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Robert Abzug, Director CLA 2.402, 305 E 23rd St B3600, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-475-6178

Ami Pedahzur

Professor Ph.D., University of Haifa, Israel

Professor, Arnold Chaplik Professor in Israel and Diaspora Studies
Ami Pedahzur

Contact

Biography

I am the Arnold Chaplik Professor in Israel and Diaspora Studies and a professor at the Department of Government at the University of Texas at Austin.

I first came to Texas as a Donald D. Harrington Faculty Fellow in 2004 and joined the faculty of the Department of Government a year later.

Since the early stages of my career I was interested in the Israeli radical right and in the State’s response to it. Later on I was drawn to studying the causes for terrorism in general and particularly in Israel. At the same time I developed interest in the effectiveness of various counterterrorism policies and subsequentally in special-forces.

I serve as an associate editor of the journal Studies in Conflict and Terrorism as well as member of the editorial boards of Armed Forces & SocietyTerrorism and Political Violence and Civil Wars.

Interests

Israeli society and politics, The IDF, terrorism, counterterrorism, political radicalism.

J S 365 • Israel: Society And Politics

40026 • Fall 2011
Meets TTH 800am-930am MEZ B0.306
(also listed as GOV 365N )
show description

In recent years, the State of Israel has experienced a series of severe political crises which have left their mark on the ability of the Israeli government to continue to function efficiently. There are a number of salient reasons for this. For example, the lack of a constitution, the absence of a democratic tradition among the adult population and the lack of an ethical and normative consensus regarding the state's character. Temporary factors may professionalism of some of the current policy makers. The course will investigate these issues with emphasis on the behavior of principal actors in Israeli society and politics. We will discuss the reciprocal relations between the three main governmental authorities in Israel and their influence on the electoral system as well as the public's involvement in politics. We will then analyze the main political divisions in Israel and inter-party politics, the formation of governmental coalitions and how these are maintained, and implementation of public policy. The way these topics are integrated and formulate modern Israeli politics will be discussed, and the representative character and stability of Israeli democracy will be evaluated.

Recent Publications


The Triumph of Israel’s Radical Right. New York: Oxford University Press (2012).

 Two decades ago, the idea that a "radical right" could capture and drive Israeli politics seemed improbable. While it was a boisterous faction and received heavy media coverage, it constituted a fringe element. Yet by 2009, Israel's radical right had not only entrenched itself in mainstream Israeli politics, it was dictating policy in a wide range of areas.  Quite simply, if we want to understand the seemingly intractable situation in Israel today, we need a comprehensive account of the radical right. In The Triumph of Israel's Radical Right, acclaimed scholar Ami Pedahzur provides an invaluable and authoritative analysis of its ascendance to the heights of Israeli politics. After analyzing what, exactly they believe in, he explains how mainstream Israeli policies like "the law of return" have nurtued their nativism and authoritarian tendencies. He then traces the right's steady expansion and mutation, from the early days of the stateto these days. Throughout, he focuses on the radical right's institutional networks and how the movement has been able to expand its influence over policy making process. His closing chapter is grim yet realistic: he contends that a two state solution is no longer viable and that the vision of the radical rabbi Meir Kahane, who was a fringe figure while alive, has triumphed.
 

The Triumph of Israel’s Radical Right is a bold and personable book that establishes Ami Pedahzur as the late Ehud Sprinzak’s successor as the premier scholar of political extremism in Israel.” —Cas Mudde, University of Georgia, author of Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe

“Settlers, yes, but Ami Pedahzur brilliantly portrays the increasingly powerful radical right in Israel as much more than the settlers in the occupied territories.  The Triumph of Israel’s Radical Right portrays the evolution of the right from a group preoccupied with preventing the creation of a Palestinian state to an anti-democratic, nativist force that has made deep inroads into defining the character of the Israeli state.” —Joel Migdal, University of Washington, co-author of The Palestinian People: A History 

“If Israel’s purposes are to serve as a ‘light unto the nations’ and to share with others the task of healing and repairing the world (Tikkun Olam), this book does a compelling job of explaining why these purposes are not being met. Ami Pedahzur does an estimable job of tracing the Israeli radical right from a marginal force to the dominant one in Israeli political life.” —Leonard Weinberg, University of Nevada, Reno, author of Global Terrorism


 Jewish Terrorism in Israel. New York: Columbia University Press. (Paperback, 2011).

 

Ami Pedahzur and Arie Perliger, world experts on the study of terror and security, propose a theory of violence that contextualizes not only recent acts of terror but also instances of terrorism that stretch back centuries. Beginning with ancient Palestine and its encounters with Jewish terrorism, the authors analyze the social, political, and cultural factors that sponsor extreme violence, proving religious terrorism is not the fault of one faith, but flourishes within any counterculture that adheres to a totalistic ideology.

When a totalistic community perceives an external threat, the connectivity of the group and the rhetoric of its leaders bolster the collective mindset of members, who respond with violence. In ancient times, the Jewish sicarii of Judea carried out stealth assassinations against their Roman occupiers. In the mid-twentieth century, to facilitate their independence, Jewish groups committed acts of terror against British soldiers and the Arab population in Palestine. More recently, Yigal Amir, a member of a Jewish terrorist cell, assassinated Yitzhak Rabin to express his opposition to the Oslo Peace Accords. 

Conducting interviews with former Jewish terrorists, political and spiritual leaders, and law-enforcement officials, and culling information from rare documents and surveys of terrorist networks, Pedahzur and Perliger construct an extensive portrait of terrorist aggression, while also describing the conditions behind the modern rise of zealotry.

