International territorial conflicts are frequently characterized by political recourse to narratives of nationalist entitlement, stifling conflict resolution by raising domestic audience costs and discursively limiting bargaining flexibility. Conflict incentivizes elite employment of such claims precisely because security threats and fear of violence heighten popular resonance of adversarial collective identity frames. This article argues, however, that consensus mobilization behind nationalist territorial claims is highly dependent upon the particular narratives elites select to justify them. Employing controlled individual-level experiments administered to diverse populations in Israel, it demonstrates how exposure to competing narratives of homeland, security, economic prosperity, and settlement impacts support for control of East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and the West Bank. Although indivisible claims to ‘United Jerusalem’, the Golan, and West Bank settlement blocs and strategic highlands are generally considered popular consensus issues in Israel, only particular narratives trigger consensus mobilization behind each. Some narratives even encourage conciliatory policy attitudes against such appeals. As a democracy embroiled in multiple enduring territorial disputes, analysis of the Israeli case contributes to understanding of the limits and political consequences of elite rhetoric. Demonstrating the affinity between narrative frames and popular policy preferences, this article also lends insight into the intersubjective beliefs that drive mass support for nationalist territorial claims.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2015, © The Author(s) 2015.
- Golan Heights
- West Bank