The ontological security of special relationships: the case of Germany’s relations with Israel

Oppermann, Kai and Hansel, Mischa (2018) The ontological security of special relationships: the case of Germany’s relations with Israel. European Journal of International Security. ISSN 2057-5637

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This article suggests studying special relationships in international politics from an ontological security perspective. It argues that conceptualising the partners to special relationships as ontological security-seekers provides a promising theoretical angle to address gaps in our understanding of three important dimensions of such relations: their emergence and stability; the processes and practices of maintaining them; and the power relations within special relations. The article illustrates its theoretical argument in a case study on the German-Israeli relationship. The close partnership between the two countries that has developed since the Holocaust ranks as one of the most remarkable examples of special relationships in the international arena. We argue that foregrounding the ontological security which the special relationship provides in particular for Germany sheds important new light on how German-Israeli relations have developed. Specifically, we hold that Germany’s ontological security needs already were an important driver in establishing the relationship and have been a key stabiliser of it ever since; that the ontological security perspective can make sense of three interrelated practices of maintaining the ‘specialness’ of the relationship; and that the asymmetries between the ontological security needs of the two partners help account for Israel’s political leverage in the relationship.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Politics
Research Centres and Groups: Sussex European Institute
Subjects: J Political Science
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Depositing User: Kai Oppermann
Date Deposited: 29 Aug 2018 08:59
Last Modified: 05 Dec 2018 14:55

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