Paper and Panel at ISA 2013

Next week, Thursday, April 4 at 1:45 pm, I will be speaking on a panel at the upcoming International Studies Association conference in San Francisco. The panel, entitled “Defending the Homeland: Territory & National Identity,” will explore the idea of homeland as a political, social, and cultural construct and how the definition of such a space impacts state territorial policies.

I am very excited to be joined by six esteemed colleagues from a diverse range of backgrounds, methodologies, and theoretical approaches. After the jump, you can find our panel abstract as well as my own paper abstract. For those of my colleagues, log on to the myISA system and check the annual conference program, or send me an email. Hope to see you in San Francisco!

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Dissertation Abstract

Security or Identity? Narratives of State & Nation in International Territorial Conflict Protraction

My dissertation explores how popular domestic beliefs regarding the meaning and value of disputed lands contribute to the protraction and resolution of international territorial conflict. Using comparative historical analysis and artefactual field experiments, I find in Israel and Serbia that persistent popular unwillingness to relinquish claims to a “United Jerusalem” and “Kosovo and Metohija” have resulted from the extraordinary position of these territories in their respective national homeland narratives. These outcomes stand in stark contrast to Israel’s largely popular withdrawals from the Sinai Peninsula, Southern Lebanon, and Gaza Strip, dominantly valued as strategic rather than cultural assets. They also contrast with Serbia’s acquiescence to the political independence of both Bosnia and Montenegro, spaces of high concern for Serb political self-determination but relatively low territorial-cultural priority. The Golan Heights and the West Bank are also analyzed as disputed spaces wherein strategic and cultural narratives continue to contribute to conflict protraction. In doing so, I demonstrate how particular strategic and cultural narratives come to dominate public discourse over disputed spaces and, in turn, how these narratives constrain the policies states can legitimately pursue in these spaces. Ultimately, I find that popular perceptions of national identity can be as powerful a force in determining government policy as state security prerogatives.

Dissertation Committee:
Will Reno (Chair), Hendrik Spruyt, Jason Seawright

Panel and Paper Accepted for ISA 2012 in San Diego

I am thrilled to report that I will be attending next year’s annual International Studies Association Conference in San Diego as a panel chair and presenter. This conference brings me full circle from my first ISA conference in San Diego in 2006, when I was doing my Master’s degree at the University of British Columbia, to what I hope will be my final year as a Ph.D. candidate at Northwestern University in Chicago.

The panel, entitled “Nationalism, International Recognition, and Domestic Legitimacy,” will will take place on the first day of the conference, Sunday, April 1, at 1:45 p.m. Participants include senior and junior scholars as well as advanced graduate students who have an interest in the place of nationalism in global and domestic politics. My paper, “Security or Identity? State and Homeland in Israeli Politics and Public Opinion” will draw on the research I have been conducting over the last year in Israel. I have included abstracts for the panel and my own paper after the jump. My colleagues’ abstracts can be viewed through the ISA conference website panel link here.

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Poll: A Question of Priorities


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.

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Conference: Israeli Sovereignty in Judea and Samaria


On Thursday, I attended a conference put on by the Women in Green in cooperation with Arutz 7Professors for a Strong Israel, and the Machpela Visitors’ Center in the Machpelah Visitors’ Center next to the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron. The conference was entitled “Regaining the Initiative: Applying Israeli Sovereignty Over Judea and Samaria” or in Hebrew: היוזמה בידינו: ריבונות ישראל ביהודה ושומרון, meaning “The Initiative is in our Hands: Israeli Sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.” 

The event was attended by hundreds of people from all around the country, largely of a religious demographic, to explore the idea of how and why formal Israeli sovereignty should be extended over the entire contested West Bank. Speakers included Ministers of Knesset Tsipi Hotovely (Likud) and Aryeh Eldad (Ichud Leumi), journalists Caroline Glick (Jerusalem Post) and Eran Bar-Tal (Makor Rishon), former diplomatic Consul to the United States Yoram Ettinger, and Professors Dr. Rafi Yisraeli, Dr. Yitzhak Klein, and Dr. Gabi Avital, and was moderated by Women In Green co-chairs Nadia Matar and Yehudit Katsover.

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Polls: The UNGA and a Palestinian State, Part 3


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.

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Polls: The UNGA and a Palestinian State, Part 2

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?

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Polls: The UNGA and a Palestinian State, Part 1


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.”

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Review: My Mission in Israel by James McDonald

mcdonald-my-mission-in-israelI recently finished reading a memoir by the United States’ first ambassador to Israel, James G. McDonald. In My Mission in Israel, the former ambassador shares his personal experiences and reflections on the founding of the Jewish state, its early statesmen (and stateswomen), the international politics surrounding its establishment, war and diplomacy in the Middle East in the late 1940s, and the future of the region.

Published in 1951, McDonald hardly enjoys the benefit of hindsight in his assessment of the future of the region, but as a commentary on the turbulent politics of the period, his account is invaluable. Appointed first as the US Representative to the newly declared State of Israel on July 23, 1948, he had the distinction of being one of the first international diplomats to interface on an official government-to-government level with Israel’s early leadership.

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Okay, so it’s only a book review, but I am very very happy to finally have something out there in the public domain aside from conference papers and this blog. 🙂

It’s a review of Nadav Shelef’s new book, Evolving Nationalism: Homeland, Identity, and Religion in Israel and you can read it here in Nationalism and Ethnic Politics. If you don’t have direct access to informaworld, you can access the review through most university library sites with a student or faculty ID and password. Unfortunately copyright laws keep me from simply posting the entire review here. For those of you with access, enjoy!

Now back to work on publishing a full refereed academic paper…