International Relations Scholarship, Academic Institutions and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict


Political Science & International Affairs

Document Type


Publication Date



This paper explores the role of academic scholarship and practice in constituting, aggravating, and resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The first section of the paper examines how scholarly discourse and methods of analysis contribute to shaping (mis)understandings of on-the-ground conflict dynamics. To demonstrate this point, the paper first overviews conventional social science methods used in mainstream international relations (IR) scholarship that tend to reify, freeze and homogenize 'the conflict' as well as conflict parties and then uses a different scholarly approach—namely a processual, peace-studies-oriented methodology—that provides a very different 'picture' of the conflict, its parties and appropriate strategies of engagement in the pursuit of peace. The second section of the paper uses three brief case studies to demonstrate how Israeli and Palestinian academics help constitute 'the conflict' and its parties not only through their scholarship but also through their 'practice'. These examples also show the importance of re-evaluating analytical models to include contextual dynamics such as time, place and sources of available power as well as to recognize the diversity of Palestinian and Israeli views regarding the sources of—and best approaches for addressing—'the conflict'.