Monday, October 09, 2006

The Foreign Policy Logics of Jewish Statehood

An interesting article from the latest edition of MIT's Electronic Journal of Middle East Studies by Virginia Tilley. She places Israel's latest war in Lebanon firmly in the context of broader Israeli policy - namely the preservation of its national identity.

Israel in Lebanon; The foreign policy logics of Jewish Statehood

"To date, Israel‘s motives in the 2006 war with Hizbullah have not been clarified by the rush of academic analyses. The dominant explanation, that Israel sought simply to end the threat of Hizbullah‘s rocket attacks, is narrow to the point of inaccuracy, particularly since those attacks had taken few Israeli casualties over the past decade. Some scholars have described background motives: e.g., Ilan PappĂ© has described an under-utilized Israeli military seeking to justify its budget and demonstrate its prowess.1 Some offer close analyses of proximate security logics: e.g., Robert Blecher has detailed how Israel‘s strategy toward the Palestinians has influenced its response to Hamas and Hizbullah.2 Other explanations incline toward motives and identities that derive more from polemics than scholarship: e.g., generic accusations of Israeli expansionism, US imperialism, and radical Islam (or _Islamo-fascism_). Attempts to deepen these models too often psychologize the conflict by blaming primordial ethnic hatreds or cultural clash: e.g., Arab prejudice against Jews, Jewish-Zionist racism against Arabs, Muslim _rage,_ or an East–West _clash of civilizations_. Many of these factors, even when imaginary, are not precisely incorrect or irrelevant, as they shape the behaviour and influence of key actors. But most lack theoretical and empirical rigour as explanations, for they focus not on the causes but the effects of a more fundamental problem. At root, Israel‘s motives in Lebanon trace to one primary source: the ethnic imperative of Jewish statehood — the belief that a Jewish state requires an overwhelming Jewish-ethnic majority within Israel‘s territory — which has been incorporated into the Israeli government‘s understanding of state security. Focusing on Israel‘s domestic ethnic doctrines might seem counterproductive at this juncture, diverting energies away from urgent conflict resolution in southern Lebanon and toward an ideological dispute that has long proved irreconcilable. The purpose here is not to engage in moral or ideological contest, however, but to redirect analysis toward the strategic logics that steer Israel‘s foreign policy, which are inseparable from its domestic geostrategy. So far, the international community has proved unwilling to tackle this _third rail_ of Middle East politics. But until Israel‘s doctrine of ethnic statehood is addressed, none of its spin-off effects, including Israel‘s continuing military ambitions in Lebanon, can be addressed effectively either. This discussion will briefly explain why international pressure on Israel to democratize and enfranchise Palestine‘s native people is not only essential to resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict but is also fundamental to collective security."

To read rest of article go to

1 comment:

William said...

Hi Davis,
The link to the rest of this article does not work. Could you correct. My take on the whole "why Israel attacked Lebanon" thing is that OLMERT wanted to prove himself for internal political reasons. If so it sure backfired.