“Three Tentacles of Terror”: Israeli Securitization after the Arab Spring




McLarney, Ellen

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Securitization theory, while designed to describe the politics surrounding extra-military threats to a nation, has rarely been used as a frame to analyze countries that exist in a state of deep and permanent securitization. In these nations, which include Israel, security is a mainstay of political and daily life and discourse. This thesis uses a modified version of securitization theory to analyze the reasoning and motivations behind Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s responses to regional and domestic events between the beginning of the Arab Spring in December 2011 and the end of Operation Protective Edge in August 2014. It argues that the Prime Minister maintains a set of three discourses – the enemy nation-state threat, the para-state threat, and the domestic militant threat – pervasive in modern Israeli society and anchored in the nation’s understanding of its political and military history. The Prime Minister skillfully deployed these discourses over the thirty-three-month period in order to garner national and international support for increased domestic securitization and military operations, both of which served to further his political and personal agenda. I break the discourses into three sections: first focusing on the history of the discourses, then analyzing the Prime Minister’s juggling of the discourses from the beginning of the Arab Spring to the end of Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012 largely in the name of the Camp David Accords, and lastly analyzing his use of the domestic militant discourse in order to undermine the Palestinian unity government and provoke Operations Brother’s Keeper and Protective Edge during Summer 2014. My analysis underscores the utility of securitization theory in analyzing the complexity of Israeli politics. Even in a nation as subject to military threats as Israel, a leader may not always be acting in the state’s best interest.





Deardorff, Tessa (2016). “Three Tentacles of Terror”: Israeli Securitization after the Arab Spring. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/11865.

Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.