Dehumanizing the “Other” in Conflict Situations: From an Evil Human to an Animal and Object

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 11:45
Location: Hörsaal 5A G (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Maria YELENEVSKAYA, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Israel
Larisa FIALKOVA, The University of Haifa, Israel
This paper is looking into discourse of Russian-speaking Israelis on Arab-Israeli and Russian-Ukrainian conflicts. Although these two conflicts have different historical antecedents, are influenced by different political forces and are geographically distant, both involve Russian-speaking Israelis directly and have created a split in the immigrant community. Discourses on both conflicts have similar elements in terms of topics discussed and arguments summoned since they are rooted in the Soviet past and values internalized even by members of the post-Soviet generation. Several motifs emerge in the analyzed material. The terms “fascists” and “Nazis” are used as the worst accusations and label the hostile others indiscriminately, whether they are Israeli right-wingers or Hamas militants, Ukrainian nationalists or supporters of Putin’s policies. Conflict narratives abound in pejorative nicknames, which true to the folklore tradition, present the enemy as animals or insects that are treacherous, violent or lack basic intelligence. Extreme degree of enemy dehumanization is the use of metonymies reducing humans to objects. Narratives about hostile others are full of inconsistencies: on the one hand they reveal Eurocentrism; on the other they reveal an anti-European and anti-American stance and a clash with democratic values. Thus Europe (Evropa in Russian) is derided as “Gayropa” while the separatist Donetsk is dubbed “Donbabwe” (blending of Donetsk and Zimbabwe). To neutralize slurs, the targeted groups adopt them as part of their positive auto-stereotype. In all these cases neutral lexis is reappraised as evaluative and emotionally charged and reinforces persuasive strategies.