Hans Guth Dreyfus Fund

Since 2015 two outstanding research PhD/post-doctoral students receive the Hans Guth Dreyfus fellowship. Each fellow receives 5,750 $ per year, that enables the young researchers to promote research on psychological aspects, sociological and political management and conflict resolution.

The Scholarship Recipients 2016-2017

Rotem Nagar

A doctoral student at the Department of Communication and at the Swiss Center, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The Struggle for Recognition: The Role of Demands for Recognition in Asymmetric Conflicts

Supervisor: Prof. Ifat Maoz

Research abstract: Recognition is increasingly being seen as a vital condition for resolving conflicts, as well as for normalizing processes and achieving a modus vivendi. Yet, only few studies have attempted to empirically examine what recognition actually means for those who are involved in asymmetric protracted conflicts. The goal of my research is to examine psychological and ideological factors that underlie public opinion (un)willingness to recognize the other side in situations of conflict, in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Considering that recognition is crucial for resolving asymmetric conflicts, understanding the conditions that make the recognition of the rights and needs of out-groups possible might be essential in paving the way to settling conflicts and disputes.

Rotem Nagar has graduated with honor from The Swiss Center for Conflict Research and from The Department of Sociology at the Hebrew University in 2011. Today she is a doctoral candidate at the Department of Communication and at the Swiss Center for Conflict Research (supervisor: Professor Ifat Maoz). Her research interests are psychological, ideological and media-related aspects of conflict resolution and conflict transformation, including aspects that underlie the (un-)willingness to recognize the other side in conflicts.


Rotem Nagar

Dr. Amit Sheniak

post-doctoral fellow at the Swiss Center for Conflict Research and a research fellow at the STS center at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.  

The legitimization process of state involvement in Cyber-conflict

Research Abstract: Cyber-conflicts are a current version of human conflicts, and are evident in both the domestic and the international arenas. In my research I aim to explore and describe the actions taken by states in order to legitimize the use of force employed by them in and through cyberspace. Those actions contribute to the establishment of a new evolving international norm - the right of states to project power over civilian through and in cyberspace and to get involved in cyber-conflicts in order to regulate, contain and settle them. The research methodology is based upon the study of formal statements and quotes and recorded evidence of states' “Soft-Power” actions.

The research has the potential to contribute to the understanding of cyber conflict in general and state’s ability to resolve them in particular, a field of study that was not yet properly researched.

Amit Sheniak is a current/currently a post-doctoral fellow at the Swiss Center for Conflict Research and a research fellow at the center for Science Technology and Society in Harvard University Kennedy School of Government. He received his PhD (2015) in Political Science form the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, combined with a public professional career as a policy adviser and strategic planner in the Israeli ministry of defense (IDF J5) and the Israeli parliament (the Knesset). He also holds a BA in political science and international relations and MA in democratic studies (all from the Hebrew University).


 Dr. Amit Sheniak

The Scholarship Recipients of 2015-2016

Yair Fogel-Dror

Ph.D. Candidate, Political Science and Dreyfus scholarship doctoral fellow

Computational Analysis of Political Discourse Analysis:Challenges and Implications

Research Abstract: The purpose of my research is to explore and uncover patterns of political discourse in the context of a political conflict, utilizing new computational methods. My research focuses on qualifying the rival actors by discovering the sentiment of texts and studying characteristics associated with each actor as those appear in the text. The intensity of interactions between the rival actors in the media coverage, for example, makes it harder to correctly associate each description with the specific actor as both actors are mentioned. Also, as the sentiment of the text is highly sensitive to the values and perspective of the writer, sentiment analysis in the context of various values and perspectives becomes a real challenge. Therefore an alternative measure for qualifying is suggested. For example, a description of an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities would express different sentiment when written from Netanyahu's point of view compared to Obama’s. Last, media agencies are also part of the discourse and might form a pattern by themselves. They can make an original voice, follow some opinion leader or even act as a part of a synchronized "clique" of media agencies. My research explores and exploits those patterns, in order to build new methods for better understanding the discourse and media coverage of political conflicts. For this purpose I apply a natural language processing and machine learning approach, while adapting the methods to the specific attributes of the political discourse. The end result of this research would allow for a better qualifying of actors' characteristics as well as better understanding of the role different media agencies play while covering a political conflict.

