State Violence In Israel & Serbia


Both Israel and Serbia used state violence to pursue policies of discrimination and ethnic preference. Both countries, moreover, feel surrounded by hostile, aggressive forces. And yet, both Serbia and Israel used different policies of state violence, in different geographic spaces, at different times.

During the Bosnian war, for example, Serbian state forces and paramilitaries responded differently to perceived threats from Muslims inside Serbia than from those living in Bosnia. Whereas the former were repressed and policed, the latter were violently expelled. In Israeli-controlled geographic spaces, moreover, non-Jews in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Israel and Lebanon have all experienced different patterns of Israeli state violence, ranging from bombardment and expulsions to containment and policing.


What explains these varying patterns of state violence?


Violence is shaped by a geographic space’s “institutional environment,” or its regulatory web of laws, rules, norms, expectations, and bureaucratic structures. Some areas, for example, are constructed as external frontiers to the dominant state, while others are constructed as internal ghettos. Whereas the former can be destroyed with greater impunity, the latter are often exposed to less destructive force. The more a region is “externalized,” as in the case of the Gaza Strip after Israel’s withdrawal, the more likely that area is to be subject to greater destruction.



RON, J. “The Organizational Dynamics of State Repression,” pp. 365-386 in Social Problems, Law, and Society, edited by A.K. Stout, R.A. Dello Buono, & W.J. Chambliss, Rowman & Littlefield.


RON, J. Frontiers & Ghettos: State Violence in Serbia and Israel. University of California Press.


RON, J. “The Second Palestinian Uprising.” Middle East Policy 8/1: 73-80.


RON, J. “Savage Restraint: Israel, Palestine & the Dialectics of Legal Repression.” Social Problems 47/4: 445-472.

RON, J. “Boundaries & Violence: Patterns of State Action along the Bosnia-Yugoslavia Divide.” Theory & Society 29/5: 609-647.

RON, J. “Territoriality & Plausible Deniability: Serbian Paramilitaries in the Bosnian War, pp. 287-312 in Death Squads in Global Perspective: Murder with Deniability, edited by A.D. Brenner & B. Campbell, St. Martin’s Press.


RON, J. “Varying Methods of State Violence.” International Organization 51/2: 275-300.