Voller, Yaniv. “From Periphery to the Moderates: Israeli Identity and Foreign Policy in the Middle East.” Political Science Quarterly 130.3 (2015): 505-35.
In short, then, aspects of continuity in Israeli foreign policy have been far greater than what most analysts and commentators have assumed. Even more importantly, they have been as great, or even greater, than aspects of change. The moderate axis conception has meant that different actors now assume different roles—past radicals have now turned into the moderates. The center, in turn, has been occupied by a new force: radical Islamism. This new threat has steered the Middle East into a new era of uncertainty and struggle. Nonetheless, the essence of the periphery doctrine has survived the transitions. In spite of shifts in the regional balance of power and the new political dynamics, of which Israel has been an inseparable part, Israel still views itself as a peripheral actor, facing constant pressures from the center. The moderate axis conception embodies this as the moderate regimes have come to be seen in these terms as well.
The still-unfolding events of the Arab Spring mark a turning point in regional geopolitics. As violence still rages in Syria, and as the Egyptian army struggles to consolidate its power vis-à-vis the various Islamist factions in the country, it is still hard to envision the future political map of the Middle East. Nevertheless, we can assume that some important changes may take place. Israel may be slow to respond to such changes, as happened in the transition from the periphery doctrine to the moderate axis conception. Or it may learn the lessons and quickly reassess its old commitments and agendas. If there is one thing we can learn from Israel’s policymaking and its responses to changing regional threats, it is that the actions and decisions of Israeli foreign policymakers will continue to be percolated through its identity and self-perception. Whether these are going to change is as difficult to determine as the future of the Middle East.