Tidy, Joanna. “The Social Construction of Identity: Israeli Foreign Policy and the 2006 War in Lebanon.” Global Society – ahead of print.
This article uses a constructivist analysis to consider the social construction of identity and the Israeli military action in Lebanon in 2006. Strands of meaning, constructive of a collective sense of self, emerged out of historical continuities, interacted and were made meaningful in relation to each other around the issue of the Hezbollah threat in 2006. They framed, contextualised and constituted that policy issue to form a situated and contingent identity of the possible, within which the policy decisions that produced the second Lebanon War were taken. Whilst a body of work has resulted from engagement with this conflict, and a well established literature discusses Israeli identity, little has been done to bring the two together and consider in detail the role of identity in constructing the 2006 war as possible and desirable for Israel. This is the focus and contribution of this article. Domestically, the institutional context of the 2006 Knesset elections revealed a national identity in which the multi-faceted vulnerability identity and Fighting Jew identity were salient, interacting strands. The narratives of ordeal, existential threat, and self-reliance acted to increase the power of the Fighting Jew identity, predicated on a faith in military solutions to threats. These ideas came up against and were rearticulated in the context of the global “War on Terror” to make the war in 2006 both possible and desirable.