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Israel's Discourses and Practices in the Mediterranean Since 2001


Israel constructs the Mediterranean according to a Manichean schema whereby it classifies the countries which constitute the area as either nations it considers allies or nations and socio-political movements it considers threatening. Furthermore, in certain cases, this construction leaves space for attempting to move countries from the latter category to the former. For the former, the Israeli construction of security discourse consists of trading and military compacts, as well as friendly diplomatic ties. For the latter, Israeli construction of the Mediterranean is based on a discourse of deterrence – preventing such countries from threatening Israeli interests, as Israeli planners understand them – as well as attempting to weaken such countries when possible. Such weakening can in fact be a prelude to transitioning them from the “enemy” category to the “ally” category. Finally, Israeli discourse and construction of its most immediate neighbour, the Palestinians, reflects a combination of both worldviews. On the one hand, it constructs this sector of the Mediterranean as one it seeks to neuter or disarm, identifying as security threats those portions of Palestinian society it considers cooptable – the wider and deeper the scope of cooptation and absorption into the Israeli social and economic fabric, and political containment, the better. On the other, it constructs a discourse around deterrence and weakening concerning those portions and segments of Palestinian society that it is unable to co-opt. The enemy/friend category is in large measure a question of the attitudes of the country in question to what Israel calls its security situation vis-à-vis Palestine. For that reason, it casts countries as security threats when they pursue policies Israel interprets as favourable to the Palestinian struggle, and casts them as friendlier when such countries align with Israeli colonial policy vis-à-vis the Palestinians.

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