Bent twigs and olive branches: Exploring the narratives of dissident Israeli Jews

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This article explores symbolic boundaries and identity-formation of the ‘ethnonational Us’, using narrative analysis of eleven Israeli-Jewish dissidents. The hegemonic nationalist discourse in Israel – Zionism – constructs the dissidents’ identities as the ‘Virtuous Us’, yet these individuals genuinely try to connect with
the ‘Demonized Palestinian Other’. I suggest that the dissidents attempt to use alternative national identity discourses to overcome symbolic boundaries. I highlight inconsistencies within individual dissidents’ narratives and attribute them to
the employment of multiple discourses, suggesting that some discourses fail to coherently reconcile ‘national’ history with the well-being of the Other, whilst others repel dissidents by appearing to negate or destroy their identities. The dissidents, therefore, cannot use the available discourses to fully overcome symbolic boundaries. Only the hegemonic nationalist discourse can offer a self-evident and compelling enunciation of the dissidents’ political reality, leading one insightful dissident to conclude that there is ‘no way out’ of his dilemma.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-37
Number of pages18
JournalStudies in Ethnicity and Nationalism
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes


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