Presentations at ISA and MPSA

April 19, 2012


Over the last month, I have been traveling in the United States visiting friends and family and attending academic conferences. In particular, I spoke at this year’s annual International Studies Association conference in San Diego and gave a poster session at the Midwest Political Science Association meeting in Chicago.

For both conferences, I presented what will hopefully become a chapter of my dissertation. It examines the results of an experiment I conducted last year in Israel on political narratives and popular attitudes toward territorial compromise in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Those with access to the MyISA database can read the paper here. If you do not have access but would like to read it, please contact me by email. If you would like to see the post, contact me by email for a copy in compressed form. The abstract can be viewed after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Last Night in Kikar HaMedina

September 4, 2011


Yesterday evening, after my first Shabbat living in Tel Aviv, I joined 250,000 to 300,000 other people in the “March of Millions” at Kikar HaMedina. The Tel Aviv protest was one of several large protests held yesterday evening across the country, totaling some 400,000 to 450,000 people, demanding that the Israeli government readjust its agenda to dealing with socioeconomic and welfare problems which many believe to be the most pressing issues in Israeli society today.

The rally follows two months of widespread protest, largely in the form of tent cities which have cropped up all over Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, and other towns across the country. Although the tents have been largely broken down and the daily protests have reduced to a trickle, last night’s rallies were meant to demonstrate that the demands of “the people” had not been silenced. Since I have addressed the basic substance of protesters’ demands in my previous post covering a recent poll of national priorities, I will not rehash them here. Rather, I will share my reflections from the rally itself.

Read the rest of this entry »

Poll: A Question of Priorities

September 1, 2011


The summer here in Israel has been eventful to say the least. With the Arab world in turmoil, conversations here have often turned of late to the regional implications of protest, government repression, and revolution in two of Israel’s four immediate neighbors. Yet by mid-July, these discussions largely melted away with the emergence of large domestic protests over a host of social issues including high housing and consumer goods prices, low wages, eroded social services, and the current government’s free-market approach to managing the Israeli economy.

With thousands of protestors across the countries organizing marches, rallies, and tent cities particularly in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, the government too largely shifted its focus from the Palestinian diplomatic front to these pressing domestic concerns. Unfortunately the distance between the government and the protesters remains quite large, with representatives of the various organizations which have joined the protest dismissing early initiatives put forward by the government appointed Trajtenberg committee.

Read the rest of this entry »

Polls: The UNGA and a Palestinian State, Part 3

July 24, 2011


In the previous two posts, I have explored the Israeli public response to the Palestinian Authority’s intent to unilaterally declare independence and seek international diplomatic recognition at the UN General Assembly in September 2011.

Monthly public opinion data gathered by the Peace Index over the last six months indicates that Israelis are increasingly of the belief that the PA’s efforts are credible and that Israel will suffer international condemnation, greater diplomatic isolation, and potentially a new Palestinian intifada if it refuses to recognize a Palestinian state in the territories of Gaza, the West Bank, and eastern Jerusalem. However, polling also indicates that Israelis believe that international pressure will not increase significantly nor would greater political moderation by the Israeli government result in a Palestinian return to negotiations or the aversion of a new violent Palestinian uprising, particularly if Israel still refuses to withdraw from the West Bank.

Read the rest of this entry »

Polls: The UNGA and a Palestinian State, Part 2

July 21, 2011

abbas-netanyahu-talksIn yesterday’s post, I explored the issues surrounding the Palestinian Authority’s initiative to receive diplomatic recognition for a Palestinian state in the whole of Gaza, the West Bank, and eastern Jerusalem and the Israeli public’s reaction to this initiative.

Analyzing recent public opinion data, it is clear that Israelis believe that the PA will go forward to the UN while continuing to avoid negotiations with Israel. It is also clear that Israelis believe that UN General Assembly recognition for a Palestinian state will cause Israel to become more diplomatically isolated, potentially be subject to international economic sanctions for its continued presence in the West Bank, and potentially even face a new violent Palestinian uprising. Given these pressures, I posed the question: why does Israel not simply accede to Palestinians demands, withdraw from the West Bank, and recognize a Palestinian state?

