Shikhmanter, Rima. “History as Politics: Contemporary Israeli Children’s and Young Adults’ Historical Fiction and the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict.” nternational Research in Children’s Literature 9.1 (2016): 83-97.
Historical fiction serves as a powerful source for the dissemination of historical images and the determination of collective memory. These roles are of particular significance in the context of severe political conflicts. In these cases historical fiction shapes the narrative of the conflict, explains its source and central events, and therefore forms the readers’ political stances towards the conflict and its consequences.
This article examines the role contemporary Jewish Israeli historical fiction for young adults plays in presenting the Israeli–Palestinian conflict to young readers. It discusses two of the political perspectives this fiction addresses: the traditional hegemonic narrative and the left-wing narrative. Associated with the right-wing sector of Israeli politics, the former promotes the Zionist myth and seeks to justify the necessity and morality of its premises while ignoring and/or dismissing the legitimacy of the Palestinian narrative. The lack of a consensual Jewish historical narrative that does not negate the Palestinian narrative on the one hand, and the ongoing public delegitimisation of the left-wing on the other, forces historical-fiction authors to place their plots at a historical remove, locating them in other places and times.
Lewin, Eyal. “‘It’s the National Ethos, Stupid’! – Understanding the Political Psychology of the Israeli 2015 Elections Using Data from the National Resilience Survey.” International Journal of Social Science Studies 4.7 (2016): 63-74.
From a socio-political point of view, the results of the Israeli 2015 elections reflect an ongoing stagnation that is described in detail in this research. This stagnation is often explained by theories of social collective identities. However, none of the theories examines how group identities are created. Consequently, this study explains how different forms of national ethos shape political identities and interweave with them.
Relying on a wide set of data from the National Resilience Survey launched by the National Security Studies Center at Haifa University, this research examines the way Israeli political parties differ according to voters’ attitudes on matters of national ethos. The findings show how opposing parties correspond with the two distinct forms of national ethos. However, the data also reveals that the ethos clash is not necessarily a dichotomy, but rather a continuum where various parties are located along a spectrum between the poles.
Dvir-Gvirsman, Shira, Yariv Tsfati, and Ericka Menchen-Trevino. “The Extent and Nature of Ideological Selective Exposure Online: Combining Survey Responses with Actual Web Log Data from the 2013 Israeli Elections.” New Media and Society 18.5 (2016): 857-77.
Do users tend to consume only like-minded political information online? We point to two problems with the existing knowledge about this debate. First, the measurement of media preferences by the typical means of surveys is less reliable than behavioral data. Second, most studies have analyzed only the extent of online exposure to like-minded content, not the users’ complete web-browsing repertoire. This study used both survey data and real-life browsing behavior (661,483 URLs from 15,976 websites visited by 402 participants) for the period 7 weeks prior to the 2013 Israeli national elections. The results indicate that (1) self-report measurements of ideological exposure are inflated, (2) exposure to online ideological content accounted for only 3% of total online browsing, (3) the participants’ media repertoires are very diverse with no evidence of echo chambers, and (4) in accordance with the selective exposure hypothesis, individuals on both sides are more exposed to like-minded content. The results are discussed in light of the selective exposure literature.
Natanel, Katherine. Sustaining Conflict. Apathy and Domination in Israel-Palestine. Oakland: University of California Press, 2016.
Sustaining Conflict develops a groundbreaking theory of political apathy, using a combination of ethnographic material, narrative, and political, cultural, and feminist theory. It examines how the status quo is maintained in Israel-Palestine, even by the activities of Jewish Israelis who are working against the occupation of Palestinian territories. The book shows how hierarchies and fault lines in Israeli politics lead to fragmentation, and how even oppositional power becomes routine over time. Most importantly, the book exposes how the occupation is sustained through a carefully crafted system that allows sympathetic Israelis to “knowingly not know,” further disconnecting them from the plight of Palestinians. While focusing on Israel, this is a book that has lessons for how any authoritarian regime is sustained through apathy.
Table of Contents
1 The Everyday of Occupation
2 Bordered Communities
3 Normalcy, Ruptured and Repaired
4 Embedded (In)action
5 Protesting Politics
KATHERINE NATANEL is a Lecturer in Gender Studies at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter.
Benski, Tova, and Ruth Katz. “Women’s Peace Activism and the Holocaust: Reversing the Hegemonic Holocaust Discourse in Israel.” In The Holocaust as Active Memory: The Past in the Present (ed. Marie Louise Seeberg, Irene Levine, and Claudia Lenz; Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2013, reprinted 2016): 93-112.
