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Overview of the Book

Antisemitism and anti-Zionism have been passionately debated by historians, political scientists and social scientists (see Chapters 2 and 3). This book makes a social psychological contribution to this debate by providing qualitative insights into antisemitism and anti-Zionism, examining their presence in social representation, individual cognition and everyday talk, and responses to these forms of prejudice by Israeli Jews and British Jews.

Part II of this book approaches antisemitism and anti-Zionism from both historical and social psychological perspectives, investigating the inter-relations between historical events and their social psychological meanings for groups and individuals. Overviews of antisemitism and anti-Zionism are provided in Chapters 2 and 3, respectively. It is argued that the two forms of prejudice are intrinsically related and that in order to gain a better understanding of how antisemitism and anti-Zionism are related, they need to be positioned within a social psychological framework that can accommodate and theorise the distinct levels at which antisemitism and anti-Zionism can function and the distinct ways in which they can be manifested. Accordingly, in Chapter 4, a social psychological framework for examining representation, cognition and everyday talk is outlined. The framework consists of Social Representations Theory, Identity Process Theory and Intergroup Threat Theory and draws upon social psychological theory and research on delegitimisation and dehumanisation. It is argued that a hybrid theoretical approach is necessary for understanding the distinct levels of human interdependence and, crucially, how they relate to one another.

In Part III, empirical insights into social representations of Israel and Jews in Iranian society are provided. This section of the book focuses upon the sources of social representations – these sources provide the backdrop against which public perceptions, individual cognitions and everyday discourse may form. This is particularly important in a context in which the media discourses are closely aligned with and stringently regulated by political institutions. In Chapter 5, an empirical qualitative thematic analysis of the Iranian newspaper press is outlined. The chapter focuses upon two government-aligned newspapers and identifi three thematic clusters in habitual reporting on Israel in the Iranian media. It is shown that, although the Iranian newspaper press tends to focus upon the Jewish State, it subtly
draws upon antisemitic motifs. In Chapter 6, the Iranian media-led and governmentendorsed Holocaust Cartoon Contest, which took place in 2006, is discussed, as a clear example of how antisemitism informs Iranian anti-Zionism. Two hundred and twenty seven cartoons from various countries are analysed using visual thematic analysis and the dominant antisemitic and anti-Zionist themes observable in the cartoons are outlined and discussed in relation to Iran's political agenda and ideology. The overtly antisemitic character of Iranian anti-Zionism is highlighted.

Part IV provides novel empirical insights into the potential antecedents and consequences of antisemitism and anti-Zionism among Iranians and British Pakistani Muslims using qualitative thematic analysis. This section focuses upon individuals' cognition and talk concerning Israel and Jews. In Chapter 7, an interview study with Iranian self-identified political “hardliners” and “reformists” is outlined and the principal themes that summarise their cognitions and perceptions concerning Israel and Jews are highlighted and discussed. It is argued that Iranians appear to differ in their perceptions of Israel and Jews in accordance with both political orientation and identity requirements. However, close attention to individuals' talk highlights the entrenchment of antisemitic myths and representations in their thinking. In Chapter 8, the results of an interview study with British Pakistani Muslims are outlined and discussed, and three themes that summarise their cognitions and perceptions concerning Israel and Jews are highlighted. In this chapter, it is argued that British Pakistani Muslims perceive a strong sense of connection with the Palestinian people and that both Israel and Jews are perceived as posing a threat to their superordinate Muslim identity, a “core” identity in the self-concept. Like Iranians, British Pakistani Muslims also appear to take identity requirements into consideration when thinking and talking about Jews and the Jewish State.

This book constitutes an attempt to provide a holistic and multi-faceted account of antisemitism and anti-Zionism by examining the responses of Israelis and British Jews to these forms of prejudice. In Chapter 9, the results of an interview study with self-identified Israeli Jews are reported. Chapter 10 provides an overview of an interview study with self-identified orthodox, secular and anti-Zionist British Jews. In the concluding chapter, the research presented in this book is summarised and discussed in terms of its theoretical and practical implications in the context of antisemitism and anti-Zionism.

The principal goal in producing this book has been to provide novel insights into antisemitism and anti-Zionism from the perspective a hybrid integrative social psychological framework. Identity Process Theory, Social Representations Theory and Intergroup Threat Theory are concerned primarily with the application of social psychology to the pressing real-world problems functioning at the intrapsychic, interpersonal and intergroup levels of human interdependence. Antisemitism and anti-Zionism are two such problems. It is hoped that the two case studies of Iranians and British Pakistani Muslims will elucidate the complexities, convergences and divergences of antisemitism and anti-Zionism among under-researched groups who manifest these forms of prejudice, and shed light on the social psychology
of antisemitism and anti-Zionism. Similarly, it is hoped that the focus on the responses of Israeli Jews and British Jews to the problems of antisemitism and anti-Zionism will pave the way for a more holistic understanding of how these forms of prejudice can shape identity, wellbeing and intergroup relations.


 
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