To Love Your Enemy (2017)


This essay was inspired by Suleyman's movie (2002), and the Shakespear classical novel, Romeo and Juliet (1597). It is an academic Romeo and Juliet story.



Love in War Zones and Perceived Social Support

As early as 1998, Andersen and Tysland's UN survey shows that 34 percent of workers in war zones may experience severe to milder psychological disturbances. People in a war zone who are mentally vulnerable may have troubles with their close relationship, such as boyfriends, girlfriends, spouse and family, because their ability to solve problems may be reduced. A marriage between people can, in a war zone, be perceived as more frightening and hopeless, because their experiences can be linked to traumatic experiences and disturbing events. Their stories from the war zones can be characterized by an increased mental and social pressure. This may shape their perceptions, experiences and stories about place, and their emotional relationships. This means that war zones differ from locations where peace prevails and that the war zone is constructed emotionally, socially and morally in a different way than places, that are constituted by peace. On the other hand, Andersons and Tysland's (1998) survey only reveals workers in the war zones psychological after-effects, and not how it is for citizens to live in a war zone for a long period of time. This is, thus, well-documented by e.g. Mohammand, Hannigan and Jones (2016), as well as in several UN reports from the area:



"Mental health policy and services in Palestine need development in order to better meet the needs of service users and professionals. It is essential to raise awareness of mental health and increase the integration of mental health services with other areas of health care. Civilians need their basic human needs met, including having freedom of movement and seeing an end to the occupation" (Mohammand, Hannigan and Jones 2016, p. 1).


Blogger: Brenner (2018, p. 1) further argues that there is, thus, a stigma attached to mental health issues in Israel. Both Palestinians and Israelis seems to be faced with lacking treatment or support when dealing with mental illness, in the war zone. The much older UN report by Andersen and Tysland (1998), thus, claims that the treatment of people from a war zone may depend on the primarily perceived rather than actual social support war victims are experiencing in their everyday lives, and whether they are included or excluded by their society. Society's social and moral support to people in close emotional relationships influence what is acceptable and what is not accepted, through norms, rules and activities. Missing social and moral support to a love relationship can therefore show that Israeli/Palestinian love relationships are defined as out of place or unaccepted. Taken together, these facts can be used to scrutinize the following question: how do we define Israeli-Palestinian love relationships as out of place, in the war zone between Israel and Palestine? To analyse this highly potent political issue: intimate love relationships is contrasted with armed conflicts caused by states or nations in the quest of becoming legitimate nation states: The Israel/Palestine conflict. This brief text will therefore be introduced by the terms: nation, state, nation state and territory, followed by an analysis of the war zone and Agnew’s three understandings of place, and finally; out of place in the war zone. This theory will be applied in a discussion, where the Israel and Palestine conflict, close love relationships in war zones, and perceived social support, will be analysed. In this essay, the author does not have an empirical case (of obvious ethical reasons), but to illuminate and illustrate this hugely controversial political issue, the author has chosen out relevant examples, which can help strengthen the problem's actuality. This the author emphasize through examples such as: "Romeo and Juliet" (Shakespeare 1597), the treatment of Norwegian women in love with Nazis in Norway during and after World War II ('tyskertøsene'), as well as the film Divine Intervention (Suleiman, 2002). This brief essay will end in a clarifying conclusion. But, first, let’s try to sort out the core political terms of this brief essay: nation, state, nation state and territory.




