Department News

Lior Yohanani's Publication in Sociological Forum: "High-Risk Transnationalism: Why Do Israeli-Americans Volunteer in the Israeli Military?"

Lior Yohanani

Lior Yohanani has published a new article in Sociological Forum: "High-Risk Transnationalism: Why Do Israeli-Americans Volunteer in the Israeli Military?" Lior takes the case of Tzofim—an Israeli state-sponsored youth movement in the U.S.—to examine when and how diaspora organizations matter to diaspora military service. The study draws on interviews with Tzofim graduates who enlisted in the Israeli military, Tzofim graduates who did not enlist, and Israeli American soldiers who did not attend Tzofim. Through that research design Lior was able to, first, hold movement participation constant and investigate when Tzofim members join the military; and second, to hold military service constant and examine how Tzofim members in the military differ in their perspective from other American Israeli soldiers who did not attend Tzofim.

The study finds that the key difference between Tzofim enlistees and Tzofim non-enlistees was how well they conform to American middle-class expectations. Respondents who knew what they wanted to study and do in life were more likely to opt for college. Those without a clear life path were more likely to join the IDF. As a homeland tie, Tzofim relativizes and criticizes the straight-to-college middle-class life path and offers an alternative homeland path that relies on military service. Tzofim enlistees were thus more likely to reason IDF service on the rejection of American middle-class norms whereas enlistees outside of Tzofim were more likely to blame themselves for their lack of fit to American culture. Ideological motivations were subsidiary, and enlistees without movement background were even less likely to express them.

The article is available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/socf.12806