Jon Agnew History Project Plan

On September 27th the Prime Minister of Israel gave a poignant speech to the UN General Assembly regarding the history of Iran and its recent pursuit of nuclear technology. Benjamin Netanyahu – the PM of Israel – asked some rhetorical questions that shed light into the Israeli lens of foreign policy. Netanyahu enquires: “so I ask you: given this record of Iranian aggression without nuclear weapons, just imagine Iranian aggression with nuclear weapons. Imagine their long ranged missiles tipped with nuclear warheads, their terror networks armed with atomic bonds. Who among you with feel safe in the Middle East? Who would be safe in Europe? Who would be safe in America?” (Netanyahu, Sept 27 2012). These questions articulate that the pursuits of Iranian nuclear technology have major geopolitical consequences that individuals should be cognizant about. Thus, given such an intimate insight with Israeli political calculus and foreign policy one can ask the question: does the historical experience of Israel regarding nuclear technology in the Middle East determine future action? In this paper I will survey the local, regional, and global historical experiences regarding the foreign policy of the state of Israel and argue that the future of Israeli action can be understood best by a background of its history. More specifically, the precarious position the state of Israel is in, can be understood best by first, examining the birth of the nation, second, historical regional relationships, and lastly, looking at the global institutions the state of Israel depends upon.

KEY: Motivational Link

            Research Question



Section 1. Local [Israel was born into a foreign policy emergency room which has made it hypersensitive and a realist]


  • UNGA Resolution 181 opened up the international political space for the state of Israel. This international accord required Britain to evacuate the area we now know as Israel. Additionally, this required the formation of two states – Jewish and Arab. The commission formed by the resolution was to be used to create these two states as quickly as possible. The Israeli state was the quickest to petition for statehood. The US also recognized the state of Israel under the premises of the UNGA Resolution 181. Due to the lack of an Arab state and the quick formation of the state of Israel, this resolution became an international political hot potato. Which caused the state of Israel to reflect on its birth.

à Knesset, “UN General Assembly Resolution 181.” Last modified 1947. Accessed October 6, 2012.

  • Israel starts an army. This picture shows a man joining the conscripted Israeli military. Two main arguments would be made from this artifact. First, an acknowledgement that the previous Israeli military was fractured into insurgent groups. Second, that the nation of Israel now has one of the most powerful and capable militaries in the region. First, the previous military the Israelis had was made up of different insurgent groups from various geographical regions. Because the state of Israel did not exists, paramilitary organizations formed with common characteristics – Jewish, under threat, and the Hebrew Language. After the formulation of the state, the forces united. Second, the Israeli military is now one of the most capable. It has mandatory conscription – which means all citizens are eligible for military service. It poses a threat to other regional militaries which has had major effects on the history of Israel.

à Ilani, Efrayim. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, “In the regular army of Israel now.” Last modified 1948. Accessed October 5, 2012. .

  • Formation of the state of Israel was problematic. This primary source comes from Iran’s president’s words on December 8, 2005. This quotation would be made sense of by Slavoj Zizek’s book Violence. The argument I would make is: the formation of the state of Israel can be examined from multiple viewpoints. Many of those opposed to the nation of Israel regard its formulation as illegal. That the UNGA resolution 181 was not followed. Additionally, the idea that because the holocaust happened the state of Israel was justified. The guilt of European policymakers made the formation of this state that much easier. This argument would be used to reaffirm the idea that the Israel was born into a foreign policy emergency room from the eyes of onlookers.

à Ahmadinejad, Mahmoud. Anti-Defamation League, “Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in his Own Words.” Last modified 2005. Accessed October 4, 2012.

  • Arab-Israeli War. These four pictures would be used to tease out the link between a foreign policy emergency room and hypersensitivity and realism. The war occurred after Arab allies – Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Syria – united against the state of Israel. The Israeli government viewed the conflict as imminent and struck first… preemptively. This conflict has tainted relationships in the region. Israel has repeatedly pre-emptively struck its Arab neighbors provoking escalation in conflict. Moreover, the Jordanian artillery shelling Jerusalem has changed Israel’s views of defense to this day. For example, the three occupied territories – Golan Heights, West Bank, and Gaza Strip – have been occupied to thwart the ability to shell artillery into Jerusalem.

