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The potential impact of Palestinian non-violent struggle on Israel: Preliminary lessons and projections for the future

Omri Arens & Edward Edy Kaufman
(University of Maryland)٭



The nonviolent revolts against the long ruling dictators in North Africa and the Middle East have spread early in the second decade of the XXIst Century as gunpowder. At this time many Palestinians have been considering how best to translate the strategies of such a spontaneous movement into their own needs. Clearly, there are some differences between what is in most cases a regime change with the massive support of your own people, and the particular case of uprising against a formidable military control of an Israeli government that has a large majority conditioned to support putting down an enemys revolt.

A realistic analysis of the Israeli reactions towards potential Palestinian sustained leadership and massive non-violent struggle could be shaped mostly by the impact of three variables: a) recognition of the growing success of nonviolence in the international context; b) the subjective Israeli perceptions based on collective memory of victimhood and persecution in Jewish history, and c) the perceived efficacy of violence and non-violence throughout the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, particularly from the experiences of the first and second Intifada. In this article we briefly discuss a) and b) but are mainly focusing on c), a variable whose effect the Palestinians can still determine.

In analyzing the latter, three key elements will be emphasized. Firstly, the Jewish-Israeli perceptions and stereotypes of past Palestinian resistance will be briefly discussed.  Secondly, based on the lessons learnt and opinion gathered, we endeavor to assess the potential impact non-violence resistance can have on official and societal Israeli behavior. In the concluding section, looking into the future, we assess the likelihood that a non-violent strategy will create an environment for an eventual sustainable resolution with a Palestinian state alongside a Jewish State of Israel.  

Means and ends have an important correlation. Moderation in Arab aims has occurred since 1988 at the 19th Palestinian National Council, with a Declaration of Independence recognizing the State of Israel in its pre-1967 borders. This moderation became regionalized with the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. If such steps can be accompanied by a long-term struggle legitimated by non-violent means, the growing support at the international level and dissonance with unchanged official policy is likely to indirectly impact Israeli public opinion and strengthen the peace camp in Israel.   

This article builds on previous research conducted with colleagues from the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace (Hebrew University, Jerusalem) and the Palestinian Middle East Nonviolence and Democracy (MEND, Jerusalem) between 2002-4[1]. It draws on an analysis of the Israeli reactions to the first and second Intifada, including public opinion polls, content analysis of the media and coverage of specific events, interviews with activists from non-violent grass root organizations, focus groups (academics, media, students); and the personal experience of one of the authors, having been actively involved with this issue since the mid-1980s. Backed by action research and participatory experiences, it also includes reviewing other cases of non-violence actions around the world. The conclusions also include findings of papers presented at the December 2005 Bethlehem conference of Nonviolence International, including Kaufmans own contribution. 

A. The universal context

Looking at the big picture, the Palestine Liberation Organization (hereafter PLO), as in many other movements around the world in the 1960s and 1970s, advocated the use of extreme forms of violence, involving killing non-combatants. But in the last decades, and particularly since September 11, 2001, such violent strategies, while gaining media coverage, did not lead to victories. Furthermore, nonviolent, civil-based resistance has emerged as a popular method for prosecuting conflict forcefully and effectively throughout the world, in various contexts and against different adversaries. (Stephan: 2006, 57)  

In a separate research project (Kaufman and Eylon: 2003), a total of 26 cases of nonviolent struggle were analyzed, including 23 cases tabulated by Gene Sharp in his last book and the cases of success stories of non-violent struggle in Ukraine, Georgia, and the failure of the Jewish settlers to stop the Israeli pullout from Gaza. The cases were analyzed to evaluate which of the 198 methods of non-violent actions presented by Sharp (2005) were used in each case. In addition, our research team evaluated each case on its result (e.g., the struggle succeeded, failed or undetermined) and on the societal level of the struggle (e.g., local, local-national, national, national-international, or international). The data was analyzed by statistical software (SPSS). Using a quantitative tool to analyze Sharps qualitative approach towards conflict and non-violent struggle, out of the cases analyzed, 66.7% of the non-violent struggles succeeded, while 25.9% of the non-violent struggles failed. The most frequent societal level was national (51.9%), followed by local-national and national-international (18.5% each), while the rest of the non-violent struggles were on a local level (11.1%). Success cases were predominantly transitions from authoritarian regimes towards a process of democratization, particularly in Latin America and the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.  

More directly relevant to the Palestinian case is the comparison of success and failure of the East Timor and Chechnya cases of self-determination, respectively. While the use of violence in the latter has mostly produced negative outcomes, in the first case, the determination of the former guerrilla leader President Chanana to move from armed struggle to non-violent struggle was crucial for enlisting the support of the international community and the success of the powerful intervention against Indonesias repressive rule. [Karny: 2006]. But more recently, the non-violent demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt demonstrated how civil society can produce a regime change, even without a clear identifiable leader.

The increasing success of non-violent struggles at the global level has been recognized by many within the Israeli civil society NGOs. However, Israeli decision makers prevailing military background, particularly those involved in designing security policy, has led them to respond to Palestinian violence with more violence. (When you have a big hammer, all the problems look like nails). Yet, there seems to be a growing awareness that, given global progress towards democratization and self-determination, military means alone cannot impose peace; the best military options can do is to separate the Israelis from the Palestinians with a fence/wall that can eventually be undermined from above and belowas in the case of Gaza. We should add the growing awareness that it is counterproductive for Israel to isolate itself from the aforementioned world view concerning the use of force for allegedly imposing peace.

B. Jewish Collective Memory

The legacy of the past has a profound influence on shaping the chances for success of non-violence in the present. The Jewish experience as a persecuted nation must be recognized in its historical context. The Inquisition, pogroms, ghettos, and, in particular, the Holocaust, remains a major influence on Jewish self-perceptions as powerless. As said by a prominent Palestinian non-violent activist: We have a difficult time understanding the Holocaust and sometimes we choose to say we do not want to understand it. Why? Because the Holocaust was a disaster for usit brought about the existence of an Israeli state. And we had nothing to do with the Holocaust so why do we have to suffer for it?...If you want to understand the Israelis you have to understand many things about Israeli society, and one of them is the Holocaust (Mubarak Awad: 1988). The current Israeli self-perception is that of the victim in the context of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, despite the contradicting global perception as the more powerful party.  


a. Palestinians advocating nonviolence would like to remind themselves, and the world as a whole, not to misperceive their people as violent by nature, with a trajectory of immolation or suicidal acts, perhaps seen in the embodiment of a culture of death. Much to the contrary, many of them regard themselves, historically speaking, as non-violent people, the victims of the British Colonial, followed by the Zionist and Israeli physical and structural violence practiced against them. They paid a very high price because of that violence infused on them. On the other hand this violence created both non-violent and violent reactions by them. In other words the Palestinians were always in the defensive, and they were not the side who initiates violence. (CDCD, 2010)[2].

b. PLO Pre-Intifada: Fatah, an Arabic acronym for Palestinian Liberation Movement, has been the largest faction of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) since its founding. Its purpose, documented in the Palestinian National Charter (1968), was waging an armed struggle against Israel to liberate all of Palestine. Originally, numerous articles in the charter indicate the impossibility of a two-state solution with Israel. Article 1 emphasizes Palestine as an indivisible part of the Arab homeland. Furthermore, Article 15 discusses the objective of eliminating Zionism from Palestine (Article 15). These statements explicitly do not recognize the establishment of Israel and even claim the international document of the 1947 UN Partition Plan to be illegal. These extreme declarations both in terms of aims and means left little room for compromise in negotiations.  

c. First Intifada: Skeptics argue that the Palestinians have already tried non-violence before, with partial success during this uprising (Intifada), which broke out at the end of 1987.  If it didnt work then, whats the point in trying it again? Indeed, prevailingly non-violent methods were utilized during this uprising, this being a most significant change compared with the previous period. Furthermore, this moderation was seen not only in terms of means but also by the Palestinians under occupation putting successful pressure on the PLO to move from formulas such as a democratic and secular Palestine into a two state solution, an Israeli and Palestinian state living peacefully each next to the other. However, certain elements of the first Intifada prevent it from constituting a true and complete non-violent movement. It was unorganized, not completely non-violent, and lacked top-down support.

