Developing a Framework for Nonviolent Resistance in Palestine
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In January of 2011, a series of revolutions began sweeping across the Arab world. In Tunisia and Egypt, dictators who had been in power for over 30 years were ousted in a matter of weeks. Countries such as Libya and Yemen also saw more protracted movements that led to changes in their government. In Syria, violence continues as the people struggle against the brutal oppression of the Assad regime. Indeed, some of these uprisings have been bloody, but the ones that were most efficient in achieving regime change, Egypt and Tunisia, were marked by almost complete nonviolence by the protesters. These events reminded the world of something that has been proven time and again in modern history: nonviolent resistance can be an effective mechanism for change. The message was not lost on the Palestinians, who have been increasingly turning to civil disobedience to resist Israeli occupation in the West Bank. Recent achievements by nonviolent efforts in villages such as Bil’in and Budrus, combined with the recent experiences of their Arab neighbors, have sparked a renewed interest in popular protest among the Palestinian population. This project aims to develop a new framework for nonviolent resistance and its application in Palestine. In the process of developing this framework, I examined past case studies of successful nonviolent revolutions as well as relevant literature on nonviolence resistance theory. Eventually, I assembled a list of seven factors that I determined to have large roles in determining the success or failure of a movement. They are as follows: 1. The level of organization of the leadership and the movements’ structures. 2. The extent to which participants were prepared for the actions they were about to undertake. 3. The direct articulation of reasonable and well-defined goals. 4. The careful and strategic planning and implementation of actions specifically targeted at the weaknesses of the opponent and based on the strengths of the participants. 5. The use of tactics with mass appeal and mass applicability. 6. The ability to use the influence of several groups of people; those from the side of the oppressed and the oppressor, as well as the international community. 7. The widespread distribution of propaganda and effective use of publicity. Each factor is then examined for the role it played in the First Intifada, which utilized nonviolent tactics almost exclusively during the first two years of the movement. Finally, drawing upon lessons learned in both the Palestinian Intifada as well as the examined case studies (Indian Independence, South Africa Anti-Apartheid, and American Civil Rights) and upon the theoretical literature, I attempt to make preliminary suggestions for the future of mass nonviolent resistance in Palestine.