although this process is of crucial importance in both traditional and advanced societies, it assumes special importance in a settler regime whose main purpose is to ensure the implantation of imported ideas in an alien native environment

Therefore the emergence of critical thought among the young in the form of entertaining the legitimate claims of the native people (in this instance the Palestinians) poses a significant threat to the raison d'être of the colonial state, and is bound to trigger off the wrath of the ruling establishment in attempts to curtail the crystallization of such oppositional thought.

CRITICAL THOUGHT AMONG ISRAELI JEWISH YOuTH

First Period: 1948 to 1967

The question of Jewish youth, and its role in the Zionist colonization of Palestine, has been one of the focal points of debate in every Zionist Congress [4] since the first in 1897. In the eyes of Zionist ideologues recently the youth problem has centred around the lack of identification between the youth segment of world Jewry and Israeli youth. One observer writing in the early 1960's about the youth problem commented that the unique experience of the Jewish people together with the establishment of the state "should and ought to bring the Jewish people out of the spiritual crisis which is sweeping the cultural world." [5] In a subsequent conference dedicated to dealing with the youth crisis, held under the auspices of the World Jewish Congress, Nahum Goldmann, the President of the Congress at the time, noted that "whatever happens to Israeli youth, it will always remain Israeli; while if the youth of the diaspora does not retain its Jewishness we are bound to lose it." [6] In Goldmann's view, which is also shared by contemporary Israeli commentators, [7] the lack of identification among Jews inside Israel as well as outside it is a concomitant of the changed image of the state which, after 1948, lost its previous "nonconformist" and "revolutionary" style and moved towards endorsing the "status quo." A. Tartakower, one of Israel's leading- and oldest -sociologists, who was present at the conference, did not share Goldmann's views. To him the responsibility for the youth problem lay with the youth itself, and its failure to identify with the period of colonization that included the "revolution of the second and third Aliyah...." [8]

After these various prognostications were offered, two years passed which saw Israel gradually dragged into the economic recession that preceded the Six Day War in 1967. This prompted soul searching by the Israeli youth, among others. In 1966 a survey of fifty-six high school students was carried out concerning their views on matters related to Zionism and their perception of national political symbols. Although this sample is far from being statistically representative, it is important to cite its results since they anticipate future trends which are now characteristic of the attitudes of young people. The results are summarized in the following percentages:

Seventy-three per cent answered that "homeland" was only a "symbolic" or "Zionist" expression.

 

Eighty-seven per cent answered that they consider a Jew in the diaspora a stranger and it is possible to consider him a brother with "difficulty."

 

Sixty-four per cent did not believe in the absolute right to tell other Jews to immigrate [to Israel]... and if [the matter] were to be viewed in financial terms they would understand why Jews emigrate [from Israel]. They can imagine themselves in similar situations.

 

One hundred per cent of the sample exhibited basic lack of knowledge of the recent history of the state and of Jews in the diaspora.

 

Of those who knew about (Jewish) underground movements, more knew about Etzel and Lehi and less about the Haganah and Palmach. [9]

 

Eighty-nine per cent of the students denied that they either identify with a hero or that they have the need for one.

 

Seventy-one per cent could not write the words of the first verse in the Hatikva [the national anthem] without making mistakes. [10]

These skeleton statistics were supplemented by extracts from a representative cross-section of the pupils interviewed. While we detect serious doubts being cast upon Zionist ideals in the data cited above as in the texts of the interviews, it is important to note that at this stage the criticism did not embrace the Palestinian issue and Zionist claims to colonization rights. Out of the numerous replies given to the interviewer, only one student, who happened to be religious, cited the question of colonization. According to him:

If a non-religious person asked me by what right you live in this state - and if it were to be according to what we were taught at school - then it would be impossible for me to reply. Once a non-religious person did query me; when I told him that being a religious person, this right was given (to me) by God and willed by Him, he replied -"and if I were not religious and did not believe in God ?" Frankly, I couldn't answer him. There weren't too many justifications at my disposal. And when I met Arab boy scouts, they asked me by what right did I expel them? Among what I said to them was that I did not expel them, and that it would be possible to live together. But frankly, I felt I was stuttering and was weak in the subject. [11]

Second Period: 1967 to the October War, 1973

As will be demonstrated, the period between the Six Day War and the October War witnessed an unprecedented radicalization of Jewish youth in Israel. The repercussions of this radicalization were greatly in evidence during the period of the War of Attrition from March 1969 to August 1970, along the Suez front. It is safe to say that the outpouring of criticism of Israeli society and its leaders - the mimsad (i.e., Establishment, as it is often referred to in Israel) - which followed the October War had its genesis in the previous half decade.

There is a consensus among Israeli commentators that a turning point in the development of political ideas among young people took place during the 1967 war and the War of Attrition. Amos Elon, a noted Israeli journalist and an advocate of rapprochement with the Arabs, mentions in this regard that the "crisis of conscience among the youth had its roots "in a sensibility often identified with the Jewish temperament."  [12] According to Elon the Six Day War acted as a catalyst in raising certain fundamental questions by Jewish youth, since: (1) the realization dawned that the application of military force did not lead to secure borders and peace, and (2) a sudden confrontation took place between young soldiers and the Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which led- to first-hand awareness of the situation of the displaced Palestinian refugees. He describes the experience of the young soldiers in the following words:

