Symposium: The Two State-Solution: The U.N. Partition of Mandatory Palestine

December 3, 2012

December 4, 2012  1947-UN-Partition-Plan-1949-Armistice-Comparison.svg

5:30pm – 7:30pm

The Two State-Solution: The U.N. Partition of Mandatory Palestine – Analysis and Sources
A Book Event in honor of Prof. Ruth Gavison


Professor Joseph H.H. Weiler

Director, Tikvah Center for Law and Jewish Civilization Joseph Straus Professor of Law, New York University Law School


Dr. Ariel Zellman
Schusterman Postdoctoral Fellow, Taub Center for Israel Studies

Prof. Ronald Zweig
Director, Taub Center for Israel Studies


Professor Ruth Gavison
Haim H. Cohn Professor of Human Rights, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Emerita)
Founder / President of Metzilah Center for Zionist, Jewish, Liberal and Humanist Thought
Joint Straus / Tikvah Fellow 2011-12, New York University School of Law

A kosher reception will follow the program.


53 Washington Square South, Screening Room

RSVP by Tel. (212) 998-8981 / E-mail / seating limited, registration required.

Dissertation Abstract

September 27, 2012

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

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.

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Panel and Paper Accepted for ISA 2012 in San Diego

September 25, 2011

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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What Happened?

July 17, 2011

question markA few people have been asking me of late what in the world I have been up to. Given that no new posts have gone up on the blog in over a month, this is a fair question. Allow me to put speculation to rest.

Since returning from Serbia in mid May, I have been working hard on developing and publicizing surveys which examine domestic attitudes toward political language in both Israel and Serbia respectively.

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Polls: Israeli Public Opinion on the Golan and Syria

January 6, 2011

With the breakdown of talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the decision of the Israeli government not to renew a West Bank building freeze, and the PA to seek unilateral recognition of statehood in Latin America, things are not looking good (as usual) for the Middle East peace process. Yet, for better or for worse, there is an attitude among Israeli political elites and the international community at large that even if the prospects for peace are abysmal, negotiations must continue.

Now that the Israeli-Palestinian peace track is again deadlocked, some in Israel and, more prominently, the American administration have begun looking again across the northern border to Syria. Both Israel and the United States have an interest in delinking the Assad regime from its alliance with Iran and their continued open support of Hamas and Hezbollah. In apparently secret contacts between the US government and Damascus, Syria has expressed a willingness to do just this. The price tag, they have consistently argued, is a full Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights, captured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War.

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Interviews at Golan Regional Council

October 25, 2010

golan-regional-councilMy next two interviews in Katzrin on Wednesday were with two members of the Golan Regional Council (מועצה אזורית גולן), David Spellman, the head of the Absorption Department, and Michal Raikin, the head of the council’s Social and Education division. In these interviews, I focused on the administrative and organizational duties of the statutory body as compared with the explicitly political and activist role of the Golan Residents’ Committee. I, of course, also spoke to them about their personal thoughts on the place of the Golan as a “contentious” territory in the Israel-Arab conflict.

As with other regional governing bodies in Israel, the Jordan Valley Regional Council no less than the Shomron Regional Council, the Golan Regional Council is first and foremost the governing body of the region from which its thirty-three smaller communities receive municipal services, educational support and programming, social and community development, and business and resident services and regulation. As with other regional councils, it excludes larger municipal bodies such as Katzrin as well as the Druze villages which are large enough (and culturally self-isolated enough) to have their own governing councils.

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Interview with Golan Residents Committee

October 24, 2010


My first interview on Wednesday in Katzrin was with Ramona Bar-Lev, a spokesperson for the Golan Residents’ Committee or Vaad Yishuvei HaGolan (ועד ישובי הגולן) in Hebrew. Established soon after the Six Day War following the inception of Jewish settlement in July 1967, the committee was originally intended to facilitate civilian relations with the military. After the Yom Kippur War, it became the political activist arm of the Jewish residents of the Golan and expanded its activities to reach out the Israeli public at large.

The organization has a history of stimulating significant social activism and promoting citizen engagement with the Israeli government on issues specific to the Golan. The Golan Heights Law passed by the Israeli government in December 1981, which formally brought the territory under the jurisdiction of the state, was largely a result of a petition submitted by the committee which received 1 million signatures nation-wide.

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A Day in the Golan

October 20, 2010

Today I am away from Jerusalem conducting interviews in Katzrin, the largest Jewish municipality in the Golan Heights. I have been spending the day conducting interviews with members of the Golan Regional Council and Golan Residents Committee.

Both bodies are important administrative and political units in the region and, arguably, territorial politics in Israel as a whole. My bus back to Jerusalem leaves tomorrow at 1 pm, so hopefully I will have a chance to take in some of the local sites, namely the archaeological park in ancient Katzrin and the Golan Archaeological Museum.

Hopefully I should have posts up covering my interviews by sometime tomorrow afternoon. Thank you as always for reading and staying tuned for my continued adventures here in Israel!

Really Busy with Interviews

October 13, 2010

This has been a really nutty few days. In the last 24 hours, I have conducted three interviews in three different cities/towns, attended one small conference, written up a grant application, and planned a number of further interviews for the week ahead. Needless to say, I am a little bit behind on my posting, but here’s an indication of what is to come:

Interview with Nachum Pachenik from Erets Shalom, an organization comprised of Israeli settlers who are engaging in community level peacemaking and engagement with their Palestinian neighbors.

Interview with Nadia Matar from Women in Green, a Land of Israel activist movement which opposes further territorial withdrawals, promotes expanded Jewish settlement in Yehuda and Shomron, and takes an unequivocal line against terrorism.

Interview with Yekutiel ben Yaakov/Mike Guzofsky, a former leader in the banned Kach and Kahane Chai movements who now runs the Tapuach Canine Unit, an organization which trains handlers and security dogs to patrol Jewish communities primarily in the West Bank and to engage in search and rescue missions.

Temple Mount Conference, which brought together a number of Rabbinic Authorities and political figures to discuss strengthening the Jewish presence on the Temple Mount.

Interview with Shlomo Wasserteil, the curator of the Gush Katif Museum in Jerusalem, a museum dedicated to the history and memory of the Jewish communities in Gaza which were destroyed in the 2005 unilateral disengagement.

Stay tuned…