à Wikipedia, “Egyptian Plane TA 1948.” Last modified 1948. Accessed October 7, 2012.

à Wikipedia, “1948-Jordanian artillery shelling Jerusalem.” Last modified 1948. Accessed October 3, 2012.

à Wikipedia, “Ramla prisoners of war, July 12-13, 1948.” Last modified 1948. Accessed October 7, 2012.,_July_12-13,_1948.png

à The State of Israel Government Press Office, . Encyclopedia Britannica, “Six-Day War .” Last modified June 10, 1967. Accessed October 2, 2012.



  • Israel builds homes for immigrants in Palestine lands. As noted earlier regarding the UNGA Resolution 181 the specifics of an Arab and Jewish state never occurred. In being such, the Israelis have begun colonizing settlements in private and Palestinian land. This has been a very controversial decision for Israeli politics especially when juxtaposing the policy against Arab attitudes. For example, the nation of Iran is supposedly investing and financing terrorist organization such as Hamas, and Hezbollah against the state of Israel. Hamas which can be literally translated into the “Islamic Resistance Movement” governs the politics of the Gaza strip. This controversial settlement policy into Palestinian land has had major negative repercussions about the perceived legitimacy of the state of Israel.

à Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, “Israel builds homes for immigrants.” Last modified [195-?]. Accessed October 5, 2012.

  • Israel terrorizes refugee camps. This artifact, a poster, declaring a stop to Israeli terror against Palestine would be used to further my argument regarding settlements and the international attitudes of observers. Many outside nations have seen belligerence and militancy by Israel against the Palestinian refugee camps. This has caused countries to call Israel human rights abusers. These claims and the documented belligerence against the Palestinian refugee camps would be used to argue that Israel is not popular internationally now, and has very few allies.

à Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, “Stop Israeli terror against our refugee camps and villages.” Last modified [between 1967 and 1980]. Accessed October 6, 2012.

  • CIA and Israeli government know of illegal settlement or construction build on private lands. This document from Wikileaks, show that Israeli and American governments acknowledge the illegality of the settlements yet still no action has been taken to stop the illegality. The document shows Harut and Adora settlements being illegal. The infrastructure from the settlements being on private land. This document shows the incriminating history of Israel in the region of Palestine. This acknowledge illegality has shown that Israel is a realist, and that the state is a state of hypersensitivity.

à Wikileaks, “CIA OSC: Secret Israeli database shows full extent of illegal settlements.” Last modified 2009. Accessed October 7, 2012.,_Apr_2009


Section 2. Regional [Israel history with regional threats has been marked by preemption and US led mediation]

6 days war – 1967 conflict

  • Israel occupied territories after 1967 skirmish. In 1967 the surrounding Arab states unified against Israel. These states gave authority of their militaries to Egypt who then moved armored columns into the Sinai Peninsula. This conflict would be made sense of by the secondary source Just and Unjust Wars by Michael Walzer. The conflict resulted in a unilateral preemptive strike against these Arab states. This preemptive strike resulted in a successful military campaign and a defeat of the Arab neighbors. However, by winning this conflict the Israeli’s occupied three disputed regions – denoted by the map. The Golan Heights, West Bank, and Gaza Strip would become a source of contention even up to present day.

à Central Intelligence Agency, . Library of Congress Geography and Maps Division, “Israel..” Last modified 2001. Accessed October 4, 2012.

  • Egypt and Israel resolve problems. The US led mediation of Israel and her enemies would be carried out by the Americans. The US realized that Israel is America’s best ally in the region. After the 6 day war, the US has supported Israel with military expenditures, financing, and diplomacy. This conflict solidified the relationship between these two states. Moreover, this also led to the US becoming the sole mediator for the state of Israel. The 6 day war ended with Arab states angry at the existence of the state of Israel, and now shared anger on the US for maintaining Israel’s legitimacy.

à Warren, Leffler. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, “Egypt Israel peace treaty.” Last modified 1979. Accessed October 4, 2012.


