Trump calls, Israel answers

President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu at the Israel Museum. Jerusalem May 23, 2017. Photo: US Embassy Tel Aviv, public domain.

On Thursday President Trump made the unprecedented move to use a foreign power to punish domestic political actors. He tweeted that Israel should bar two congresswomen from entering the country. Prior to this tweet Prime Minister Netanyahu had decided that the congresswomen should be allowed to enter, but after the tweet he changed his mind. After the decision to deny them entry was made Israel approved Rashida Tlaib’s visit because she made a humanitarian appeal that she should be allowed to visit her grandmother – a Palestinian woman in her nineties living in the occupied West Bank. This was granted on the condition not to “promote boycotts against Israel” on the trip. Ilhan Omar is still barred from entering.

Israel’s decision to bar US congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from entering the state is a culmination of three trends in both the United States and Israel: weakening of the bipartisan nature of the US-Israeli relationship; illiberal developments in Israel; and an increasing criticism of Israeli politics in the US mainstream. In the short run these developments are cause for concern as they stifle open debate about Israel. In the long run this could be a signpost in a process away from unconditional US support for Israel.

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The First Steps in the PRIO-Uppsala Connection: Peter Wallensteen Interviewed by Siri Aas Rustad

Peter Wallensteen in 2016. Photo: Barbara Johnston / University of Notre Dame

Peter Wallensteen, interviewed by Siri Aas Rustad

PRIO was the engine of our Nordic peace research network. To “go to PRIO” meant to be updated on the state of the art, to find out what was going on. The ideas generated could then be taken back home and used to build up one’s own activities.

Siri Aas Rustad: ‘You have been immensely important for the development of peace research. You have made your mark in Sweden, but also internationally as a pioneer in gender, peace and security studies and through the creation of the leading data collection project, the Uppsala Conflict Data Program. If you think back on your childhood, was there anything in particular that influenced you in the direction of international relations and peace research?

Peter Wallensteen: I was born in 1945. My family had always been interested in international questions, and we travelled a fair bit. For example, when I was 10, we went by boat and car to England. The large political event that made me interested in international politics was the Suez Crisis with invasion of Egypt by Israel, France and the United Kingdom in 1956, at the same time as the Soviet Union invaded Hungary.

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Facing terror: The possibility of hope and the need to confront hatred

In the wake of the foiled terrorist attack at a mosque outside Oslo on 10 August, and the widespread solidarity seen outside mosques around Norway on the morning of Eid, we reflect on the prospects for hope and for the endurance of social fabric. We do so by drawing on our research on responses to the July 22 terror in 2011, and on our migration research.

A group gathered in support outside Thon Hotel August 11 where Al-Noor Islamic Center had moved Eid celebrations after the attack. Many held signs reading #tryggibønn (safe in prayer). Photo: Samarbeidsrådet for tros- og livssynssamfunn, used with permission.

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Racially-Motivated Violence in the United States: What We Call It and Why It Matters

A memorial for shooting victims in El Paso. Photo: Ruperto Miller, public domain.

An August 3, 2019 mass shooting in El Paso, Texas highlights the continuing presence of racially-motivated violence in the United States. The shooter expressed white nationalist and anti-immigrant sentiments in a manifesto written prior to the attack, and the American news media has begun to frame the attack as one of “domestic terrorism.” As the American public waits to learn how the shooter will be formally charged, how the attack is discussed and described in the media has implications for the public perception of and response to such violence. The language used to describe attacks like this, including the attack in Norway just before Eid, is important for recognizing them as a part of a much larger trend of white-nationalist violence.

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Why should the Sudanese cautiously celebrate the political declaration?

As the Sudanese have ever more reason to celebrate the political declaration signed by the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) and Transitional Military Council (TMC), one may have some reservations and concerns but with optimism of a better future for Sudan.

Protestors in Sudan in April. Photo: Hind Mekki via Flickr

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Beyond False Dichotomies in Debates on Migration

Is there really an inherent conflict between pursuing national interests and acting in globally responsible ways on migration?

We call for a debate that moves beyond an artificial dichotomy between the “headless heart” and the “heartless head”. A good start would be to acknowledge the salience and value of binding international agreements, regarding refugees and other migrants.