Palestinians gathered in seemingly spontaneous and yet under directives for a massive protests across the Palestinian territories, blocking roads and Israeli army movements. Demonstrators threw stones at the Israeli soldiers despite the tear gas and rubber-coated bullets (King, 6). Massive funeral processions also demonstrated non-violent resistance to Israeli occupation. The bottom up nature of the uprising can be recognized by the emergence of NGOs advocating nonviolence. Much of the story has been covered by Mary King (2007), Maxime Kaufman (2009) and others. What is important to our analysis is that most NGOs advocated at that time advocated the involvement of Israeli activists in their struggle.

A strong impetus for a planned peaceful resistance was triggered by Mubarak Awad, the founder of the Palestinian Center for the Study of Nonviolence, making its presence know by the then illegal display of the Palestinian flag. A disciple of Gene Sharp, Awad delved into the non-violent methods utilized by Palestinians during the first Intifada; demonstrations, obstruction, non-cooperation, harassments, boycotts, strikes, alternative institutions, and civil disobedience. One of the more effective demonstrations Awad mentioned was the clean up campaign the youth of al-Bireh and Ramallah organized protesting the dismissal of the mayors and closures of municipalities. Another example of defying the Israeli army in Ramallah occurred when Palestinians blew whistles and car horns protesting the closure of Bir Zeit University (Awad: 28). It also managed a Library on Wheels, translating and spreading the lecture of nonviolent books by children across the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Planned acts of non-cooperation included boycotts of Israeli goods, the refusal to work in the military government, refusal to pay taxes, refusal to sign official forms, refusal to work on building Israeli settlements and any other forms of Judaization. Harassment of Israeli soldiers was conceived as a psychological tactic to remind them of the role they play in the injustice. While advocacy of such methods was made public, only partial implementation reached the organized efforts during the Intifada. Furthermore, Awads presence in Jerusalem was declared illegal by Israeli PM Yitzhak Shamir (although he was born there and was counted as a resident in the post-1967 census) and imprisoned for several months. The Supreme Court confirmed the decision for his deportation and Awad was expelled. Another pioneer was the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People (PCR) founded in Beit Sahour to lead the Palestinian community in non-violence resistance against the occupation and for human and national rights. PCR was responsible for underground schools, the notorious Tax Revolt, and dialogue groups with Israeli supporters of nonviolent struggle.

Yet, the resistance during the first Intifada was not totally non-violent. While many protestors participated in peaceful acts of civil disobedience, others threw not only stones but also Molotov cocktails against Israelis. Although the Palestinians were overmatched by Israels military capability, the Israeli perception of the Palestinian resistance was violent. Symbolic stone throwing was seen as life threatening rocks. On the other hand, there was an idealizing of a limited non-lethal, nonviolent, popular symbolic violence. Two articles analyzed the negative perceptions of the Israeli public (Kaufman: 1990 and 1991). The sense of taking the best from two worlds in only running limited violence incorporating both strategies did not produce the desired results. Also, PLO Chairman Arafat praised the children of the stones as he did with the children of the RPGs (rocket propelled grenades used during the First Lebanon War against the IDF) now aiming rocks not only towards soldiers but civilians as well. Consequently, the breadth of support from staunch non-violent Palestinian advocates like Faisal Husseini and Mubarak Awad diminished (Karny, 32). These two critical elements of a non-violent resistance movement, uniformity of struggle in the Land and the Diaspora and their active top-down support were absent in the first Intifada. 

The world was overall sympathetic, a shift in attitudes towards what was earlier considered in the West as a terrorist movement. The Palestinian struggle gained international recognition and therefore, added pressure on the Israelis to respond to Palestinian demands. Within Israel, the appreciation of the courage and determination of the Palestinians under occupation, the resourcefulness and imagination of some of nonviolent techniques caught their eyes. While they could not identify a distinct non-violent leader, there was a sense that the previous status quo that considered the Palestinian acquiescence to a benign occupation that provides economic improvements was totally gone. The transition from Steadfastness (Summud in Arabic) to massive rebellion was recognized and the realization that the partners for peace are now the Palestinians and not only established Arab states- and even the PLO became acceptable. Still there was widespread criticism of non-violence as nave and ineffective and that it did not shatter the positive results from the old violent tactics. Many on both sides continued to believe that the only language Israelis understand to relinquish power is by force as well as the reverse the Arabs only understand that might is right.

It would be misleading to complete this section as a mixed picture, since the positive outcomes prevailed (Abu Nimer: 2007). Paving the way for direct PLO/Israel negotiations and the two state solutions emerged from such struggle. Salim Tamari summarizes the achievements of the Intifada after thirty months: Its main achievement seems to lie behind: a spectacular ability to mobilize whole sectors of a civilian population through networks of underground civilian resistance and communal self-help projects, challenging Israels ability to continue ruling the West-Bank and Gaza. The pattern of daily street confrontation has dealt a moral, if not logistic, blow to the might of the Israeli army. Above all, the Intifada placed relations with the Palestinians and the future of the occupied territories at the top of the agenda of all Israeli political parties.[3] (Tamari: 1990) 

Nonviolence as a mean was also represented by the low figure in the two digits- of Israeli casualties, most killed in the Occupied Territories and not within Israel itself, marking the boundaries of the two state solution. Israeli repression produced more than a thousand Palestinians killed, marginally outnumbering the number of the subsequent Intrafada, when internal armed confrontations within the brethren marked the end of the success story.

Sporadic polls of Israeli public opinion have focused on the issue of Palestinian nonviolence/violent struggle. A poll commissioned to the Luis Guttman Israel institute of applied Social Research in December 1990 (Kaufman: 1991) showed that while the level of violence used by Palestinians was limited, it was not perceived as such by Israelis:

62% perceived Palestinian violence as unlimited- 74%-78% categorized throwing stones at civilians and/or soldiers as unlimited violence. The most frequent recommendation made to the Palestinians (43%) was not to use any extent of force in order to achieve the wanted results.  An absolute majority (80%) believed that the methods employed by the Palestinians in order to establish a state are mainly violent methods. Half of those questioned (51%) agreed that the Palestinians would probably or certainly not achieve a state without the use of force.

