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October 31, 2008

Statistical Analysis Refutes Cycle of Violence Analogy

pbs frontline cycle of violence.JPG

Snapshot of PBS web site advertising Frontline program titled "Cycle of Violence" in April 2002

A statistical analysis published in American Economic Review (Sept. 2008 edition) refutes the portrayal of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a cycle of violence. Economists David A. Jaeger and M. Daniele Paserman used "daily frequency data to analyze the dynamics of violence during four years of the Second Intifada" from September 2000 to January 2005. The authors tested the evidence as to "whether the pattern of violence in the conflict should indeed be characterized as a cycle, in which violence by one party causes violence by the other party."

The authors found "there is little evidence to suggest that both sides of the conflict react in a regular and predictable way to violence against them. Rather we find that the direction of causality... runs only from violence committed by Palestinians to violence committed by Israelis, and not vice versa." They conclude "Overall we find strong evidence that the Israelis react in a significant and predictable way to Palestinian violence against them, but no evidence that the Palestinians react to Israeli violence. This stands in contrast to the popular notion that Israelis and Palestinians are engaged in a 'tit-for-tat' cycle of violence."

In explaning their results, the authors "suggest that the Palestinians may deliberately choose to randomize the timing of their response to Israeli violence...The effectiveness of terror attacks in disrupting day-to-day Israeli life is, almost by definition, greater if these attacks are unpredictable."

This study refutes the all too frequent depiction (see the screenshot promoting the PBS series above) of violence between Israelis and Palestinians as a cycle of violence and leads to a conclusion that Palestinian terrorist groups carry out acts of terrorism on their own timetable as a means to achieve political objectives and not as a response to Israeli actions.

Posted by SS at October 31, 2008 10:56 AM


This supports the complete record going back to May of 1948 that Israel's actions in this conflict have been overwhelmingly defensive in purpose as well as in action. It's no surprise that an analysis like this would reach a similar conclusion.

Posted by: pelican's-point [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 4, 2008 12:06 PM

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