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INR 4204 Reminder: Midterm quiz #2 will be on Wednesday, March 21. Any problems accessing readings? Today’s agenda: Israeli identity politics and foreign.

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Presentation on theme: "INR 4204 Reminder: Midterm quiz #2 will be on Wednesday, March 21. Any problems accessing readings? Today’s agenda: Israeli identity politics and foreign."— Presentation transcript:

1 INR 4204 Reminder: Midterm quiz #2 will be on Wednesday, March 21. Any problems accessing readings? Today’s agenda: Israeli identity politics and foreign policy (cont’d)  Note: the slide show is available online. Relax. Music: Hadag Nahash live, with the Avi Leibowitz Jazz Orkestra, “we are not frayerim”Hadag Nahash

2 Key authors Michael Barnett, GWUDov Waxman, Baruch College

3 Israeli sociologist Oz Almog Creator of People-Israel website Creator of People-Israel website

4 Israeli identity politics and foreign policy Remember Kehr’s argument that FP has “not only an antagonist in front of it but a homeland behind it”? This framework may be applied to the internal politics of culture and identity as much as the politics of economic interests. What is “identity”? It’s “an understanding of oneself in relationship to others. Identities, in short, are not personal or psychological; they are social and relational... “ (Barnett, p. 62) Do cultural politics matter for US foreign policy? “What is Israel’s identity”? This highly contested question “was first raised by Zionist ideologues... before Israel’s founding” (Waxman, “From Controversy to Consensus,” 76).

5 Israeli identity politics and foreign policy Background on Zionism—YouTube College:  Prof. Z. Lockman, “A Brief History of Zionism”A Brief History of Zionism  “A Shamelessly brief history of Zionism.”A Shamelessly brief history of Zionism  “Alfred Dreyfus Affair, Theodor Herzl and Zionism”Alfred Dreyfus Affair, Theodor Herzl and Zionism  Theodor Herzl vs. Ahad Ha’am

6 Theodor Herzl, 1860-1904 See Waxman book, 19. Founded the Zionist political movement (in Basel, 1897) His novel Altneuland, trans. into Hebrew as “Tel Aviv,” envisioned a progressive, secular, culturally-European, multi-lingual society.

7 Ahad Ha’am (Asher Ginsberg), 1856-1927 See Waxman book, 18- 19. Founded “cultural Zionism.” Envisioned a Jewish, if secular, “spiritual center” in Palestine. Contra Herzl, he strove for a “Jewish state, not a state of Jews.”

8 The “Balfour Declaration”

9 The British Mandate in Palestine, ~1920-1948

10 Zionism in British Palestine Since ~1930 the labor movement assumed a hegemonic position in the Zionist movement and among the Jewish “Yishuv” in Palestine. The “Yishuv” built institutions that would serve the foundation for a future state: communal settlements (Kibbutz, Moshav), a strong labor union, a Hebrew University, paramilitary formations (the Haganah; “Palmach”). See Almog. The Yishuv’s (labor) leadership was largely drawn from a small cadre of “pioneers” who arrived in Palestine between 1904-1914 (the “second aliyah”).

11 Degania, the first Kibbutz (b. 1909)

12 Take David Ben-Gurion, for example (1886-1973) Emigrated from Russia to Palestine in 1906. Worked initially as an ag. laborer. Hebraized his name from “Grün.” Hated speaking Yiddish. An avid bible reader, yet thoroughly secular. From ~1930, undisputed leader of the “Yishuv,” then Israel’s first PM

13 Ze’ev (Vladimir) Jabotinsky, 1880-1940 “Revisionist Zionism, led by Jabotinsky, was labor Zionism’s chief ideological rival (Waxman book, 20). Advocated “territorial maximalism, insisting upon the Jewish right to the whole territory of Eretz Israel” (Rynhold and Waxman, 14). The Likud party is a descendent of the Revisionist movement

14 Oz Almog, The Sabra: The Creation of the New Jew (U. of Calif. Press, 2000) Synopsis: “This book provides a comprehensive portrait of the Sabras (the state of Israel's first generation, born between the 1930's and 40's)... It's an interesting look at the creation of a new Jewish identity, and the reasons why Israeli Jews have become so different from their Diaspora forefathers.”