During the first Intifada our research followed media coverage of the Intifada in two major Israeli news papers "Yediot Ahronot" and "Haaretz". Reports of violence and nonviolence acts were monitored over 1988-1990 (Kaufman: 1991). In the media circles it is generally known that what bleeds leads. It may therefore not be surprising that the violent aspect of the Intifada was reflected and stressed more. The main findings were as follows: Percentages of non violence actions reported in Yediot Ahronot went down from 50.6% (1988) to 34.9% (1989) and 32.2% (1990).  In Ha'aretz the reports went down from 48% (1988) to 34.9%  (1989) and 30.7% (1990), both reflecting the trend favoring peaceful events in wide circulating news- rather than increased Palestinian violence[4].

d. Second Intifada Intifada Al-Aqsa: Following the first Intifada, Fatah moderated its positions in order to enter negotiations with Israel in the Oslo peace process. However, its implementation went lagging behind, by government reluctance to move all the way, the assassination of PM Rabin and the forces opposed to the accord from both sides. The spoilers embarked into a paralyzing escalation. As a response to the killings made by the Jewish settler Baruch Goldstein to 39 Muslims while they were praying in Al-Haram Al-Ibrahimi in Hebron in 29/3/1994, Hamas decided to upgrade their suicide bombing inside the Israeli cities targeting civilians only. Their extremist actions are no surprise given their uncompromising Hamas Charter (1988). They are committed to the destruction of the State of Israel by striving to establish an Islamic state in all of what it considered Palestine, including post-1948 Israel, the West Bank and Gaza (BBC). Furthermore, Article 13 asserts that the the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement. (Hamas Covenant 1988) . The failure of the Oslo Peace Accords could not be savaged by the Camp David meeting between PM Barak and President Arafat convened by President Clinton in the year 2000. Much to the contrary, the economic and security situation declined at times of rising expectations and left Palestinians frustrated. Many turned to violence as the prevailing tactic in the second Intifada (Al-Aqsa Intifada). Suicide bombing by Hamas and Islamic Jihad now involved the younger sectors of Fatah. Their militant and Islamist nature led to its listing as a terrorist organization not only by Israel but also by the United States and the European Union.  

This set the path for the militarized Intifada. Hamas exploited Palestinian desire for revenge against Israeli retaliations. As average Palestinians felt more confined by increased Israeli checkpoints, curfews, a security barrier around the West Bank and deprivation from the expected peace dividends, Islamist groups gained popularity for their use of violence. Public support for the Islamists increased 17 percent in mid-2000 just before the second Intifada to 35 percent in mid-2004. On the other hand, support for Yasser Arafat's nationalist Fatah party, dropped from 37 percent to 28 percent (Shikaki 46). Suicide bombing targeted civilians only, in fact the most vulnerable sectors of society: children and senior citizens in buses; youth in discothques and general public in eateries and markets. No military objectives or governmental structures were attacked. Fear became generalized, instead of fighting at Israels borders, coastal cities were felt as the home front. Personal security rather than national security became the main issue.

Few of the older NGOs remained and some new ones developed. The aforementioned PCR led a march to the military base of Shedma along with hundreds of Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals protesting the killing of two mothers and one man and the damage of 200 homes. PCR efforts were hampered during the Al-Aqsa Intifada as mistrust between Israelis and Palestinians grew. Yet, they still welcome Israelis to their movement and organize actions showing that non-violent resistance appeals to Palestinians from various regions. (Stohlman, 63-64). Bethlehem became the focus of nonviolent activity as three new organization formed despite the violent nature of the second Intifada, including the Palestinian Center for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation (CCRR), Wiam and Holy Land Trust. In 2005 the latter organized the largest gathering around Christmas of more than four hundred international and local activists and the presence of Gene Sharp, the most distinguished theoretician and strategist of nonviolent struggles worldwide. Other Palestinian NGOs based in Ramallah and Jerusalem have kept the momentum of non-violence alive, such as Middle East Nonviolence and Democracy (MEND), and the Center of Community Development and Democracy

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) founded in the summer of 2001 is another NGO led by Palestinians to raise awareness of the injustices of occupation by exposing internationals to it. The participation of internationals at their protests is critical because they notice a shift in Israeli responses when more internationals are present. Israeli soldiers are more cautious in reacting with rubber bullets and live ammunition when more international media is interested in the event (Stohlman 67). In two years, over a thousand international volunteers participated in protests with ISM and later return to their home countries to spread the word of what they witnessed (Kaufman: 2005, 151).  

e. The post-Arafat period: The Hamas-Fatah conflict has been more pronounced since the violent takeover of the Gaza Strip by Hamas. President Abbas, unlike Hamas, is open to negotiations with Israel and condemned the militarized Intifada. In August of 2009, he organized a landmark Fatah conference of mainstream Palestinians from the Fatah party.

It was a three-day gathering, the first in 20 years and the first ever on Palestinian soil (Kershner: 2009)[5]. This gathering served an opportunity to clarify goals and mobilize Palestinians. However, President Abbass rhetoric remained ambiguous and sent mixed messages to his Palestinian supporters and Israelis. One the one hand, he argued for a new start and lauded popular protests like the weekly demonstrations against Israels security barrier in Bilin and other villages. On the other hand, President Abbas reminisced about the early years of armed struggle against Israel as he was speaking behind a large poster displaying a young Palestinian with a gun (Kershner, b). Although delegates proposed revising the Fatah charter, they kept a sentence vowing to liquidate the Zionist entity (McGirck)

These contradictory messages fail to unite the Palestinians in a confident and assertive manner. It demonstrates unclear goals and a divided party. It also shows the obstacles President Abbas faces within his own party, in addition to trying to reconcile with Hamas. Although it is believed that Abbas was just appealing to multiple factions of Fatah, he clearly spoke against the use of violence during negotiations that already started during President George W. Bushs sponsored and failed Annapolis peace process, but did not stress that nonviolent resistance was compatible with peaceful dialogue towards the search of a just peace. The continuous shelling of Israeli towns and small communities from Gaza was in the eyes of nearly all Israeli Jews a justification for blockades, and the conduct for real war in 2008/9 labeled as Operation Cast Lead by the IDF.

While the use of non-violent tactics is still spreading, the picture remains unclear in the eyes of the Israeli. Some academics have predicted a new White Intifada (Mishal, Shaul, Mazza Doron) of a non-violent nature. Recently, Fatah officials have warned of a third Intifada, adding one that will not endorse an armed struggle or the use of firearms (Khoury). Palestinian Authority officials, and particularly PM Fayyad emphasized a desire to replicate the weekly demonstrations in Naalin and Bilin (Khoury), also making mandatory the boycott of goods produced by Jewish settlements in the West Bank. This represents a positive shift in the instrumentality of a strategy that coincides with the goal of two states living in peace next to each other. But to elicit concrete results, it needs to become a larger and united resistance movement that is wholly non-violent.

Operation Cast Lead and the Qassam rocket launches into Southern Israel have further segregated the Palestinians and Israelis. Moreover, the hard-line Likud-led coalition coupled with an uncompromising Hamas leadership serves as a major impediment to productive negotiations. This has translated into extreme pessimism amongst the public, as nearly three-quarters do not believe the negotiations will lead to an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. Furthermore, Palestinians contend that even if one is signed, they doubt it will resolve the historic conflict with Israel[6]. Hamas may appear powerful to Palestinians on a superficial level; however, their leaders cannot justify to Palestinians how the Qassam rocket shelling improves their lives and advances their ultimate cause of statehood (Saab, 9).

