Interview – Jeremy Pressman


Dr Jeremy Pressman is an Affiliate Professor of Political Science and Director of this system in Center East Research on the College of Connecticut. His third and most up-to-date ebook is The sword is not enough: Arabs, Israelis, and the limits of military force (Manchester College Press, 2020). He has written journal articles about many matters together with the Camp David summit of 2000, the second intifada, the intersection of stone throwing and (non)violence, and annual Israeli and Palestinian speeches on the United Nationa. Pressman additionally co-directs the Crowd Counting Consortium and has co-authored items within the Washington Publish and elsewhere on the geographic scope and peaceful nature of the 2020 antiracism protests, the size of the 2017 Ladies’s March, and different points of protests in america. He was a Fulbright Fellow on the Norwegian Nobel Institute and was awarded a UConn Provost’s Award for Excellence in Group Engaged Scholarship (2019).

The place do you see probably the most thrilling analysis/debates occurring in your discipline?

What’s the way forward for Israel-Palestine? What’s one of the simplest ways to get to that endpoint? An unbelievable quantity is at stake for the individuals, the Palestinians and the Israelis. The state of affairs is just not symmetrical. Most Israeli Jews and a few Palestinians are capable of stay considerably regular lives by way of their social life, careers, and political rights (caveat: The earlier sentence is a generalization that deserves much more nuance in an extended explication). However that isn’t the case for thousands and thousands of Palestinians within the occupied West Financial institution and Gaza Strip who stay below repressive navy management, to not point out some Palestinian refugees involuntarily dwelling overseas, reminiscent of in Lebanon.  

For twenty years, the consensus resolution has been a two-state resolution. The European Union, the League of Arab States, Norway, Russia, the United Nations, america, and others have all endorsed the concept. Beginning in 2000 on the Camp David Summit, the events to the battle tried to achieve two states, however they’ve failed. If not two states, what? Israeli annexation of every part between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea and the perpetual denial of Palestinian rights? The Trump plan from January 2020 is known as a two-state resolution however is way nearer to the continued Israeli domination of Palestinian life. Or, one single state in that very same geographic spot with equal rights for everybody? Some form of confederal resolution that may or may not work? It stays to be seen; the controversy is in flux.

In my very own work, I’m additionally targeted on a query with which the historic aspect of the sector is grappling. Was the peace course of — the US-led negotiations which have taken numerous types for the reason that Seventies — ever designed to really resolve the Arab-Israeli battle, together with Israel-Palestine, in a mutually-agreeable vogue? Or was the method all the time so tilted towards Israel, Washington’s shut ally, {that a} mutually-agreeable resolution was structurally not possible? These inquisitive about these questions would possibly begin with William B. Quandt’s basic ebook, Peace Process, however there’s far more to learn and digest.

How has the way in which you perceive the world modified over time, and what (or who) prompted probably the most important shifts in your considering?

I’m repeatedly struck by a fundamental query: Does how we speak in regards to the world have an effect on how the world is? Is there a fabric actuality past our management, or do our perceptions and conceptual frames form and re-shape the world? I in all probability began out far more as a materialist however heard constructivist and different educational arguments that challenged my considering. Once I educate Introduction to Worldwide Relations, it is likely one of the core questions I need college students to consider and are available away fascinated by.

In my work on Israel-Palestine, for instance, I take into consideration the query by way of the proposed two-state resolution that will arise a State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel. Some analysts say {that a} two-state resolution is lifeless. Is it lifeless due to the bodily building of the massive Israeli settlement mission? Or is it lifeless once we say it, and all (or principally all) individuals agree it’s now not a viable possibility?

Donald Trump places one other twist on the query of how our rhetoric impacts our actuality, as a result of I tended to consider the query on account of educational debates. However here’s a right-wing politician, not a scholar, who seeks to impose his made-up understanding of actuality on the nation and the world. He and his spokespeople hardly ever appear constrained by the facts or science and even what they themselves have mentioned beforehand. He makes up tales and other people, going again to his days of calling journalists, however pretending to be another person aside from Donald Trump. The Trump administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic was an epic failure, but he said he did “an exceptional job.” He has satisfied tens of thousands and thousands of individuals to share his perspective, seemingly sturdy proof of how an influential chief talks in regards to the world does form how lots of people see that world.

You’re the co-director of the Crowd Counting Consortium (CCC), which collects knowledge on political crowds in america, reminiscent of protests and strikes. Earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic hit, what tendencies have been you seeing?

We’ve been gathering knowledge since January 2017. This has been a interval of large social mobilization in america. Consider all the large protests of the final virtually 4 years. The 2017 Ladies’s March, the March for Science, the 2018 Ladies’s March, the March for Our Lives, the Nationwide College Walkout, and local weather strikes. We might take a look at this as a response to the Trump administration and, at the least in 2017–2018, right-wing management of the three branches of the US authorities (till the US Home flipped to Democratic management within the 2018 midterm election). However we must always take into consideration longer-term tendencies too, reminiscent of large financial inequality, denigration of science, voter suppression, and the flood of weapons in US society. Generally persons are skeptical that protests matter. However proof suggests these large protest waves often have an impact on political outcomes like voting in future elections. For instance, Larreboure and González’s current working paper makes that argument with regard to the Ladies’s March and the 2018 election.

I’ve additionally been amazed on the myriad of issues that trigger individuals to protest. Sure, a few of these points must do with nationwide politics. However different individuals and teams are protesting a variety of native points as nicely, reminiscent of demanding extra college homework, saving bushes rather than constructing pickleball courts, and even expressing displeasure with their skilled sports group.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted protests within the US?

Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick and I’ve a pre-print (early draft) taking a look at how the subject material and, in some circumstances, techniques of demonstrations in the course of the April–Might 2020 lockdown shifted in america. Most protests have been both about higher public well being measures and getting extra PPE [personal protective equipment] or about urgent for alleviating well being rules and reopening many extra companies shortly. Sadly, the difficulty often was framed as defending public well being or reopening the financial system, relatively than what I feel is the fact, higher public well being success because the quickest pathway towards reopening the financial system. We want each, not one or the opposite. On the tactical degree, pro-public well being protestors practiced social distancing, held small protests, and generally turned to safer automotive caravans as an alternative of people-in-the-street protests. This summer season’s Black Lives Matter and antiracism protests have been beautiful of their dimension and scope despite – or possibly due to – the pandemic

You lately revealed a brand new ebook titled The sword is not enough: Arabs, Israelis, and the limits of military force (2020). Why has the usage of navy pressure been counterproductive in resolving the Arab-Israeli battle?

Let me emphasize two causes. Since utilizing navy pressure typically backfires, threatening and utilizing it may possibly make the state of affairs extra unsure, unstable, and harmful. Relying on precisely the way it performs out, which will are likely to push international locations towards extra confrontation relatively than reconciliation. Within the book, one such instance was the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the rise of Hezbollah; Israel-Hezbollah pressure and insecurity continues to this day.

Maybe extra importantly, a constant dedication to pressure and disinterest in negotiations and mutual concessions don’t create a receptive conceptual and political setting for introducing diplomatic off-ramps. Nations are very suspicious, thereby undermining or denigrating the prospect of negotiations. They worry diplomatic presents are a trick, a Computer virus. Even the good instance typically used to point out a daring Arab chief extending his hand in peace, Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat, demonstrates this level. First, in 1977, some within the Israeli institution initially have been skeptical when he made a suggestion to return from Cairo to Jerusalem and communicate earlier than the Israeli parliament to jumpstart the diplomatic monitor. Second, despite the fact that Sadat’s diplomatic transfer finally succeeded when Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1979, some Egyptians have been so indignant about Sadat’s abandonment of the navy route that they dramatically assassinated him in 1981.

Why do you imagine “the sword” (i.e., navy pressure) has been a extra engaging possibility for all sides within the Arab-Israeli battle than diplomacy?

A part of it’s the establishments and patterns of considering which have been constructed up over many years. A part of it, as I be aware in chapter two of the book, is that there are some historic examples that reinforce the worth of threatening and utilizing navy pressure. A part of it’s the manner wherein a realist world, a world of competitors, does seize a lot of what the world appears like right this moment, making it simpler to persuade individuals of the must be forceful. A part of it’s that in a cacophony of voices — Hamas and Fatah, a number of Israeli political events, many Arab interlocutors — it may possibly turn out to be onerous to listen to the conciliatory ones amidst all of the noise, anger, and threats.

What must occur to make diplomacy a extra engaging possibility for all events concerned within the Arab-Israeli battle?

In chapter six, I take into account the methods wherein negotiations can turn out to be extra outstanding, and listed below are two examples. One path is leaders in sturdy political positions who need negotiations and demilitarization. Leaders who’re prepared to compromise. This primary level does increase questions in regards to the respective roles of bottom-up or grassroots change versus top-down, leader-led breakthroughs. A second chance is mutual, cooperative steps that begin small however create a cooperative escalatory spiral (e.g., thinking of tit for tat).

Lately, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, and Bahrain signed the Abraham Accords on the White Home. What are your preliminary ideas or impressions? What are the strengths and limitations of the settlement?

In different posts, I’ve made two factors about these normalization agreements. First, at LSE’s Worldwide Historical past blog, I argue that the agreements haven’t been particularly historic in nature to date by way of the Arab-Israeli battle. Somewhat, it was a modest diplomatic achievement. I do admit many different analysts see a lot greater implications, together with for non secular dialogue within the area. Additionally, that they might be historic by way of regional strategic machinations is a separate level, in my opinion. Second, in a distinct article at Political Violence @ a Look, I query whether or not they really open or reinforce any clear pathway towards real Israeli-Palestinian negotiations or peace. I don’t see it.

I’d add a 3rd level shortly that isn’t about these agreements particularly. Most worldwide agreements Trump officers have introduced have been drastically exaggerated as soon as the precise affect turned clear, e.g., NAFTA 2.0, US-North Korea nuclear issues, and the commerce settlement with China. President Trump got here into workplace saying the Mideast deal can be Israeli-Palestinian. As an alternative, US-Palestinian relations have collapsed. They aren’t even talking to one another. These current normalization agreements could possibly be the exception when put next with different “agreements,” however we have now motive to forged a cautious eye, for now, to see how the agreements unfold and whether or not different Arab states reminiscent of Saudi Arabia take part.

What recommendation would you give to the winner of the upcoming US election on international coverage within the Center East?

That’s the hardest query but. I’ll preserve it easy. US coverage within the Center East is suffering from failures and errors which have resulted in nice human struggling. Determine tips on how to change that monitor report. If I’m fascinated by the concepts in my book, The sword is just not sufficient, a larger emphasis on negotiations and mutual concessions can be one main possibility, say not solely with Iran however actually additionally in Yemen, the place the civil conflict has been completely brutal.

What’s crucial recommendation you can give to younger students of Worldwide Relations?

Perceive why you imagine what you imagine or argue what you argue in a given piece, however be open to rethinking your ideas and your proof. Do your greatest to be constructive when discussing your work or the work of others. Speak to numerous totally different individuals; learn broadly. Worth your loved ones and social relationships. We frequently speak in regards to the disappointments, say article rejections, however don’t neglect to rejoice the triumphs after they come. Take recommendation from older students with a grain of salt; the world is dynamic.

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