chapter  4
Complex patterns of cultural allegiances: The ethnic identity of Palestinian Christian Arab adolescents in Israel
Pages 19

M. lives in a large city in the north of Israel. He defines himself as a Palestinian Christian Arab with Israeli citizenship. As a Palestinian, he shares the fate of his people in Israel, in the West Bank, and in the Palestinian Diaspora, striving for some type of national self-determination. As a Christian, M. is historically and theologically connected to Christians all over the world, and especially to Christianity in the Western world. On the other hand, M. speaks the Arab language and considers himself part of the Arab culture, particularly of the local Arab culture, shared by Muslim and Christian Arabs. M. also holds Israeli citizenship; he has many Israeli Jewish neighbours, is quite fluent in the Hebrew language, and is attracted to many aspects of Israeli Western lifestyle. Such a combination of cultural allegiances would seem to lead almost inevitably to considerable tension and conflict. But it could also contribute to the development of a rich multicultural identity, which would provide M. with ‘groundedness’ (LaFromboise, Coleman, & Gerton, 1993) in multiple societies and access to a larger variety of material, cultural, and normative resources. As recently indicated by Weinreich (2000, p. 32), ‘People of an ethnicity growing up in circumstances where alternative ethnic groups are salient have the opportunity to identify with elements of the alternative life-styles and world views represented by these groups. Some such partial cross-ethnic identifications may serve to generate updated confident conceptions of one’s own ethnic identity, whereas other such identifications may result in conflicted ethnic identifications and identity diffusion.’