Workshop for Chapter 1

Workshop Chapter 1

VIDEO PART 1 Workshop: it’s Good to Kill (and Die) for your Country.

In Video Part 1 we meet the film’s protagonists, Israeli Itamar, a former soldier in the Israeli army, and Palestinian Bassam who, at 17 years of age, was accused of terrorism and served seven years in an Israeli prison. The Video Part 1 explores how, starting from very different environments, they developed their individual perpetrator identities.

Learning Objectives:

  • To raise awareness of our own national and other collective narratives and those of others
  • To consider the process of how collective narratives are constructed
  • To understand the purposes these collective narratives serve
  • How might a collective narrative promote warrior identities?

Concepts:

  • How warrior and victim identities coincide and can ‘split’ within us.
  • Collective narratives: individual and group identity; the difficulty of stepping out of an unethical collective narrative.
  • When collective narratives and real experience coincide.

Issues to Explore:

  • What are you feeling having watched Video Part 1?
  • What do we know about the respective collective narratives of Bassam and Itamar?
  • How would you describe your own national collective narrative?
  • How do Bassam’s and Itamar’s respective experiences of trauma and victimhood differ?
  • Would you like to think about or share an experience in which you were either victim or perpetrator?

Facilitating the Workshop:

  1. Where might you find warrior and victim identity and collective narrative on the  Ethical Mindset diagram?
  2. Understand and acknowledge your own collective narratives before encouraging participants to recognise theirs and the impact it has had on them.

    Try using concentric circles with your core identity in the centre and acquired identities in outer circles, ; examples: gender, nationality, professional, family member, refugee, film buff…..

  3. You will have your own experience and technique for recognising and integrating past and present trauma. Think through a past hurt and consider how you ‘manage’ the mental and embodied memory of this hurt in your present life

    Think through some of your own experiences involving the ways an ‘old event’ causes you to react to a current stressful event. Give one example to the group showing the process through which you ‘made the connection’, before offering them the opportunity to try this exercise.

  4. When you reflect how you are feeling, perhaps you can locate these feelings in your body.

    Encourage participants to locate feeling in their body - including having no embodied feelings at all - but only if you and they are confident enough to do this.

Keywords you Should Know:

Collective narrative

Collective narrative

As with individuals, groups small and large reconstruct their group experience through stories that may become the official collective narrative of the group. Confronting or changing a collective narrative may be difficult simply because so many are invested in it, emotionally or through the power hierarchy. Individuals attempting to create a new version of the collective narrative may induce anxiety in the group and find themselves the objects of group aggression.

Holocaust

Holocaust

Systematic persecution and murder by the Nazi regime and collaborators of six million Jews and six million left-wing activists, Roma, disabled people, lesbian and gays and others considered sub-human or subversive.

These social categories. Political or national identities may feel threatening to or by others even though at a personal level they accept the people carrying those identities.

Identity

Identity

A term used to describe a person's conception and expression of their subjectivity within a given social milieu. Contemporary relational theory understands social categories such as race, gender, nationality, culture and class to be core constituents of identity. These are considered to be mandated by the dominant culture. Nevertheless, identity is inevitably personal. It is the emotional self formed within a familial and interpersonal context which gives meaning and significance to.

Perpetrator identity

Perpetrator identity

Someone who perpetrates wrongdoing; a culprit, offender, wrongdoer - a person who transgresses moral or civil law, or perceives themselves as having done so. The moral or ethic spectrum may be personal, cultural, or universal. When transgressed it may result in shame, guilt, helplessness, loss of agency and even suicide. Repair may be acknowledging the wrongdoing as a personal, or public act; the act being ‘witnessed’ and forgiven.

Terrorist

Terrorist

There is neither an academic nor an international legal consensus regarding the definition of the term terrorism. Various legal systems and government agencies use different definitions. Moreover, governments have been reluctant to formulate an agreed upon, legally binding definition. These difficulties arise from the fact that the term is politically and emotionally charged.

During the 1970s and 1980s, the United Nations attempts to define the term foundered mainly due to differences of opinion between various members about the use of violence in the context of conflicts over national liberation and self-determination. Since 1994, the United Nations General Assembly has condemned terrorist acts using the following political description of terrorism: "Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them. (Wikipedia)

Trauma

Trauma

A term used to define a single or repeated overwhelming stressful event, such as emotional or physical abuse, violence, loss, severe accidents, environmental events, which alter a person’s psychological condition and in all probability the brain. Such events are not only terrifying and painful, but may lead to ongoing fear of a repetition of the experience. The fear of repetition of the past feelings or events, triggered perhaps by a smell or sound, then “activates” an involuntary response. Trauma often leaves people mentally disorganized and anxious, suffering loss of cognitive functions and normal emotional responses. This is referred to by psychiatry as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD), a term now used colloquially as well. In PTSD people can be numb or agitated, masking their symptoms or dysfunctional, but any heightened emotional or physical stress will bring about definite symptoms of fear.

It might be useful and specifically relevant to this discussion to include Freud’s statement that the effect of trauma on a person “shatters the foundations of his (sic) life (as a result of which) he abandons all interest in the present and future and remains permanently absorbed in mental concentration on the past” (1917, Introductory Lectures)

Victim identity

Victim identity

Occurs when one’s identity is perceived primarily as having been oppressed, abused or subjected to violence and continuing to see this condition or threat as defining and ongoing. In these circumstances one’s own sense of responsibility or ability to take action are compromised. The identity of victim causes a sense of loss of personal power, or ever having the suffering and abuse recognized.

Warrior identity

Warrior identity

A hero displaying bravery and vigour, and courage; the belief that being a warrior serves a higher moral purpose of protecting your family and country. A warrior is prepared to die, to sacrifice her/himself, to protect the country.

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