About The Outstanding Book
Prof. Yuval Feinstein
״Rally ’round the Flag: The Search for National Honor and Respect in Times of Crisis״
The Gideon Doron Outstanding Book Award
Feinstein's book deals with an engaging, meaningful, and relevant phenomenon: the 'rally around the flag' phenomenon in which, as a result of a military conflict in which the state is involved, citizens change their attitudes towards the incumbent leader, which causes a sharp increase in the leader's approval rating. The book focuses on the US and conducts a comprehensive comparative-historical investigation of public reactions to military actions and security crises in the US from 1950-2020.
While other studies focused mainly on the top-down process (how the government and the media successfully mobilize citizens in favor of the move), this book's theoretical innovation is the focus on the level of the citizen and the level of the event itself. The book convincingly argues that the phenomenon of "rally around the flag" is relatively rare, despite the research attention it receives, and that there are several conditions that allow (but do not guarantee) the coalescence around the leader: chief among them is a sense of harm to national honor and a belief that the leader's military move will indeed achieve the correction for this (at the citizen level), and a sense of international legitimacy for the action (at the event level). Especially when these symbolic assets seem to be in decline or at risk, given these conditions, the top-down moves (the intense media coverage, the identity of the enemy, and the leader's rhetoric) can work successfully.
After presenting the theoretical model, the book examines the model and competing explanations on several notable test cases in recent American history. The book focuses on the United States since the 1950s and how the public reacted to several crises and operations - including the Cuban missile crisis, the Panama invasion, and Iraq. These chapters are rich in details and primary sources and convincingly convey the claim that the rallying phenomenon is not guaranteed at all, except in exceptional cases where the necessary conditions for this. In doing so, the book dispels some prevalent myths in this field of research, and this also has implications for other theories that deal with "wars of diversion" and framing theories in the media. Despite the theoretical and empirical focus of the book on the United States, Feinstein also refers to the generalizability and applicability of the model he presents in other countries.
The committee members found that this argument is original, interesting, creative, and profound and significantly contributes to the discipline of political science. It is a unique contribution to understanding the politics of crises and the relationship between public opinion and foreign policy. In addition, it also contributes to understanding the phenomenon and seeing it as part of broader human behavior.
In light of all these, the committee members find the book a worthy candidate for the Gideon Doron Best Book Award.
Professor Gideon Doron was born in Tel Aviv in 1945. He graduated from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and holds a doctorate from the University of Rochester under the guidance of William Riker, the father of manipulation theory and game theory applications in the study of politics. He published 20 books in Hebrew and English and dozens of academic articles on strategy and political economy, election methods, policy and public administration, communication and political manipulation, and game theory. Initiated the establishment of the public policy department at Tel Aviv University and was a consultant and academic chairman of the administration and public policy department at Ben-Gurion University during its founding stages.
He was one of the founders of the Center for Citizen Empowerment in Israel and the central academic figure in its operation. He also headed the Department of Political Science at Emek Jezreel College. Prof. Doron participated in developing the National Resilience Index, which includes the Corruption Index. He was also active in the international team that measures public corruption in the world's countries.
Professor Doron held a series of public positions, including chairman of the Second Authority for Television and Radio, member of the steering team of the Megidor Committee on the System of Government in Israel, advisor to prime ministers and ministers, member of the committee to examine the issue of appointments in the public service, member of the team for national security, the Israel Film Council and the committee to determine Municipal boundaries.
To a large extent, the Israeli Political Science Association owes its very existence to Gideon Doron, one of the association's founders and its former chairman. Among other things, he established the association's book publishing house and headed its scientific board.