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Article

Terrorism and Religion: Palestine  

Arie Perliger

In its early stages the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was dominated by two secular nationalist movements, which marginalized religious practices and institutions. However, since the early 1980s, it has gradually become a struggle that includes, and some may argue also is led by, fundamentalist parties that justify their national aspirations via religious texts, principles, and practices. It is no wonder then that a conciliation seems less and less of a realistic endeavor. On the Palestinian side, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad are the main forces that dominant the violent Palestinian struggle, while aspiring to establish a Palestinian state that will operate as a theocracy. In Israel, Religious Zionist militant organizations engaged in violent campaigns to solidify Israel’s control over the West Bank as part of a theological framework that sees such a control as a crucial phase in the re-creation of a Jewish kingdom. Moreover, Jewish ultra-orthodox parties, which in the past refrained from engaging with the conflict with the Palestinians, in the last couple of decades became strong opposition to any conciliation efforts which will include territorial concessions by Israel.

Article

Israel’s LGBT Movement and Interest Groups  

Gilly Hartal

The decriminalization of sodomy in Israel in 1988 transformed the political opportunity structure and heralded the local gay legal revolution that manifested in legal amendments, social movements, and the emergence of a flourishing, normative LGBT culture. Most activities were based in Tel Aviv with additional, scattered movements in other major Israeli cities. Since 1988, ongoing legal and political work have been taking place, with emphasis on a politics of assimilation. The Israeli LGBT social movements fit into a general trend of NGO-ization, by which organizations provide social services and endorse a national identity as a part of neoliberal governmentality. Palestinian movements and pro-BDS activists, however, do not participate in this co-option and assimilation process, resulting in deep segmentation of LGBT politics. Through this process, some LGBT social movements participate in and benefit from institutionalized encouragement and approval, while others protest state agenda and politics and work independently, exposing the central role homonationalism plays for Israeli LGBT movements and interest groups. Israeli homonationalism was induced through a continuous process of mainstreaming that was intensified by violent incidents that had major consequences for LGBT social movements in Israel. This violence broadened the scope of social movements’ activism and influenced public opinion on LGBT issues as well as politicians’ public support of LGBTs. As a result of these incidents, relationships between state authorities, municipalities, community activism, and LGBT social movements in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem have changed dramatically. LGBT social movements in Tel Aviv used the municipal administration and urban space to transform the cultural and symbolic value of LGBT subjectivity, culture, and discourse, securing their dominance within the local arena. This local power, as revealed in the case of gay tourism to Tel Aviv, reshaped the capacity to negotiate with the government, creating an additional lobby for LGBT resources. Two currents dominating LGBT discourses have considerably influenced Israeli LGBT social movements’ goals, agendas, practices, achievements, and networks: NGO-ization and homonationalism. Specifically, their interlacing with Israeli neoliberalism influenced LGBT movements’ power to motivate change. The analysis of Israeli LGBT social movements traces major milestones, from the early stages in the 1980s to the 21st-century period of homonationalism, but it also challenges homonationalism as an invariable situation. Rather, new challenges galvanize new politics and power structures for LGBT social movements and for their endorsement by municipalities and the national government. The neoliberal perspective reveals that LGBT social movements keep on working, growing, and becoming more institutionalized and normalized. This, however, does not reflect greater power by LGBT social movements but rather the privatization of the state, enabling LGBT social movements to step into niches once under the government’s exclusive responsibility. Therefore, in the 21st century, the value and valuation of LGBT subjects is established not so much by social movements’ work but via economic and urban power, reflecting a “post-homonationalist” mode.

Article

Israel and the European Union  

Sharon Pardo

Israeli-European Union (EU) relations have consisted of a number of conflicting trends that have resulted in the emergence of a highly problematic and volatile relationship: one characterized by a strong and ever-increasing network of economic, cultural, and personal ties, yet marked, at the political level, by disappointment, bitterness, and anger. On the one hand, Israel has displayed a genuine desire to strengthen its ties with the EU and to be included as part of the European integration project. On the other hand, Israelis are deeply suspicious of the Union’s policies and are untrusting of the Union’s intentions toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to the Middle East as a whole. As a result, Israel has been determined to minimize the EU’s role in the Middle East peace process (MEPP), and to deny it any direct involvement in the negotiations with the Palestinians. The article summarizes some key developments in Israeli-European Community (EC)/EU relations since 1957: the Israeli (re)turn to Europe in the late 1950s; EC–Israeli economic and trade relations; the 1980 Venice Declaration and the EC/EU involvement in the MEPP; EU–Israeli relations in a regional/Mediterranean context; the question of Israeli settlements’ products entering free of duty to the European Common Market; EU–Israeli relations in the age of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP); the failed attempt to upgrade EU–Israeli relations between the years 2007 and 2014; and the Union’s prohibition on EU funding to Israeli entities beyond the 1967 borders. By discussing the history of this uneasy relationship, the article further offers insights into how the EU is actually judged as a global-normative actor by Israelis.

