Lone Actor Political Violence in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Causes, Target Selection, and Consequences Restricted; Files & ToC

Arnon, Daniel (Summer 2021)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/jd472x38m?locale=en


While lone actor political attacks have increased in prominence in recent years, they remain enigmatic. Do they arise as a result of systematic grievances or are they simply idiosyncratic? Why would they sometimes target hardened security forces and other times civilian targets? Do their attacks affect the political behavior of their target population? This three paper dissertation explores these questions, using original data on the wave of lone actor violence enacted by Palestinians against Israelis in 2015-2016. The dissertation argues that lone actors emerge systematically as a result of grievance events, explored in the first paper. While both national and local grievances are associated with their emergence, in the second paper I show that the experience of each motivates different target selection. Local grievances lead to personal trauma and result in expressive violence manifested in civilian targeting, whereas national grievances result in selecting targets that symbolize the state. I then turn to explore how their attacks affect voting patterns, comparing localities affected by such violence with those that weren't. I show that attacks on one hand increase participation in the following elections, but also increase voting for right-wing parties. This dissertation illustrates the role of political violence in driving actors to change their political behavior. On one hand, state violence systematically radicalizes lone actors to commit political violence, and the differences in how grievances are experienced drive the variation in their target selection. In turn, lone actor political violence also radicalizes their targets. Rather than manifesting as political violence, the presence of a democratic state which channels the traumas experienced by the targets of lone actor political violence leads individuals affected by it to engage more in the political system, but they do so by supporting more exclusivist political parties in retaliation against their perceived offender. 

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