PA negotiators may want to reject demands that they recognize Israel as the Jewish State. But if they choose or are compelled to accept such a demand, I consider at Open Zion how they might address the impact it could have on Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Taylor Marvin and Barbara Walter at Political Violence @ a Glance have started an important conversation on the paucity of female bloggers in international affairs. IMHO, the issue of blogs is just one example of many arenas in which gender may be an issue. In the last three years, I’ve been involved in speaker series, dinners with speakers, committees, faculty presentations, research grants, and conferences & workshops, and in every one, the nature or composition of the invitees or participants is a question.
Four thoughts in the hopes of continuing the conversation:
1. Gender is one of MANY characteristics that people want to see represented. Others include race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, level of seniority, academic/practitioner, nationality, type of academic institutional affiliation (R1 vs others; location inside US; US vs rest of world; north/south; public vs private), political views, discipline or field, and method. People will vary as to which ones are most important, and, obviously, every invitee is some combination.
2. Judging whether someone is paying attention to such issues solely based on outcome is limiting. You can ask people to speak, to serve, to blog etc. You can do your best to meet their needs and make the environment conducive. In short, to me the process matters too: was a serious, concerted effort made to get diverse and excellent participants? Across a range of situations, I followed (or, in some cases, observed others following) roughly the same process to try to get broad representation; if I look at the outcomes, it worked better in some cases than others.
3. If you want diverse bloggers, panels, speakers, members etc, you have to reach out and be pro-active about it. Who do you know that I don’t know? Who do YOU think would be good that is not in my network or on my radar? Who is up and coming? You have to be willing to take the time to gather prospective names, talk with people, and have some (or many!) people decline. That is time consuming and may conflict with other time pressures or resource demands.
And it is not just about having the knowledge of who does what. As one colleague pointed out to me, friendship matters when you are trying to get people to do things, especially if such things may be onerous and take them away from things they’d rather or must be doing. A cold call/email may be very different from a friend asking.
4. Marvin and Walter rightly point to a structural factor, the high percentage of tenured, male faculty in IR programs. But I want to kick the question backward: is that a reflection of IR students in top PhD programs? Maybe the assessment has to start even before the hiring and tenure processes with the PhD admission process.
Awareness about the people invited to do academic things, both pleasant and burdensome, is helpful. But awareness alone only goes so far.
I have an op-ed in Ha’aretz today in which I argue that despite U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent appeal to them, American Jews are unlikely to push the Israeli government to make peace with the Palestinians. I give three major reasons for this:
“First, American Jews are not quite as ‘dovish’ as many people would like to believe (or as organizations like J Street like to claim). Although they are famously liberal on domestic issues, when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, American Jews are more conservative—they are ‘hawkish doves.’ Although a majority consistently supports a two-state solution to the conflict, most Americans Jews are very skeptical about the chances of achieving a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, and they are also very suspicious of Arab intentions (in recent surveys of American Jewish opinion, sponsored by the AJC, roughly three-quarters of American Jews say they think that “the goal of the Arabs is not the return of occupied territories but rather the destruction of Israel”). In this sense, American Jewish sentiment is very similar to that of Israeli Jews, most of whom want peace, but don’t trust the Palestinians to deliver it.
There is also no strong American Jewish support for the establishment of a Palestinian state any time soon. In fact, in recent surveys, roughly half of American Jews oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state, and this opposition has actually increased in the last few years (from 41 percent in 2009 to 55 percent in 2011). Even more American Jews are against a division of Jerusalem in any peace agreement with the Palestinians (in the 2011 survey, 59 percent were opposed to dividing Jerusalem). Given these views, American Jews can hardly be expected to push any Israeli government to make major concessions to the Palestinians for the sake of peace.
