William & Mary

Jaeger research considers cycle of violence

JaegerViolence between Palestinians and Israelis in the Middle East has a deep and long history, but the popular notion that both sides are engaged in a never-ending cycle of attacks and counter-attacks may be wrong, according to a recent report by David A. Jaeger, associate professor of economics and public policy at the College, and M. Daniele Paserman, assistant professor of economics at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In "The Cycle of Violence: An Empirical Analysis of Fatalities in the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict," the authors show that while Israel responds in a predictable way to Palestinian violence, the opposite is not the case.

"Our results suggest that the overall number of fatalities on both sides might be reduced if the Palestinians reduced their attacks against Israelis,” said Jaeger, but the factors determining the timing and magnitudes of the Palestinians’ actions are still an open question that requires further research."

In the course of their research, Jaeger and Paserman found that Israel responds violently quickly after Israeli deaths but did not find a significant response by the Palestinians to Palestinian deaths. While the overall level of violence on either side appears to have a deterrent effect, the authors did find that Israeli attacks that resulted in the death one of the leaders of a Palestinian faction reduced subsequent violence against Israelis.

Jaeger and Paserman examined the more than 3,300 Palestinian and 1,000 Israeli fatalities between September 2000 and January 2005. This report is the result of a collaboration that came about due to a chance meeting between the professors at a conference in Germany. There they discovered that each was working researching the same topic and examining the same data; they decided then to combine there efforts.