15 Israel’s Identity: from hegemony of the New Jew (“Sabra”) to current “tribalism” The Other to which the New Jew, the Sabra, was counterpoised was the old “Diaspora” Jew more than the Arab residents of Palestine. As Almog explains, from the 1930s to the early 1960s the term “Hebrew” (or Israeli) was central to Zionist cultural discourse. “Jewish” was marginalized. The “Canaanites” were an extreme manifestation of this vision (Almog, 6-7; Waxman book, 27-8)

16 Poet Yonatan Ratosh, leading Canaanite (Almog, p. 6)

17 The “Palmach”

18 Palestine/Israel: the “Green Line” (L); the 1947 UN Partition Plan (R)

19 The internationalization of the 1948-49 war (Israel’s “war of independence”)

20 The Palestinian Nakbah: birth of the refugee problem

21 The New Jews: Sabra farmer-warriors epitomized by Moshe Dayan (1915-1981)

22 Yitzhak Rabin, 1922-1995. Israel’s first Sabra PM

23 Ariel Sharon, 1928-

24 Identity politics in Israel The “New Jew” vision viewed Israel as a largely-secular state of Jews, more Israeli than Jewish. EX: the “Law of Return” From the 1930s to the 1960s, the “New Jew” identity was hegemonic. The swift victory of 1967 was its high tide; its decline was precipitated by: – The shock of the 1973 Yom Kippur war (Almog, 16). – Demographic and political changes in Israeli society

25 The six day war, June 1967

26 From Sabra (New Jew) hegemony to “tribalism” Sabra, Labor hegemony gave way to cultural fragmentation or “tribalism.” By the 1990s, “Israeli society was no longer seen as united by as rife with internal divisions (between, for example, religious and secular, Ashkenazim and Mizrahim, Jews and Arabs).” (Waxman, “From Controversy to Consensus,” p. 79) Who are the major cultural “tribes” of contemporary Israel?

27 Whatever happened to the old, hegemonic elite? It became a “tribe,” epitomized by Tel-Aviv. Largely Ashkenazi. Tel-Aviv’s state of mind: party time; secular; high tech; looking outward toward Europe and the U.S. Individualism supplanted Zionist collectivism. The high tech entrepreneur succeeded generals and farmers as the cultural role model. Identity: a [democratic] state of Jews, a modern, secular, Western state. Or even a “Hebrew state,” a “secular, civic, Israeli melting pot” (Ha’aretz editorial, March 3, 2011)Ha’aretz editorial, March 3, 2011 In the early 1990s, this vision was articulated by then PM Yitzhak Rabin (see Barnett, 75).

28 Hadag Nachash, Zionist hip hop DKg4 DKg4 Reflects a common theme in “Tel-Aviv’s” contemporary state of mind. The state we have is not what we dreamed of. It has become too militaristic; too religious. We want Paris.


30 Tel-Aviv, 2004 Gay Pride Parade


32 Tel Aviv: streetlife and nightlife

33 Israel’s “tribes”: the Arab citizens Do not fit comfortably within a “state of Jews,” let alone a “Jewish state.” Might fit more comfortably within: – A communist state – A Canaanite state – A “secular, civic, Israeli melting pot” (Ha’aretz editorial) –

34 Israel’s “tribes”: the Sepharadi Jews (or Mizrahim)

35 The Mellah in Sefrou, Morocco

36 Iraqi Jews arrive in Israel ~1950 (L) “Ma’abara” (R)

37 Ashdod

38 The Sepharadim/Mizrahim (See Waxman book, 40-41) “Mizrahi Jews tended to be more traditional than their Ashkenazi counterparts, and their Jewish identity tended to be stronger.” “When secular Israeliness... dominated in the definition of Israeli national identity... the Mizrahim’s ability to belong in this Israeli nation was highly tenuous and conditional” The Mizrahim gravitated toward the Likud party and were partly responsible for its rise to power in 1977— Menachem Begin’s “emphasis upon Jewishness and the Jewish tradition appealed to the Mizrahi public.”

39 Israel’s tribes: the “ultra-Orthodox” Historically hostile to Zionism Were devastated by the holocaust Were expected by the Zionist leadership to become extinct—expectations were confounded by history Don’t care for a “state of Jews.”