Many Israeli soldiers were surprised and some were deeply disturbed to discover among the refugees a form of "Arab Zionism": the living memory of a lost homeland, to which they were passionately attached as the Jews had remained attached to Zion in the land of their dispersion. The education of these young soldiers - some were born after the establishment of the state -little prepared them for a discovery such as this. Upon entering a refugee camp one young soldier discovered that the inmates [sic] were still organized into and dwelled according to the village, town and even street they had lived in prior to the dispersion in 1948, villages and towns that were now thoroughly Israeli. Beersheba, Zarnuga, Ramleh, Lod, Jaffa, Rehovoth.... [13]

By the end of the sixties, and specifically during the War of Attrition on the Suez front, coupled with deteriorating economic conditions, the morale of the youth had sagged. Commentators quoted criminal statistics and public opinion data during this period to prove the point. A national survey showed a marked increase in violence against individuals among youth. In 1968, 4,788 such cases were reported, while in 1969 the number rose to 5,466. During the first couple of months of 1970, 948 cases were recorded, compared to 903 cases during the first two months of 1969. [14] Taking these results as part of a rather pessimistic picture of the state of affairs, the same survey went on to show that (1) in general, individuals show greater signs of anxiety and many report difficulty in sleeping at night; this is accompanied by a tired feeling toward the on-going conflict, (2) reporting to military reserve duty is no longer viewed as a way out of a routinized work situation and life style, but is considered to be a dangerous activity, (3) parents express greater concern about their children's insistence on volunteering for dangerous army units, and they try to convince them not to do so.

Other public opinion data underscored the fluctuation in morale among individuals in general. Immediately after the Six Day War, the level of morale among the general public seemed to be quite high, compared to that during the War of Attrition. In 1970, a national sample showed that only 25 per cent reported their morale as being high, compared to 41 per cent after the end of the War of Attrition. [15]

A second survey shown below and carried out in 1971, while it does not deal directly with youth, points to a serious weakening in identification with Zionism, especially among the native-born Israelis and recent immigrants. [16]

One highly publicized incident in 1970 which caused considerable controversy in Israel and revived a keen interest in the "youth problem" was the sending of an open letter to the Prime Minister by Jerusalem high school students expressing serious doubts about their willingness to abide by their army draft notices. We should place the letter, which is reproduced below, in the context of that year. In 1970 the late President Nasser made overtures to Nahum Goldmann to visit Cairo in order to discuss peace proposals. As was revealed later on, the Israeli government opposed this move by preventing Goldmann from taking up the initiative. This reaction by the Israeli government prompted the high school students to write the following letter:

We, a group of high school students who are about to join the Israel Defence Forces, protest against the government's policy regarding the Goldmann-Nasser affair. Up to now we have believed that we go to fight and serve [in the army] for three years because there is no alternative. After this incident, it became clear that even if there were to be another alternative, however slim, it is ignored. In the light of this, we and many others like us wonder how to fight a continuous war which has no future, at a time when our government conducts its policies in such a way as to reduce the possibility of peace to its minimum. We call upon the government to seize upon every peace opportunity. [17]

During the same year the World Union of Jewish Students (primarily an organization of university students) adopted a resolution which called upon the Israeli government to recognize the rights of the Palestinians, while at the same time affirming Israel's right to exist. [18] It is worth pointing out, however, that this resolution led to the withdrawal of the Israeli student delegation from the conference, even though a public opinion poll conducted [19] in 1971 showed that 68 per cent of the Israelis polled agreed with the statement that a peaceful solution to the conflict was impossible without taking into consideration the point of view of the Palestinians. Contrary to the position adopted by the Israeli student delegation, which represents the elite strata of Israeli youth, a conference of the youth wing of the Labour Party which was held in 1971 also adopted a resolution which called for the establishment of two states in "Eretz Israel." [20] This apparent conservatism of the Israeli student delegation led many commentators to argue that the student delegation was toeing the government line. We shall return in brief to the phenomenon of student conservatism in Israel, but first let us point to the more recent conference of the World Union of Jewish Students which took place in 1973. In this latest conference a similar resolution was passed which called upon the government to recognize the Palestinian entity and negotiate with its representatives. The reaction of the Israeli delegation this time was to vote against the resolution and remain in the conference. [21]

As remarked above, the Israeli university student manifests a far greater sense of conservatism than the high school youths. While it is not the purpose of this paper to deal with the elite youth of Israel, it is important that the contrast be highlighted by a brief discussion of the orientations of the Israeli university student. According to Amnon Rubinstein, [22] the Dean of the Law School at Tel Aviv University:

...They [university students] are not interested in seeing social and political change take place. Likewise, they do not even take a stand on controversial matters, and quite often they consider their professors left-wing, simply because they refuse to align themselves in the direction of the conservative right.

 

Students abroad have worked to change fundamental structures which govern the relationship between men; they have supported the rights of minorities and the persecuted, and as a result the treatment of minorities has undergone a change. They revolted against the symbols of domination not only in the university but in other places. In contrast, the Israeli student did not even express his opinion on matters of this sort.

Rubinstein concluded by saying:

At the end and in spite of its great damage, the student revolt in the West led to worthy actions of a voluntary nature. Law students set up legal and social agencies to help the poor and the lower classes. In Israel there is neither an interest in voluntarism nor in the affairs of the oppressed masses.

The above remarks are in agreement with the results of recent research on the socio-political orientations of the Israeli student. In the study, [23] which is based on a sample of students from Rubinstein's own university, we discover that there is little identification between the Israeli student and the student left movement in general. The philosophy of the Israeli student is typified by instrumentalism and individualism.

This brief contrast undoubtedly raises important questions concerning the roots of student conservatism in Israel. Some of the standard reasons advanced include experience in the army, the relatively older age composition of the Israeli student and, we might add, the rather military and chauvinistic atmosphere which dominates Israeli political culture. Moreover, it appears that social mobility aspirations and status seeking among Israeli students play a central role in fostering support of the status quo.