The present chapter focuses on Holocaust discourse among activists of the Coalition of Women for Peace, and is an unexpected outcome of a longitudinal study of women’s peace movements in Israel since the late 1980s. The chapter is divided into four parts: First, we present theoretical perspectives of collective memory and trauma. We then turn to the construction of cultural memory of the Holocaust in Israel. The third section examines the socio-political space of the Coalition of Women for Peace, offering a rich description of its constituent groups, their value orientations, and activities. The fourth part, which forms the core of the chapter, centers on the CWP and the Holocaust, and presents the somewhat ambivalent analogies made by the women activists between the Holocaust and the current phase of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while identifying the various themes that dominate the specific Holocaust discourse that has evolved among these women.
Jewish Israeli left-wing activists engage in a subversive affective politics when they express love for, and mourn the loss of, Palestinian life. But the affects of love and mourning also bind these solidarity activists to Israeli state violence and sovereignty in various ways, entangling them in the very forms of power they aim to challenge. Loving and mourning the Palestinian Other involves an ambivalent ethics in which the activist subject objectifies the Other, and this objectification is a kind of violence that emerges in the affective becomings of solidarity activism. Activist loving and mourning thus call into question the nature of solidarity and alert us to the difficulty of ethics as troubled relations enmeshed in the violence of politics.
Harpaz, Guy, and Elisha Jacobsen. “The Israeli Collective Memory and the Masada Syndrome: A Political Instrument to Counter the EU Funding of Israeli Non-Governmental Human Rights Organizations.” Mediterranean Politics (early view; online first).
The EU’s practice of funding Israeli non-governmental human rights organizations (hereinafter ‘HRNGOs’) has in recent years encountered a counter-strategy, pursued by certain Israeli NGOs and members of the Israeli government, media and academia. This counter-strategy has succeeded in discrediting the HRNGOs and the EU and rendering their mutual collaboration less effective. The purpose of this article is to contextualize the counter-strategy within the sphere of Israel’s collective memory. The article analyses the manner in which certain politicians and various members of the Israeli society (agents of memory), who themselves are the product of the evolving Israeli collective memory and identity (structure), attempt to draw on Israel’s collective memory/structure in order to advance their particular political agenda.
During the cycle of violence leading up to the third Israeli War in Gaza, some Israelis from Parents Circle/Families Forum (PCFF) – a peace organization consisting of Palestinians and Israelis who have lost a first-degree relative in the conflict – came together to discuss the events. While the Palestinian members could not join the meeting because of the closure of the West Bank, which the Israeli military imposed as a reaction to the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers, the Palestinian Co-General Manager of the organization was aware of this meeting of the Israeli members and approved.
In the period following the kidnapping of the three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank, the Israeli military had closed off large sections of the Israeli-occupied west Bank, made four hundred and nineteen arrests, and raided twenty-two-hundred homes in the Hebron area. At least eight Palestinians were killed in this military operation – including the best friend of one of the Palestinian staff members.
During the meeting (which transpired before the dead bodies of the Israeli teens were found, and before the abduction and brutal murder of a Palestinian youth from East Jerusalem neighborhood by right-wing Israelis) one old-timer frantically noted that the situation was only going to get worse. While they discussed what they should do, one member suggested that they should sit in the middle of Tel Aviv every day in order to face, head-on, the hatred and anxiety manifesting itself on the streets until the current cycle of violence subsided. While they did not know how people would respond or for how long they would be sitting outside, they moved forward with the arrangements to set up what they call “The Peace Square.” Ironically, on the day that they received permission from the Tel Aviv municipality and the Israeli police, and secured a place to set up their Peace Square, the war began.
Sasley, Brent E., and Harold M. Waller. Politics in Israel: Governing a Complex Society. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.
This is the first textbook on Israel to utilize a historical-sociological approach, telling the story of Israeli politics rather than simply presenting a series of dry facts and figures. The book emphasizes six specific dimensions of the conduct of Israeli politics: the weight of historical processes, the struggle between different groups over how to define the country’s identity, changing understandings of Zionism, a changing political culture, the influence of the external threat environment, and the inclusive nature of the democratic process. These themes offer students a framework to use for understanding contemporary political events within the country. Politics in Israel also includes several chapters on topics not previously addressed in competing texts, including historical conditions that led to the emergence of Zionism in Israel, the politics of the Arab minority, and interest groups and political protest.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Israel in Historical and Comparative Perspective
Israel in a Comparative Framework
Major Themes of the Book
A Note on Terminology
PART I: HISTORICAL PROCESSES Chronology of Key Events Chapter 2: Zionism and the Origins of Israel
Jewish History before Zionism
The Jewish Predicament in the 19th Century
The Founding of the Zionist Movement
Implications of Zionism
Herzl’s Path to Zionism
Organizing the Zionist Movement
The Palestine Mandate
Chapter 3: Yishuv Politics during theMandate Period
Constructing a Jewish Society
Development of a Party System
Conflict between Arabs and Jews in Mandatory Palestine
Deteriorating Zionist-British Relations
The End of the Mandate
The Mandate Period in Perspective
Chapter 4: State Building After 1948 Mamlachtiut
The Political Arena
Personal Status Issues
Other State-Building Efforts
PART II: ISRAELI SOCIETY
Chapter 5: Political Culture and Demography
The Pre-State Period
Foundational Values of the State
Changes since 1967
From Collectivism to Individualism
Political Culture in the Arab Community
Chapter 6: Religion and Politics
Religion and the Idea of a Jewish State
Setting the Parameters of the Religion-State Relationship
Growing Involvement in Politics
Issues in Religion-State Relations after 2000
Religious Parties and Coalition Politics
Chapter 7: The Politics of the Arab Minority
What’s in a Name?
