DISSERTATION PROJECT:

EXPLAINING THE OCCURRENCE AND DYNAMICS OF DOMINANT GROUP VIOLENCE: UNCERTAINTY, THREAT, AND ISRAELI SETTLER VIOLENCE IN THE WEST BANK

Why do dominant ethnic groups perpetrate violence against ethnic minorities and why does this violence vary in its frequency, severity, target choice, and level of popular participation over time?

Addressing the first question, I argue that existing explanations of dominant group violence lack a unifying theoretical framework that explains why dominant group violence occurs. In order to address this lacuna, I propose an explanation of dominant group violence founded on the social-psychological concept of uncertainty that can account for a range of existing explanations.

I build on the theoretical distinction between physical and social threat in order to explain the dynamic nature of dominant group violence. I posit that physically threatening events tend to trigger relatively frequent and severe attacks against minorities by a relatively large proportion of the dominant group. In contrast, socially threatening events tend to trigger attacks against symbolic sites representing the culture and identity of ethnic minorities by a relatively small and intolerant subsection of the dominant group.

In order to test my theoretical arguments, I employ a mixed methods research design relying on the West Bank as the primary case of analysis. The quantitative portion of my analysis uses both time-series regression and district-level descriptive analyses of an original dataset of contentious activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem (2010-2015). The data is available on the Data tab of my website. In order to examine the mechanisms underlying the quantitative results further, I conduct a historical case study of anti-Arab violence by Jewish civilians in Israel-Palestine from 1929 through 2015.The qualitative analysis builds on secondary literature and approximately 50 original interviews with Israeli settlers conducted in the West Bank in 2016 and 2017.

This research helps to bridge existing explanations of dominant group violence by developing a unifying theoretical framework and adds nuance to theoretical arguments linking threat and political violence. The results of the study suggest that as long as ethnonationalist sentiments remain entrenched, attempts to resolve ethnic conflict that do not fundamentally alter horizontal political inequalities are likely to exacerbate rather than moderate intercommunal conflict.

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Publications:

Magid, Yehuda and Justin Schon (2018) “Introducing the African Relational Pro-Government Militia Dataset (RPGMD).” International Interactions, 44(4): 808-832.

Abstract: This paper introduces the African Relational Pro-Government Militia Dataset (RPGMD). Recent research has improved our understandings of how pro-government forces form, under what conditions they are most likely to act, and how they affect the risk of internal conflict, repression, and state fragility. In this paper, we give an overview of our dataset that identifies African pro-government militias (PGMs) from 1997 to 2014. The data set shows the wide proliferation and diffusion of these groups on the African continent. We identify 149 active PGMs, 104 of which are unique to our dataset. In addition to descriptive information
about these PGMs, we contribute measures of PGM alliance relationships, ethnic relationships, and context. We use these variables to examine the determinants of the presence and level of abusive behavior perpetrated by individual PGMs. Results
highlight the need to consider nuances in PGM–government relationships in addition to PGM characteristics.

Magid, Yehuda. “The Jewish American Peace Camp.” in Non-State Actors in the Middle East: Factors for Peace and Democracy. Ed. Galia Golan and Walid Salem. New York: Routledge, 2013. 146-165.

Book chapter in an edited volume as part of the UCLA Center for Middle East Development (CMED) series on Middle East security and cooperation. In the chapter, I discuss the history of the Jewish-American peace camp (JAPC), contextualizing its current standing and activities, the rise of J Street and its challenge to entrenched Jewish lobbying organizations such as AIPAC and the Council of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, and the variety of tactics utilized by organizations within the JAPC.

Magid, Yehuda. "The Contemporary Relevance of Ravitzky Aviezer's  Messianism, Zionism, and Jewish religious radicalism." in the Jewish Canon. Ed. Yehuda Kurtzer and Claire Sufrin. forthcoming.

Articles currently under review at peer reviewed journals:

“Threat and the Dynamics of Low-Intensity Intercommunal Violence: Evidence from the West Bank” 

"How Pro-Government Militia Ethnic Relationships Influence Violence Against Civilians," with Justin Schon

"On the Streets and in the Shadows: Violent Protests, Terrorism, and State Repression" 

Book Reviews:

Magid, Yehuda, Review of “Religious Zionism and the Settlement Project: Ideology, Politics, and Civil Disobedience” by Moshe Hellinger, Isaac Hershkowitz, and Bernard Susser, H-Net, February, 2019.

Magid, Yehuda. “City on a Hilltop Reviewed by Yehuda Magid and Response from Sara Yael Hirschhorn.” Tikkun magazine. August, 2017.

Selected working papers: 

"Bringing a Knife to a Gunfight : Explaining the Outbreak of the 2015 Palestinian Knife Intifada," draft presented at the 2019 International Studies Association annual convention.

"A Periodization of the Post-Cold War: Unpacking Inter-Related Shifts in PGM-Government Relationships and Migration Patterns After the Cold War," With Justin Schon

"Uncertainty and Anti-Minority Violence: Explaining Domestic-Level Spatial Variation in Dominant Group Violence Against Civilians"

"Integrating the Study of Dominant Group Violence: State Repression, Pro-Government Militias, and Ethnic Vigilantes"

"From Zionism to Israeli Settler Violence," draft presented at the 2017 Association for Jewish Studies annual convention.

SELECTED  POSTS:

"Democracy in Israel/Palestine Today: Ethnic Democracy or Ethnocracy?" Public Seminar, February 27, 2019.

“Israel and the Role of the Diaspora,” Devarim Magazine, July 1, 2010.

"A Different Kind of Divestment," Zeek, April 8, 2010.