Gilad, Sharon, Saar Alon-Barkat, Chagai M. Weiss. “Bureaucratic Politics and the Translation of Movement Agendas.” Forthcoming in Governance.

Research on social movement outcomes focuses on the publicly visible stages of government policymaking, involving legislative agenda-setting, lawmaking and spending. It rarely opens the black box of government’s translation of movement demands beyond the agenda-setting stage and before their materialization into legislative bills. Employing a bureaucratic politics perspective, we suggest that bureaucrats play a central role in translating movement agendas into concrete problems and policy solutions, which they tend to link with their bureaus’ missions and existing programs. We further suggest that relative consensus among bureaucrats, and politicians’ disinclination to intervene in the translation process, tends to advantage conservative interpretations of movement agendas, whereas inter-bureau confrontation and political intervention is associated with more radical policy responses. Empirically, we examine the responses of the Israeli government to the large-scale mobilization, in 2011, surrounding the rising costs of housing and living. We build on archival research and interviews with senior bureaucrats located in eleven central-government ministries.

Rock, Jonathan, Chagai M. Weiss & Dan Miodownik. “Geographies of violence in Jerusalem: The spatial logic of urban intergroup conflict.Political Geography, 66 (2018): 88-97.

This paper assesses how spatial configurations shape and transform individual and collective forms of urban violence, suggesting that geographies of urban violence should be understood as an issue of mobility. We document and map violent events in Jerusalem, assessing the possible impact of street patterns: segmenting populations, linking populations, and creating spaces for conflict between the city's Jewish and Palestinian populations. Using space syntax network analysis, we demonstrate that, in the case of Jerusalem, street connectivity is positively associated with individual violence yet negatively associated with collective violence. Our findings suggest that understanding the logic of urban intergroup violence requires us to pay close attention to local urban morphology and its impact on intergroup relations in ethnically divided and heterogeneous environments.

Work in Progress

Weiss, Chagai M. “Linking the Battlefield and the Ballot-box: The Causal Effects of Combatant Deaths on Voting Behavior.

What are the electoral costs of conflict? Recent studies of the American electorate offer that voters punish incumbents for combat casualties. Nonetheless, these advances suffer from limitations relating to the specification of mechanisms and identification of causal effects. In this paper, I identify the effects of combatant deaths on voting behavior in Israel, and test the plausibility of mechanisms relating to changes in political preferences and turnout. Employing a difference-in-difference strategy, I identify the negative effect of combatant deaths on support for incumbents. I further show that this effect is likely associated with the electorate’s shift towards hawkish parties. My findings are in line with the expectations of existing theories, but cast doubt on the commonly assumed mechanism that decreased support for incumbents is driven by dovish sentiments and casualty aversion preferences. Alternatively, the Israeli electorate is shown to vote against incumbents in order to elect more hawkish political alternatives.

Weiss, Chagai M. “Can Brief Intergroup Contact Affect Attitudes? A Natural Experiment in Israeli Emergency Medical Clinics.”

In many societies, even when segregation or conflict are pronounced, brief intergroup contact in busses, markets, shops and hospitals is prevalent. Such contact is often theorized as a force influencing intergroup attitudes as well as voting behavior and violence. Despite the prevalence of such intergroup contact, and despite the prominent role of contact in multiple theoretical frameworks of ethnic politics, there is little evidence regarding its causal effects. Exploiting the random assignment of patients to doctors in medical clinics in Israel, and leveraging a treatment evaluation survey, I introduce a natural experiment suited to identify the causal effects of intergroup contact between Jewish (Palestinian) patients and Palestinian (Jewish) doctors. I further explore how doctors’ quality and patients’ partisan affinity moderate the effects of contact.

Getmansky, Anna & Chagai M. Weiss. War and Politics: How and Why Wars Affect Individual Level Attitudes and Behaviors

Do war-related casualties affect political attitudes? Do attitude shifts translate into changes in voting behavior? Evidence from the US and UK offers that exposure to conflict affects turnout, support for incumbent leaders, and views on key political issues. In this paper, we elaborate on the existing literature, analyzing public opinion and spatially-disaggregated voting data from Israel, to study the political consequences of the Yom Kippur War. What makes this war particularly informative is its unexpected eruption during an election year. At the time, The Israeli National Election Studies completed two waves of public opinion polls before the war, and three additional polls in the post-war period. Comparing pre- and post-war survey responses, we find that the war increased the salience of security problems compared to social and economic issues; it lowered public support for center-left incumbent leaders, and increased support for the hawkish right-wing opposition. Additionally, following the war, some respondents—especially those not involved in politics—exhibit a greater willingness to vote. To determine the behavioral consequences of attitudinal change, we supplement our public opinion study with a difference in difference analysis, to identify the causal effects of war-related localized combatant deaths on turnout and support for incumbent parties.

Finkel, Evgeny, Yonatan Lupu, Dan Miodownik & Chagai M. Weiss. “How Individual Actors Can Derail Group Conflicts

Do individual actors have the power to derail conflict dynamics, and influence patterns of violence? Many studies of ethnic conflicts and repression consider violence as an intergroup dynamic, entailing ongoing interactions between diverse actors including incumbent states, rebel groups, protesters and oppressed minorities. Shifts in patterns of violence, are often considered to be driven by strategic, practical or ideological motivations. However, at times independent actors, commit uncoordinated and unexpected attacks which fundamentally influence dynamics of conflict. Analyzing geo-located police data from Jerusalem, and exploiting what was an unexpected, and perhaps exogenous shock to intergroup relations in the city, we demonstrate how individual actors can radically shift conflict dynamics. Doing so, we show how the kidnapping and vicious murder in July 2014 of Mohamad Abu Hdeir, a young Palestinian resident of Jerusalem, influenced the prevalence, location and types of violence implemented by residents of one of the most contested cities in the world. Our evidence calls for a new understanding of conflict dynamics, which pays close attention not only to organized groups implementing different forms of violence, repression and resistance, but also to individual entrepreneurs which can change conflict trajectories independently.