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A Social Constructivist Approach towards the Israel-Palestine Conflict

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Jonas Akaou

on 1 February 2013

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Transcript of A Social Constructivist Approach towards the Israel-Palestine Conflict

Introduction Main Part Conclusion Why did I choose the topic? - Why Israel? Why Constructivism? Why the Oslo Accords? The Israel Palestine Conflict counts as the longest protracted conflict in the world. (Over 62 years when starting from 1949).

Recent political and military developments such as the Gaza War in 2008/09, military operations in the Gaza Strip in March 2012 and the continuous conflict about Israeli settlements, East-Jerusalem and Palestinian Statehood. Constructivism offers a set of ideas of how the International System functions. The constructivist paradigm on conflict its causes and its possible ways of transforming are rarely mentioned as roots of solutions and / or problems. Culture, ideas, knowledge, values and norms are at the basis of an ideational framework that determines actor dispositions, states' foreign policies, and how material resources and their importance are perceived.

The Accords generated virulent opposition, including mass demonstrations and the assassination of Rabin. The Oslo Accords reflected a major change in core policy objectives and methods. Research Question:
What is the relationship between cultural change and foreign policy change?
How can Israel's foreign policy change in the example of the Oslo Accords be explained through a constructivist lens? Methodology - What am I going to do? Connection of constructivist approaches towards change in International Relations in general, and in foreign policy in particular with the theory of cultural shift.

Oslo Accords from an ideational perspective: How postmaterialism and the rise of the "Liberal Left" is one way to explain the change in Israeli foreign policy

What did go wrong? How sustainable is cultural change. Definitions and Explanations Constructivism - Why ideas matter Ronald Inglehart - Cultural Shift and Postmaterialism
Conclusion - Answer to the research question. Criticism A Constructivist Approach towards the Israel Palestine Conflict.
Culture and its Influence on Foreign Policy Change – The Example of Israel and the Oslo Accords. Discussion / Open questions Empirical explanation; Analysis of the Oslo case from a general theoretical perspective concerning the relationship between cultural change and foreign policy change.

It argues that a cultural shift towards Postmaterialism led to the rise of a new generation on the Israeli Left with a more Liberal outlook.

This is why the deep change in foreign policy agenda occurred

Empirical Data and Analysis Cultural shift is thus complementary to other more materially based accounts of policy change, rather than an alternative to such accounts, as is the case with many constructivist explanations (Finnemore 2001).

However, only cultural shift explains the particularly profound character of the Israeli policy change, without which Oslo would not have become a reality.

The rise of Postmaterialism alters the domestic political balance, which allows a Liberal approach to foreign policy to obtain greater political power and influence. Importance of ideas and human awareness and its constituting effect on the international system. Reality is viewed as a social construction, it is not naturally present but a product of human consciousness.

Ideas define the meaning, understanding and at the end of the day the way material power is used. Ideas are mental constructs held by individuals, sets of distinctive beliefs, principles and attitudes that provide broad orientations for behavior and policy, and therefore the international stage.

Relevant authors: Alexander Wendt, Martha Finnemore, Peter Katzenstein, Emanuel Adler... Culture is a coherent system of beliefs, values, attitudes, norms and skills that are widely shared and deeply held within a given society.

Materialism →-> Postmaterialism, including values such as democracy, tolerance, more willingness to surrender sovereignty etc.. This as a whole is what Inglehart calls "more liberal".

Regular pattern of ideological change during the development of societies into advanced industrialism. What happened in Israel - Constructivist thoughts on how change comes about. According to a survey conducted in 2001, Israel is a moderately postmaterialist country (Yaar, 2002).

Examining the approach of the Liberal Left to the peace process reveals the absolute congruency with the three major changes in Israeli foreign policy embodied in the Oslo Accords.

The articulation of Palestinian rights to self-determination predated the changes wrought by both the 1987 Intifada and the subsequent changes in the PLO position.

The lower threat perception of the Liberal Left and their greater idealism informed an approach which sought to transform conflict into genuine peace by generating sufficient mutual trust to facilitate the institutionalization of diplomatic agreements. (Pundak, 2001).

The ideational structure of the Israeli society in general and the Labour Party in particular had a decisive impact on the formation of political coalitions/ institutional contexts with other left wing parties.

Postmaterialism is conditioned on experiencing material well-being and physical security. Orientation - A short Timeline 1987
Intifada 1990/91
2. Gulf War 1992
Jitchak Rabin
Prime Minister 1993
Oslo Accord I 1995
Oslo II
of Jitchak Rabin 2000
of Camp David
Al Aksa Intifada If the cultural shift was important to the adoption of Oslo, why did it fail to bring the Oslo process to a successful conclusion and why did the cultural shift apparently dissipate following the collapse of the peace process in 2000? This second question raises the theoretical issue as to whether there are material limits to cultural change.

How can Inglehart's assumption of a correlation between financial security and liberal values be reconciled with conservatism in rich countries.

How would constructivists account for the fact that change of normative priorities is allegedly based on financial, material well-being. Literature and Further Reading Advice
- Main Sources
Adler, Emmanuel (1997) ‘Seizing the Middle Ground: Constructivism in World Politics’, European Journal of International Relations 3: 319–63.
Finnemore, Martha (1996) ‘Norms, Culture and World Politics’, International
Organisation 50: 325–47
Inglehart, Ronald (1990) Culture Shift in Advanced Industrial Society. Princeton, NJ:
Princeton University Press.
Inglehart, Ronald (1997) Modernization and Postmodernization. Princeton, NJ:
Princeton University Press.
Jackson, Robert and Sorensen, Georg (2010) International Relations: Theories & Approaches, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
Katzenstein, Peter, ed. (1996) The Culture of National Security. New York: Columbia
University Press.
Keohane, Robert and Goldstein, Judith (1993) 'Ideas and Foreign Policy: An Analytical Framework', in Robert Keohane and Judith Goldstein (eds) Ideas and Foreign Policy, pp. 3–30. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press
Rynhold, Jonathan (2007) 'Cultural Shift and Foreign Policy Change : Israel and the Making of the Oslo Accords', Cooperation and Conflict 42: 419.
Schimmerlfennig, F. (2008). Internationale Politik. München: Schöningh
Wendt, A. (1999). Social Theory of International Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

- Further Reading
Rynhold, Jonathan (2003) 'Cultural Change and the Oslo Process'. Paper presented at the International Studies Association Conference, Portland, OR.
Rynhold, Jonathan (2005) 'Religion, Postmodernization and Israeli Approaches to the Palestinians', Terrorism & Political Violence 17: 371–90.
Yaar, Ephraim and Hermann, Tamar (1994) The Peace Index. Tel Aviv: Tami
Steinmetz Centre. Available at: www.tau.ac.il/peace/index.htm What can/should be done in order to support cultural shifts within a society?
Does constructivism offer suitable methods and techniques?
What about Palestine? Do both parties have to change?
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