To return to the main theme concerning the development of political thought among pre-university youth we notice that after the end of the War of Attrition in 1970 the youth issue returned to the forefront. Numerous symposiums on youth were held at the time, and many interviews were published with young people, seeking their views on political and national issues. From a lengthy article under the title "The Lost Youth of 1970" we present below extracts of three interviews with high-school students. [24] Great care has been taken in selecting these interviews to ensure that they are representative of the twenty or so interviews published. We will notice that compared to the 1966 survey of youth to which we alluded earlier and in which the Palestinian issue was peripheral, by 1970 there had been a dramatic shift in the direction of concern among the young. This was illustrated in the commentary of the interviewer which stated that youth was no longer confining its questions to the pragmatic aspects of accommodation with the neighboring Arab countries, but was raising more fundamental questions such as "do we have the right to be here ?" and so on.

Interview with First Student

A: My relationship to the [occupied] territories, including Jerusalem, is, unfortunately, superficial.

Q: Why "superficial"?

A: Because I know when I say that I don't have a feeling of attachment to Jerusalem, this does not sound pleasant. It does not have a pleasant ring to it in my ears. But whose fault is it? My fault? The home? Really it wasn't the home that taught me this. However, it is not the home which is basic; the school is more basic. The school lags behind in this regard. Throughout we devote one hour per week to civics and Zionism. But we turn to it seriously only two weeks before exams. In my view this is shameful. If there is resentment or apathy towards the [occupied] territories and settlement, this is due to the fact that we did not originally establish a bond between us and the territories. Those who are of my age and who say that they have a relationship to the territories are only paying a lip service and no more.

Q: Does it matter to you that you don't feel this bond?

A: It matters to me to the extent that every person asks me "how is it that you don't have a bond?"

Q: Leaving aside Zionism, you undoubtedly have been taught Hebrew literature at school. Isn't this enough to create the bond between you and Jerusalem?

A: I did learn it, but I cannot say that this emotional bond was transmitted to me. Actually, I was astonished to see the enthusiasm shown for Jerusalem during the Six Day War. If I cried it was because I was swept by the tide of the times.

Q: To which place do you feel related?

A: To those places in which I live. To give up Haifa would be more difficult, since Haifa is part of my consciousness: Jerusalem is not.

Q: If we think of the historical tradition, during all ages all of the land of Israel was part of the consciousness of the people.

A: I am prepared to accept the Bible as a point of departure for establishing a sentimental relationship with the land of Israel. But such a relationship is intertwined with religion, and since I am not a religious person, I don't have this historical relationship.

Q: Let us leave religion and the Bible for the moment. What is your relation- ship with Zionism, which was founded on the basis of the historical relationship with the Land of Israel?

A: In my opinion the Zionist idea which says that the Arabs have the right to be in the land, but [have no right] to the land is a non-sympathetic idea. Now if this same Zionism assigns borders to the Land of Israel which it considers essential and these borders include Hebron, Jericho, Bethlehem then I am not Zionist, since the Arabs have a right to this country too.

Q: Do you feel guilty in terms of your relationship to the Arabs?

A: Yes, and I ought to feel it because I don't believe in the justice of what is being said, namely that this land is mine alone.

Q: In your opinion what is the sympathetic Zionist point of view?

A: It is really difficult for me to express it.... In my view the places which were mentioned don't play a part. I am against annexation of territories. We settled in well within the original borders.

Q: I could have asked: if this were alright up to this time why did it turn out to be bad? What I mean is, why did the 1967 borders lead to the Six Day War? What I find significant is this: What is it in the borders of 1967 which makes them sacrosanct to you?

A: I know that even in the 1967 borders we occupied places which were not included in the United Nations resolution of 1947, but this is the Arabs' fault. They refused the partition. At that time, we captured what we did. The issue ended there.

Q: Using the same logic, someone could come and claim: We wanted the borders of 1967, but because the Arabs objected we captured what we did in Sinai, the Golan Heights, Samaria, and in this the issue ended.

A: There is a difference in logic here, for the element of the possible is mixed up with suffering. I think this is a subjective feeling.

Q: It is possible to understand suffering. But I would have thought that you are basically against annexation of territories.... I understand that basically you cannot be against...

A: In order not to negate myself and not be caught in a contradiction, I would say: today I am against annexation of territories. This is because for security reasons the territories are not essential for us like air is to breathing.

Q: What astonishes me is your assurance... what would you say if our generals came, and they do come from time to time as you know, and said that these borders are essential for us like air is to breathing.

A: Because of this, I am against the return of territories without peace; in my view, peace is equivalent to secure borders. Real peace, of course.

Q: Do you think that nowadays it is possible that there will be real peace between us, as you say.

A: The truth is no. Moreover, I think that in the event we think about peace, this is utopia, something completely unrealistic.

Q: In your view peace is unrealistic, and you don't talk in ideals but in reality. Shouldn't you then be the first one not to want to return [territories] even though...

A: True; but in spite of all this we should make attempts. For peace we are entitled to sacrifice a great deal.

Q: Is peace our purpose?

A: Yes, because my aim is to live, and to live is to guarantee the physical well-being of the individual.

Q: It is a fact that not only today, nor in our case alone, the individual sacrifices himself for the sake of the nation or for a social ideal.

A: I doubt all this concern with sacrifice. We must be undergoing a trance of martyrdom.

Q: If you thought a little, wouldn't you discover that even for you there are certain goals for which you would be prepared to sacrifice, and on which you would not yield and would be prepared to go to war?

