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Ideographic Analysis of Israel Prime Minister Rhetoric during the 2008-09 armed conflict with Hamas in Gaza

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posted on 01.01.2011, 00:00 authored by Calvin Pollack

From December 27, 2008 through January 18, 2009, the Israel Defense Forces engaged in hostilities in the Gaza Strip. Official discourse explaining and justifying the effort ubiquitously employed the word ―terror‖, in its various forms, in descriptions of Israel's enemies. The prevalence of this linguistic feature alone suggests that it is rhetorically significant. As we will see, its discourse function is consistent with patterns previously observed by scholars of American war rhetoric. My analysis contributes to that scholarship by showing that ideographs such as ―terror‖ can emerge from any nationalistic ideology. In my work, I ask: how did an ideology of nationalism inform wartime discourse during Israel‘s Gaza offensive? How does ―terror‖ function as an ideograph in Israeli public discourse? And more generally, I seek to contribute to the central question of ideological criticism (Foss 2004), how does discourse legitimize some ideologies while de-legitimizing others? Equipped with the awareness my work seeks to foster, we can predict that political rhetors who seek to justify state violence anywhere will do so from a dichotomizing stance juxtaposing ―us‖ (those within our culture) and ―them‖ (those outside of it).





David S. Kaufer



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