Our Jews, our Israel! Origins of the foreign policy of Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary towards Israel
Abstract: This thesis analyses three Central European countries – Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary - and their relations with Israel. I chose these three Central European countries because they share the same geopolitical space and historical experience. These three Central European countries and Israel are geographically distant, face different geopolitical threats, and have only a few policy issues in common. Nonetheless, ‘the question of Israel’ has been very much present in the foreign policies of Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. Building on constructivism and IR scholarship that engages with memory studies, this thesis explores the process of national identity re-formation and its impact on the formulation of national interest. Specifically, it focuses on: a) past legacies, institutionalized in collective memory and expressed in narratives, which linger over and constrain policy choices; b) the role of decision-makers with a special focus on their role in national identity re-formation in times when a policy is in transition and when a new regime must establish its legitimacy. I look at the historical roots of the relations of the three Central European countries with Israel. I do so by analysing the role of the Jewish question in the nation-building process of Polish, Czech, and Hungarian nations. Further, I argue that as the three former Communist countries started to re-define their relations with Israel, the legacy of the Jewish question has had a significant impact on the formulation of their foreign policies towards the Jewish state.