A: There is truth in what you say. Therefore, I retract what I said and rephrase [my words] differently: it is true that peace is not a goal per se, but on the basis of peace the aim of the existence of the state is likely to be accomplished.

Q: To our sorrow, up to the present time the establishment of the state and its growth have been carried out on the basis of war.

A: True, now after the establishment of the state there is no need for war. War is likely to turn into a goal.

Q: Niva, are you likely to emigrate from Israel?

A: I am used to living here. I have no desire to leave. I am not an idealist. If somebody comes along from the United States, it is possible that I'll go with him. I am not saying that my heart will not tremble: [if it does] it will be because of the habit [of living here] and not because of a historical continuity.

Q: Then why should it matter to you whether or not Hebron is returned?

A: Because here I differentiate between my personal interest and my interest in national matters. The truth is that I don't get involved much in politics. Only once, not too long ago, I signed the letter which was sent from our school against the letter sent from the students of Ramat-Gan who attacked the famous letter of Shem-Tov and his friends. [25]

Q: Were you ever a member of a youth movement?

A: For five years... my most beautiful years, till high school... I was in Hashomer Hatzair. I was not exposed too much to sentimental teachings. As a matter of fact, there is hardly a youth movement that teaches this. But don't be mistaken: I received neither love for the country, nor for socialism.

Q: And your parents?

A: My parents took part in the Palmach and the War of Independence. Now you ask: Why am I like this? This is because I have in me something of the "anti" which is found in young people... enough, I am broken.

Q: In what have you managed to believe in your short life span, so that you have become desperate and broken?

A: Look, instead of offering me something, I always hear, day and night, questions: Why are you like this? Why are you like that? This breaks me. If, in your view, I am in the mud, then get me out of it on the condition that you convince me. If you don't try, I will return to my own personal affairs.

Interview with Second Student

A: I would have been prepared to give up a lot [of the territories]. This is because I have a brother in the army and I see every day what goes on with my parents at home. I see how much they worry. The situation is awful. If we don't give up a lot this will not do and there will not be peace.

Q: What makes you think that giving up territories will lead to peace? Experience? Logic?

A: It is simple - reality. It is a fact that what they are asking today is that we relinquish the territories captured during the Six Day War, and for their part they would be prepared to conclude peace with us and recognize us.

Q: By the way, when did they say this?

A: They always insist that if we give up the territories they are ready for peace.

Q: And if the same "reality" to which you referred proves that they always talk about absolute withdrawal, but no commitment to peace or recognition... as a price for withdrawal?

A: If somebody proves this to me in black and white, then my theory collapses - but in spite of all this, I don't think that they will not agree to a settlement.

Q: Suppose that they agree - but for your part you will not agree [to their demands] as long as you mention giving up a lot but not all - by the way, which territories would you not be prepared to give up, even for peace?

A: The Golan Heights and Jerusalem. As for Jerusalem it is because of sentimental, national reasons, because it is impossible that a capital city be divided between two countries. It is a fact that even before the Six Day War we always complained about lack of access to the Wailing Wall.

Q: And if they guarantee you access to the Wailing Wall?

A: Today, I am not prepared to be content with this, because too many comrades fell for the sake of the Wall.

Q: And in Sinai and Hebron, didn't they fall?

A: Even if we have a sentimental link to Hebron - as for me, by the way, I don't have this feeling -it is a fact that Hebron is not empty of people. In regard to Sinai, although it is empty, I don't see a need for it, because we have no inner bond with it. I only want those places which belong to us and which I have a feeling towards.

Q: After the Six Day War, many soldiers and young people confessed by saying that they are not ashamed to say they are Zionists - what about you?

A: It depends. Zionism up to what limits? I am a Zionist up to a certain limit. More accurately up to specific borders. If Zionism is satisfied with the borders of 1967 plus Jerusalem and the Golan, and doesn't aim to expand, then I am a Zionist.

Q: As long as we are talking about Zionism, why do you think we came to Eretz Israel?

A: I am sorry but you shouldn't ask this question of those who were born here.... If you want me to say because of the historical connection due to the Talmud, then it is true. But the Arabs also have a historical right to this place. Of course, now you would ask me where. I would reply by pointing out where it is that they don't have a right. After twenty years, we established a historical fact in the borders of 1967. In all of this territory they have no historical right.

Q: And if we stay here for twenty years in the present borders and establish a fact like we did before, will they lose their historical right to these places?

A: This is a slightly complex question. In principle I would have been prepared to claim that all the land is ours - why not ? - but because of war, in other words because of peace, I am prepared to abandon the idea.

Q: Earlier you explained to me why you wouldn't be prepared to give up Jerusalem. Why wouldn't you be prepared to give up the Golan Heights?

A: It is simple... personal relationship, because my brother fought there.

Q: Your relationship [to the territory], Haggai, starts and ends with your family. It doesn't go any further. I would have asked this: What if your brother fought in Hebron and not in the Golan?

A: As a matter of fact I have another justification as to why the Golan... it is because of security reasons.

Q: And if there were a guarantee for real peace?

A: I rely less on the Arabs. With them alone, I would not be prepared to conclude peace, except with guarantees from the Great Powers.

Q: How did this guarantee stand up in May 1967?

A: I don't remember, but it is possible that we did not ask enough in terms of intervention from the Great Powers. We relied mainly on our own strength.

Q: Do you have faith in the policies of the state of Israel?

A: In general, yes.

Q: Including what Abba Eban said when he talked about the Jordan river as a security border?

A: This is an exaggeration, since the Arabs will not agree to this. This is an absolute exaggeration.