The efforts of the Obama administration, so far did not bear fruit. The gloomy perspective is leaving the PA and primarily people in the West Bank and East Jerusalem with the challenge of empowerment and taking more initiative of the process. The new strategy of getting institutions function, preparing democratic elections, receiving worldwide recognition as a state may be needed in order to quell the cynicism. Sponsored by leadership and grassroots, a sustained non-violence resistance can accompany official negotiations, and can tilt the culture of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in favor of proponents of a just peace[7].


Palestinian non-violence efforts have not yet reached the bulk of Israeli society as is shown in the following series of interviews and focus groups with academics, students, journalists and activists (Truman Institute, 2003). Most of the academics viewed non-violence resistance as minimal and agreed that Israelis at large view Palestinians as generally violent[8], doubt the sincerity of non-violence declarations, interpreting it as just an alternative to achieving the same goal. In other words, even if non-violence occurs, Israelis do not believe that Palestinians actually oppose violence and are skeptical of the Palestinians long-term goals. For instance, does Freeing Palestine include Israel proper? Would a resolution entailing the withdrawal from the West Bank suffice as a final status agreement, or is it merely a phase in a larger picture of attaining more concessions and territory?  

A. Israeli Perceptions of Palestinian Non-violence

Overall, deep rooted trauma is making Jews to fear oral incitement as well as actual violence. Not a few Muslim and Arab public and popular statements and behavioral expressions have not been conciliatory towards the Israelis and the Jews, including lately questioning the true nature of the Holocaust, They are surrounded by an ocean of hatred as Arabs could not accept defeat and their rhetoric was fierce. (IHT, April 3, 2001, Eyad El Sarraj, Palestinians Should Try Nonviolent Resistance.) The Israeli psyche is more prone to perceive the message as: We will kill you all, even if many voices are standing up bravely among the Palestinians to condemn publicly suicide and car bombings. Still, Itbah Al Yehud (butcher the Jew) has more resonance. True, the mirror image exists in  the cry, Mavet laAravim, (Death to the Arabs), the mob calling for revenge whenever a killing of Israelis takes place; both cries, even if not implementing, are terrifying. Similarly, for the Jews the perception of the call for Jihad (Holy War) rings a different bell than the internal struggle in one self as interpreted by pious Muslims. 

Moving the Israelis past denial

Since much of the Israeli public attributes its own government repression to justified retribution to Palestinian violence, there is also an avoidance to recognize occupation in itself as a major source of Palestinian suffering, what Galtung called structural violence [1971]. In our focus groups journalists agreed that the only other Palestinian image perceived by Israelis is based on reports of human suffering. The image of the suffering Palestinian shown in reports such as the Palestinian violinist forced playing his violin at the blockade security check, or report on poor workers in Gaza treated rudely at the Erez checkpoint, raise moral discomfort and therefore leave a strong impression. Hence, the road to nonviolence will make Israelis peer from behind their shield to see the Palestinian man and woman in their true form. They will then be secure enough to share the pain and empathize. Many Israelis will be able to join the struggle for Palestinian liberation (El Seraj, 2001).  

Suspicion towards non violence as a manipulated slogan

One journalist asked, "The question is how Israelis are supposed to speak with those who support non violence, are they sincere?  Or is their goal to dismantle Israeli unity by non violent declarations?" Another journalist added, "Palestinians use violence instrumentally. They are now talking of secession of violence in the media, but there is an ethos of violence there, the use of the word Shahid (martyr) has become trivial. When they want to they turn the violence switch on and now Abu Mazen is turning the (violence) switch offIt isn't authentic.

Israelis fear that even with the term nonviolence struggle as used by Fatah, the term struggle has a connotation of war. Palestinian declarations on the intention to stop acts of violence are received with suspicion. A number of journalists suspected there may be a certain degree of dissonance between what is being said and the underlying messages. Palestinians may be expressing themselves differently when they are talking to Israelis or are speaking to people within their own societies. Non violence declarations are perceived by many Israeli's as driven by interests rather than real devotion to such principles of conflict resolution. And yet, most journalists agreed that the Israeli public has a shifting mood and short memory regarding violence and even short periods of relative quiet, result in increased optimism in the Israeli street. But inaction with no violence is not to be equalized with the recognition of the nonviolent action as a prevailing strategy.  

B. Misconceptions

At the public opinion level, a Search for Common Ground (SFCG) poll shows the surprising potential for non-violence for Palestinians. Two years into the Al-Aqsa Intifada in 2002, the survey reveals that 80% of Palestinians would support a large-scale non-violent protest movement and 56% would participate in it. Similarly, 78% of Israeli Jews believe that the Palestinians have a legitimate right to seek a Palestinian state, provided that they use non-violent means. A study by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) complements the SFCG survey indicating that nearly 70% of Palestinian young adults believe the use of violence to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not very helpful[9].

Another survey conducted through The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in Ramallah and the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem polled Palestinian and Israeli public opinion between September 7 and 21, 2005[10]. Even during tense times the polls indicate a mutual recognition of identity. According to the poll, 66% of the Israelis and 63% of the Palestinians support a mutual recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people and Palestine as the state of the Palestinian people. Even more remarkable is the majority support for this step among Israeli Arabs: 63% support and 34% oppose it.  

Stereotyping a culture as violent

There is a generalized perception that contemporary Arab Islam has an inherent tendency towards violent means, not only against the Jews but using the worst forms of killings towards each other. That the first Intifada was followed by an intra-fada in which Palestinians killed each other in numbers as high as the casualties caused by the Israeli armed forces. With scattered exposure to countering information (as Media does not cover enough non violent activities), it is hard to change these perceptions, and therefore the skepticism. A related concern was raised regarding the concept of non-violence in the Middle East context, was the need for adaptation of known non-violent theory and actions to a local context. In order to succeed, non-violent movements should be context specific, i.e. based on local religion and culture.

Military correspondents mentioned episodes in which nonviolent rebellion could produce mixed results, in fact dividing the Israeli young active duty soldiers, but particularly reservists that work many of the roadblocks[11]. Isolated stories may predict a pattern in which uncertainty could initially produce aggressive retaliation and the use of lethal weapons against nonviolent resistance; but such escalation could further evoke refusal by significant sectors to comply with what could be seen as illegal or immoral orders. It does not need to become a majority among the soldiers to make such reaction split the Israeli society and even leadership. Karny relates to an interview to the former Chief Psychologist of the IDF and later Deputy Director of the National Security Council Reuven Gal, when in a briefing to the top brass about the nonviolent nature of the first Intifada, they got shocked realizing that the arsenal of Israeli conventional weapons was not going to work against a group of young Palestinians without weapons determined to gain independence. Nonviolence provoked a change of hearts in a formative experience of the then Defense Minister and later peace seeker PM peace Rabin. While he at first called for demonstratively breaking arms and legs of Palestinians, he later recognized that the new strength of the Palestinians was not militarily quantifiable or militarily treatable (Karny, 13). Furthermore, the repression of massive protests often result with fatalities, which increases exponentially the combative spirit. Former Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, notes that Israel was facing a popular uprising and that suppression would be ineffective against a generation without hope and fear (King 7). Dr. Eyad El Sarraj assessed that, the Israeli soldier is a human being, not a beast devoid of conscience and feeling. He has an understanding of right and wrong to which it is possible to appeal. Israelis who appear as the masters are in fact the victims of a history of pain, suffering persecution and ghettos.(IHT, April 3, 2001, Eyad El Sarraj, Palestinians Should Try Nonviolent Resistance.). 

