Sunday, March 30, 2014

Ethnic Group Conflict

          The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a conflict whereas two ethnic groups have been at war with each other for numerous years. Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslim Arabs are the specific ethnic groups of this conflict. For numerous years, the conflicts between these two ethnic groups have led to countless injuries and deaths of individuals from both ethnic groups. To understand the reasoning behind this conflict and the effects of it one must take into account several factors about both ethnic groups. Several similarities and differences exist between these two ethnic groups. Understanding the concept of conformity and how it relates to Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslim Arabs can enable a clearer understanding of why this conflict exists. Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslim Arabs not only have similarities and differences but have differences in social perceptions that contribute to their conflict, and addressing certain social perceptions can resolve such a conflict.
Similarities and Differences between Ethnic Groups 
          As for Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslim Arabs, they both occupy the same country and share some similarities; however, there are many differences between these ethnic groups. Similarly, Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslim Arabs both strongly adhere to religious and cultural traditions. However, Israeli Jews are more Western, democratic, and modern, while Palestinian Muslim Arabs are rather more traditional (Pines & Zaidman, 2003). Israeli Jews tend to be rather individualistic, while Palestinian Muslim Arabs are rather collectivist. Israeli Jews accept a small power distance and Palestinian Muslim Arabs accept more power distance (Pines & Zaidman, 2003). Israeli Jews have a tendency to be more feminine than Palestinian Muslim Arabs; while, Palestinian Muslim Arabs are rather more masculine. Israeli Jewish families are nuclear systems with characteristics of democratic family relationships and parental control is fairly permissive, alike in ways, in other Western cultures.
          Therefore, such democratic values in families and influences of socialist ideologies result in a tendency to believe in the equality of individuals, but they possess minimal respect for status and authority (Pines & Zaidman, 2003). The majority of Israeli Jewish youth serve time in the military and this action has a strong effect on these youths and this strengthens the dependence of peers. This plays a role in why Israeli youths rely on close peers first when suffering from distress. Relevant research also provides data that asserts that Israeli adolescents have strong peer and family support systems. Israeli Jews share the belief that trials and tribulations in life help shape an individual’s personality. As for developing a mature identity, a solid inner core enables personal strength; that is a key component for developing such of an identity. These types of values are encouragements for Israeli Jews when accepting any challenge, confronting any problem, and enable them to favor direct and active coping (Pines & Zaidman, 2003).  
          Studies comparing Israeli Jewish and Palestinian Muslim Arab adolescents’ showed that Israeli Jews have less closeness to their parents than their Palestinian Muslim Arab counterparts and Israeli Jewish boys believe that their family structure is less cohesive than that of Arab families. Family adaptability is at higher levels with Israeli Jewish families (Pines & Zaidman, 2003). However, Palestinian Muslim Arabs share strong affiliations with families and extended families. Such, as with neighbors and the community in regards to a sense of belonging, support, mutual trust, commitment, and cooperation, and solidarity. They also, prefer a collective and family orientation instead of an individualized orientation regardless of a conspicuous process of modernization. Pines and Zaidman (2003), “many traditional notions of family life persist, including patriarchal patterns of authority, sharply delineated gender roles, conservative sexual standards, the importance of self-sacrifice for the greater good of the family, and the importance of honor and shame as regulators of moral norms and emotions” (p. 467).
          Traditional Arab society defends the individual and provides needs for individuals by making use of social networks of family members. However, another individual’s position of power, age, and gender undermines the other individual’s welfare in certain circumstances. In Palestinian Muslim Arab families and extended families, interdependence is shown through housework, childcare, social and economic support (Pines & Zaidman, 2003). Any probability of a family not providing support for a family member is a serious threat. With a disposition of distrust in government service agencies, Arab families underuse professional counseling services. This is because of Palestinian Muslim Arab families’ cultural interdiction in opposition of revealing family affairs to nonfamily members and doing so is unacceptable and brings shame to who do reveal family affairs. Since Palestinian Muslim Arab families have a substantial network of social support, any personal and family problems are kept within the families.
          Also, Palestinian Muslim Arab individuals learn to be patient when facing difficult situations, emotional needs do not require any intervention, and they have a belief of “fate” as a predetermined occurrence. Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslim Arabs share few similarities, but many differences exist between these ethnic groups.
