21st Century COE Program Archive

2004年度 第1回研究会

Date: June 12, 2004
Location: Fusokan, Imadegawa Campus, Doshisha University
Title: America and Zion: Some Issues Concerning Jerusalem, the Holy Land
Speaker: Akira Usuki (Office for Research Initiatives & Development, National Musium of Ethnology)
Title: The Contemporary Relations Between Israel and America: The Reality and the Image
Speaker: Akifumi Ikeda (Department of Social Sciences, Toyo Eiwa University)
  In the first half of the meeting both speakers analyzed the relationship between the United States and Zion (Israel) from their own perspectives.
  In his presentation, Dr. Usuki explained the US-Zion(Israel) relationship by focusing especially on two issues surrounding Jerusalem. These are the American people’s perceptions of Jerusalem, and US policy regarding Jerusalem since 1844. 
   As for the perceptions, Dr. Usuki explained three unique American perspectives which are reflected in them. First, according to him, is the American self-image as the 'New Jerusalem,' directly connected to biblical images, which has strongly influenced their perceptions of the city. Second, Americans’ perceptions of Jerusalem also reflect their perspective of seeing Judaists as religious kindred, a view supported by their common Judeo-Christian tradition. The third perspective is a negative image of Muslims, in which an old stereotype that contrasts 'dominating barbarian Turks' and 'oppressed Christians' has influenced their perception of Jerusalem as well.
   As for the issue of policies, Dr. Usuki took up three specific cases of American interaction with Jerusalem. These were the establishment of the American Consulate General in Jerusalem in 1844; the adoption of the so-called 'Partition Resolution' concerning Palestine by United Nations General Assembly in 1947; and the enactment of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 by the US Congress. 
  In conclusion, Dr. Usuki emphasized that his presentation was just a preliminary survey for a full-scale analysis of the spiritual history between the US and Zion. He argued that images of Jerusalem are constructed in a context in which individuals are concerned about Jerusalem, and that before analyzing US policies regarding the city, it was more important to examine the thoughts and perceptions of American political leaders in relation to it.
  Then, in his presentation Dr. Ikeda explained US-Israel relations from the perspective of the relationship’s image and reality. 
  According to Dr. Ikeda, as a result of American strategy towards the Middle East during the Cold War period-which was aimed at checking Soviet influence in the region, securing oil for the Western bloc, and assuring the security of Israel-the general image of the US in the Arab world degenerated into a very bad one. It became something like this: a foreign power which confronts the Arab world by using Israel as its agent and by trying to dominate oil resources through corrupt monarchies. Especially, the idea that the US and Israel are intimately connected in their policies and actions against the Arab world constituted the essential part of the image. This idea has two aspects. One is that the US dominates Israel’s decision-making process in substantial ways; the other is that Israel secretly manages the US in its favor. 
  There are obvious differences between the peoples of the two countries with respect to their distinct identities and, particularly, with respect to their perception of threat. For whereas the basic threat to the security of the US during the Cold War years was the USSR, the basic threat to the security of Israel was the Arab countries. But, aside from these differences, the reality of the US-Israel relationship in the Cold War period basically matched the aforementioned image. This is seen in the Israel Defense Force’s increased dependence on the US since 1967, and also in the remarkable amount of the US grant aid to Israel during the 1980s.
  In conclusion, Dr. Ikeda observed that, in the context of the 'War on Terror' after 9/11, the threat perception of the people of both countries is converging, and that the two nations are strengthening their relations.
  After the presentation, evaluations by commentators followed, and a lively discussion continued for three hours concerning both presentations and evaluations.
Yo Mizuhara
(CISMOR Research Assistant / Graduate Student, Graduate School of Law, Doshisha University)