Research progress report - 2016

In the past year my research, with the endorsement of the Dreyfus scholarship, has been focused on the development of two methods for computational analysis of political texts, with regards to three conflicts: the media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Israeli public diplomacy efforts with regards to the BDS movement, and the presidential election campaign in the United States. The first method involves automatic extraction of topics, using an inductive approach first, which later allows for deductive identification of those topics in real time. The different topics include issues which are relevant to the three mentioned conflicts, where the goal is to reach a high enough resolution of analysis in order to distinguish, automatically, between descriptions of the same events but from different perspectives. For example, the method can distinguish between the Israeli and the Hamas descriptions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The second method involves a network analysis of relations between topics, according to the way they are presented in different media agencies. For example, I show how in some agencies the BDS movement is presented as related to Anti-Semitic discourse, while in others this relation is absent. The existence of this relation may indicate a successful public diplomacy campaign on the part of Israel, as stressing this association is Israel's formal policy with regards to the BDS.

The past year research is forming into an article with this (temporary) title: Rapid Coding of Large Corpora with Minimal Human Intervention



 Yair Pogel

Rana Es'eed

PhD candidate at the Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare and Dreyfus scholarship doctoral fellow

The Islamic Movement in Israel as a Welfare Services Provider: A Case Study of the "Independent Community" Concept

Supervisor: Prof. John Gal and Prof. Ram Knaan

Research abstract: The Palestinians in Israel have experienced processes of discrimination and marginalization in multiple areas, one of the most important of which is welfare. Studies shows that state discrimination of ethnic groups in Israel have reinforced structural inequality (Rosenheck, 1996; Quandangno, 1994). Indeed, throughout its history, the Israeli welfare state has been characterized by severe segmentation, which has often excluded and marginalized the Palestinians citizens of the country (Rosenheck, 1995, 2007). In recent decades, the Islamic Movement has emerged as a crucial religious and political force among Palestinians in Israel. This movement has also been a key player in the field of third sector organizations, providing diverse social services to members of the Palestinian community. A fundamental principle in the movement’s activity is the concept of an "independent community". The leader of the Islamic Movement, Sheikh Ra’ed Salah, conceived this concept in the early 2000s. It refers to the creation of a community, which administers its institutions independently, devoid of the pressures applied by the Israeli Establishment on Palestinians on both public and individual levels (Ali, 2007). Although the literature recognizes the key role played by the Islamic Movement in social services in Israel, there is still no study that explains how historical events, changes in the welfare system and the third sector, and internal developments within the movement led to the emergence of the "independent community" concept.

Few studies in this field attempt to explain the development of the movement according to different theories. In this light, the current study wishes to further the understanding of the development of the Islamic Movement and the aforementioned changes, in the context of the various theoretical approaches. In particular, the current study has two main aims: to examine and describe the development of the concept "The Independent Community" and its meaning for minority groups in general and for the Palestinians in Israel in particular. The second goal is to examine and describe the social services provided by the Islamic Movement, whether as part of the Independent Community project or as separate services. Such an examination is located in a complex theoretical space, due to the unique complexity of the Islamic movement, which can be described as a religious organization, a social movement, or a political organization or party.

Currently, I’m analyzing both the archival data (based on the Islamic movement newspaper since 1998 until 2015) and the 17 in depth interviews I have conducted with activist and leaders in the Islamic movement in Israel.

Research progress report - 2016

During the current academic year I had a significant progress in my research work. This year I focused on data collection: archival data and field work which includes interviews and observations. During this academic year I finished conducting the in-depth interviews and the observations and I am currently focusing on analysis of the data. In addition, I’m writing the first article as a part of the final dissertation. During the summer and the next academic year, I aim to focus on data analyzing and writing the final research report. I am planning to write the PhD as a chapters' dissertation, composed of independent three articles.

Thanks to Dreyfus scholarship, I had the opportunity to finish the data collection. During the forthcoming months, I will finish writing the first article, which will be based on the archival data and the interviews that have already been undertaken.  I hope to finish my writing and submitting the PhD no later than by the end of 2017.


 Rana Eseed