Research Proposal #8: Qualitative Data Sources for Interpretivist Research

From the interpretivist perspective of my project, I am proposing to research intraethnic conflict because I want to find out how it was made possible that the two-state solution is perceived differently by Fatah and Hamas in order to help my reader better understand the differences in perceptions of Palestinians in Gaza and Palestinians in the West Bank. While, of course, Israel plays a role in this two-state solution, I want to analyze if the difference in discourse towards what the two state-solution means to Hamas and Fatah might play a role in their intraethnic conflict.

While the two do not differ in the agreement in terms of land, the discourse of the two parties proves they approach the two-state solution along the 1967 borders quite differently. In a joint-statement with President Trump, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority (and therefore the leader of Fatah) says, in regard to a two-state solution with Israel, “[it would be a] historic deal to bring about peace…if we create peace that is just and comprehensive, that will also lead the Arab and the Islamic countries to have normal relations with Israel…” [1] Fatah’s official discourse seems to have conceded that Israel has a future within the Arab world. This discourse presented by the leader of Fatah seems that a two-state solution, with Palestine having its own state along the 1967 borders, would be enough to achieve the goal of Palestinian statehood. It also inherently includes Israel in a Palestinian future for Abbas says that this deal would bring about peace. [2]

Hamas’s discourse towards the two-state solution is quite different. As reported by Al Jazeera, a document released by the leaders of Hamas “will accept the 1967 borders as the basis for a Palestinian state.” [3] This is coupled with Hamas’s unwillingness to recognize the state of Israel nor relinquishing its goal of “liberating all of Palestine.” [4] While this discourse mirrors Fatah’s in its want for a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders, it’s quite clear that this agreement does not seem to fully achieve the goal of the Palestinian state for Hamas as it would for Fatah. Rather, this deal seems as if it would be the first step in achieving Hamas’s ultimate goal.

The discourse of the two organizations have quite different perceptions of what a two-state solution would mean for their shared goal of a Palestinian state, allowing the conclusion that there is discourse at stake to be researched. When considering the interaction between these discourses, one can easily see a stark difference in how Fatah and Hamas view the Israeli state, and its future with a Palestinian state, and how this difference, through discourse, might enable intraethnic conflict.

Further research would attempt to find how this discourse, and its differences, was made possible. I might start with interviews of leaders of both organizations and how, throughout the years, they have discussed a deal with Israel. I would also include newspapers in Gaza and the West Bank and analyze how the two-state solution is discussed.

 

Footnotes

  1. White House, “Remarks by President Trump and President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority in Joint Statement,” Transcript, <https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-president-abbas-palestinian-authority-joint-statement/> (Accessed: 10 November 2019).
  2. Ibid.
  3. Associated Press. “Hamas accepts Palestinian state with 1967 borders,” Al Jazeera, May 2 2017, <https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/05/hamas-accepts-palestinian-state-1967-borders-170501114309725.html> (Accessed: 10 November 2019).
  4. Ibid.

Bibliography

Associated Press. “Hamas accepts Palestinian state with 1967 borders,” Al Jazeera, May 2 2017. <https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/05/hamas-accepts-palestinian-state-1967-borders-170501114309725.html> (Accessed: 10 November 2019).

White House. “Remarks by President Trump and President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority in Joint Statement,” Transcript. <https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-president-abbas-palestinian-authority-joint-statement/> (Accessed: 11 November 2019).

Research Portfolio #7: Qualitative Data Sources

My small-n research project will research the question of what explains the difference in success or failure of initiatives for peace within ethnic groups after intraethnic violence. I specify “initiative for peace” rather than peace treaty for the fact that my first case, the Good Friday Agreement, is an agreement [1], while the second case, the Palestinian Cairo Declaration, is declaration [2]. Yet the distinction does not impact the validity of the research because both capture efforts to sustain peace.

My dependent variable will be the success or failure of initiatives for peace as measured by the resurgence of large-scale violence after the initiative had been established. Failure will be determined if there has been an instance in which multiple members of an ethnic faction, backed by their leaders, attack members of a different faction since the establishment of the peace initiative. Success will be determined if an event as such does not happen. Failure does not include lone wolf attacks in the name of said groups for they are not representational.

My first case will be the Good Friday Agreement between the Irish, signed in 1998. I recognize that this was an agreement signed by both Great Britain and Ireland, yet its second article deals solely with the intraethnic conflict of the Irish. [3] As noted by former leader of Sinn Féin, Gerry Adams, in reflecting on 20 years after the signing of the agreement, this agreement was a success for there has not been large-scale conflict between the Irish since the agreement’s establishment. This is not to say that there has not been conflict politically because there undoubtedly has been. But violence as a result of this conflict has been absent since the Good Friday Agreement. [4] This datasource qualitatively operationalizes my variable for it is a statement by a politician directly involved in the Good Friday Agreement negotiations as well as its results.

