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Contesting the nation: negotiating national narratives and the Jewish settlements

Nations and Nationalism

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--- - |2 Abstract Why and how does national identity reopen for contestation? Existing theories argue that institutional design, social ties or elite manipulation alter the saliency and nature of national identity. These theories view the ethno‐nation as homogenous and shaped vis‐à‐vis other groups. However, I argue that we should examine the re‐emergence of nationalism as an intra‐national struggle between groups with different saliency and understandings of national identity: new issues can raise the importance of national identity for some members of the group but not others. Moreover, members develop diverging understandings of fundamentals of national identity such as citizenship, borders and the role of religion. To support the theory, the paper utilises original not yet studied archival materials to show that struggle over Jewish settlements in the Occupied Territories led to contestation of the saliency and meaning of Jewish Israeli national identity. Specifically, I analyse letters individuals sent to leading government officials in the early days of the settlements and show that settlement supporters tied the issue to Zionist ethos, injecting new content into Zionist identity. Meanwhile, national identity did not rise in importance or alter in meaning for settlement opposition. The method reveals individual understandings of national identity and points at broader societal divisions. - 'Nations and Nationalism, Volume 25, Issue 4, Page 1386-1411, October 2019. '