The continued aggressive military response to Palestinian protests by the IDF is worrisome. It warrants the question, is the IDF completely inept to deal with non-violent resistance? The disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005 serves as an example of the IDFs ability to follow orders while not reacting aggressively to non-violence. Much tension existed within Israel leading up to the evacuation and dismantlement of Jewish settlements. Yet, despite all the hardships, emotions, and complexity, the disengagement process was far less violent than anticipated. Nevertheless, the Gaza disengagement demonstrates the capability of the IDF to respond appropriately to non-violence resistance[12].

Nonviolent leadership

Reservations were expressed towards the idea of a top down process and the possibility to create a movement was based also on the perceived lack of strong leadership: "Unfortunately, the Palestinians, do not have a Gandhi or a Martin Luther King, or somebody who will lead If no Icon leads the movement, the non violence effort will not last long". Those who believed that the process is a top down process suggested that activities should focus on strengthening central political leadership.Many referred to the fact that in order to influence, there must be a mass movement: "It has to become a mass movement, it has to be thousands"and (it) must be sustained". If experimenting with nonviolent action in Jerusalem, there is a potential for an increasing role for foreign diplomats and world media, as well as solidarity from the Israeli civil society in the city and elsewhere. Unfortunately, there is no much combating spirit left among Palestinians in the city, left without a legitimated leadership since the death of Faisal Husseini, and fear of Israeli reprisals that can damage them as individuals with a relatively better position than the rest of their brethren in the Occupied Territories. Some suggested that a violent reaction to a non violent action would most definitely enter the news: "They should lie down on the road, or walk as a united front holding hands, a violent reaction to a non violent act will enter the news"  

C. Israeli Official Responses

During the first Intifada, the hard-line Israeli government led by PM Minister Yitzhak Shamir insisted on the iron fist strategy. Defense Minister Rabin stated the governments formal policy on January 19th 1988, The first priority is to prevent violent demonstrations with force, power, and blows (King, 7). In an effort to tone down the IDFs shooting responses to Palestinian demonstrators, the army distributed wooden and metal clubs to soldiers, with the authorization to break limbs. The army apparently took the command literally as a Haaretz article revealed that 197 Palestinians had been treated for fractured limbs within three days of Rabins statement (King, 8). In short, the IDF was initially not trained to respond to acts of non-violence. Soldiers realized that while they were equipped to fight and psychologically prepared for external threats, fighting an enemy internally proved too difficult of a transition. The inadequate training to confront non-violence is represented by the violent retaliation soldiers utilize even today. The IDF asserts that protestors hurl stones in protest provoking more aggressive responses[13]. An illustration may be useful: In April of 2009, another anti-fence demonstration in Bilin by Palestinians, Israelis and internationals ended fatally. Bassem Ibrahim Abu-Rahma was hit in the chest by a tear gas canister and died from wounds shortly after reaching the hospital. The IDF claims the protests were violent[14]. A few weeks later, in a similar Palestinian protest of the separation fence, Yusuf Srour was killed by Israeli forces that shot him in the chest with a live bullet. Again, the IDF announced that they were responding to a heavy barrage of rocks[15].

But in the main effort in Bilin, leaders led a clandestine construction crew across the barrier and built a makeshift hut on village land that had been usurped for a new neighborhood of the Jewish settlement. (The stealth maneuver mimicked Israel's expansionist strategy of creating "facts on the ground.") When the army threatened to demolish the hut, the village went to Israel's Supreme Court and challenged the new neighborhood, which lacked formal government authorization. The court ordered Israel to stop building in the neighborhood, move the fence and restore about half the 575 acres of [15]olive groves Bilin's farmers had lost. Then they set up an alliance of eleven West Bank villages to share these strategies, and some have borne fruit. Six communities have successfully challenged the barrier's route across their land. Activists have linked up with outside supporters to sneak water trucks into parched communities cut off by the army and to protect olive harvesters from harassment by settlers[16]. Asked to explain the crackdown, a battalion commander said protesters causing damage to the fence had been photographed and singled out for arrest. But after a week of requests, the army did not detail any damage claims.

But if to follow the revolutionary wave in the region,masses of Palestinians, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, marching to IDF checkpoints and outposts, marching to Israeli-only roads, to settlements, to the security fence to the nearest Israeli presence and screaming, Out! Out!. And refusing  
 to leave, what the hell is the IDF going to do then? Shoot them? Arrest them? With the whole world not only watching but, for the first time, already won over by other unarmed Arab masses facing down their oppressors? What will the IDF do under the eyes of a world that, for the first time, is seeing Arabs as people like themselves who want freedom, who deserve it and who are earning it, to say the least, with their courage? (Jerusalem Post, February 23, 2011

D. Jewish Societal Reactions

Perhaps the most striking example of the power of nonviolence is the resistance put by activists in Budrus, a West Bank village that protested the building of the security fence/ wall in much of their agricultural land. The story was documented in the Just Vision film, Budrus, produced important reactions from Jewish audiences in the United States and Israel. It features protagonists who elicit empathy so that viewers can put themselves in the shoes of all the individuals and can identify with their dilemmas and roles. There are too few local examples that elicit empathy, understanding and involvement that can contribute to weaken the popular stereotype as Palestinian= terror[17].

The Peace Index (Steinmetz Center: September 2005) checked attitudes toward different methods of protest, which may be used by Israelis opposing to the forceful evacuation of the Jewish settlements in Gaza. Attitudes towards means of protest, conceived as legitimate in the Israeli side, could reflect attitudes in general including towards Palestinians legitimate ways of protest. The questionnaire distinguished between three possible protest methods: Within the law (for example, petitions, legal demonstrations), non-violent civil disobedience (unlicensed demonstrations, refusal of army service, refusal to pay taxes and so forth), finally they were asked regarding violent civil disobedience (the use of force against evacuating settlements). The results of the poll show that, as in the past, there is support for protest as long as it is legal. 86.3% support legal means of protest while only 13.5% support illegal methods, such as non-violent civil disobedience, and an even smaller number 6.5% support violent protest. In another series of questions the initiators of the poll tried to find the levels of support for negotiations and whether support was conditional or not on the end of terror. 50.3% agreed with the opinion that negotiations should not be renewed as long as terror persists. 43.1% adopted the opinion that negotiations should start without any prerequisites.  Widespread non-violent activities replacing stereotypical perception of Palestinians as terrorists could fulfill the preliminary demand of most of the public and act as a catalyst for renewed negotiations. 