Second, even if more American Jews really were ‘doves’ and strongly supported the establishment of a Palestinian state, many would still be reluctant to pressure Israel to allow this. It’s not that American Jews aren’t willing to criticize Israeli governments. On certain issues, especially those that directly affect them (most notably, the perennial issue of ‘who is a Jew’), American Jews have no qualms about openly criticizing Israeli governments and pressuring them to change their policies. But when it comes to the life-and-death issues of Israeli national security and foreign policy, American Jews are, understandably, much more reluctant to speak out, let alone apply pressure. They know that it is not their lives on the line, or their children who are serving in the IDF. They recognize that they are not ones that must live with the very real risks that Israel will have to take to achieve peace with the Palestinians. Much as they want peace for Israel, most American Jews are reticent about telling Israelis what they must do to achieve it, especially when Israelis might disagree with them.
Finally, and perhaps more importantly, American Jews simply have many other things on their mind. While most care about Israel and want there to be peace, they are, at the end of the day, not all that bothered. Only a minority of American Jews are deeply invested in Israel’s cause and heavily engaged with Israel. This minority is more politically conservative and rightwing when it comes to Israel than the majority of American Jews. Increasingly made up of Orthodox Jews, it is this highly engaged minority of American Jews who are the most easily mobilized on issues concerning Israel. During the Oslo peace process in the 1990s, it was this minority that opposed the peace process and made the loudest noise, while the majority of American Jews who supported the Oslo Accords were largely quiet. As long as most American Jews lack the burning desire and determination to energetically champion the peace process, they will not put any real pressure on American or Israeli leaders to advance it.”
Here’s the link to the full article:
Three reactions to the academic job talk debate sparked by Dan Nexon. (Nexon argued job talks are not useful for hiring.)
1. I agree with Dan Drezner that the Q&A can be very illuminating. For instance, how well does the candidate know the topic and previous scholarship? What questions have they anticipated? Are they open to alternate views or is it my-way-or-the-highway? I should also note it often lets me see how colleagues, some of whom may know a ton about the topic, are reacting. I may not get that by reading on my own.
2. I am not aware of scholarship that has assessed the correlation between the components of the job hiring process and the most common measures of faculty success, A) publications and B) tenure. That is crucial data that is probably next to impossible to collect for a host of reasons (e.g. privacy, liability, collegiality, diversion from more interesting questions, human dignity). But if someone who studies such matters can shed light, I for one would be interested.
3. Given my first point, here’s a (wacky) suggestion, because I do agree with Nexon that there is a reticence to read anything especially if one is not on the search committee. What if the candidate distributed a paper in advance, spoke for only 10-15 minutes, and then took extended questions and comments for 45-60 minutes? That would give time to go deep, for each questioner to have some back and forth if desired.
Perhaps even crazier: I once saw an APSA panel (I am thinking it involved David Waldner and Allison Stanger among others) where the discussants went first and then the paper authors responded. What if a member of the department critiqued the paper for 15 minutes and then the author/job candidate responded? OK, I know, a little crazy and the internal departmental politics of the hiring process could muck it up. But I am enamored with the importance of questions and answers.
That said, if a department might have 10-15 job candidates in a season, asking people to read that many papers is not insignificant. The status quo may have staying power for a reason.
I’ve been asked a lot lately about why Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is arguing with the Obama Administration over its policy towards Iran’s nuclear program and whether Israel is likely to carry out a unilateral military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, so here’s my brief analysis:
The Netanyahu government believes that diplomatic negotiations and economic sanctions have failed to halt or slow down Iran’s nuclear program and that time is rapidly running out to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability, which it sees as an existential threat to Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu is therefore losing patience with the Obama Administration’s diplomatic approach, which he never really thought would succeed in the first place. Now he is trying to use the run-up to the US election to pressure President Obama to make an explicit commitment to take future military action against Iran if it crosses a certain “red line” (Netanyahu has not publicly specified what the “red line” should be, but Israel basically wants to prevent Iran from producing large amounts of highly enriched uranium in a location invulnerable to a military strike). In doing so, Netanyahu wants to box Obama in if he is reelected by getting him to make a public promise that he will have to keep. The Obama administration, on the other hand, is refusing to set a “red line” because it wants to keep all its options open and give more time for diplomacy and sanctions to work. It is very reluctant to carry out a military attack against Iran and doesn’t want to be pressured by Israel into promising to do this.
