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TAL DOR

Anne universitaire 2009-2010

MASTER EUROPEEN DE RECHERCHE


Formation des Adultes : Champ de recherches

QUEERINGZIONISM
ANISRAELIANTIHEGEMONICTRANSFORMATIVEPROCESS

Centre de Recherche sur la Formation du Cnam (CRF EA.1410)


Partenaires
Cnam (tablissement pilote Crf) et Universit de Paris-XIII (Experice)
Universit de Louvain-la-Neuve (Apprentissage et motivation Girsef)
Universit de Genve (Formaction)

Soutenance le 1 Octobre 2010 au CNAM Paris


Directrice de mmoire :Christine Delory-Momberger
Co-directrice : Nacira Gunif- Souilamas
Membre du jury : Esther Benbassa

Jean-Paul

Dialogue cannot exist, however, in the absence of a profound love for


the world and for people. The naming of the world, which is an act of
creation and recreation, is not possible if it is not infused with love.
Love is at the same time the foundation of dialogue and dialogue
itself. It is thus necessarily the task of responsible Subjects and
cannot exist in a relation of domination.
Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, p. 89

ABSTRACT
Presuming an analogy between Zionism and heterosexual hegemony, the aim of this research is to
understand the learning process that Israeli Anti-Zionists undergo during their transformative journey to antihegemonic awareness. Through conversational narrative interviews, this research presents the accounts of
changing awareness and consciousness transformation of seven Israeli actors, four women and three men, who
have gone through a critical educational process, bringing them to openly criticize, and in some cases actively
act against, the Zionist common sense in which they grew up. Furthermore, while trying to reveal a common
educational process, this research argues that ethnic and gender social positions play an important role and
could thus lead to variations within the changing awareness processes of the actors. The research is based on
critical and feminist educational theories of change, feminist approaches to consciousness and queer theories
of personal and collective transformation (Freire, 1970, 1973, 1998; hooks, 2003, 1984, 1994, 2010; Helms,
1990; Butler, 2006; Collins, 2000; Shiran, 2007; Dahan- Kalev, 2002; Gor-Ziv, 2005 ).
While attempting to challenge its own critical pedagogy approach with a queer-gendered discourse, the
results of this research have emphasized dialogue and constant questioning pedagogy as a central praxis of all
seven actors and their processes. The research suggests that Zionist Israelis who go through a becoming
process to Anti-Zionism, undergo five stages of critical thinking: (1) Confrontation with the lie(s) (as the
actors describe them); (2) Confusion; (3) Acquiring knowledge; (4) Coming out of the Zionist closet and
finally (5) Acceptance which implies taking a radical position and thus bringing to praxis the anti-hegemonic
performance of the Actors. Finally, the outcome of this research suggests that the process of transformative
change to anti-hegemonic consciousness within Israeli society is not a unique process of unique individuals
and is in fact an educated experience. For an oppressor, to go through critical self-reflection, necessarily
entails the reframing of his/her own identity. The critical identity is in fact the socio-political position rather
than a neutral self-definition.

Key Words: Critical Pedagogy, Feminist Critical Pedagogy, Hegemony, Common Sense, Anti-Zionism,
Transformative process, Changing awareness, accounting of oneself.

TABLEOFCONTENTS
ABSTRACT..................................................................................................................................................3
TABLEOFCONTENTS....................................................................................................................................4
ACKNOWLEDGMENT.....................................................................................................................................6
INTRODUCTION...........................................................................................................................................7
RESEARCHOVERVIEW..................................................................................................................................7
THEACTORS...............................................................................................................................................9
ACCOUNTINGOFONESELF...........................................................................................................................10
THEINTERVIEWS.......................................................................................................................................11
MAPPINGACRITICALSTRUCTUREFORTHERESEARCH.......................................................................................14
1 FIRSTCHAPTER
PROLOGUE:THEACTORS......................................................................................................................16
1.1
1.2
1.3
1.4
1.5
1.6
1.7

YARDENA............................................................................................................................................................16
ALON..................................................................................................................................................................17
GAL.....................................................................................................................................................................19
SARA...................................................................................................................................................................20
MAYA.................................................................................................................................................................21
ANAT..................................................................................................................................................................22
AKIVA.................................................................................................................................................................24

2 SECONDCHAPTER
ACRITICALREFRAMING:CHALLENGINGCONVENTIONALWISDOM.................................................25
2.1
SOCIALPOLITICALCONTEXT..............................................................................................................................25
2.1.1 ISRAELIHEGEMONY.....................................................................................................................................25
2.1.2 ANTIZIONISM..............................................................................................................................................30
2.2
THECONSCIOUSNESSOFTHEOPPRESSOR........................................................................................................31
2.3
CRITICALEDUCATIONALPROCESS.....................................................................................................................32
2.3.1 THEPEDAGOGYOFTHEOPPRESSED..........................................................................................................32
2.3.2 LIBERATINGTHEOPPRESSOR.......................................................................................................................33
2.4
DIALOGUE..........................................................................................................................................................35
COMINGOUTANDITSTRANSFORMATIVEPOTENTIAL.....................................................................................36
2.5

3 THIRDCHAPTER
QUEERINGZIONISMCHANGINGAWARENESSPROCESS.......................................................................38
3.1
CONFRONTATION..............................................................................................................................................38
3.1.1 MAYA............................................................................................................................................................38
3.1.2 ALON............................................................................................................................................................39
3.1.3 YARDENA......................................................................................................................................................40
3.1.4 ANAT.............................................................................................................................................................41
3.1.5 AKIVA............................................................................................................................................................41
3.1.6 SARA.............................................................................................................................................................42
3.1.7 GAL...............................................................................................................................................................42
3.2
CONFUSION......................................................................................................................................................43
3.2.1 MAYA............................................................................................................................................................43
3.2.2 ANAT.............................................................................................................................................................44
3.2.3 SARA.............................................................................................................................................................45

3.2.4 AKIVA............................................................................................................................................................46
3.2.5 GAL...............................................................................................................................................................47
3.2.6 YARDENA......................................................................................................................................................48
3.3
ACQUIRINGKNOWLEDGE................................................................................................................................49
3.3.1 YARDENA......................................................................................................................................................50
3.3.2 MAYA............................................................................................................................................................50
3.3.3 AKIVA............................................................................................................................................................53
3.3.4 ANAT.............................................................................................................................................................53
3.3.5 SARA.............................................................................................................................................................56
3.3.6 ALON............................................................................................................................................................58
3.3.7 GAL...............................................................................................................................................................60
3.4
COMINGOUTOFTHEZIONISTCLOSET.............................................................................................................61
3.4.1 ALON............................................................................................................................................................62
3.4.2 SARA.............................................................................................................................................................62
3.4.3 ALON............................................................................................................................................................63
3.4.4 AKIVA............................................................................................................................................................65
3.4.5 GAL...............................................................................................................................................................66
3.4.6 YARDENA......................................................................................................................................................66

4 FOURTHCHAPTER
EPILOGUE:ACCEPTANCE.......................................................................................................................69
4.1
4.2
4.3
4.4

ALON..................................................................................................................................................................69
ANAT..................................................................................................................................................................71
SARA...................................................................................................................................................................72
GAL.....................................................................................................................................................................74

5 FIFTHCHAPTER
DISCUSSIONSANDCONCLUSIONS........................................................................................................75
5.1
THEOTHER.........................................................................................................................................................75
5.2
THEOTHERWITHINONESELF............................................................................................................................76
5.3
EDUCATIONALSTAGESTOQUEERINGZIONISM................................................................................................77
5.3.1 REVEALINGTHELIE(S)................................................................................................................................77
5.3.2 RECREATINGKNOWLEDGE..........................................................................................................................78
5.3.3 COMINGOUT!..............................................................................................................................................80
5.3.4 TOWARDANTIZIONISM..............................................................................................................................81
5.4
QUESTIONSANDIMPLICATIONS........................................................................................................................82
5.4.1 THEACTORS.................................................................................................................................................82
5.4.2 POWERDYNAMIC.........................................................................................................................................82
5.4.3 LANGUAGE...................................................................................................................................................83
5.5
TOCONCLUDE....................................................................................................................................................83

6 REFERENCES..........................................................................................................................................85

ACKNOWLEDGMENT
Academic research can be a lonely journey to take. While conducting research engaged in Critical
Pedagogy, dialogue was both a concept I wrote about and a praxis I was seeking. I am grateful to many people
for taking this journey with me:
The seven actors who were the main participants of this research. I do not take their opening up and
allowing me to tell their story for granted. I am also grateful to the participants in the preliminary interviews
who taught me how to approach the interviews in this research.
Nacira Gunif- Souilamas, my supervisor and mentor, who believed in me and my research from day one.
Every meeting was an enriching and inspiring encounter. Every encounter was an empowering experience of
dialogue, reflection and a better understanding of the context and content I was seeking to acquire.
Christine Delory-Momberger, my supervisor and teacher who has been an important figure throughout the
past two years in my French academic experience, allowing me to be myself every single moment, in and
outside the class room.
Marcello Weksler, my informal supervisor, whose reflections, comments, suggestions and feedback, have
challenged and advanced my thoughts and work and who has shown me the way towards a possible critical
praxis.
My fantastic Parisian community My dear friends, comrades, colleagues and longing community,
wherever you are around the world, I miss you all in my day-to-day life and carry you with me all the time
Each and every one of you is present in some way or another in this research. With you, I feel part of a
constant learning community Ma trs belle famille Rouenaise, la plus belle! Je ne peux pas imaginer ma vie
en France sans vous. I cherish your love and support and appreciate the way you have embraced me into your
hearts and family
My wonderful family, who have supported me and were willing to enter into a dialogue, I dont take it for
granted. You who were always available to correct and read my English, even when confronting content
which was sometimes difficult to digestTo my darling grandparents, who were always more like parents
and have given me a safe place from the first day I can remember. My Coming-Out to you was a powerful
step in my process.
Last but definitely not least, my Dearest You have believed in me as a writer; you showed me I could
have done this without you, but all I can say is that I am so glad I didnt have to. You are my teacher, my role
model, my partner and my life companion. Cest Toi qui mas offert des perles de pluie venues de pays ou il
ne pleut pas

INTRODUCTION
Before charting out the purposes of each of the following chapters and the contribution they make to the
work in its entirety, I must clarify the lens through which I write. I am a queer-feminist Anti-Zionist Israeli
who writes from within the social setting of academia. My Ashkenazi white identity has provided me with a
privileged position within Israeli society.
I was born in Haifa to South African parents. My familys Zionism was an important part of my
upbringing and thus my life journey. I grew up with South Africa vastly present in my life; a white South
African family which never agreed with the Apartheid regime, but which was, however, never active in the
resistance movements for change.
Influenced by my connections with South Africa as well as the end of Apartheid, I came early to question
the social hierarchy and discrimination within Israeli society. However, up to the age of 21, it never came to
my mind, to question my Zionist heritage. I was in complete coherence with the formal and informal Zionist
system and institutes, including school and the army. Indeed, within the Israeli common sense being Zionist is
considered Natural as much as is being heterosexual.
From 2001, I became immensely engaged and actively involved in the Israeli-Palestinian political scene. I
participated in numerous organizations and movements working and struggling for a just society, resisting
oppression and acting directly against the Israeli occupation.
For the last five years, I have no longer been capable of identifying with Zionism. As time passed, my
compass turned away from the Israeli hegemonic common sense. However the process of coming out as AntiZionist was yet another stage I had to go through in order to further my critical consciousness process.
For the past three years, I have been leading my personal and academic live in Paris, far away from the
Israeli-Palestinian day-to-day reality. This distance has given me the possibility to reflect and analyze my
work and activism in the field and finally led me to embark on this research project.

RESEARCHOVERVIEW
According to Israeli common sense, going through the process of criticizing Zionism, is tantamount to
acting against almost every single thing one has ever known, believed in, loved or given sense to.
Consequently, giving up or going against Zionism, would immediately mean harming and betraying ones
own people and abandoning ones Jewish identity. Furthermore, within the Israeli militaristic common
sense, security depends upon Zionism and the existence of the Jewish State (Rose, 2005; Raz-Krakotzkin,
2007; Chetrit, 1999; Said1978, 1979; Arendt, 2007; Shohat, 2006; Laor, 2007).
Presuming an analogy between Zionism and heterosexual hegemony, my research aims, through a
narrative approach, to explore the awareness and consciousness transformation of Israelis who have gone
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through a critical educational process bringing them to openly criticize, and in some cases actively act against,
the Zionist common sense in which they grew up.
To start with, I conducted preliminary interviews with several Israelis living in Paris. The main question
that led these interviews, and which was posed to the interviewees, was: what brought you to where you are
standing politically today? These interviews enriched me with many insights and guided me in the
construction of my research problem and in the precise formulation of the questions I would be asking. These
interviews also helped me to develop my reflections concerning the relevance of my methods, while taking
into consideration the social-political context and the type of problem I would be tackling.
The question which led the research could be reformulated as follows: what is the learning process Israeli
anti-Zionists undergo when taking the transformative journey to anti-hegemonic awareness? My goal in
investigating this question is predominantly to expose the learning process (How?) and the acquired
knowledge (What?) rather than looking at the specific characteristics (Why?) which led to this journey. While
trying to reveal a common educational process, this research argues that ethnic and gender social positions
have an important role to play and could be behind variations within the changing awareness processes of the
actors.
Paulo Friere and bell hooks1 are the leading theoretical figures behind my research (Freire, 1970, 1973,
1998; hooks, 2003, 1984, 1994, 2010). However, the research also looks to critical and feminist educational
theories of change, feminist approaches to consciousness and queer theories of personal and collective
transformation (Helms, 1990; Butler, 2006; Collins, 2000; Shiran, 2007; Dahan- Kalev, 2002; Gor-Ziv, 2005).
Throughout the last several years, Anti-Zionist discourse has become more present in public spheres,
particularly among Israeli individuals and movements, and has therefore become an intriguing subject for
discussion amongst those who agree or disagree with its approach. These days, one is exposed to an increasing
number of writings which relate to Anti-Zionism and Anti-Zionist Israelis. On one hand, there are writings
opposing Anti-Zionism while on the other hand one comes across narrative telling of and analysis by AntiZionists themselves in which they reveal their own story and changing awareness process (Pappe, 2004;
Shohat 2006; Warschawski 2005; Golan-Agnon 2005). Nevertheless, to my knowledge, except for one
Doctoral2 research project in progress, there is no research which analyzes these processes in general, and
from a critical feminist educational point of view, in particular. Furthermore, this research is unique in its
attempt to challenge its own critical pedagogy approach with a queer-gendered discourse. Moreover, it offers
the possibility to deepen our understanding of the transformative process of Anti-Zionists as a Coming Out
of the Closet task.

bellhookshaschosentowritehernameinsmallletters.
DoctoralresearchbyHaggitGorZivoftheCenterofCriticalFeministPedagogyinTelAviv.

Through conversational narrative interviews, this research tries to specifically understand the accounts of
changing awareness and the transformative process of seven actors working and acting in Israeli radical left
movements and organizations. Inspired by the importance of bringing out the voices of the subjects in
academic research (Delory, 2003), this research aims at presenting a vivid picture of its subjects. Writing
history is an important act of liberation (Freire, 2000). Hence empowering research is research which allows
all its participants to become subjects and thus actors of the research itself.
This manuscript comes as a direct outcome of constant dialogue: self-dialogue, dialogue with the theories
and mainly dialogue with the actors. In the following pages, I content myself with being the author, letting the
actors exist through my lens. I will not tell my own story, this springs up between the lines.

THEACTORS
In order to study the transformative process of changing awareness and the challenging of the IsraeliZionist common sense, I reached-out to the Israeli social political radical left activist community. This
community is relatively small and as such I know many of the actors involved. However, in choosing the
interviewees, I tried to avoid working with close friends and colleagues, thus minimizing the influence my
knowledge of them, and feelings for them, would have on the interviews and consequently on the analytical
work. I started off with a list of names known to me or suggested by colleagues. The candidates for the
interviews were all politically active, either working with organizations or members of social-political
associations which promote social struggle, and/or political associations which treat the resistance against the
Israeli occupation. I finally conducted ten interviews. However, due to technical reasons mainly related to the
vocal clarity of the recordings, I chose seven interviews as the basis of this piece of research. Some of the
interviewees I had never met whilst others I knew by name or through joint political actions.
The actors are all over forty and accounted their educational process as a journey which took place within
their adult life and thus as an informal educational process. The actors did not necessarily go through their
liberation process together nor were they influenced by the same political and social events, communities and
bodies. The starting hypothesis of my research was that even though there is not a specific structured
educational process which leads to anti-hegemonic consciousness, one would find a common process due to
the common hegemony.
Furthermore, it is important to emphasize that the translation of the interviews has erased a linguistic
gendered discourse. In the hegemonic common sense, one is often looked at through a gendered definition.
Given names could reveal an assumption as to the gender of the actor. For non-Israeli or non-Hebrew
speakers, this gendered normative knowledge is thus lacking. Furthermore, the Hebrew language is a gendered
one; hence the verbs and adjectives one would use to account oneself would present the readers with the
gendered performance of the actors. In order to overcome this gendered gap between non-Hebrew speaking
readers and myself, and due to the fact that one cannot gender the verbs in English, I think it is important to
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clarify both the presented gender of each actor in the way common sense presented it to me, and the
preformed account. The research included four women; Yardena, Maya, Anat and Sara and three men; Akiva,
Gal and Alon.

ACCOUNTINGOFONESELF
Human beings are story-telling creatures. One makes sense of the world and life events by constructing
narratives to explain and interpret them both to oneself and to others. The narrative structures and the
vocabulary used in a persons own tale of her/his perceptions and experiences are significant in themselves.
They provide information about a persons social and cultural positioning: the limits of my language are the
limits of my world (Wittgenstein, 1953 in Sike & Gale, 2006).
The starting point of biographic and narrative research is storytelling. The account of oneself dynamic
biographic performance is an important pedagogical act. Narrative research is concerned with the structure,
content and functions of the stories one accounts to others and to oneself within a socio-political context and
interaction.
Asking someone to tell his/her life story, gives that person an opportunity to create a particular self
which he/she may go on to develop and to further live out. Stories are the closest a person can come to
experience as he/she and others tell their experience. Experiences are not and cannot be lived in isolation
either from other people or from social, cultural or historical events, movements, trends, and values. A story
has a sense of being full, a sense of coming out of a personal and social history [] People live stories and in
telling of them reaffirm them, modify them, and create new ones (Clandinin & Connelly, 1994,p. 415). In
social interaction one generally constantly tells ones own life story in different ways, linking different events,
experiences and perceptions, leaving different gaps and using different words and metaphors, in order to fit
specific contexts, purposes and audiences (Sike & Gale, 2006).
Delory (2009) argues that biographical learning (lapprentissage biographique) is not simply a lifelong
process but is a dynamic trajectory which is expressed by words and expressions and is related to and depends
on the context and environment of the actor. Furthermore, she argues that a life course journey includes
periods of change and reorientation. Hence the transformation journey is not a stable linear process of change,
but can be expected to include instabilities and difficulties (Delory-Momberger & Clementino de Souza,
2009).
When talking about their lives, people lie sometimes, forget a lot, exaggerate, become confused, and get
things wrong. Yet they are revealing truths. These truths dont reveal the past as it actually was, aspiring to
a standard of objectivity. Instead they give us the truths of our experiences [.] Unlike the truth of the
scientific ideal, the truths of personal narratives are neither open to proof nor self-evident. We come to
understand them only through interpretation, paying careful attention to the contexts that shape their creation
10

and to the worldviews that inform them. Sometimes the truths we see in personal narratives jar us from our
complacent security as interpreters outside the story and make us aware that our own place in the world
plays a part in our interpretation and shapes the meanings we derive from them. (Personal Narrative Group,
1989, p. 261).
Along the same lines, one must remember that one never speaks in a vacuum, there is always a context
and a content that one reacts to. All discourse is in essence a dialogical exchange (Bakhtin, 1993).
Accordingly everything one ever says always exists in response to things that have been said before and in
anticipation of things that might be said in response. This is an endless engaged dynamic process re-describing
the world. Every thought one communicates is necessarily the performance of an act or a deed. An act
connects and unifies two answerability units in the communication. These are: the sense, and thus the content,
(special answerability), and the being, (moral answerability) (ibis).
In this qualitative research I have chosen the method of long conversational interviews with the actors.
The goal of these interviews was to enter into a dialogue about their experience Dialogue is an empowering
platform for mutual learning. Dialogue encourages dynamic, human inquiry into the world. Through dialogue,
I aimed to encourage a critical, feminist and postmodern discourse interview which would lead to a mutual
learning experience (Ironside, 2006, 2001; hooks, 2003, 1994; Friere, 1998, 2000, 1973).
Enacting narrative pedagogy is directed towards overcoming the comparative dynamics of the actors.
Similarly, interpreting the dialogued interview, in the context of narrative pedagogy, challenges issues of
power, ideology, and the social construction of knowledge in addition to addressing the challenge of how
these issues influence social justice, inclusiveness, and collaboration (Ironside, 2001).
The context and setting of the accounting of oneself are important factors in the process of empowering
and encouraging storytelling and fluidity. In his book, InterViews (1996), Kvale metaphorically describes two
classifications of interviewers as miners and travelers (ibis, p. 3). The interviewer as miner is seeking to
unearth some knowledge buried within the subject of the interview. The traveler, on the other hand, is
journeying through the others landscape gathering stories to retell when he or she arrives back home.
The conversational narrative interview format allowed the actors of this research to define the themes and
agenda they were interested in bringing out (Delory, 2003, 2009; Murray, 2003). Indeed, these interviews
were my window into the actors storied lives and narrated accounts.

THEINTERVIEWS
As I was interested in the actors storytelling and narrative manner of accounting their process, I asked
them to choose the venue of the interview and decide the extent of intimacy that they were prepared to allow
me. As a consequence, four interviews took place in the actors homes, three in their work environments and
one interview took place in a caf close to the actors home. All the interviews took place after a short
11

telephone call with the actor. During the telephone call, I accounted briefly, yet explicitly, the objectives and
expectations of my research. The information included the length of the interview and the use of a recording
machine. During the interview the actors would be requested to reveal their personal and sometimes intimate
stories and thus a large amount of trust was required. An unclear beginning or a sense of discomfort would
have blocked the flow of the interview and thus the story. Throughout the interview, my comments were
neither analytical nor did they interpret the actors; When necessary, I wrote down analytical comments I
presumed would be of use during the writing of the research.
The interviews were tape recorded with the consent of the participants. They were held and recorded in
Hebrew. I then transcribed them fully before conducting the analytical work which I first did in Hebrew. The
transcription included vocal and body language expressions: (laugh) (silence) (lighting a cigarette), etc. Three
points are used to reflect a short moment of silence, unfinished sentences and the starting of a new sentence or
the changing of a subject.
The interviews had a frame and thus a beginning and an end. Furthermore, they had a clear, yet flexible
structure: an opening, open questions and comments, and a closure.

THEOPENING:
I would like to start by telling you a little about myself. I am doing a Masters Degree in Educational
Science in Paris where I have been living for the past two years. Prior to that, I was active in various
associations and I was the General Director of Mahapach-Taghir. My research is a subject I have been
interested in for years now, especially with my activities with Mahapach and Zochrot [] the whole question
of changing awareness, starting off with my own story, and has been my work and occupation for some years
now.
In a clear, explicit, yet brief manner, I described the research they would be taking part in as follows:
I am researching the educational and learning processes of changing awareness Israeli social-political
activists go through. What does one learn? It is important for me to emphasize that my research is not of
psychological interest and does not intend to analyze the participants psychological condition. The research
will include an interdisciplinary analysis, yet will be mainly led by critical and feminist critical pedagogy. It is
narrative research, everything you have to say interests me and there is no right or wrong. If it suits your
calendar, I was hoping we could talk for about an hour and half or two. And please if you have any questions
dont hesitate to ask now or throughout the interview.
The presentation and the starting off of the interview aimed to create an agreed upon definition of the
interaction, in order for it to be coherent. At this point the actors and I created a joint contract for their
participation. I assured them that their names would not be included in the research but explained that their
stories and socio-political positions and performance would be presented. Introducing the interview did not
12

include presenting the research assumption according to which analysis of the anti-hegemonic process to AntiZionism was related to queer theories. It was important to allow the actors an unconditioned, as possible,
coming out task within the task of the interview.