Interview with Third Student

Q: The representatives of the state of Israel, like the general Zionist movement, speak on behalf of the Zionist claim of Israel to the Land of Israel. Do you believe in the justice of this claim?

A: Not completely. But our claim to this land is not less than that of the Arabs, because they were here before us. It is impossible to say that all is ours.

Q: What is ours?

A: Military conquests and historical rights determine what is ours - but peace determines what we return. For example, of course Hebron is ours, but for the sake of peace we will return it.

Q: Do you believe that what the Arabs want is peace?

A: Yes, I believe that what they want is peace and that they will agree to the existence of the state. It is true that there are those who declare that they want to destroy us, and I believe that they mean it seriously. If there is a contradiction here, it is up to a point, because there are those who want peace. And one should encourage those who want peace.

It is possible to summarize the general tone of what has been said in the above interviews with three main points: (1) there is an apparent criticism of Zionism, especially concerning annexationist aims based on religious and historical arguments, (2) there is a tendency to take account, at least verbally, of the Palestinian's point of view without showing explicit understanding for the historic rights of the Palestinians, and (3) the will to give up occupied territories taken during the 1967 war stems, not as mentioned in point (2) above, from an acknowledgement of the right of the Arabs to their land, but from a desperate desire for peace.

The extensive press coverage of the youth's reaction to the internal situation in Israel during the first two or three years of the 1970's, prompted the organization of two important conferences on youth; both were held a few months before the outbreak of the October War. The first conference was attended by seven previous Chiefs of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, including Yadin, Dayan and Rabin. [26] The crux of what they had to say in terms of critical comments on the behavior of young people could be summarized in two points: (1) the Jewish youth in Israel is undergoing a transformation from idealism to materialism, showing little concern with Zionism and its fundamental principles, and (2) a minority of young people are attempting to evade their military duties. According to Dayan, the press and the mass media in general are to be blamed for publicizing such cases.

It is important to bear in mind that up to this point, the army establishment had managed to escape any serious criticism. It is significant to note that it was the points of view of Israel's military elite that were earnestly sought in order to diagnose the disenchantment of the young, and not the other way around. But as we shall see later, the army brass became one of the main targets for criticism in the period following the October War. It was, among others, the young who voiced their criticism of what they saw as the politicization of the army and, in turn, the militarization of Israeli society.

Although the scope of criticism among the young has widened, its aim could hardly be labelled as revolutionary. Yet, we find that educational experts and leading figures in Israeli society have turned their attention to the youth in a more concentrated fashion. In a symposium [27] held in May 1973 under the auspices of Radio Israel, and attended this time by youth as well as writers, teachers, university professors and others, it became apparent that the ideological split had become more pronounced. According to the Chairman of the symposium, it is possible to detect five types of student: (1) The true believer in Zionism and the legitimacy of the state: "There is no other place for the Jews to which they can go. They were driven out by force from Europe. This is a fact and there is no point in arguing about it." (2) The doubtful, i.e., those who suspect the intentions of Zionism: "It should be recognized that this is not simply a sentimental topic. It is a fact that there were Arabs [living] here." (3) The disinterested: "It is all nonsense; what do they talk about when discussing Zionism?" (4) The closed-minded, "those who do not know about and are not interested in knowing" about Zionism, etc., and (5) The rejectionists, those who are vehemently opposed to Zionism and deny its legitimacy: "If the Arabs are expelled from Rafah in the name of Zionism, I am opposed to this Zionist doctrine."

Let us turn to a closer examination of the proceedings of this symposium. A standard explanation of the causes of political defection among young Israeli Jews was echoed by a prominent Herut Member of the Knesset, S. Tamir, who accused left-wing movements such as Hashomer Hatzair of indoctrinating the youth with Marxist and left-wing ideology. It could very well be argued that the main causes of social criticism emanating from the youth lie in objective social conditions such as the perpetual state of war, successive economic crises and an increase in guerrilla activities at the time. As we will show later on, these are, as a matter of fact, some of the reasons cited in a recent national public opinion study dealing with, among other things, causes of emigration. For a brief look at the opinions expressed by students and the other participants, we shall present extracts from what was said by four different students and three key figures in Israeli society who play a role in influencing public opinion. Of the adult participants, we shall quote the words of A. Elon, the well-known journalist, A.B. Yehoshua, a talented young Israeli writer whose short novels dealing with the theme of Israeli-Arab relations have received a great deal of attention in Israel, and Y. Harkabi, an influential Israeli personality who, after being the head of Israeli military intelligence, went on to specialize in Arab affairs and teach at the Hebrew University as well as to advise Israeli decision-makers.

First Student:

Of course I am ashamed of the fact that the Jews drove the Arabs out of the country. I think that each citizen in this state should be ashamed of this. The upshot of all this is that this nation [meaning the Arabs] lived here for hundreds of years before us. We should have lived together. In coming to this country, our interest should not have been to expel them and live in their place, but to live next to them.

Second Student:

I am not ashamed of this. I think that we, the Jews as a nationality, should be proud that we have managed to exist. While expelling people from their land doesn't exactly fit justice, we did not expel them from their land. This is our land. Jews were here for thousands of years. They came and settled on the land which belongs to Jews. We got back our land. This is all. In this instance there is justice to our deed.