"Jewish Terrorism in Israel addresses a huge lacuna in the field by providing the first systematic, in-depth treatment of Jewish terrorism from ancient times to today. It concludes with vitally important developments in Jewish extremism over the past nine years, making a signal contribution at a moment when interest in terrorism and counterterrorism is high, when more attention than ever is being focused on terrorism motivated by religion, and when we most need insight into the nature of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process." — Bruce Hoffman, author ofInside Terrorism

"Ami Pedahzur and Arie Perliger provide us with an intelligent, sensible, and compelling story of terrorism among a people more famously known as historical victims rather than perpetrators. Their use of multiple research methods—including first-hand observations and interviews—is admirable; their insight into the interaction among religious, political, social, and psychological forces is convincing; and their accounts of informal networks and ideological socialization are especially revealing. This book is a model of scholarship on a topic most resistant to dispassionate analysis." — Neil J. Smelser, University of California, Berkeley

"This engaging book documents the dark side of Jewish political activism in Israel from ancient times to the present. These gripping accounts, which describe the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the anti-Arab vitriol of Meir Kahane, and the strident opposition of the settler movement, show that terrorism has been in the shadows of Jewish politics in Israel, just as it has been in every other religious tradition around the world. Jewish Terrorism in Israel should be required reading for anyone concerned about the moral dilemmas of Jewish activism, peace in the Middle East, and the rise of religious violence everywhere." — Mark Juergensmeyer, author ofTerror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence

"[Pedahzur and Perliger] provide excellent insight into a little reported and even lesser understood reality." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"This work is timely, objective, and bold. . . highly recommended. " — Choice

"Sets a high bar for subsequent works." — L. Carl Brown, Foreign Affairs

"[Jewish Terrorism in Israel] provides rich, detailed exploration of a form of terrorism often little noted within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." — Rebecca L. Torstrick, H-Levant

"Most, perhaps all, religious traditions have produced their own long intermittent and unique histories of terrorism. Yet this remarkable, engrossing study is the first to put the story of one religion together. It will surely stimulate studies of other religious traditions, a subject everyone needs to know more about." — David Rapoport, author of Inside Terrorist Organizations


The Israeli Secret Services and the Struggle Against Terrorism. New York: Columbia University Press. (Paperback, 2010).

While Mossad is known as one of the world's most successful terrorist-fighting organizations, the state of Israel has, more than once and on many levels, risked the lives of its agents and soldiers through unwise intelligence-based intervention. The elimination of Palestinian leaders and militants has not decreased the incidence of Palestinian terrorism, for example. In fact, these incidents have become more lethal than ever, and ample evidence suggests that the actions of Israeli intelligence have fueled terrorist activities across the globe.

An expert on terror and political extremism, Ami Pedahzur argues that Israel's strict reliance on the elite units of the intelligence community is fundamentally flawed. A unique synthesis of memoir, academic research, and information gathered from print and online sources, Pedahzur's complex study explores this issue through Israel's past encounters with terrorists, specifically hostage rescue missions, the first and second wars in Lebanon, the challenges of the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinian terrorist groups, and Hezbollah. He brings a rare transparency to Israel's counterterrorist activities, highlighting their successes and failures and the factors that have contributed to these results. From the foundations of this analysis, Pedahzur ultimately builds a strategy for future confrontation that will be relevant not only to Israel but also to other countries that have adopted Israel's intelligence-based model.

"A succinct but thoroughly researched account of how Israel's security agencies have sought to defeat terrorist organizations from the pre-state Yishuv to events following the 2006 war with Hezbollah. After examining the historical record, Ami Pedahzur concludes that the application of defensive measures has proved more successful in deterring terrorist attacks than 'targeted killings' and other forms of warlike measures." — Leonard Weinberg, University of Nevada, Reno 

"Ami Pedahzur has written an astute, well-documented, and compelling analysis of Israel's reliance on the 'war model' to combat terrorism. Israel's political and military leaders were consistently unable to resist the temptation of dramatic and costly uses of force when modest defensive or conciliatory measures were preferable. This lesson should not be lost on any national policymaker confronted by terrorism." — Martha Crenshaw, Stanford University

"[Pedahzur's] insights are so well reasoned and relevant that the pages almost turn themselves." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"[A] superb examination of Israel's secret services." — Daniel Byman, New York Post

"More than entertaining spy stories . . . this book will be a great aid to other Western countries around the world struggling to confront terror." — Jewish Book World

"[Pedahzur] offers a brilliant description of Israel’s fight against terrorism from 1948 to the present." — Seth J. Frantzman, The Jerusalem Post

"A fascinating history of counterterrorism by Israeli security agencies . . . Highly recommended." — Choice

"“The Israeli Secret Services & the Struggles Against Terrorism” is a fine read and solidly recommended. " — James A. Cox, Midwest Book Review

"Replete with detail, vignettes, and insights, this book provides a unique inside account of the Israeli intelligence and security services' sixty-year-long struggle against terrorism. It is the most comprehensive and authoritative depiction and analysis of this struggle currently available in the English language." — Bruce Hoffman, author of Inside Terrorism

"A most valuable addition to the growing literature on the quest for a proper response to contemporary terrorism. Ami Pedahzur's analysis is responsible, balanced, and sober. It assesses the successes and failures of Israel against the background of manifold practical constraints and limitations, while anchoring the assessment in the most up-to-date contemporary social science theories. The result is a very fine book, which in fact goes beyond the existing parameters of antiterrorism as understood in Israel and also many other democracies." — Gabriel Ben-Dor, National Security Studies Center, University of Haifa.

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