OPENQUESTIONSANDCOMMENTS:
While understanding that to speak is to exist absolutely for others, giving an account of oneself, a
narrative account, is to make oneself known (Fanon, 2008). One gives an account of oneself to someone while
at the same time it is given to oneself, thus performing oneself to someone and to oneself (Butler, 2005, 2006;
Bakhtin, 1993; Goffman, 1990). The opening and opening dialogue were followed by inviting the actors to
tell me about themselves. The open questions in general and the opening question in particular, allowed the
participants to decide on the order and coherence of their story. In The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life
(1959), Goffman argues, that a person tries to control or guide the impression that others might make of
him/her whenever he or she comes into any kind of contact with others. The individual tries to correct the
context, and their own appearance or manner according to what that individual imagines that the other would
expect. When ones activity occurs in the presence of other persons, some aspects of the activity are
expressively accentuated and other aspects, which might discredit the fostered impression, are suppressed
(Goffman, 1990, p. 111).
When a word is spoken, all those who happen to be in perceptual range of the event, will have some sort
of participation status relative to it, it is the "participation framework" (ibis). Thus, during the interviews the
introduction of terms and definitions were done only by the actors. However once the actors had introduced a
word, I allowed myself to re-employ it. In particular, the word Zionism was not questioned or brought out
before the actors spoke about it themselves. However, once it was out, I allowed myself to more deeply
question the relation the actors had with the concept or word and/or to ask questions in an attempt to better
understand what the actors meant when they employed that word. Another example is the self-definition of the
actors. The actors were not asked to define their identity unless they brought this question up themselves.
Thus, for example, the ethnic position of the actors was only elaborated once the actors accounted it in their
own storytelling. The method, of using the actors own words to take the interviews further, was employed in
order to reinforce the notion of acceptance rather than judgment.

CLOSURE:
The closure of the interview involved closing comments and finally the question: would you like to add
or say anything else before we wrap-up? A closure and closing comments enabled the actors to look back at
what they had accounted, and allowed them to reflect on and self-asses their own account. In effect, the
closing comments prepared the actors for the end of the interview and encouraged them to account their last
thoughts and stories. At this point I accounted parts of my own story. In most cases I accounted parts of my
journey in relation to what had been accounted by the actors. My account was both an action of mutuality and
13

appreciation for allowing me into their life course journey, at the same time my way of demonstrating the
interest I found in their account. Furthermore, in many cases, accounting parts of my journey encouraged the
actors to open up even further!

MAPPINGACRITICALSTRUCTUREFORTHERESEARCH
As mentioned above, this research aims at facilitating the reader into a story I have authored. Therefore,
the chapters and contents are structured so as to create maximum coherence through dialogue with the main
characters. The critical objective of this research is to create a dialogue between grassroots praxis and
analytical knowledge, on one hand, and holistic and epistemological knowledge, on the other.
The dialogue praxis of academic writing which hooks has developed in her work, has been of great
inspiration to me during the writing of this research. Hooks (1994; 1999) invites us to write academic
literature in transgressive ways with the goal of enhancing dialogue: Words invite us to transgress - to move
beyond the world of the ordinary (1999, p.152).
The layout of this research is framed by its academic structure. It starts off with an introduction and ends
with a general discussion and conclusion. However, the internal structure attempts to transgress the
hegemonic order with an alternative construction. As a consequence I am naming the chapters following this
introduction: Prologue, Critical Reframing, Queering Zionism and Epilogue.
In the introduction, the choice to present my own story and self first, however briefly, is a necessary step
in authoring a piece of critical research since it gives the reader an insight into my own social political
position. As such, certain hegemonic assumptions the reader might hold of the author are challenged.
Furthermore, the introduction provides a clear presentation of the research question, problems and methods,
which in turn emphasizes the relevance of conducting the research.
Throughout the Prologue, the actors present themselves through their own accounted performance and
discourse. The goal of this chapter is to allow self-description rather than other definition, thus avoiding a
dynamic in which I would be defining the actors and instead allowing the reader to enter into their worlds
through their own words. Having said that, it is still important to remember that these presentations are my
own selections of what I found relevant to this research, thus these presentations are still, to a certain extent,
my interpretations of their words.
The Critical Reframing chapter aims at tackling the common sense knowledge in a theoretical
epistemological manner. When analyzing the changing awareness process of Israeli actors, one cannot
understand this process without acquiring a complex critical view of Israeli society in terms of its gender and
ethnic colonial oppressions. As such, throughout this chapter, I offer a critical regard of Israeli colonial society
which leads the reader towards a critical understanding of oriental post-colonial and feminist theories.
Secondly, I briefly present the literature and figures which influenced and inspired the analysis, discussions
14

and conclusions of this study. I highlight specifically questions related to consciousness of the oppressor,
changing awareness, critical educational processes, critical dialogue and finally the question of Coming out
of the closet.
The Queering Zionism and Epilogue chapters present, interpret and discuss the accounts of the
liberating processes towards critical thinking of the actors. The first invites the reader into the story of
Changing Awareness processes, mapping these in terms of stages which reveal significant turning points in
the actors accounts of their processes. The stages are: confrontation (with the truth), confusion, acquiring
knowledge and Coming-out (of the Zionist closet). The latter is the coda which returns the reader to the
present time of the actors at the moment of accounting their stories. This chapter represents the last, but not
the final, stage towards Anti-Zionism.
Finally, the Discussions and Conclusions chapter provides an overall analysis and discussion of the
research. It engages in a dialogue between the theories and the field which brought about the staged
transformative educational process. Furthermore, in this final chapter, questions, concerns and limitations will
be raised. The chapter concludes with some final thoughts concerning the implications of this research and
some recommendations, and outlines some important questions which this research raises.

15

FIRSTCHAPTER

PROLOGUE:THEACTORS
1.1 YARDENA
About myself um, my story is very complex (Laughs). First of all, I moved to the north because I had
been working for a high-tech company for 20 years as a budget supervisor, and while working there, I was
studying speech therapy at Lesley (college)...
I was frustrated with my job, and at a certain point I went through all kinds of emotional processes, I
went to India and the United- States, and during this period, I came to the conclusion to leave my job, leave
the place. Leave the place I was living in and move to a totally different place. At the time I was already
divorced
I started facilitating women empowerment workshops, here in Karmiel3, at the womens health center.
so I was facilitating workshops for women, and at a certain point, in 2002 or something like that, I realized
that I wanted to study Women and Gender studies. I did not even know what possibilities existed, I looked
into it, and I was thinking of studying in the US. Finally I found out that there is a program at the Bar Ilan
University, for gender studies, and I wanted to go for a PhD, and I started studying. During the second year
there was an optional course called um from feminist theory to feminist practice, that included a practicum.
I decided Im going to do a practicum, and started to look for all kinds of organizations I could act in
finally I got to Isha L'Isha4.
Wait! first, I should be telling you about the house I grew up in, my father was a terrible racist; against
Mizrachim, Arabs, I cant even describe it, he was a Beitarist5, when I was a child he used to sing to me, you
wouldnt believe it?! (sings) There are two banks to the Jordan river this one is ours and so is the other
(laughing). He used to quote Jabotinsky, there was a photo of him hanging on our wall, and um he passedaway when I was 30 and I found out that he made my mother swear that after he I mean, when he knew he
was dying, he knew that he was going to die, he made her swear that after he dies she will continue voting
Likud for the rest of her life, so my mother did it for 20 years, you wont believe it!?
In fact she voted Likud but she never really wanted to?!

A city located in the center of the country.

Isha LIsha, (in Hebrew means woman for woman) established in 1983, is the oldest grassroots feminist
organization in Israel and one of the leading voices for womens rights in the country.
http://www.isha.org.il/default.php?lng=3
5

The Betar Movement is a Revisionist Zionist youth movement founded in 1923 in Riga, Latvia, by Ze'ev
Jabotinsky. Revisionist Zionism is a nationalist faction within the Zionist movement. It is the founding ideology of the
non-religious right in Israel, and was the chief ideological competitor to the dominant socialist Labor Zionism
(represented primarily by the Maarach/Labor party). Revisionism is represented primarily by the Likud party.

16

Right, she did it because of her discipline (tone of voice goes higher), her silly discipline (laugh), so that
is my background. You have to understand, even though I thought I was really left wing, I voted Maarach6 for
many years, then later I voted Meretz7. I should say I nourished my leftism from my partner, he is a known
lefty. At first I resisted him, it seemed absolutely terrible to me."
why did you resist ? what did he say or do that made you resist ?
He said things like, he spoke about some professor of the Haifa University who said that the world
should boycott Israel and only then things would change, something like that.
Ilan Peppe?
Yes!! The moment he said that I felt, ah dont say that to me. At our previous apartment, an Arab
couple moved in next door, so at first um I didnt know how to deal with it (silence). Three years ago,
something like that, I didnt know how to accept it and um and some of our neighbors in the building were
very much against it. They heard that Arab neighbors are arriving, so they contacted the municipality of
Karmieln with a complaint; how is it possible that we are going to have Arab neighbors. We became really
friendly with them. Today they are like our soul mates.
ohh I forgot to tell you, and this morning I thought about it, I forgot to tell you that the actual fact that I
moved to Galilee created the initial difference, the initial shock, when you live in the center (of the country),
the moment you hear about Arabs you think villages, you dont know the reality, the moment I arrived in
the north, first of all I was dead scared. I remember someone taking me on a trip to one of the villages here, I
was sure I would be attacked and killed. I was simply full of fear. And when I spoke to my mother on the
phone she said: do me a favor, dont walk around in the Arab villages so I said mom, I am not walking
around (laugh ).
(Laughing)
Suddenly I found out that most of the lawyers, accountants, pharmacists and most of the doctors are
Arabs Anyway, I grew up with stereotypes, for sure, I grew up with stereotypes, in the process I went
through the first thing I needed to learn about my stereotyping of others ... and ahhh criticizing Zionism, that
was a very very big step.

1.2 ALON
I was born in Haifa in 1954. I grew up on the Carmel (mountain) in Haifa. A normal course of life, one
can call it the Israeli-Ashkenazi-Israeli life course. (I was born) to parents from Germany and after the army I
moved to Jerusalem in order to study and from there I moved to England to do my doctorate. In the 80s, and

Labor Party
Meretz, founded in 1992, is a Zionist left, social democratic political party.

17

somewhere between the Hebrew University and England, something in me changed. Until I moved to England
I was a part of the consensus, I would say. And I led a very conventional Israeli life: You are from a middle
class family, you go to school to finish your Bagrut8 for going in to the army, and then to the university. I
mean, there arent any exceptional aspirations when it comes down to it. something that might be
exceptional is that I was in the army in 73, which means, in the war. But I dont think that affected me in a
dramatic way, not that!
what were you doing (during the war)?
I was in the intelligence unit. I was on the Golan Heights when the war began, um I mean I saw things
that might have affected me later on, but that wasnt, that was not the formative event.
mmm
I dont know, I dont think there was a formative event.
what is leading a normal course of life?
A normal course of life means when you do what everybody else does. Thats leading a normal course of
life, in my opinion. I mean, everyone goes to school, and everyone wanted to go to the good school, which was
the Reali9. I mean, not any different than the paths of most of my friends, class mates. Then army, all of us
went through more or less the same path.
Ahh yeah, what might be a bit different was that I took Mizrahanut10 in high school. I mean, I already
had an interest in Arabic. I studied Arabic because I wanted to get in to Modiin11. So I learned Arabic in high
school already, yes! And a bit more emphasis on the history of Islam, the Mizrahanut course is a course that
gives you more knowledge about the middle east and the Arabs, but not about the Palestinians, gain more
knowledge about Islam, Classical Arabic, maybe a bit of general history of the middle east, for sure more than
the average, yes!?
In the army I was in Modiin where we listened to what the other side was saying um so you learn, I
learned Syrian, Syrian Arabic.
Naturally, I continued to history of the middle east in university. That was my first degree. History of
the Middle East was made up, and I think it is still the same, half Arab students and half Israelis who went to
Modiin. Very few people came to study that degree who were neither Arabs nor ex-intelligence solders.

Bagrut is the official Israeli high school matriculation.

The Hebrew Reali School of Haifa is one of the country's oldest private schools.

10

Orientalist studies.

11

The Intelligence unit in the Israeli army.

18

In high school we also had these two or three Arabs in the class. And that was uncommon in Haifa, but
there were. I am in touch with them to this day. Two yeah two sorry, not three, um but again, they spoke
Hebrew we didnt speak with them in Arabic. I think that I was already then friendlier than the rest, in that
respect (laugh) but ahhh
Were you in contact with them?
I had a social relationship with them. Which they didnt have, they told me later, I didnt remember that,
I didnt remember that, I dont know, maybe they were idealizing our past, They said that I, its true, that I
visited their homes and they visited mine and it seemed natural to me, and they told me that I was the only Jew
who visited their homes. So it seems that there was already something there, maybe also in the family that
didnt think that it was weird and that its ok. Now I understand that from their point of view it was out of the
ordinary, in an extraordinary way.

1.3 GAL
I was born here in Haifa. My family lived in Galilee and then we moved to Jaffa when I was 5, and I
think it has to do with my current political stand, the fact that I grew up in Jaffa even though it was only later
on in life. I was disconnected from the neighborhood and went to school in Tel-Aviv. I grew up in Ajami. I
didnt know anyone from the neighborhood. I regret that in a way, there was a time that I felt guilt feelings.
Guilt, of what?
For not integrating but not so much as a child. I had, not so political, but good relations. I think I was
not aware to Jaffas story, it existed but not the loss and then um I went through the regular path; went to the
army, I was pretty poisoned12 with will, mainly as a result of personal reasons. There was a kind of a family
thing everybody was in elite units in the army. I was in pilots course and then in a unit of the Air force and I
was sorry that it wasnt a more combat oriented unit, it was kind of in the middle. And thats it, I can say that
until the age of 33 I didnt have much of an interest in politics. It happened just at the point in time that I
broke up with my girlfriend and I went to visit my brother in Amsterdam with my dad, he went there when he
was 18
What I told you about Jaffa; I always wanted to fit in, wanted to meet the people, and also, like, your
neighbors are Arabs, its relatively natural. I didnt have friends my age, my friends were in Tel Aviv, or that I
had more of a connection with the Jewish families. So there was always something fundamental in me that,
lets say, was strong. The fact that I didnt fear the Arabs, people are scared, they are ignorant, incidentally
talking about the visits to the territories13.
Why do you think you didnt fear?

12

In military jargon Poisoned means extremely motivated for army service.

13

Territories refers to the occupied territories of 1967. In this sense it refers to the West Bank.

19

I think its because I grew up in a mixed neighborhood, I felt that my attitude with others (Palestinians)
was different, connecting with people was easier for me, and the connection was a kind of deep friendship
that, at Dir Balut it was a feeling of just hanging out here and there:see, thats how we can get along. You
have to come with the right attitude, right approach.
Why do you think you made friends and others didnt?
I think its really to do with age and a kind of personality []

1.4 SARA
I grew up in a large family, my dad emigrated from Bombay and my mother was born in Lebanon, they
came in the 50s. We spoke Hindi a lot at home, my mother learned Hindi, but she used to breathe Arabic, she
learned Hebrew, but Arabic was her language. I felt ashamed if she spoke Arabic with her sister in the street.
I would tell her not to speak Arabic in the street, I dont know where it came from but there was a lot of
shame.
where did you grow up?
In Lifta in an Arab house, I was born there. They put us there, they were Amidar14 houses, until we were
evicted from there, we lived in two separated rooms, a room for all the kids, the other half was a bedroom,
toilets it was all in one, we were pretty poor, not pretty, poor! Anyway, um, I lived there, and the place was a
symbol, a kind of first memory that has been a part of me for many years, the shame. It affected me at certain
points in life, but as a child I didnt analyze it as a result of oppression. When I was 8 I was at a Kibbutz15,
they said that I was a brilliant child, so I went to the kibbutz. I came from a Mizrahi neighborhood, and they
said that the academic level is higher in the Kibbutz, that I would be able to grow academically, in practice
they cut me off from my home for 3 years. The Kibbutz was 3 hours drive from Lifta.
When I was 16 I got married, and at 17 I already had my baby, I didnt want to go to the army, I didnt
want to be controlled and I didnt want to kill and I dont like weapons, but you see I didnt grow up in an
Ashkenzi home, I wasnt told if Arabs were good or bad. I didnt grow up in a house that educated for left
or right (politically), it was about peace, that it will be ok, Arabic idioms, Arab storytelling, of the rich and the
poor, from the stories we learned the values of modesty, not pride, happiness verses sadness, all kinds of
values that you learn in an indirect way I started my life alone, without education or recourses. I have
done 8 years of schooling, I started fighting my way through the world

14

Amidar is the national society for housing in Israel Ltd.

15

The Kibbutz is a socialist-Zionism communal settlement. The Kibbutz is mostly identified with the Zionist left
movements and was particularly settled by Ashkenazi settlers.

20

we had a very hard life, my son and I when my son was in first grade 6 or 7 years old, I went on
trial to see if I was a fit enough mother I fought it, not in a Frechit16 kind of way, in an inspiring
wayWhen it comes down to your identity every stage in life counts. I initiated the Idea to start the Kedma
school17. From that point everything started to roll ... I was a secretary and not an academic (at the school),
my son was out of special education, he was a brilliant child I took him out of the army.

1.5 MAYA
I grew up in Hulon18. Ah you mean to start talking about my history or?!?!
yes, tell me about yourself.
OK. When I was 17 I went to Yeruham19 in order to join the commune of the seniors (last year of high
school). After that I went to the army I have not started talking about changing awareness, Im first telling
you my short history
were you born in Hulon?
I was born in Jaffa but I grew up in Hulon.
mmm and your parents?
my parents came from Edan in south Yemen; my father at the age of 6 months old and my mother at the
age of 12.
oh they met here?
yes,yes ahhh thats it, I was in the army and I was a Mashakit Tash20, later on I arrived in Haifa, and
here was where the change began.
What brought you to Haifa?
ahh I was actually supposed to study social work in Jerusalem, but I went straight to Jerusalem before
the academic year started and I didnt like that city at all, there was tension there that was really hard for me,

16

Frehit is a hegemonic pejorative description of a woman who is vulgar and a bimbo. Freha in the Israeli
common sense mostly refers to Mizrahi woman.

17

The Kedma School model was developed by parents, educators, and activists as a unique social-pedagogical
framework for combating educational inequality. http://kedma-edu.org.il/main/siteNew/index.php?page=33

18

The city of Hulon is located in the center of the country.

19

Yeruham is a development town situated in the Negev desert; populated mostly by lower class citizens who are
mainly of Mizrahi origin. It is geographically and socially on the periphery of Israeli society. Yeruham has become a
symbol
of
cultural
and
social
alienation
within
the
Israeli
hegemonic
fabric.
http://www.ha-keshet.org.il/articles/feminisim /datiyut.htm
20

A military post mostly given to women. It is equivalent to a military social worker.

21

and I already got to know people in Haifa, ahh so it seemed like it was more for me, so I came to study social
work at Haifa university. And I stayed. And then, through the people here I started to get into politics.
I was very caring and concerned with social issues, my whole childhood and adolescence, And thats it, I
moved to Haifa and then I really stayed, and then I went to live and work in the Hadar21, I never wanted to
live on the Carmel, um during the first few years I lived in the German Colony neighborhood, at the time, I
mean, it was mostly Arab. First of all I abandoned Social Work, I kept it up for a while, I had a connection
with a youth hostel, I was already an instructor there, while I was studying, so I continued working there, I
left because it was really hard for me mentally and emotionally. Only in the last few years did I join Isha
LIsha even after I had known many women involved, I was literally forced in.
At home we spoke Hebrew, but my parents spoke Arabic when they didnt want us to understand
something, I didnt speak Arabic, I didnt really speak it, because it wasnt something that I thought about, it
was like I was an outsider to the whole Mizrachi story, as if I told myself that I was something else, a kind
of combination, and thats ok. But then when I went to Egypt I suddenly felt loose and relaxed feeling, like,
I dont know how to explain it, also when I visited places I didnt know, the fact that the whole space was
occupied by Arabs. I didnt understand at the time how much pressure I feel here. My father was more
Mizrachi, my mother was the one who, very strongly in the home, drew the western lines (laugh), but I
remember my father would, in order not to annoy my brother and I as teens, listen to his music in the car.
So at the time there were these tapes that you bought in the central bus station, you couldnt find
them in the stores, you had to go to the central bus station to buy them. I remember that when I arrived in
Yeruham, which also made a change in me, I mean I was still out of the story; its happening to all the
others, this whole story, not to me. On the way home to my parents I stopped at the central bus station and
bought my dad some tapes. It was like a way of saying; here I accept it (Laughing). And that is another,
another kind of understanding.

1.6 ANAT
I celebrated my 54th birthday, my history is pretty long my parents moved from Jaffa to Hulon, in
order to move from an Arab house to a housing complex in Hulon they didnt feel at home there. They got
an apartment in Hulon in a complex that was all policemen. We grew up in a lower-middle class
neighborhood, more or less the same around us. Childhood in Hulon the neighborhood, Katsanelson
primary school affected my life path very much, with a principal whose son is now my daughters principal,
who was the Labor movement type a school with values for work, Annu Banu22 I really felt those things,

21

The Hadar is a neighborhood on the Carmel Mountain slopes of Haifa, and is mostly populated by the original
Palestinian residents of Haifa and Jewish middle-low socio-economic class.

22

Anu Banu Artza, is a poem and song by Menashe Rabina, the meaning of the title is: We have come to the
land to build and be rebuilt by it.

22

I still have that tune in my head, the stories, the songs I felt a connection to the Zionist Israeli history
content. The academic level was very low, we didnt know it then, we got it in high school. I was a good
student and because I was good there, there was a crisis (in high school). There were subjects that I really
liked, we had a class on the history of the Labor movement, I really liked those stories. I felt a real connection,
as if I was there.
I enlisted into Nahal23 of the Noar Haoved24 kibbutz and all that, enlistment of 1973 a month later the
Kipur war breaks. Military training became training for war situation rooms and field meals, and my
brother was in the army and he was in Maoz and he was taken hostage by the Egyptians. They (the army)
were asked to let me go, because I was an instructor it was easier to say ok, I went to instruct in Borochov in
Givaatiim, I arrived there and there werent any men, I found myself leading a nest25. The injured arrived
interesting experience and then I went back to the Kibbutz.
I went to study at Oranim26, I was an active kibbutz member I returned to teach in the Kibbutz.
Interesting experience, and then the mistake; I was very young, 23 years old, I was asked to continue with
them, that was a mistake, a class that includes other Kibbutzs.
I heard that there was a course in the University of Beer Sheva, a facilitator course, and suddenly I
remembered that I actually wanted to study behavioral sciences there. It was said that the course would
accept Kibbutzies27 and Behavior sciences students in their second year. And then
I was sent to Mishlav28 in Jaffa. I was there for 3 years, to work with guys I was suddenly exposed to
Mizrahi music.
You were exposed to Mizrahi music?!
I heard it in the background but I didnt listen to it, I was in motionmy brother heard it but it wasnt
considered our music.

23

Nahal: Noar Halutzi Lohem, in English Fighting Pioneer Youth, an infantry brigade of the Israeli army.
Historically, it refers to a program that combines military service with the establishment of new agricultural settlements,

24

"Hanoar Haoved" in English The Working Youth, was first connected to the Histadrut (General Federation of
Laborers in the Land of Israel). It is the Israeli state's organization of trade unions, it became one of the most powerful
institutions of the State of Israel.

25

The movements center is called The Nest and the way referred to here was in the city of Givaatiin (near Tel
Aviv) which was named after Dov Ber Borochov one of the founders of the Labor Zionist movement.
26

The kibbutz movement founded Oranim in 1951, as a college to train high-quality childcare workers and

teachers.
27

People of the Kibbutz.

