chapter  1
27 Pages

Historical backgrounds and political developments in both conflicts: A comparison

In examining political developments in both apartheid South Africa and Zionist Israel, Chapter 1 provides a historical and political background to both conflict situations according to their respective exclusive ideologies and political systems. It focuses on presenting the political realities of both conflicts during the periods studied (the 1980s and early 1990s in South Africa, and the 1990s and the early years of the twenty-first century in Israel), and offers insights into the relations that exist/ed between the dominant and dominated sides. This helps the reader to understand the context from which the two civil societies emerged and developed, and to identify and study protest groups as a component of civil society, as well as their politics and roles in peace building in both cases. The chapter serves the research aims by showing the contextual limits to the development of a genuinely inclusive civil society based on civic ingredients and enjoying a high level of independence (as will be examined in Chapter 2). It shows the structure of power between the dominant and the oppressed sides in both cases, as well as the similarities and differences, and reveals a number of intermediate variables that contributed significantly to shaping the pathways of the two sets of protest groups. It also indicates the context that allowed protest groups in both civil societies to continue to represent a societal minority made up mainly of liberals. Other elements needed for examining the dependant variables of this research – the politics and the role of protest groups in peace building – are explained in Chapter 2. The present chapter is intentionally structured to examine the similarities and the differences between the two conflict situations. It is important to look at the political developments of both conflicts from a comparative angle and to identify the existing similarities and differences, since there is much to be learnt from dissimilarity as well as from likeness. Such a comparison will also explain the historical and political background that shaped the politics of different protest groups and their consequent role/s and, as will be seen in Chapter 2, will shed light on many issues that complement the analysis of both political systems and their respective civil societies. These issues are discussed below, and are very much connected to the whole protest discourses in the two cases. For instance, in

the political platforms and subsequent activities of both protest cases certain issues have been very much in evidence, including historical narratives; discrimination policies; visions for political settlement; state militarism; indoctrination in ethnic societies; visions and strategies of the liberation movements; economic relations between the dominant and dominated sides; legitimacy of ideologies in power; how the two conflicts have been framed in terms of causes, nature and solution; and the role of religion (see also Chapters 3 and 4). Initially, each of the similarities is presented under a specific theme and is followed by the differences, again with reference to specific topics. Although each theme discussed could constitute the topic for a whole research project, the chapter gives a brief account only of the issues that shaped the two conflicts. The concluding section sheds light on the results of the comparison and links to Chapter 2. The shared similarities identified by the author are presented in the following section, and the differences in the section that comes after it.