Photo: ResoluteSupportMedia / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Since 2015, debates about migration in Europe have increasingly been dominated by voices urging to avoid that our hearts rule our heads on migration policy. Often, these calls have explicitly referenced the ongoing humanitarian crisis at Europe’s borders, where people continue to drown at sea. In the Scandinavian context, a concern for the future of welfare states is often connected to an alleged need for stricter policy on immigration. However, the dichotomy between a “headless heart” and a “heartless head” , as advocated by Paul Collier, among others, contributes neither to informed debate, nor to realistic policy. On the occasion of the World Refugee Day, we argue for the need to go beyond such simple dichotomies and instead consider both national interests and states international responsibilities in migration policy.Read More

Crisis in Sudan: Who Can Unlock the Current Impasse?

Since the eruption of the Sudanese popular uprising on 19th December 2018, the protesters have made history.

Not only have they unseated one of the longest serving dictators on the continent, Omer El Bashir, their determination and persistence have stunned the world and inspired uprising in other African countries.

Sudanese protesters chanting. Photo: M. Saleh / Wikipedia / CCBY-SA 4.0

This uprising is changing the Sudanese political marketplace every day, and is providing much-needed optimism for the new dawn in Sudan after 30 years of misrule through political Islam. The African Union and the international community are in support of the call by the protesters for the Transitional Military Council (TMC) to transfer power peacefully to the civilian transitional government.

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Can Businesses Play a Role in Peace and Sustainable Development?

The role of business in society is as contested as ever.

Coal Mine in Central India. Photo: Jason Miklian / PRIO

Business can help grow local communities, or they can exploit them. Economic growth can bring states together as it did the European Union, or it can help trigger conflict if the benefits are not distributed equitably, as we have seen in Myanmar, Sudan, and Sri Lanka, among others. Working in challenging environments across the developing world, firms can use either peace or conflict as a window to profit.

On the plus side, this can mean companies changing their operational strategies to better support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, or more engaged Corporate Social Responsibility action. On the negative side, firms can also use the same platforms to ‘peacewash’ their activities, arguing that their mere economic presence in conflict zones improves local communities when the reality leads to the opposite.

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The Lifelong Peace Advocate: A Portrait of Marek Thee (1918–1999) by Marta Bivand Erdal


Marek Thee as head of Polish Consulate General in Tel Aviv in 1950–1952. Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic of Poland Archives

Marek Thee (1918–1999), a portrait written by Marta Bivand Erdal

The opposite pole of globalisation is fragmentation – the exclusion of a majority of the world’s population from the benefits of human development, generating a frustrated drive to defensive postures in violent and suicidal ideologies of nationalism, ethnicity and political-religious fundamentalism. Fault-lines are erected across the globe both vertically and horizontally by economic and military power relations on the one hand, and by gross inequalities between the rich and the poor on the other hand. (Marek Thee, personal, unpublished memoirs)[1] 

In his personal and unpublished memoirs My Story: A Journey Through the 20th Century, Marek Thee, in the late 1990s, soon before his death in 1999, reflects on the state of the world. He does so as a child of twentieth century Europe, but also to a significant extent as a child of the twentieth century world. His twentieth century perspective, as a historian by discipline, and a truth-seeking activist at heart, are strikingly accurate comments on the present, some twenty years after they were written.[2]

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Congo and Structural Violence: Helge Hveem Interviewed by Per Olav Reinton

Helge Hveem, ca.1981. Photo: PRIO Photo Archive

Helge Hveem, interviewed by Per Olav Reinton

There is no country that illustrates large-scale violence better than the Democratic Republic of Congo. That is why the Nobel Peace Prize to Denis Mukwege is so well deserved, and why it also affirms the validity of structural violence as a concept. Even if the causes may vary – and physical violence may also breed structural violence – I believe that the DRC demonstrates that physical violence follows from structural violence. Or rather: the two types are interrelated; structural violence makes physical violence easier.

Helge Hveem: My experiences in the Democratic Republic of Congo put me on a path towards the type of theory-driven, but also policy-oriented, empirical research that I followed at PRIO and the University of Oslo, and still pursue. It was a significant day for me when the Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018.Read More