Téma: Terrorism and Fear
Ariel Merari is a retired professor at the Department of Psychology, Tel Aviv University. He received a B.A. degree in psychology and in economics from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California, Berkeley.
Prof. Merari served as Chair of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Psychology (1982-1985). During the period of 1978-1989 he was a Senior Fellow at the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, where he established and directed the Terrorism and Low Intensity Conflict Program. From 1989 until his retirement he was the Director of the Political Violence Research Unit at Tel Aviv University.
Prof. Merari has been a visiting professor at Berkeley and Harvard, and a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s International Security Program of the Belfer Center. He has studied political terrorism and other forms of political violence for more than thirty years and has authored, co-authored or edited several books and many articles, monographs and chapters on these subjects. In addition to his academic work, he established Israel’s Hostage Negotiations and Crisis Management Unit and commanded it for more than 20 years.
Prof. Merari has served as a consultant to various branches of several governments. He was a member of the Review Board of experts, appointed jointly by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Treasury to investigate the siege at Waco, Texas. He also chaired an international panel of experts, invited by the Congress of Argentina, to examine terrorist attacks, which took place in that country and recommend policy guidelines. He testified several times before U.S. congressional committees on terrorism-related issues, and served on the U.S. Department of Defense DARPA’s Special Task Force on Terrorism and Deterrence after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Prof. Merari’s book, Driven to Death: Psychological and Social Aspects of Suicide Terrorism was published by Oxford University Press.
At a first glance the connection between terrorism and fear seems clear: The original meaning of the term "terrorism" is derived from the Latin word terrere, to cause fear, frighten . In its political context the simple notion behind this term is that fear makes people yield to the demands of the threatening actor. However, a closer look at the role of fear in terrorism reveals more complex relationship. The lecture will focus on three issues:
1. The effect of terrorism on the political positions of the targeted public. I.e., does fear of terrorism really makes people willing to concede to the terrorists' political demands?
2. What are the reasons for the inordinate fear of fear of terrorism? How do people behave under a terrorist campaign?
3. How does fear affect the terrorists themselves? And, more specifically, empirical findings on the effect of fear on the behavior of suicide bombers.