New Initiative for Middle East Peace (NIMEP)

Model Research Projects

1. GIS As a Tool in the Analysis of the Israeli Security Fence - Elizabeth Haddad and Nina Cherny

Introduction: What is GIS?
A geographic information system (GIS) organizes data spatially. The idea behind it, simply speaking, is that natural features such as a mountain range or river and events such as an earthquake or flood, as well as human activities can be linked by their location. Such data can be geo-referenced through a set of common places or area names, or through location coordinates. Once data has been spatially organized, it can be used to study patterns of human activities and their impacts on the physical landscape. It can also be used to help respond most efficiently in times of natural disasters. Geo-referenced observations of activities such as fertility, mortality, disease, crop yields, roads, towns, administrative divisions, or a whole country can be examined individually or in any combinations and used to study patterns of human activities and their consequences.

Project Proposal
It is the aim of this project to use GIS tool to analyze the socio-economic and military implications of the proposed and existing sections of the Israeli security fence between Israel and the West Bank. GIS software will apply a combination of data layers to visualize the extent of the area in dispute, the types of resources at stake, and the populations who might be affected. The research will evaluate the sum of the implications of the fence in an unconventional way taking on an unbiased approach. The product can be used by both Israeli and Palestinian parties to determine how the existing/proposed security fence will affect their respective strategic and national goals. The final project can also help both Israeli and Palestinians determine for themselves if the proposed wall facilitates or is an impediment to peace in the Middle East.

2. The Future of the Old City of Jerusalem - Shai Gruber

This past summer, I conducted the first stage of an ongoing research project investigating the future of the city of Jerusalem. As the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues into the twenty-first century, the future of Jerusalem remains an issue central to the conflict’s resolution. For many, this is an issue that has stymied efforts at negotiation and contains elements that will prove impossible to settle, even during a comprehensive and conclusive final status negotiation. My project was interview-based, conducted under the auspices of the EPIIC Program and the Neubauer Scholars Program. The goals were as follow: First, to gain a general view of the situation and the various perspectives regarding the future of Jerusalem. Secondly, to establish myself in this area by creating a list of contacts including prominent former officials, negotiators, scholars, journalists, heads of NGOs, and others.

Initially, I intended to focus on the following eight major issue areas: 1.) Historical circumstances and events that have impacted the life of the city, shaping it as we know it today; 2.) Interactions between Christianity, Islam, and Judaism with regard to the physical location of holy sites and each religion’s interpretation of the importance of the city; 3.) The influences and legacies of key individual actors, including those in local, city, and federal positions; 4.) Governance and sovereignty; 5.) Economic viability; 6.) Security; 7.) Infrastructure; and 8.) Varying visions for the future of the city. I developed a comprehensive reading list that I plan to continue using and changing as I continue working on this question.

Jerusalem is a complex issue I aim to look at comprehensively, continually particularizing my focus on areas I believe most crucial. Along these lines, the next step in my research is to take the major conclusion from my previous work and to examine it in detail. From my interviews I discovered that each individual has his or her own variation on which aspect of Jerusalem is the most controversial and important to solve. However, one thing that each interviewee can agree upon is the difficulty of either dividing or sharing the Old City. As the Chief of Staff of the Jerusalem Police Force stated, “The buildings of the Jewish Quarter kiss, I mean kiss, wall to wall, the Muslim Quarter. Talk with me about separation or division of these territories. It is impossible, it is impossible.”

This impossibility is the next step in my research. I intend to investigate the Old City, its development from the first city in pre-Davidic times to the Jerusalem we know today. Historical and archaeological data can provide a wealth of information, especially the experiences gleaned from the first division of Jerusalem until 1967. This will be mainly a historical analysis with an eye toward implications upon current policies. Of particular interest will be the current Israeli policing and security policies/actions. Bonnie Rose Schulman – Replacing the Social Welfare Providing Aspects of Terrorist Groups

The claim is often made that terrorism attaches its poisonous tentacles to the deplorable living conditions of the oppressed, that terrorism is the direct result of realities of poverty and feelings desperation. Like two sides of a coin, the revolting face of terrorism is fueled by honorable actions— many terrorist organizations derive their local support by simultaneously serving as social welfare providers to an impoverished civilian population. I am interested in examining the different social welfare programs provided by terrorist organizations in the West Bank and Gaza, with the hopes of assessing ways in which these programs can be replaced by forces within the United States. Much of the popular support for these terrorist organizations is comprised of families who depend on the resources provided by these organizations for survival. If this network of dependency can be splintered, terrorist organizations will be considerably weakened by the ensuing decrease in popular support. Both governmental and non-governmental sectors within the United States would benefit from recommendations as to how they can contribute to breaking such cycles of violent dependency.