All in all, nonviolent activism in the Israeli society has been rather limited. According to Abu Nimer, four main reasons explain the lack of a sustainable and effective Israeli non-violent direct action movement. First is the manifesto of Israels largest and most dominant peace group, Peace Now avoids any direct confrontation with Israeli military forces on the ground, yet it opposes many government policies such as: settlement expansion, human rights violations, and collective punishment (with many serving in the army or reserves). A second factor explaining the lack of a sustained Israeli nonviolent movement is that nonviolent direct action requires a higher level of risk from peace activists, under a threat of arrest. The Israeli peace movement in general has relied on middle and upper class elite followers and organizers, who are often professionals living in well-to-do communities, which increases the cost of their open dissent towards the national consensus. Thirdly, Israels militarized society and economy has created a strong dependency on security clearances for jobs and promotions. A fourth explanation for the lack of a sustained movement is the interdependence between Israeli and Palestinian peace and resistance movements. The withdrawal or weakness of one often affects the other, as it is used by those advocating violence to claim there is no partner on the other side. And last, the lack of a massive Palestinian civil-based nonviolent mobilization is another factor weakening Israeli nonviolent direct action groups. This is especially a factor during and after the second Intifada with many Palestinian peace and nonviolence groups hesitating to work or even coordinate with Israeli peace groups. At its outbreak, for more than 14 months the Palestinians NGOs (as instructed by the PNA) formally boycotted any form of joint activities with Israeli peace groups. This has changed at the PA governmental level, now welcoming cooperation but civil society have remained under the tight control of those who reject such asymmetrical collaboration now or even in a more equalized future

Hence, only the more radical groups such as Uri Avneris Gush Shalom, Yesh Gvul, Taayush, the anarchists and a few Arab led political parties would still offer unconditional solidarity rather than the larger components of the Israeli/Palestinian Peace Network, who seek reciprocity while recognizing the unequal overall situation. 

At present, there is still a very limited amount of Israelis who refuse to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and/or the Occupied Territories. Small groups have come without an IDF permit into the West Bank to demonstrate on Fridays to villages that protest against the building of the fence/wall. All in all this are marginal groups. However, it points to the potential of a massive Palestinian nonviolent action. Paradoxically, such activity in Jerusalem, were both sides could interact freely is very minimal. The Israeli reluctance to transform their knowledge of the injustices between Arab and Jew in this city into act-knowledgment and what is perceived to be one-sided solidarity without reciprocation fails to internalize this unfair situation. On the other hand, many Arab residents of East Jerusalem are fearful to lose their precarious resident status would they become involved in protest actions.


So far, most Israelis seem not to internalize the growing signs of an incipient Palestinian non-violent strategy. It may well be more difficult to understand it in the context of a deep-rooted perception of a lethal struggle against a conniving bitter enemy. Changing such pre-disposition is extremely difficult, when even positive messages are seen as propagandistic and unreliable. More specifically, our findings show:

v  Public opinion polls indicate that the Israeli public in general is ready to end the violence and is leaning towards conciliation. More non-violent actions reported to the Israeli public, we believe, will strengthen these positive trends in Israeli society and may promote further support and activism

v  The small number of reports on non-violent actions by Palestinians and around the world in the Israeli mass media may point to the necessity of finding additional ways of connecting with the Jewish grassroots[18]. The term action-forcing event relates to an induced emblematic act, acting as a trigger for a higher focus of attention. . After a period in which both societies are inflicted with violence, when it was easier to escalate than de-escalate, perhaps a dramatic non-violent action can shape a clear-cut departure from the current spiral of mutual reprisals. Perhaps it may be possible to build wide consensus against the targeting of innocent civilians in the first stage, calling for reciprocity, namely stopping both terror and state terror. While limiting the scope of violence is not the equivalent to non-violent action, a gradual decrease can contribute to finding common ground on means of deflating the current situation.

v  Achieving such a mission will require promoting non-violent activities in both societies: in Palestine as a tool to end  the occupation; and in Israel  in order to educate the Israelis to treat Palestinians as human beings, leading to humanizing them, and therefore treating them by non-violent rather than violent means.

v  There has been no agreement among Palestinians on the definition of non-hikiPalestinian/Israeli Peace NGO Forum) combine non-violence with peace building, avoiding stone throwing in their joint activities. Others regard think of non-violence as excluding firearms, but accepting stones as legitimate means for intimidating rather than causing bodily harm. Some groups are satisfied with conducting non-violence education and non-violence training;  and a fourth cluster link non-violence with the boycott of the Israelis, including boycotting the Israeli Peace Camp, and calling for divestments and sanctions against Israel. With the additional party politics fragmentation such unclear panorama makes difficult to for Israelis of good will to feel participants of a Palestinian growing and unified peaceful resistance movement. (CDCD, 2010)

v  The continued aggressive military response to Palestinian and mixed protests by the IDF is worrisome. It warrants the question, is the IDF completely inept to deal with non-violent resistance? The disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005 serves as an example of the IDFs ability to follow orders while not reacting aggressively to non-violence. Much tension existed within Israel leading up to the evacuation and dismantlement of Jewish settlements. Yet, despite all the hardships, emotions, and complexity, the disengagement process was far less violent than anticipated. Nevertheless, the Gaza disengagement demonstrates the capability of the IDF to respond appropriately to non-violence resistance[19]. This exemplifies the possibility of avoiding an escalation of violence. Granted, this scenario involves IDF vs. other Jews rather than IDF vs. Palestinians within the Palestinian territories and longer-term reactions to a popular and massive challenge remain to be seen. Sharp (2005) identifies Conversion among other approaches to waging a successful non-violent struggle, meaning that the powerful oppressor has a change of heart or mind and comes to agree with and work toward the activists goal.  Conversion aims not simply to free the subordinate group, but also to free the opponents who are thought to be imprisoned by their own system and policies (p. 416).

v  As in the earlier cases, nonviolent resistance and cooperation through civil disobedience across the divide may be undermined by spoilers from both side mostly religiously motivated. Hence sporadic acts of terror may continue to come up, and what is it important is the clear cut condemnation and disassociation by the leadership of organizations and the state

v  There has been  a marked change when PM Fayyads strategy towards statehood in two years all focus on nonviolence [economic and institutional building, and international support]. The decision to boycott in the West Bank the Jewish settlement products and isolated visits to places confronting occupation with civil disobedience are steps forward. However there should be a clear message that official negotiations (or not) do not preclude the simultaneous use of nonviolent sanctions.

v  The argument that Hamas has lately adhered in Gaza to a policy of temporary Taadyeh (tranquility) is not congruent with total commitment to nonviolent means, let alone when not accompanied with a clear rectification of the goal denying Israels right to exist. Instead of justifying it as an approximation to nonviolence, best to spell out the difference with peaceful resistance nonviolence.

v  Israel tends to escalate violence to lhigh levels where superior power is clearly manifested. While  Palestinian violence developed often when Israel troops or settlers had initiated such cycle or responded with massive violence to the Palestinian non violence,(i.e.  the breaking of the arms of the Palestinians by a Rabin decision in the beginning of the first Intifada, and the massive killing of the Palestinian demonstrators at the beginning of the second Intifada) it seems to be no short term behavioral change when a massive nonviolent campaign could be launched. Sustainability of nonviolence facing adverse circumstances and provocations is one of the major challenges

v  Peaceful resistance in an asymmetric situation is an equalizing tool for the weak side. Furthermore, the centrality of security for the Jewish people is not a slogan or excuse but the result of a long history of threats to their existence. So, in spite of a superficial lack of reciprocity in the resistance to occupation, concerned Israeli citizens have channeled, albeit it in decreasing numbers, their commitment to shared goals through involvement in human rights and peace organizations. But the refusal to utilize Israeli military means has been and will continue to remain negligible. Palestinian non-violent empowerment is going to oblige greater numbers of Israeli citizens to look at the mirror introspectively and join rather than fight them. When you are talking to the enemy, to an Israeli, your own people will ask you whether you are a traitor but, you cannot talk only to the world or with other Palestinians, you have to tell the Israeli what is happening (Awad, 88).. 

In sum, research conducted regarding the first Intifada and the more recent studies presented here suggest the importance of a clear goallasting peaceto be presented to Israelis while resisting ONLY through peaceful means. But acts may not always be interpreted in the way they are intended.