Third Student:

When the Arab refugees lived here, the United Nations, the state of Israel and other sources tried everything. They paid huge sums of money to the Arab countries in order to absorb them. The Arab states wanted to use them as political capital. Why does no one in the US raise a voice and say: Why don't we return America to the American Indians? There were Indians in the USA. I don't think that it has to do with emotions. It is a fact that there were Arabs here. I know it, but now this is the only place in the world in which I am welcome and feel that this is my homeland, where I am [considered] a citizen with equal rights and there are no differences between me and others. The fact [that the Arabs were here] does not disturb me. I don't have a guilt feeling that the Arabs lived here. I know that if we allowed all the refugees to return, at least 30 per cent of them would be terrorists. Yasser Arafat wants all the Jews who were born here to remain, and those who arrived from outside to return to their country of origin. First of all this is impossible, and secondly I don't like it.

Fourth Student:

I ask myself what I would have done, had I been in the Arabs' place. True, I am not in their place and never will be, especially since this is not a pleasant position [to be in]. But if I were living in a place for thousands of years, I would have felt that this is my home. And here, suddenly, a developed [advanced] nation settles in my land, [a nation] which I did not drive out. However, [if] this nation expelled me or I expelled myself (this is an important point, but the fact is: I am on the outside), then I would have objected and hated them and would have done everything in my power to return to my country. For this reason, I always ask myself, would I join terrorist organizations such as Fateh? But didn't the Haganah fight? What about Etzel and Lehi, didn't they fight? Weren't they Jewish terrorist organizations? There is a big problem here. They expelled an entire nation from their country. There are those who argue and those who use force. I always feel sorry that terroristic acts are committed. But when I examine the situation carefully, it is difficult for me to be against their [Arabs'] armed reaction to the fact that we expelled them.

The responses of Elon, Yehoshua and Harkabi are presented below:

Amos Elon:

The Jewish settlement in Eretz Israel, as hoped for by the pioneers, did not take place like other overseas colonization processes did, i.e., through the exploitation of child labour. Rather, it was through the independent labour of the settlers. Even the origin of the Jewish settlement in Eretz Israel was an exception and differed from the European settlements overseas during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In general people went overseas to get rich quickly, and not to work. Here the opposite took place; in this instance, individuals gave up profitable living and leisured life in order to live in poverty and difficult working conditions. The idea of Jewish labour was a great moral principle. As a result of the realization of this principle of Jewish labour, Arab workers were uprooted from their place of work. This is a dark spot in the history of the Zionist settlement in Eretz Israel. There were lands, and in particular "Pika" lands [lands belonging to the Palestine Jewish Colonization Agency founded by Rothschild in 1882 which remained in existence till 1957] which were bought from their Arab owners. As a consequence of this sale, Arab owners were driven out, in instances through extremely brutal methods, while in others through the intervention of the Turkish Army. This fact gave rise to a crisis of conscience among the Zionist pioneers, as early as the beginning of this century. The literature dealing with all this is abundant. There is a need, of course, to depict all of this.

A.B. Yehoshua:

I think it is forbidden in any form to blur the question of Arab identity and the fact that there was a nation here, a Palestinian nation. Every attempt to define this nation in a way that suits us so that the definition fits our immediate politics is something that shouldn't be allowed and that we shouldn't do. We should turn our attention to the various books written by serious writers such as Porath and Harkabi. They show that the beginning of the conflict was created as a result of a clash between two nationalist movements about the land and not the result of intrigues by a few Effendis who incited the simple masses to rise against the Jews. We should teach about the rights of the Arabs as well as their history and the fact that they lived here for many years, for hundreds of years. Moral justification is not the problem in my view, because I see in absolute clarity the necessity to come here, Eretz Israel, in order to find a place in which one can live. This was a question of existence and there is no need for a better proof than the holocaust which took place. There are those who claim that it [Palestine] was desolate. To them I answer: The Negev is still empty at the present time; after twenty-five years there are only 10,000 people living in it. Is there anybody who would be prepared to give away a lump of earth from the Negev because it is desolate? The fact that we built this place and that before we came it was desolate does not impress anybody, because in the West building [a place in itself] does not entitle one to ownership. In spite of this, everyone likes to build according to his taste; let go of my freedom and I'll build the way I like in my own tempo. Even if this country was full of swamps, diseased and desolate, they [the Arabs] could say: it is fine with us this way. We like to live by ourselves.

So it appears from the words of Elon and Yehoshua that the liberal logic, while it is prepared to take into account the Arab point of view, accepts as fundamental the legitimacy of the colonization of Palestine. This is accomplished on the basis of two discerned qualifications: (1) as described by Elon the process of Zionist colonization is to be looked at as a unique process not similar to other processes of European colonization which were motivated by materialism or profit, and (2) there is a recognition that an injustice was committed towards the native Palestinians, but a feeling that it could be justified in the light of injustices suffered by Jews in Europe.

Even A.B. Yehoshua, who is heralded in Israel as the archtypal rebel writer, sees the conflict in terms of its nationalistic components and not as one centering on the usurpation by one colonizing group of the homeland of another indigenous group. In passing, Yehoshua refers to Harkabi's work as an example of a more serious attempt to tackle the Arab-Israeli conflict in a scholarly fashion. It is beyond the scope of this paper to pass a judgment on Harkabi's work and the extent of its objectivity. Suffice it to say that in the last year or so the Israeli Arabists and Near-Eastern specialists have been split into various academic camps each accusing the other of "misinterpreting the Arab mind," and Harkabi is being singled out by other specialists in Arab affairs as having diagnosed wrongly the state of affairs in the Arab world preceding the October War. [28] Harkabi was present at the above-mentioned conference and this is what he had to say:

It seems to me that if we were to stress, explain and present the Arab stand - not in a negative fashion right from the beginning, but from a wish to understand it - we would be able to support our traditional existence. We would have shown that, though we are locked in a conflict, we try to understand the viewpoint of the other side, his ideals, ideology, dreams and sorrows. We should have understood the Arabs not through the utterances of buffoonery but by understanding the serious among them: professors, academics, analysts and others explaining their stand.

