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Unformatted text preview: Violence, Nonviolence, and the Palestinian
National Movement Why do some national movements use violent protest and others
nonviolent protest? Wendy Pearlman shows that much of the answer
lies inside movements themselves. Nonviolent protest requires coordination and restraint, which only a cohesive movement can provide.
When, by contrast, a movement is fragmented, factional competition
generates new incentives for violence and authority structures are too
weak to constrain escalation. Pearlman reveals these patterns across
nearly one hundred years in the Palestinian national movement, with
comparisons to South Africa and Northern Ireland. To those who ask
why there is no Palestinian Gandhi, Pearlman demonstrates that nonviolence is not simply a matter of leadership. Nor is violence attributable only to religion, emotions, or stark instrumentality. Instead,
a movement’s organizational structure mediates the strategies that it
employs. By taking readers on a journey from civil disobedience to
suicide bombings, this book offers fresh insight into the dynamics of
conl ict and mobilization.
Wendy Pearlman is the Crown Junior Chair in Middle East Studies and
Assistant Professor of Political Science at Northwestern University.
She graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in history from Brown
University and earned her Ph.D. in government at Harvard University,
where she was the Karl Deutsch Fellow. Pearlman is the author of
Occupied Voices: Stories of Everyday Life from the Second Intifada.
She has published articles in International Security and Journal of
Palestine Studies, chapters in several edited volumes, and commentaries in the Washington Post, International Herald Tribune, Christian
Science Monitor, Boston Globe, and Philadelphia Inquirer, among
other newspapers. Pearlman was a Fulbright Scholar in Spain, a Junior
Peace Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace, and a postdoctoral
Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at
Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She was the winner
of the 2011 Deborah Gerner Grant for Professional Development. Violence, Nonviolence, and the Palestinian
National Movement WENDY PEARLMAN
Northwestern University cambridge university press
Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town,
Singapore, São Paulo, Delhi, Tokyo, Mexico City
Cambridge University Press
32 Avenue of the Americas, New York, ny 10013-2473, usa
Information on this title: /9781107007024
© Wendy Pearlman 2011
This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception
and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements,
no reproduction of any part may take place without the written
permission of Cambridge University Press.
First published 2011
Printed in the United States of America
A catalog record for this publication is available from the British Library.
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
Violence, nonviolence, and the Palestinian national movement / Wendy Pearlman.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
isbn 978-1-107-00702–4 (hardback)
1. Palestine – History – Autonomy and independence movements. 2. Arab-Israeli
conl ict. 3. Nationalism – Palestine – History. 4. Violence – Palestine – History.
5. Nationalism. 6. Nonviolence. I. Title.
isbn 978-1-107-00702-4 Hardback
Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of urls
for external or third-party Internet Web sites referred to in this publication and does not
guarantee that any content on such Web sites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate. To my parents Contents Preface
8 The Organizational Mediation Theory of Protest
National Struggle under the British Mandate, 1918–1948
Roots and Rise of the Palestine Liberation Organization,
Occupation and the First Intifada, 1967–1993
The Oslo Peace Process, 1993–2000
The Second Intifada, 2000
Comparisons: South Africa and Northern Ireland
Index page ix
277 vii Preface The inspiration for this research stemmed from my experiences living in the
West Bank, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv for a total of more
than three years between January 2000 and August 2008. I was already
hooked on Middle East politics before that journey began, as I had lived in
Morocco and studied Arabic for ive years. Yet my i rst trip to Israel and the
Palestinian territories captured my heart and mind in a new way. At the turn
of the millennium I did a tour of Israel and then spent ive months in the West
Bank, where I studied at Birzeit University and worked at a local organization.
The following summer I lived and worked in the Gaza Strip. During the years
that followed, I returned every chance I got. When afar, I monitored dayto-day events with what became an unhealthy addiction to the news. People
often asked me what my Jewish family thought about their daughter giving so
much attention to the Palestinian situation. I would explain that my grandmother’s only regret was that I had been a more interesting person before I
became an “all Israel–Palestine all the time” channel.