Two Nations, One Territory: An Unsolved Diplomatic Conflict

Dicken (2011, p. 172) tries to sort out the notions of a nation, a state and the nation state. His definition of a nation is a "relatively large group of people with a common culture, which share one or more cultural traits, such as religion, languages, political institutions, values, and historical experience". A State, however, has other criteria: the state may consist of a defined "territory where its inhabitants are organized under an authoritarian structure". States are characterized by having "external recognized sovereignty" over their own territory (Dicken 2011, p.172). This prevents other countries to intervene in their activities. The state has the authority to control its own population through legislation and organize their political institutions. Taken together, the nation and the state constitute a coinciding unit: a national state (Dicken 2011, p. 172). Israel and Palestine are, for example, characterized, by being different nations, yet they are classified under the category of non-recognized states (Internett 1 2013). This may imply that not all nation states want to recognize their right to sovereignty and claims towards their perceived territory, and therefore they may not be classified as states or national states. According to Storey (Daniels 2012, p. 443), a territory is "a geographic area that is claimed or occupied by a person or group of persons or an institution". The territorial conflict between Israel and Palestine therefore consists of two nations, which both claims the same territory. This unresolved territorial conflict has led to the world community of nation states to disagree, on how this hot and tense conflict can be reasoned, by integrative diplomatic solutions. This is reflected by different nation states supporting and recognizing, either Israel or Palestine internationally: a diplomatic confusion. The international diplomacy opinions, have in most cases, lacked the neutrality that can promote peace processes in this fragile region. Nevertheless, this conflict seems to have additional complexity. In the discussion, the author will take up this thread. This unsolved conflict has lead to a situation between Israel and Palestine and parts of their territory often is characterized by being a war zone.



War Zones and Agnew’s Three Understandings of Place: A Hopeless Place?

A war zone can be defined as a specific geographical area where the demand for the right to the same territory is determined between a conflict of two or more opposing parties. A war zone can be marked by social unrest, ethnic conflicts, political disputes and cultural and religious divisions, as well as continuous or occasional armed attacks. However, the war zone can also be defined as a place. According to Agnew (Creswell 2004, p. 7), a place can be understood in three different ways: as being a location; a locale or being constituted by a sense of place. A war zone may have a specific geographical area; location, but the war zone is also moved based on new power relations between the counter parties in the territorial conflict. The war zone between Israel and Palestine and its territorial conflict is often related to the geographical area of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Gaza and the West Bank is marked by occasionally being a war zone with armed fire, and occasionally of being not armed, but a highly problematic, tense turmoil and uneasy conflict. A war zone may form the social framework for human life and everyday activities and can thus be what Agnew describes as a locale. The war zone is also a place where events, activities, memories and emotions arise, that gives Palestinians and Israelis lives meaning or a profound feeling of hopelessness. This is what Agnew understands as sense of place. When the sense of place is dominated by a profound feeling of hopelessness and fear, a vast majority of citizens are forced to escape from their beloved homes, close friends and family. They will try to saw new seeds of hope and human dignity in their lives, in foreign countries and pursue or create new dreams. The organization "Hand in Hand: Centre for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel", and its increased popularity in times of vast levels of tense and armed conflicts between the Israeli and Palestine population, however, shows that seeds of hope can be created even in the core and source of the conflict: Jerusalem, which is the major religious home to the three cornerstones and most influential historically religious movements: Judaism, Islam and Christianity (NRK 2017). Nevertheless, what makes sense in a war zone is linked to what is socially and morally accepted and will receive social and moral support or not. This will determine what is considered to be in place in the war zone or what gives the grounds for exclusion and is out of place and not accepted in the war zone. This will be discussed in the next theoretical section.



Out of Place in War Zones: Love in a Hopeless Place

The term in place explains what is accepted by a group's practices, activities, norms and emotions, and will face social and moral support. Out of place, however, describes what might lead to a group's exclusion, discrimination and harassment, based on an assessment of the norms, rules and activities at the given place. In a conflict characterized by sometimes open fire between two counter parties; such as the in Israel-Palestine conflict, the recognized standards and guidelines for human conduct have changed. A war zone may limit people's way of life, freedom and human rights, by not being given social support and acceptance, and hence being considered as out of place in the war zone. The degree of how out of place a group in a war zone is assessed, is determined by the conflict strength, the conflict's outcome, duration, the character and the complexity of the conflict. An example of an activity, practice and feeling that is considered in place in large parts of the world at peace, but out of place in a war zone, is affected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 16 ( 1948). This article states that people have the freedom to choose a partner for marriage, and form a family ( 1948). While it can be considered a human right in most parts of the world to choose a partner freely, there is however, an unwritten law in a war situation that one should not fall in love with the enemy. This is, in most war zones, considered as the greatest deception and as being highly treacherous. This principle of forbidden love also seems to apply in the war zone between Israel and Palestine. However, to investigate this further, the author will at first briefly analyse what the conflict between Palestine and Israel consists of.