My second case is the Palestinian Cairo Declaration that was signed in 2005 by 12 Palestinian factions  as a means to outline collective goals and sustain peace between the factions. [5] This initiative for peace was undoubtedly a failure. Hamas gunmen attacked Fatah’s headquarters in Gaza with rockets and grenades. The response was Fatah firing bullets at and setting on fire the parliament and cabinet buildings controlled by Hamas in Ramallah. [6] The datasource here is a news article from the New York Times that determines failure in regard to my dependent variable because it clearly outlines how large-scale violence erupted within Palestinian society after the signing of a declaration for peace between the same groups fighting. Therefore, the conclusion can be drawn through this source that this initiative for peace did not work and was therefore a failure by the standards set by my research.

 

Footnotes

  1. The Good Friday Agreement. Belfast, 10 April 1998. Accessed on Wesley Johnson, 27 October 2019.
  2. Palestinian Cairo Declaration. Cairo, 19 March 2005.
  3. Good Friday Agreement.
  4. Gerry Adams. “The Good Friday Agreement Remains Bedrock for Progress,” Sinn Féin. <http://www.sinnfein.ie/contents/48925> (Accessed: 28 October 2019).
  5. Khan Younnis. “PFLP and DFLP urge Abbas to preserve the Cairo declaration, honor the call for PLO reform,” Ma’an News Agency, July 20, 2007, <http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=197737> (Accessed 27 October 2019).

Bibliography

Adams, Gerry. “The Good Friday Agreement Remains Bedrock for Progress,” Sinn Féin, April 10, 2018. <http://www.sinnfein.ie/contents/48925> (Accessed: 27 October 2019).

Good Friday Agreement, The. Belfast, 10 April 1998. Accessed on Wesley Johnson, 27 October 2019.

Palestinian Cairo Declaration. Cairo, 19 March 2005. Accessed on Miftah, 27 October 2019.

Younnis, Khan. “PFLP and DFLP urge Abbas to preserve the Cairo declaration, honor the call for PLO reform,” Ma’an News Agency, July 20, 2007. <http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=197737> (Accessed 27 October 2019).

Research Portfolio Post #6: Quantitative Data Sources

I am proposing to research intraethnic conflict because I want to find out what explains the different rates of violence in intraethnic conflict in order to help my reader better understand how intraethnic conflict might be mitigated or enhanced by different political, social, and economic factors.

To posit my puzzle as a large-n statistical question: What explains the variation of violence, or lack thereof, in intra-ethnic conflict?

While his article does not include a large-n data set, Brown creates a theoretical framework that can easilybe applied to a dataset. [1] Brown lists 12 possible factors that may create interethnic conflict: weak states, intra-state security concerns, ethnic geography, discriminatory political institutions, exclusionary national ideologies, inter-group politics, elite politics, economic problems, discriminatory economic systems, economic development and modernization, patterns of cultural discrimination, and problematic group histories.[2] In putting these factors within the context of a large-n statistical analysis, I would make these factors nominal independent variables. In creating my own data set I would get rid of “ethnic geography” since within intraethnic conflict there are no “ethnic” differences. I would also most likely make some variables more operational such as the degree to which there is economic development, not if it’s there or not. I would probably do the same with “weak states,” Another nominal variable I would add is external involvement in the area and break it down by economic, military, and political aid or intervention.

The dependent variable is intraethnic conflict occurring. To operationalize the variable, I would make it nominal by marking 1, 2, or 3 to denote non-violent conflict, semi-violent conflict, and violent conflict in each of my cases. I would then analyze patterns of the independent variables to see how the dependent variable is effected. Something I’d be particularly interested in analyzing is if there is an overbearing factor in every violent conflict, or if it’s rather that violence is a result only when there are x amount of factors involved.

The coverage of this dataset would include different intraethnic conflicts around the world, no matter the region in which they are taking place. The limitations of the data set is that with so many independent variables, there might not be data on every single variable for every case.

I’m excited to explore my puzzle from the neo-positivist lens for I have only been thinking about it from the interpretivist perspective.

 

Footnotes:

  1. Michael E. Brown. “The Causes of Internal Conflict” in Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict: Revised Edition, eds. Michael E. Brown, Owen R. Cote, Jr., Sean M. Lynn-Jones, & Steven E. Miller (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2001), 5-13.
  2. Ibid, 5.

