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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Who’s in My Bed: Strange Bedfellows in the American pro-Israel Movement

  • Author(s): Sagi, Rottem
  • Advisor(s): Meyer, David S.
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY-NC-SA' version 4.0 license

Coalitions and collaborations can improve organizations’ chances of affecting political change. However, competition for resources, incongruent collective identities, ideological disputes, incompatible organizational structures, and interpersonal conflict often prevent social movement organizations from working together. This dissertation explores how social movement organizations overcome these traditional barriers and come together to form coalitions and maintain alliances. I used both qualitative and quantitative methods to understand how the American pro-Israel movement has formed and maintained coalitions among diverse groups with contrasting religious and political values. Advanced statistical analyses of an original dataset of 968 national American Jewish organizations coupled with comparative historical analysis of American Evangelical and Jewish support for Israel highlighted how social movement organizations can overcome traditional barriers that frequently limit inter-organizational alliances. I found that that despite numerous barriers, coalitions and alliances can be formed and maintained when situated in an amenable context, they have appropriate access to resources, and organizational leaders act as brokers and organizational entrepreneurs. Changes to the broader political and national context enabled coalition formation and growth by both increasing the incentives for individual organizations and changing the structure of the organizational field to create new opportunities for alliances. Sufficient access to monetary and organizational resources encouraged groups to overcome traditional barriers, like competition and ideological disputes. The deliberate choices of various organizations leaders to capitalize on opportunities and skillfully deploy resources facilitated the growth and maintenance of a vast network of inter-organizational collaborations among Jewish organizations. Furthermore, organizational entrepreneurs and brokers helped facilitate collaborations between adversarial organizations. I integrated specialized knowledge from Jewish Studies, Political Science, and Sociology to advance our understanding of organizational processes and political advocacy. This dissertation expands our current sociological understanding of social movement coalitions and collaborations, especially underdeveloped theories of adversarial collaborative movements.

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