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"Policing Citizens: Minority Policy in Israel"


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On May 20, Professor Guy Ben-Porat of Ben-Gurion University discussed his new book, Policing Citizens: Minority Policy in Israel. It was followed by a conversation with Dr. Steven Popper of RAND, and then audience Q&A led by Professor Dov Waxman, director of the UCLA Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies.

About the Program

This webinar discussed policing and minority populations in Israel, including police behavior towards Palestinian/Arabs, Ethiopian Israelis, ultra-Orthodox Jews, and Russian immigrants. The program brought together Professor of Political Science Guy Ben-Porat from Ben-Gurion University and author of Policing Citizens: Minority Policy in Israel (with Fany Yuval, Cambridge 2019), and discussant and scholar, Dr. Steven W. Popper, Senior Economist at RAND and Professor of Science and Technology Policy in the Pardee RAND Graduate School.

The encounters between police and ordinary people are a display of citizenship, in its complexities and contradictions. Police discretion on whom to stop and question, separating those determined as normative civilians from those perceived a threat, pertains to existing divisions and stigmas that cut through citizenship. Citizens, who decide to approach police for help, or avoid police at all costs, display their own sense of trust - or lack thereof - in the state and its institutions.

Discussion originally recorded May 20, 2020


About the Book

What does police violence against minorities, or violent clashes between minorities and the police tell us about citizenship and its internal hierarchies? Indicative of deep-seated tensions and negative perceptions, incidents such as these suggest how minorities are vulnerable, suffer from or are subject to police abuse and neglect in Israel. Marked by skin color, negatively stigmatized or rendered security threats, their encounters with police provide a daily reminder of their devalued citizenship. Taking as case studies the experiences and perceptions of four minority groups within Israel including Palestinian/Arab citizens, ultra-Orthodox Jews and Ethiopian and Russian immigrants, Ben-Porat and co-author Fany Yuval are able to explore different paths of citizenship and the stratification of citizenship through relations with and perceptions of the police in Israel. Touching on issues such as racial profiling, police brutality and neighborhood neglect, their study questions the notions of citizenship and belonging, shedding light on minority relationships with the state and its institutions.

About the Participants

Guy Ben-Porat (author) is chair of the Department of Politics and Government at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beer Sheva, Israel. His research fields are international relations, comparative politics and public policy. In addition to Policing Citizens: Minority Policy in Israel (Cambridge University Press, 2019), co-authored with Fany Yuval, Ben-Porat is the author of Global Liberalism, Local Populism: Peace and Conflict in Israel/Palestine and Northern Ireland (Syracuse University Press, 2006), which won the Czempiel Prize, Frankfurt Peace Research Institute, and Between State and Synagogue: The Secularization of Modern Israel, (Cambridge University Press, 2013), winner of the Shapiro Best Book Award, Israel Studies Association, and the Israeli Political Science Association Best Book Award.. Ben-Porat is also editor or co-editor of numerous collective volumes and articles dealing with religion, state and secularization; multiculturalism and public policy, and conflict resolution.

He joined Ben-Gurion University in 2001 and has been a visiting professor in the United States (UC Davis and Northeastern), Canada (University of Ottawa), Italy (University of Venice), France (Sciences Po, Paris) and Japan (Hitotsubashi University). He holds a BA in political science and psychology from Tel-Aviv University and a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in Political Science and International Relations.


Steven W. Popper is a RAND Senior Economist, Professor of Science and Technology Policy in the Pardee RAND Graduate School, and in 2008 was appointed founding Director of the RAND Israel initiative.

 Popper served as the Associate Director of RAND’s Science and Technology Policy Institute, a federally funded R&D center, which provided analytical support to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and other agencies of the executive branch. He led a series of RAND projects for Israel’s government on domestic policing, strategy for the use of natural gas and future energy planning, and assisting the government of Israel to develop systems for engaging in long-term socioeconomic strategic planning.

Since 2010, Popper has been a senior fellow of the Jewish People Policy Institute based on the Givat Ram campus of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Dr. Popper, who holds a Ph.D. in Economics from UC Berkeley, is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and served as chair of the AAAS Industrial Science and Technology section.  He has sat on the international advisory board of the Israel Innovation Institute and the academic advisory board of the Shoresh Institution for Socioeconomic Research in the Department of Public Policy of Tel-Aviv University.