brym-and-araj - Palestinian Suicide Bombing Revisited: A...

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Palestinian Suicide Bombing Revisited: A Critique of the Outbidding Thesis © Robert J. Brym and Bader Araj (2006) Department of Sociology University of Toronto 6,325 words DO NOT QUOTE , CITE OR CIRCULATE WITHOUT THE AUTHORS WRITTEN PERMISSION We thank Samar Khaled for obtaining vital statistics tabulations and Malcolm MacKinnon for critical comments on a draft of this paper. Address all correspondence to Robert Brym, Department of Sociology, University of Toronto, 725 Spadina Avenue, Toronto M5S 2J4, Canada ( [email protected] ). The project on which this paper is based is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (File No. 410-2005-0026).
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1 Abstract Writing in Political Science Quarterly , Mia Bloom sought to explain variation over time in public support for Palestinian suicide operations during the second intifada . To that end, she proposed the outbidding thesis, which holds that suicide attacks are a currency for outbidding rivals in the competition for popular support. We derive testable hypotheses from Bloom’s work and find that public opinion data are inconsistent with the outbidding thesis. Accordingly, we propose an alternative theory that views suicide attacks as expressions of (1) competition between Palestinian organizations and the state of Israel and (2) cooperation among Palestinian organizations. From this point of view, support for suicide bombing is more a function of social solidarity than competition within the Palestinian community.
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2 The Outbidding Thesis Social scientists have argued that numerous factors motivate the outbreak of waves of Palestinian suicide attacks. These factors include the desire to (1) liberate occupied territory, (2) disrupt peace negotiations, (3) seek retaliation and revenge, and (4) win popular support by “outbidding” internal political competitors, using suicide attacks as a kind of currency in the bidding war. 1 Recently, an attempt has begun to disentangle the factors listed above by showing that their importance varies in different circumstances. 2 In this paper we continue that effort by focusing on the outbidding thesis, most forcefully stated by Mia Bloom in Political Science Quarterly . 3 Our analysis leads us to conclude that the explanatory power of the outbidding thesis is considerably weaker than Bloom makes it appear and that an alternative explanation is required. We propose an alternative below. Bloom’s goal is to “account for the variance in public support for [suicide] operations over time.” 4 She attempts to do so by underlining the intense political competition that took place among Palestinian organizations in the context of widespread and mounting disillusion, anger, and despair at the end of 2000.
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2010 for the course GOV 365N taught by Professor Moser during the Fall '06 term at University of Texas.

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brym-and-araj - Palestinian Suicide Bombing Revisited: A...

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