Read the rest of this entry »

Polls: The UNGA and a Palestinian State, Part 1

July 20, 2011


Will the United Nations General Assembly extend diplomatic recognition to a Palestinian state in the whole of Gaza, the West Bank, and eastern Jerusalem in September this year? This question has perplexed Israeli policymakers, worried the general public, and invigorated a lively debate in Israeli society on Israel’s international diplomatic standing, its relationship with the Palestinian Authority, and on the question of territorial withdrawal.

With negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in a deep freeze since September of 2010, Mahmoud Abbas has turned to the threat of a unilateral declaration of independence in September 2011 and to request diplomatic recognition from the United Nations Security Council. Expecting an American veto, the PA plans to refer their request to the UN General Assembly in which most expect that they will easily secure majority approval. In a May 2011 op-ed in the New York Times, Abbas claims that negotiations remain their first option, the Palestinians can wait no longer “while Israel continues to send more settlers to the occupied West Bank and denies Palestinians access to most of our land and holy places, particularly in Jerusalem.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Yom Yerushalayim and the National Consensus

June 1, 2011


Today, Israel celebrates Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day, marking 44 years since the reunification of Jerusalem by Israeli forces during the 1967 Six Day War. Public commemorations here take many forms including speeches, marches, concerts, educational programs, and cultural events. See a full program here in Hebrew and here in English.

Yom Yerushalayim is more religiously oriented than Yom Haatzmaut (Israel Independence Day) and is less enthusiastically celebrated by secular Israelis and those who live outside of the Jerusalem area. Still, over the past two days, Israelis of all backgrounds participated in the festivities and marches. Today, I witnessed large groups of secular Israelis on solidarity tours of the Old City and many a street corner filled with people draped in Israeli flags singing songs about Jerusalem.

Many of the events today center around the Old City and the Kotel (Western Wall), the ancient retaining wall of the mount on which the Temple once sat. The Kotel is the holiest site in Judaism second only to the Temple Mount itself on which Jewish worship is forbidden by the Waqf. The symbolism of this destination is deeply embedded in the Israeli national consciousness and is central to the celebration of Yom Yerushalayim. To understand the oft-quoted Israeli insistence on Jerusalem as the united and sovereign capital of the State of Israel and the Jewish people, you must understand this history, ancient and modern.

Read the rest of this entry »

Reviews: Malcolm and Judah on Kosovo

May 15, 2011

In addition to the interviews, focus groups, and surveys I have been conducting since I arrived here in Serbia, I have also been catching up on my Balkan politics-related reading. Two books of note I have recently completed are Noel Malcolm’s Kosovo: A Short History and Tim Judah’s Kosovo: War and Revenge.

Although Malcolm’s Short History is anything but short, for a region with as complex and contentious a history as Kosovo, that he managed to present a readable and seemingly balanced account in only 492 pages is laudable. As I am not a historian, I admit that I am in no position to judge the historical accuracy of the intricate details of Malcolm’s account. Indeed, the book has been subject to considerable criticism by Serbian academia and his account of recent history (published in 1999 before the end of the Kosovo war) is quite truncated. It moreover is obviously unsympathetic to the contemporary Serbian narrative in Kosovo and almost entirely uncritical of the Albanian one.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Dangerous Politics of Leverage: Republika Srpska

May 13, 2011

milorad-dodikYesterday, Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik announced that he would postpone a controversial entity-wide referendum on the decisions of the  international high representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH).

The decision comes after a tense stand-off between Valentin Inzko, the current High Representative, and Dodik in which Inzko threatened to remove Dodik from office and Serb representatives in the BiH federal government threatened mass resignation. While Inzko has claimed that the referendum would undermine the Dayton Accords and perhaps be a first step toward dissolution of the country, Serb voices have insisted that a referendum is needed to check what they see as the creeping power of Sarajevo and the arbitrary authority of the High Representative.

Read the rest of this entry »

Srpska kultura i identitet na Balkanu

May 10, 2011


Srpska kultura i identitet na Balkanu:
diskusija u grupi

Američki kutak Beograd

Dom omladine Beograda, Makedonska 22/1

Sreda, 11. maj – 15.30
Četvrtak, 12. maj – 15.30
Ponedeljak, 16. Maj – 15:30

Ukoliko želite da prisustvujete, kontaktirajte


Serbian Culture and Identity in the Balkans:
a group discussion

American Corner Belgrade

Dom Omladine Beograda, Makedonska 22/1

Wednesday, 11 May – 15:30
Thursday, 12 May – 15:30
Monday, 16 May – 15:30

If you would like to attend, please contact or visit