Third Period: Post-October War, 1973

We should be careful not to generalize from the opinions of the few students presented above to the entire high school population, particularly in regard to the endorsement of the rights of the Palestinians. According to a survey carried out in December 1973 in one of Tel Aviv's high schools in which 130 students participated, only 3 per cent agreed unconditionally to return the occupied territories, 22 per cent were prepared to return most, but not all, of the territories, 47 per cent were willing to hand over a small part of the captured territories, while 28 per cent refused to return any portion of the territories. And when asked in an open-ended question whether or not the Palestinians ought to have the right to self-determination, the overwhelming majority rejected the proposition. [29]

A few months after the October War, another group of high school students issued a pamphlet [30] in which they recorded their spontaneous reactions to the War. Even in the event of peace, we notice uneasiness among these students in their dealings with the Arabs. In the words of one student, "how would we be able to walk the streets of Damascus, knowing that here and there parents as well as sons have fallen in the fighting." Another student referring to the performance of the Israeli army says, "how encouraging it is to know that soldiers [in general] get scared, but how frightening it is to know that even our soldiers get scared." Viewing the conflict in an historical perspective, one student reflected "on all the mistakes committed by the Zionist leaders from the beginning, especially in dealings with the Arab nationalist movement." He went on to say, "in my opinion the Arabs don't hate us because we are Jews, but because of the way we occupied the country. First, we should have reached a political agreement with them and later on started to buy the land and establish the state. I wanted to ask Mr. Dayan who declared that we will not return Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, West Bank and Sinai - what then is he prepared to return? Does he think that with humiliating conditions such as these the Arabs will sit down- with us at the negotiating table?" In the view of another student, the misunderstanding between the Arabs and Jews is the "outcome of a failing rooted in old ideas and bad, bad education. Even at home I was taught from an early age to hate the Arabs. Although they did not tell me this in detail, it is a fact that up to the age of seven I hated the Arabs and feared them."

The authoress of the article went on to summarize the opinions of the students by concluding that the majority were in favor of returning the occupied territories, since (in the views of the students), the October War proved that the Arabs would not give up their right to their land. Although this was the trend of opinion, it is important to cite the words of one student, which clearly deviated from the main trend. In replying to the question "what prompted the Arabs to hate and fight us?" he said, "this is not because of land, since the Arabs don't lack any land in the Arab countries; it is not because of our foreign rule, since it doesn't matter to the Arabs who rules them. They fight us because of honour, and this is something that defies definition. Therefore how is it possible to find a solution?"

As mentioned above, the army remained the only establishment in Israeli society which escaped criticism until the October War, since it was viewed largely as a neutral, integrating force in Israeli society. This view changed, as was clearly manifested in a new book entitled The Shortcoming, [31] which was published in Israel immediately after the War. Through the words of soldiers who participated, we find that the image of the Israeli army has been marred by corruption, elitism and opportunism in which, it is alleged, the army is being used by the generals as a stepping stone into the world of politics and finance.

In a conference held in Tel Aviv which was attended by teachers and high school pupils, the bitterness of the war emerged from the words of a returning soldier who was present at the conference. [32] He said, "I participated in the war and discovered that they [school teachers] did not teach us to live with the Arabs. They did not teach us to recognize them as human beings. There is an outlook of scorn towards them. The blow came during the war when I discovered that the Arab is a human being like me, and he can surpass me. During the last twelve years of my education I wasn't taught any of this." Immediately the Deputy Director General of the Office of Education, Eliezer Shmueli, retorted: "It is untrue to say that in our schools they label the Arabs as if they were subhuman. We should come to know the Arabs in order to live with them...."

The impact of military service on the attitude of young people is clearly demonstrated in a national opinion survey published in June 1974 and carried out by the Israeli Institute of Applied Social Research. Using a sample of more than 2,000 persons chosen to represent the major urban centers in Israel, the survey showed: (1) concerning the reasons for emigration from Israel, 31 per cent mentioned the system of taxation, 28 per cent the cost of living, 20 per cent the possibility of finding a suitable job, 25 per cent bureaucracy, 22 per cent the system of government, 21 per cent the future of children, 16 per cent military security and guerrilla activities, 18 per cent the gap in socio-economic conditions, 16 per cent conditions of employment and 19 per cent military service; (2) "a positive relationship was detected between military service as a cause for emigration and the age of the respondent." One-quarter of those in the 20-29 age-group would want "very much" to stay in the country, compared to 44 per cent among those 30-45 years old and the overwhelming majority of those above 55 years of age. [33]

REACTION OF THE AUTHORITIES

Although it is difficult to predict the long-term policy of the Israeli government concerning dissatisfaction among young people, it is possible to outline the pattern of the initial steps being taken. The reaction of high school teachers involved in teaching history and social studies has been to blame political elements outside the school system, such as the Israeli New Left. [34] The Office of Education is beginning to intervene directly through what appears to be an increased campaign of politicization of the high school climate. Thus, in the words of Dan Ronen, Deputy Assistant to the Minister of Education, "...the school ought not to be a neutral force, but has to exert a moral influence...." [35] Indeed, the general concern of the Minister of Education was expressed later by the General Director of the Ministry of Education who declared that unless the state takes upon itself to rectify the feeling of disillusionment among the young, he expects that "a few years from now a new committee will be set up (similar to that initiated to look into the lack of Israeli preparedness for the October War, 1973] in order to examine the shortcoming." [36] The Ministry of Education has now prepared an anthology to deal with the Israeli-Arab conflict, which is to be used in Jewish high schools. [37] Whether or not it will solve the predicament of the youth as well as of the authorities is yet to be seen.