Changing Politics of the Community
Jewish Attitudes toward the Arab Minority
Arab Leaders and the Arab Public
Sayed Kashua as Barometer?
PART III: THE POLITICAL PROCESS
Chapter 8: The Electoral System
The Development of an Electoral System
Parties and Lists
Chapter 9: Political Parties and the Party System
Center or “Third” Parties
Ethnic or Special Issues Parties
Chapter 10: Voting Patterns
Four Main Issues
Chapter 11: Interest Groups and Political Protest
Changing Access in the Israeli Political System
Chapter 12: The Knesset
Structure of the Knesset
Functions and Powers of the Knesset
Relationship to the Government
Chapter 13: The Government
The Government at the Center of the System
Powers of the Government
Forming a Government
Maintaining and Running a Government
Relations with the Knesset
The President of the State
Chapter 14: The Judiciary and the Development of Constitutional Law
The Judicial System
Structure of the Court System
The Religious Court System
The Attorney General
Basic Laws: A Constitution in the Making?
Interpreting the Constitution
PART V: POLITICS AND POLICYMAKING
Chapter 15: Political Economy
Ideas about Economic Development in the Yishuv
A State(ist) Economy
Likud and the Free Market
Chapter 16: The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Three Levels of Threat Perception
Israel’s Threat Environment
Hawks and Doves in the Political System
The Defense Establishment
PART VI: THE TRANSFORMATiON OF ISRAELI POLITICS Chapter 17: The Changing Political Arena
A More Complex Society
An Economic Transformation
Transformation of the Security Situation
The Israeli-Palestinian Relationship
Dampening of Ideology
Political Culture and the Party System
The Passing of a Heroic Generation
A More Consequential Arab Sector
The Transformation of the Judiciary
Change versus Continuity
Chapter 18: Confronting the Meaning of a Jewish State
The Political Question: What is Jewish and Democratic?
The Social Question: Who Belongs?
The Academic Question: Whose Historiography?
BRENT E. SASLEY is Associate Professor of Political Science at The University of Texas at Arlington. HAROLD M. WALLER is Professor of Political Science at McGill University.
Liberal Zionists position themselves as a third way between the two poles of right-wing religious Zionism and left-wing anti-Zionism, and as the most vocal supporters of the two-state solution. However, in the years since Yitzhak Rabin’s murder, and especially since the collapse of the Oslo Accords and the Second Intifada, the two-state solution increasingly appears dead beyond resurrection. The numbers of settlers and settlements continue to grow; there are now more than half a million Jewish settlers living over the Green Line. The Israeli public is more right-wing than it has ever been, and so is its government.
The very posing of this question is profoundly dispiriting. It shows how bad (that is, not left-wing) the political situation of contemporary Israel is; how radically the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has deteriorated; and how historically ignorant and blindly anti-Israeli today’s American left is. The short answer is: yes, of course. Zionism has been Leninist, socialdemocratic, liberal, secular, pacifist, anti-imperialist, proletarian, even, until this became impossible, binational. It has also been militaristic, authoritarian, bourgeois, racist, religious, messianic, imperialist, and neofascist.
Since the time of their arrival beginning around 2005, there remain approximately 46,000 African asylum seekers in Israel. The following paper reviews the foundations and implications of Israel’s political discourse in reference to the presence of this community. I situate the treatment of the asylum seekers in their relationship to the Jewish State, Zionist ideology, international refugee law, and Israel’s human rights community. I argue: 1) that the discourse surrounding the asylum seekers reflects larger changes within the ethos of the Jewish State and models of Israeli personhood; 2) that notions of “security” and “threat” in relation to the asylum seekers take on new meanings shaped by Israel’s ongoing demographic concerns; and 3) that the political response to the African asylum seekers sheds light on irreconcilable goals of the Zionist nation-building project seeking to both maintain a Jewish majority and liberate world Jewry from life segregated and isolated in the Diaspora.
Harpaz, Guy. “The EU Funding of Israeli Non-Governmental Human Rights Organizations: When EU External Governance Meets a Domestic Counter-Strategy.” European Foreign Affairs Review 20.2 (2015): 207–25.