  • US military fears a unilateral strike on Iran from Israel. Due to the historical significance of the Israel preemptively striking targets the US is afraid of the future of Iran. Additionally I would draw upon the secondary source The Global Future to examine two other preemptive strikes. One carried out against Iraq in the late 1980’s preemptively striking a nuclear enrichment facility. The second carried out against Syria in the early 1990’s. The Israeli use of preemptive strike is known to the whole world. When looking to this document I would make the argument that US knows and fears the use of a preemptive strike against Iran. On page 70, we list Israel as a potential wildcard.

à Marine Corps Intelligence Activity, . Wikileaks, “US Marines Midrange Threat Estimate 2005-2015.” Last modified 2005. Accessed October 7, 2012.

  • US Aid to Iran. This film was rather intriguing to me. It shows the US giving aid to the Shah. We instituted the Shah and helped to bolster the regime. I would make the argument here that the US has mollified the chance of an Israeli first strike by providing aide to Israeli enemies/aggressors. For example, the bolstering of the Mubarak regime by the US was done to check back regional strife from Egypt against Israel. We maintained the same policy in Iran where we pumped aid into the nation hoping for its support. However, after the Iranian revolution the anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiment leaked out. This leaking has put Israel in a troublesome place because now its greatest ally – the US – is almost hated and perceived as illegitimate as the Israeli state.

à Department of Defense. Department of the Army. Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations. U.S. Army Audiovisual Center.. “US aid to Iran.” Motion Picture Films from the Army Library Copy Collection. Recorded 1960?. 05 15 1984. Web,

  • Israel has nukes. This argument is a necessary one to make in order to understand the attitudes of regional states. Israel gained nuclear weapons to check back conflicts in the region. However, just like nuclear proliferation trends historically, when one neighbor gets a nuclear weapon it increases the intention of other competing nations to acquire a nuclear weapon. And this is exactly what has happened. Iran – as Netanyahu explained – is attempting to gain a nuclear weapon. But, the way in which Iran is attempting to gain a nuclear weapon and sell its ability to gain a nuclear weapon to the international community parallels the way Israel went about it. Iran says it has access to nuclear technology because it signed the NPT or Nuclear Proliferation Treaty. Moreover, it also says it wants a reciprocal right to nuclear technology because Israel has a nuclear weapon but denies it. This primary source comes directly from Israeli intellectuals, politicians, civil society members, and educators arguing that Israel possesses nuclear technology.

à Xrmagedon, “About us.” Accessed October 4, 2012.


Section 3. Global [Israel has long been a US ally but recent events have changed the relationship between Israel and the US making predictions of Israeli activity difficult]


  • American Legislation. The United States Congress. I found these four pieces of legislation that are all strongly worded for Israel and against Iran. These legislators and the legislation they produce embolden the nation of Israel. In analyzing these four pieces of legislation I would hope to make the argument that the relationship between our congress and Israeli foreign policy are intertwined. Additionally, these House Resolutions – such as the Gohmert Resolution – affirm Israel’s use of force against the Republic of Iran. These affirmations coming from a foreign congress from a world superpower send mixed signals to that nation of Israel.

à Gohmert, Louie. Library of Congress Bill Summary & Status, “Bill Summary & Status – 111th Congress (2009-2010) H.RES.1553.” Last modified 2010. Accessed October 7, 2012.

à Garrett, Scott. Library of Congress Bill Summary & Status, “Bill Summary & Status – 109th Congress (2005-2006) H.RES.707.” Last modified 2006. Accessed October 7, 2012.

à Hyde, Henry. Library of Congress Bill Summary & Status, “Bill Summary & Status – 109th Congress (2005-2006) H.RES.523.” Last modified 2005. Accessed October 7, 2012.

à Cole, Tom. Library of Congress Bill Summary & Status, “Bill Summary & Status – 109th Congress (2005-2006) H.RES.601.” Last modified 2005. Accessed October 7, 2012.

  • Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, Mitt Romney, Barack Obama and Henry Kissinger. American presidential leadership has had a special relationship with Israel for quite some time. The five sources here are four American presidents, former Secretary of State, and one presidential candidate. The argument I would make is that historically the US has always had a good relationship with the leadership of Israel. Carter, Ford, Nixon, even Clinton extended and furthered are relationship with Israel. However, Barak Obama has been percieved as soft. Even Mitt Romney has been endorsed by Netanyahu – showing the perceived ‘softness’ of Obama. Lastly, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has had a major impact on the relationship with the nation of Israel. Kissinger has persuaded/been persuaded with tenets of Israeli realism.

à Marion, Trikosko. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, “President Jimmy Carter and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin at the White House, Washington, D.C..” Last modified 1977. Accessed October 3, 2012.

à Thomas, O’Halloran. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, “President Gerald Ford (center) sitting in chair in front of fireplace, with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (left) and others including Henry Kissinger (right), at the White House.” Last modified 1976. Accessed October 6, 2012.

à Marion, Trikosko. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, “Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir standing with president Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, outside the White House.” Last modified 1973. Accessed October 2, 2012.

à White House Photograph Office, . Flickr, “Photograph of President William J. Clinton and Prime Minister of Israel Yitzhak Rabin Walking Along the Colonnade of the White House, 11/12/1993.” Last modified 1993. Accessed October 5, 2012.

à Ohayun, Avi. Flickr, “PM Netanyahu meets President Obama at the White House, 20.5.11.” Last modified 2011. Accessed October 8, 2012.

à McZyrba, . Flickr, “romney looking longingly at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.” Last modified 2012. Accessed October 7, 2012.


  • UNSC Resolution 242. This resolution put Israel in a precarious position. This resolution has been a thorny issue for Israeli foreign policy. It calls for certain actions from multiple states in the region, none of which has occurred. The first clause of the resolution expresses “concern with the grave situation in the Middle East”. This resolution calls for withdrawal of “Israeli armed forced from territories occupied in the recent conflict”. These territories are the three occupied territories mentioned prior – Golan Heights, Gaza Strip, West Bank. It lastly “affirms further the necessity” of “navigation through international waterways in the areas”, and “ just settlement of the refugee problem”. These two issues have not and likely will not be solved in the near future. This makes Israel look like a international relations agitator.

à Knesset,. “U.N. Security Council Resolution 242.” Last modified November 22, 1967. Accessed October 7, 2012.

à Knesset, “The Camp David Accords.” Last modified 1978. Accessed October 7, 2012.


In conclusion, foreign policy experts have articulated a definition of rational choice. A rational choice is the decision making procedures guided by careful definition of problems, specification of goals, weighing the costs, risks, and benefits of all alternatives, and selection of the optimal alternative. Israeli leaders must navigate in the near future the costs and benefits of acting against the nation of Iran. The  implications of such unilateral action is suspended against a historical background of previous action. Today we examined the hypersensitive and realist state Israel has been in since its conception. We examined the regional conflicts and the anti-American/anti-Israeli sentiments plaguing the region that make decision making even more difficult. Lastly, we looked at the historical relationship between the U.S. and Israel and noted the recent changes between Netanyahu and Obama. One can only hope, that world leaders choose a path that prefers peace in the region and removes the threat of preemptive military strikes and nuclear war.

  • Kegley, Charles, and Gregory Raymond. The Global Future: A Brief Introduction to World Politics. Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2010.

à This secondary source is my International Relations textbook. I use it in two ways. First, it is where I get my definition for rational choice. I acquired this on page 59. This is a term used by foreign policy experts to articulate the difficult choices nation-states pursue when it comes to international relations. I also use the textbooks look at the Israeli preemptive strikes on Iraq and Syria.

à  This is I believe a primary source I used in my introduction. I use the part starting at around 26:00 minutes. This is a primary source because it comes directly from Israeli foreign policy leadership. This source and the Nina Paley source inspired me to pursue this topic.

à I found this on the Internet when looking for a topic. I’m not sure if this qualifies as a source. I don’t use it specifically in my project plan, though it is the inspiration and helps illuminate the problem. I really enjoyed this cartoon/clip. It shows the history of these disputed lands, in the context of who has or is claiming ownership of them. Some would say its probably distasteful, but I think it does a great job noting the problem.

