Securing sovereignty from abroad: Constructing diaspora as a security solution
My four-year research project examines variation in the stances adopted by economically developed states vis-à-vis those members of the nation who reside abroad, co-citizens or co-nationals. Current literature on nation-building and migration politics focuses on how states treat minorities and migrants within their territories. In contrast, I ask what factors explain the policies of states vis-à-vis those members of the nation who reside abroad. I develop a theoretical model that distinguishes between territorial and extra-territorial nation-building and argue that states design their policies toward the nation abroad based on foreign policy and security considerations. Through a within-case comparison of Israel and Turkey and drawing on extensive archival research, in-depth elite interviews, and discourse analysis of varied sources, I find that security threats framed in terms of territorial integrity motivate states to ignore their co-nationals abroad or invest in their return. However, threats framed in terms identity and legitimacy motivate states to invest in nation-building abroad.
This project, thus, identifies how threat perceptions of state elites motivate them to refashion the relationship between the state and the nation. Whereas conventional wisdom claims that states respond to globalizing pressures by reinforcing territorial borders, I show that state elites simultaneously promote a de-territorialized imagination of the nation as a new source of legitimacy. Methodologically, the project offers a systematic examination of Israel’s and Turkey’s security discourses. Rather than deductively assume security concerns based on geopolitical conditions, I analyze primary sources in Hebrew and Turkish to inductively trace how political elites identify security threats and respond through policy choices.
This project is funded by the Israel Science Foundation (ISF), grant no. 479/20.
"Saving face" Strategies following cyber intrusions in the Middle East (with Gil Baram)
How do states react to cyber intrusions? Recent scholarship demonstrates that the covert nature of cyber intrusions allows states to respond with restraint, avoiding escalation. But what happens when cyber intrusions become public and are highly visible? This article examines the rhetorical strategies employed by Arab-speaking states in the Middle East to mitigate the image-related costs associated with a public cyber intrusion. Drawing on the conceptual language of image-repair and crisis communication theories and on an original discourse analysis in Arabic, we identify diminishing, self-complimenting, and accusing strategies used by states to “save face.” Further, the findings indicate that intrusions involving leaking or faking information bring about unique “face-saving” strategies that do not only deal with the intrusion itself but also with the subsequent information crisis. Overall, the article advances two main contributions. Theoretically, in contrast to existing IR literature, that focuses on “saving face” strategies following normative transgressions (“naming and shaming”), this analysis examines such strategies in the context of victimhood, after being cyber attacked. Politically, by focusing on the symbolic and image-related responses to cyber intrusion, this analysis explains an important mechanism through which cyber warfare is kept contained.
Whose Critique Matters? Critic Identity, Audience, and Public Opinion (with Anil Menon and Abir Gitlin)
The goal of this study is to examine how individuals respond to and evaluate criticism regarding their human rights’ record based on the context in which such criticism is delivered, specifically the identity of the criticizer and the audience hearing the criticism. Focusing on Israel, one of “the most common targets of the global spotlight” when it comes to human rights concerns (Hafner-Burton 2008, 691), the study assesses two questions. First, does a critic’s identity – whether they are a member of the ingroup, diaspora, or outgroup – independently affect evaluations of the critic and the criticism? Second, does the stated audience to whom this criticism is delivered – either to an ingroup or outgroup audience – shape these evaluations? We tackle these questions using an original survey experiment that manipulates both the identity of the critic and the audience hearing the criticism.
“A Jewish Atom Bomb”: The Construction of a Scientific Diaspora (with Or Rabinowitz-Batz)
The nexus between transnational mobilization and Science and Technology Studies has become a productive research site to study the formation of scientific activism, the influence of mass mobilization on scientific developments, and the utilization of science for governments’ goals. This article studies the attempts of Dr. Chaim Weizmann, a prominent chemist and a Zionist leader, to utilize the Jewish involvement in the American nuclear project as a political lobby abroad as well as a scientific resource for the “homeland.” Empirically, the article draws on new archival evidence and uncovers the hitherto unknown early efforts of the Zionist movement to achieve nuclear energy. Theoretically, rather than starting the analysis with a scientific-diasporic network ready to be mobilized, we trace the micro-level attempts to animate or construct a “scientific diaspora.” Situated within the literature on STS and social movements in addition to the literature on "science diplomacy," the analysis bridges them together by studying selective mobilization in the context of a national movement.
"Servant of Many Masters": The Multiple Commitments of State-agents (with Gadi Heimann and Zohar Kampf)
Personal commitments are a ubiquitous but undertheorized phenomenon in the everyday wheels of world politics. While resonating with multiple threads in International Relations Theory, the role of individuals' commitments in statecraft, diplomacy, and foreign policy has hardly been addressed in and of itself. Building on the recent focus on individual-level explanations in IR as well as on the everyday dimensions of world politics, the article offers a comprehensive theorization of commitment and demonstrates its omnipresence in the decision-making processes of state-agents. Following a conceptual discussion on commitment, we examine the factors that shape how state-agents manage their multiple commitments, paying specific attention to moments of tension between two or more commitments. Finally, relying on Israeli, French, and EU diplomatic archives, we examine three case studies that show how and why state agents dedicate time, energy, and resources to advance interests other than those of the state.