This article analyses the European Union’s (EU’s) practice of funding of Israeli Human Rights NGOs. It argues that the pursuance of such a model of governance is a natural choice for the EU, yet such pursuance has encountered in Israel a bottom-to-top counter-strategy of delegitimization conducted against the EU, the NGOs and their collaboration. This counter-strategy was found to discredit the NGOs and the EU and render their mutual collaboration less effective.
In the course of a few decades, the image of Israel has undergone a radical transformation. From one of an underdog, a successful socialist experiment and an incarnation of left-wing collectivist utopias it has turned into an assertive militarized state with an advanced economy open for foreign investment and a society deeply polarized between Arabs and non-Arabs, and between rich and poor. It is not surprising that the Zionist state of Israel appeals to rightists around the world.
Israel embodies not only a successful, albeit small-scale, attempt to re-colonize the world but also the belief that, as Margaret Thatcher used to say, “there is no alternative”. The campaign to discredit socialist alternatives, from the mildly socialdemocratic Sweden to the more regulated Soviet Union, makes good use of the little country in Western Asia. The state of Israel, in spite of its socialist origins, has come to symbolize the many features of globalized capitalism and of habitual reliance on force. While certainly not the most right-wing regime in existence, Israel has nonetheless become a beacon for right-wing movements around the world thanks to a gamut of ideological, political, economic and military values contained in political Zionism. This is why the right and the extreme right have come to constitute the backbone of Israel’s international support.
In this article I examine the ways in which Israeli soldiers who refuse to serve in the Occupied Territories use spatial representations and metaphors in discourse explaining their decision to refuse. Using Lefebvre’s (1995) framework regarding spaces of representation as sites of political struggle, I analyze how selective refuseniks construct the Territories as a space of pollution, irrationality, disorder and death, expressing fear that these qualities might contaminate Israeli space, and thus implicitly promoting a separatist logic of exclusion. Refuseniks employ metaphors of movement to portray the transition from ‘here’ to ‘there’ as a shift into an alternate universe, and attempt to appropriate hegemonic discursive conceptualizations associated with three culturally loaded spaces: the prison, the Jewish settlements, and Nazi Germany. The ambivalent dialectics of dominant and resistant ideologies in refuseniks’ discourse and their cultural implications are discussed.
The goal of this note is to re-interpret and further analyze the results of Bargsted and Kedar (2009). BK use pre-electoral survey data for the 2006 Israeli legislative elections, and argue that a non-negligible set of individuals cast their vote in order to affect government formation and policy outcomes. Strategic considerations affect the likelihood of voting for Kadima, Labour or Likud, but not smaller parties. I contend that (i) what they are capturing is indistinguishable from a bandwagon effect, and (ii) their findings rely on the particular specification of the proxy for ‘expected coalition’ they use. I carry out the same exercise as BK using an extra set of controls for expected number of seats and an alternative specification of the proxy for expected coalition. My results show two interesting patterns. First, expected seats seem to be more important in voters’ strategies than coalition considerations. Second, there seems to be a compensatory strategic behavior among voters, as opposed to BK: increased likelihood of a rightist (leftist) coalition induces voters to vote less for rightist (leftist) parties. Finally, this note shows that model performance is significantly increased when using each of these two new variables, independently or together. These findings support the inclusion of such variables in all models which empirically assess strategic coalition voting behavior.
The anti-Zionist left has consistently refused to face the reality of Palestinian rejectionism in its dogmatic picture of the Middle East conflict. This is a sure symptom of intellectual dishonesty. In its world-view, anti-Zionism has become the magnet for the free-floating Marxist debris scattered to the winds by the collapse of Soviet Communism in 1991. It is no accident that the confused ideology of the contemporary “post-colonial” left is vulnerable to antisemitism since it no longer has any anchor in the concrete, material realities or the geopolitical, security, and cultural contexts of the Middle East. Its vision of peace in the Middle East is invariably one “without Israel,” taking the kind of liquidationist position long espoused by Iran, Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Fatah, and now ISIL. Hence, it should be no surprise that so many left-wing demonstrators in the West during the summer of 2014 displayed such enthusiasm and solidarity with the Palestinian Islamists of Hamas. The ideological gulf between Islam and Western secularism, jihad and class-war, and Muslim misogyny and Western feminism has vanished into thin air—replaced by the irresistible seduction of “revolutionary solidarity” against a mythical Israeli “genocide.” Fashionable slogans like “Free Gaza” seamlessly merge into cries of “Allahu Akhbar” [God is Great] and “Hitler was right” in the streets of London, Paris, Berlin, Malmö, Sydney, Boston, and many other Western cities. “Death to the Jews” is no longer a rallying cry that lies beyond the pale.