40 Knitted kippahs and black hats

41 Me’a Shearim, Jerusalem


43 Beitar Ilit, an ultra-orthodox settlement

44 Israel’s tribes: the national-religious bloc OnIA OnIA Was a junior partner of the hegemonic elite Became awakened by the 1967 victory Want a Jewish state in Greater Israel The core of the settler movement


46 Settlement of Shilo, near Ramallah

47 Settlers demonstrating against PM Sharon in 2005

48 The newest tribe: the “Russians”

49 The Oslo Peace Process Timeline July 1992: Yitzhak Rabin (Labor) elected PM 1993: secret talks begin between Israel and the PLO in Oslo, resulting in the Oslo accords (signed in Washington). Provide for mutual recognition and establishment of Palestinian self-government in parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. PLO leadership, headed by Yasser Arafat, allowed to return to Gaza. Sept. 1995: Arafat and Rabin reach Taba agreement, expanding Palestinian self-rule and allowing Palestinian elections. Arafat is elected president of Pal. Authority. Nov. 1995: Rabin is assassinated by Yigal Amir, a member of the national-religious “tribe.” 1996: Binyamin Netanyahu (Likud) elected PM

50 Oslo Peace Process Timeline (cont’d) 1996: Binyamin Netanyahu (Likud) elected PM Jan. 1997: Israel hands over 80% of Hebron to the PA. Israeli-Pal. talks continue but the peace process falters. 1999: Ehud Barak (Labor) elected PM. 2000: Barak pushes hard for a summit with Arafat to reach a final peace accord. The Camp David Summit ends in deadlock. Sept. 2000: the 2 nd Palestinian Intifada begins. Feb. 2001: Ariel Sharon (Likud) elected PM. Would later initiate a unilateral disengagement from Gaza (see Rynhold and Waxman)

51 Signing the Oslo Peace Accords, 1993

52 The Divisiveness of the Oslo Accords (see Barnett chapter; Waxman, “From Controversy to Consensus”) Israel “went, or was dragged, to Oslo as two nations” (Waxman, 76) Rabin’s vision: “we want a [democratic] state of Jews” (Quoted by Barnett, 75). “Israel as a modern secular, Western state... with a prosperous Israeli nation living in peace with its neighbors” (Waxman, 80) Rabin’s coalition included “Tel-Aviv,” elements of the Sepharadi “development towns,” elements of the new “Russians,” with outside support of (for the only time in Israeli history) the Arabs. Still, “The Rabin government could not secure a public consensus behind its policy... The margin of [popular] support was very narrow.” The Knesset “was barely able to ratify” the Oslo agreements (Waxman, 76-77).

53 The Divisiveness of the Oslo Process (cont’d) Rabin’s vision clashed with “a vision of Israel as a Jewish state with a Jewish nation loyal to its heritage and living in its ancestral homeland” (Waxman 80). Settler leader: “Holding on to YESHA [Judea, Samaria, and Gaza] and building it forces a particular identity on the nation, one which emphasizes the uniqueness of the Jewish people” (Waxman, 78) Globalization, consumerism, Americanization, “generated a growing cultural unease, especially among the religious and traditionalist Jewish public” (Waxman, 79) As noted above, Rabin was killed in 1995 by a member of the “national-religious” tribe.


55 Unilateral Disengagement from Gaza, 2005 (see Rynhold and Waxman) On October 26, 2004, the Knesset approved PM Sharon’s plan to remove all Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip. Vote tally: 67 in favor; 45 opposed; 7 abstentions; 1 absent (illness) Who were the 67? Labor; Shinui; roughly half the Likud (Sharon’s own party). Who do they represent in Israeli society? The forces who supported Rabin (centering on “Tel-Aviv”), minus the Arab parties, plus half the Likud. Who were the 45 opposed? Half the Likud; the National Religious Party (knitted kippahs); the Ultra-Orthodox Ashkenazi parties; Shas (Ultra-orthodox Sepharadi); the National Union.

56 Unilateral Disengagement from Gaza, 2005 (see Rynhold and Waxman) The disengagement was made possible by ideological change within “the Likud Party and the secular Israeli right”—the abandonment of a... commitment to maintaining Jewish control over Eretz Yisrael... The value of Eretz Israel was effectively demoted in order to preserve a more fundamental value—Israel’s continued existence as a democratic Jewish state with a Jewish majority.” (p. 12) After the disengagement, Sharon and other Likud leaders left the party and created the centrist “Kadima” party, currently led by Ms. Zippi Livni (from a rock- ribbed revisionist family; p. 24).

57 “Separation was a centrist alternative that incorporated elements from the approaches of both the Left and the Right to the issue of the territories. It took the policy of territorial withdrawal from the Left, and the Right’s skepticism about the possibility of achieving Israeli-Pal. peace... Separation emerged as a ‘third way’ approach to the territories (Waxman, From Controversy, 89) While the concept of territorial withdrawal now enjoys a substantial majority (unlike the 1990s), the cultural conflict over Israel’s identity remains unresolved.

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