Article

Foreign Policy and Religion: U.S. Foreign Policy Toward Israel  

Daniel G. Hummel

Religion has played a constant role in the United States–Israel relationship. Christian and Jewish interests have shaped U.S. foreign policy, especially after the rise of the Zionist movement in the late 19th century and the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. The role of religion Israel has historically depended on three interlinking factors: the influence of domestic political considerations in the calculations of American policymakers, the prominence of the Middle East in U.S. diplomatic and strategic thinking, and the beliefs and attitudes of individual policymakers, both their own religious convictions and their assessment of how important religious beliefs are to the American people. Religion has alternately strengthened and strained the U.S. relationship with the Zionist movement and the state of Israel. At some moments, such as the 1930s, religious attitudes and prejudices worked against closer cooperation. At other times, such as the Israeli–Egyptian peace summit of 1978, religious forces played a prominent role. As a state with special religious significance for many Americans, Israel provides a window into how religion functions in U.S. foreign policy, how its function has changed over time, and how religion has acted as an independent variable in political and policy outcomes.

Article

Israel: A Politically Monitored Military in a Militarized Society  

Yagil Levy

Two opposing arguments are heard in the political and academic discourse in Israel regarding the status of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). One claims that the IDF possesses too much power and that military thought governs political thought, thus it is “a military that has a state.” The other contends that the military is oversupervised by civilian groups. However, both arguments are correct if we relate each to a specific domain of civil–military relations. Since its establishment in 1948, the IDF has become increasingly subordinated to civilian control. During the 1950s, it was a military that dictated policies and often acted in direct defiance of the elected government; but since then, it has gradually lost much of its autonomy and become highly monitored by civilians. Areas that were conventionally considered to be within the military’s sphere of professional competence have become subject to civilian control. There has been increasing civilian intrusion into the military domain, starting with the monitoring of military operations during the 1950s, and culminating in the 2000s with increased monitoring of the IDF’s human and material resources and its activities in policing the Palestinian population. This process also signifies a transition from control performed exclusively by formal state institutions to increasing engagement by extrainstitutional actors (such as social movements and civil rights organizations) backed by the media and focused on issues ranging from recruitment policies and the investigation of operational accidents to actual military operations. At the same time, those ascribing too much power to the military are also right. Israeli political culture has been militarized from the early years of the state, except for a short period of demilitarization during the 1980s–1990s. Militarization developed from initially just prioritizing the military approach over political-diplomatic methods during the state’s first years, and continued with the predominance of military over political discourse after the 1967 War, and the religionization of politics since the 2000s. Throughout this process, the ongoing friction with the Palestinians in the West Bank and Israel’s wars in Gaza were presented as a religious war and the Palestinians were dehumanized. Thus, it is military thought that is powerful rather than the military organization itself, which has lost much of its former autonomy; military thought still governs civilian politics. Moreover, to a large extent, during the 2000s, not only did rightist and religious groups become the main promoters of militarization rather than the IDF and its officers’ social networks, but the new trends of militarization even clashed with the military command and its secular rationale, thus further challenging its professional autonomy.

Article

The State of Hezbollah? Sovereignty as a Potentiality in Global South Contexts  

Imad Mansour

The understanding of the differences in what a state and nonstate actors are and do in the Global South is augmented if we historicize these categories. In particular, the category of the nonstate actor is best understood when contextualized in the project of the state in which such actors operate. Building on established critical approaches, it is necessary to interrogate the a priori assumption that distinctions that frame as exclusively distinct categories of state and nonstate actors hold blanket validity for understanding politics in the Global South. A meaningful understanding of how an actor’s influence—regardless of category—is enhanced when placed in a context, and where analysis addresses strategies and actions and their effects. To this end, an actor is defined as an entity with two characteristics: it is able to develop preferences and goals, and it is able to mobilize individuals and material resources in their pursuit. Presenting the benefits of contextual analysis shows how a focus on actors’ “sovereign potentialities” (i.e., attributes such as control over territory, service provision, generation of markers of identity, and the international recognition that an actor has and through which it can impose change on its context and environment) allows for a clearer understanding of what constrains or enables actors qua actors. One way to explain the analytical purchase of this argument is via a novel reading of Hezbollah and of Lebanon’s politics, which is the party’s anchoring context. This makes it possible to analyze the profound effects of Hezbollah’s actions in Lebanon and regionally through its alliance with Syria (and Iran), its appeal to a wider Arab audience, and its confrontation with Israel. Special attention is given to Hezbollah’s actions in Lebanon, its involvement in the 2012–2013 Qusayr battle in support of the Syrian government, and its decision-making during the 2006 Israel War. This discussion will highlight Hezbollah’s state-like and non-state-like sovereign potentialities, and the factors that limit or enable its strategies in different contexts.

