Israeli Diplomacy: The Effects of Cultural Trauma

In: The Hague Journal of Diplomacy
View More View Less
  • 1 Department of Sociology and Anthropology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91905, Israel msyairg@huji.ac.il Israeli Society and Politics Program, Rothberg International School, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91905, Israel sharona.odom@mail.huji.ac.il

Purchase instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):

€29.95$34.95

Summary

Israeli politicians are diplomatic agents provocateurs. Presidents, prime ministers and foreign office executives craft diplomatic scenes that betray diplomatic protocol. This article exposes the deep cultural codes that explain the unique behaviour of Israeli diplomacy. It documents different occasions of Israeli exceptional diplomacy and suggests that they reflect the cultural traumas that underlie Israeli culture. The analyses apply a new theoretical framework that dwells on the cultural codes of ‘Israeliness’ while suggesting that the unique style of Israeli diplomacy reflects four such codes: existential anxiety; upright defiance; a dugri (frank) speech culture and a fear of seeming to be a sucker (‘fraier’). By interpreting prominent cases with a cultural lens, the authors provide new insights into Israeli unilateralism, its seeming ‘paranoid’ character, and the reason for Israeli ignorance of international diplomatic codes. Essentially, they suggest that: (a) there is a cultural mismatch between diplomatic protocol and the Israeli national habitus; (b) the more that Israel’s strategic interests are threatened, the more locked it becomes to its post-traumatic habitus and the further its politicians move away from protocol. Israel’s persistent cultural trauma is thus likely to maintain the deviation of Israeli diplomacy from diplomatic protocol.

  • 2)

    Ellen Huijgh and Caitlin Byrne, ‘Opening the Windows on Diplomacy: A Comparison of the Domestic Dimension of Public Diplomacy in Canada and Australia’, The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, vol. 7, no. 4, 2012, pp. 395-420; Geoffrey Wiseman, ‘Pax Americana: Bumping into Diplomatic Culture’, International Studies Perspectives, vol. 6, no. 4, 2005, pp. 409-430; and Geoffrey Wiseman, ‘Distinctive Characteristics of American Diplomacy’, The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, vol. 6, no. 3-4, 2011, pp. 235-259.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 3)

    Gad Yair, The Code of Israeliness: The Ten Commandments for the Twenty-First Century (Jerusalem: Keter (Hebrew), 2011).

  • 4)

    Jeffrey C. Alexander, Trauma: A Social Theory (Malden, MA: Polity, 2012).

  • 5)

    Andrew Linklater, ‘Process Sociology and International Relations’, The Sociological Review, vol. 59, 2011, pp. 48-64; and Andreas Pickel, ‘Homo Nationis: The Psycho-Social Infrastructure of the Nation-State Order’, Global Society, vol. 18, no. 4, 2004, pp. 325-346.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 6)

    Harry Eckstein, ‘A Culturalist Theory of Political Change’, The American Political Science Review, vol. 82, no. 3, 1988, pp. 789-904.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 8)

    Oz Almog, The Sabra: The Creation of the New Jew (Berkeley, CA: California University Press, 2000); and Tamar Katriel, Talking Straight: Dugri Speech in Israeli Sabra Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 9)

    Norbert Elias, The Germans: Power Struggles and the Development of Habitus in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1996); Pickel, ‘Homo Nationis’, pp. 325-346; and Andreas Pickel, ‘The Habitus Process: A Biopsychosocial Conception’, Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, vol. 35, no. 4, 2005, pp. 437-461.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 10)

    Eytan Gilboa, ‘Public Diplomacy: The Missing Component in Israel’s Foreign Policy’, Israel Affairs, vol. 12, no. 4, 2006, pp. 715-747.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 13)

    Robert Van Krieken, Norbert Elias (London: Routledge, 1998).

  • 14)

    David Vital, ‘On the Unspoken Principles of Herzlian Diplomacy and their Contemporary Relevance’, Israel Affairs, vol. 14, no. 3, 2008, pp. 326-354.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 16)

    Myron J. Aronoff, ‘Camp David Rashomon: Contested Interpretations of the Israel/Palestine Peace Process’, Political Science Quarterly, vol. 124, no. 1, 2009, pp. 143-167.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 18)

    Gilboa, ‘Public Diplomacy,’ p. 737.

  • 19)

    bbc, 24 March 2010.

  • 20)

    Jeremy Pressman, ‘Israeli Unilateralism and Israeli–Palestinian Relations, 2001-2006’, International Studies Perspectives, vol. 7, no. 4, 2006, pp. 360-376.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 22)

    Tamir Sheafer and Itay Gabay, ‘Mediated Public Diplomacy: A Strategic Contest over International Agenda Building and Frame Building’, Political Communication, vol. 26, no. 4, 2009, pp. 447-467.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 23)

    Shenhav, Sheafer and Gabay, ‘Incoherent Narrator’, p. 145.

  • 24)

    Guy Harpaz, ‘The Role of Dialogue in Reflecting and Constituting International Relations: The Causes and Consequences of a Deficient European–Israeli Dialogue’, Review of International Studies, vol. 37, no. 4, 2011, pp. 1857-1883, at p. 1860.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 28)

    Guy Harpaz, ‘Normative Power Europe and the Problem of a Legitimacy Deficit: An Israeli Perspective’, European Foreign Affairs Review, vol. 12, 2007, pp. 89-109.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 33)

    David Harrison and Adrian Blomfeld, ‘Fury as Israel President Claims English are Anti-Semitic’, The Telegraph, 31 July 2010, available online at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/israel/7920330/Fury-as-Israel-president-claims-English-are-anti-semitic.html.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 34)

    Harpaz, ‘The Role of Dialogue’, p. 1865.

  • 39)

    Gilboa, ‘Public Diplomacy’, p. 728.

  • 42)

    Melanie Lidman, ‘Ayalon Defends Gilo Plan Despite Quartet Condemnation’, The Jerusalem Post, 3 October 2011, available online at http://www.jpost.com/Video-Articles/Video/Ayalon-defends-Gilo-plan-despite-Quartet-condemnation.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 43)

    Herb Keinon, ‘Netanyahu: Gov’t Okayed E1 Planning, Not Building’, The Jerusalem Post, 2 December 2012, available online at http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Netanyahu-Govt-okayed-E1-planning-not-building.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 49)

    Linda-Renee Bloch, ‘Who’s Afraid of Being a Freier? The Analysis of Communication through a Key Cultural Frame’, Communication Theory, vol. 13, no. 2, 2003, pp. 125-159; and Luis Roniger and Michael Feige, ‘From Pioneer to Freier: The Changing Models of Generalized Exchange in Israel’, European Journal of Sociology, vol. 33, no. 2, 1992, pp. 280-307.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 50)

    Aronoff, ‘Camp David Rashomon’, p. 167.

  • 52)

    Yair, The Code of Israeliness, p. 85.

  • 54)

    Sasson Sofer, ‘Towards Distant Frontiers: The Course of Israeli Diplomacy’, Israel Affairs, vol. 10, no. 1-2, 2004, pp. 1-9.

  • 57)

    Giorgio Agamben, The State of Exception (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2004).

  • 58)

    S.N. Eisenstadt, The Transformation of Israeli Society: An Essay in Interpretation (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1985).

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 141 48 3
Full Text Views 191 16 0
PDF Views & Downloads 57 37 0