Siege mentality in Israel

Daniel Bar-Tal*, Dikla Antebi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


Israeli Jews harbor the belief that the world has negative behavioral intentions toward them. This belief reflects their deeply embedded siege mentality. A long history of persecutions and hatred throughout the world, epitomized by the Holocaust, has grounded this siege mentality in the Jewish tradition. In the present century, the beliefs of siege mentality, playing an important role in Zionistic ideology, have become part of the Israeli ethos. This article reviews several examples of siege-mentality beliefs as expressed in the Israeli literature, films, education, and press and by political leaders. These beliefs have an influence on Israeli attitudes and behaviors, causing mistrust and negative attitudes toward the world, sensitivity to information coming from the world, pressure to conform among the Israeli Jews, and self-defensive acts. It is suggested that within the framework of siege mentality beliefs and their consequence, the Israeli way of managing the Middle-Eastern conflict can be understood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-275
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Intercultural Relations
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1992


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