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The Cultural Turn in the US-Israeli Relationship

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image of Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication

The 'special relationship' between the United States and Israel has endured for more than four decades and is one of the more anomalous global political alliances. Conventional explanations have consistently failed to elucidate the underlying nuances of a relationship that has endured the transition from the Cold War to the unipolar world to the present day 'war on terror' and is often costly to the USA in economic and geostrategic terms. This article argues that the nebulous but still valuable concept of political culture provides a crucial ingredient to any understanding of the special relationship. In perceiving their society to be a beacon of what they like to call 'freedom' and 'democracy,' in a world in which these values are largely absent, Americans have been encouraged to believe that they share a political kinship with societies similarly imbued and that they have an obligation to assist where such values are under threat. This process of identification is reinforced by the activities of the pro-Israel lobby and the beliefs of America's increasing number of Christian Evangelicals who support Israel for largely religious reasons. It is the many dimensions of this cultural identification that sets Israel apart from other nations and forms the bedrock of the US-Israeli special relationship.


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