28

Professional school.

23

1.7 AKIVA
I lived the first 15 years of my life in Strasburg in France, in a Hassidic family. My father was the head
rabbi of the area, on one hand Hassidic, and on the other, and it is relevant, parents who lived under the
German occupation of France, my mother was a student in Paris which was very rare at the time. My father,
was in Maki the attitude towards the Occupation as such rather than Holocaust was nominate, Occupation
and Deportation. Two words that came up every day in the family discourse, and not in the way of
thats how that period was defined?
Yes, also my brothers and sisters confirm that, the attitude towards the occupation was strong in
building our identity and thats why we know about the opposite conclusions but anti-fascism and anti-racism
were very dominant in our upbringing. I once said the word nigger at the table and was slapped. At our table
words like that werent accepted, I was a trouble maker and it wasnt expected, being the son of the Rabbi. My
dad was always behind us, if we didnt cross the line, we were brought up liberally. in June 63 or 64, I dont
remember, my father came for a sabbatical year in Jerusalem, and we came with him, the whole family, I went
to the Yeshiva29 here and we all fell in love with Jerusalem, there are no words to describe it, it was perverse.
The taste of the Shtetel something Jewish and not Israeli, we hated Tel-Aviv, the Zionism subject wasnt
relevant, we werent brought up on that idea at all. Once when at Flag Raising at the scouts, we used to raise
the French and the Scouts flag and someone suggested to raise the Israeli flag and we didnt know what he
was talking about.

29

Talmudical Academy, Rabbinical Academy or Rabbinical School.

24

2 SECONDCHAPTER

ACRITICALREFRAMING
CHALLENGINGCONVENTIONALWISDOM
A 'frame of reference' is a complex schema of unquestioned beliefs, values and wisdom, which one uses
when inferring meaning. If any part of that frame is changed thus a 'reframing' process has taken place, then
the inferred meaning may change. Ones interpretations are influenced by the expectations of the world,
developed throughout life in terms of previous experience and the language that is available for describing
that experience. Framing is an act rather than a stable given. One makes sense of the surrounding world by
taking a limited number of facts and inferring or assuming other details in order to be able to make sense of
things.
The conceptual frames that we use to frame our world tend to be so naturalized that they become
invisible. This quasi invisibility is true of all frames, both metaphorical and material. Furthermore these
invisible frames are constructed by visual frames to the extent that they define the humanity of individuals and
collectives.
At the same time as considering the frame, or 'lens' through which the Israeli-Zionist reality is being
created and trying to understanding the unspoken assumptions, including beliefs and schemas that are being
used to interpret it, in this chapter I will also, through a critical reframing, consider alternative lenses,
effectively looking at the reality from another angle.

2.1 SOCIALPOLITICALCONTEXT
2.1.1

ISRAELIHEGEMONY

The question of political context in educational processes involves the hegemonic perception which
regards the social sphere as a constant field of conflict between numerous powers. In modern history, the
historical-political individual is not a biological but a social group character (Gramschi, 2004; Friere, 2000;
Filc 2006).
One of the most important concepts developed by Gramsci (ibis) and widely used by critical thinkers and
philosophers around the world is his elaboration of the Leninist concept of Hegemony (Egemonia) and
common sense. Hegemony is the political characteristic of present time societies (ibis; Laclau&Mouffe, 1992;
Filc, 2006). A project becomes hegemonic when its consumptions, actions, way of functioning in organizing
reality, and understanding penetrates all aspects of society, from the formal and structural to the private,
influencing morals, leadership, religion and culture, penetrating to the level of common sense where beliefs
becomes natural (Williams, 1960).

25

In this paper I will demonstrate how Zionism, within Israeli hegemonic common sense, is taken as a
natural fact and thus not questioned by Israelis unless they are going through a critical transformative process.
The control is maintained not only through violence and political and economic coercion, but also through a
hegemonic ideology, which has become the 'common sense' values of everyone. This helps maintain the status
quo and prevents revolt against it (Gramsci, 2004). Cultural hegemony is a socialization tool which serves the
capitalist state. Hegemony is characterized by almost automatic collaboration with the ruling power, hence the
establishment, and the general consensuses. Hegemony is a moment in which the philosophy and practice of a
society fuse or are in equilibrium, an order in which a certain way of life and thought dominates through
social, political, religious, and cultural means (ibis; Williams, 1960; Friere, 2000).
To be Zionist, Chaim Weizmann comments in 1909, it was not necessary, in the first place, to be
convinced that the idea could be carried out (in Rose, 2005, p.16). It was Weizmann who, during a Zionist
meeting in Paris in April 1914, formulated Zionism on the twin issues of land and people. [] there is a
country which happens to be called Palestine, a country without people, and on the other hand, there exists the
Jewish people, and it has no country [] (in Abu-Lughud, 2001). Unlike Weizmann, Theodor Herzl30, in
1897, did not deny the population of Palestine. However, he viewed the coming of the Jewish European
settlers to Palestine in the same way that European colonialism was viewed, as benefiting the Afro-Asian
people it had colonized. When finally acknowledged by the Zionists, the Palestinians were referred to as
Arabs. This served two purposes. On one hand, the Orientalist regard related the Palestinians to the other
Arab countries that were looked at as inferior in the eyes of the western colonizers. On the other hand, the
term branded them as nomadic and Bedouin, thus denying any kind of collective or personal ownership of the
land or country or Palestine (ibis).
Today one can find several intellectuals who have chosen to tackle the hegemonic knowledge. Knowledge
which is considered to be the Truth could also be defined as hegemonic knowledge. The role of the
intellectual is to challenge this hegemonic knowledge from a critical point of view. Furthermore being an
intellectual is not a unique quality that only a minority hold but rather a social role and responsibility. Hence
all human beings are intellectual but not all fulfill this role (Gramsci, 2004). Saids (1994) definition of the
intellectual is: the one who stands for the truth in front of the ones holding power, the intellectual is the one
who is ready to criticize and capable of criticizing any power in the world. Foucault (1980) criticized the role
of the intellectual as the one who is the truth teller and suggested understanding this role in terms of being
the one who exposes the way the power/truth system functions. These three definitions of the intellectual role
take a leading place in the following theoretical revue.
Rose (2005) based her analysis on the understanding that Zionism is one of the most potent collective
movements of the twentieth century, whose influence urgently needs to be understood. It has the capacity to

30

Theodor Herzl was the formulator of political Zionism.

26

foster identifications that are immutable as, indeed, the ineffable Name. As a movement, Zionism has the
power, that is, to sacralize itself (ibis, p.15).This movement led in 1948 to the creation of the state of Israel in
Palestine. While the Israeli narrative refers to this event as The war of Independence the Palestinian
narrative refers to it as The Nakba, which in Arabic means catastrophe: the Nakba refers to the ethnic
cleansing and destruction of Palestine (Said, 1979; Pappe, 2006).
Saids Orientalism (1979) argued that the passion with and of the Orient is the perseverance in seeing
modern relations between the west and the east as colonial in the so-called postcolonial period. He suggests
that, on one hand, the Orient thus the east is no longer only the Far East but also includes the Middle-East
and that the west is no longer only Europe but also includes the United States. In his book he argues that the
Zionist state in Palestine is a colonial project of the old, and later, the new west. Orientalism identifies the
orient as the other. By distinguishing oneself, from that same other, the Orientalist constructs his/her
western identity. Orientalism perceives the orient, contrary to the west, as exotic yet primitive, violent,
emotional, dirty etc. Rabbi Kook31 declared that: all the civilizations of the world will be renewed by the
renascence of our spirit. All religions will don new precious raiments, casting off whatever is soiled,
abominable, unclean (ibis, p. 24). This Zionist messianic declaration goes hand in hand with Memmis
definition of colonization and provides a portrait of the colonizer. The colonizer will always believe that the
western colony has brought development and modernity not only to the colonized but to the whole world.
Hence, one outcome will be that the colony will eventually benefit and develop humanity as a whole.
Colonialism, Memmi (1966) argues, is "one variety of fascism" which is based on economic privilege, despite
the suggestion of more noble goals of religious conversion or civilization. Furthermore, he elaborates that
racism is embedded in every colonial institution, which establishes the "sub-humanity" of the colonized,
nurturing inferiority self-concepts for the colonized.
The colonizer and the colony must by definition suppress any uprising or resistance, which could threaten
its existence. Hence the colonizer is prepared to use terror and violent measures in order to keep power.
Keeping constant control yet preventing any assimilation of the colonized group into the group of European
settlers, through cultural domination the colonizers manage to divide and rule the colonized. Through the
creation of a Francophile group the colonizer inserts a self-controlling internal system. This group has a
slightly higher status and a few privileges. Malcom X32 defined this group as the house Negro contrary to the
field Negro. This group of white masks will tend to protect the colonizer and colonial interests more than
his/her own personal and communal interests (Fanon, 1990). Thus the concept of the other for the
Francophile will be the colonized rather than the other colonizers. However, the colonizer will never allow
real assimilation and the Francophiles will always stay colonized in the eyes of the colonizer. They will never
be able to change their skin.

31

Harav Kook, The War from Orot (1942), in Hertzberg, the Zionist idea, pg. 423.

32

Malcolm X - Field Negro vs House Negro http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zUIjP4KWok

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The thesis according to which Zionism is a colonial venture is usually discussed in connection with the
conquest of the land or the conquest of labor within the boundaries of Palestine (Shenhave, 2006).
However when looking at classic colonialism, one could observe an extra axe in the definition of the Other
in opposition to the colonizer (Fanon, 2002; ibis). This otherness is most commonly evoked by binary
categories of race, body, or color. Black/Mizrahi feminist discourse argues that the fourth category of gender
also plays a highly relevant role (Collins, 2001; Helms.1990; Mutzfi-Haller, 2001; Nagar-Ron, 2007). The
notion of otherness was first applied to the Palestinians, by the Ashkenazi Zionist hegemony. However, later
with the construction of the Israeli state, it was also employed when referring to the Mizrahi33 Jews. The use
of such generalizing sociological categories is the result of a dialectical game with the categories that
Ashkenazi hegemonic Zionism itself has identified and manufactured over the years (Shenhav, 2006). Shohat
(1988) argues that in order to fully understand the fabrication on which Israeli consciousness is based, it must
be examined from the perspective of Orientalism (Said, 1979). She examined and researched early Zionist
propaganda films in which she found that the Ashkenazi pioneers embodied the humanitarian and liberationist
project of Zionism. They carried with them the same banner of a universal, civilizing mission that
European powers propagated during their surge into the underdeveloped world (ibis; Yosef, 2004; NagarRon, 2007). Shenhav and others (2006, 1988, 2006; Chitrit, 1999; Neger-Ron, 2007) have argued that the
creation of the Zionist Subject, and thus a Zionist identity for an individual, group or community must be
understood as encompassing a power dynamic. Within the Zionist project, the Ashkenazi Zionist Subject and
the Mizrahi Zionist Subject are necessarily different constructions. Zionism must be conceptualized as an
ideological practice that was originally anchored in a triangle of three components. These are: nationalism,
religion and ethnicity. For the Arab Jews (Mizrahim), the relation between power and knowledge states that
power/knowledge appear as one seemingly inseparable unit, Shenhave concludes that nationalism, religion
and ethnicity are not only related in Zionist thought, but they are almost interchangeable or even intertwined
(Foucault, 1986 in Shenhav, 2006). Thus each of these categories is needed for the construction of the Subject
and thought but each of them is insufficient outside the whole. In her critiques of the Orientalist thus
prejudicial Eurocentric Ashkenazi Zionist view of Mizrahi and Palestinians, Ella Shohat argues that this view
of the East as aberrant, underdeveloped, and inferior, exists in order to constitute the Occidental self as
rational, modern, and superior, as well as to justify the West's privileges and aggressions (in Yosef, 2004). To
this day the norms of Israeli social common sense involve being western, or modern. These social
expectations come from the dominant Ashkenazi Zionist hegemony (Shenhav, 2006; Yosef, 2004; Said,
1979). Chetrit (1999) defines the struggle within Israeli society by connecting it to the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict and power dynamic. He explains how the Zionist-Ashkenazi movement together with Israel in its

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The category of Arab Jews or Mizrahim, represents Jews of Arab countries as a whole. Mizrah in Hebrew
means Orient, therefore being Mizrahi in the Israeli common sense, refers to Jews from eastern countries rather than
Jews from European countries. The category Ashkenazim represents the Jews who come from European and AngloSaxon countries.

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European-Christian orientation denied both Arabness and the Mizrahi identity. Being Arab or Mizrahi
equaled being negative. Thus to be accepted by the powerful side of society, Arabness had to be erased and
replaced by the appropriation of the Ashkenazi social common sense. The reputation of Arabness in the
common sense view of the Israeli-Zionist public compelled the Mizrahim to cooperate with Israeli
modernization and the de-Arabization project. Their subjectivity was subordinated to Israeli collective
memory and its European metanarrative. In other words the Mizrahi memory was at best denied and locked
into Zionist national memory (Shenhav, 2006).
Oriental feminist discourse, inspired by African-American thus Black feminism, asks for the abandonment
of universal, liberal, white feminism. It claims that as a result of their life story which includes exclusion,
suppression and social and cultural transparency, Arab/Mizrahi women in Israeli society have a different
agenda from that of white/Ashkenazi women. The Mizrahi feminist agenda claims that neither the ethnic nor
the feminist discourses concern the White/Ashkenazi women. The Oriental Woman, on political and
academic levels, is referred to as the ultimate other. Furthermore, Israeli feminist discourse, which claims to
speak in the name of all Israeli women, is lead by Jewish-Ashkenazi women whose agenda and discourse does
not relate to the other women; Jewish Arab, Mizrahi and Palestinian (Dahan-Kalev, 1999; Shiran, 2007;
Mutz Phi Heler, 2006; Shohat, 2001; Nagar-Ron, 2007).
This challenge of Black/Arab and other non-white feminist calls to expand the Zionist conceptualization
to include a fourth component, gender, based on Black American feminist theories. Sexism as a system of
domination is institutionalized, but it has never determined in an absolute way the fate of all women in this
society (hooks, 2000, p.5). As with the other forms of social oppression mentioned above, sexism is
perpetuated by the dominating group via institutional and social structures. Continuing on the same line,
lesbian feminists call attention to heterosexual oppression as part of the gender analysis of social oppression.
They call for critical observation of the heterosexual hegemony although they dont attack its practice. The
radical feminism corresponds with the use of the term oppression (Delphy, 1984). Delphy argues that in the
commons sense, thus the ruling ideology, one speaks about the feminine condition and not about oppression
since this would suggest choice, analysis and a situation that is political. Insisting on social political analysis
rather than a dogmatic definition is a way of resisting the oppressing hegemonic powers. When a theory
transforms into an ideology, it begins to destroy the self and self-knowledge (Susam Griffin in hooks, 2000,
p.10). Thus radical feminist thinkers insist on the fact that feminist theory is a theory in the making. Thus it
involves ongoing critical dialogue, question asking pedagogy and constant self-reflection and criticism. In this
way, feminism in its radical form of course, has the power to transform peoples lives in a meaningful manner.
Thus it is not a life style or a role one steps into. It is the struggle to end sexist oppression (ibis).
The mechanism of war and militarization in Israeli society creates socialization processes in which young
men and women develop masculine visions which are expressed in terms of military concepts of superiority
and power (Gor-Ziv, 2005). It is one of the main mechanisms employed to maintain existing hierarchies in
29

which certain groups are ruled by others. On a day-to-day level, one walks by military bases situated in the
heart of the big cities without a second thought. Furthermore, the military phenomenon in Israeli society is
characterized by the large military presence such as a high military presence on the streets, former military
occupying high political positions and political decisions leaning on military consultants. Consequently,
cultural products are filled with military representations and subjects. These representations have a clear
gender division which glorifies the warrior man while expecting of women to perform as the symbol of
home that the man is fighting for (Minitz, 1990, Gor-Ziv, 2005). Performing the normative Israeli national
subject requires identification with the Zionist fantasm of sexuality, an identification that takes place through
rejecting the threatening spectacle of feminine maleness. Zionist phallic masculinity is constituted through
the force of exclusion of the queer, the (homo)eroticized Mizrahi and the Palestinian male others, a
repudiation without which the national subject cannot emerge (Yosef, 2004).
2.1.2

ANTIZIONISM

Inside Israel, anti-Zionism has a very specific meaning, it refers to those who see the project in Palestine
as colonialist from the start, criticizing the Zionist left for their narrow analysis of the conflict as being
something which started with the occupation of the territories in 1967 (Rose, 2005). Anti-Zionism criticizes
liberal Ashkenazi left discourse and consciousness and its use of the term the Occupation only in reference
to the occupation of 1967. In addition it criticizes the economical profits this Moderate Left movement has
gained from Palestinian land and properties confiscated since 1948 (Shenhav, 2010).
Anti-Zionism concentrates on Jewish rights in the Middle East rather than on Jewish National identity34.
Particularly when Palestinian rights are constantly and systematically violated, the acknowledgment of
Palestinian rights should be thought of whilst considering Jewish ones as well with the aim of creating a binational democratic discourse. This discourse challenges the ambivalent contradictory definition of the Israeli
state as being both Democratic and Jewish at the same time (Raz Krakotzki, 2007).
Anti-Zionism can be understood as part of Memmis (1966) definition of The colonizer who refuses, as
being the one who recognizes the colonial system as unjust, is aware of his/her illegitimate privilege, and may
withdraw from the conditions of privilege or remain to fight for change. The Zionist would be, according to
this definition, the colonizer who accepts his/her role as superior. The accounting of oneself, deconstructing
colonial performance, involves a social perversion of the Israeli common sense. Deconstructing, thus
queering, Zionism involves challenging the Zionist new Jewish masculinity notion which became the model
for the Ashkenazi militarized masculine Israeli (Yosef, 2004).

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www.arab48.com/mahsom/article.

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2.2 THECONSCIOUSNESSOFTHEOPPRESSOR
Critical pedagogy and The Pedagogy of the Oppressed in particular mainly focus on the consciousness
construction process and the liberation process of the oppressed (Friere, 2000). However Freire and hooks
have largely described the consciousness construction and liberation process of the oppressor as well (Freire,
1970, 1973, 1998; hooks, 2003, 1984, 1994, 2010).
Freire (1973) explains that one of the characteristics of the oppressors consciousness and its necrophilic
view of the world is Sadism, using Erich Fromms definition: the pleasure in complete domination over
another person (or other animate creature) is the very essence of the sadistic drive, another way of formulating
the same thought is to say that the aim of sadism is to transform a man into a thing, something animate into
something inanimate, since by complete and absolute control, the living loses one essential quality of lifeFreedom (Erich Fromm,1966 The heart of Man in Freire, 1973, p.32). According to Freire, sadistic love is a
perverted love thus it is love for death.
For the oppressors, the term human beings refers only to themselves; other people are things. For the
oppressors only one right exists: their right to live in peace. This right predominates over the, not always even
recognized but simply conceded, right of the oppressed to survival. The oppressors consciousness tends to
transform everything surrounding it into an object of its domination. In her book, Frames of War (2009),
Butler argues that if the subject is not seen in the frame, the images are not haunting. Without a sense of
haunting, there is no sense of loss. These individuals are not seen as grievable as they are outside the frame of
what the viewer considers to be human.
Hence in the name of the preservation of culture and knowledge we have a system which achieves
neither true knowledge nor true culture (ibis, p. 80). Sedgwick in Epistemology of the Closet (2000) evokes
the necessity of challenging the notion of ignorance in the same way that knowledge is challenged.
Knowledge is not in itself power, she writes, yet it is a magnetic field of power. The dominating group does
not necessarily rule with knowledge but with ignorance (ibis). It is ignorance of real knowledge, replaced by a
knowledge that does not evoke the truth, in other words, the hegemonic knowledge.
The hegemonic group in the American social sphere is characterized by being white, heterosexual and
upholding masculine supremacy. Within the white supremacy, the non-critical white person sees his/her
whiteness as an accident of circumstances rather than a choice (hooks, 1984; 2003). Helms (1990), claims
that being white, in the USA, means being part of the ruling dominating group. As such, white people enjoy
the privilege of the majority group, even if they dont wish to do so. Furthermore, white people dont
acknowledge their identity as white. Only in contact with others (blacks) does the subject potentially come
onto the agenda. Memmi (1966) relates to the relations of white supremacy in its colonial context. White
consciousness according to him is the privilege of the colonizer, who is any European in a colony, and has
three main characteristics: profit, privilege, and usurpation. Europeans living in colonies often consider
31

themselves to be in exile, while in fact the colonizer is not forced out of his mother country yet able to live a
more comfortable life in the colony. In the colony, the colonizer has superior status and his standard of living
is far above what it would be in Europe. The self-image of the colonialist plays a considerable role in the
emergence of his final portrait (ibis).

2.3 CRITICALEDUCATIONALPROCESS
2.3.1

THEPEDAGOGYOFTHEOPPRESSED

The epistemological stand point of critical pedagogy does not separate the learning process from the
experience of the apprentice. Critical education emerges out of life experience, frames and historical context
and is directed to create change from within. In The Pedagogy of Hope (1970), Freire asks to bind praxis, a
political action directed towards changing reality, and educational process which intertwines educational
liberation with socio-economic political ones. One cannot only stay in ideological criticism, one has to explore
and experience through transformative praxis. Critical pedagogy sees all learning processes in their political
context. A true educational process is a liberating one, thus the person or group become active subjects that
have developed a critical consciousness in reference to the reality surrounding them (Shor&Freire, 1987;
Hasbrook, 2002; Freire, 1989; hooks, 1994, 2003). Education as the practice of freedom - as opposed to
education as the practice of domination - denies that man is abstract, isolated, independent, and unattached to
the world; it also denies that the world exists as a reality apart from people (Freire, 1973, p.81). Liberation
is a praxis: the action and reflection of men and women upon their world in order to transform it (Ibis, p.79).
In The Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970), Freire refers to the liberation process which the oppressed and
the oppressor should go through in order to become active Subjects of the/their history. He thus relates being
conscious and active, on both the rational and emotional levels, to the power dynamics of history and its
implications on the group one is part of. As discussed above, the consciousness of the oppressed and the
oppressors is differently constructed. However, they could be part of the same struggle if they are analyzing
the reality around them correctly. Critical pedagogy, feminist critical pedagogy and the pedagogy of love are
all based on the notion of consciousness raising through action, with praxis and the praxis of love (Freire,
1997; hooks, 2003; Shor, 1987; Weksler, 2005).
Freire (1970, 1973) elaborated a process involving three consecutive phases which the oppressed go
through during their transformative process to critical awareness and thus to becoming subjects of their history
rather than objects of oppression. The Mystic phase: the oppressing reality and surroundings that the subjects
are experiencing are analyzed as deterministic and are seen through the lens of non-rational beliefs. The
consciousness is that of an individual person who has no power to change or influence. Furthermore, the
reality is understood as static and thus non-dynamic and impossible to change. In the eyes of the subject, at
this point the only powers which could make a change would be external super powers. At this phase, the
person is an object of the history rather than an active subject. The Nave phase follows. This is a middle
32

phase during which the person starts analyzing and interpreting in an independent way, thus becoming a
subject with the ability to change the surrounding environment. Having said that, the person does not believe
that he/she could do it alone. Change is viewed as dependent on external powers. Not mystical power this time
but people of knowledge for the person does not believe in their own knowledge as being power. Most
importantly, throughout this phase, the individual does not see the oppression as a global one and cant
necessarily understand his/her own oppression as associated with the oppression of the others. Rather the
oppression is viewed as being a personal one. Hence, the individual cannot criticize the hegemonic structures
of the social elite in a conscious way, and cannot be in solidarity with the other oppressed. At The Critical
Consciousness phase the individual interprets, criticizes and eventually changes the surrounding reality. At
this point the individual acts as a dynamic subject, creating history in a constant dialectic aiming for change.
In this phase one is able to generalize in relation to the hegemonic structures and in terms of the various forms
of oppressions. Here is where the person can be in solidarity with the others surrounding him/her and has the
tools to carry out self-reflections through the criticism of the others. He or she can activate his/her ability to
observe the reality yet analyze it from a critical point of view. And finally the individual becomes capable of
acting in order to change, even if the change is not immediate or promised (Freire, 1973; Gramschi, 1968;
Weksler, 2005). These critical consciousness phases to the liberation of the oppressed are neither peaceful
nor easy actions.
2.3.2

LIBERATINGTHEOPPRESSOR

At the same time the critical pedagogy tackles the difficult task of liberation which the oppressor has to go
through. Discovering himself to be an oppressor may cause considerable anguish (ibis, p.49), the
accumulation of facts that do not go hand in hand with existing assumptions could lead to an internal crisis
and bring to changing of awareness. [] but it does not necessarily lead to solidarity with the oppressed.
[] Solidarity requires that one enters into the situation of those with whom one is solidary; it is a radical
posture (ibis, p. 49). The oppressor is solidary with the oppressed only when he/she stops regarding the
oppressed as an abstract category and sees them as persons who have been unjustly dealt with, deprived of
their voice, cheated in the sales of their labor. On the other hand, radicalization could occur when liberation is
not done correctly, for example when the colonizer does not go through a critical educational process of
liberation. The more the image of the colonizer is reflected on, the more the colonizer cannot stand the profile
of him or herself which is revealed. Yet instead of assuming the political role and privilege, hatred toward the
oppressed occurs and the circle of dominating violence grows. This was defined by Memmi with the term
Nero Complex (Memmi, 1966).
Like Friere (1970, 1973), hooks (2004) underlines the pain involved in giving up old ways of thinking and
knowing and learning new approaches. The pedagogical assumption is that individuals of the hegemonic
group know little about the oppressed groups while the oppressed are much more knowledgably aware of their
own oppressors since the oppressors represent the Norm and the Common sense(Collins, 2000; hooks,
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1994). These individuals of the supremacy group are required to embrace, in the Freire and hooks sense of the
word, empathy and solidarity with the oppressed. They have to develop the ability to listen and especially to
embark on detailed self-reflection on their own role and place in society. For the hegemonic group, raising
awareness of the power dynamic could create an uncomfortable dissonance. This could bring about profound
change and further moves towards transformation and transgression. The liberation process of the oppressor is
possible only when the dehumanization thought and praxis is understood as a concrete historical fact, rather
than as a given destiny and the result of an unjust order. The social common sense is preserved in oppressing
banking schooling which can be challenged through a critical dialogue not only with children but with adults
as well. Critical education understands that learning processes happen not only within the formal education
system but also on a day-to-day basis in various situations of human contact and exchange. (Friere, 2000,
1970, 1973)
Helms (1990) proposed two different developmental models of Ethnic identity development among whites
and Blacks. She argues that Blacks and whites undergo different personal, social and political dynamics and
thus should be regarded differently. Her phased model is based on the assumption that ones ethnic identity is
on one hand influenced by interaction with his/her surroundings and on the other by interaction with his/her
other. In Helms six phased consecutive process she suggests that whites could either reach the third phase or
complete the process to the sixth phase of critical consciousness of their ethnic identity. The first stage is
preliminary contact with Blacks. This stage is characterized by nave and universal views which dont include
white identity but include curiosity concerning the other, the Black. Throughout the second stage the whites
are aware of the two racial groups. However they are confused between their self-belief in their own
egalitarianism and their difficulty in seeing their Black others as their equals. At the third stage the whites try
to resolve the dissonance they have found themselves in. They start to analyze the two ethnic identities in
terms of White-Superior, Black- Inferior. For the ones who go further to the fourth stage, the question of
superiority and inferiority is looked at again with much more critical eyes and there is a first acknowledgment
of racism followed by individual responsibility taking. At this stage the whites dont have a negative selfidentity however a positive one has not yet been constructed. The fifth stage is a euphoric phase of white
identity in which the individuals would want to act in order to change other whites in their surroundings. In
the sixth and final stage a positive white identity has been constructed followed by internalization and
actualization of the new white identity (Helms, 1990; Halabi, 2004).
The liberation process to radical consciousness requires critical awareness of oppression through praxis
of struggle. Becoming subjects rather than objects of the liberating process implies that the process cannot
take place only during the task of unveiling the reality and thus coming to know it critically. It must also take
place in the task of re-creating that same knowledge. The raison dtre of libertarian education, lies in its
drive towards reconciliation. In problem-posing education, people develop their power to critically perceive
the way they exist in the world within which they find themselves (Freire, 1970). Problem posing education
34

bases itself on creativity and stimulates true reflection and action upon reality, thereby responding to the
vocation of persons as beings, who are authentic only when engaged in inquiry and creative transformation.
Education is about healing and wholeness. It is about empowerment, liberation, transcendence, about
renewing the vitality of life. It is about finding and claiming ourselves and our place in the world (hooks,
2003, p.43).

2.4 DIALOGUE
Within Critical and Feminist Critical Pedagogy dialogue is an important praxis for liberating education.
Furthermore questioning power, as the context of the subjects in dialogue, is essential for going through a
critical awareness process. However, dialogue can occur, (Friere, 1973; Shor&Freire, 1987; ZalmansonLevi35), only in situations where both sides want to name the world, critically looking at the reality not
denying the others their right to speak their word. In this sense dialogue refers not only to adult-child relations
but to complex relations of power in general and to the oppressed-oppressor dynamic in particular. Dialogue
cannot occur in relations of domination and requires love: Love is at the same time the foundation of
dialogue and dialogue itself (Friere, 2000, p.89), The only effective instrument is a humanizing pedagogy in
which the revolutionary leadership establishes a permanent relationship of dialogue with the oppressed (ibis,
p.68). Dialogue encourages a dynamic human inquiry into the world.
Critical education and feminist critical education highlight the importance of invention and re-invention of
thought. This restless, impatient process is a liberating quest for hope (hooks, 1994, 2000, 2003; Freire, 1970,
1973, 1998). Hooks not only theorizes praxis of dialogue, she practices them in her classrooms and in her
writings. Her unique way of presenting her knowledge in direct communication with students and with her
readers is based on dialogue. In her book Teaching to Transgress while seeking to elaborate her thoughts
relating her work to Freires work, she enters into self-dialogue. Her dialogue is between Gloria Watkings, her
given name, and bell hooks, her writing voice as she describes it. This dialogue allows her readers to enter
into her self-reflections and critical thinking while dialoging with her two voices at the same time. Hooks
believes the notion of single norm of thought and experience which one was encouraged to believe was
universal has to be challenged through ongoing dialogue (1994). While working on processes of critical
consciousness between oppressed and oppressors, hooks reveals the importance of self-dialogue in order to
tackle ones own consciousness level. This is a personal yet collective work. The hegemonic universalism is
tackled in her classroom by encouraging critical dialogue between White and Black women and men.
In the light of The Pedagogy of Hope (Friere, 1973), hooks (2003) argues that the critical awareness
process of individuals of the supremacy group is possible and essential: If white folks can never be free of
white-supremacist thought and action, then black/colored folks can never be free. (p.57). Therefore white and

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http://www.criticalpedagogy.org.il

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Black women must dialogue their power relations. However white women (i.e) should also self-reflect and
dialogue their power relation and work to critical thinking.

2.5 COMINGOUTANDITSTRANSFORMATIVEPOTENTIAL
This sub-chapter does not aim to introduce a theoretical comparison between coming out of the
heterosexual and the Zionist closet rather it aims to critically challenge the critical pedagogy of this paper with
a queer-gendered discourse. The queer theory which has questioned the seemingly natural status of
epistemological assumptions of sex has not been fully responsive to questions of race, ethnicity, and
nationalism (Yosef, 2004). In Gender Trouble (2006), Butler asks to deconstruct the biologic common sense
understanding of gender. Butler separates the immediate connection between gender and sex, consequently
arguing that gender is culturally constructed and is not a causal result of sex. Deconstructing gender according
to Butler (ibis) challenges the determinism of gender and thus hegemonic cultural destiny.
In Epistemology of the Closet (2008) Kosofsky-Sedgwick, argues that the closet is a secrecy condition
one is in. The coming out process is a constant task one has to do in front of the heterosexual hegemonic
world and is an ongoing confrontation with the heterosexual or heterogeneous urbanized society. One can
come out as gay, however one can also come out as a Jew or a Gypsy or a Black person. Furthermore she
argues that the coming out is a constant state one is confronted with. Being deliberately in the closet (ibis,
p.67) is part of homosexual interaction with the heterosexual hegemony. Even the most openly gay choose to
stay in the closet at times for personal, economical or institutional reasons. There is a constant need to be in
or out in front of the hegemonic common sense (ibis). Coming out involves questioning every single thing
one has ever thought, loved or believed in. The lie, the perfect lie, about people we know, about the relations
we have had with them, about our motive for some action, formulated in totally different terms, the lie as to
what we are, whom we love, what we feel with regard to people who love us that lie is one of the few things
in the world that can open windows for us on to what is new and unknown, that can awaken in us sleeping
senses for the contemplation of universes that otherwise we should never have known (Proust, The Captive in
Kosofsky-Sedgwick p. 67).
Cass (1979) proposed a model elaborating the psychological crystallization of sexual identity. Her results
were one outcome of a long term study she conducted within a group of gay and lesbian individuals. This
model outlines stages through which an individual passes (Cass, 1979; Shilo, 2007). Cass (ibis) proposes that
individuals go through six non-age-specific stages: (1) Identity confusion: This stage begins with the person's
first awareness of gay or lesbian thoughts, feelings, and attractions. The person typically feels confused and
experiences turmoil. (2) Identity comparison: In this stage, the person accepts the possibility of being gay or
lesbian and examines the wider implications of that tentative commitment. Self-alienation becomes isolation.
(3) Identity tolerance: The person acknowledges that he or she is likely to be gay or lesbian and seeks out
other gay and lesbian people to combat feelings of isolation leading to increased commitment to being lesbian
36

or gay. (4) Identity acceptance: The person attaches a positive connotation to his or her gay or lesbian identity
and accepts rather than tolerates it. There is continuing and increased contact with the gay and lesbian culture.
(5) Identity pride: The person divides the world into heterosexuals and homosexuals, and is immersed in gay
and lesbian culture while minimizing contact with heterosexuals. The person develops an us-them quality to
their political/social viewpoint. (6) Identity synthesis: The person integrates his or her sexual identity with all
other aspects of self, and sexual orientation becomes only one aspect of self rather than the entire identity.

37

THIRDCHAPTER

QUEERINGZIONISM
CHANGINGAWARENESSPROCESS
"When the truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie."
Yevgeny Yevtushenko36

3.1 CONFRONTATION
During this first stage, the actors describe their preliminary encounters; with themselves, with the truth
and with the other. These encounters brought the seven actors of this research to question and challenge their
social common sense. The accounting of oneself highlighted in the discourse was of strong feelings of
dissonance as a result of contradicting knowledge, dissonance between the known, hence the common sense,
and the new input the actors were confronted with. This confrontation was mainly expressed by the actors in
terms of; shock, discovery and sudden unveiling of the lies.
3.1.1

MAYA

When I got to Haifa at the age of 20, I was suddenly exposed to other stories, and it really transformed
my consciousness upside down. I mean to that point I thought I was a patriot and I was ashamed I did not
grow up when all the changes were done here, the period of the Halutzim37 And then I met the people I met
here (Haifa) and the activity that they were doing here, and there was a lot.
Using the verb exposed following a repetitive use of the adverb suddenly, Maya emphasizes the
unexpected feelings she encountered within herself. In Mayas account, these moments transformed her
consciousness. Maya was confronted with other stories than the collective narrative she grew up on. Her
account as part of the collective narrative was the wish to be a Halutz, pioneer. Shohat (1988; 2001) argues
that the image of the pioneer in the Israeli cinema and the larger Israeli common sense was one of Ashkenazi
masculinity.
At this point, when Maya uses the word other, she refers not only to the Palestinian narrative that was
revealed to her, but also to being confronted by her own otherness. The wish to be a Halutza was confronted
with an ethnic and gendered account. At that point Maya realized that she could never have been the Hlutza
she dreamt of being, thus the perfect Zionist Israeli, since she is neither a masculine figure nor an Ashkenazi.

36

A dissident Soviet poet

37

Halutzim means Patriots in Hebrew, it has become a noun in English meaning: a Jewish pioneer in the
agricultural settlements of modern Israel. http://www.zionism-israel.com/dic/Halutz.htm.

38

One of the things that really influenced me, I am a very intellectual person, was to discover these
intellectual Arabs, it was so much fun and exciting but you can say that Hulon, and this is very important,
this issue, which had a part in the circumstances, is a city where I didnt see any Arabs, you know, besides the
cleaning person that came from the territories and stuff like that. They were completely invisible
Maya was confronted with her appropriation of the Israeli hegemonic stereotypes of the Arabs.
another thing that was a boom to me, was way before I understood the Mizrahiyut of myself (my own
oriental self), about tweeenty yeaaar ago. In 1989, I went to Egypt for 10 days, it was the first time in my life I
felt at home, I love European culture, the history fascinates me, and then I am suddenly in an Arab country,
in seconds I had a feeling, I never had a particular understanding about my Mizrahiyut, I mean I knew all
these histories, you know; that people came here and they were screwed, I also spent time in Yeruham, I know
what it is like to throw people in the desert and to forget about them, but I was not connected to this issue, it
was not me! I grew up in Holon, till I reached the age of 14 I did not know what ethnicity I came from, only
when coming home one day during high-school when I asked my parents: where are you from?
This preliminary step in her liberation process was accounted by Maya with expressions which describe
extreme emotions of discomfort.
3.1.2

ALON

Like Maya, Alon expressed unexpected moments of shock. In their accounts they both highlighted the
changing geographical context brought about by their academic goals at the time as being an incentive to, and
as having as influence on, their learning process. Alon highlighted the fact that he was unaware of where the
work he was doing would lead him. Hence Alon did not seek this contradicting knowledge, in his account he
expresses these moments as arising from the context and the content:
I didnt know it would direct me to something else. But the Mahapach38 was in 82. Two things
happened that year, I think. The first was that I started understanding what happened here in 48 at that point
I had already worked in the archives for a year and a half and I was in total Shock, I did not expect it, it was a
shock! I started getting into it and was in Shock!
Shock of what?
of my findings. Of the story, the testimonies of expulsion and massacre. I expected to discover something
else, that which I grew up on. I was searching for the heroic story, I did not look for the, Injustice. And I found
it, and it was a hit, it came from all directions. I mean, it was amazing, I think I felt deceived.

38

MahapachMassive transformation, coming from the verb Lahafoch in Hebrew which means: to turn over. Mahapecha
which means: revolution comes from the same origin-root.

39

Alon, in a vivid biographical narrative description, accounts the powerful moment of reading the archives.
The archives did not contain the stories he grew up on and the knowledge he acquired in his normal life
direction. Alon uses the word shock three times to describe his feelings at that moment of his life story.
When continuing his description, Alon explains the political context around him which, in his words; helped
put things together:
you know, it was not one little document, and it came in direct connection with 82, with Lebanon. At
first I thought I was Zionist to the extent that I said to my flat-mate: lets call the embassy, maybe we
should return, was, you know, the ethos of war, when there is war, one comes back. And suddenly I got a hold
of myself, just a second, what are you doing? take it slowly... it is also the year I first met Edward Said in
82 I dont remember how exactly it happened but something at the end of 1982 during the summer of 1982,
I had the connection. It all came together. What I heard from Said about the Palestinians, what I read in the
archives and what I started seeing seeing the news in England makes a different, it is not like in Israel.
Suddenly you see the BBC and how they report the Israeli invasion in 82. It is something completely
different.
At this stage Alon, expressed his own gendered discourse. At the time, the notion of war meant he had to
join the military forces and go back to what he called a normal life direction. What Alon calls normal in the
Israeli hegemony is Ashkenazi, militaristic, masculine performance leading to nationalistic loyalty during war
(Gor-Ziv, 2005; Nagar-Ron, 2007; Mutzafi-Haller 2001; 2007, Dahan-Kalev; 1999; 2002; Yosef, 2004). For
Alon the change in perspective was sudden; I got a hold of myself as if he had to physically stop the
normative thought. The repetitive use of the word Suddenly, describing his unexpected experience, provided
him with the tools to see what he did not see before.
3.1.3

YARDENA

Unlike Alon, Yardena was confronted with another discourse through a direct encounter rather than new
written information. However her biographic account is similar to Alon and Mayas in its description of
feelings and emotions of surprise and shock. In Yardenas account she adds her deep self-reflection
concerning her analysis of the world around her.
first I want to tell you, that now when I look back (laugh) I see how square and closed (minded. I was
and I had all kinds of phobias: homophobia, leftist opinions frightened me, so I came to one meeting, the
homophobia I assume, I mean there was constant talk from the very beginning of the meeting they only spoke
about the subject. The lesbian subject was the discussion and the subtext all the time, it really startled me.
First of all, I suddenly understood how racist I was, it suddenly occurred to me, and I am not talking only
about Arabs, I am even speaking about, well I have to first tell you about the house I grew up in
The feminine and feminist environment Yardena was in allowed her to not only see the Palestinian other,
but also to be confronted with her own racism and homophobia. The context Yardena was in was a safe space
40

for her to unlearn the gendered, ethnic and national common sense she came with, with a critical and
knowledgably place. (hooks, 1994; 2003; 2000; Friere, 1998; 2000 ; Bakhtin, 1993). Her choice to stay in the
meeting highlights the sense of community she felt with the group. Even when the content was difficult for
her to digest, surprising, unexpected and challenging, Yardena decided to stay. Thus she is consciously,
choosing to go to the next step of her liberation process. Hooks (2003) argues that constructing a community
for critical learning is more important than building a safe (individualist) space to learn in.
3.1.4

ANAT

Anat like Yardena found herself in a political meeting, a new context she was unfamiliar with. While
expressing extreme dissonance feelings she decides to stay:
I came to the meeting, in my experience I did not really understand what was going on there, it seemed
interesting, thats it, (said to myself) what is going on here!? I knew less, it was different, I met activists,
there was something else, but I still did not know what it was.
Anat, in her account does not elaborate at this point what the content was about, however she elaborates
her unknowing of it. Later we will understand that the Mizrahi environment was what made her stay and
what created a community of learning for her to be in the unknown.
3.1.5

AKIVA

I came to Jerusalem and went to study at the Yeshiva and then we get to June 67, I was 17 years old and
the general atmosphere and all then two things happened, I cant remember the order but it all takes place
in 1967. First, I witnessed an expulsion, I did not realize it then, of the Latrun Palestinian residents, I was not
at all moved by it, I asked the rabbi of the Kibbutz, he said that they are Arab residents and they are leaving,
it did not touch me, I saw it and forgot, later on my father arrived with a delegation from the community in
order to visit the holy sites. It was July or the beginning of July 67, someone died or drowned in the sea and
my father was busy with the administrative procedures39 so he asked me to accompany the group to Hebron, I
remember the image very very strongly, it changed my life: I am in the market in Hebron, one of the French
people took a photo of me, we were haggling, somebody wanted to buy sheep leather and I am
negotiating, and I can see I am behaving as an occupier, this man who could have been my grandfather is
speaking in the way an occupied would speak to an occupier and I am behaving like a master. It was not
ideological, it was behavioral, and it was a punch in my stomach, I remember that the same night I told my
father: do you know that in fact there is an occupation and we are the occupiers this time?! It was
impossible. (at the time) I identified with the Israel-Auschwitz discourse but on an emotional level, what am I
doing in an occupation situation? Then it was clear to me that there is something wrong, not what brought

39

As the Rabbi of the community and the leader of the group.

41

Israel to occupation, the mere concept of Occupation, this is the term used during the second world war in
France, everybody used that.
Akiva was confronted with two new encounters, which at the time had very different effects on him. The
extreme uncomfortable situation in Hebron obliged him to confront his oppressor position in terms of social
power dynamics (Helms, 1990; hooks, 1994; Freire 2000). While accounting these two events together,
Akivas reaction to the first event came later as a result of the second one.
Akiva does not account in terms of sudden feelings but of contradicting knowledge to the concepts and
values he absorbed at home. Coming from France, the concept of occupation and oppression were terms used
to describe the Nazi Germans, during the Second World War. The dissonance was grave and obliged him to
confront a face he never would have imagined he would have to confront (Goffman, 2005; 1959; Memmi,
1966). Akiva describes the moment of confrontation as physical and violent: a punch in my stomach which
created an uncomfortable and extremely difficult dissonance for him. Akiva clearly states the emotional
importance of this stage: not yet intellectual but emotional. By doing so he acknowledged the importance
the emotional stage played in going further.
3.1.6

SARA

At this stage, unlike the others, Sara goes way back in what constructed her life story; from an empowered
political place she looked back and remembered oppressive moments she endured by the Israeli hegemony.
... one day my aunt and mother came to the Kibbutz to visit me, and it evoked laughter among everyone, also
when I spoke with Hait and Ain40, everyone made fun of me and also because I believed in god, I did not
interpret it then as oppression I only felt bad!
These extreme emotional almost traumatic moments of oppression stayed as land marks in Saras personal
and political liberation process. Sara had to confront these events in order to go further in her changing
awareness process. In her account this encounter of being mocked, was the one thing she could think of,
which challenged her awareness. In her accounting of herself, that story was a first shock, a first encounter
with the common sense and her social position. In fact Sara is emphasizing the importance of understanding
and politicizing her own oppressions in order to go further on her personal journey towards awareness.
3.1.7

GAL

you said several times that it was very strong and fast, what were your insights?
fast! insights?!? that I am totally, but totally on the bad-guys side, I bought The Story, maybe
somewhere in a small place inside of me I knew it was a lie, but I bought the story. When I saw it in front of
my eyes I knew it is a lie, of course it is a lie!

40

H- & AA- are guttural consonants of the Hebrew language. The guttural pronunciation of the Mizrahi Jews
was stigmatized by the Ashkenazi hegemonic common sense.

42

what was a lie?


that we are defending ourselves, that Zionism is a wonderful thing, thaaaaat the Jewish people bla
bla bla.
Gal repeats the word lie several times. One could understand that he is still trying to deal with the old
knowledge and to accept the lie, hence there is a gap between what Gal is expressing orally and emotionally
(Helms, 1990; Bakhtin, 1993). Gal also recalled specific events which influenced him. As with Sara these
events happened before he was able to embrace a political analytical understanding, however he defines them
as significant and land-marks them in his process:
I can think of two main events which were very influential: the first was the riots in Jaffa. After the
Baruch Goldstein massacre, there were riots in the streets, there were waves of people who vandalized stuff, it
was scary and I was very stressed and it evoked nationalistic feelings within me, it went hand in hand with the
conscious and subconscious brain wash that (we) go through here. I felt the miserable Jew. The second one
was the assassination of Rabin41, at the time they (the events) did not motivate me to any action.
The riots in Jaffa evoked nationalist feelings, however Gal is constructing his story and in the holistic
view that only he holds of his account, he refers to these events as transitional moments (Delory, 2009). Gal
explains the encounters he had with the distress of the Palestinian people. He defines it as a confrontation with
the old knowledge he was holding: Ahh I believed their distress more than I believed the Israeli
interpretation but I had no idea what could I do, and then one day I saw someone of Taayush42 on the
television, I looked them up, I cant remember how I found their number, and I called. They had a solidarity
action in the southern mountains of Hebron, everybody already knew each other and I didnt know a soul.
Gal chose a brave step and decided to reach out to activists and groups he was completely foreign to. The
new information he was exposed to brought him to new political contexts which filled him with new
knowledge and obliged him to go through a process of unlearning the old knowledge.

3.2 CONFUSION
3.2.1

MAYA

Now the feeling I had then was, really a feeling that I was fooled, I mean it waaaaaaaas reaaaaaaly
ahhhhhh a bad feeling, a sense of being tricked, all these years I was so, ahhhhhh in complete trust with all
the systems and it was a horrible feeling that took me years to recover from, in fact I am not sure I have fully
recovered from it to this day, but many years of alienation from the state/country.

