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Honors Abstract


"Are Jewish Holidays Factors in the Timing of Terrorist Attacks in Israel?"
- Author: Shifali Baliga (2011)
- Thesis Advisor: Dan Reiter
- Program: Political Science


The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether Jewish religious holidays are a factor in the
timing of terrorist attacks in Israel. The research will explore the relationship between the
independent variable (religious holidays as a whole as well as individual religious holidays) and
the dependent variable (terrorist attacks in Israel from 1970-2007) to examine whether a causal
linkage can be established between religious holidays and terrorism. The methodology employed
in this research is predominantly quantitative and tested within the statistical program STATA,
but it is also supplemented with qualitative analysis. My primary dataset comes from the
University of Maryland's Global Terrorism Dataset. The main findings of the research conclude
that there is no causal linkage between religious holidays as a whole and the timing of terrorist
attacks in Israel. However, the research does establish that there is a causal connection between
Passover and the timing of terrorist attacks. Essentially, terrorist organizations strategically
choose to attack on Passover because it optimizes both their intermediate goals (casualties, fear,
economic damage, etc.) and their ultimate goal (policy change). The paper draws several main
conclusions: 1) Passover's effect on the timing of terrorist attacks is statistically and
substantively significant, 2) in conjunction with the effect of Passover, other variables such as
impending peace talks contribute to the timing of terrorist attacks, and 3) terrorist organizations
will sometimes also strive for unpredictability in the timing of their terrorist attacks.




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Last updated: November 16, 2011



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