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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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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Poll: Can Jewish Settlers Remain After Withdrawal?


Early this morning, Israeli security forces and Jewish residents clashed in the West Bank settlement of Havat Gilad. Police and Civil Administration officials arrived at the community near Yitzhar at 4:30 in the morning to tear down a number of unauthorized structures. During the confrontation that ensued, settlers threw rocks and police fired rubber bullets and tear gas. 15 people were injured and 8 were arrested.

Although such clashes are not commonplace, they are becoming seemingly more frequent. This battle between settlers to ensure the permanence of their outlying communities and of the police and military to contain unauthorized settlement growth has, in recent years, drawn more attention, particularly as security incidents between Israeli forces and West Bank Palestinians have become less frequent and less violent. Incidents have largely centered on the dismantling of settlements and bulldozing of homes, synagogues, and yeshivot, but have also included Jewish rebuilding of destroyed buildings, planting on state lands, and even attacks on Jewish hikers.

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Interview with Elyakim Haetzni


On Monday, I traveled to Kiryat Arba to meet with Jewish settlement activist, attorney, and frequent Yehidot Aharonot columnist Elyakim Haetzni. Haetzni was a key initiators of Jewish resettlement of Gush Etzion and Hebron after the 1967 Six Day War. He also served on the steering committee of the Yesha Council and as a member of Knesset for Tehiya, a political party closely associated with Gush Emunim, following the resignation of Eliezer Waldman in 1990.

Haetzni is a notable figure among the early core of Gush Emunim, not only for his deep personal involvement but because he does not consider himself to be dati (religious). Indeed, most of the leading figures of the movement were not only religious but studied together at Mercaz HaRav, the yeshiva established by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook which has served since its founding as the wellspring of Religious Zionism. R’Kook’s son, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook, was seen as the spiritual leader of Gush Emunim and taught many of its leaders.

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Polls: Israeli Public Opinion on Land and Population Swaps for Peace


Many questions have been raised in the last week about the so-called Palestine Papers leaked to Al Jazeera and the Guardian newspaper. The collection of over 16,000 seemingly official documents purportedly reveal salient details of meetings, emails, and other communications between Israeli, Palestinian, and American negotiators between 2000 and 2010.

Most commentators have focused on the concessions the Palestinian Authority supposedly offered to the Israelis to secure a peace settlement. Significantly less attention has been paid to what Israeli diplomats in these meetings are recorded as considering or offering. One of the most interesting observations in this respect was a proposal by Tzipi Livni in 2008 to transfer the Israeli Arab towns of Barta’a, Baka al-Garbiyeh, and Beit Safafa, situated along the Green Line, to Palestinian control. This approach, which has been publically disallowed by Kadima, has notable similarities with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s peace plan.

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Interview with Yehuda Harel


On Monday, I traveled to Katzrin to meet with Yehuda Harel. Known in some circles as the “father of settlement” in the Golan, Harel was intimately involved with the founding of Merom Golan, the first Jewish settlement to be built in any of the newly conquered territories after the 1967 Six Day War. As a former head of the Golan Residents Committee, he helped found some 33 Jewish communities in the Heights.

Harel has been deeply politically involved in the struggle (מאבק) to prevent Israeli withdrawal from the territory. A former aide to Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin and active in the Labour Party (עבודה), he broke from the party in protest of PM Shimon Peres’ moves to negotiate with Syria over the Golan. In 1996, along with former Avodah MKs Avigdor Kahalani and Emanuel Zisman, he help found a short-lived political party: the Third Way. The party won four seats in the 1996 Knesset elections, Harel among them, on a platform of opposition to withdrawal from the Golan. As a coalition partner in Netanyahu’s Likud-led government, it played a pivotal role in ensuring majority parliamentary opposition to territorial negotiations with Syria. In the 1999 elections, the party failed to secure a seat and exited the Israeli political stage.

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Polls: Division of Jerusalem and Israelis

jerusalem-neighborhoods-mapIn my previous post, I examined data drawn from a recent survey of Jerusalem Arabs polling their attitudes toward partition of the city. It was found that Arab residents of East Jerusalem are more in favor of acquiring Israeli citizenship and having their neighborhoods remain in sovereign Israeli territory than they are of becoming Palestinian citizens or having their neighborhoods transferred to Palestinian control. In this post, I will be examining Israeli attitudes toward division of the city.

Since the capture of Jordanian-occupied East Jerusalem in 1967 and reunification of the city, Israelis have been staunchly opposed to division. Jerusalem is frequently and popularly referred to as the eternal, united, and indivisible capital of the Jewish people. This attitude is reflected in the municipality and state’s considerable investment in the Old City, particularly the Jewish quarter, its development of archaeological projects and parks in the most historical portions of the city, and its 40 years of neighborhood construction particularly in its expanded eastern “envelope.”

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Poll: Division of Jerusalem and Jerusalem Arabs

jerusalem-map-neighborhoodsEasily one of the most contentious issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Israeli-Arab conflict at large is the status of Jerusalem. The city is holy to three religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and is claimed by at least two national movements to be its capital, Israel and the Palestinians. Designated as an international territory by the 1947 UN Partition plan, divided in 1948-1949 between Israeli and Jordanian control, and reunified and expanded after Israeli capture of the Jordanian-occupied east in 1967, Jerusalem has remained a strategic and political football. Today the whole of the city is officially claimed by Israel to be its united, eternal capital.

This position has been overwhelmingly popular with the Israeli public since 1967, contrary to a real reticence to formally annex most other captured territories like Sinai, Gaza, or the West Bank. Unlike the Arab residents of these territories, the Arab population of East Jerusalem were also offered Israeli citizenship soon after annexation, although this was almost universally rejected. This is generally taken to be indicative of both the high costs Israelis are willing to pay to preserve a united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty and the fervent design of Jerusalem Arabs to be a part of a sovereign Palestinian state. A recent poll of Jerusalem Arabs has thrown this consensus into question.

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Polls: Israeli Public Opinion on the Golan and Syria

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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Poll: Israeli Public Opinion on West Bank Withdrawal

inssFor today’s post, I am drawing information from reports written for the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), which incorporates the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University. The INSS releases monthly reports on a number of issues including Israeli public opinion on national security issues, Israeli national security, and Middle East military affairs in general. Among the more interesting of the public opinion polling data they have released regards Israeli attitudes to territorial withdrawal in the West Bank.

Although reports on Israeli security attitudes were published by the INSS from the mid-1980s, data on Israeli support for withdrawal from specific areas of the West Bank began in 1994 and have continued through 2009. The four areas originally included in the reports were Gush Etzion, the Jordan Valley, Western Samaria, and East Jerusalem. In 2001, the language regarding East Jerusalem was changed to the “Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem.” In 2005, questions were included about the Temple Mount and Eastern Samaria, and, in 2009, a question was added about Hebron.

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