Why activists? : a case-study into the self-perceived motivations of selected South Africans and Jewish Israelis in the Palestinian project

Momberg, Marthie (2017-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Why would one publicly support the Palestinian cause if one is not Palestinian oneself? By exploring answers to this question, this inductive, contextual case study in empirical ethics shares insights on creative, non-violent activism, and envisions another reality, at grassroots level, in respect of a struggle in a geographical site that has special significance to the world’s three largest monotheistic religions. It explains steadfast perseverance and hopeful action in an ever-tightening system where the oppressor is lauded and supported by global powers and people of faith. This study is exploratory, and therefore the research is informed by the research question, rather than by pre-existing or pre-determined theories or hypotheses. The research results are presented in the form of grounded statements. In their in-depth interviews, the 21 respondents all contextualised the Palestinian project (the Palestinians’ experience of pain and their struggle for freedom) in terms of Israel and key events of the twentieth and the twenty-first centuries. Along with this historico-political perspective, they suggested a geo-political perspective that is far wider than Historical Palestine. One of the main findings is the respondents’ impressions of intersectionality between the Palestinian project and other struggles for justice in the world, and that the Palestinian project brings these other issues into sharp focus too. The abuse of power, militarism, the fanning of fear, religious fundamentalism and manipulation, greed, racism, classism, sexism and neoliberalism are all seen as forming part of a polarising ethos used to justify oppression. Respondents argued that the points of tangency between the Palestinian struggle and other struggles heighten the global imperative to solve the Palestinian issue. It is this holistic perspective, rather than nationalism or a desire to privilege religion, that inspires the respondents. Their point of departure is not a national state, but the moral state between people from different orientations that should also be realised in equal, dignified political, legal, economic, religious, urban and other rights. The respondents are driven by their strong desire for consistent, inclusive moral integrity. This dimension is present throughout the four central themes in the data, and their sub-themes, substantiated by nuanced and sometimes diverse views. The analysis starts with an overview of the triggers, behavioural modes and insights in the initial phase of activism. Then it focuses on moral integrity, respondents’ holistic perspectives and their inclusive understanding of altruism, compassion, equality, honesty, truth and openness. It ends with remarks on the perceived urgency for public advocacy, preferred strategies, outcomes and experiences of worthwhileness. The case study utterly rejects the claim that the Palestinian project forms part of a religious clash. It highlights the detrimental roles of Zionism and Israel’s ethos of power abuse under the guise of “protection”. All respondents, whether religious or not, deem Zionism – in its secular form, in Judaism and Christianity – to be a gross manipulation of truth, one that vilifies Palestinians. However, inclusive interpretations of religious, spiritual and existential views can inspire activism. The respondents critiqued the constructs of individualism, dualism, mono-identities, absolutism and self-directed, destructive interconnectivity. Many have found new, profound meaning with people whose values and vision for human dignity they share. Through this, and through their mutuality with the Palestinians, they are already experiencing some aspects of the reality they aspire to.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Waarom sou ‘n mens die Palestynse saak publiek ondersteun as jy nie self Palestyns is nie? In die soeke na antwoorde op hierdie vraag bied hierdie induktiewe, kontekstuele gevallestudie op voetsoolvlak in ’n geografiese terrein wat veral beduidend is vir die wêreld se drie grootste monoteïstiese godsdienste, insigte in kreatiewe, nie-gewelddadige weerstand en ’n visie vir ’n andersoortige realiteit. Dit verduidelik volgehoue volharding en hoopvolle aksie binne ’n sisteem van toenemende spanning waarin die onderdrukker geprys en ondersteun word deur globale magte én gelowiges. Die studie is ondersoekend en daarom is dit gerig deur ‘n navorsingsvraag, eerder as deur reeds bestaande of voorafbepaalde teorieë of hipoteses. Die navorsingsresultate is in die vorm van gegronde stellings. In hul in-diepte onderhoude, het die 21 respondente almal die Palestynse projek (die Palestynse ervaring van pyn én hul vryheidstryd) in terme van Israel en sleutelgebeure van die twintigste en die een-en-twintigste eeue gekontekstualiseer. Saam met hierdie histories-politiese perspektief, het hulle ’n breë geo-politiese perspektief voorgestel wat veel wyer strek as Historiese Palestina. Een van die gevallestudie se kernbevindinge is die persepsie van interseksionaliteit tussen die Palestynse projek en ander strewes na geregtigheid in die wêreld, en dat die Palestynse projek die fokus op die ander strewes verskerp. Magsmisbruik, militarisme, die aanblaas van vrees, godsdienstige fundamentalisme en manipulasie, gierigheid, rassisme, klassebeheptheid, seksisme en neoliberalisme word alles gesien as deel van ’n polariserende etos wat gebruik word om onderdrukking te regverdig. Volgens die respondente is die oplos van die Palestynse kwessie van globale belang juis weens die raakpunte met wêreldkwessies. Hierdie geheelperspektief en nie dié van nasionalisme of godsdienstige bevoorregting nie, inspireer die respondente. Hul vertrekpunt is nie die oprig van ’n nasionale staat nie, maar wel die morele staat tussen mense van verskillende oriëntasies wat ook vergestalt moet word in gelyke, menswaardige, politiese, wetlike, ekonomiese, godsdienstige, stedelike en ander regte. Die respondente het ‘n sterk drang na konsekwente, inklusiewe, morele integriteit. Dié dimensie is teenwoordig in al vier die sentrale temas, die sub-temas en die aanvullende, genuanseerde en soms uiteenlopende sienings in die data. Die analise begin met ’n oorsig van snellers, gedragsmodi en insigte in die fase van toetrede tot aktivisme. Vandaar fokus dit op morele integriteit, respondente se geheelperspektiewe en hul inklusiewe begrip van altruïsme, deernis, gelykheid, geregtigheid, eerlikheid, waarheid en openheid. Dit eindig met opmerkings oor die dringendheid vir publieke voorspraak, voorkeur strategieë, uitkomste en betekenisvorming. Die gevallestudie verwerp die aantyging dat die Palestynse projek deel is van ‘n godsdienstige botsing geheel en al. Dit belig die skadelike rol van Sionisme en Israel se etos van magsmisbruik onder die dekmantel van “beskerming”. Al die respondente, hetsy gelowig of nie, beskou sekulêre, Christelike en Joodse Sionisme as ‘n growwe manipulasie van die waarheid wat die Palestyne beswadder. Daarenteen kan inklusiewe vorme van religieuse, spirituele en eksistensiële sieninge aktivisme inspireer. Die respondente het konstrukte soos individualisme, dualisme, eenduidige identiteit, absolutisme en selfgerigte, destruktiewe interkonnektiwiteit gekritiseer. Talle het nuwe, diepgaande betekenis gevind saam met andere wie se waardes en visie hulle deel. Hierdeur, en ook deur hul onderlinge meelewing met die Palestyne, beleef hulle alreeds iets van die nuwe realiteit waarna hulle streef.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/101119
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