National ethics in ethnic conflicts: the Zionist ‘Iron Wall’ and the ‘Arab Question’

Uriel Abulof*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ethnic conflicts often involve a delegitimation of the rival ethnic community and its national aspirations. This, I suggest, can impel the community in question to legitimate its politics through ethical principles, which in turn may affect its policies. An abiding non-recognition of the ethnonational movement from within and without may engender ethical transformation and policy reorientation. Empirically, I trace the emergence, evolvement and possible effects of the Zionist ‘Iron Wall’ ethics. The original concept comprised the horizon of Arab recognition and peace, the strategy of containment, and the moral pillars of reciprocal self-determination and the lesser injustice. Iron Wall ethics, while constantly challenged, predominated much of Zionism's history, culminating in the 1990s peace process. However, in the wake of the Second Palestinian Intifada, a prevailing assertion that the Arabs would never accept Israel's right to exist has undermined the Iron Wall's original ideals, rewriting its strategic prescription.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2653-2669
Number of pages17
JournalEthnic and Racial Studies
Issue number14
StatePublished - 7 Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Israeli–Palestinian conflict
  • Zionism
  • ethnic conflicts
  • national ethics
  • political legitimacy
  • politics of recognition


Dive into the research topics of 'National ethics in ethnic conflicts: the Zionist ‘Iron Wall’ and the ‘Arab Question’'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this