- Editor’s Note
The Middle East remains a focus of much of the world’s attention, with tensions between Israel and Iran, the continuing agony of Syria, and ongoing political evolution in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. This issue does not address those events directly, but does, I hope, offer useful scholarly background for understanding the present context.
Our first article is something of a departure from our usual one, but offers the first part of a two-part study that breaks new ground in understanding Israel’s military and its origins. Oren Barak and Eyal Tsur, in “Continuity and Change in the Social Background of Israel’s Military Elite,” have assembled a database on the social background of senior Israel Defense Forces personnel from the foundation of the state to the present, and here offer their interpretation of their data. The role of the IDF in Israeli society needs little introduction, but understanding what goes into the formation of the officer corps offers new insight on the men who lead the country’s military.
Also in the Israeli-Palestinian arena but from a very different perspective, Omri Arens and Edward Kaufman examine the potential for the use of nonviolent struggle by Palestinians in seeking to establish a Palestinian state. It’s a nuanced study with an argument to make, and I hope readers, whatever their personal perspective, will find it an important contribution to the debate.
The role of the Turkish Armed Forces in politics has changed dramatically in recent years, with civilian control of the military increasingly in evidence. But the Armed Forces have retained “informal” means of influence, and F. Michael Wuthrich examines a number of cases demonstrating how this influence is exercised on the media.
As the Arab world deals with the aftermath of the movements generally discussed under the rubric of the “Arab Spring,” the exact role of Islamic parties in emerging democracies is of growing interest. Juris Pupcenoks looks at two previous case studies, Pakistan and Turkey, and extrapolates some lessons. He refers to the “Subtle Islamization” under the AKP in Turkey, comparing and contrasting it with the “Conflicted Repressive Islamization” experienced in Pakistan.
Turning to a country where the changes wrought by “Arab Spring” or the “Arab Awakening” are still under way, Yemen, Robert E. Mitchell offers “What the Social Sciences Can Tell Policy-Makers in Yemen.” It emphasizes a theme that is close to our core mission here at the Middle East Institute: understanding the importance of a thorough and nuanced understanding of a country’s social and cultural context as critical tools in the formation of policy.
Returning to Israel and Palestine, this issue’s review article, by As’ad Ghanem, deals with five recent books on Palestinians in Israel within the Green Line, the people usually referred to as Israeli Arabs, and their changing roles and attitudes. I hope you find the issue rewarding. Also, the Middle East Institute’s website at http://www.mei.edu has been revamped and redesigned, and I urge you to take a look at it. I think you’ll find it a great improvement. My daily blog at the MEI Editor’s Blog will be moving onto the new site soon, but for now is still found at http://mideasti.blogspot.com. [End Page 209]