Mendelsohn, Barak. “Israel and Its Messianic Right: Path-Dependency and State Authority in International Conflict.” International Studies Quarterly (early view; online first).
Why do states responsible for unleashing violent nonstate actors fail to halt them despite rising costs and, at best, marginal utility? I argue that a historical-institutionalist approach helps scholars understand these dynamics. I present five path-dependent mechanisms—change in the balance of power, spiraling perception of threat, ideological shift among the public, state penetration, and weakening of the principle of state primacy—that diminish the prospects of policy reversals. I then demonstrate the usefulness of path-dependency analysis in the case of Israel’s entanglement with the Jewish messianic Right. Applying the theoretical framework sheds light on the process that brought Israel prohibitive costs—undercutting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, undermining the state’s international standing, and weakening the state’s authority and democratic nature—and made policy reversal, in line with the state’s national interest and its responsibilities as a member of the international society, highly unlikely.