Short Essays & Articles on Middle East Politics
 

  SHORT ESSAYS & ARTICLES

  Middle East Politics
  The Arab-Israeli Conflict as a Prisoners' Dilemma

Hamas: An Islamist Wedge in Palestinian Nationalism

The Land-for-Peace Negotiating Paradigm

Evaluating Competing Explanations of Iraq's 1990 Invasion of Kuwait

A Philosophical Case for Boycotting a Fatah-Hamas Unity Government

Critique of Said's Orientalism and Lockman's Contending Visions of the Middle East
  International Security
  International Political Economy
  Political Theory
  Miscellaneous
 
   RECENT RESEARCH PAPERS
Zionism: A Capitalist Nationalism

Linkages between Yishuv Economic Policy and Zionist Ideology up to 1948

Partitioning the Temple Mount on the Basis of Archaeological Evidence
 

  CURRENT RESEARCH

  Middle East Politics
  International Relations
  Political Theory

 


The Arab-Israeli Conflict as a Prisoners' Dilemma
May 2008
 
Scholars of Arab-Israeli strife often argue that the belligerents in this conflict do not hold irreconcilable aims, but rather than enmity persists because the very structure of the conflict inhibits trust and cooperation.  This paper examines that argument by evaluating whether the game-theoretical "prisoners' dilemma" – in which two actors' mirroring incentive structures impede a mutually acceptable solution – accurately models the Arab-Israeli conflict.  In concludes that the actors in this dilemma bear little resemblance to one or both sides, however, by analyzing three key theaters of Arab-Israeli strife: first, the Israeli-Egyptian relationship exemplifies the regional nature of the conflict.  Second, Israel-Palestinian Authority (PA) negotiations in general – and the 2000 Camp David II summit in particular – identify the localized issues which constitute the core of the conflict.  Third, Israel-Palestinian relations during and after the second Palestinian intifadah reveal the most recent obstacles to cooperation in the aftermath of the Oslo Accords.

  

  

Hamas: An Islamist Wedge in Palestinian Nationalism

May 2008

  

In January 2006, Hamas – the leading Palestinian Islamist party and terrorist organization – won the Palestinian Authority's legislative elections against the incumbent Fatah group.  In June 2007, Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip while Fatah entrenched itself in the West Bank.  Both developments illustrate the centrality of Hamas to Palestinian politics and therefore to U.S. policymaking on the Israeli-Palestinian front.  Although the recent Annapolis Conference has sidelined Hamas, no comprehensive settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can discount that movement's political clout or its hold over Gaza.  Accordingly, this paper seeks to impart an understanding of Hamas – an Islamist wedge in an historically secular Palestinian nationalism – and its implications for U.S. policymaking in particular.  First, it explains how the Hamas-Fatah confrontation evolved by investigating both the history of Hamas and the divergent paths taken by Islamism in Gaza and in the West Bank.  Second, it outlines the substantively different ideologies of Hamas and the secular Fatah to shed greater light on the two groups' rivalry.  The paper also probes other influences on Hamas' behavior that are of special influence to U.S. policymakers – notably, Hamas' relations with al-Qaeda and Hizbullah.  Finally, the memorandum addresses Hamas' current strategic and tactical considerations and evaluates the likelihood that the group will truly moderate its hardline views of enter an Oslo-type peace process in the foreseeable future.

  

  

The Land-for-Peace Negotiating Paradigm

January 2008

  

Israel's negotiating deontology frames the land-for-peace solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a reciprocal trade: Palestinian receive their national rights (i.e., sovereignty over certain lands) in exchange for not violating Israelis' national rights (i.e., maintaining peaceful relations with Israel).  And if Palestinians and Israelis could agree on a single definition of 'national rights,' this might be a very simple transaction.  Yet a distinct Palestinian deontology asserts a 'justice principle' that contradicts Israel's – most clearly on the issues of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugee rights – to the extent of delegitimizing Israel's very existence.

 

  

Evaluating Competing Explanations of Iraq's 1990 Invasion of Kuwait

November 2007

 

Iraq occupied Kuwait in 1990, writes Andrew Parasiliti, "in an attempt to shore up its declining power and influence" vis-à-vis its Mideast neighbors.  Though he makes his case by plotting Iraqi power relative to seven other Mideast states over the course of four decades, he also cites Saddam Hussein's speech to his Revolutionary Command Council in January 1991.  This speech does not contradict Parasiliti's portrayal of an Iraq preoccupied with its relative strength, but Saddam's remarks fit equally well into F. Gregory Gause's argument that the Iraqi dictator feared an absolute loss of his regime to external conspirators. 

 

  

A Philosophical Case for Boycotting a Fatah-Hamas Unity Government

November 2007

 

“Nearly two weeks ago, Hamas and Fatah, the two leading Palestinian political factions, concluded negotiations in Mecca by agreeing to form a national unity government.  Their pact represents a major victory for the harder-line group Hamas – the more moderate Fatah agreed to lend it legitimacy through the coalition government, but Hamas, which Israel and many other Western states list as a terrorist group, refused to temper its extremism.

 

  

Critique of Said's Orientalism and Lockman's Contending Visions of the Middle East

November 2007

 

Edward Said's polemic Orientalism – echoed by Zachary Lockman's Contending Visions of the Middle East – suffers from epistemological flaws which, when combined with its methodological errors and self-contradictions, cast significant doubt on its arguments.

 

 

 






 
 
(c) 2010 Jacob Jaffe