The paucity of posts over the last two weeks may lead one to believe that the pace of my research here in Israel has slowed to a crawl. Let me assure you that nothing could be farther from the truth. Rather, I am moving away from my focus on interviews and devoting more attention to historical research, compiling national survey data, engagement with the Israeli academic community, and individual-level experiments which I will be employing in the coming weeks.
A good part of this historical research requires that I spend much of my time holed up at the Hebrew University library. As I do not have the ability to check out books here, I am finding them in the stacks, sequestering them for the day, and returning them when I leave. The books which I have been reading, like The Idea of the Jewish State, are a bit dated, but their historical and theoretical contributions have been invaluable.
Most recently, I finished reading Rael Jean Isaac’s 1976 book, Israel Divided: Ideological Politics in the Jewish State, a study which examines the role of the Movement for the Whole Land of Israel and the nascent peace movement in Israeli politics between 1967 and the early 1970s. Currently, I am engrossed in Yael Yishai’s 1987 book, Land or Peace: Whither Israel, which similarly looks at how interest groups and party politics coupled with public opinion have affected Israel’s settlement policies. Then, I plan to read Shmuel Sandler’s 1993 study, The State of Israel, The Land of Israel: The Statist and Ethnonational Dimensions of Foreign Policy, which examines how national and political concerns have shaped Israel’s foreign policy agenda.
I have also been spending some time at various university campuses in Israel meeting with professors and colleagues to discuss my research and the work that they are doing here. Two weeks ago, I spent the day up at Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan where I met with my friend Jonathan Fox at the Political Science department and Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA). Last week, I attended a talk at Hebrew University given by Ian Lustick on his latest project, “Time, Israel, and the Demise of Developed States,” in which he is examining how developed states cease to exist. Later on in the day, after my interview with Mark Regev, I was able to get together with Ian to discuss my work so far.
As for the experiments, this is one area on which I really cannot show my hand just yet, but I am greatly appreciative to my committee member, Professor Jason Seawright, who has been offering me guidance on this part of the project. Hopefully I will be able to implement it sooner rather than later. I am also still trying to round out a few more interviews, particularly with members of the political establishment. More on this as things develop. In the meantime, thank you as always for reading and stay tuned for more interesting developments. As always, I am sure it is going to be a long week!