The coming US presidential election means that the Obama Administration desperately wants to prevent Israel from striking Iran before November since such an attack would probably lead to a sharp spike in oil prices severely affecting the American economy and produce major turmoil in the Middle East and beyond, risking American lives. These negative consequences of an Israeli strike could easily jeopardize Obama’s prospects to win re-election. The Obama Administration is also well aware of the fact that most Americans currently oppose a US or Israeli military strike against Iran. American public opinion is primarily concerned with the US economy, especially continued high unemployment, and the last thing Americans want right now is to get involved in another war in the Middle East. The Obama Administration’s approach to Iran is basically in line with US public opinion, so it would be politically foolish to change this approach in the run-up to an election.
American opposition to a unilateral Israeli strike is probably the biggest factor preventing Israel from attacking Iran, but it is not the only one. Israeli public opinion is also opposed to a unilateral Israeli strike and so is most of Israel’s military and intelligence establishment. Even Netanyahu’s own government ministers, particularly the members of his security cabinet—which is responsible for authorizing any Israeli military action—are divided on the wisdom of Israel attacking Iran against the wishes of the United States. Thus, although it is certainly not out of the question that Israel will eventually choose to go-it-alone and carry out a unilateral strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities given Prime Minister Netanyahu’s expressed fears about Iran’s nuclear program, my assessment is that it is unlikely to happen because Netanyahu simply does not have the necessary domestic and international support for this. Despite all his bombastic rhetoric, Netanyahu is ultimately very constrained in what he can do vis-à-vis Iran. Indeed, that may well be why he has become so frustrated about the Obama Administration’s ‘wait-and-see’ policy on Iran and its refusal to support an Israeli military strike or pledge to take military action itself.
In sum, therefore, Netanyahu is trying to push Obama to commit to taking military action against Iran in the future, and Obama is pushing back against this. So far, Obama appears to be winning this latest tug-of-war.
Over at the Times of Israel, I posted my second takeaway from the Presidential Conference: Peter Beinart Isn’t Evil.
Over at the Times of Israel, I argue that the Jews are not a religious or racial group, but an ethnic community. This discussion has implications for Israeli citizenship laws, and for the relationship between American Jews and Israel.
In the wake of last week’s murders at a Jewish school in Toulouse, I challenge the common view that anti-Semitism is growing in France, and Europe in general, in this article for the Israeli web magazine +972. I argue that although anti-Semitism still exists in Europe, it is not nearly as pervasive as recent media reports suggest: http://972mag.com/is-there-a-new-wave-of-jew-hatred-in-europe/39247/
On the front cover of this week’s New York Times magazine are the words “Israel vs Iran” in smoldering, ashen lettering, the implication being that a fiery, devastating war between them is on the horizon. Inside the magazine Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman, the political and military analyst for Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s best-selling daily newspaper and the author of a book about Israel’s secret war with Iran, discusses the current thinking inside Israel’s national security establishment about whether Israel should carry out a unilateral military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Although there is an ongoing debate over this question among Israeli policymakers, military and intelligence officials, Bergman’s conclusion is unequivocal: “After speaking with many senior Israeli leaders and chiefs of the military and the intelligence, I have come to believe that Israel will indeed strike Iran in 2012.”
Coming from Bergman, a highly respected analyst, this conclusion should be taken very seriously. Of course, previous predictions about an Israeli strike against Iran, also based upon first-hand access to Israeli decision-makers, proved to be wrong, or at least premature. Jeffrey Goldberg, in a much discussed piece in the September 2010 issue of the Atlantic Monthly, predicted that Israel was going to strike Iran by the summer of 2011. He now claims that this didn’t occur because the Stuxnet virus, which destroyed many Iranian centrifuges, set back Iran’s nuclear program and thus extended the time-frame for a possible Israeli attack.