Concept of Conformity and Ethnic Groups
          Conformity is a form of influence by society, whereas an individual will change his or her behavior and or attitude to cohere to the norms of society or a group (Shiraev & Levy, 2010). Individuals conform for many reasons, and often individuals will conform to meet the expectations set forth by other individuals. This is often true when those other individuals are a representation of the majority of individuals. Another explanation of conformity provided by rational actor theories, details it as a rational-choice perspective (Shiraev & Levy, 2010). Shiraev and Levy (2010), “as for this approach, individuals act as rational actors and make a choice in regards to varies choose from several alternatives available to them” (p. 283).
In regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslim Arabs’ behavior and or attitudes center on their religious doctrines. Both ethnic groups are religiously observant traditionalist. They strictly follow their own religious doctrines and devoutly follow the rules of their own respective religions and adhere to religious norms; which also shapes their behaviors and attitudes. As a result of this, there is minimal chances that either ethnic group will change their behavior or attitudes to conform in order to decrease the nature of their conflict; let alone cease this conflict.  
Differences in Social Perceptions Contribute to Conflicts
          Social perception is a process whereas an individual or individuals try to understand other individuals and themselves. In psychology, an established view is that individuals acquire beliefs, attitudes, and judgments, as a result of experiences in socialization through an individual’s cultural milieu (Shiraev & Levy, 2010). Also, culture consists of worldly perceptions that underlie and are reflections of individuals’ behavior (Shamir & Sullivan, 1985). This also, influences an individual’s perceptions in regards to what is appropriate behavior and, therefore, when and how an individual enacts, obtains, and seeks supportive behavior in distressing circumstances. Similarly, differences in orientations in regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and perceptions of it as measured according to political and religious ideologies and the perceptions of threats, are the main origins of variance in tolerance amid Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslim Arabs (Shamir & Sullivan, 1985).
          Also, what contribute to this conflict are the perceptions that Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslim Arabs have for one another. These perceptions of one another usually stem from biased stereotypes. Perceptions from the standpoint of Israeli Jews are that Palestinian Muslim Arabs are members of left-wing nationalistic groups, while the perceptions of Palestinian Muslim Arabs are that Israeli Jews are members of right-wing nationalistic groups. However, through questioner samples only 15% of Palestinian Muslim Arabs identify as right-wingers, while 50% identify as left-wingers. On the other hand, only 15% were right-wingers and 40% were left-wingers (Shamir & Sullivan, 1985). Another social perception that contributes to this conflict is the perceptions that religious differences exist and that their religious ideologies are far from related to each other or dissimilar.
Social Perceptions needed to Resolve Conflicts between Ethnic Groups
          Addressing both the social perceptions of differing political and religious ideologies can resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Especially, since these social perceptions undermine the similarities of political and religious ideologies. The majority Israeli Jews at 40% and the majority of Palestinian Muslim Arabs at 50% politically share the similar left-wing political ideologies and addressing this similarity instead of the biased social perceptions of political ideologies can resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Also, addressing the similarities of religious ideologies can also resolve this conflict, since the religions of Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslim Arabs stem from Abrahamic origins. Both of these groups religions have many similarities, and this links their religions in regards to in a common theological dogma, concerning faith and morality, and the belief in and devotion to God.
          The Israeli-Palestinian conflict between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslim Arabs is a conflict that dates back for decades and continues today. With minimal similarities but numerous differences between these two groups, along with unrelenting means of conforming to different attitudes and/or behaviors, and with differing ideas of social perceptions these two ethnic groups remain in a constant state of conflict. However, by addressing certain social perceptions their conflict can cease.  
Pines, A.M., & Zaidman, N. (2003, July). Israeli Jews and Arabs: Similarities and Differences in the Utilization of Social Support. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 34(4), 465-480.
Shiraev, E., & Levy, D. (2010). Cross-cultural psychology: Critical thinking and contemporary applications (4th ed). Boston: Pearson/Allyn Bacon.
Shamir, M., & Sullivan, J. L. (1985). Jews and Arabs in Israel: Everybody hates somebody, sometime. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 29(2), 283-305. Retrieved from

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