One flag, two rallies: Mechanisms of public opinion in Israel during the 2014 Gaza war

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In Israel, public reaction to the 2014 Gaza war included massive support for the military operation and a sharp increase in the popularity of Prime Minister Netanyahu. To understand what caused these “rally-round-the-flag” (RRTF) effects, panel data were collected from a representative sample of the Jewish majority in Israel during and after the war. The article integrate empirical and theoretical arguments from public opinion studies, and from social and political psychology, to contextualize and guide the analysis. The results reveal that perceived threat to collective security produced two simultaneous rally outcomes through distinct processes: First, increased identification with the ethno-national Jewish group led to a rally behind Israel's prime minister. Second, anger toward Hamas and sentiment of national superiority, which was activated by increased ethno-national identification, produced a rally behind the military operation. In addition to explaining its specific empirical case, this study makes three broader contributions. First, it extends the investigation of the RRTF phenomenon in wartime beyond the popularity of the head of the state (the focus of most previous studies) by also examining levels of support for the use of military power. Second, it reveals some of the mechanisms through which distinct elements of popular nationalism mediate the relationship between war events and heterogeneous rally effects. Third, this study shows that the mechanisms that have been detected in studies of individual attitudes and behavior in small groups under conditions of perceived threat or competition can help explain the behavior of these individuals as members of larger, imagined national communities during war.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)65-82
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Science Research
StatePublished - Jan 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science


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