I intend to spend the next two months researching the historical dimension of these popular social welfare services, and I hope to use my time in the contested region this winter learning of the intricacies and effects of these programs firsthand.

3. Media Project - Lauren Fein

The role of children's media in creating and fostering stereotypes of certain groups can be a critical issue in inter-group conflict situations, especially where the rising generation often only has contact with the other group through television and other media images. In Israel, the portrayal of Arabs in children's television may significantly contribute to the cognitive schema that frame the way Jewish Israelis view Arabs, within and beyond their borders. To address this issue, my research will assess the representations of Arabs in Israeli children's television and explore the repercussions of these representations as they pertain to the way that the next generation of Israelis may interact with their Arab neighbors.

Project Goals (including end-product)
The goals of this project are to assess the characterization of Arabs in the Israeli children's media and examine the implications of these depictions on the cognitive frameworks of the young viewers. Although this issue is a small part of a greater problem, I hope that my research will draw attention to the need to evaluate the way in which stereotypes can affect future leaders in the region by shaping the way that Israelis view their Arab counterparts. Ultimately, I will explore alternative approaches to characterization of Arabs in Israeli children's television aimed at enhancing non- stereotypical Arab characters. The end product will be in the form of a paper and ideally a presentation to raise awareness of the issue.

4. Non-Violent Movements in Palestine: Blueprint for US support - Negar Razavi

From the beginning of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict there have been those who have argued that nonviolent tactics need to be used by the Palestinians to legitimize their cause. During the first Intifada, nonviolent protests were used quite frequently. Many of these movements were supported or led by Palestinian women. This can possibly be attributed to the conflicting roles that these women play in this society. As mothers, sisters and wives, they are caregivers that fear the violence and death that is brought on through this struggle; at the same time, however, they want to see justice, dignity and peace brought to their people as concerned and active citizens. During the latest wave of violence and bloodshed, nonviolent protest seems to have lost its strength. This is interesting to examine in light of the growing number of female suicide bombers who are finding equality in their societies through their commitment to violence.

The Research:
First it is important to understand the history of nonviolence among the Palestinian people and more specifically among Palestinian women. Furthermore, it is important to examine how these movements can spread among a people now trapped in a cycle of violence and retaliation. This is a huge challenge considering the misogyny prevalent in Islamic societies. Furthermore, it is difficult to frame nonviolent movements in an Islamic context. Islam can be interpreted as a religion of peace; however, most people believe that Islam condones violence and more specifically jihad against non-believers. The women’s nonviolent movements must struggle with both of these challenges.

Because I am doing this also as part of EPIIC, I am going to question the role the US plays in fostering these types of movements. Also, it is important to understand how nonviolence may change US attitudes toward the conflict.

5. NIMEP Research Proposal - Aaron Markowitz-Shulman

Topic: Disarmament issues and a future Palestinian state
In keeping with NIMEP’s theme of promoting research with a focus on establishing peace, I will be examining two issues related to disarmament that are critical to a viable peace agreement.

Issue 1: Demilitarized Palestinian state
Any future agreement is going to require that the Palestinian state be demilitarized. This presents a number of unique challenges. How do we monitor and enforce such an agreement? How do we provide security assurances for the Palestinian state? How do we strike a balance between arming a police force and not arming militant groups?

Issue 2: Disarming terrorist groups
The territories are currently awash in small arms, explosives, and increasingly sophisticated mortars. The weapons are stolen, smuggled, or part of PA arsenals. A future agreement will also require that militant groups disarm. I will be exploring different methods of weapons collection and smuggling prevention.

Location of Research: This research will take place primarily at the London School of Economics, and under the advisement of Mr. Nicholas Sims an expert in the field of disarmament. Additional on-site research will take place on the NIMEP fact-finding mission to Israel/Palestine.

Potential Primary Sources:

Tim Phillips - consultant to North Irish and Sri Lankan peace processes
Boutros Boutros - Ghali – former UN Secretary General, author of “An Agenda for Peace” and proponent of small arms control
Ami Ayalon - former director of Israeli Shin-Bet
Michael Klare - professor at Hampshire College, expert on light weapons

6. Alternative Models of Right of Return - Matan Chorev

This research project combines literary review with expansive interviews of experts in an attempt to formulate a progressive and workable approach to the stalemate over the Right of Return of Palestinian refugees. Accounting for issues of demographics and ideology, I hope to produce a comprehensive volume that can serve as the ultimate source for those interested in this issue. While summarizing the proposals that are part of the public debate, we will also attempt to infuse new and lesser known ideas that might be more feasible.