Rhetorical Expressions of Ethos of Conflict and Policymaking in Intractable Conflict by Leaders: A Comparative Study of Two Israeli Prime Ministers

Nimrod Rosler, Hila Hagage Baikovich, Daniel Bar-Tal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Political leaders serve as agents of peacemaking or conflict maintenance by determining society’s goals and courses of action and then mobilizing society accordingly. We propose at a distance measure that can serve as a proxy to leaders’ position regarding their conflict-related policy. Assuming that support of societal beliefs of ethos of conflict (EOC) indicates support for the continuation of the conflict we hypothesize that publicly adhering to existing shared EOC reflects freezing and hence is an indicator of conflict maintenance policy. Conversely, rhetorically departing from that ethos expresses unfreezing and indicates a path aimed at conflict resolution. Two Israeli prime ministers, Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Olmert, provide us with a remarkable comparative case study; both came from a similar hardline background and continued supporting these views for decades, but eventually parted in their views. We analyzed references to beliefs of EOC in their speeches during 3 decades of intense shifts in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The findings support our hypothesis by indicating that Netanyahu who persistently adhered to the EOC, led obstructionist policies to peace. In contrast, Olmert who increasingly expressed alternative beliefs supporting peacemaking beginning from the 2000s, led a determined peacemaking policy as a prime minister. We suggest that understanding leaders’ level of adherence to EOC can assist in evaluating their position and efforts in trying to lead peacemaking policy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-392
Number of pages12
JournalPeace and Conflict
Volume27
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Conflict resolution
  • Ethos of conflict
  • Leadership
  • Policymaking
  • Rhetoric

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Political Science and International Relations

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