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  • Author: Cathrine Thorleifsson
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: This policy brief examines the paradox of Mizrahim (Arab Jews) supporting right-wing Israeli policies through a case study of the border town of Kiryat Shemona. Based on ethnographic research, it illuminates the enduring power of ethno-nationalism and demonstrates how it affects Mizrahi lives. Mizrahim became trapped by Israeli nation-building on the geographic and socioeconomic margins of the state positioned between the dominant Ashkenazi elite and the Palestinian population. Factors such as Mizrahim's partial inclusion in the nation; tensions between Jews and Arabs, and between the secular and the religious; the decline of the welfare state; and a shared perception of threats and dangers informed everyday nationalism in the town. Mizrahim contested Ashkenazi Israeliness through ethnic and transnational identifications and practices. Simultaneously, their support for the nation-in-arms and identification as "strong"and "civilised" reinforced the dominant logic of ethno-nationalism. Mizrahi support for right-wing militarism is likely to persist as long as national unity is used as a colonial practice by the centre. The inclusion of Mizrahim as equals together with other marginalised citizens would necessarily entail an Israeli Spring.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Nationalism, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Fatah-Hamas unity agreement reached in Mecca last week has powerful implications for all regional players. The most serious challenge it poses is to U.S. diplomacy.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Mecca
  • Publication Date: 12-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Lebanon has badly lost its balance and is at risk of new collapse, moving ever closer to explosive Sunni-Shiite polarisation with a divided, debilitated Christian community in between. The fragile political and sectarian equilibrium established since the end of its bloody civil war in 1990 was never a panacea and came at heavy cost. It depended on Western and Israeli acquiescence in Syria's tutelage and a domestic system that hindered urgently needed internal reforms, and change was long overdue. But the upsetting of the old equilibrium, due in no small part to a tug-of-war by outsiders over its future, has been chaotic and deeply divisive, pitting one half of the country against the other. Both Lebanon's own politicians and outside players need to recognise the enormous risks of a zero-sum struggle and seek compromises before it is too late.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Robert Satloff, Akbar Ahmed, Gregg Rickman
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Of all the forms of anti-Semitism in Arab societies, Holocaust denial is one of the most pernicious and widespread. Generally it takes one of three forms: outright denial, Holocaust glorification, and Holocaust minimization or trivialization. One does no favor to Arabs by exempting them from this history, whatever its connection to their political dispute with Israel. And because jihadists' conspiracy theories target a coalition of “Crusaders and Jews,” exempting Arabs from Holocaust history certainly does America no favor either.
  • Topic: International Relations, Genocide, Religion
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, America, Israel
  • Author: Robert Rabil
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: With the ongoing clashes between Israel and Hizballah raging without respite and Lebanon sustaining significant human and material losses, the sociopolitical scene in Beirut is bursting with both centrifugal and centripetal forces. While these forces threaten the country with implosion, they are sparking a national debate on Lebanese national identity that may prevent Lebanon from disintegrating as a sovereign state. While many Western observers see the civilian deaths in Qana as galvanizing Lebanese support for Hizballah, national solidarity against Israeli attacks should not be mistaken for a widespread embrace of Hizballah.
  • Topic: International Relations, Religion, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: Jamie Chosak, Julie Sawyer
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On September 22, 2005, Abbas al-Sayyid was convicted of masterminding two Hamas suicide bombings: the March 27, 2002, attack at the Park Hotel in Netanya and the May 18, 2001, shopping mall bombing that killed five and injured one hundred. The Park Hotel bombing, considered the terror group's most devastating attack since the outbreak of the second intifada, had implications extending far beyond the murder of thirty innocent civilians. The attack prompted Israel to launch Operation Defensive Shield, the reoccupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Additionally, the bombing highlighted Hamas's program of radicalization and recruitment in Palestinian universities and the group's experimentation with chemical and biological agents.
  • Topic: Religion, Terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Israeli authorities on September 27 announced the arrest of an Israeli-Arab Hamas activist who played central militant, political, and financing roles for the group in coordination with what Israeli authorities described as a “Hamas command in Saudi Arabia.” The arrest is just the latest evidence that support for Hamas in particular and Islamic extremism in general continues to emanate from within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
  • Topic: Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: David Makovsky, Elizabeth Young
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A key issue in the runup to January's Palestinian parliamentary elections is whether the radical Islamist party Hamas will be allowed to participate and under what conditions. Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon and foreign minister Silvan Shalom have insisted that the group disarm, disavow terror, and end its call for Israel's destruction before it is permitted to run in elections. Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas has favored an unconditional acceptance of Hamas's electoral participation, believing that it could coopt Hamas within the Palestinian political fold. However, he said in a Washington Post interview published on September 11, 2005, "A political party plus a militia is unacceptable," but he did not elaborate specific plans that would prevent Hamas from participating in elections as both party and militia.