41

Yitzahak Rabbin was an Israeli prime minister who was assassinated in 1995 by an Israeli citizen.

42

Israelis & Palestinians striving together to end the Israeli occupation and to achieve full civil equality through
daily non-violent direct-action. http://www.taayush.org/

43

it sounds like you felt angry?


yes, Anger!
How was it expressed ?
um, With lots of disengagements, in many senses of well first of all, all the formal stuff, for example
my social work studies, I dont know, I didnt even finish them really, I only had a little to do and I didnt
finish them, it was this willwhy did I go to social work? thaaaat the feeling I had in my 20s was the
feeling that I was fooled, tricked and cheated, and many more people are going to feel it in the coming years,
many people. For instance the story of the war crimes in Gaza, orthe language, (they) are living in a denial
system, that I am not able to understand, only because of this narrative, the narrative, in their consciousness,
is protecting them, making order, it is creating sense for them, creating reasons, it is an incredible power
In this stage Maya is expressing going through a difficult emotional period that, in her words, has not
ended yet. Maya talks in terms of them, thus she has separated herself from the Israeli collective, which
leads her to experience feelings of solitude (Cass, 1979; Shilo, 2007). Maya is angry and is distancing herself
from her social collective. This is epitomized by not being able to finish off her studies at the time. Basically
she felt she did not belong anymore. Even during the interview, 20 years later, when Maya talked about that
period and the feelings she had, she was extremely emotional as if reliving the moment.
3.2.2

ANAT

In order to explain her deep deception, Anat relates her feelings at the time to those of a child when faced
with the deception of his/her parents:
could we go back to Zionism, to criticizing the sentiments (repeating her), so what is your
criticism?
mainly, of the story that was told. Like a child that her parents did not tell her the truth, we were not
told that there were people here and that they were expelled, it was told in a way. (They) did not tell the
Palestinian side (of the story), that this movement (Zionist) did not have the guts, and still does not have, to
find any kind of solution or reconciliation. I am not coming from the place which says that Jews have no place
in Eretz Israeli43. I feel like a daughter that her parents did not tell her (the story) so could not really, if they
would have told me and others, therefore she (the daughter) could really, I mean if I were told and others we
could have firstmaybe most people would not have wanted to live here.
Anat is confused and as a consequence her account includes incomplete sentences. When speaking about
herself, Anat alternated between speaking in first (singular and plural) and third person. I feel like a
daughter, we were not told, like a child that her parents. Anat is still trying to find her place in the new

43

The Land of Israel does not necessarily refer to the State of Israel.

44

situation she found herself in (Cass, 1979; Shilo, 2007). Anat was accounting that she did not know, in
repeating the parent-child example it is almost as if Anat is trying to say that it is not her fault. However,
Anat would like to find her place and the place of her Jewish collective and is worried that knowing the truth
jeopardizes that.
3.2.3

SARA

Sara expressed experiencing great feelings of emptiness and stress in this stage: when I started checking
out what is this picture, how did Israel sin in its relations to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there was a
collapse, as if the floor under my feet collapsed, I lost everything I was leaning on to that day, the childhood
songs, the holidays, god, friends and suddenly there was a void in my soul, an abyss emptiness, I was very
confused and did not want everything I knew, I lost trust in the media in the symbols; the flag, I had a huge
void and did not know what I would fill this space, that was created, with. I did not know what the
replacements would be, I only knew that I was lied to till now, then what do we do??
Sara expressed extreme feelings of instability. The understanding of the lies, in her words, was almost a
violent action equivalent to not finding a place to stand on. While in the first stage Sara accounted her
oppression as a mizrachi child, in this stage she is longing for the Israeli hegemonic songs that, even though
they might never have represented her, were the only thing she had. In The Epistemology of the Closet (2008)
Kosofsky Sedgwich argues that throughout the process of coming out of the closet, one additionally questions
the basic questions of whom one loved and could ever love in the future. The lie in Saras account confronted
her with whether childhood related beloved feelings were genuine or not. In addition to this profound
confused questioning state, Sara also experienced similar inferiority feelings to the ones she experienced as a
child, in relation to her new surroundings. Sara highlights the ethnic and gender power dynamic within the
activist scene she became a part of and her position within this dynamic. For her, going to the other side
politically, was in fact an encounter with the same oppression that she experienced as a child.
I always felt inferior because I dont hold a degree, and I dont have high education, to this day I have
huge pits on the way, in history, in, in, all kinds if basic things. Throughout the years no one knows
everything, and it is not important to know specific things, and also if I dont know them, it is ok, I am living
with it in peace.
Sara contradicts herself here. On one hand, she feels the gap is vast and, on the other, she recognizes the
lack of knowledge we all have.
Now, what will I fill the void with?!?!? Also what kind of interpretations I gave things that I went
through life to this day with and how do I replace these interpretations with new ones I am told and given,
should I buy it? Should I interpret things as racism, discrimination or oppression? And Then I started
thinking and I remembered the interview I had at Zilzber high-school, I was asked: how many children are
you at home? and what is your mothers profession? and then I was told that there is no place in school
45

When confronted with the superiority-inferiority power dynamic within the new learning community
which she has become a part of, Sara is confused about whether or not she can trust the new knowledge she is
receiving. Although confronted with the lies, she is not yet safe enough to believe everything she is exposed
to. Thus the circle of oppression has not yet been broken. At this point, Sara is searching for a true community
of learning with which she could engage in dialogue.
Unlike her colleagues at work and her immediate political surroundings, she faces a double role in the
general political sphere. On one hand she is the oppressed, whilst when in confrontation with the Palestinian
narrative she is the colonizer, the oppressor. Sara looks for recognition of her complex situation (ShalomChitrit, 1999).
3.2.4

AKIVA

I would like to go back to the Zionism course44 you spoke about earlier, I am very interested to hear
more of what you said earlier, that you did not have an opposing story to the one studied in the critical
course of Metzpen, you did not learn something that contradicts (Akiva continues) and in this case I am
a unique case because I did not come from a Zionist atmosphere.
how did you feel with the fact that there were so many things you did not know about?
you mean before (the course)?
yes, learning something you did not know
I had no problem with it because I discovered Israel with and through Matzpen I can see the
difference with my wife, I did not have the same education of pro or against, my Israeli consciousness is an
anti-Zionist consciousness from the beginning, the political approach within Matzpen (the Marxist approach)
went hand in hand with the idea that we dont have a political identity and that we are a part of something
bigger.
In the first phase Akiva was confronted with his profile as an occupier, this self-image was unbearable
(Memmi, 1966). However Akiva did not come with an extreme Zionist education, in this sense he feels
different from his surroundings. His common sense was religious rather than being founded in the secular
Zionist ideology. Thus for Akiva secular Anti-Zionist discourse was his way of discovering Zionism.
However, there is a contradiction in Akivas account since during the first stage he accounted he accounted
identifying with the Auschwitz-Israeli discourse which is in effect part of the Zionist discourse.

44

Earlier in the interview Akiva speaks about two courses lead by Matzpen which he got involved in. One of
them was a critical study of Zionism for Israeli (Jews).

46

3.2.5

GAL

then everything was very powerful, emotionally I mean. They (Israeli soldiers) used to come and push
us away, it really pissed me off, it was the beginning then so it was all much more charged emotionally. Then I
also walked in the first row (of the demonstrations) and I did not give in, I did not know much at the end of
the demo there was a confrontation with the settlers45, I remember that at the time I augmented in a way I
would never do today. I protested: I was also in the army, I also have the right things like that. But my
process was very fast, I renounced these claims the day I was there (in the West-Bank) and saw the people
(Palestinians).
Here Gal recognizes that the beginning, in terms of his own process of change, was an extremely
emotional period. Furthermore, he highlights the dissonance he experienced, between his known knowledge
and the new information he was receiving. Gal is still confronting new information challenging his common
sense and his background.
do you remember telling me: I felt I had to clean myself of Zionism?
at first, during the first times (participating in actions confronting the Israeli army) there was (tear) gas,
lets say I had feelings of dissonance between the things you feel in your body, the automatic feeling that you
have to be on one side and suddenly you are on the other, there was unbalance between what happened in my
head and in my soul, and then sometimes it is like feeling dirty something misbalanced, it took me a while to
be balanced, to this day I dont know if to this day I am balanced, to understand that I have to do self-work on
self-balance because something came out of balance, that it is a kind of work I need to do when something
comes out of balance and when others blame you for being too radical. In my mind as if I am saying
bullshit but on the emotional level it is as if Im out of balance. It is a game between the mind and the
emotion: it is true that I am not balanced, but I am unbalanced because I am a normal human being, I am
reacting to things in a normal way which is turbulence and whomever reacts to it with invulnerability he is the
abnormal here, I am the normal here, it is you who is abnormal it was like, lets say, sometimes, especially
in front of the charges against me that I am extremist.
In Gals account, he repeats the word balance in numerous forms ten times. He is accounting the high
level of dissonance he found within himself as a result of the split between the emotional and the cognitive
(Helms, 1990). This split is between what Gal grew up on, all he was raised on, including his biographic
narrative of going to the army, and what he is exposed to in the occupied territories including the actions of
the Israeli soldiers. Gal is extremely uncomfortable, and in a stressful place. According to his biographic
narrative, Gals tools to interpret and make a difference were through film making, however in his extreme
emotional position, he was unable to use the tools he felt most comfortable with.

45

Israeli settlers living in cities, colonies, and outposts on the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967.

47

I did not want to do it (make a film about the struggle), because I was in a very emotional extremist
place, and I wanted to be pure and I did not want to mix my personal interests, my ego, my own needs, things
which are not part of the action itself.
For the second time Gal compares his need to go further in his processes to a cleaning process, to being or
becoming pure. In his account of himself, dirty refers to what he was, hence to the period when there was no
split between his emotions and his rational being, whilst clean and pure is how he views the new state he finds
himself in, in which he is questioning the common sense and feels split.
what was this emotional place you are speaking about? What did you feel?
mainly anger, and the will to do something.
anger towards whom?
Israelis. I used to talk to people all the time; at work, with neighbors, I used to be in a trance of
lecturing others. Maybe for those who experienced it a lot got fed-up but I can talk well and I used to
fascinate people. The argument used to wear me out, it was also a very powerful experience to come back to
Tel Aviv every time, the hedonistic Tel Aviv. Things seemed hypocrital to me, so at some point I started
filming.
3.2.6

YARDENA

Yardena uses a biblical expression to describe the frustration which brought her to become active in Ishale-Isha. Nirashu Amot Hazifim: The posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house
was filled with smoke. It is a description of divine intervention implying that she could not control it
anymore.
In short, I grew up with stereotypes, indeed, I grew up with sterotypes, in the process I went through, I
first learnt about my stereotypization process of the other ahhhh criticizing Zionism for me was a huge
step
hard
very hard, it is in fact undermining my identity, question asking, it is very hard to ask these questions, to
be in a confused wonderment place. Till then, I was in a secure obvious place. That was it for me, I am Israeli,
I am Jewish, I am proud! Listen, it all goes together, the issue of seeing the other; it is also the reflection of
my own homophobia, that does not exist anymore. Accepting of, of all, I mean the understanding of the origin
of hetero-sexuality and how it was constructed, to understand that it is a social construction to understand um
why it is a social construction, understanding the whole range of things, the complexity of life, I think I was
less complex.

48

In Yardenas account she is expressing the huge challenges she faced in unlearning the common sense. In
her account, self-reflections about gender and social performance were tools which helped her see the bigger
picture.

3.3 ACQUIRINGKNOWLEDGE
After the two first stages of unlearning, during this stage the actors go through a process of seeking
knowledge, seeking more information, taking actions in order to know more. Hooks (1994) describes learning
as actively receiving knowledge that enhances ones intellectual development and ones capacity to live more
fully in the world. While in most cases the first two stages involved experiencing surprising data or
information which suddenly appeared, this stage is active rather than passive.
One could find two main types of learning, cognitive and emotional learning. The first includes the
acquisition of new cognitive knowledge, acquired either through reading, listening to lectures, or by dialoging
with influential figures. Emotional comprehension comes predominantly as a result of encounters with the
other. For these actors, the other is mainly Palestinian, however, during the awareness transformative
process one could also discover that the other was Mizrahi and/or Gay/Queer as well. The encounter with the
oppressed did not only confront the actors with their own stereotypes and colonial profile, it was a new
learning-teaching position. Their oppressed became their teachers, teaching them to transgress, cross
boarders and in fact liberating them by empowering them with knowledge about their dominating position and
their oppressor profile (Memmi, 1966; Helms, 1990; Said, 1994, 1979; Freire, 2000; hooks 2003; 1994).
During this stage Israelis who could understand the process the actors were going through became
significant figures in the learning process. The creation of a learning community empowered the actors to
deconstruct their preformed socio-political position from a complex and profound perspective. In Freires
phases (2000, 1973) he argues that during the second phase, the actors understand that their own oppression is
related to a collective social question. Throughout this stage, the actors deepen their own experiences leading
to larger political understanding. Hence this stage facilitates the transgression process from an individual
understanding to a universal understanding and thus the development of a larger critical, political and social
consciousness (Shor, 1987).
The critical encounter with the other was accounted by the actors in terms of confrontation with the
hegemonic stereotypes. This kind of confrontation was mostly found in the first stage. However during the
present stage the actors are eager to learn, eager to listen to the untold narrative and to learn about day to day
life, etc. This stage leads to a process of becoming. During the critical educational process, the apprentice
unlearns the structures and knowledge of the social common sense and adopts thinking and interpretative tools
which expand their understanding of society and their role in it. Furthermore the critical educational process
influences who and what they become (Ironside, 2006). For the oppressors, going through this unlearning-

49

learning process, has to be followed by understanding both their privileged position, and the oppression of the
oppressed within the same political context. (Memmi, 1966).
3.3.1

YARDENA

I said (to myself) I want to be in this organization! It was to my liking. At first I didnt really
understand what the Research Center was about, she (referring to someone within Isha-le-Isha) did not really
explain to me, perhaps if she had explained I wouldnt have gone into it (laugh). Then I even asked:why does
it say that there is a question of language, whether we speak Hebrew or Arabic? my academic studies,
gender studies, and the activity with Isha-le-Isha really opened up many horizons for me and expanded my
point of view to the question of otherness. Then I understood, while thinking that I was in the political left, that
I was actually what one calls subtle right (laugh) I was not exactly left, now what happened then was, that the
studies brought me to critical thinking, to a deeper understanding of exclusion and I passed from Liberal
feminism I was in my whole life, to multicultural feminism, I think.
Yardena, after being confronted with new information contradicting her common sense, decided to go
deeper into the critical knowledge she was exposed to. This process brought her to have a reflective critical
regard of herself. Yardena through a gendered-queer deconstructed discourse, understood her position in
Israeli society, her privileges as an Ashkenazi heterosexual Israeli and her oppression as a woman in the
militaristic society (Gor-Ziv, 2005; Dahan-Kalev, 1999).
you mentioned before that you developed a more critical way of thinking, more precisely that more
critical thought about questions of exclusion was developed. Could you elaborate?
critical of what?!? first of all of myself, the understanding, that my blind spots, my own understanding
as hegemonic, I told you it started with the issue of Mizrahiyot (Oriental women), continued to Arab and later
Palestinian women. That is the criticism. And also self-criticism and also ahhhhhh of Zionism, That is to say I
accepted Zionism as common sense, the love of the land was Zionism, and then suddenly I looked at the term
Zionism and criticized it, I understood that there is oppression here. (silence). I understood that there is an
occupier-occupied relation here, I understood that there is no regard of the other.
Yardena had gone through the difficult process of encountering her own image as an oppressor. At this
point Yardena is questioning everything she grew up on, even Zionism which was for her the basis of all
good.
3.3.2

MAYA

In Mayas unlearning process, she expressed her need using strong external elements which helped open
new channels. As if the common sense was in fact embodied in her: my 20s were a crystallizing process. I
can say that one of the very important things taking place was drugs, Im remembering now, I completely
forgot about it, but it was a lot of drugs it was more from a place of opening the thoughts than fun, meaning
50

we also had a lot of fun but we were very busy with posing questions and with the group meetings, with the
drugs we took it deeper.
you started digging?!
Exactly, exactly, to dig and identify, I dont know if you ever experienced something like it, but it is an
out-of-body, out-of-soul and social experience you are in a limbo looking at everything and seeing it
differently, it is a consciousness short cut, and we, of course, took it to the political.
Mayas first step in her becoming is identifying the drugs as a short cut to a process she was getting into.
However she highlights over and over again that the drugs were a tool in dealing with the new reality rather
than avoiding it.
Answering my question about influential people in her process, Maya says: I can say yes, there were
influential figures, I dont really like these positions, I rarely found myself in them but there were some very
significant figures.
what did you learn? Or what did they teach you?
mm, like, ahh, we have reached the pedagogy (laugh) ok, so one minute! Ahh it is a little hard to
remember, it was all very new and preliminary.
for example, things you didnt know. You spoke earlier about people, encounters and books, even if
you think it is obvious and I might know about it.
Look, one of the most basic basic things I understood, I probably understood it very quickly was, but it was
my big shock, that there are people, Arabs, who want to live in peace. Thats first of all, this is something I
didnt know. Mayas encounters with the Palestinians of Haifa showed her a far more complex reality than
the one she knew before. The encounter with the other and the learning from and of the other allowed her to
enter a process of building her own vision:
The question of vision is really a very long process, many times I felt uncomfortable to ask, I felt
uncomfortable to confront and verify things, lets say I came with a thought that was still ahhhh, a thought
that was, was,. something that existed in me from the start, it was hard for me to even talk about it, and I think
many go through this and if they dont and only reach to the other point it is a problem. I mean to express
my firm closed minded places to the discourse in order to dismantle it, otherwise where will it (the change)
come from? Or how will I make the change? The other option is to always hide my non-understanding or to
be in a place where I think I understand (but I dont), do you know what I mean!?
At this stage, Maya felt she couldnt afford to make mistakes like before thus she had already started
deconstructing however she was still in the process. It was important for her to highlight that this is a common
process many go through. At this point, she already knew enough to know which thoughts, feelings and ideas
were coming out of the common sense she was trying to deconstruct. This, in fact made it harder for her to ask
51

questions. However, she brings out her lack of knowledge. At this stage Maya knew what she did not know. In
her gendered discourse, Maya brings out the need to ask questions, to be in a critical dialogue with herself and
with her learning community; However she reflects on the difficulties she found in doing so and on the social
representations she was in. The learning process is done while confronting the old and known knowledge, in
order to find and fill in the gaps. Maya cant just erase the old and wants to critically deconstruct it.
The literature taught me the nuance, the complexity; the reading came at the right time, when I had
already reached for further understanding all this knowledge about human complexity, went hand in hand
with where I was. Namely I did not come with a feeling that there is something well constructed only, then,
um, it started with that, I dont think, I read a lot. Ohh maybe yes! In the year 2000, I started another BA,
after I did not make it with social work. A BA in international relations, at the Open University, that I am only
now finishing and next year I am going to start my MA, so these last 8-9 years, made a certain kind of order,
it was convenient for me, I sat with all the books at home, I did not see any professor, except Udi Adiv who is
also my friend (laughing).
In the course of the interview, Maya accounts the gender power dynamic she was in. Her discourse kept
challenging the internal power dynamic within her group in Haifa and the need for a more question asking
environment. In this last part of her account Maya is uncomfortable and is almost in stress when talking about
the intellectual aspect of her becoming.
(Laughing)
and, No, its like, um, and then I started getting all the input in order and I started looking for literature,
to read and I saw and understood that before anything I have to learn about this region, the history of the
region, I remember I learned
what do you mean by here? Haifa?
No, No, No, I mean here the Middle East, I mean at school we learn history of the people of Israel that
is mostly the European people of Israel, there is a little touch of the region but it is very poor. And there is
history here I took an introductory course in Middle-Eastern history. In the preparation booklet it was
written: you have to come to this course very open to the material, understanding that it is a very different
culture, a foreign culture, a culture you cant judge through your eyes. I wrote a very nervous email, to the
person organizing the course. I told her: excuse me! Who is the foreign culture here? You are teaching
students I am not talking about the fact that we are living here and this is where we are living, it is the
same climate and the sameputting that a side. Lets say we really did come from different places and while
we havent 20% are Arabs (of the Israeli population), 50% of the Jews it is their culture, they came from
these countries, that fact that it is not taught at school does not mean that it is foreign or unfamiliar to them.
She ended up apologizing and said it will be changed in the future.

52

Maya was able to synthesize her anger with the intellectual knowledge she acquired, this was an
empowering event in her intellectual experience. In critical education terminology, Maya had a complex
regard, where, on one hand, she was able to analyze the political content and context of the course she was
taking while, on the other, taking it to praxis. One of the subjects Maya was eager to learn was the history of
the region she was living in. In the first stages Maya confronted her own oriental biographic narrative, at this
stage Maya is sense making and has related her own identity question to the larger political picture.
3.3.3

AKIVA

During the second stage, Akiva argued that he did not come with Zionist common sense but rather
religious based common sense. He said he felt confused by the various inputs around him:
so the course on Marxism was not foreign to you?!
No, but I was confused and it enriched me. And in the course on Zionism I learned about this history of
this land, I did not know anything, not even Zionist history, for me it was a foreign story.
Akiva highlights the importance these courses had on his becoming, while expressing his unusual, in his
words, unlearning process, while not having the Zionist story in his religious education. Even though he didnt
have a deep Zionist education, on understanding that the word oppressor, which was used in his upbringing in
France to describe the Germans, was now used being applied to him, Akiva needed to figure out his position
in that land. This uncomfortable self-reflection led him to learn the unknown to him in order to build his
story. Akiva, like Maya, feels there is not enough knowledge in the common sense about the region he has
immigrated into. At that point Akiva was seeking for a complex view of the region and the western-oriental
relation he was now part of and thus felt concerned on both the personal and the political levels.
3.3.4

ANAT

Anat, like Akiva, expressed the feeling of being different from the majority. The majority refers to the
activists who went through a process like her own:
it is interesting, you are saying that on the contrary to others, you did not kick and did not go
through a transformation, but suddenly things came together.
things made more sense, became more complete. With passion I read texts like, um, in my experience it
was not an action of throwing (the old knowledge) rather adding other experiences. There are things I became
very critical about and now it is hard for me to relate to them.
like what?
this feeling of longing, for example, the beginning of the Kibbutz, if I were to go now to Rachels46 tomb,
if I were to go with my daughter, I could read the book (a book of poems near the tomb) through her, if I were

46

Rachel Bluwstein - an important poet within the Zionist Israeli hegemonic literacy.

53

to go alone I would find it hard to get close to the place, I allow myself less and less to get emotional of these
things, the Givatron47 it is part of my identity but the things I have acquired, today I am more critical to these
things (the kibbutz education) but I did not really say my goodbyes. I felt that others are trying to oblige me to
do so but I keep hanging on.
Anat contradicts herself, on one hand she feels things make more sense while on the other she cant allow
herself to entirely let go of Zionist-Ashkenazi symbols. Furthermore she acknowledges the need to say her
goodbyes and the unfinished process she is in, yet she does not want to deconstruct it all. The socialist
background of the Kibbutz is also a part of the Ashkenazi oppressing hegemony she would like to unlearn and
abandon. Chitrits (2003) definition of the Kibbutz can be found in his book The Mizrahi struggle in Israel:
the Kibbutzim48 are the Israeli myth of the socialist humanist left. They are in fact capitalist entities which
gained their power out of the initial land occupation by force and expulsion of the Arab residents. Since the
days of the Mizrahi workers from the neighboring towns, through the employment of Arab workers and
finally to the present day employment of foreign workers, they exploit cheap working labor. Their liberal
economic ideology of privatization and globalization is supported by the all the so-called Zionist-Left.
Anat is looking for a complex view where she could be critical yet keep the ideologies she still believes
in, and feels most at home with. Anat compares herself to others in her community of learning group, in her
own words she refuses to be forced to kick the known and wants to still hang onto her beliefs. However, her
beliefs and values are strongly related to the hegemony she is trying to challenge. Anat is searching for her
identity, and in her accounting of herself she found herself most comfortable within the oriental discourse
which in her words combines it all:
what would you say first?
today I would say Mizrahit (Oriental woman)
when did the priorities change?
within the Keshet the discourse is more complete, everyone would bring in the socialist issue in to the
discourse, no one is for privatization, it is more complete, in the (Ashkenazi) socialism it did not exist. I am
speaking about experiencing things in a deeper way, it only happened in the social activism
What did you discover?
it was not a boom, it was encounters.
With whom?

