Electoral Rhetoric and Political Polarization: The Begin-Peres Debates

The article is based on a political-stylistic analysis of the first televised debates in Israel, which took place in 1977 and 1981 between Menachem Begin and Shimon Peres. It examines how the Israeli parliamentary democracy adapted and changed the debate format which originated in American presidential elections. The rhetorical strategies of the two candidates are then identified and compared to determine whether they are idiosyncratic or anchored in contrasts between their rival ideologies, focusing especially on the `spheres of polarization' by which their verbal behaviours were shaped.

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