Political Paralysis and the Emergence of Religious Nationalism in Palestine and Israel

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In Identity and Religion of Palestine and The Accidental Empire, Lybarger and Gorenberg analyze the historical and political circumstances that gave rise to religious nationalism in the communities of Palestine and Israel. While Lybarger explores the rise of Islamist tendencies in Palestinian politics, Gorenberg explores the rise of the Israeli settler movement. In both cases, political stalemate and instability among secular powers fostered the development of religious nationalism. In the Palestinian case, religious nationalism emerged out of the destabilizing events in the Palestinian political landscape that weakened the PLO. Whereas in the Israeli case, religious nationalism grew out of political inaction on the part of the Labor …show more content…
Events, such as the destruction of the last independent PLO base in Lebanon in 1982 or the outbreak of the first Intifada, further polarized the “old guard” and the “new guard” leaderships. This schism would further amplify during the failures of the Oslo accords. During the time when the Oslo Process appeared capable of providing peace, support for Fatah increased while that of Hamas remained constant or declined. However, once the Oslo Accords began to collapse, Hamas gained more support, while the popularity of Fatah leveled off or decreased (5). Ultimately the inability of the PLO to alleviate the Palestinian suffering fostered the development of a new religio-political identity.
Lybarger, in his analysis of the Palestinian political identity, departs from the traditional dichotomy of secular versus religious nationalism. Instead, through a focused examination of the generation that came to political maturity during the years of the First Intifada, he offers a complex picture of the overlapping national orientations (7). The traditional narrative portrays secularism and nationalism as two distinct and diametrically opposed political milieus. On one side is secular-nationalism, anchored by the Fatah party that believes in a multiconfessional democracy binding the diverse array of constituencies into a territorially bound

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