Three months into the second Intifada, I conducted interviews with about
two dozen Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. These were published in 2003 as the book Occupied Voices: Stories of Everyday Life from the
Second Intifada. I undertook that project both to help myself understand the
experiences of ordinary people enduring a terrible conlict and to bring their
voices to a larger audience. As I gave book talks around the United States,
however, I found that discussions repeatedly ended with the same query. Over
and over, people said that they were moved by the personal stories but had
trouble understanding why Palestinians carried out violence against Israelis.
Even those who supported Palestinians’ quest for statehood were perplexed.
“Don’t Palestinians see that suicide bombings only undermine sympathy for
their cause?” people asked. “Why don’t they use nonviolence instead? Where
is the Palestinian Gandhi?”
The answers at my disposal fell short. I knew from my study of history that
Palestinians had used nonviolent as well as violent protest, but I lacked a convincing explanation of why they had done so to different extents at different
ix x Preface times. My conversations in the West Bank and Gaza had shown me why
many people believed that protest was necessary and justiied. Yet this did not
account for why protest took certain forms. By then I was a doctoral student in
political science, so I turned to scholarly theories of rebellion and insurgency
for answers. Inluential studies attributed political violence to factors ranging
from manipulative elites to religious fundamentalism to cold calculations of
costs and beneits. Though these were often validated by cross-national statistical tests, they misrepresented or oversimpliied what I had seen on the
ground. Furthermore, they had more to say about how conl ict escalates to
bloodshed than about the circumstances under which it remains unarmed.
I made this question the topic of my dissertation. My motivation was to
satisfy my own desire for understanding and to contribute to others’ understanding as well. Knowing that any viable explanation of violent or nonviolent
protest should account for ebbs and lows in both, I extended the scope of my
research to cover the history of the Palestinian national movement. I studied Hebrew to increase my appreciation of the Israeli experience, as well as
methodologies of quantitative and qualitative research to bring greater rigor to
my analysis. I also returned to live in Israel and the Palestinian territories from
June 2004 through August 2006 to carry out ield and archival research.
I strove to bring diverse forms of evidence to bear upon my question. My
analysis of Mandate Palestine drew on original material from the Israel State
Archives, namely the collections of Chief Secretary’s Ofice Papers, Palestine
Government Arab Documents, and George Antonius Papers. I scrutinized the
reports of the oficial commissions of inquiry into the disturbances of 1921,
1929, and 1936, the British high commissioner’s monthly reports, periodic
reviews, and telegrams, and the writings of district commissioners detailing
events in the areas of Palestine under their purview. I also made use of memoirs of Palestinians and Arabs involved in nationalist activity at the time.
For later eras, I incorporated other materials. I consulted the wealth of primary documents collected and published by the Institute of Palestine Studies
in English and Arabic. I used press reportage, some obtained from the press
archive at Tel Aviv University’s Moshe Dayan Center. I examined quantitative
data from the statistics kept by B’Tselem (the Israeli Information Center for
Human Rights), the ICT-Merari terrorist incidents database of the Institute
for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel, and
a comprehensive database on violent events compiled by Mohammed Hafez of
the Naval Postgraduate School. I also scrutinized more than a decade of public
opinion polls conducted by three Palestinian research institutes: the Palestine
Center for Survey Research, the Jerusalem Media and Communication Centre,
and the former Center for Palestine Research and Studies. In addition, I relied
upon more than three dozen human rights and investigatory reports authored
by Israeli, Palestinian, and international organizations. I gained appreciation for the primary data contained in such on-the-ground documents when
I helped translate them during my own internships in two Palestinian human
rights groups, the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens’ Rights in Preface xi Ramallah and the al-Mezan Center for Human Rights based in the Jabalya
refugee camp in the Gaza Strip.
