The role of American political culture in the development of the U.S.-Israel "special relationship" and the lost opportunities for achieving Middle East peace
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The "special relationship" between the United States and the State of Israel cannot be fully explained by conventional realist analysis of so-called "hard factors" such as strategic importance and economic; nor can it be fully explained using pluralist theory by the influence of the pro-Israel lobby. The U.S.-Israel relationship, which was initially established as a strategic partnership, has quietly metamorphosed into an alliance that while still nominally rationalized as a strategic has actually becoming deeply rooted in American politics and political culture. In order to fully explain this unique alliance, which has shaped much of American foreign policy in the Middle East and most particularly American policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian peace process over the past several decades it is necessary to consider "soft factors" most especially cultural, historical, moral, political, and ideological components of the relationship. These often-overlooked factors contribute to a political culture which strengthens the alliance between the United States and Israel and further reinforces American values and identity. American strategic priorities in the Middle East are defined by a context of cultural intimacy that has been established between the two countries rather than Israel's actual strategic value to the United States. The result is that American policy in the Middle East has often been inconsistent with America's publicly stated overall strategic goals. Often the alliance has ended up undermining goals like political and economic stability that it was originally intended to enhance. The political imperatives that often seem to govern American commitment to Israel are actually better explained as the results of deeply-rooted cultural and moral interpretations about Israel and its relationships with its neighbors. Thus it is the America's constructed perceptions of the reality of Israel rather than the actual reality of the Middle East that defines the U.S. relationship with the Israel and the broader Middle East. This study is an attempt to analyze how mass political culture influences the ideas and values, and ultimately the actions, of the political elite, which have shaped American policy towards Israel and more broadly the entire Middle East.