Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The activist and the olive tree: Nonviolent resistance in the second intifada
by Norman, Julie M., Ph.D., American University, 2009, 358; 3358121
Abstract (Summary)

This study examines the phenomenon of nonviolent resistance in the West Bank during and after the second intifada. The primary research question asks, to what extent does a space exist for the (re)emergence of a popular nonviolent movement in the post-Oslo context? Specifically, the paper (1) identifies episodes of nonviolent activism in the West Bank from 2000 to 2008, (2) investigates the fragmented, localized nature of popular resistance during this period, (3) explores popular attitudes towards violent and nonviolent resistance, and (4) examines how individual and collective activist identities inform participation in popular resistance.

The study indicates that, despite the prevalence of violent resistance during the second intifada, numerous episodes of nonviolent activism did and continue to take place in the West Bank in the form of direct actions (such as protests and demonstrations), NGO initiatives, media efforts, youth projects, and everyday acts of resistance. However, a widespread, unified movement has yet to emerge due to both internal and external factors, including differences between activists, divisions within Palestinian politics and civil society, and Israeli measures such as the separation barrier and checkpoints that hinder travel and limit points of contact.

Despite the current fragmentation of the movement, the paper illustrates that there is significant public support for nonviolent resistance amongst youth in particular, while support for militant attacks on Israeli civilians is declining. These findings suggest that there is a potential space for the reemergence of a nonviolent movement in the West Bank in the current context, but its realization depends largely on the realignment of nonviolence with individual and collective constructs of activist identity. Specifically, mobilization depends on the association of nonviolent activism with the local acts of popular resistance dominant in the first intifada, over the conceptualization of nonviolence as a western paradigm imposed under Oslo.

The study is based on semi-structured interviews with grassroots activists, NGO practitioners, and community leaders; surveys with youth ages 14-34 years; and extensive participant observation. The findings bring attention to the growing phenomenon of nonviolent activism in Palestine, which has been overshadowed by violent resistance and in the academic literature and mainstream discourse.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Abu-Nimer, Mohammed
School: American University
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 70/05, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Middle Eastern history, International law, Sociology
Keywords: Activism, Nonviolence, Palestine, Resistance, Second intifada, Social movements, West Bank
Publication Number: 3358121
ISBN: 978-1-109-16669-9
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