Is all of this speculation about an imminent Israeli war with Iran just sensationalist punditry, designed to attract readers, or is it well-founded and credible?
Israeli leaders are undoubtedly deeply concerned about the threat from Iran. This perceived threat has come to eclipse all other problems for Israel including the Palestinian problem. There is almost no public debate in Israel over the threat from Iran. Only a small number of leftwing Israelis criticize what they regard as the over-emphasis on the Iranian threat (what one author has described as Israel’s “Iranophobia”) and argue that Israel should focus on peace-making with the Palestinians. But the vast majority of the Israeli public is far more worried about the threat from Iran than about the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians (repeated references to the Holocaust by Israeli politicians—claiming Iran is like Nazi Germany and Ahmadinejad is like Hitler—have no doubt fuelled Israeli anxieties). The slow death of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is, at most, of secondary concern for them.
Although the consensus in Israel is that the advent of a nuclear Iran would pose an unprecedented threat to Israel, there is less agreement among Israelis on exactly how serious a threat to Israel a nuclear Iran would be. Is a nuclear-armed Iran an existential threat to Israel? While Prime Minister Netanyahu has occasionally said or implied this, other Israeli leaders have disputed it. For instance, Ehud Barak, Israel’s minister of defense, has said: “I am not among those who believe Iran is an existential issue for Israel. Israel is strong, I don’t see anyone who could pose an existential threat.” Similarly, the current opposition leader and former foreign minister Tzipi Livni and former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy have also suggested that a nuclear Iran is not an existential threat to Israel and insisted that Israel could protect itself under any circumstances.
Many officials within the Israeli military and intelligence establishment believe that Israel can deter a nuclear-armed Iran, for the same reasons that deterrence worked during the Cold War (though the world came very close to a nuclear war during the Cuban missile crisis)—both Moscow and Washington understood the concept of ‘mutually assured destruction’ (MAD). Likewise, the threat of massive Israeli retaliation will deter a nuclear Iran. According to this view, it is extremely unlikely that Iran would attack Israel with nuclear weapons because Iranians are aware of the catastrophic consequences of such an act. Iran, like all other countries, believes that Israel has a large stockpile of nuclear weapons and also has a second strike capability. Therefore, Iran must take into account that if it uses nuclear weapons against Israel, Israel will use the same means against Iranian cities, and this would mean the death of millions of Iranians. The Iranian regime is radical, but not suicidal. It is, in the language of deterrence theory, a ‘rational actor.’
But how sure can Israel really be that deterrence will work? Just a small risk that it won’t may be too much for Israel to bear. Even if Iran were deterred from launching a nuclear attack against Israel, a nuclear confrontation between Israel and Iran might arise from misperceptions and miscalculations during a conventional crisis. This risk is exacerbated by the fact that there is no direct and almost no indirect communication and no dialogue between Israel and Iran. Such a lack of communication was not the situation in the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the US. Israel must also consider the possibility (however low) of an accidental or unauthorized nuclear launch by Iran. There is also the risk of terrorist organizations acquiring nuclear weapons or material from Iran.
In addition to these nuclear risks, there are a number of very negative potential consequences for Israel of a nuclear-armed Iran:
- It would be the end of Israel’s nuclear monopoly in the region.
- It would change the regional balance of power as Iran’s power would increase. Iran’s status as the leader of the radical forces in the Middle East would be strengthened. US power in the region would be weakened.
- Possession of nuclear weapons could lead Iran to adopt an even more aggressive foreign policy vis-à-vis its neighbors in the Gulf, and against Israel (for example, by encouraging Hezbollah to attack Israel).
- Hamas and Hezbollah would be emboldened.
- It would trigger nuclear proliferation and maybe even a nuclear-arms race in the Middle East. Turkey, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia could seek their own nuclear weapons. If so, the risks of nuclear war, accidents, theft of nuclear material, and technology sharing grow exponentially.