Bibliography

Brown, Michael E. “The Causes of Internal Conflict” in Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict: Revised Edition, eds. Michael E. Brown, Owen R. Cote, Jr., Sean M. Lynn-Jones, & Steven E. Miller, 3-25. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2001.

Research Portfolio Post #5: Research Puzzle Proposal

  1. I am proposing to research the conflict between Hamas and Fatah in the Palestinian territories
  2. because I want to find out what explains the difference in approach of Hamas and Fatah to fulfill the same goals
  3. in order to help my reader how this conflict must be solved first before peace with Israel with possible OR in order to help my reader better how religion plays a role in ethnic conflict. (I’m not sure about the third part yet)

This topic is undoubtedly a puzzle due to the fact that history well establishes conflict between Hamas and Fatah. The most recent evidence of such is the post-2006/7 elections of Hamas and Fatah’s (really President Mahmoud Abbas’s) persistent pushing out of Hamas in the West Bank. While the two have attempted peace between themselves before through treaties, nothing has sustained. To this day, the two are at odds seeing Hamas rules Gaza and Fatah runs the Palestinian Liberation Organization, and therefore the Palestinian Authority, in the West Bank. Yet as proven by the charters of both, their foundations and goals are similar. Both legitimize and support violence in the name of the liberation of Palestine and neither of them call Israel by its name but rather when referencing it, call it the Zionist occupation and consider it an act of colonization. [1][2] The most obvious difference of the two charters is the focus, or lack thereof, of religion. In Hamas’s charter, there is a focus on unity through Islam [3]; whereas in Fatah’s the focus is on pan-Arabism. [4] Nevertheless, both discuss armed struggle as the only way to achieve the shared goal of a liberated Palestine. [5][6] So, I want to figure out what has created the difference in approach of the two organizations since their original charters; a difference so monumental that has led to armed conflicts between the two groups. This rift between the two main parties for Palestinians demands explanation simply because they butt heads so often and so violently, yet rule the same people with the same goals.

This topic is extremely important because, as Nathan Brown discusses, this schism between the two governments is fundamental to understanding Palestinian politics and therefore the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, yet is often unaddressed; rather international attention focuses on major diplomatic events. [7] While attending an event at the Washington Institute of Near Eastern Politics, Ambassador Dennis Ross asserted that peace between Israelis and Palestinians was impossible without the mending of the Fatah-Hamas conflict; not to create a party state or dictatorship, but rather that a solid government structure must be established in the Palestinian territories where transition of power is peaceful. [8] As written in the Shikaki and Scheindlin article, “Further, the geopolitical division between the Gaza Strip/Hamas and the West Bank/ Palestinian Authority (PA) and the inability to transition to a democratic political system and a pluralistic civil society constitute an impediment to mutual confidence-building with Israeli society.” [9] In other words, much of the great debates regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict come to the conclusion that the Fatah-Hamas conflict is a motivating factor to the lack of peace initiative. I don’t mean this to claim Israel has no part in peace; it undoubtedly does. Yet, Israel has a singular democratic government, with yes, different political parties, but free and fair elections with peaceful transitions of power. Palestine has two different governments with two approaches to dealing with Israel and no peaceful transition of power. Where Israel lays out its political differences through elections and campaigns, Hamas and Fatah have laid out their differences through armed conflict and violence.

I find this topic interesting and in need of research simply because there doesn’t seem to be much literature on the causes of their differences, only that such cleavages are present. Future literature must focus on the why in order to meaningfully understand the Palestinian predicament. Without such understanding, observers, and possibly Israelis, simply recognize the difference and see a fractured people. I wonder if the people are divided or rather they have a divided approach to shared goals; if this is true, further analysis is required of approaches to peace from the western or Israeli perspective. Research on said divisions could possibly lead to a larger conversation on oppressed and occupied peoples (occupation at least in the West Bank) or interethnic conflict. Seeing the focus of both Hamas and Fatah on zionism as colonialism (a claim that is patently untrue) as well as Fatah’s belief in pan-Arabism, my research may shed light on the larger Israeli-Arab conflict of the region. [10]

In conclusion, it’s obvious this conflict between Hamas and Fatah is fundamental to a better understanding of peace between Israel and Palestine. The two parties violently oppose each other and have entirely different approaches to collaboration with Israel; yet rule the same people and share the same foundations. [11][12] Therefore, to understand why these differences arise is a puzzle; and it’s a puzzle I’m excited to explore.

 

In regard to the 3rd bullet point of the assignment:

What explains interethnic conflict among oppressed peoples in the same state?