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Elia T. Zureik teaches Sociology at Queen's University, Ontario.

The author wishes to extend his thanks to the Israeli division of the Institute for Palestine Studies for giving generously of their time in providing much needed assistance. This article is part of a larger sociological study of the Palestinians, which is nearing completion.

1 Sh. Zarhi and A. Ahia'zra, "Gaps in Israeli Society," Ba-Sha'ar (January-February, 1973), pp. 22-30 (Hebrew). In the words of the authors, "within the mentioned period [1965-1971], the gap between [Jewish] immigrants from Asia/Africa and those from Europe/America has not changed to the benefit of the former. The average income of a family from Asia/Africa is around 72-74 per cent of a family from Europe/America (p. 27). A similar point, though couched in a more optimistic tone, is echoed by Chaim Adler, "Social Stratification and Education in Israel," Comparative Education Review, XVIII, 1 (1974), pp. 10-23, at p. 16.

2 See Yohanan Peres, "Ethnic Identity and Ethnic Relations," in S.N. Eisenstadt (ed.), The Integration of Immigrants from Different Countries of Origin in Israel (Jerusalem: Magnum Press, 1969), pp. 74-87 (Hebrew); Georges R. Tamarin, The Israeli Dilemma: Essays on a Warfare State (Rotterdam: The University Press, 1973).

3 Elia T. Zureik, "Arab Youth in Israel: Their Situation and Status Perceptions," Journal of Palestine Studies III, 3 (Spring 1974), pp. 97-108.

4 See, e.g., the Twenty-Seventh Zionist Congress: 1968, Part II (Cairo: Al-Ahram Pub., 1971) [Arabic translation from Hebrew and English]. It is significant that it was in 1968 after a bitter debate that the youth delegates to the Congress managed to acquire voting rights, even though the youth problem has always been a core issue in Zionist discussions.

5 Yacov Litschinsky, "The Problem of Israeli Youth," Gesher, VI, 1 (April 1960), pp. 107-110: quotation p. 107 [Hebrew].

6 "Symposium devoted to the Problem of Jewish Youth in Israel" (held on behalf of the Israeli branch of the advisory council of the World Jewish Congress), Gesher, X, 2 (June 1964), pp. 91-113, quotation p. 93 (Hebrew).

7 The notion that after the establishment of the state, Israeli society lost its "revolutionary" character and became imbued with bureaucratic conservatism is raised by S.N. Eisenstadt, among others, in a recent article appraising the social climate in Israel prior to the October War, 1973, "Israel before and after the War of Yom Kippur," Gesher XIX, 3-4 (December 1973), pp. 7-15 (Hebrew).

8 "Symposium..." op. cit., p. 98.

9 The Haganah was the Jewish underground army organized by the mainstream of the Zionist movement in Palestine before 1948, which later became the nucleus of the Israeli army. The Palmach consisted of shock troops under its control. Etzel (the Irgun) and Lehi (the Stern Gang) were dissident extremist organizations with a record of terrorist actions.

10 The survey referred to was conducted by Geola Cohen and reported in Maariv, November 18, 1966.

11 Ibid.

12 Amos Elon, The Israelis: Founders and Sons (New York: Holt, Reinhart and Winston, 197 1), quotation p. 266.

13 Ibid., p. 264.

14 Haaretz, May 31, 1970.

15 Maariv, December 17, 1972.

16 Davar, September 17, 1971.

17 Haaretz, May 1, 1970.

18 Bulletin of the Institutefor Palestine Studies, July 16, 1971, pp. 138-41 (Arabic).

19 Haaretz, February 14, 1971.

20 Maariv, March 21, 197 1.

21 Bulletin of the Institute for Palestine Studies, October 1, 1973, pp. 613-14 (Arabic).

22 Bulletin of the Institute for Palestine Studies, April 1, 1972, pp. 179-80 (Arabic).

23 R. Shapira, E. Etzioni-Halevy, Who is the Israeli Student? (Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 1973) [Hebrew]. See the author's review of the book in the Journal of Palestine Studies IV, 1 (Autumn 1974), pp. 140-44.

24 The interviews were conducted by Geola Cohen, who carried out a similar set of interviews in 1966 (see note 10). Maariv, July 31, 1970.

25 The Shem-Tov letter was that sent by Israeli high school children to the government accusing it of not doing enough for peace, and expressing doubts about their willingness to obey forthcoming draft orders. See above, p. 59.

26 Bulletin of the Institutefor Palestine Studies, May 1, 1973, pp. 272-278 (Arabic).

27 Symposium on "Education for Zionism," Bi-Tefutsot Ha-Golah, nos. 67/68 (1973), pp. 54-76 (Hebrew).

28 Nissim Rejwan, "Arab Aims and Israeli Attitudes: Critique of Harkabi's Prognosis of the Arab-Israeli Conflict," New Outlook, XVII, 3 (March-April 1974), pp. 44-53.

29 Haaretz, December 20, 1973.

30 Maariv, March 15, 1974.

31 Al- Taqsir (The Shortcoming) [Arabic, translated from Hebrew by the Institute for Palestine Studies, Beirut, 1974].

32 Maariv, December 16, 1973.

33 Maariv, June 14, 1973.

34 Maariv, December 16, 1973.

35 Ibid.

36 Yediot Aharonot, May 12, 1974.

37 Maariv, July 28, 1974.