The Polit­i­cal Psy­chol­o­gy of Israeli Prime Min­is­ters: When Hard Lin­ers Opt For Peace

Yael S. Aronoff
  • Review
By – June 1, 2015

Psy­cho­log­i­cal his­to­ries piece togeth­er the char­ac­ters of great his­tor­i­cal per­son­al­i­ties, look­ing into their very natures to find moti­va­tions and feel­ings, desires, and points of view. This task is espe­cial­ly dif­fi­cult because most often the author has nev­er met the sub­ject, nev­er had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to look into their eyes and ask them ques­tions. This is the chal­lenge of psy­cho­log­i­cal histories.

Yael S. Aronoff has writ­ten a fas­ci­nat­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal his­to­ry of Israel’s prime min­is­ters, all of whom were and are larg­er than life and, at the same time, so very human. This insight­ful new book describes what made six of these prime min­is­ters tick. The sub­ti­tle of the book reveals Aronoff’s inten­tions and her theme: When Hard­lin­ers Opt for Peace.”

Aronoff sug­gests that the image of the ene­my changed over and over again through­out the years, as each new prime min­is­ter was elect­ed. Each leader per­ceived the Arabs and the Pales­tini­ans dif­fer­ent­ly, and so the image of the ene­my was changed in order to accom­mo­date each prime min­is­ter’s polit­i­cal real­i­ty and the needs of the moment.

Aronoff argues that prime min­is­ters are sen­si­tive to the pub­lic opin­ions of the vot­ers, and that sen­si­tiv­i­ty becomes a major fac­tor in a prime minister’s deci­sion-mak­ing process; even prime min­is­ters thought to be ide­o­logues are shaped by moments and events, as well as by pres­sure from the Unit­ed States and from their own parties.

Aronoff shows how ten­sions emerge between a prime min­is­ter’s thoughts and feel­ings, and how a prime min­is­ter’s lead­er­ship and stew­ard­ship are shaped based on influ­ences that emerge while in office. This book is an excel­lent con­tri­bu­tion to the cor­pus of books that can help us under­stand Israel and the Mid­dle East. Aronoff pro­vides per­cep­tive insights into six major fig­ures who helped shape this region.

Relat­ed Content:

Mic­ah D. Halpern is a colum­nist and a social and polit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor. He is the author of What You Need To Know About: Ter­ror, and main­tains The Mic­ah Report at www​.mic​ah​halpern​.com.

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