Area Studies (2018)
In a December 2009 Knesset address, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu identified three major strategic threats imperilling the State of Israel: ‘the Iranian [nuclear] threat, the [Hamas] missile threat and a threat I call the Goldstone threat’. In 2015, Netanyahu declared that Israel was ‘in the midst of a great struggle’against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement—an ‘international campaign to blacken its name’ and delegitimise ‘our very existence’—while Israeli President Reuven Rivlin characterised BDS as a ‘strategic threat of the highest degree’. What motivated the identification of these forces as strategic or existential threats? What consequences did this representation have for Israeli politics? To what ends were these 'threats' mobilised? Finally, should these tocsins be interpreted as sincere professions of alarm or as public diplomacy driven by other concerns?
These questions are significant for scholars and political actors alike. The former must judge the extent to which such statements accurately reflect Israeli officials’ beliefs and hence account for and predict their behaviour. The latter must consider them when formulating political strategy.
My doctoral research will take the four threats cited by Netanyahu—Iran, Hamas rockets, Goldstone, and BDS—as well as a fifth threat frequently adverted to by Israeli politicians—global antisemitism—as case studies to investigate the rhetorical and institutional politics of ‘existential threat’ in Israeli official and media discourse.
Other research interests include the politics of antisemitism, the role of human rights and international law in the Israel/Palestine conflict, and political theory.
I have degrees in Social and Political Sciences (BA, University of Cambridge), Intellectual History (MPhil, University of Cambridge) and Modern Middle Eastern Studies (MPhil, University of Oxford). I have worked professional as a book editor and researcher for Public Interest Investigations. A dual British-Israeli national, I have written about the Israel-Palestine conflict for publications including The Nation, Jadaliyya, Middle East Report, openDemocracy and VICE. I co-founded New Left Project, a left-wing media collective, in 2010. My edited volume Moment of Truth: Tackling Israel-Palestine's Toughest Questions was published in 2018 by OR Books. I maintain a personal website at jamiesternweiner.wordpress.com and I can be found on twitter @jsternweiner.