  • Topic: International Relations, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Israeli disengagement from Gaza and the northern West Bank settlements has left in its wake three important crises for the religious Zionist movement that spearheaded settlements in Israel. These crises involve the settlers' future relationships with the Israeli public, the Israeli state, and the political secular right. For settlers, these three relationships are now colored by a sense of betrayal, raising the question of whether disengagement will radicalize the ideological settlers.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Gaza
  • Author: Dennis Ross
  • Publication Date: 07-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: I have spent the past month in Jerusalem, meeting with Israelis and Palestinians here, in Ramallah, and in Gaza City. In my years of dealing with both sides, I cannot recall a time when emotion in general, and frustration in particular, have so clearly shaped their outlook. Given the death of Yasser Arafat, the emergence of Mahmoud Abbas, and Ariel Sharon's decision to disengage from Gaza, this should be a time of hope and opportunity. Instead, there is less a sense of possibility than of foreboding. It may not yet be too late to use the withdrawal as a platform on which to build a different future. Yet, much of what could have been done to prepare the ground for disengagement has not been done—and that may explain the unease that pervades both sides.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Aviezer Ravitsky
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On June 24, 2005, Aviezer Ravitsky, a professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an expert on religious Zionism, addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. The following is a rapporteur's summary of his remarks. The impending Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip and four settlements in the northern West Bank threatens the ideological foundations of many settlers. This is particularly true for religious settlers, most of whom view Israeli habitation of the West Bank as the fulfillment of a biblical mandate initiated by the Hebrew patriarchs. The fact that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a prime architect of the settlement movement during his tenure as housing minister in the late 1970s, unilaterally proposed the disengagement epitomizes what many settlers see as their abandonment by the political establishment. They fear that Israel will eventually withdraw from most, if not all, of the West Bank. That prospect threatens to undermine the cause of the national-religious camp in Israel, which has championed the settlement movement above all else since Israel assumed control over the territories in 1967.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Israel, Gaza
  • Author: Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The June 21 meeting between Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas highlighted the widening expectations gap between the two parties. Less than two months before Israel commences its pullout from the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank, the security situation is worsening, while the PA appears largely unprepared to assume effective security control over these areas. Without an urgent predisengagement "crash program" to improve security, the opportunity afforded by Yasser Arafat's departure from the scene and Israel's departure from Gaza will be lost.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Minda Lee Arrow
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Among the challenges facing the Israeli government in the weeks before the Gaza disengagement commences are relocating evacuated settlers and determining the future of settlement assets. This Peace Watch will examine the former issue; a future Peace Watch will address the latter.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Gaza, Arab Countries
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 05-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon's decision to disengage from Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank beginning this summer has earned him the ire of the 8,000 people living in the twenty-five settlements scheduled for evacuation. It has also generated opposition among the quarter-million settlers living in the remainder of the West Bank and their sympathizers within Israel proper. This PeaceWatch seeks to analyze the ideological and political challenges that disengagement poses to these settlers. Future PeaceWatches will examine other aspects of disengagement, including the challenge that settlers pose to disengagement.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Israel, Gaza, Czech Republic
  • Author: Isaac Herzog
  • Publication Date: 04-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 4, 2005, Isaac Herzog addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Mr. Herzog was recently named Israel's minister of housing and construction when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon broadened his government to include the Labor Party. Heading a ministry that was key in backing past settlement activity, Mr. Herzog has called for a thorough ministerial review of Israel's settlement policy. A Labor member of the Knesset since 2001, Mr. Herzog previously served as cabinet secretary to Prime Minister Ehud Barak. The following is a rapporteur's summary of his remarks.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 04-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 11, 2005, President George W. Bush will host Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. The meeting comes at a key juncture, given Israel's planned disengagement from Gaza and the northern West Bank. Mr. Makovsky, who recently returned from a ten-day trip to Israel, the West Bank, Egypt, and Jordan, discussed the upcoming summit at The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum on April 7. This PeaceWatch is based on his remarks.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Gaza, Egypt, Czech Republic
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 03-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 24, 2005, the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) approved the new cabinet proposed by Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei. Often described as technocratic and progressive, the cabinet is widely seen as fitting the Bush administration's requirement of being "untainted by terror." Indeed, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice highlighted the new cabinet as one of the "important steps" the Palestinian Authority (PA) had taken toward reform and described this week's London conference, held in support of the PA, as an opportunity to express "international support for their extremely important reform movement." Yet, one cabinet appointment gives reason for concern: the new minister of economy, Mazen Sunuqrut, has close, longstanding ties to Hamas.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: David Makovsky, Anna Hartman
  • Publication Date: 03-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Last week, the Israeli cabinet approved modified routing of the security fence, the first officially sanctioned changes since the cabinet approved construction in October 2003. The modifications, prompted by an Israeli supreme court decision last summer made to avert Palestinian hardship, are characterized by four major adjustments: (1) revised routing in several areas that will bring the fence closer to the Green Line (pre-1967 boundaries); (2) the elimination of all fence routes that create Palestinian enclaves or "double fences" (areas where Palestinians would have been completely encircled by the security fence); (3) the addition—for the first time on any official Israeli map—of fence around the Maale Adumim settlement bloc; and (4) final authorization of fence routing and construction near the Etzion bloc.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 02-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 1, British prime minister Tony Blair will host a conference in London dedicated to garnering support for the Palestinian Authority (PA). The summit is intended to help the new Palestinian leadership strengthen PA institutions, with a special focus on facilitating economic development, encouraging donor pledges, and identifying investment opportunities. Israel will not be participating, but Saudi Arabia and several other oil-rich Arab countries will attend. These countries reaped unexpectedly high government revenues in 2004 due to increased oil prices—excluding Iraq, the Arab members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) saw $45 billion in additional revenue compared to 2003. How much of this windfall is offered to bolster the Israeli-Palestinian peace process will be seen, at least in Washington, as a key indicator of the willingness of the Arab world to secure a settlement.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 02-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The February 8 Sharm al-Shaykh summit may have marked the definitive end of the Arafat era. Both Israeli and Palestinian leaders issued orchestrated parallel statements declaring cessation of hostilities and highlighted the resumption of bilateral engagement after almost four and a half years of armed confrontation. Within hours, however, militant Palestinian groups challenged these commitments through attacks on Israeli targets. To take full advantage of the opportunities now available will require active effort to consolidate the fledgling ceasefire. This includes imposing the full force of the Palestinian central authority against rejectionists, clarifying the ambiguities in the parallel commitments, and enlisting key states and international actors in the campaign to combat Iranian and Hizballah designs to undermine this fragile process.
  • Topic: Security, Religion, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries