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Liberalism in Israel

Between the ‘Good Person’ and the ‘Bad Citizen’

Menachem Mautner

demanded of its citizens in the early 1950s in the field of immigration absorption. I will make two central arguments. The first is that the state’s call for sacrifice from its citizens was in tension with its citizens’ desire as individuals to lead a

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Ben Herzog

, Theodor (Binyamin Ze’ev) Herzl ( Herzog 2010 ). Thus, in the Knesset at least, the law was purely an ethical act. One can think of many pragmatic implications of the law: its lack of ability to select the desired immigrants, future implications for the

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Yagil Levy

This article addresses the question of why Israel initiated the Second Lebanon War so quickly, despite the civilian agenda to which the government had been committed, other mitigating factors, and the fact that the kidnapping of two soldiers did not warrant such a massive operation. Arguably, the war reflected the syndrome of a gap of legitimacies, that is, the gap that has emerged since the 1980s between high levels of political legitimacy for using force and low levels of social legitimacy for making the attendant sacrifices. Both values led to belligerency. Strong support for the use of force pushed Israel into taking offensive action that a civilian government could not contain, while the low level of social legitimation for sacrifice led to speedy decision-making and the desire for a swift conclusion by using massive force. Such a response would obviate any restraints on military action that might result from discussions about how to avoid sacrifices.

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Guy Ben-Porat and Fany Yuval

This study of neo-conservatism in Israel argues that despite its powerful emergence, internal contradictions prevent it from establishing a hegemonic position. This argument is used to explain the collapse of the Likud in the 2006 elections after it adopted a neo-conservative agenda. The attempt to maintain simultaneously a hawkish foreign policy and a neo-liberal economic agenda proved costly, since the demands of such a foreign policy often contradict the 'small state' tenets of neo-liberalism. Consequently, as this article demonstrates, neo-conservatism has a difficult time sustaining a stable constituency, as those who support an aggressive foreign policy may desire a more welfare-type state, while those who support neo-liberalism generally favor a moderate foreign policy.

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Revital Amiran-Sappir

This article deals with the relation of Micha Yosef Ben Gurion (Berdichevski)—one of the central formulators of the Zionist idea and of modern Hebrew literature—to the Zionist political sphere. As a wordly Jewish intellectual, Berdichevski attempted to establish a kind of Zionism that would allow Jewish individuals to engage in it as an act of their desires. In exploring how his carnal inclinations affected his vision of the political, I argue that Berdichevski's perception fails qualitatively by transposing its guiding sensual approach to the formulation of the new Jewish political sphere. As this article will show, Berdichevski's relation to the Jewish political revolution reveals a sometimes limited perception regarding the possibilities of freedom inherent in political activity and often contradicts his own aspiration to nurture the liberty of Jewish individuals.

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Ben Herzog

This article investigates the debates on expatriation policies after the establishment of Israel as an independent state in 1948. It shows that citizenship is a contingent political construction rather than an intrinsic national tradition. During the first years of its existence, the exact formulation of the type of citizenship in Israel was not fully established. Although scholars of the Israeli state claim that ethnicity dictated the formulation of Israeli rule, it was the desire to build a modern and democratic state that was the basis for naturalization and expatriation in Israel. The article argues that the resolution to allow multiple citizenships was pragmatic rather than ideological. It shows that in Israel, this policy was not derived from a post-national ideology but from the need to recruit more Jewish immigrants from affluent countries.

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Amal Jamal

In 2006-2007, several Arab nongovernmental organizations in Israel, led by a group of politicians and intellectuals, published future vision documents that summed up the needs, aspirations, hopes, and desires of Arab society in Israel. Despite the fact that the documents did not introduce any new ideas that were not on the Israeli political stage already, this article argues that the fact that the documents were a result of collective effort shows the deep changes that have been taking place among Arab society in general and its leadership in particular. The documents mark the rising tide of frustration and self-confidence, and as a result of oppositional consciousness among leaders and intellectuals of Arab society in Israel. The documents seek to redefine the relationship of Arab society with the Israeli state, demanding the transformation of Israel from an ethnic to a democratic state and calling the Jewish majority for a dialogue. The fact that several documents have emerged is a clear indication that the internal differences within Arab society are still stronger than the uniting forces within it.

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Post-Post-Zionism

A Paradigm Shift in Israel Studies?

Eran Kaplan

In 2010, more than two decades after the first post-Zionist studies rattled Israeli academe, Asaf Likhovsky (2010) suggested that several studies that were published in the first decade of the current century are perhaps pointing at a new direction in the field of Israel and Zionist studies. Likhovsky described these studies as a third wave in Israeli historiography and referred to the scholars who produced these studies as “post-post-Zionists.” While older historians of Israel and the Yishuv as well as their post-Zionist critics were primarily interested in the grand political themes of the Zionist era, Likhovsky (2010: 10) identified a series of studies that, as he put it, “are interested in mentalities, rituals, mannerisms, emotions; the trivial, private, mundane; the body and soul and their social construction; in disgust and desire; in attitudes to garbage and hair; in views of food and consumption; in statistics and vaccinations; in the ideas of housewives, but also lawyers, statisticians, psychoanalysts, and nurses (but not the politician, the soldier, the general).”

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Ofer Kenig

The selection methods of party leaders in Israel have gone through a gradual shift during the last 30 years. Like parties in several other democracies (Canada, United Kingdom, Japan), the major Israeli parties have changed their internal distribution of power to give their members a role in candidate and leadership selection. In Israel, as elsewhere, among the reasons for this reform was the desire to reduce the oligarchic tendencies of parties by creating a participatory revolution and by providing the rank-and-file members a chance to make a difference. This study maps the various methods used by Israeli parties for selecting their leaders and asks what the positive and negative consequences of the opening of the selection process are. The first section presents the various methods used by parties for selecting their leaders. The following three sections deal with the gradual process of democratization in leadership selection that occurred in the two major Israeli parties, and in other parties. The final section discusses the consequences of this democratization and tries to assess whether there is an ideal method for selecting party leaders.

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The Return to the Monument

The Looming Absence of the Temple

Hava Schwartz

of the transition from traditional memory to a national realm of memory; as observed by Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi, the landscapes evoked in the Song of Songs were an inspiration for descriptions of human desire. In the process of exile from the Land of