The Israel / Palestine Conflict: A Multi-layered Conflict: Two states, one territory?

Abraham (2011) describes the conflict between Israel and Palestine based on an Israeli perspective, but also high lightens the desire for peace and reconciliation. It is this perspective related to peace and reconciliation between Israel and Palestine, which sets the basis for this discussion. The conflict between Israel and Palestine is complex and tense, and at times thoroughly marked by armed conflicts and great unrest. But this tense and armed conflict is also characterized by repeated attempts of peace processes. An example of this is the signing of the Oslo Agreement, between the Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Chairman of the Palestinian self-government control; Yasser Arafat, in 1993. Shortly after this peace agreement, Rabin was killed by his own people, to prevent further peace processes (Abraham 2011, p. 30). This event may have helped to highly undermine people's faith in the peace processes in this area. To understand the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, it is however important to look at the regions multi-layered conflict composition through examples and scientific analysis.


  • An example of a place where the conflict particularly evident is in the Palestinian neighbourhood Sheik Jarrah in East Jerusalem. In this area there is a conflict between Palestinians and settlers of Jewish origin, who are trying to claim properties, with property rights back to 1947 (Abraham 2011, pp. 10-11). These territorial actions consisting in claims of ownership, increases the level of conflict between Arabs and Jews.
  • Jerusalem is, however, under Israeli control, but has had crucial religious significance for Jews, Christians and followers of Islam, historically. United Nations (UN) has therefore desired that Jerusalem should not be divided, but kept as a separate unit under international administration, according to Abraham (2011, p. 12).
  • Since 1947 the United Nations have on several occasions tried to promote a desire for a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians (Abraham 2011, p. 12).


In recent years, attempts to initiate peace processes has temporarily gone into a more cynical and realistic phase, according to Abraham (2011, p. 5). The Israeli right wing's more nationalistic currents have strengthened their position in the area, in relation to a left side that increasingly wants peace processes. The challenge in a peace process, according to Abraham (2011), is to promote equal rights for people with different ethnic and religious affiliation, which can neutralize the emerging nationalist currents in the area. History has shown that Jews and Arabs, have previously been able to live side by side, in the same area (Abraham 2011). However, gradually both counterparts desire to strengthen their own territory have become dominant. Yet, studies show that desire for peace and a two-state solution with Palestinians, is wanted by 71 percent of Israelis. Meanwhile, a survey shows that Israeli teenagers in Israel, according to Shamai and Kimhi (2006, p. 166), may be subjected to increased pressure and threats socially and mentally, for their political attitudes related to a desire to enter political compromise with the Palestinians. These are political attitudes that can promote democratic processes and thereby enhance further peace processes.



Another challenge is finding territorial solutions in a region where Israelis and Palestinians consider the same territory as their own, and still have a desire to claim the same territory (Wallach 2011, p. 358). Israel is a member of the UN but seen as part of the Palestinian territory by Palestinians. Palestine has observer status at the UN and is considered as part of Israel's territory. The conflict between Israel and Palestine is therefore a territorial, ethnic and religious conflict that unfolds through diplomacy and political disagreements, attempted peace processes, as well as in Israeli and Palestinian everyday lives, through territorial actions, and religious, ethnic and cultural differences. The unresolved conflict between Israel and Palestine has led to numerous cases of rocket attacks and armed fire. This has meant that the area of ​​the West Bank and Gaza Strip can occasionally be considered a war zone. In a war zone other rules, norms and practices of what is acceptable or in place, and what is not accepted; out of place, applies. This can be displayed in the community's support or lack of support for people in close love relationships. An example of a close love relationship were those in love received lack of social and moral support is the classic novel Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare 1597).



