Constructing the Prototypical Terrorist in America: Arab, Muslim, and Palestinian

mainstream media portrayals have worked to create a group that others and excludes Arabs and Muslims as menacing threats, intransigently foreign and disloyal—this process has not accounted for Israel’s centrality in the construction of an insider American identity. The US’s long-standing relationship to Israel may have begun as a strategic choice at the height of the Cold War and the ascent of Pan-Arab nationalism, but it has come to constitute a pillar of US identity. The US political establishment- its legislature, executive branch, and judiciary- works in concert to construct the national boundaries that include Israel and exclude those critical of the State and its policies. In light of this, the prototypical terrorist is not only Arab and Muslim, as would be the case in an examination of US-domestic policy only, but also Palestinian. Palestinian in this context meaning all actors posing a threat to Israel regardless of ethnic and national distinctions.

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The lawmakers’ choice of language and tone both reflects Israel’s insider status and works to construct its critics as threats to US national security. While the description of Israel as the only democracy in the Middle East, works to distinguish Israel from its authoritarian counterparts, it also acts as a marker that others Israel’s Arab and Muslim neighbors. Their written and oral statements condemn the US President in defense of a foreign state; describe their relationship to Israel as moral; describe the US as Israel’s guardian; and affirm the immutability of the US’s relationship to Israel irrespective of circumstances. This behavior is more reflective of a family dispute than a diplomatic affair and works to reify the boundaries circumscribing American national identity wherein Israel enjoys the privileges of inclusion.

Excellent article…

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