To which we-group do I belong in different social contexts, how do I have to present “us” and “myself” to someone from other groupings or from the “outside”, to which collective memory or narrative do I have to refer and what shouldn’t I tell? According to our findings in the context of a research project funded by the German Research Foundation our interviewees from the West Bank do not explicitly ask themselves these questions. Their self-presentations are more or less based on a tacit knowledge and a long training within their extended families and milieus. The interviews made very obvious that the members of different groupings (e.g. Muslims or Christians, people with rural or urban background or refugees from 1948) all have a strong need to present themselves to non-Palestinians as a homogeneous group which more or less has no internal difficulties, no internal conflicts and whose members live together in peace. But the contrastive comparison of members of these different groupings also showed considerable differences and very clearly that under these stereotyped images lie experiences of discrimination for example as “uneducated refugees” or “Christians with a lack of national identity”, etc. Furthermore, we always have to take into consideration that these different experiences are connected with suffering and violence within the context of the Israeli-Palestinian resp. Israeli-Arab conflict, the political necessity of solidarity and various attempts at creating boundaries and disunion by the Israeli governments.
I will exemplify these findings by using several cases studies (case level: the family) from the areas of Bethlehem and Ramallah.