Love as Out of Place in War Zones


"Tonight, tonight, The world is full of light, /With suns and moon all over the place./Tonight, tonight,/The world is wild and bright, Going mad, shooting sparks into space" (Shakespeare 1597, in Hapgood 1993, p. 232). Shakespeare drama (1597) describes an archetypal love story of Romeo and Juliet, whom are madly in love. But they are from each side of a tense conflict between the two opposing houses: the Capulet and the Montague in Verona. Shakespeare's (1597) narrative shows how two people can be driven between the desire for love and passion, and more rational ideas of loyalty to his or her own house on the other side. In the conflict between Israel and Palestine, when two people are in love in the war zone, and they are from two parties coming from different sides of the conflict, they may also be drawn between passionate love and loyalty to their own people. They will be affected by the social acceptance or exclusion they will face for their feelings, which can determine if their love relationship is regarded as in place or out of place, in the war zone. However, although Shakespeare drama (1597) may be transferred to the current situation, the conflict between Israel and Palestine, is far more multi-layered and complex. There is an ethnic, cultural and religious conflict unfolding in Israelis and Palestinians everyday lives through territorial actions and discrimination, a territorial conflict at the national level, and a political disagreement between a left that increasingly wants peace processes, and a right that may have a tendency to more national aspirations. One can therefore assume that the social and moral pressure associated with both a moral desire and loyalty to their own people, as well as national patriotism, and a desire to follow national values, norms and rules, will kick in. A love relationship between a Palestinian and an Israeli in the war zone between Israel and Palestine, will therefore, most likely, not be able to meet social support and acceptance, and will therefore be considered as highly out of place within the war zone. Being in love in a hopeless place, as a warzone often can be perceived as, is also expressed in popular music by Harris (2011).



Another example to illustrate this highly controversial political issue is the treatment of Norwegian Women in love with Nazis during and after World War II in Norway, which were named 'tyskertøsene' (the German hores). This example shows how people can be expelled and harassed for their emotions and love relationships to the enemy. 'Tyskertøsene' in Norway was marked in the Norwegian society by being despised, was forced to take a crew cut, and sent to internment camp on Hovedøya Island, in the inner Oslofjord of Norway. Their children were placed in orphanages. The Norwegian society's strong reaction to their love relationships resulted in this group of women being punished morally for their forbidden love, and they were defined as out of place as a group. This may be explained by their preceived moral breach with Norwegian values, rules and norms, which during the war was characterized by Norwegians violent patriotism and loyalty to their own nation. Women's potential motherhood also make women's love relationships with the enemy more controversial (Ellingsen et al. 1995). Patriotism and loyalty to their nation's values ​​can often be violent in war and in war zones. According to Abraham (2011) the national movement has been strengthened in the conflict between Israel and Palestine, this may indicate that a multicultural love relationship between an Israeli and a Palestinian, will be considered out of place. Ellingsen (et al. 1995) argues that the Norwegian society considered the women as being a disgrace for the nation and so on: they were considered as traitors. Not surprisingly the women who supported their love of Nazis received a much more controversial reaction in the Norwegian society, than Norwegian men whom of ideologically or particularly economic reasons, supported the Nazis. Women's forbidden love in war zones, is still perceived as more controversial, than men who are traitors. But, studies on 'tyskertøsene' in Norway shows that they simply did not support Nazism ideologically or expected any economic advantages, such as the male traitors did: they simply fell in love (Ellingsen et al., 1995). Such controversial and inequal reactions will most certainly also to meet Palestinians and Israelis who are in a multicultural love relationship with the enemy, within the war zone.



Suleiman (2002) describes the Israel/Palestine conflict cinematically based on a Palestinian desire for peace and reconciliation. This intention appears in several of the film's scenes and story lines that are largely based on real events. Suleiman (2002) tells the story of how Palestinians in Israeli dominated areas is met by discrimination and harassment. This is shown in the film by Palestinians in Israeli dominated areas perceive themselves as cabinets Palestinians, at the same time the Israelis would also experience discrimination in Palestinian dominated areas. In this film, the story is about a Palestinian woman and a Palestinian man in love. Even though they are from the same nation, this is also seen as problematic, because they come from either side of the sentry between the western dominated Jerusalem and the Palestinian dominated Ramallah. This film shows how complicated a love relationship can be, even if they are of the same nationality. Its problematic enough to be bisected by a complex armed conflict. Love relationships between Palestinians and Israelis, would most likely, add further complications in this war zone. They will, most likely, face a lack of both moral and social perceived and actual support of their love relationship. A love relationship between a Palestinian and an Israeli will be regarded as a forbidden love, disloyal, but also highly treacherous, and thus considered violently out of place.