Finally, my twenty-six months in Israel and the Palestinian territories built
on my previous experience and enabled me to continue to hone my understanding of both peoples by living among them. I observed interactions,
developed lifelong relationships, absorbed daily media in two languages, and
paid attention to the political talk that is the sound track of life on both sides
of the Green Line. I had countless informal conversations with Israelis and
Palestinians about the conlict and conducted forty-eight formal interviews,
six of which were in the Gaza Strip (between July and August 2005), four in
Israel (June–August 2006), and thirty-eight in the West Bank (June–August
2006, January 2007, August 2008). I carried out interviews in either Arabic or
English, and tape-recorded, transcribed, and translated nearly all of them. In
the interest of taking the strictest precautions to protect human subjects from
any kind of harm or discomfort, I have not identiied interviewees by name.
I have, however, helped readers situate their comments by briely indicating
their occupation or afiliation, as well as the place and date of the interview.
I could not have carried out this project without the help of many people.
My dissertation beneited immeasurably from my advisers, Jorge Domínguez,
Devesh Kapur, Roger Owen, and Stephen Rosen. I thank each of them for
challenging my project in a different way. Their combined abilities to pierce
through my often murky ideas taught me not only how to think and write,
but also how to teach. I learned no less from wonderful graduate school classmates. In them I have been fortunate to i nd a community of scholars and
friends for the long haul.
I am indebted to several institutions that funded my research. My ieldwork was made possible by a United States Institute of Peace “Peace Fellows”
Dissertation Fellowship and a grant from the Palestinian–American Research
Center. A Harvard University–Hebrew University Graduate Fellowship and
Foreign Language and Area Studies Award enabled me to study Hebrew and
other topics for twelve months at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. A Starr
Foundation Fellowship at the Center for Arabic Studies Abroad provided for
twelve months of advanced Arabic training at the American University in Cairo.
I was able to get a start on revising my dissertation as a postdoctoral fellow at
the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the John F. Kennedy
School of Government. There I learned tremendously from top-notch scholars
of conlict, both experienced and up-and-coming. They gave me invaluable
feedback on my work and inspired me through exposure to their own.
Now an assistant professor at Northwestern University, I am fortunate to
have beneited from the tremendous generosity of the Crown family and its
dedication to Middle East studies, as well as from Weinberg College’s support
for junior faculty. I could not imagine colleagues better than those whom I
have found in the Department of Political Science. I thank them all. A vibrant
working group of faculty studying the Middle East and North Africa has provided the icing on the cake of a terriic intellectual home. xii Preface Over the years, I have presented various pieces of this research at
Northwestern, Harvard, the University of Chicago, and the Northeast Middle
East Politics Workshop, among other conferences. I am appreciative of all who
shared their time and thoughts with me in those forums. The deepest gratitude
goes to those who read chapters or sometimes much more of the manuscriptin-preparation: Nathan Brown, Rex Brynen, William Gamson, Jeff Goodwin,
Ylana Miller, Aldon Morris, Rosemary Sayigh, Yezid Sayigh, Charles Smith,
Hendrik Spruyt, Salim Tamari, Mark Tessler, Mary Ann Weston, and the late
Gil Friedman. I am indebted to their generous giving of expert knowledge
and fantastic insight. I can only hope that my revisions do some justice to
the acumen of their suggestions. I am also very grateful to those who offered
counsel in navigating the path from dissertation to published book, especially
Jamie Druckman, Dennis Chong, Devesh Kapur, Dan Galvin, Ben Page, Jim
Mahoney, Monika Nalepa, Jillian Schwedler, and Victor Shih.
Innumerable people assisted my ield research in the West Bank, Gaza Strip,
and Israel. Their kindness continually humbled me, and I regret terribly that I
cannot honor them all by name. I am especially grateful to Aboud and Rodaina
Abdullah and family, Bradley Brigham and Ghaith Omari, Ali Jarbawi, the
Jarrar family, Laura Junka, Lucy Mair, the Muna family, Charmaine Seitz,
Jamila and Yasaar Shrai and family, Ghada Snounu and family, Issam
Younnis, and my incredible neighbors in the old city of Jerusalem. I lack the
words to express my particular debts to Iman Ashur, Jehan Jarrar, Suzanne
Jarrar, and Alberto Spektorowski.