  • Walzer, Michael. Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations. New York: Basic Books, 2006.

à  This is another secondary source I read for a class. Michael Walzer’s book is great for this research project plan. The first great reason, is its use of historical illustrations to tackle difficult international relations topics – such as preemptive military strikes. It also was used to help make sense of the 6 day war and Arab-Israel War. As many parallels run through both conflicts. I also used this source to discuss the relationship between Israel and the U.S.

  • Zizek, Slavoj. Violence: six sideways reflections. New York: Picador, 2008.

à I used this secondary source for two reasons. One I enjoy reading  Zizek. Two, Zizek – on Pg. 111 – looks at the conception of the state of Israel from the view of the Ahmadinejad. Zizek notes first the disgusting idea of holocaust denial. Then notes the problem with European hypocrisy, by viewing the conception of the state from a different viewpoint.



The first thing I would like to reflect on is the difficulty of doing primary source research in another language. One topic I was interested in is the Senkaku/Diayou island disputes. A lot of the primary source research I found I could not read. Or, if I found the location to do primary source research, I could not navigate the website due to the language barrier. Even the topic I settled on – Israel – had a lot of information in Hebrew. One of the primary sources I used in this essay was the Armageddon group. It originally was in Hebrew until I found the English translation link. Doing primary resource research in another language is troublesome. A question that I thought of regarding primary sources in another language is: does a translated primary source qualify as a primary source? This question may seem superficial, but I wonder if a translation still qualifies as a primary source. Especially with all of the troubles of translation disputes and words not translating directly to English.

Another thing I found intriguing about this assignment was the number of primary sources that have been digitized. I found it difficult to settle on a topic I could feel comfortable about finding enough primary sources. I was surprised at all of the information digitized on and the Library of Congress. For example, most of the Grateful Dead’s performances are online, old foreign policy cables, and pictures from multiple world organizations. The problem I found was navigating the research. The Library of Congress would explain they have “x amount of articles in their digital collections”. When first seeing the size of the digital archives I felt I could find anything. However, once I began searching for information I either found it to be non-existent or of poor quality. Some pictures, photographs, and posters I stumbled upon were of poor quality. I also was not certain of which words to use to search for primary sources. If I should only rely on key word searches or if I should pursue a collection. Nonetheless, this was a great activity to get accustomed to primary sources online.

I also found this assignment nerve-racking. I have never annotated a bibliography let alone a whole research paper. I was not sure of the best way to start this project because I could not conceive of its end result. I’m still nervous finishing this and turning it in. A reason I found this assignment difficult was trying to implicate an argument from historical artifacts. I found this troublesome or unauthentic. I wasn’t sure of the best way to construct an argument from the outside and force/lay it upon real historical experience. I also found this difficult because I could not envision what I assumed the end goal ought look like. The lack of a finished project to use as a reference was nerve-racking. Although, if anything the freedom and lack of a concrete “this is what you’ll turn in” opened up a space to be creative and attempt to meet the requirements of the assignment in a different ways. The last reason I found this difficult is my exposure to Chicago citations. Citations were nuisance for two reasons. First, Chicago style lacked specific citation guides for unique sources. MLA for example, has a specific way to cite diverse sources. Whereas, Chicago seemed to only have five ways to source things. Which becomes difficult and open to interpretation when you only have a few options to select from. I source cited a lot of my information as nonprint – web page or other online posting.

The last thing I would like to reflect on is the idea of a thesis for different types of research essays. A good thesis for a philosophy or political science paper is not necessarily a good thesis for a history paper. This may seem obvious, but in thinking about it and writing down my thoughts, it was not as obvious as I thought. I assumed that because philosophy, political science, and history seem intertwined and inter-sectional that the content and thesis are also interchangeable. This is not true. The purpose or intention of the paper are different and thus the intricacies like a thesis and content are different. However, I noticed how engaging and rich a political science or philosophy essay would be with primary sources. It seems like examining the historical background via primary sources would give a philosophy or political science paper an authentic background from which to build an argument.



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