'Esau Hates Jacob' Conflict and Religious Elite Rhetoric in Israel
39 Pages Posted: 8 May 2016
Date Written: May 4, 2016
How do religious elites respond to conflict? While scholars have shown that elite rhetoric influences civil and interstate war, work on how conflict affects elite rhetoric remains limited. In this paper, I examine to what extent Israeli religious elite rhetoric becomes more hawkish during periods of military conflict with the Palestinians. I exploit the variation of conflict intensity over time, in order to compare religious elite discourse before and after different periods of conflict. I use unsupervised and supervised learning methods to classify weekly Sabbath leaflets, which serve as an important media platform for Israel's religious elites. My results suggest that there is a significant increase in nationalist rhetoric during times of military conflict. Additionally, during conflict nationalist rhetoric shifts from an emphasis on connection to the land to nationalist incitement towards the enemy. In contrast, my results suggest that religious elites experience no similar increase in anti-government rhetoric during times of domestic conflict. Overall, these results suggest that religious elites experience short-term radicalization in response to military conflict, but remain relatively unaffected by domestic conflict.
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