Articles and Posts from ISQ

What started with tit-for-tat kidnappings and murders perpetrated by individuals in the West Bank and Jerusalem has escalated into an air (and now ground) offensive between Israel and Gaza. Recent attempts at a ceasefire have failed as both sides enter into the second week of hostilities and the death toll rises. Below is a compilation of scholarly articles published in International Studies Quarterly that might give readers better insight into the current crisis.

How might we understand the broader social ramifications of the current crisis?

As was evident after Israel’s 2008-2009 Operation Cast Lead, a major concern in the ongoing Israel/Palestine conflict is the toll on and targeting of civilians on both sides. [Smith, 2002*] examines the legal language used by hi-tech states to legitimate collateral damage through the blurring of distinctions between combatants and civilians.

[Carpenter, 2005] problematizes the rhetorical use of protecting “women and children” in conflicts such as this, highlighting that such a focus ignores protecting adult male civilians and furthers gender stereotypes. At the same time, deploying such “gender essentialisms” is part of a strategic process that is more likely to result in international attention and response.

[Lebovic & Voeten, 2006*] examine the effects of naming and shaming states committing human rights abuses in the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, finding that reputation and social conformity matter.

What explains the persistence of violence?

Why does Gaza continue to launch rockets into southern Israel given Israel’s overwhelming military advantage? [Findley & Young, 2011*] suggest that terrorism is more likely to occur against governments who are unable to “credibly restrain themselves from abusing their power in the future.”

[Allen & Fordham, 2011] also explore why some weaker states continue to resist their more powerful adversaries, finding evidence in both rationalist (cost/benefit) and alternative (state preferences and ideation) explanations.

Additionally, [Findley & Edwards, 2007] investigate why significant power asymmetries between opponents do not always play out the way the dominant power anticipates. Illustrating their analysis with the Chechen mobilization of the 1990s, they suggest that group-specific social institutions have the potential to increase the capabilities of the weaker side, which is often ignored by the dominant power.

As perhaps illustrated by the Second Intifada, youth bulges coupled with economic stagnation might also increase the likelihood of political violence. [Urdal, 2006]

What does this mean for the future of the peace process?


Failed peace agreements and stalled talks have haunted the Israel/Palestine conflict for decades. [Goddard, 2012*] examines the successful settlement of another entrenched conflict (Northern Ireland) and determines that the role played by brokers was paramount to the agreement.

Often, Israel and the Palestinians are brought to the negotiating table after lengthy “shuttle” diplomacy from outside states such as the U.S. [Ghosn, 2010] analyzes how the contextual factors that bring each side to the table influence what happens at that table.  

While Israel vacated Gaza in 2005, the boundaries of the occupied territories, particularly the West Bank, remain up in the air and an important sticking point in past negotiations. Yet evidence suggests that signing international boundary agreements goes a long way in promoting more peaceful relations. [Owsiak, 2012]

Egypt’s often-fraught relationship with Israel has played a big role in establishing the contours of the Arab-Israeli conflict. [Stein, 2011] explores how Egypt came to accept its neighbor through the Camp David consensus, arguing that interests trump identity in explaining state behavior.

[Tessler, Nachtwey, & Grant, 1999] find that the traditional belief that women are more peace-prone than men does not hold in countries of the Middle East, suggesting that the specific nature of the conflict plays a greater role on women’s attitudes toward its resolution.

Specifically focusing on Palestinians, [Sahliyeh & Deng, 2003*] find evidence to the contrary – that women are indeed more peace-prone. However, they also find that Palestinians’ support of or opposition to the peace process is related to their trust in the robustness and accountability of their own domestic political institutions, as well as in the credibility of Israel’s commitment to peace.

* Ungated ISQ articles available to the general public for a limited time

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Representing 100 countries, ISA has over 6,500 members worldwide and is the most respected and widely known scholarly association in this field. Endeavoring to create communities of scholars dedicated to international studies, ISA is divided into 7 geographic subdivisions of ISA (Regions), 29 thematic groups (Sections) and 4 Caucuses which provide opportunities to exchange ideas and research with local colleagues and within specific subject areas.
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