How do persistent terrorist attacks influence political tolerance, a willingness to extend basic liberties to one’s enemies? Studies in the U.S. and elsewhere have produced a number of valuable insights into how citizens respond to singular, massive attacks like 9/11. But they are less useful for evaluating how chronic and persistent terrorist attacks erode support for democratic values over the long haul. Our study focuses on political tolerance levels in Israel across a turbulent 30-year period, from 1980 to 2011, which allows us to distinguish the short-term impact of hundreds of terrorist attacks from the long-term influence of democratic longevity on political tolerance. We find that the corrosive influence of terrorism on political tolerance is much more powerful among Israelis who identify with the Right, who have also become much more sensitive to terrorism over time. We discuss the implications of our findings for other democracies under threat from terrorism.
This article aims to demonstrate the virtues of the contextual approach to political theory through an examination of a well-known question: should liberal states tolerate illiberal groups? This question will be analysed via the illustrative case of the Israeli Ultra-Orthodox Jews’ request to win an exemption from mandatory military conscription. We aim to demonstrate how a careful examination of the Ultra-Orthodox culture, and especially some core texts with regard to military service, will reveal significant insights, as the Ultra-Orthodox formative texts demonstrate a long-standing dispute regarding military service. This ‘internal’ dispute would not have been available to the researcher of toleration via a purely analytical approach. Several distinctive advantages follow the usage of the contextual approach, among them a better acquaintance with the group, the ability to structure adequately the tolerating approach and the likelihood that the chosen tolerating approach will win more legitimacy from both the general public and the illiberal group itself.