- There is also concern in Israel about the social and psychological impact that a MAD-like balance of terror with Iran might have on immigration to Israel and emigration from Israel. Some Israeli public figures (such as former Deputy Minister of Defense Ephraim Sneh) have argued that the mere existence of the Iranian bomb might lead Israelis to leave Israel for a safer place where their existence is not threatened. Israel’s raison d’être as a ‘safe haven’ for Jews will also be undermined diminishing the willingness of Jews in the Diaspora to move to Israel. Personally, I think that this concern is exaggerated. Very few Israelis will leave Israel because Iran has a nuclear weapon and those who do would probably have left anyway. Nor will it have a big influence on the willingness of Diaspora Jews to move to Israel. Israel is hardly a safe haven today and the vast majority of Diaspora Jews who immigrate to Israel do so for religious-Zionist reasons.
In sum, for Israel, the Iranian nuclear threat is not just that Iran may one day drop the bomb on Israel. The nuclearization of Iran has many other negative, and much more likely, consequences for Israel. Faced with this real and growing danger, what will Israel do? For now, Israel is encouraging the international community to enact ‘crippling sanctions’ against Iran. While this approach is certainly bearing fruit (most notably, the EU’s newly imposed ban on Iranian oil), Israeli leaders are highly skeptical that sanctions will persuade the Iranian regime to completely abandon their nuclear ambitions. If sanctions fail and the U.S. doesn’t carry out a military strike itself—both of which seem likely—will Israel attack?
If Israel does decide to attack Iran, it will almost certainly have to do so this year. The window of opportunity for a successful Israeli strike will not stay open forever. Iran is steadily improving its air defenses, dispersing its nuclear research and production facilities, and making them impregnable (by burying them deep underground and protected by reinforced concrete). Within a year, its nuclear program may effectively become immune from a military attack.
Thus, Israel is soon likely to face a stark choice between either taking preventive military action by itself against Iran or trying to deter a nuclear-Iran. Even if it does attack, Israel could not completely eliminate the nuclear threat posed by Iran. At best, it would delay Iran’s nuclear program by a few years (and much less if Iran also has secret nuclear facilities). Would this really be worthwhile given the harsh retaliation against Israel that Iran can be expected to unleash if it were attacked (this could include Iranian missile attacks on Israel, encouraging Hezbollah to strike Israel, and also supporting terrorism aimed at Israeli and Jewish targets around the world)?
The fact that an Israeli military strike cannot ultimately stop Iran from going nuclear, and could well result in a devastating war between Israel and Iran, and probably create a lot of regional and even global instability, leads me to believe that the possible costs of an Israeli attack outweigh the possible benefit—the amount of time a successful strike would buy. Will Netanyahu and Barak make a similar cost/benefit calculation?
One final factor that will surely affect their calculation will be the US attitude toward an Israeli attack. If Israel attacked Iran without first informing the US the impact on the US-Israeli relationship would be very damaging, especially if the US then got dragged into a war with Iran. Israel needs a ‘green light,’ or at least an amber one (that is, tacit acceptance) from the US before attacking Iran. I doubt the Obama Administration will provide this (allegedly, the Bush Administration didn’t when asked to by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008).
Israel could still decide to attack Iran without getting American permission, perhaps only informing the US just before they carry out the attack. This way, they could prepare the US for the fall-out of the attack, while maintaining their freedom of action. If Israel does end up choosing this option, the best time for it to do so would probably be just before the US presidential election in November. With Obama coming up for re-election and with his domestic support still weak (unless the US economy miraculously quickly recovers), Israel could hope that President Obama would not be in a position to condemn and punish it for attacking Iran and would have to support it.
My own conclusion, therefore, is that Israel probably won’t attack Iran, and will hope instead that the United States will eventually do so. If I am wrong, however, we’ll know this year, most likely before the November election. Will there be an ‘October Surprise’?