47

A chorale known to be the musical of the country establishers, pioneers, hence the Ashkenati-Kibbuts narrative.

48

Kibbutz in plural.

54

with Palestinians, it was no longer the Abu Lafiya49 encounter, encounters and discussions and, talks,
and slowly slowly, you know it is not that, today I know it all but, every time something is added, Adallah and
Mussawa50, Women in Black51, here and there, the coordination of all these experiences became significant to
me ...

At this point, Anat is aware of the different dialogue encounters with the other that she has taken part in.
She clearly does not want to take part in the old encounters she was familiar with, and has opened up to the
critical dialogue encounters. Furthermore she mentions the associations in general which taught her and the
Palestinian 48 legal and advocacy organizations working in Israeli civic society in particular. Anat was
particularly marked by one encounter with one individual person: I was in Belgium and we went to eat in a
Lebanese restaurant it was during the war in Lebanon (2006). I was sitting with a Palestinian guy from
Ramallah, the owner of the place asked us where we were from. I told her Israel, and she said to me I am
from Isdud52 it was, she invited us, I learned a lot from this woman, the whole back yard was full of stuff she
brought from Israel, it was all Palestinian stuff, the spices, everything. She told us (stories), we sat for hours.
She told us that she was a social activist in the UN and she was born in Norway or Sweden, I cant remember.
And then she was active in Ramallah or Bethlehem, it was very hard for her and she turned her whole
restaurant to a political place, she was Palestinian but born in Norway, it fascinated me how she made
everything political, the conversation, the Hommus. She is an example of an encounter with individuals who
lived here and moved there
How did you feel?
it connected me to the challenge, for me it was a challenge. I would like to contain both stories, to know
them both, it is not my or his story (the Palestinian). Can I know the Palestinian story of the house my parents

49

Abu Lafiya is an Arab restaurant in Jaffa, it is often used in order to describe the non-critical coexistence
meeting (mostly led by Jewish-Israelis) which started taking place in the 80s. It is referred to in this way to show the
common liking for Palestinian food while avoiding the political context.
50

Adallah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel: http://www.adalah.org/eng/index.php. The
Mossawa Center is an Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel. It is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that
works to promote equality for the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel. http://www.mossawacenter.org/default.php?lng
=3&pg=1&dp=1&fl=29

51

The international movement of Women in Black began in January 1988, one month after the first Palestinian
Intifada (uprising) broke out, as a small group of Israeli women carried out a simple form of protest: Once a week at the
same hour and in the same location http://coalitionofwomen.org/home/hebrew/organizations/women_in_black
52

Isdud (Arabic: )was a Palestinian Arab town that was depopulated on 28 October 1948, after an assault
carried out by Israeli forces. http://www.nakbainhebrew.org/index.php?lang=english

55

lived in when they moved from the Maabarot

53

and their refuge story, and their Zionism to come to Israel

and the Palestinian story both stories, that I dont have to curse my parents and give in
At this stage in her becoming process Anat is trying to become knowledgeable enough to find a place for
both stories. In the new narrative she encountered, through the Palestinian woman, the city of Ashdod became
the village of Isdud, Israel became Palestine and finally her parents house became a Palestinian house that
was unjustly taken from a Palestinian family. The fact that her own story is at the expense of the other created
extreme feelings of stress and discomfort within Anat. Her encounter with the Palestinian woman, who is a
refugee, confronted her with different terminologies and with a narrative that contradicted her own. She is
thus confused. Her parents have their own refuge story and oppression narrative. Anat does not ignore her
familys Zionism yet clearly brings out the Maabrot and their suffering at the hands of the Ashkenazi
hegemony. It seems to be almost an attempt to excuse them for living in a Palestinian house and for not telling
her the truth. In the first two stages Anat spoke about the anger of the young girl who was not told the truth by
her parents. In this stage Anat is excusing her parents for not knowing or perhaps not for telling. Perhaps Anat
has realized the complexity of knowing the truth and thus is wondering if she is able to tell it to herself, to
her daughter, and to thus make it her praxis.
3.3.5

SARA

Sara talks about two levels of learning which go hand in hand with her experience of the first two stages
in which she speaks about her own oppression and Mizrahi experience. At the acquiring knowledge stage Sara
was first influenced on a personal level by a Mizrahi friend who in her words was patient enough to go
through the learning process with her, not trying to push but being present. The other level was the
organizational one. Here she could both learn about her sons school problems from a critical point of view
and have a platform from which to act. She was empowered to act and became an influential figure for a
struggle she believed in. Saras accounting of oneself is of her Mizrahi discourse. To begin with, she discovers
that being left politically is not reserved for the Ashkenazi elite and that Mizrahi can be left, critical and
perhaps intellectual. Subsequently, throughout her liberating process, Sara politicized her own oppression to
the larger socio-political one, hence taking responsibility for her life while not assuming the discrimination
and oppression she endured.
Two things happened: a friend from a left wing family, Mizrahit surprisingly enough, came to my home
and when we started speaking politics she told me, and I carry it with me to this day I was going to disagree
with her, I did not come here to argue with you, if you are interested in hearing what I think I am ready to
share my thoughts. I would like to interest you in how I grasp the conflict she said. I felt the threat is
immediate, like Israel tries all the time to transmit, this is the technique. She explained to me, that they

53

Maabarot (Plural for Maabara) were camps built in the 50s by the Israeli government, mainly inhabited by
Mizrahi emigrants. While promised as temporary housing, the Maabrot were often later turned into towns and were then
called development towns.

56

(Palestinians) have rights and that Israel has signed (international) conventions, while not applying them. It
started to unstable my thinking about where we are living, in parallel, you have to understand it was all very
quick, my child is starting with his problems with the special education and my sister heard on the radio that
there is an organization called Hila54 which deals with cases of children who are sent to special education
without justified reasons. So I turned to them and I got their help um and they saw that I write well, and I fight
so they decided that I would work with them, and I worked there for a while with Tiqva Levi, they were in the
Mizrahi issue and the oppression and all these things, for me these things were completely foreign. I was
identity-less even if it (the Mizrahi oppression) passed through my head it was not expressed in any way. You
dont have a way to express it or to formulate the things.
Sara was confused, in the second stage she spoke about the floor under her feet collapsing, here Sara is
finding order and sense. At this point Sara is accounting those little sentences thrown out into the air falling
on her attentive ears:
without her even knowing, Tiquva Levi was like a candle (a light) in my life, she lit a lot, a lot, a lot of
things with her questions, with the pearls she put in front of me, with the road signs she created in my life, she
lit up my thinking, she gave me material to think about, I remember her sentences, it is not from profound
talks but from sentences she threw out to the air, they provoked my thought, not with the intension to direct
me. Then one day she said how about we organize an empowerment womens group? my oppression as a
woman; as a Palestinian and then we decide to initiate a conference just for us; Mizrahiyot (oriental
women), Palestinian and critically conscious Ashkenazi women. And then my awareness got developed. More
than the discussions with the other women I remember Tiqvas phrases; Im a Jewish Arab (woman) and I
asked myself; why did she say that?, then she spoke about Ashkenazi and she said that most of the
children going to special education are Mizrahim and Ethiopian then I got exposed to other parents and the
world of how the Mizrahim and the Ethiopians are integrated in these systems, when I got to Hila it was as if I
saw things in a much clearer way in categories, or how the world is organized between the Blacks and the
whites, the powerful and the weak. I want more empathy in this world!
Sara started naming her pain (Freire, 1973). Within critical feminist gendered discourse, she found her
place to act and struggle. It was where she found a more complete analysis. However the class issue is still
present for Sara at this point. Sara is lonely, she dares to ask the question: What is Zionism? While she is
the only one to ask it, no one else knows how to answer. Sara is challenging her community of learning while
challenging herself. Most specifically she is challenging the hegemonic discourse and common sense which is
not questioned and taken for granted. During this feminist conference, where Sara feels there is an us again,
she learns that two words which in the hegemonic discourse might contradict each other can in fact complete

54

Hila is a grassroots training and advocacy organization dedicated to confronting inequality in the education
system. http://www.hila-equal-edu.org.il/eng/

57

each other within one entity: Arab-Jewish. Sara starts to question her identity from a political prospective and
is now able to take it to praxis.
There was a conference I participated in, it was organized, quarter, quarter, quarter, quarter, and I did
not even know what the quarter wasLesbians, Ashkenazi, Mizrahyot and Palestinians (all said in feminine)
we were supposed to attack Zionism each one from her angle, I had to talk from the welfare point of view, they
were all Ashkenazi and I was the only Mizrahi and I asked them; what is Zionism? I was embarrassed but I
did not know what Zionism was and they did not know how to define it for me exactly and they are trying to
talk to me on eye level and I live in Pisgat Zeev55 in a settlement and they come to visit me there and Im
astounded to discover that I live in a settlement, I was 23 years old, they came to my house and I started to
apologize
what did they say to you? What did you find out about Zionism?
that we were screwed, pretending to be socialist
who is us?
society, the ones who need these services, then we did not have (use the term) Mizrahim I did not
distinguish the rich from the poor by their ethnicity.
What did you acquire from the encounters with Palestinians?
I got that people resemble me; (they) speak the same language as I, the behavior I know, the mentality I
can relate to more, with its prose and cones. They (Palestinians) have a lot of problems (social) but it is not
for me to judge them. People who resemble me more than the Ashkenazi, their warmth, same mentality that I
know, I relate to that.
Sara has finally found the order she was looking for. The terminology, the identity and the power
dynamics are clear.
3.3.6

ALON

In his account, Alon spoke about influential figures, on one hand, and people who shared the route with
him, on the other. Alon defines his (and others) process of transformation in strong terms, going so far as to
call it a metamorphosis:
could you point out significant people who made the way with you?
do you mean, shared the route or influenced me?
well, both.

55

A neighborhood of Jerusalem which is in fact a Jewish-Israeli settlement built on Palestinian lands occupied in

1967.

58

mmm both, ahh yes yes, I will try to think


what is the difference?
the difference is that there are people who have gone through this metamorphosis together with me, and
then it is less an issue of influence but you dont feel alone, lets say. um and the people who influenced me
were the people who were in the place that you reach to later, so for example in the sense of influence, I
mentioned Edward Said, an extremely important figure in my life, Albert Hurani my Arab supervisor (PhD)
and Owen Korger my other supervisor, I think that intellectually and academically they are the people who
influenced me a lot, a lot. um I cant remember names, I know that I was really attached to the story, I didnt
always know them personally, of those who crossed the border in Israel before me. Ahhh if it was Uri Davis,
or Maxim Gilian or Israel Sahak
First Alon refers to the figures who gave him new knowledge, to the extent of guiding him towards where
he should reach. On one hand they were Arab-Palestinian intellectuals and on the other Israelis who, in his
words, had already made it. Alon was in the need to hear that it can work.
if I understand correctly, they influenced you by what they did rather than (Alon continues): yes,
that it can be done, one can speak Hebrew (laugh) and be Israeli, and not Zionist. It is Yaakov Raz whom I
met in Oxford, the first non-Zionist Israeli I met, I think.
The first group was the academic forces I met, the second group was the people who in their past made
it and the third group are of the Palestinians who are not from the academic world, but whom I met like in
Mahmud Iisas course. He was a 48 Palestinian exiled who lived in Damascus, an amazing man who fought
in the Fatah for many years and through him I started understanding the Fatahs point of view. And Kabila
Nablusi who is today a very close friend of mine in Oxford who was also in the Fatah for many years, all the
Fatah activists and fighters I met in Europe and the United States, later on, but mainly in Europe, they had a
large influence on me and they made the way with me, I think, I mean and I influenced them. They had a
complete de-humanizing image of everything that was Israeli or Jewish and I think I contributed to
everybody nourished each other. um and some of these people, except the ones who have died in the
meanwhile, I am still in dialogue with Im very connected to them. There was one man, who was a real
influence on me, but he died, Sliman Hamis, very interesting, do you know who he is? He is Juliano Mers
father. I did not know his mother but I knew Sliman very well, and Sliman also translated my book into
Arabic, my second book, so we sat often together, he was an amazing man, he had an amazing esoteric story
telling ability, we sat at Alenbi Caf in Haifa many many times, it was fantastic, I have not only a sweet
memory of these meeting but also, I know it today, that he had a great great influence on me.
in what way?
he had the ability to take all the subjects I spoke about and give them a human dimension, I learned from
him that everything must not come in facts, you know like, to say to them; so they expelled like this and like
59

that but to ask yourself, I think that came from him, if you identify with what you are telling. He always used
to say that the identification is more important than what happened. Sliman Hamis, in this sense, was very
important, this whole group of Emil Thumah and Salibah Hamis and Emil Habibi, there was something very
exciting/touching about them, something, a combination of humanists and nationalist and socialist, we dont
have like these (anymore), no one! The reading itself is not enough.
Alon acknowledges his need to learn from encounters, from stories, from live experiences. Although he
could read the archives, the tremendous amount of information was not enough to make the change. Alon
elaborates on the influence that the human encounters had on his life. While mentioning Israeli non-Zionists
as important figures in his process, Alon mainly talks about intellectual, academic and non-academic
Palestinian figures from both inside and outside Palestine as influential educators in his process. In Alons
dialogue with Sliman Hamis, he learnt, through praxis, the pedagogy of the oppressed, and the importance of
holding a radical position.
ahmm, was not enough?!
I mean, until you meet someone who is a human victim of what you have read about, it doesnt resonate.
It does not really register, is not absorbed.
Critical pedagogy discusses the notion that the solidarity of the oppressor with the oppressed can only be
genuine when the oppressor stops regarding the oppressed as an abstract category and sees them as persons
who have been unjustly dealt with, deprived of their voice, cheated in the sale of their labor. Furthermore
hooks (2003) and Helms (1990) highlight the importance of meeting the other, the oppressed within positive
white consciousness building. While Alon does not speak out his gender and ethnicity, his account is gendered
and ethnic. Alon represents the hegemonic Ashkenazi male figure. In his encounter with Palestinians, unlike
Sara and Anat, Alon has no oppressed experience to call on and does not account a dual position. Thus his
white consciousness is directly challenged by these encounters (Helms, 1990; Memmi, 1966).
3.3.7

GAL

Gal was confronted with the direct violence he was not aware of. The oppressor and aggressor image of
himself was of great influence on Gals transformative process: The dark backyard of Israeli society
humiliation of people, violence, mocking people while doing these things to them, hypocrisy, it is not
theoretical, you can see these things happening, then also my alienation from my environment grew, I was
lucky that my close family was in the same thinking as I, on the contrary to others (activists).
Im not a theoretical person, people around me are, they have profound knowledge. Ask my brother
about South Africa and he could tell you a lot, I know a little, it never occupied me too much but I recognize it

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is a tool for argument. I think I find it easier for me with the anarchist group56, they are an action group, it
can be on personal levels, it is not political theories, it is frustrating that I am uneducated in this sense.
Gal expresses ambivalent feelings on the question of intellectual knowledge and status. On one hand, he
speaks about his need to be involved in action rather than in theorization, while on the other he is frustrated
with his level of theoretical knowledge. Thus in his self experience he does not hold the tools for argument
that his brother does.
why is it frustrating?
I would have liked to be that (lighting a cigarette). The questions I asked myself at the time were the very
basic ones: why do I deserve more than him?
Was there a need for more information?
it was not an internal need; it was an external one in order to deal with the outside, the questions and to
be able to answer people. It was very clear to me that the key to everything was to know that we (Israeli and
Palestinians) are equal What I deserve you deserve! I was not interested to know where and how we are
not equal. I was not interested in analyzing it all through Marxist eyes.
Gal has managed, according to critical pedagogy, to construct a complex consciousness understanding of
the unjust order. While not believing in his knowledge and praxis, Gal could relate to the unjust reality out of
solidarity rather than generosity. Freire (2000) argues that generosity of the oppressor towards the oppressed
is a means of maintaining power and domination.

3.4 COMINGOUTOFTHEZIONISTCLOSET
This stage is characterized by the confrontation with their social surroundings and the hegemonic common
sense that the actors experience. However the coming-out accounts presented in this paper, show that the
coming out process was not only a confrontation with the surroundings but with oneself. It is an account of
oneself to oneself of the liberation process. The actors have highlighted the need to say it to myself/to hear it
out loud, some have accounted that the coming out to oneself was a bigger step to take than the confrontation
with ones surroundings.
Maya after accounting her very clear political opinions still has the need to come out in front of me: First
of all I am not Zionist! But ahhh can I take a cigarette? This moment was, on one hand, a liberating one for
her yet on the other a stressful account of oneself which involved the need for a cigarette. The research
implies that while accounting the political liberation process and the process to Anti-Zionism or to opposing
Zionism, the actors endure several coming out processes during their confrontation with the hegemony. Once

56

Anarchists Against the Wall (AATW) is a direct action group that was established in 2003 in response to the
construction of the wall Israel is building on Palestinian land in the Occupied West Bank. The group works in
cooperation with Palestinians in a joint popular struggle against the occupation. http://www.awalls.org/about_aatw

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Zionism is denaturalized, thus accounted as a normative hegemonic performance; ones narrative account
deconstructs the hegemonic structures and thus queers Zionism. As a consequence, this process compels an
account of oneself gendered discourse. Friere argues that the constant dynamic learning process, even when it
reaches what is according to Friere a political consciousness level, is not the End of the process. At this point
a person faces ongoing political questioning which could confront her/him with deeper and more complex
difficulties. While in the acquiring knowledge stage one looks for a community to learn with and to get
empowered by, in the Coming-Out stage, the actors reach out for partners in action, for others who think like
them. They search for, partners that they can be free with, create and redefine the world and thus the
terminologies with. At this stage the actors spoke in terms of we and us again rather than in terms of them.
3.4.1

ALON

I remember I think I was liberated in a way. I had no problem saying I am against Zionism
furthermore, that Zionism is a bad thing. It is very difficult for an Israeli to hear something like that, to say it
how did you feel?
Good! But it was hard, I was a little scared. From peoples comments, it is hard, it freed me, it is like
coming out of the closet! The Zionist closet, this is what you are but you have been hiding it. Then to say it
from an analytical place, not to say I am anti-Zionist and thats it!
3.4.2

SARA

and Zionism?
I have nothing with Zionism, I have criticism for Zionism, it is Zionism for Jews. It is Ashkenazi
hegemony, they are not building the land they are destroying it. The meaning of Zionism is destruction, they
brought this word and in the name of Zionism it has no meaning, it has a one way meaning, it is racist, it is
destructive, it has nothing positive to it, you dont give the other any place while it is his right from the first
place, everybody has rights here, also the Jews have rights, but it does not give anyone the right, destruction
and demolition. What did Zionism do for me? Told my parents to come here to spawn (reproduce) 10
children, work like donkeys, tell them that their language is wrong that their culture is wrong, that it is an
embarrassment to be living in poverty, one has to be miserable for the rest of his live, they get their fat
salaries...what is Zionism?!!? How did you build the land? In illegal settlements?!?! I am speaking about
Eretz Israel, a land of space, what are you doing to make it better here??! What is this word (Zionism), how
does it help me within the society, women, Mizrahim, in everything I believe in, my whole life I fought alone.
While trying to define Zionism and her relation to it, Saras account is contradictory. On one hand,
Zionism has no meaning, on the other, it is extremely meaningful. On one hand, Zionism is referred to as
positive: it is Zionism for Jews. It is Ashkenazi hegemony, while on the other hand it is negative and
diabolic: they are not building the land they are destroying it. At the same time Zionism was perhaps a
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synonym for democracy, values and the building up of land, and yet also for destruction and racism. This
ambivalence highlights the difficult process Sara was going through, trying to both denaturalize her Zionist
performance whilst accounting the new story to herself in front of me. Her coming out is not through defining
herself but rather through defining Zionism and how it did not serve her even when she believed in it. This is
an accounting of oneself as a Mizrahi woman, who deeply believed in Zionism while it oppressed her, her
family and community.
Alons privileged Ashkenazi account of Anti-Zionism is different. Alon writes, says and declares his antiZionism in numerous ways, in Saras account, she compared her parents to animals on two occasions: Told
my parents to come here to spawn (reproduce) 10 children, work like donkeys. In doing so Sara is highlighting
the way that her parents were treated as inhuman by the oppressing hegemony. However in her account, she
was in a powerful empowered position rather than in an oppressed one. She was in the stage of seeing the
political and global picture of her own personal and familial story. And thus, out of this politically empowered
position, she could be in solidarity with the oppressed, thus the Palestinians, that she encountered in the
former stages (Freire, 2000; Weksler, 2005).
3.4.3

ALON

Alons gender, ethnicity and social class allowed him to finally deconstruct his Zionist performance and
confront the hegemonic structure on a larger scale. His coming out process did not involve a complex view of
his familys own social oppression. Even after coming out in an Anti-Zionist position, Alon is still accepted
by the structures he is part of: in 92 I decided to write another book about 48, much sharper, The Making
of 92 was a year of procedures (at the University) and they read the book and they were really
contemplating whether or not to grant me tenure, for two years they were working on it, because the book
was, is really anti-Zionist. Suddenly the book did not make sense to them. It did not make sense to me either,
becauseit just came out!
I said now I dont have to play games, I proposed courses that drove them crazy, the Nakba, the
Expulsion in 48, Zionism as Colonialism, in addition, in 92 I made contact with all the non-conventional
academics in Israel, Adi Ofir, Ariela Azulai, Amnon Raz-Karkotzkin, Yoav Peled, each one and his opinions,
not all were distanced from Zionism in the same way because of that there was a discussion, I called it later
post-Zionist, it was not really anti-Zionistpost-Zionist suited us well, because not all of us were anti-Zionists
but very critical of Zionism for sure, in 93 that is the year, you know, Theory and Criticism57 was first
published. I was part of the group and that year was the first time we sat at the Bugrashov Gallery (Tel Aviv),
I remember, we spoke about a post and anti-Zionist workshop, it was fun, 93 to 2000 it was wonderful.

57

Theory and Criticism was first published in 1989. This interdisciplinary journal helps to set the theoretical
agenda for the study of Israeli culture and society. Two volumes are published every year. Editor: Prof. Yehouda
Shenhav http://www.vanleer.org.il/eng/content.asp?id=293

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Through Alons account he expressed the various tasks of coming out all taken in relation to his
professional position. Once he was writing the book and creating radical courses, Alon could reach out to
others in his profession whom he could dialogue with. In this way Alon could be part of a community of
learning, rather than being in solitude.
My opinions have not changed since 2002, the thing is that you become famous and you are in high
demand and asked to write a lot, and when you are asked to write a lot you also formulate the things in a
clearer way to yourself. So my position has not changed since 2000, I mean I still think that the only solution
here is the one state, and that the refugees need to comeback.
When was the first time you said it to yourself; Im anti-Zionist?
mm, interesting! I think it happened to me around, ahhh, the events of 98. It was the 50 years
celebration of the State of Israel, and I was already involved in the preparation of the alternative ceremonies.
There were several of us thinking together; what are we doing for the 50 year celebration, what are we
doing that was not ? and suddenly I said (then I used the term post Zionist), I said: we need something
clearly anti-Zionist, and everyone said ,who told me?? Ahh yes Norman Finkelstein, I remember he told me,
thats not good the anti-Zionist idea will outrage people against you I said: ok, let them be outraged
against me, I want an anti-Zionist event because the problem is not only what Israel did in 67, and it is not
only what it (Israel) did in 48, it is the essence of what it represents. And I remember that I frightened even
the non-Zionist people. I want an anti-Zionist content I said. I think I was trying to say: dont give me just
Palestinian nationalism here, where are we here? I said: ok no problem you want it to be all Palestinian
nationalism? I have no problem. So why do you need me here? Anti-Zionism is more my regret is stronger
than your solidarity. For you it is clear that you are Palestinians, for me it is unclear what I am.
Alons academic position created an expectation for elaborating his thoughts in writing. Elaborating his
thoughts obliged him to confront his new and old knowledge bringing it out on paper. Despite the fact that
Alons socio-political position allowed him to publicly reject Israeli hegemony, Alon accounted great
difficulties in terms of his fears and price he had to pay. Alon highlights the difference between the price he
paid and the price that Mizrahi and Palestinians pay or might pay, claiming that they pay a higher price.
Having said that, Alon has become alienated from his close ones, a price he feels he had to pay for his
becoming and coming-out process.
and your family, how did they take it.
my family did not accept it at all. To this day I am disconnected from my family.
from whom?

64

my sister, my cousins. I have one brother who I am on good terms with, but for the rest of the family it is
very hard for them. This is the price, I guess the family is less important to me and that is why I dont mention
it but it created a disconnection with the family, but somehow I dont miss it I dont know (laugh).
then it was hard!?!
yes it was hard. But today it is ok. The disconnection from my friends was harder, friends left me.
childhood friends?
childhood and friends from the University, the student days and the army
they stopped talking to you?
yes yes
I mean it was not you who said: I cant stay in contact with you
Noooo. They did not want to talk to me. I even said ok they are racist, but I will continue because I
am a real optimist, I was ready to keep talking to them even when they were still racist because I always
believed I might influence them.
Research analyzing the coming out processes of homosexuals suggest, that coming out to ones family
and close environment is the hardest task in the process (Shilo, 2007). Alon was not accepted by most of his
family members and close friends once he came out as who he really was (in his words), having said that Alon
felt liberated. For Alon, reaching this point, having to pay the price he paid, was still an empowering
liberating stage. However, Alon mentions one more point, at this stage Alon still believed he could change his
surroundings and thus maintain his complex political social position. Not being able to do so was a hard
disappointment for him.
3.4.4

AKIVA

Akivas coming out involved writing to his parents sharing his decision to leave the religion and one hand,
and on the other, the action of physically undressing himself of religious symbols:
When did you take off the Kippah?
directly after, without a crisis it was part of an intellectual development, I remember I wrote to my
parents, I expected they would disconnect any contact with me, not for the ideological issue for the fact that I
am not following the religious obligations, I knew it would not be a political problem but the disconnection
from the religion.
Although fearful, Akiva took the action of telling his parents, thus coming out as who he really is. This
action finally liberated him and allowed him to continue constructing his relation with his family and thus
preformed a transformative liberating experience.
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3.4.5

GAL

Without the movie I wouldnt have gone to Biliin. At first the film was very very political, towards the
end it became, as you said, like falling in love. I understood that I can say many many things including the
emotional side including the place it gave me to become political and end it as a love story with the movies
name and all and, the process itself was hard and long, feelings of responsibility, feelings of guilt, it was
torture to get out the artistic side, but also, well after the movie was done it was a proof to myself that I am
really an activist and that I did not lose my motivation with the outing of the movie.
Gal chose to express his coming out through the making of a movie. This allowed him to express his own
complex regard including his feelings, showing the world who he really was whilst also presenting his
political analysis. The making of the film was an empowering step in Gals process: one day my cousin came
to visit me and then I said to him: I dont even think I am Zionist it was weird for him to hear it, and for
me.
Was it the first time you said it?
Yes, that I was saying it to someone that would find it hard to hear, yes.
Was it hard for you, how did you feel?
it was hard for me to say it, so it was not easy for me, it was not easy for me, but it was not like
Crossing the Red Sea. Again, these things, come more from the place of, you know, you grew up here, the
society here; you are either with us or with them.
In Gals account coming out is in effect coming out to; someone that would find it hard to hear. The
coming out was described as difficult and this idea was repeated several times. However he insisted on
concluding that it could be done. In Gals account the coming out process seemed undoable at first, however,
once it was started, Gal recognized its liberating potential, and thus the coming out became an empowering
task (Shilo, 2007; Cass, 1979).
3.4.6

YARDENA

Yardena expressed the difficulties she experienced within Isha-Le-Isha and her feelings concerning the
extremist opinions:
What do you mean by extremist opinions?
what do I mean by extremist opinions? ok (silence) I think that, that, (silence), I think that the women
of Isha-le-Isha are on the very left side of the political field and I, on the other hand, if we look at the range,
have one leg here and one leg there, since I can see both sides, to all the time speak about the suffering in
Gaza while ignoring the suffering of Sderot, I cant accept that! They totally ignore it (Sderot).

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Yardena felt she was forced to come out in a way she could not identify with, while preparing slogans for
a demonstration, she was finding it hard to take part in the community of learning activity: I dont go to
demonstrations, cant take the chaos, cant stand the yelling and the domination, it is not for me, so um we
were all together preparing the signs and the other women were writing horrible things! Ahhh Barak58 with
blood on his hands marching all the way to the elections and all kinds of signs of the sort: let the children
live, let the children of Gaza live so I asked to write: let the children of Gaza and Sderot live, they refused
to write it, so I felt that that was very extreme.
who refused to write it?
the girls! So there were Palestinian girls but there were also Israeli girls. And the Israelis seemed to me
more extreme than the Palestinians, not more extremist but, I mean totally ignoring the suffering of the Israeli
women, it seemed unfair to me
At this point Yardena is not willing to give up her community of learning. However, she is disappointed to
discover that the other Israeli women, who she thought would be like her,, are in effect solidary with the
Palestinian women rather than with her. At this point Yardena still holds on to the hegemonic expectation of
unity between Israelis, whereas the other women have crossed the border, and have totally transgressed the
Israeli common sense. However, Yardena is in constant self-dialogue and accounts her own transgression
process:
from the place I came from, criticizing Zionism is a very huge step, seeing I grew up on Zionism, with
a revisionist father, my parents immigrated in 48 and my mother tells the story that she used to sleep and
under her bed were explosives.
What do you feel in relation to Zionism?
it is very hard for me, but I have come a long way now, from a place of accepting it as common sense, as
something I breast fed off and is inside of me, I am Israeli and I love Israel, and Israel, and, and, that me
being here is obvious, and that I have come back after 2000 years it has become ahhh, it has become a
question, it has become a question the obvious, the common sense does not exist anymore.
In Yardenas experience coming out to herself and to her group as criticizing Zionism is already a very
big step. However the group was in another position and was trying to take the groups coming out even
further. Yardena tried to find a balance she could live in peace with. While not going to the demonstration,
Yardena felt that the slogans represented her as well. Thus the group has become her group it is now her
learning community. The coming out process is profoundly influenced by her dialogue partners and the
expectations of her group.

58

At the time, Ehud Barak was the Israeli defense minister.

67

Now, I cant relate to the single definition of the establishment of the state as the Nakba, I cant! is it
only a Nakba? so lets give back the keys and go to Uganda (laugh). I dont know what to do it seems
unsolvable to me. It seems to me (long silence) what I think is that whoever is on the extreme left does not see
the whole picture, once you say, um the establishment of the state was a Nakba, where does this position us?
where do you think it positions us?
where do I think?
yes, how do you feel when you hear that said?
I dont know! I dont know! I understand that for the Palestinians it was a Nakba, of course it was a
Nakba. They were expelled, killed, plundered, their place was stolen, OK, the question is if that was a Nakba
am I supposed to give the keys back? I am just, just, it is an unsolvable situation, I understand the problematic
but I dont know, I cant say that I, I cant say that I, I cant I cant, I cant say what is the solution.
you sound very confused
yes! Right? I dont know what the solution is.
What do you know?
What do I know?! (silence) what I do know is that my presence here is not taken for granted. That there
is a whole nation that is suffering because of my presence here, this I know and I did not know it before. I did
not know, I mean I dont know if I did not know or if I ignored it.
When Yardena describes the Nakba she speaks in the third person, using they rather than the first person
we when relating to the Israelis who confiscated the lands. Throughout her account she assumes her
hegemonic position and the work she was doing to deconstruct her performance. However, at this point, she is
not able to assume the Nakba as part of her story, as the aggressor of the Palestinians during the Nakba. The
story of the Nakba was a difficult painful story she was still facing. The Nakba questions her legitimacy on the
land. Yardena is looking to balance the new white identity she would like to perform without losing her place
in her home or losing her home (Helms, 1990). A critical pedagogy position would oblige Yardena to take a
radical position, to transgress the borders and to name the reality. Yardena is willing to accept that there are
other stories but not willing to name the reality and take a radical position. In this sense, Anat is in the same
position; she is willing to be in narratives but not in radical naming and complete solidarity with the oppressed
as Freire would describe it (2000, 1973).

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FOURTHCHAPTER

EPILOGUE:ACCEPTANCE
According to the critical pedagogy liberation process, the oppressors process does not end with realizing
his/her position and privileges. It is completed by assuming and naming in order to promote a critical dialogue
with the oppressed towards a praxis of changing the reality. This last and important stage is when the actors
have taken the responsibility of dialogue inside and outside their society and are acting to change it rather than
alienating themselves from it. The actors have all accounted their queerness within Israeli society. However,
at this stage they are looking to be accepted, as queer, by the society rather than being alienated by it.

4.1 ALON
Alons account reveals the difficulty he encountered throughout this stage. Furthermore Alon reveals a
dynamic non-static process. During the 90s, after coming out as an anti-Zionist and teaching anti-hegemonic
material, Alon still had a successful academic career, in his account he was extremely popular. However he
was confronted with the hegemonic institution:
and students were taking your courses?
yes they (the courses) were very popular. I also did not talk in a post modernist way so they understood
me (laugh), ahhh my doctoral students started working and the graduate students till 2000. In 2000
everything closed down. Just everything closed, till 2000 I thought, and I also wrote my articles in this way,
that the revolution is on its way and it will start in the University. (laugh). In 2000 everything collapsed in
the same way it, it was amazing to see, in 2000.
What happened?
everything happened! Ahhh the academic mainstream tolerance for other opinions was blocked,
disappeared just like this, in an instance. The willingness to allow people like us to always have ongoing
research, to continue in our direction, disappeared, they took the gloves off towards everyone, the Arab
students in the campuses, to anti-Zionist conferences, to Anti-Zionist discourse, everything became
illegitimate. They said the second intifada is war, and everything we allowed you to do till now was during
peace, now is war time it was an amazing switch from this point of view. Incidentally, it is good that it
happened because I prefer the situation after 2000, you know where you stand, just like you feel better with
Likudniques (people who vote for the Likud, the big Israeli right wing party) than with the Labor party, you
know where you stand. The racism is clear, is exposed, it (racism) is not hidden, it is much easier to deal with
it. With Meretz, they tell you that they are not racist and you know that they are super racists, it is super
hard.

69

Alon explains the complex situation he was in. On one hand, knowing your enemy felt better to him yet,
on the other hand, not being able to speak out and work in and within his society was a frustrating reality.
Alon has now come out and has clear agendas concerning the society he would like to be a part of. However,
the hegemonic forces rejected him. Nevertheless, Alon has found his social position. He was teaching and
encouraging critical thinking within the university life he believed in.
so who did you talk to during these years?
with Azmi a lot. I think I got closer to Balad59 then. Balad spoke to me much more than Hadash but in
Balad there was the nationalist element, they didnt really want Jews, so I didnt talk to anyone. I spoke
mainly to myself. I spoke a lot with (to) myself, with Palestinian friends in the Diaspora I already had an
excellent discourse. With the people doing the Electronic Intifada60 and Al-Awda61, I was very connected to
them, um but if comparing, it was easier for me with Balad than Hadash, in this sense, thats it, the way out
was on the cards I guess.
Alon acknowledges the difficulty of finding partners from within, and goes to talk to Palestinians from
the outside. However, when trying to pin down the partner from inside he could only think of Balad. At the
end of the day the Palestinian nationalist party within the Israeli parliament and, as he says, this party was not
necessarily open for Jewish Israelis partners.
so in 2002,
in 2002, the University tried to throw me out, they didnt manage, it is very hard to throw out someone
with tenure, also the world influenced the university, maybe it is a shame. I stayed but with horrible
conditions, I was totally boycotted a total boycott.
What does that mean?
it was forbidden to invite me for conferences; it was forbidden for me to participate in committees, ahh it
was forbidden, every person who was seen with me got a phone call from the university that he was seen
drinking coffee with me I barely had research students. And of course no promotions, and the classes; I
kept getting small classes that were unsuitable for teaching, it was amazing this thing, and a lot of hatred, the
students, the atmosphere, the university organized the students to demonstrate against me, it was unbearable,
it was unpleasant to go to the university, it was gradual from 2002, and in 2006 I left . Today I feel much more
efficient I have to say the truth. I know that my academic status is very respectable around the world. Before I
only had a respected status between certain activist circles, now my academic status is much respected, what I

59

Balad is The Arab-Palestinian National Democratic Assembly established by Azmi Bishara,

60

http://electronicintifada.net/

61

http://www.al-awda.org/

70

didnt have in the country (Israel), I mean I was not at all respected academically. Ahhh and it helped in the
activist issues, of course.
So overall, I am at peace with it, there is something uncomfortable in leaving due to pressure, so what?!
Because you also dont want people to have Sumud62 (laugh) so I did not do Sumud, but I took a strategic
decision. Again I am saying I could have, the university is not a place that makes it impossible to build a wall,
it is possible
what do you feel was the high price you paid? After the change you went through
the price is my nuclear family, it is very difficult to maintain it, the family wants to stay here and I work
in England, so the price is very big my children aspect, they dont have a father at home, like a father who
works it is a very high price for me, the disconnection from my children mainly, I find it very hard, but I
dont have any other option, um what else?? I think for a person to be hostile in the eyes of his society. Unless
you like it, but I dont like it (laugh). Look during 2004-2005 I was the number one enemy, today I am happily
off the Israeli radar, but in 2002-2005 I was very much in the public consciousness, and I think I was one of
the number one public enemies. This is the price. I took it to heart, um yes and it was also frightening, and
also unpleasant. The left, they are antipathetic and Byzantrop, it does not touch them, they dont have a sense
of humor, I am not like that, I am neither antipathetic nor Byzantrop and I have a sense of humour, I think. So
it is extremely unpleasant for me. I like being with people. It is extremely unpleasant for me when people dont
want my presence because of my opinions. So yes the price is heavy, I think it is nothing compared to what the
Palestinian are paying we dont pay the

4.2 ANAT
Look you know that you are supposed to keep living here, you want to make a change, you want to bring
someone to change, indeed the institution creates all kinds of programs, but you need to come with an
alternative, you need to build it, the left organizations have made a certain kind of vision, there were all kinds,
there was the bi-national state, there was a uni-national state, all kinds, I mean two states, but this, but there
were always questions, how will it exactly happen, what is it? Who am I in this story? ahhh what about the
refugees, what about citizenship? Why? What about the Arabs here? These were the questions but they had no
place beeeacause there were slogans (laugh) and everybody needs to gather around slogans. The how issue of
research and learning you do it in a difficult way. Today I meet women from Gaza, Ramallah, Jerusalem, can
I be in their story together with my own?
sounds complicated

62

Sumud (Arabic: )meaning "steadfastness" or "steadfast perseverance". The term first emerged among the
Palestinian people through the experience of the dialectic of oppression and resistance in the wake of the 1967 war.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sumud.

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it is complicated, it is like work I am committed to this morning I worked on a project, over there,
there are also women I find it hard to reach to Naomi Hazan and her mastering of English there are
things that I find it hard to compete with I found my smaller niche
Anat, expresses a double process of searching for acceptance. On the one hand, she accepts the
Palestinians narrative and includes it in her story. Yet, on the other hand, she expresses alienation from the
Ashkenazi women speaking English in her political circles and community of learning. In fact Anat is able
to accept the Palestinian narrative together with her own more easily than she can feel comfortable with the
Ashkenazi left elitist discourse.
I dont want to be on one side, its really how I feel, there is a little of this and a little of that, it is hard, I
am telling you, some people stopped breathing during the elections. My family. They accepted it, went to vote
but they felt, they voted for me, Hadash, also to be in the left and to be in Biet Jalla and on the other hand to
be able, it is obvious that I am more left than the neighborhood but I dont want to disconnect from my
history, nor from the kibbutz.
Anat during the last elections was a candidate within the Jewish-Arab63 Communist party, for her, it was a
huge step, distancing herself from her family and neighborhood. However, although she has taken this step,
Anat accounts her wish to stay connected, to stay related to where she grew up and to the complex Mizrahi
discourse she deeply believes in.

4.3 SARA
there are no connections between the struggles. I came back to the neighborhood, of Mizrahim you
know, you go downstairs at Air Ganim64, I did not grow up there but I am connected to them with my soul.
Home - work, work home, only the smell or someone who needs help I am there, I got to this neighborhood
and there were 800 projects in the neighborhood and there are neither changes nor movement, I told Tiqva I
have gone down to my people and I got a bomba (a slap) in the face, I dont have a common language with
them, today more than before, but when I try talking to someone and she speaks to me with this language.. I
know I am a snob next to her.
were you worried to become like the Ashkenazi snobs?
my whole life, sorry for the expression, I was racist against the Ashkenazi hegemony. I have Ashkenazi
friends, I love them, it has nothing to do with each other, it is about the concept, a general thing. I went down
to the neighborhood and I told Tiqva, what is this? Where did I get to? I wanted to talk to people, on eye level,
about a book and it was a cultural shock, something in the content ... and she told me; yes Sara the reality is
very complex with my family, everything that happens in a Mizrahi house happened to me and more, it is not

63
64

In this case Jewish-Arab refers to a joint Jewish and Arab/Palestinian Israeli party.
Neighborhood in Jerusalem.

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that I am coming. It is true I was disconnected for a moment and now Im back, I dont know how I got to
places of a little development, interest in other things. I have the street intelligence on one hand, and I have
the language with these people after coming back and I also have the language to sit here with you or with
someone in particular and speak his language, I can adjust myself to the place I am in, it does not exist here
there are only a few people that have this ability to make the connections I can do and people like me can.
Here it is hard for them to accept people who are not like us, this is the tragedy, because Im able to get out of
here go to the neighborhood and I meet someone completely different and if I meet a partner I would meet
someone who would be completely different, this is the bottom line, this is my message. This is our tragedy we
are convincing the convinced, nobody knows the AIC in the country, we are against separation. My motivation
is to lead big struggles, I think I could have done more and today I am a tired person and I have no power and
something inside has finished, its visible, they managed to break me here.
I was wondering if you were trying to say I discovered something and I dont want to be the only
one
I am saying, I discovered but I am saying maybe it is a shame I discovered, I am not saying it is a
shame but, again once you discover and you, I dont want, self-criticism, I dont want you to think that if I got
to this place it means that I have better inventions than other people nor do I know better what needs to be
done, I am not judgmental of people. Sometimes it gives you the wish to die more than to live, all these
revelations to awareness have a very very high price.
What is the price?
The price, the responsibility, first of all the lack of, despair, a lot of despair, great grief, tremendous
helplessness, its like, at first I thought no brain no worries, woe is me! Then I thought one must know
the real knowledge is lack of knowledge, I have reached situations in my live where I dont understand
anything regarding my life, if once I thought I understand today I dont understand anything, I am small in
order to understand all kinds of things.
Sara and Anat are trying to find some kind of connection between the social and political struggles. These
are the two worlds they come from and they are looking to feel part of them again, yet from their new critical
complex socio-political position. This point is accounted by both as being a source of despair, yet it is the core
of their vision.
In Saras account she is seeking acceptance on several levels. Firstly she expresses the alienation she
experiences within her new community of learning. In a gendered, ethnic and class account Sara feels queer
within her new community. Subsequently, Sara accounts her queerness within her neighborhood with which
she is so familiar.

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4.4 GAL
I remember I met an Italian activist who was anti-Zionist, at the time I argued with her but not because
I did not agree with her, I asked her:what can the Jewish people do now? and she said:not this! she did
not have an answer, it really frustrated me.
What do you think today?
today I can relate more to streams in Judaism which went to certain directions, like the Communist Jews,
their solutions are more general and not only for themselves. I see myself as part of the world struggle, to
erase differences, part of a larger political action, it means of course to recognize that it did not happen only
to the Jews, anti-Semitism exists and one cant ignore it but living here one can see how it is taken advantage
of and even encouraged
Gal is accounting his acceptance through finding alternative Jewish meaning rather than Israeli meaning.
Furthermore, he highlights the international struggle he feels more comfortable relating himself to. At this
point Gal does not mention his relation to Israeli society and takes other perspectives in order to reach
acceptance.

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FIFTHCHAPTER

DISCUSSIONSANDCONCLUSIONS
The accounts I have presented in this paper demonstrate the actors reframing of their reality and their
surroundings. Their reframing has changed the conceptual and emotional setting or viewpoint of their past
experiences thus placing them in other frames and changing their entire meaning. Indeed, reframing
challenges the accepted assumptions, thus breaking hegemonic frames. The critical reframing I have presented
is thus of extreme relevance in this regard. It creates an epistemological coherence when analyzing the Israeli
state and its relation to the land and its Palestinian residents.
Through their biographic storytelling and self-reflections on their transformative process towards critical
thinking, the actors revealed to me the fascinating critical educational process through which an oppressor
develops a critical understanding of the Israeli Zionist hegemony and its colonial ideology and practice. This
view of Israeli colonial society is in line with the critical review of post-colonial literature presented in this
research (Said, 1978; Shohat, 1988, 2006; Memmi, 1966; Fanon, 1990, 1968; Shenhav, 2006).
Dominant groups enjoy the privilege of the majority group, even if they dont wish to do so. Furthermore,
dominant people dont acknowledge their identity as such. Only when in contact with others (blacks) does the
subject potentially come onto the agenda (Helms, 1990). The privileged group, through their liberation
process, comprehends that their whiteness, thus domination, is a choice rather that an accident of
circumstances (hooks, 1984; 2003).

5.1 THEOTHER
The concept of the other was highly present in the actors accounts. The colonial subject's position toward
the other is not a mere rejection resulting from difference but a recognition and denial of otherness that, on
one hand, holds an attraction and, on the other, poses a threat. This leads to an ambivalent power relation of
fantasy and fear (Gunif-Souilamas & Mac, 2004; Yossef, 2004). This form of Orientalist discourse relates
to the East as abnormal, underdeveloped, and inferior with the goal of establishing an Occidental self as
rational, modern, and superior. This justifies the colonizers privileges and aggressions (Said, 1994, 1979;
Shohat, 1988). In the actors accounts, the other was most frequently mentioned when talking about
Palestinians, Mizrahis, women or lesbians.
For an oppressor, to go through critical self-reflection necessarily entails the reframing of his/her own
identity. The critical identity is in fact the socio-political position rather than a neutral self definition. In the
Pedagogy of the Oppressed (2000), Freire discusses the relation between the oppressed and the oppressor
through the concept of otherness. He argues that for the oppressor, the other, hence the oppressed, are not seen
as human beings, the term human beings refers only to themselves. Helms (1990) argues that for the one who
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is part of the dominant group, the encounter with the other is the only moment when he/she realizes his/her
own identity position.