We should praise the sustained and relentless work undertaken by the half a dozen or so Palestinians NGOs in training for non-violent action and acting upon it as well as reaching out to Israeli partners. But lack of coordination among them, and the inability to persuade their government and political forces such as Fatah to stand up publicly and repeatedly to endorse such efforts is an inherent source of weakness that needs to be overcome. The current isolated expressions, as worthy as they may be, do not accumulate in the Israeli perception to be a countervailing force to past acts of terror against their civilian population.  

While majorities in both nations are ready to settle for a two state solution, their pessimism about seeing that achieved in our lifetimes is making the goal a distant utopia. Peace as an end can be strengthened by peaceful means. Non-violent struggle has the demonstrative elements to prove that the struggle for a just solution can be conducted heroically by such means. It may be possible to recognize already a small but significant progress in the debate and limited actions towards bottom-up and top- bottom endorsement of Palestinian non-violent struggle. 

After a period in which both societies are inflicted with violence, when it was easier to escalate than de-escalate, perhaps a dramatic non-violent action can shape a clear-cut departure from the current spiral of mutual reprisals. Perhaps it may be possible to build wide consensus against the targeting of innocent civilians in the first stage, calling for reciprocity, namely stopping both terror and state terror. While limiting the scope of violence is not the equivalent to non-violent action, a gradual decrease can contribute to finding common ground on means of deflating the current situation. 

Abu Sarah (2009) suggests learning from the American civil rights movement: Dr. King appealed to the deepest consciousness of the American people. He invoked the highest standard of American values: the constitution and the writings of the founding fathers. Thus, his appeals reached millions of American people and resonated within their hearts and minds. In the same way, Palestinians can reach the hearts and minds of the Jewish citizens of Israel by appealing to their hopes and fears, ideals and principles. But as Israel has no constitution, this means calling on the Hebrew Scriptures and Jewish traditions. By presenting Jewish morals, standards and beliefs in a new light, Palestinians can make their arguments more salient to Israelis. For example, the words of the prophet Isaiah are particularly resonant, especially as they are read during the Yom Kippur service: Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?[20]

Such message could be truly a tremendous wake up call to Israelis; it strikes Israelis at their core, their Jewish collective memory. It acknowledges past experiences with the cruelty mentioned. This is critical in gaining the attention of Israelis and showing a level of respect. There should also be an invitation to join their struggle. There is a realization here that the Palestinian cause is also in Israels interest for security. The message is blunt in the impact Israeli occupation has had on Palestinians, forcing Israelis to reflect on their conduct. Finally, connecting means and ends it concludes by correlating Jewish beliefs with the values of justice and equality to remind us all that it is possible to have two states living in peace side by side.


*** *** ***

Works Cited

1.      Abu-Nimer, Mohammed. Nonviolence and Peace Building in Islam. University Press of Florida, 2003 

2.      Abu-Nimer, Mohammed Dialogue and National Consensus: Israeli and Palestinian

3.      The Center for Democracy and Community Development( CDCD), and Middle East  Democracy and Non violence (MEND), Minutes of a workshop on the non violence strategies in Palestine, 18/11/2010.

4.      Peace Activists Pre-Madrid Conference: Dilemmas of Israeli and Palestinian

5.      Peace Activists. K. Avruch (Ed.), Books on Israel, New York: SUNY Press, 1997 

6.      Abu-Zyyad, Ziad, The Power of Non-violence, Haaretz, June 3, 2010 

7.      Awad, Mubarak E. Non-Violent Resistance: A Strategy for the Occupied Territories.

8.      University of California Press: Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 13, No. 4 1984, pp 22-36.

9.      Galtung, J. and Hoivik, T., Structural and Direct Violence- A Note on Operationalization, Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 8, No 1, 1971, pp 73- 76 

10.  Gopin, Marc. Non-cooperation can bring a revolution to the Holy Land. Search for Common Ground News Service. March 26th 2009.

11.  Hamas Coup in Gaza: Fundamental Shift in Palestinian Politics. IISS: The International Institute for Strategic Studies. Vol. 13, Issue 5, June 2007.

12.  Hamas Covenant 1988: The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement. The Avalon Project: Documents in Law, History, and Diplomacy. Yale  Law School:  Lillian Goldman Law Library. 16 May 2009,< http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hamas.asp> 

  1. Jerusalem Post, 23 February 2011, L.Derfner, People get ready theres atrain comin

14.  Karny, Yoav. The Fateful Choioce:Violence and Nonviolence in the Independence Struggles of Small Nations, Working Paper, United States Institute of Peace, Washington DC, 2005.  

15.  Kaufman, Edy. "Limited Violence and the Intifadah," Journal of Arab Studies, (Fall 1990),(Vol.9,No. 2), pp. 109-121. 

16.  Kaufman, Edy, Israeli Perceptions of the Palestinians 'Limited Violence' in the Intifada." Journal of Terrorism and Political Violence, (Vol. 3, No. 4, (Winter 1992), pp. 1-38.

17.  Kaufman, Edy and Eylon, Ohad, The Effectiveness of Nonviolent Action Revisited, (Working Paper, Center for International Development and Conflict Management, University of Maryland, 2001)

18.  E. Kaufman and Lucy Nusseibeh (Principal Investigators), Maximizing Likelihood of Support for Nonviolent Action in both Palestinian and Israeli Societies: a pro-Active Feasibility Study (2003-2004), (research project sponsored by the European Union).

19.  Kaufman, Edy, Israeli perceptions of Palestinian Nonviolence- Final Report on Focus Groups, (submitted to Middle East Nonviolence and Democracy by Harry S Truman Institute, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 2003)

20.  Kaufman, Edy and Walid Salem and Juliette Verhoeven. Bridging the Divide: Peacebuilding in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Boulder, CO: Lynne Reinner Publishers Inc., 2006.  

21.  Kershner, Isabel. Abbas Rejects Calling Israel a Jewish State. 28 April 2009. The New York Times. 16 May 2009.

22.  Kershner, Isabel. Abbas Urges New Start at Fatah Conference New York Times. Aug. 5, 2009.  

23.  Khoury, Jack. Fatah officials warn of third Palestinian Intifada. Haaretz. Nov. 20, 2009. 

24.  King, Mary Elizabeth. A Quiet Revolution: The First Intifada and Nonviolent Resistance.  New York: Nation Books, 2007.  

25.  Krauthammer, Charles. The Hamas Peace Gambit, The Washington Post. 9 May  2009. 

26.  Kuttab, Jonathan  Why nonviolence campaign is effective? Non-violent Resistance in Palestine: Pursuing Alternative Strategies , CPAP, March/April 2003.

27.  McGirck, Tim. Fatah Conference Boosts Abbas, but Peace May Remain Elusive. TIME Magazine. Aug. 12, 2009.  

28.  Mishal, Shaul, Mazza Doron: A White Intifada,  Haaretz, February 10, 2002) 

29.  Non-violence- Questions of designing a strategy for Palestine Final Document of workshop held 28/11/2010, at the Red Crescent Hall in Al-Bireh. (available at the Center for Democracy and Community Development

30.  Palestinian Rivals: Fatah and Hamas. 17 June 2007. BBC News. 15 May 2009.   

31.  Peace Index (Monthly Survey, Tammy Steinmetz Center for Peace Research, Tel Aviv University, http://www.spirit.tau.ac.il)   

32.  Saab, Bilal Y. Beyond Gaza. Chatham House: Independent Thinking on International Affairs. Feb. 2009. 9-10.

33.  Sharp, Gene. The Politics of Non-Violent Action. 3 Vols. P. Sargent, Boston. 1973.Sharp, Gene. Waging Nonviolent Struggle: 20th Century Practice and 21st Century Potential. Boston: Porter Sargent Publishers, Inc., 2005.  