Yet, statistics show that peace processes are desirable by most Palestinians and Israelis, but to achieve this, everyday prejudice must be reduced and the lack of acceptance and exclusion that Suleiman (2002) filmatically discusses; for multicultural love relationships between Israelis and Palestinians, must be changed. Dorch and Fontaine (1980, p. 331) emphasizes that the Romeo and Juliet effect can strengthen multicultural love relationships, for example in a war zone: the less social support they may receive, the more passion builds up. Nevertheless, the stories and interviews of people with different ethnicity and religion from war zones, shows that they often must go into hiding to avoid reprisals and harming violence from close friends and family, because of their multicultural love relationships (Aftenposten 20??). These are highly frightening and problematic reactions Israelis and Palestinians, whom begins a love relationship will be confronted with. In the conflict between Israel and Palestine, what is defined as right and wrong of norms, activities and feelings, is turned upside down and highly complex, because of the conflicts long duration, the different political perspectives, the acrimonious situation and the ethnic, cultural, social and religious diversity, and turmoil. However, it is probable that a love relationship between a Palestinian and an Israeli, nevertheless, may lead to strong and controversial reactions in their society and are considered as highly out of place within the war zone. This is shown in the film Divine Intervention (Suleiman 2002). In this movie they use the words; "collaborator married to a whore" of a Palestinian man who is married to an Israeli woman, and "whore brother" about a Palestinian brother who has a sister who is involved in a love relationship with an Israeli. This may strongly indicate that an emotional relationship between a Palestinian and an Israeli can be considered as highly out of place and forbidden, in the war zone. The frequent use of the stigmatizing and negatively charged word "whore" during the film, may indicate that men and women receive inequal social and moral reactions: women's love relationships are conceived as more deceitful and treacherous, and thus receive more controversial reactions in their society, and in the war zone. They are therefore more frequently forced to go into hiding or escape to avoid violence and harm from close friends and family (Aftenposten 20??).


The 'us' in the conflict between Israel and Palestine also seem to be divided into two; an Israeli part and a Palestinian part, each part has different national norms, rules and values ​​to how they define various groups as accepted or not accepted, based on their different cultural, religious, social and ethnic affiliation. However, both sides in the war zone may seem to be characterized by an increased loyalty and patriotism with his or her own nation. This may strengthen the statement of love relationships between Palestinians and Israelis in the war zone, as being considered as out of place.


Fontaine and Dorch (2007, pp. 329-331) point out that even in a peace situation marriages between two people of the same nationality, is met by more support socially and morally, and can thus be regarded as more in place than a multicultural marriage. This is particularly evident in prejudiced environments. Nevertheless, multicultural love relationships may also be perceived as an asset in more pluralistic and tolerant milieus, according to media (TV2 2016). The perceived and actual social support and acceptance in everyday life, will be able to determine the feasibility of a possible free choice of partner, and these love relationships stability in the long run. Overall this will determine the potential degree of out of place or acceptance; in place, which can be linked to multicultural marriages between Israelis and Palestinians. Love relationships, which during a war and in a war zone can be perceived as a forbidden love, highly treasonous, deceptive and out of place, can take a long time; in the case of 'tyskertøsene' in Norway, generations before a society in retrospect, is willing to forgive. This shows how highly controversial and potent this political issue is and the difficulties, challenges, problems and frightening social and moral pressure, mental treats and physical violence these multicultural love relationships in war zones, must face.




