The Danger of Stereotypes

How stereotypes shape our views and perspectives.

Arab-Israeli Conflict

Israeli-Arab Conflict

            The Israeli-Arab conflict primarily involves border disputes particularly over control of Jerusalem. Arabs and Israelis both hold bias, and often hateful, stereotypes regarding each other. The stereotypes in this region are ancient, and the tension between groups remains unresolved. These two sides have attempted to spread stereotypes to third parties in order to gain support (Suleiman). American policy has been influenced by stereotypes in the region.

Arabs are more oppressed than Israelis in the Jerusalem area (Suleiman). The land is currently governed by Israeli powers since World War II, and the land is recognized as Israel by world powers. The Arabs are often regarded as violent, barbaric, and anti-Semitic rebels or “terrorists” by Israelis because they have rebelled against the state of Israel (Diab). The Arabs are often considered uneducated laborers who are subject to the Israelis. Arabs are regarded as devious, untrustworthy, and unrighteous toward Palestinians.

These stereotypes have fueled the hate and bigotry present in the Middle East for numerous years. Currently, the tensions have been escalated to a more critical degree given the nuclear threats by Arab nations in the region. A great conflict between the groups is brewing. The only resolution to the situation seems to be eliminating stereotypes held by each group. The movie Promises confronts this issue from the perspective of children in Jerusalem.

I have constructed an anonymous survey in order to assess the beliefs of American Miami Students regarding the Arab-Palestinian Conflict based on their own religious and cultural biases. Each participant claims to have knowledge of the conflict. The Questions are as follows:

1. Who does the land of Jerusalem belong to, Israelis or Arabs, and why?

2. What should American policy be toward the conflict?

3. Do you know any common stereotypes of Arabs? Israelis?

Student 1 (Agnostic):

1. The land belongs to the Israelis because it’s Jerusalem, and it has historically been associated with Israelis.

2. America should stay out of the conflict.

3. Arabs: terrorists, invests themselves in small businesses. Israelis: Jewish

Student 2 (Christian)

1. The land belongs to the Israelis. Biblically, Israel was given to the Jews.

2. America should make sure that Jerusalem stays in Israeli control.

3.  Arabs: don’t like Americans. Israelis: think they are perfect

Student 3 (Jewish)

1. Israelis deserve Jerusalem because they were there first.

2. American policy should be pro-Israeli, but it should be handled in a non-violent manner.

3. Arabs are typically the peoples who are terrorists. (no comment on Israeli stereotypes)

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