Fighting the Truce -- Identities and the Israel-Hezbollah Cease-fire

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New book shows identity and ideology at the core of friction in the Middle East

Erikson saw identity and ideology as two sides of the same coin -- take away a person’s identity, and he or she will set about its recreation

Although the cease-fire has been in effect for just over a week Israeli forces and Hezbollah militants clashed again early Saturday in eastern Lebanon. An Israeli-Hezbollah ceasefire that does not lead to cessation of hostilities is a cynical sham at best. Despite the UN brokered truce, deaths from military/militia strikes on both sides of the Israeli-Lebanese border are likely to continue. Even if 30,000 UN and Lebanese soldiers replace the 30,000 Israeli troops in the next month or so, the potential for violence will remain high.

Whether it’s Hezbollah, Hamas, the PLO or Israel, none of the immediate parties will achieve lasting peace without recognition of an unavoidable truth: identity and ideology matter to everyone. Identity is something we establish at an early age. It is maintained and extended in our search for psychological security. Then ideology soon comes along to tie together the loose ends of identity formation, as Erik Erikson -- the father of modern identity studies -- would say.

“Erikson saw identity and ideology as two sides of the same coin -- take away a person’s identity, and he or she will set about its recreation,” says Dr. David Hulme author of the upcoming book, "Identity, Ideology, and the Future of Jerusalem," published by Palgrave-Macmillan available September 3, 2006.

Looking at the biographies of 14 key players on both sides of the more-than-100-year Arab-Zionist conflict, the book focuses more on the parallels than the differences. These leaders, from Zionism’s Theodor Herzl to Hamas’s Shaykh Yassin, from Israel’s David Ben-Gurion to the PLO’s Yasser Arafat, lived lives with parallel goals for their people, and with identities that were more akin than apart. Understanding the role that identity and ideology played in their lives -- leaders at the center of the impasse -- is crucial to discovering the way forward in today’s ongoing conflict.

Identity asks and answers the question “Who am I?” But identity awareness is only the starting point in resolving intercommunal problems. If there is to be hope for reconciliation and resolution in any of the world’s identity-based conflicts, then “Who am I?” must lead to the much more important question, “Who should I be?” This is about initiating a process by which leaders and publics come to understand the role of identity and ideology in their lives. Because the identity-ideology nexus is not easily self-understood, it requires a process of education and self-examination to bring its reality and consequences to the surface. The resulting change of heart in the personal identity-ideology relationship is the first essential step to broad political change in the Middle East.

“There can be no attempt to destroy identity that will not produce further conflict. What is happening in southern Lebanon, Israel, Gaza and the West Bank is an attempt by all parties to destroy the Other’s identity,” says Hulme.

Preorder "Identity, Ideology, and the Future of Jerusalem" by David Hulme at http://www.amazon.com

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Edwin Stepp

Director of Development

Vision Media Productions

476 South Marengo Avenue

Pasadena, CA 91101

T: 1 626 535-0444 ext 105

F: 1 626 535-0455

W: http://www.visionmedia.org

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