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Professor to Examine Military's Role in Israeli Politics

As part of an ongoing lecture series on Israeli studies, Yoram Peri, a professor of political sociology and communication at Tel Aviv University, is scheduled to speak today at 4:00.

My argument is that what we have in Israel is a case where the politicians and military work in coalition.

This article was first published in The Daily Bruin.

By Lucy Benz-Rogers, Daily Bruin

AS PART of an ongoing lecture series on Israeli studies, Yoram Peri, a professor of political sociology and communication at Tel Aviv University, is scheduled to speak today on the unique role the Israeli military plays in the country's political system.

In his lecture titled "Generals in the Cabinet Room: An Introduction to the Political Crisis in Israel," Peri plans to attribute the significance of the military in the country's political sphere to Israel's history of conflict with many of its neighboring Arab states, including Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Syria, as well as with Palestinians.

As a result of this perpetual state of conflict, Peri said that the Israeli military has had great influence over the country's politics and that Israel's domestic policy is merely an extension of its foreign policy.

In his lecture, Peri said he plans to examine Israel's military power and how it has affected the country's foreign policy.

"I will try to show the uniqueness of the Israeli case, which I describe as the political-military partnership," he said of his aims for the lecture. "My argument is that what we have in Israel is a case where the politicians and military work in coalition."

Peri said he plans to discuss the role of the Israeli military within three different historical contexts: the peace process with the Palestinians in the 1990s, the Palestinian uprising in 2000 known as the Second Intifada, and recent conflict between Israel and Hezbollah last summer.

Peri described the military as more "dovish" than Israeli politicians, pointing out that the military is pursuing more peaceful relations with Syria.

"The fact that the military is involved in politics does not mean necessarily that the military pursues hawkish, militaristic objectives," he said.

UCLA political science Professor Leonard Binder said Peri was invited to speak because of his extensive study and experience in Israeli politics.

Binder noted that Peri was one of the first people to examine the close relationship between the Israeli military and Israeli politics.

"He pointed out how important and influential military experience was in (Israeli) politics," Binder said. "It was a breakthrough in analysis."

Peri has experience in the political sphere in Israel. He served as a political adviser to former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated in 1995, as well as the spokesman and European emissary for the Israel Labor Party, Israel's center-left political party.

Peri has also been involved with a number of organizations and think tanks, such as the United States Institute of Peace and the Carnegie Council, which is a nonpartisan institution funded by Congress that aims to prevent and resolve conflicts worldwide, according to its Web site.

Peri is also widely published, having written numerous articles and books.

His most recent book, titled "Generals in the Cabinet Room: How the Military Shapes Israeli Policy," addresses many of the same issues he will discuss in his lecture.

Leeron Morad, president of Bruins for Israel, said he believes Peri has a lot to offer to his audience in terms of experience and knowledge.

"Israel's academia is very talented and publishes a lot," Morad said. "It's great that a professor from Israel is coming to visit."

Peri said he hopes people will listen to his argument with open minds and will consider the complexity of the issues he addresses.

"We live in a complicated world where there is no black and white, only different shades of gray," said Peri.

Center for Near Eastern Studies