Nationalist Religion and Democratic Foreign Policy: The Democracy Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Israel, in a much-quoted phrase the "only democracy in the Middle East", is regularly ranked among the most developed Western democracies by indices like Freedom House and Polity. A very popular theory of International Relations – democratic peace theory – proposes that such democracies prefer peaceful solutions to international conflict. Israel, instead, has often contributed to the violent escalation of the conflict with the Palestinians. Drawing on liberal values as the driving force behind democratic peace, the dissertation thesis takes a look at a competing mindset to liberalism that unfolds its potential within the framework of democracy: nationalist religion. Owing to its historical and philosophical background in the Enlightenment and the secularisation paradigm, democratic peace theory (like much of IR-theory in general) has a blind spot regarding the phenomenon of politicised religion. Yet in Israel, religious nationalism has been a competing ideology to secular Zionism since its inception. While consociational elements in the Israeli democracy helped accommodating the religious camp in the first decades of the Jewish state, the capture of "biblical landscapes" in the 1967 war brought to the forefront a new generation of young religious nationalists under the guidance of Rabbi Zvi Yehuda haCohen Kook who interpreted the settlement process in the occupied territories as a religious duty in preparation for the coming of the Messiah. The cleavage between secular and religious Jews more and more overlapped with the split between doves and hawks. The Labour party explicitly based its involvement in the peace process in the 1990s on the promotion of a liberal, secular Zionist identity of the State of Israel, in accordance with the liberal values underlying democratic peace theory. In stark contrast, the national-religious camp demands that Israel be a decidedly Jewish state that incorporates the biblical landscapes in the Westbank and Gaza-Strip. By way of coalitional politics in the fragmented Israeli party system, the religious parties gain an unproportionately high influence on Israeli foreign policy regarding the conflict with the Palestinians.

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Demokratie und Gewalt im Heiligen Land | 2008

Claudia Baumgart-Ochse, Demokratie und Gewalt im Heiligen Land. Politisierte Religion in Israel und das Scheitern des Osloer Friedensprozesses, Studien der Hessischen Stiftung Friedens- und Konfliktforschung (Bd. 2), Baden-Baden (Nomos), 2008.

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Religiöser Zionismus und der israelisch-palästinensische Konflikt | 2006

Claudia Baumgart, Religiöser Zionismus und der israelisch-palästinensische Konflikt, in: Tanja Rother/Christiane Fröhlich (Hg.), Zum Verhältnis von Religion und Politik im Nahostkonflikt. Heidelberg: Forschungsstätte der Evangelischen Studiengemeinschaft e.V. 2006, Reihe A (Texte und Materialien), S. 137-158.

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Religious Zionism and Israel Foreign Policy | 2006

Claudia Baumgart, Religious Zionism and Israel Foreign Policy, Cornell University, Cornell Occasional Paper 30-1, 2006.

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Israel vor der Zerreißprobe? | 2005

Claudia Baumgart, Israel vor der Zerreißprobe? Die Siedler und der geplante Abzug aus Gaza, in: Ulrich Ratsch, Reinhard Mutz, Bruno Schoch, Corinna Hauswedell, Christoph Weller (Hg.), Friedensgutachten, Münster (LIT Verlag), 2005, S. 53-59.

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Eitler Traum oder erreichbares Ziel? | 2004

Claudia Baumgart/Harald Müller, Eitler Traum oder erreichbares Ziel? Die Idee einer kernwaffenfreien Zone im Nahen Osten, HSFK-Report Nr. 10/2004, Frankfurt/Main

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Demokratie im Ausnahmezustand | 2003

Claudia Baumgart, Demokratie im Ausnahmezustand, HSFK-Standpunkte, Nr. 2/2003, Frankfurt/M.

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