Article

Foreign Policy Change  

Spyros Blavoukos and Dimitris Bourantonis

Foreign policy change entails the redirection to a lesser or greater extent of a state’s foreign policy. The parameters that account for such a change can be clustered according to their nature (structural or conjunctural) and origin (domestic or international). Domestic structural parameters comprise the politico-institutional setting within which foreign policy decisions are made and advocacy groups in support of alternative foreign policy options. The focal point of analysis for both is the “authoritative decision unit” that can take the form of a powerful leader (e.g., a monarch, dictator, or a predominant political figure in a democratic system), a single group (e.g., the Politburo in the former Soviet Union, a group of Army officers collectively engaged in a military coup, or Cabinet under a Prime Minister with a collective policy-making style), or a multitude of autonomous actors (e.g., coalition governments and actors with veto power over foreign policy decisions). Whether these units are “open” or “closed” to international pressures and the degree of their insulation from domestic societal pressures are key issues that determine how conducive to change domestic political settings are. Advocacy groups comprise adherents to an alternative political culture, socioeconomic groups with divergent views and interests, and policy entrepreneurs in position to engineer foreign policy change. International structural parameters refer on one hand to systemic changes that may bring about a foreign policy realignment and on the other hand to the country’s role in the international system (e.g., participation in international organizations) that may activate foreign policy changes through socialization processes. Conjunctural parameters, either domestic or international, account for unexpected developments that may upset the existing status quo (e.g., the death or succession of a political leader, unexpected domestic political crises, human disasters and humanitarian crises, and international security or economic crises). This eclectic list of parameters helps account in a comprehensive way for two cases of major foreign policy realignment. The first deals with the incremental Greek-Turkish rapprochement in the late 1990s. Greece altered its way of approaching the bilateral disputes with Turkey by moving away from its earlier confrontational approach to a more engaging one. This change owed much to domestic political changes (new political leadership as an outcome of the sudden death of Prime Minister A. Papandreou), which led in turn to a reprioritization of the Greek foreign policy objectives related to the accession to the EU’s Economic and Monetary Union. It was further assisted by the participation of Greece in the European Union, which helped put the bilateral Greek–Turkish relationship in the frame of the EU enlargement policy. The second case accounts for the Israeli reorientation in the early 1990s vis-à-vis the Palestinian issue. Following the international upheaval after the end of the Cold War, the societal concerns after the Palestinian Intifada, and domestic political changes, the new Israeli political leadership orchestrated the foreign policy change that enabled the signing of the Oslo Peace Agreement.

Article

Electoral Choice and Religion: Israel  

Asher Cohen and Menachem Lazar

Among Israel’s Jewish society, which constitutes about 85% of the county’s voter base (about 15% are Arab voters), voters’ level of religiousness is considered, in relevant fields of research, the strongest predictor of voting behavior as well as of a wide range of political attitudes. Most prominent is the very high correlation found between a high level of religiousness and hawkish right-wing political positions, and vice versa: a secular self-definition is a very good predictor of dovish left-wing approaches. A vast majority of voters defining themselves as religious support the Likud and right-wing parties belonging to the Likud’s bloc. Conversely, a large (if not decisive) majority of voters defining themselves as secular vote for central and left-wing parties. In the 21st Knesset elections that took place in April 2019 it became clear that the bloc consisting of the Likud, further right-wing parties, and religious parties, have a significant structural advantage over the central-leftist bloc. The rightist bloc won 65 mandates compared with 55 for the center-left bloc (the Knesset—the Israeli parliament, has 120 seats), despite the fact that the rightist bloc lost at least five potential seats due to religious voters who supported extreme rightist parties that failed to pass the electoral threshold.

Article

Iran and European Union Politics  

Sebastian Harnisch

The Islamic Republic of Iran and the European Union (EU) have not yet established formal diplomatic relations, but since 1979 the Union and its member states have had various strong if often conflictual interactions. The relationship has been marked by distinct phases that reflect the emerging character of the partners, a theocratic republic on the one hand and a Union of interdependent democratic states on the other. While mutual economic interests have formed the basis for substantial interactions, relations with member states and the EU itself have been colored by a long and sometimes hurtful history of European states’ role in Iranian politics, including the Russian and British imperial influence over Persia in the late 19th and early 20th century, the British (and American) involvement in the coup against democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq in 1953, and the French hosting of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, an avowed critic of the Pahlavi dynasty, prior to the anti-authoritarian revolution in 1979. Over time, the relationship has substantially shaped the character and direction of the politics of the EU’s common foreign and security policy, resulting in more policy coherence between member states and the EU, more policy autonomy, particularly vis-á-vis the United States, and more proactive behavior, such as during the nuclear negotiations leading to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (in 2015). By engaging with a problematic member of the nonproliferation treaty, the EU not only specified and thus strengthened the treaty, but it also grew into an international nonproliferation actor to reckon with.