34.  Sharp, Gene and Raqib, Jamila,  Self-Liberation: A Guide to Strategic Planning for Action to End a Dictatorship or Other Oppresion, (Boston, Albert Einstein Institution, www.aeinstein.org., 2009) 

35.  Shikaki, Khalil. The Future of Palestine. Foreign Affairs. Vol. 83, No. 6 (Nov.-Dec., 2004) 45-60. 

36.  Shlaim, Avi. The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2001.  

37.  Stephan, Maria J., Fighting for Statehood: The Role of Civilian-Based Resistance in the East Timorese, Palestinian and Kosovo Albanian Self-Determination Movements, The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, Vol 30:20, Summer 2006, pp 57- 77 

38.  Stohlman, Nancy and Laurieann Aladin. Live from Palestine: International and Palestinian Direct Action Against the Israeli Occupation. Cambridge, MA: South  End Press, 2003.  

39.  Tamari, Salim The Uprisings Dilemma, MERIP Middle East Report, May-August 1990, pg. 4.


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٭ We are grateful to Gene Sharp for his teachings and in particular for providing substantial criticism and detailed correction to the first manuscript of this article.

[1] E. Kaufman and Lucy Nusseibeh (Principal Investigators), Maximizing Likelihood of Support for Nonviolent Action in both Palestinian and Israeli Societies: a pro-Active Feasibility Study (2003-2004), (research project sponsored by the European Union).The full data gathered on the Israel side  is available upon request

[2] The balance between the non-violent reactions of the Palestinians was historically on the side of non-violence except for some short periods of time when violence prevailed. These short periods are: from the second half of 1936 till 1939 (two years and a half), from November 1947 till May 1948 (6 months), from 1965 till 1974(9 years). Altogether 12 years in a period of 76 years from 1917 till 1993. After 1994 the non-violence  went together with the violent acts against occupation.

[3] Salim Tamari The Uprisings Dilemma, MERIP Middle East Report, May-August 1990, pg. 4

[4] Classification of violent and non violent events took into account different perceptions of what is and isn't violent by categorizing according to actual violence performed i.e. Demonstration with violence =violent, demonstration = non violent).

[6] Peace Index Tel Aviv University Poll March 2008  Ephraim Yaar and Tamar Hermann.

[7] Marc Gopin indicates, non-cooperation can bring a revolution to the Holy Land (Gopin). Non-violence resistance has the potential to raise awareness of the Palestinian struggle, clarify intentions, and discredit the spoilers on both sides. Although it suspected that it will be negatively received initially by Israeli society, a solitary Palestinian resistance movement committed to non-violence will alter the Israeli psyche and shatter predispositions. Thus, building confidence between the two societies and leading to a sustainable two-state solution.

[8] Findings of the ACADEMIC FOCUS GROUP ANALYSIS, Truman Institute, 2003).

[9] Haaretz article -http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1075465.html . Hopefully, these results can clarify each partys intent and direction for the future. John Marks, President of SFCG, states We believe these findings reflect the real, but unrealized, potential that non-violence can play in ending the vicious cycle of bloodshed.

[10] Poll was planned and supervised by Dr. Yaacov Shamir, professor of Communication and Journalism at the Hebrew University, and Dr. Khalil Shikaki, professor of Political Science and director of Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.

[11] The IDF is not adequately prepared to confront non-violence. A soldier recounts10,I remember when I was a new recruit in the IDF, I was serving in Nebata, a group of Palestinians started walking towards us holding each others hands, it made me face a huge dilemma, they were not violent..."."Soldiers don't know how to react when there is no threat on their life The IDF does not know how to deal with non violent behavior

[12] The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), for example, approached Shatil with a request to develop a model of constructive struggle to reduce escalation and violence at checkpoints, a model which ACRI can apply in its work with the Border PoliceTammy Rubel (Shatil), Haim Omer, and Nachi Alon (Tel Aviv University) - Strategic Thinking and Non-Violence in Israels Disengagement from Gaza.

[15] Avi Issacharoff and Anshel Pfeffer and Reuters 5/6/2009 http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1090697.html.

[16] The army has yet to comply with the ruling and move the barrier; the precise new route has been tied up in litigation. Meanwhile, soldiers began reacting with greater force to the protests, and 28 protest leaders and participants were arrested in their homes during the midnight raids that began in June. Seventeen are being held. Khatib faces charges of inciting violence.

[17] The outburst of oral and physical violence is seen as expected, and the film builds up is not making it clear if there will be a "happy end", spectators worrying that things can get out of hand, and caring for both sides. You become a supporter of the way without thinking about it beforehand, you would like Budrus people to succeed. There is an admiration for father and daughter. The stone throwing is not a major obstacle, it gives credibility to the film, and many can understand that young people can be more rebellious, let alone that the nonviolent leaders try to stop this act and regret it. It provides a sense of authenticity. Reviews of the film and extensive accompanying pedagogic materials available on their website, at www.justvision.org.

[18] In a lecture at the Truman Institute on the subject of non-violence, Johan Galtung repeated the importance of the chain, or connection both within all strata of the resisting society and the connection to people in the other society. He mentioned the chain factor as a main contributor to the success of Gandhis struggle to free India of the British.

[19] Quoted in Charles Levinson, Israels Foes Embrace New Resistence Tactics Wall Street Journal, July 2, 2010.

[20] Abu Sarah continues: Palestinians should also appeal to Israels democratic ideals. As Israel maintains a belief in liberty and self-determination, so should Palestinians insist that Israel live up to its own ideals. This means highlighting that true democracy cannot allow for the occupation and oppression of others. The Palestinian struggle shares many similarities with Jewish history. From its fight for existence to the Diaspora experience, Jews and Palestinians have both desired a secure and free homeland.* Aziz Abu Sarah, Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 12 Nov. 2009, www.commongroundnews.org  .Rabbi and Prof. Gopin put himself in the shoes of a Palestinian peer:  
I am going to sit down at this checkpoint, in this airport, because I am waiting for you to treat me with dignity and equality. I know you can as a child of Abraham, as a survivor of injustice and cruelty yourself, as a scion of a noble civilization. I know your laws demand that you follow orders, that you point your weapons at my children and terrify them, that you force me to strip naked and violate my body. But your laws are unjust, and you can break them and join us I know that you put up your wall for security and I too want your children to be safe. But you cannot use it as an excuse to steal more of my land, as an excuse to avoid apologizing to me for the harm you have done to me for sixty years. Join me and we will fight for peace and jussice together, we will negotiate, but I will not allow you anymore to corrupt me, buy me, divide me, or humiliate me. Shoot me if you want to follow orders, or join me if you want to rediscover your Jewish beliefs and values. I will be generous as the prophet Mohammed was; I will be just as he was; I will welcome you to my home, as he did, but it is time for you to see me as equal, as a brother, and then everything else will work out. You can have your Israel and we can have our Palestine, and God will show us the way to do this in peace and justice. 





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