I thank wonderful friends, new and old, for their wisdom, humor, and
patient encouragement: Mirna Adjami, Diana Allan, Sa’ed Atshan, Theo
Christov, Lara Deeb, Sarah Eltantawi, Lora Gordon, Dan Ho, Manal Jamal,
Jana Lipman, Emily Maguire, Jen Marlowe, Sreemati Mitter, Marcy Newman,
Alison Post, Tamara Qiblawi, Almas Sayeed, Rashmi Tiwari, Elina Treyger,
and Sean Yom. I have unbound gratitude for my family, Alicia Pearlman,
Charlie Pearlman, Judy Kolker, and Judy Schwab, for their unconditional love
and support. My grandmother Margaret Pearlman continues to be my rock
My father, Michael Pearlman, has showed an unparalleled knack for lifting
my spirits, often by reminding me not to take myself too seriously. My mother,
Lois Pearlman, passed before I began postgraduate studies. Yet her example of
compassion, creativity, and courage lit my every step and always will. It is to
them that I dedicate this book. Acronyms AE
PNC Arab Executive
Arab Higher Committee
Arab Liberation Front
al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade
African National Congress
Arab Nationalist Movement
Action Organization for the Liberation of Palestine
Black September Organization
Congress of South African Trade Unions
Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization
Irish Republican Army
Lebanese National Movement
Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation)
National Guidance Committee
Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association
National and Islamic Forces Higher Committee
Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General
Palestine Liberation Army
Palestinian Legislative Council
Palestinian Liberation Front
Palestine Liberation Organization
Palestinian National Council
xiii xiv PNF
Palestinian National Front
Palestinian Popular Struggle Front
Popular Resistance Committees
Social Democratic and Labour Party
Supreme Muslim Council
United Democratic Front
United National Leadership of the Uprising
United Nations Security Council Resolution
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine
Refugees in the Near East 1
The Organizational Mediation Theory of Protest April 1936: Palestine erupts in revolt. For years, the indigenous Arabs of
Palestine have engaged in pressure politics. Their goal is to convince Great
Britain to abandon its support for the establishment of a Jewish national
home in Palestine. After a decade of such protest fails to bear fruit, however,
Palestinian Arabs launch a rebellion. The “Great Revolt” begins with broadbased participation in unarmed activities such as a general strike, popular
demonstrations, and boycotts. Sporadic armed attacks become more frequent
as rural bands carry out sniping and sabotage. The rebellion enters a hiatus
and then becomes more dramatically and exclusively violent when it resumes
in the fall of 1937. Rebel bands battle with British troops, and thousands die
before the rebellion collapses into internecine ighting.
March 1988: The i rst Intifada against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank
and Gaza Strip is in its third month. For weeks on end, Palestinian youths
clash with Israeli troops by throwing stones, blocking roads, burning tires,
and defying curfew. Each day registers acts of nonviolent protest, including
sit-ins, boycotts, commercial strikes, refusal to pay taxes, mass resignation
from Israeli institutions, and the organization of community-based alternatives. Women lead huge demonstrations on International Women’s Day. On
“Land Day,” an annual protest against land coniscation, Palestinians inside
Israel march in solidarity with the occupied territories. Tens of thousands of
Palestinians have been arrested, injured, or killed. Nonetheless, their use of
lethal violence against Israel remains very limited.
March 2002: A second Intifada is in its second year. With violence claiming
the lives of 246 Palestinians and 113 Israelis, the month is among the bloodiest in the history of the Israeli–Palestinian conlict. Palestinian activists open
i re on Israeli civilians, iniltrate settlements, detonate bombs at bus stops, i re
makeshift rockets, and set off a roadside bomb that destroys an Israeli tank.
Israel’s repression of Palestinians is likewise violent and severe. On March 27,
a suicide bombing, the 37th of the Intifada, leaves scores dead and wounded
at a Passover dinner. The Israeli army responds with a sweeping and bloody 1 2 Violence, Nonviolence, and the Palestinian National Movement operation whereby it reoccupies most West Bank towns. That day, an 18-yearold girl becomes the youngest Palestinian female suicide bomber.
Why do social and insurgent movements employ the strategies and tactics
that they do? Focusing on the vexing problem of political violence, scholars
have produced theories about the targets, timing, and intensity of a gr...
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