5.2 THEOTHERWITHINONESELF
While classical post-colonial theories offer an important critical understanding of dominating societies
within colonial structures, these theories fall short when analyzing the complex structure of Israeli society.
This is due to the internal oppressions existing within that society. Israeli society is constructed from both
oppressors and oppressed. This means that, in some cases, the other lies within oneself. Here, oriental and
feminist oriental post-colonial theories come to offer a complex perspective which is relevant to Israeli
society.
Mizrahi Israelis are part of the non-dominant group within Israeli society and as such have experienced
Black or minority experiences through the course of their lives. In this sense, the Mizrahi actors in this
research have additionally demonstrated the changing awareness process of an oppressed person. When
oppressed, the process of changing awareness is also a process of developing inner knowledge. A non or antiZionist Mizrahi consciousness was accounted by the actors as a complex regard which insists on relating the
struggle against their own oppression to the Palestinian struggle. Hence the social and political struggles
which are divided in terms of the Israeli hegemonic common sense, were both a priority for the Mizrahi actors
in this research. Furthermore, the Mizrahi-Feminist discourse accounted by the actors and elaborated
throughout the manuscript offers a complex understanding of both gender and ethnicity within the Israeli nonhegemonic experience.
In Frieres (2000, 1973) phases of change, he argues that the journey towards critical thinking which the
oppressed endure necessarily includes a critical regard of their own oppression. Therefore when oppressed as
a Mizrahi or as a woman, as a consequence of their critical understanding of their oppression, the actors were
able to be solidary (Freire, 2000) with other oppressed people without entering into a comparative view of
oppression. In this sense, in Saras account, she was able to be in solidarity with Palestinians when realizing
and politicizing her own oppression as a Mizrahi woman. Similarly, Yardena, while having an Ashkenazi
dominant account, was able to be solidary with Palestinian women when politicizing her own oppression as a
woman within the militaristic sexist Israeli society. From this point onwards, Yardena was also able to
critically analyze Zionism while questioning her own existence on the land.
The results of this research have emphasized dialogue and constant questioning pedagogy as a central
praxis of all seven actors and their processes. The four women actors of this research have also all taken part
in radical feminist platforms of critical dialogue. In addition all four elaborated the need for a critical nonliberal feminist struggle and analytical approach. They emphasized the gendered deviation which exists within
the activist arena of Israeli society, and went so far as to criticize the reproduction of a hegemonic gendered
dynamic of sexism and machism within anti/non Zionist discourse.
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5.3 EDUCATIONALSTAGESTOQUEERINGZIONISM
In the light of the three phases to critical consciousness of Critical Pedagogy (Freire, 1970; 1973), the
Ethnic Identity six stage process (Helms, 1990; Halabi, 2004) and the six stages of Sexual Identity (Cass,
1979; Shilo, 2007), this research argues that Zionist Israelis who go through a becoming process to AntiZionism undergo five stages of critical thinking during their transformative educational process. The results of
this research and its analytical value suggest a dialectical relation between the five stages, rather than the
consequential relation suggested by Freire. The Friereian phases imply the necessity of accomplishing the first
and second phases in order to successfully reach the third and final phase. I would claim that throughout the
journey of change, one could find an ongoing dialogical interaction between the stages. This corresponds to
the views of feminist critical theories of change and feminist critical pedagogy (hooks, 1994; 2000; 2003;
Dahan-Kalev, 1999; Collins 2000).
The subjects are actors in their own journey and are involved in a constant question-posing process which
leads to a dynamic process of change rather than a static one. The stages are interwoven processes which build
a holistic story of the actors and thus the larger process. This suggests that the stages are indeed an
empowering process of growth which includes repetitive enhancements and setbacks, constantly connecting
the complex fabric to a larger piece of art. Thus the stages are interconnected and are all important for a
holistic understanding of the story. One could imagine the stages represented as concentric circles surrounding
each other, constantly sharing a center. From this optic, when one stage becomes central, the other stages
would all be surrounding it.
5.3.1

REVEALINGTHELIE(S)

In the two primary stages, the actors accounted extreme feelings of dissonance, mainly as a consequence
of being in an emotional state of mind. In their own way, each of the actors found the platforms to express and
question the dissonance they were experiencing. Ironside (2006), in her work on narrative pedagogy, argues
that students who experience critical learning processes, which involve exercising complex emotional and
cognitive analysis, discover a wide range of possibilities when thinking of change in their way of thinking and
acting. Furthermore, she argues that during the critical learning process, the actors go through an unlearning
process, where they shed the common sense way of thinking whilst adopting critical interpretation tools which
help their understanding of their surroundings and environment and their role and position within it. Finally
this unlearning process influences the becoming process. The becoming process, elaborated in the later stages,
is also mentioned by hooks in her book, Teaching to Transgress (1994), where she argues that holistic
education provides the connection between the will to know and the will to become.
Confrontation with the lie(s), as the actors describe them, is the first step in the unlearning process. This
unlearning process was described by the seven actors as a difficult, sometimes painful journey however life
changing. The process was also accounted as an unexpected life changing event. Confrontation with the new
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information, the revealing of the lies, was followed by extreme confusion and emotional turmoil in their
lives. The most frequent emotion accounted by the actors was Anger.
Moreover, during these first two stages, the actors were systematically separating themselves from their
collective, using the term them to describe the society or family they grew up in. Separation from the
collective and the creation of a split is mentioned by Cass (1979) as being a part of the gay sexual identity
process. The actors excluded themselves from their surroundings and experienced feeling of solitude. In some
cases, the actors expressed infantile feelings of anger and feelings of betrayal by their parents. This is not yet
the accounting of oneself in terms of a political role; it is the experience of basic feelings of confusion and
frustration after violent and difficult confrontation with highly contradictory stories and situations. During the
first stage the actors accounted the numerous encounters which evoked the initial contradictory knowledge
and cognitive dissonance. At that point, feelings of confusion, emerging throughout the second stage, were
expressed in term of mess followed by the need for order and sense making. The emotional state was
overwhelming, however the process of unlearning had started, and while the deconstruction of the known was
painful, the actors were eager to take further steps in their sense making process from a critical point of view.
5.3.2

RECREATINGKNOWLEDGE

The transformation process to radical consciousness, in Freires writings (2000; 1973), requires critical
awareness of the socio-political power dynamic. However he argues that the learning process must be
constantly done through praxis. The critical pedagogy literature discusses praxis as a learning experience
(Gore, 1990; Shor, 1996; hooks, 1994). Narrative education (Delory, 2009, 2003; Ironside, 2006, 2001) as
well as critical and feminist critical education (hooks, 2004, 2000, 2003, 1994;Helms 1990;Collins, 2000)
discuss the importance of educators and students becoming subjects rather than objects in their own history.
Becoming a subject is first of all being able to tell ones own story. More precisely, it is the ability to elaborate
ones social-political position. In other words, the learning process requires self-reflection and understanding
ones position within the social sphere.
In this third stage all the actors in this research demonstrated the importance of their own self-reflection
within their becoming process. This process takes place both in the task of unveiling reality and thus coming
to know it critically, and in the task of re-creating that same knowledge (Freire, 2000, 1973, 1998). The
complex discussion of power dynamics was a significant moment in the actors learning processes. It offered
them the positional knowledge to discuss their privileged or oppressed position, as oppressors, within different
political contexts.
Throughout this stage, all the actors accounted their extreme satisfaction with the complex analytical
reality they were exposed to as an outcome of their newly acquired knowledge. In their accounts, one could
clearly notice that the complex dialectic consciousness, rather than a laniary simplistic awareness, was in fact
a process of sense making.
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Critical and feminist critical pedagogy discuss the importance of critical dialogue, constant self-reflection
and question asking pedagogy. Question asking pedagogy allows an empowering process of acquiring new
knowledge to take place. In addition, it allows a dynamic ongoing growth rather than a static laniary practice.
The actors highlighted the empowering affect questioning had had on their learning process and growth.
However, looking closely, the women actors were the ones who put into words the need for questioning
platforms in general and in feminist communities in particular. Furthermore, in their accounts, the radical
feminist platforms and associations allowed them to question, self-reflect, and thus become complex subjects
in their own history.
The actors accounted three different main encounters with new knowledge. The first was by reading. The
reading process was expressed by most actors as an accompanying act to their other encounters. The readings
were either of new critical writings or through critically looking at hegemonic writings such as archives. The
second type of learning experience was through encountering other critical and/or Anti-Zionist Israelis.
Hooks, (2003) argues for the necessity of learning within a community of learning. The encounters with other
Israelis entailed the creation of a community of learning within which the participants could engage in
dialogue and re-create knowledge. Finally the last and the most significantly important experience was the
encounter with the Other. Freire (2000) argues that a humanizing pedagogy is the only effective instrument
for affecting a revolutionary relation between the oppressed and the oppressor, and that these two have to be
in constant dialogue. The empowering encounters with the other allowed the actors to enter into a critical
knowledge dialogue with their oppressed. Thus they were able to re-create the knowledge within the dialogue
with their others. The pedagogy of the oppressed (ibis) highlights the power that the oppressed hold
throughout the dialogue with their oppressor, it is only the oppressed who, by freeing themselves, can free
their oppressors (ibis, p.56).
Throughout this stage, the actors referred to the encounters with the other as an important part of the
learning process. Moreover, in most cases, when using the term other, they were referring to their oppressed
rather than to their oppressor. For example, throughout Saras account, Palestinians were referred to as the
other. However, when referring to her Ashkenazi oppressors, Sara uses the term oppressors rather than the
term other. For Yardena the other was Palestinians, lesbian and Mizrahi women. For Alon the other was
Palestinian academics and for Maya and Anat, the other story was the Palestinian one. The way the word
other was used by the actors confirms theories which state that when part of the ruling hegemonic group, self
definition becomes part of the common sense (Helms, 1990; hooks, 2003, 1994).
During this stage the actors accounted understanding the unjust and unequal position of the other. This
understanding allowed them all to go further in their reflections and thus proceed to the fourth stage of this
transformative liberating process. Furthermore, at this stage the actors were able to distinguish between
solidarity with the oppressed, and generosity for their other. The generosity of the oppressor, Freire (2000,
1973) argues, is nourished by an unjust order, which must be maintained in order to justify that generosity
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(p.60). This goes hand in hand with Helms (1990) theory of white identity. Here Helms argues that
throughout the second stage whites are aware of the two racial groups, however, they are confused between
their self-belief in being egalitarian and the difficulty of seeing their Black others as equal. At the third stage,
the whites try to resolve the dissonance they have found themselves in. At this point they start to analyze their
ethnic identities in terms of White-Superior.
5.3.3

COMINGOUT!

During the fourth stage, the actors accounted their numerous coming out tasks. The coming out was
elaborated as a confrontation with the hegemonic surroundings. This was accounted by all actors as being a
liberating process. Having said that, the actors also accounted this process as being a difficult and sometimes
painful journey which, in many cases, forced them to pay a high price which they would have preferred not to
pay.
In The Epistemology of the Closet, Kosofsky-Sedgwick (2008) argues that the coming out process is a
constant task one performs in front of the heterosexual hegemonic world. Furthermore, she highlights the
transformative potential coming out holds. Once the fourth stage is reached, the actors have come to
understand the hegemonic construction of their common sense. Moreover, at this stage the actors confronted
their Zionist common sense and realized that it is neither an identity nor is it natural; hence the denaturalizing
process came as a continuation of the understanding of social constructions such as heterosexuality.
In fact the whole account of each and every actor is in itself a coming out task. However, within their
accounts, the actors found it important to elaborate on their confrontations with their hegemonic surroundings.
In his account, Alon evokes the fear he experienced and the regret he had when coming out as Anti-Zionist
and consequently losing some of his loved ones. For Maya, the coming out process was double. In her
account, Maya does not only come out of the Zionist Closet, she moreover reveals her own Mizrahi self.
The coming out process involves challenging the notion of ignorance in the same way knowledge is
challenged. Knowledge is not in itself power, yet it is a magnetic field of power. The dominating group does
not necessarily rule with knowledge but with ignorance (Sedgwick, 2000). At this stage, the actors start seeing
their oppressed as their equal. The critical pedagogy emphasizes that a critical consciousness of the oppressor
is in place when the oppressor no longer sees only him or herself as human whilst seeing the oppressed as
things. When this stage is reached, the critical dialogue demands that the actors take a radical position and
thus transgress and cross the borders. For a critical dialogue to take place both sides have to commit to naming
the world in order to change it. In Yardenas account, she was hesitant in taking the radical position: I dont
know! I dont know! I understand that for the Palestinians it was a Nakba, of course it was a Nakba. They
were expelled, killed, plundered, their place was stolen, OK, the question is if that was a Nakba, am I
supposed to give the keys back? I am just, just, it is an unsolvable situation, I understand the problematic but I
dont know, I cant say that I, I cant say that I, I cant I cant, I cant say what is the solution.
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Yardena is conscious of the price she would have to pay and does not want herself to be taken out of the
social frame which she is part of. A radical position, transforms the actors into the other within the prevailing
hegemony of their surroundings. They are no longer seen within the frame by the common sense (Butler,
2009). In both Anat and Saras accounts the need to stay within the frame and to find ways of connecting their
realities to their new coming out positions is clearly highlighted. However the task is recounted as being a
difficult and frustrating act.
Within this stage, the actors can no long identify with Zionism. However, they seek to be accepted by
their society whilst keeping their critical becoming and deconstructed queer performance. Understanding
oneself as an oppressor is a painful and difficult action and is referred to within the critical pedagogy as an act
of re-birth (Friere, 2000; hooks, 2003). The seven actors of this research accounted their process of criticizing
their common sense way of thinking from an empowered place of knowledge and reflection. Indeed, a critical
educational process is characterized by the empowerment of the self-representation of the actors.
5.3.4

TOWARDANTIZIONISM

At this stage of the liberation process, the actors recounted their acceptance of their surroundings from
their new position of awareness. As in queer coming out tasks, the actors accounted their own tasks as
attaining a moment of truth. In other words, the actors reached acceptance. However, they no longer seek to
be accepted by society. Instead they understand being non-accepted in this social-political context,
nonetheless they try to change it.
In the former stages, the actors went through an extreme process of rejecting everything they knew and
grew up with. However, at this stage, the actors no longer simply oppose their surroundings but have reached
a place of clear understanding of the unjust order. Thus, on one hand they accept their queerness and
uniqueness in the eyes of the majority, and on the other, they try to convince others to see the truth as they
do, furthermore, to act against and transgress through a similar transformative process to the one they
themselves went through.
In her psychological crystallization of sexual identity, Cass (1979) argues that, for gay men and women,
reaching a complete healthy process entails eventually accepting their heterosexual surroundings. However,
this stage can be viewed as the final stage following a period of going through a process of rejecting
everything heterosexual surrounding them. This rejecting process corresponds to earlier stages accounted by
the actors in this research. However, the radical position implies queering heterosexual structures, in other
words, struggling, as the pedagogy of the oppressed would define it, in order to change dominating and
oppressing social and political orders. Thus, in contrast to the Acceptance stage within Casss model, for the
actors in this research, reaching this stage implied taking a radical position and thus bringing to praxis their
anti-hegemonic performance.

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At this stage, the actors can no longer remain in a passive position. Thus they take an active, opposing
stand, defining themselves in opposition to Zionism.

5.4 QUESTIONSANDIMPLICATIONS
5.4.1

THEACTORS

The starting point of a piece of narrative research is the storytelling and thus the accounting of dynamic
biographic performance. Furthermore, complex critical research demands a wide view of the actors account.
The actors in this research all take part in the Israeli radical left arena, in their professional and/or
associative life. Together, through their accounting of oneself, the actors have also played an active role in the
construction of this research. As the author of this manuscript, I allowed their accounts to take a significant
place, thus emphasizing the importance of their personal perspective and interpretation. Moreover, the
accounts of the actors were constantly present during the whole writing process and thus are part of the
research frame and content (Bakhtin1993).
However, it is still important to remember that this printed presentation is my act and performance of the
spoken presentation of the actors, of their biographic performance and of the transformation they were going
through as they accounted their liberation process. Furthermore, there is a gap between the dimension of the
phenomena this research aimed to elaborate and the written material; therefore the research could not include
the entire account of each actor. Here, there is an ethical issue about misrepresenting, distorting or deleting
findings which have been provided by actors. In order to remain cohesive with the actors accounts whilst also
being aware of my own position and stance, insofar as it was possible, it was important that I stay visible in
the frame of the research as an interested and subjective actor rather than as a detached and impartial
observer.
5.4.2

POWERDYNAMIC

In order to create a critical dialogue within the asymmetric power dynamic of the interview, I was
constantly self-reflecting on my socio-political position together with my gendered performance. For example
my ethnic position was present while facing Sara through our interaction during the interview. Sara, when
speaking about her relations to other Ashkenazi women, referred to me and even apologized for doing so. At
this point, I was aware of the transfer process taking place and did not enter into a personal dynamic. Rather I
kept asking clarifying questions out of interest in what she was accounting.
Furthermore, when tackling questions of power in biographic narrated research, the problem of judgment
must be addressed and dealt with. However non-judgmental interviews do not imply neutral ones.
My first objective in carrying out the interviews was to create a safe space in which the actors would
express themselves freely to me, whether they knew me or not. It was therefore important to create a frame
which was large enough for the actors to be able to exist and feel present. I chose to assume my active
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presence and to take an active role. This allowed a co-construction of knowledge while facing the power
dynamic created by the interview context. I was not neutral and brought myself and my story into the
interview, however my participation was neither random nor coincidental. The opening comments not only
elaborated the boundaries, goals and objectives of the interview, they also included information about my
own personal interest in the research and about my professional and academic journey. However, in order to
avoid, as much as possible, any implicit suggestion of a particular structure of accounting of the
transformative process, I left the account of my transformation process and changing awareness journey to the
very end of the interview.
5.4.3

LANGUAGE

The transcription of the taped interviews was difficult and time consuming. However, it was an important
element and tool in entering into the depth of the interview and revealing the complete story. The translation
process was also a long and complex one, however enriching and insightful.
While wanting to bring out the true voices of the actors two important factors came into play. On one
hand, it was important to translate correctly in order to have a correct and coherent English version. On the
other hand I wanted to keep the actors composition and the style of their narrative and storytelling. This
process of transcription and translation led me to pay a lot of attention to expressions and linguistic
constructions which are used in Hebrew and of which I could not find an equivalent in English. This further
highlighted for me the way that language can reflect the socio-political and psychological consciousness
within any given context (Vygotsky, 1978).
Finally I cant ignore the question of the hegemonic language this research is written in. While the French
language is significantly less accessible to the majority of the actors in this research than English is, writing
the research in English is nevertheless a hegemonic praxis. It makes the task of sharing the knowledge the
actors have taken part in creating, less accessible. Furthermore Sara and Anat highlighted the alienation that
they encounter when coming into dialogue with English speaking Ashkenazi feminists. While English is my
mother tongue and my emotional language, academic writing in English was a praxis I had to acquire. Writing
in English is neither foreign to me nor is it alienating. However it is a gap I have created between certain of
the actors and other Israeli colleagues and partners I would like to reach out to.

5.5 TOCONCLUDE
Through this narrative research, I have chosen to tackle the question of the political consciousness
transformation process of Israeli Anti-Zionist Actors. Relevant to this process are critical and feminist
educational theories of transformation and change as well as queer theories of personal and collective
transformation. However, this research does not represent itself as in any way complete, comprehensive or
immutable. It is designed to offer a complex analytical and epistemological understanding of the changing
awareness some Israelis have gone through during their unique transformative process. The research aims to
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emphasize the gendered and ethnic complexity of Israeli colonial society and the effect of this complexity on
the transformative process.
This research does not aim to elaborate an understanding of any specific individual characteristic which
makes the actors part of the very small anti-hegemonic Israeli minority. The interview process concentrated
on the educational process which led the actors to their anti-hegemonic positions. However during the course
of the interviews the actors all spontaneously accounted their personal characteristics which led them to differ
from the hegemonic racist common sense. Anat, Gal, Maya, Alon and Sara all accounted that they were
more humanistic than their surroundings.
I suppose that the process of transformative change to anti-hegemonic consciousness within Israeli society
is not a unique process of unique individuals and is in fact an educated experience. The self-reflective and
critical dialogue the actors found themselves in, first allowed them to see the others in their frame. This led
them to analyze their dehumanizing thought about the other in terms of an unjust order. Furthermore, it
brought them to look back at their non-critical period approach to their surroundings and others. Bringing out
their more humanist character could in fact be a way of looking at their transformative process and
understanding that at the time when they thought they were more friendly to the other they were, from my
point of view, holding a humanitarian, rather than a humanist, approach. The humanitarian approach begins
with the egoistic interests of the oppressor and makes of the oppressed the object of its humanitarianism, itself
maintains and embodies oppression (Freire, 2000, p.54). Furthermore, this might suggest that the actors were
simply trying to cling on to a queer experience in their past.
The liberation process of the oppressor is possible when dehumanization thought and praxis is understood
in terms of concrete historical fact rather than as a given destiny and the result of an unjust order (Freire,
1970, 1973, 1998; hooks, 2003, 1984, 1994).
Within the dominant group, critical pedagogy argues that emotional learning praxis is more efficient and
influential than rational ideological criticism (Choules, 2007; Friere, 1997; hooks, 1984). For the dominant
group, privileged in terms of the power dynamic, a transformative social process towards more human and
caring relations rather than intellectual or rational relations, must take place.
Throughout my critical thinking journey and constant dialogue, accompanied by Paulo Friere and Critical
Pedagogy theory and praxis, I have learnt that true solidarity with the oppressed requires that one enter into
the situation of those with whom one is solidary [] fighting at their side to transform the objective reality
which has made them these beings for another (Freire, 2000, p. 49). Only through this form of solidarity,
could it be possible to build a joint, equal and just future in the extreme unjust reality in which we live.
Finally, the writing of this research has given me the academic epistemological tools for analyzing a process I
have been involved in personally, professionally and politically.

84

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* The star next to each Hebrew reference indicates that the English title is my own translation!

91

DOR TAL
Anne universitaire 2009-2010
Queering Zionism
An Israeli Anti-hegemonic transformative process

Mots cls : Pdagogie critique, pdagogie fministe critique, hgmonie, sens


commun, antisionisme, processus transformatif, changement de conscience, rcit de
soi.
partirduneprsomptiondanalogieentresionismeethgmoniehtrosexuelle,laquestionqui
orientecetterechercheestleprocessusdapprentissagequetraversentlesantisionistesisraliensdans
litinrairedetransformationconduisantuneconscienceantihgmonique.Aufildentretiensmens
"commeuneconversation,cetterecherchevisefairemergerlesrcitsdetransformationde
consciencedeseptpersonnagesisraliens,quatrefemmesettroishommes,ayanttraversunprocessus
dapprentissagecritiquequilesaconduitcritiquerouvertementet,danscertainscas,sengager
activementcontrelesenscommunsionistedanslequelilsavaientgrandi.Deplus,toutencherchant
mettreaujourunprocessuscommundapprentissage,lathseicisoutenueestquelespositionsethniques
etdegenrejoueunrleimportantetpeuventainsiconduiredesvariationsdanslesprocessusde
changementdeconsciencedesacteurs.Cetterecherchesefondesurdesthoriescritiquesetfministes
delducation,desapprochesfministesdelaconscienceetlesthoriesqueerdelatransformation
personnelleetcollective(Freire,1970,1973,1998;hooks,2003,1984,1994,2010;Helms,1990;Butler,
2006;Collins,2000;Shiran,2007;DahanKalev,2002;GorZiv,2005).
Toutencherchantinterrogersapropreapprochedelapdagogiecritiquepartirdundiscoursqueer
degenre,cetterecherche,parsesrsultats,insistesurlapdagogiedudialogueetduquestionnement
constantcommepratiquecentralepourlesseptinterlocuteursetleursprocessusparticuliers.Cette
recherchesuggrequelesIsralienssionistesenprocessusdedevenirantisionistestraversentcinq
phasesdepensecritique:(1)confrontationavecle(s)mensonge(s)(commelesdsignentlesacteurs);(2)
confusion;(3)acquisitiondesavoir;(4)sortie(comingout)duplacardsionisteetenfin(5)acceptation,
impliquantprisedepositionradicaleetainsimiseenpratiquedelaperformanceantihgmoniquedes
acteurs.Finalement,lesrsultatsdecetterecherchesuggrentqueleprocessusdetransformationvers
uneconscienceantihgmoniqueauseindelasocitisraliennenestpasunprocessusexceptionnel
dindividusexceptionnels,maisenralituneexpriencedapprentissage.Pourunoppresseur,seprter
lautorflexioncritiqueimpliquencessairementdereformulersapropreidentit.Lidentitcritiqueesten
faitlapositionsociopolitique,pluttquunedfinitionneutredesoi.

92