Published Research

The ‘Attribution Problem’ and the Social Construction of ‘Violence’: Taking Cyber Deterrence Literature a Step Forward. International Studies Perspectives (forthcoming)

Many scholars suggest that the difficulty of attaining cyber deterrence is due to the intrinsic characteristics of cyberspace. While this article does not aim to entirely refute this assertion, it suggests that the failure to successfully employ cyber deterrence is not determined by the technical challenges of cyberspace, but rather that the effects of these challenges are mediated through social context(s) and norms. To present this, I elaborate on the meaning of cyber deterrence, and suggest that a rethinking of this term allows us to better address the various actors involved in the practices of cyber deterrence, as well as to better describe the intersections between the cyber and kinetic means affecting these practices. Building on the concept of cyber deterrence and borrowing from the constructivist approach to IR, I focus on how anonymity and ‘violence’ are affected by social constructions and norms and in turn influence the success or failure of cyber deterrence. I briefly illustrate these assertions and their importance with regard to the case of Stuxnet.

Securitization Climax: Putting the Iranian Nuclear Project at the Top of the Israeli Public Agenda (2009-2012), Foreign Policy Analysis (forthcoming)

What happens to a securitized issue over time? In many cases, the issue goes through a process of de-securitization and ceases to be an existential threat. But in some cases, enunciators attempt to further securitize the issue, attracting public attention through dramatic means to bring it to a new climax. The aim of these securitizing actors is to justify taking more intensive exceptional measures than those taken previously in securitizing the same threatening issue. In this paper, I focus on the securitization of the Iranian nuclear project in Israel, which began in the 1990s. Although the issue was successfully securitized at that time, and has been maintained as a securitized issue for years, it reached a new peak during Prime Minister Netanyahu’s second government (2009-2013), particularly in 2012. I suggest that examining this case in developing the concept of securitization climax not only clarifies a number of aspects of politics, threat perception, and insecurity in Israel, but provides a more nuanced view of securitization dynamics.

 

The Limits of Securitization Theory: Observational Criticism and the Curious Absence of Israel, International Studies Review   16(3): 390-410.

Most discussions concerning how to evaluate theories make reference to empirical, methodological, logical, or normative criticisms. Less attention is given to how challenges in the theory itself affect the choice of cases. In this paper, I put forward the concept of observational criticism, which aims to trace biases in the empirical employment of a theory. While it overlaps with some of the criticisms mentioned above, observational criticism distinctly focuses on what we can learn about a theory through the prominence or absence of cases, or types of case, in the scholarship. To this end, I suggest a three-stage approach for this criticism and I demonstrate each of these stages, as well as the utility of this framework, through a consideration of securitization scholarship—and more specifically of how securitization studies have overlooked the case of securitization moves in Israel. I suggest that although the concept of securitization has generated a great many studies on various theoretical and empirical issues, and despite the prominence of security discourse and practices in Israel, securitization scholarship has tended to avoid studying the securitization processes of this country. Following this mode of criticism, I argue that securitization theory could be more easily implemented in the case of Israel by, among other things, further clarifying the meaning of securitization success and its duration.

Me and the Other in IR: An Alternative Pluralist International Relations 101, International Studies Perspectives 14(3): 235–254 (2013)

A gap is currently growing between the rich theories in IR and how they are presented in classrooms. Although the scholarly literature acknowledges the complexities of international relations, these notions are not fully integrated into IR courses, especially at the introductory level. I assert that teaching IR through the framework of relations between different me(s) and other(s) would address this problem. In short, I claim that international relations are almost by definition about interactions between a me and an other. Acknowledging this fact will allow us to sharpen a number of important issues and questions in world politics concerning the me(s) (e.g., states, ethnic groups, IGOs, NGOs, transnational communities) and their relevant other(s). I contend that this approach helps to capture the multiplicity of actors, interactions, and practices in IR, and to better connect them to the theories in the field. I further suggest that this approach not only provides a fruitful method for teaching IR, but it also allows scholars (and students) to rethink and reflect on the field.

 

Pacifization: Toward a Theory of the Social Construction of Peace, International Studies Review 15(2): 204–228 (2013)

Many studies have explored various aspects of peace, including what peace is, what peace should be, and how different factors influence the chances of achieving peace. Despite this wealth of information, the literature is quite silent about a process I term pacifization. Pacifization occurs when issues are framed and constructed as related to peace in order to justify policies. I suggest that recognizing and elaborating on pacifization allows us to explore how a framing of “peace” helps or hinders the chances of achieving peace. The aim of this paper is to sketch out the process through which pacifization occurs, to explain how and why such framings are used, and to distinguish among the main avenues in which issues can be pacifized. To these ends, I will rely on the extensive literature on securitization and adapt some of its notions to build the concept of pacifization.

 

Ontological Dissonance, Clashing Identities, and Israel’s Unilateral Steps towards the Palestinians, Review of International Studies 38(4): 809-833 (2012)

This article further conceptualises and empirically tests the concept of ontological security. This concept, which refers to an actor’s need to have a secure identity, has been used in International Relations (IR) mainly to study situations in which states face a threat to one of their identities. However, my focus here is on situations in which states are facing threats to a number of identities they hold, situations that result in what I term ontological dissonance. In such cases, not only are various distinct identities threatened, but the solutions to ease these threats are contradictory, forcing the state to choose between different cherished values. I contend that in such situations avoidance can become an attractive option for states in dealing with the difficulties arising from this dilemma. This theoretical framework is used to explain Israel’s unilateral steps toward the Palestinians in recent years. I argue that the terror attacks of the Second Intifada (2000–2005) represented more than a physical security threat to Israel. The attacks and Israel’s initial response to them aggravated threats to a number of Israel’s identities and, more importantly, emphasised existing and potential future clashes among these identities. As a result, Israeli policy makers advanced unilateral steps to reduce these threats and to ease the accompanying ontological dissonance. These unilateral measures can thus be understood as measures of avoidance, and as such they complicated further cooperation between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

 

The Emerging Fourth Wave of Deterrence Theory—Toward a New Research AgendaInternational Studies Quarterly 54(3): 705–732 (2010)

In this paper, I aim to review recent empirical and theoretical developments in the study of deterrence. I suggest that an emerging wave of literature currently represents a revival in this field. However, unlike the previous waves, in which theoretical and empirical questions were studied together (realism and nuclear deterrence), in the emerging deterrence literature these two are isolated from each other. The theoretical trend of this wave is evident in new constructivist and interpretative scholarship that explores the practices of deterrence and has provided significant insights, chiefly with regard to classical empirical questions of state versus state and nuclear deterrence. The empirical trend of this wave can be seen through the work of scholars who are considering how to deter ‘‘new’’ threats—such as terrorism, rogue states, and ethnic conflicts—mainly by incorporating the traditional realist approach to deterrence. By reviewing these two trends in the current wave of deterrence writing, I demonstrate the advantages of each and suggest that the study of deterrence may benefit from their integration.

 

Constructivist Methods: A Plea and Manifesto for Pluralism, Review of International Studies 35(1):  195-218 (2009)

My aim in this article is to improve the methodology of the modernist constructivist approach and to provide a more coherent, rigid, and systematic constructivist framework for research. I do this by combining the methods of process  tracing, discourse analysis, and counterfactuals. In addition, I aim to provide clearer methodological criteria for the evaluation of constructivist research by modifying some of the positivist criteria and adding the criterion of contextual validity. I assert that a more coherent methodology will strengthen and improve constructivist study and may contribute to better communication between constructivist and positivist scholars.