Article

The Palestinian Military: Two Militaries, Not One  

Hillel Frisch

The considerable variation in the way national security agencies are structured is a function of two basic factors: the state’s political and social heterogeneity and the possibility of allying with a strong external state, usually the United States. The problem, however, with fragmenting the military and security forces to achieve “coup-proofing” is that a tradeoff exists between fragmentation and assuring internal security on the one hand, and ensuring offensive capabilities to ward off external enemies, on the other. According to this model, centralized homogenous entities enjoying U.S. protection will tend to fragment their security systems most. States that duplicate their security forces least are plural societies that cannot command U.S. interest and commitment to meet their external security threats. The Palestinian Authority (PA) under Yasser Arafat was emblematic of political entities that were homogenous and enjoyed the protection of the United States and Israel, and it could therefore fragment its security forces into 12 or more security agencies compared to Eritrea, which achieved independence a year before the establishment of the PA, and maintained a very unified security apparatus to meet the threat of a vastly larger enemy—Ethiopia. As long as Israel (and the United States and its allies) supported the PA, Arafat made do with a fragmented inefficient security structure that was nevertheless efficient enough, with Israeli security backing, to meet the major external threat—Hamas and the Jihad al-Islami in both the West Bank/Judea and Samaria and Gaza. Israel’s decision to withdraw from Gaza in December 2003 and to complete its withdrawal from Gaza by September 2005 forced the fragmented PA to face these enemies alone, leading to the loss of Gaza to Hamas. By contrast, in the West Bank/Judea and Samaria, the more fragmented PA security structure prevailed as a result of considerable security cooperation with Israel. Hamas, bereft of a close external ally, challenges a superior Israeli military and therefore has a unified security structure much like Eritrea in the 1990s.

Article

Mainline Protestants and Divestment as International Economic Activism  

Maia Hallward

Mainline Protestant denominations in the United States have a history of using divestment as an economic form of nonviolent moral activism. While such activism can have a domestic focus, at times church divestment efforts have emphasized foreign policy issues as an extension of church activism in the areas of social justice and moral reform. Churches have used economic activism such as divestment from apartheid South Africa and investment screens to prevent church pension and other funds from being used for products and services—such as alcohol, tobacco and munitions—deemed “immoral” by church bodies. The case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict illustrates the broader themes and tensions involved in church divestment debates, given the media coverage that has been generated by the topic due to the special relationship between Christians and the holy land and the troubled history of Christianity and anti-Semitism. Some Protestant denominations, particularly those with a history of engagement in Israel/Palestine, have responded to the Palestinians’ call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) to advance their freedom and human rights. However, such responses have not been immune from debate and controversy. Some mainline Protestant denominations, including the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA), the United Methodist Church, and the Episcopal Church have debated resolutions dealing with church divestment from companies profiting from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories. Such resolutions have resulted in pushback from some parties, including efforts to criminalize boycott of Israel.

Article

Terrorism as a Global Wave Phenomenon: Anti-Colonial Wave  

David C. Rapoport

The Versailles Treaty ending World War I established a new international order by creating the League of Nations and, dividing the defeated empires in Europe into a number of nation-states. The overseas empires of the defeated became League of Nations mandates, which the victorious powers administered until they were sufficiently developed for “self -determination.” Ironically, the first terrorist campaign began in a victorious power’s territory when the Irish Republican Army produced the first success in global terrorist history though it did gain all territory sought. Campaigns emerged then in other mandates and overseas territories of the victorious powers but all failed. But the Atlantic Charter drawn in World War II made the self-determination principle more obligatory by pledging that the imperial territories of the defeated powers would be freed immediately. When the war was over, the victorious powers often dissembled portions of their empires. Elements not freed largely contained conflicting ethnic elements unable to agree on how to be governed. Successful terrorist campaigns materialized in those territories, and the wave ended when the energies of governments not terrorists dissipated! But most successes were incomplete because bloody tensions between ethnic divisions in the new states persisted. Important terrorist decisions helped their causes. The First Wave’s language tactics, strategy, and targets were changed and helped terrorists get less offensive media coverage and significant support from the international world, particularly the United Nations. They now described themselves as “freedom fighters” not terrorists. Assassination occurred rarely, violence was restricted to local territories and efforts to cooperate with group were abandoned. The police were the principal civilian element attacked, and warnings about attacks were often given to other civilians enabling them to seek safety.