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Defending the nation/defining the nation: Foreign policy and the politics of national identity in Israel

Posted on:2004-10-28Degree:Ph.DType:Dissertation
University:The Johns Hopkins UniversityCandidate:Waxman, DovFull Text:PDF
GTID:1466390011476120Subject:Political science
Investigating how national identities are formed, how they change, and what the political repercussions of this are, is a critical task for those who wish to the understand the continued political importance of national identities. This importance is not restricted to domestic politics, but extends to international politics since a national identity can profoundly shape a state's foreign policy. Building upon constructivist theory in International Relations which emphasizes the role of identities in constituting the interests that states pursue in their foreign policies, this dissertation explores the relationship between national identity and foreign policy through a case study of Israel. It begins by examining the construction of Israeli national identity, and then shows how its meaning has changed over time as a result of numerous domestic and international developments. The dissertation then proceeds to relate the changing definition of Israeli identity to changes in Israeli foreign policy, demonstrating how re-definitions of Israeli national identity have affected Israeli foreign policy. The dissertation argues that the fierce domestic controversy over Israeli foreign policy towards the peace process with the Palestinians in the 1990s stemmed from a lack of agreement concerning Israeli national identity. Different conceptions of Israeli national identity promoted different foreign policy orientations and, as a result, Israeli foreign policy became entangled in a divisive debate over Israeli national identity. Thus, the case of Israel demonstrates what can happen to foreign policy when a national identity becomes contested internally—a contested national identity generates a contested foreign policy. After comparing the influence of national identity upon foreign policy in Israel and Turkey, however, this dissertation concludes by arguing that the impact of a contested national identity upon a state's foreign policy behavior ultimately depends upon the salience of the national identity in foreign policy-making. The more salient the national identity, the greater will be the impact upon foreign policy behavior when it is contested. This dissertation draws upon a variety of qualitative and quantitative data collected during a year of fieldwork in Israel, especially personal interviews, and the analysis of this data is informed by an interpretivist methodology.
Keywords/Search Tags:National, Foreign policy, Israel, Politics
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