A Redeeming Act of Reconciliation – To Love Your Enemy

A war zone can create disturbing events and trauma, that can make people mentally vulnerable, if they also are exposed to lack of social support and exclusion. A war situation may limit expression of life, quality of life and human rights, such as the right to freely choose a partner. What is in place under a peace situation, can change during an armed conflict and be considered as grounds for exclusion, great discrimination and vast harassment or being categorized as out of place and perceived as forbidden in the war zone. The case of 'tyskertøsene' in Norway; during and after World War II, as well as the film Divine Intervention, shows the vast controversial reactions and lack of acceptance shown for love relationships with the enemy or counterpart in a war situation or war zone. Suleiman's film (2002) also show that these social and moral reactions seem to be present in the war zone between Israel and Palestine. These love relationships can be perceived as forbidden, but this perceived illegalness is not supported by human rights. Though still perceived as unacceptable in the war zone. These love relationships contrast with national values, norms and activities, of what is considered in place in the war zone. In this war zone, national ideas of loyalty and patriotism is highly strengthened. Examples in this essay also shows that women and men in multicultural love relationships might face hugely inequal reactions. This is problematic. Meanwhile it seems that the war zones enormous reactions to these promising love relationships, go across with UN human rights on what is in place in the world. These human rights are supported both by Israel and Palestine through the United Nations. The war between Israel and Palestine is a conflict that creates devastating material damage, enormous loss of human lives, huge political disputes, as well as profound social, cultural, religious and ethnic unrest. The only reasonable solution to this continuously harsh and hopeless human catastrophe is – to love your enemy. Multicultural marriages between Israelis and Palestinians, and the potential future acceptance of these love relationships, is a possible redeeming act of love. These emotions and acts may bring Israel and Palestine one step closer to peace and reconciliation. This may sow further seeds of hope in this fragile region, such as one caring hand searching curiously for another – in openness and with tolerance: a divine intervention! I am filled with a dawning gratitude, hopefullness and request: Where once was a war zone, let peace prevail. There are places of bitter hate, and there are places of devine love, and there are places in between, but let hopeful love, gentle and not by force, finally triumph. In order to let peace settle, thrive, and prevail you must learn to love your enemy.


    Abraham, K., (2011). Israel - Da fredsbevegelsen forsvant. Oslo: Frekk forlag, pp. 1-94.

    Aftenposten forfatter ?? (20??): "??". Aftenposten, Innsikt. Oslo: Schibsted ASA, pp. ??.

    Andersen, A. and Tysland, I. (1998). Krigens skjulte ofre - hvem er de?: En studie av FN-observatører og hjelpearbeidere i en krigssone. Bergen: Andersen, A., og Tysland, I.

    Andrews, J.F., (1993). Falling in Love: The Tradgedy of Romeo and Juliet. Romeo and Juliet - Critical Essays. New York and London: Garland Publishing, Inc., pp. 403-422.

    Brenner, R., (2018). The Mental Illness Stigma in Israel. [online]. Available at: [Accessed: 11.21.2018].

    Cresswell, T., (2004). Defining Place. Place – A short introduction. Malden, Oxford and Carlton: Blackwell Publishing, pp. 1-15.

    Dicken, P., (2011). The State Really Does Matter. Global Shift – mapping the changing contours of the world economy. Los Angeles, London, New Dehli, Singapore and Washington DC: Sage, pp. 169-202.

    Dorch, E., and Fontaine, G. (1980). Problems and benefits of close intercultural relationships. International Journal of International Relations, Vol 4, pp. 329-337.

    Ellingsen, A., Warring, D., and Björnsdóttir, I.D., (1995). Kvinner, krig og kjærlighet. Oslo: Cappelen, pp. 5-209.

    Felmee, D., and Sprecher, S., (2013). Love. Enclypedia of Social Psychology. Thousand Oakes: Sage Publications Inc., pp. 1-6.

    Franklin, D., (1993). To love extreamely, procureth eyther death or danger. Romeo and Juliet – Critical essays. New

    York and London: Andrews, J.F. Garland Publishing Inc., pp. 269-283.

    Hapgood, R., (1993). West Side Story and the modern Appeal of Romeo and Juliet. Romeo and Juliet – Critical essays. New York and London: Andrews, J.F. Garland Publishing Inc., pp. 229-241.

    Harris, C., sung by Rihanna (2011). Found love ft. Calvin Harris. Talk that Talk. London: Fly Eye Studios, Los Angeles: Westlake Studio.

    Mohammand, M., Hannigan, B., and Jones, A. (2016). Mental health needs and services in the West Bank, Palestine.

    International Journal of Mental Health System, 10: 23.

    NRK 1 (2017). Daily news. Oslo: Norsk Rikskringkasting (NRK).

    TV2 (2016). Daily news. Oslo: TV 2 Gruppen.

    UN (1948). The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. [online]. Available at:  [Accessed: 11.14.2019].