How do intense moments of tension between Israelis and Palestinians increase or decrease tensions between Israelis and the Arab world?

Why do Hamas and Fatah have such stark differences in their approach to peace with Israelis?

 

Footnotes:

  1. Hamas, The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement (18 August 1988). Accessed on 28 September 2019.
  2. Fatah, The Palestinian National Charter: Resolutions of the Palestine National Council (1-17 July 1968). Accessed on 28 September 2019.
  3. Ibid, Hamas, The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement.
  4. Ibid, Fatah The Palestinian National Charter: Resolutions of the Palestine National Council.
  5. Ibid, Hamas, The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement.
  6. Ibid, Fatah The Palestinian National Charter: Resolutions of the Palestine National Council.
  7. Nathan J. Brown, “The Hamas – Fatah Conflict: Shallow but Wide,” Fletcher Forum of World Affairs 34, no. 2 (Summer 2010), 35.
  8. Ambassador Dennis Ross. Book Talk on Be Strong and of Good Courage: How Israel’s Most Important Leaders Shaped Its DestinyThe Washington Institute for Near Eastern Policy, 5 September 2019.
  9. Dahlia Scheindlin and Khalil Shikaki. “Role of Public Opinion in the Resilience/Resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict.” Palestine-Israel Journal of Politics, Economics & Culture 24, no. 1/2 (January 2019), 66.
  10. Ibid, Fatah The Palestinian National Charter: Resolutions of the Palestine National Council.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Ibid, Hamas, The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement.

 

Bibliography

  1. Hamas, The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement (18 August 1988). Accessed on 28 September 2019.
  2. Fatah, The Palestinian National Charter: Resolutions of the Palestine National Council (1-17 July 1968). Accessed on 28 September 2019.
  3. Brown, Nathan J. “The Hamas – Fatah Conflict: Shallow but Wide,” Fletcher Forum of World Affairs 34, no. 2 (Summer 2010), 35-50.
  4. Ambassador Ross, Dennis. Book Talk on Be Strong and of Good Courage: How Israel’s Most Important Leaders Shaped Its DestinyThe Washington Institute for Near Eastern Policy, 5 September 2019.
  5. Shikaki, Khalil, and Dahlia Scheindlin. “Role of Public Opinion in the Resilience/Resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict.” Palestine-Israel Journal of Politics, Economics & Culture24, no. 1/2 (January 2019): 61–73.

Research Portfolio Post #1

I was thirteen the first time I was introduced to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Since that first introduction at summer camp I have been deeply interested in the conflict, studying its many aspects for the past six years. I’ve traveled to the region four times, the most recent of which was in August of 2019 where I was afforded the opportunity to speak with both Israelis in Israel and Palestinians in the West Bank.

While there are a range of different topics that must be further explored in relation to the conflict, one that I find particular interesting is the relationship between Hamas in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority, particularly Fatah, in the West Bank. When I went to the West Bank, I was able to meet with the City Director of Bethlehem as well as the Secretary General of Fatah in Bethlehem. In both of these conversations we discussed Hamas. In asking them questions about the relationship both answered relatively vaguely saying that it is difficult for the Palestinian Authority to share their message when such a passionate message of hate from Hamas is so easily spread. Both the Director and Secretary General seemed to agree that Hamas was not a friend, yet it is obvious both organizations are trying to achieve the same goal: a Palestinian state. With such similar goals, yet such different – a topic itself up for debate – ways of approaching, I want to delve deeper into what the relationship actually looks like. After attempting to understand this relationship, I want to analyze how it affects the prospects for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Something I know I won’t be able to research now, but hope to in the future, is democracy in the Palestinian territories. In the West Bank, the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen, was elected in to office in 2005 for a four year term yet no election has happened since. I wonder if at face-value this is bad but in the long-run could it be an effective means to peace, if Hamas is not in power.

Much of the research and books I have read do not focus on the relationship between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, yet have undoubtedly shaped my views of the conflict. While the book does not particularly touch on the relationship I hope to research, Ari Shavit’s My Promised Land presents an incredible self-reflection of the Zionist view and was really my beginning in to wanting to understand this conflict, rather than continue to simply learn about it. It is a great place for all to start when attempting to understand the complex conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

I find it important to continue to research this conflict, not simply because of its affects on both Israelis and Palestinians, but its undeniable effect on the greater Arab world. While I know my topic could change a multitude of times, I’m exciting to delve deeper in to this conflict, no matter what avenue I take.

 

Bibliography

  1. Shavit, Ari. My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel. Spiegel & Grau, 2013.