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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Proof that Nonviolence is also Pragmatic, January 12, 2008
This review is from: A Quiet Revolution: The First Palestinian Intifada and Nonviolent Resistance (Paperback)
King, Mary Elizabeth. A Quiet Revolution: The First Palestinian Intifada and Nonviolent Resistance. New York: Nation Books, 2007.

This is an incredibly important book. The author details the overwhelmingly nonviolent first Palestinian Intifada (usually translated as "shaking off"). This is a quite thorough discussion that includes many interviews and archival research dating back to the 19th century. King employs theoretical discussions of nonviolent pioneers like Gandhi and Martin Luther King though she tends to employ a perspective developed by Gene Sharp (usually referred to as strategic nonviolence). She also develops ideas from Ernest Haas and Antonio Gramsci to explain the evolution and transference of nonviolent ideas and practices to the Occupied Territories. Given the dearth of scholarly or journalistic accounts of the nonviolent character of the first Palestinian Intifada, I suspect that quite a few readers will initially be skeptical. However, this book is very well researched.

Additionally, for those skeptical readers, I think that you will find the author's tone to be consistent with the nonviolent approach, primarily the notion that all human beings deserve respect (in this case Israeli and Palestinian). Further, she does not pull any punches and deals forthrightly with controversial issues like stone throwing and petrol bombs that were used in even during the most nonviolent phase of the Intifada.

Though the book includes significant and lengthy historical material as well as detailed discussions of the inner workings of various civil society organizations that developed during this period (1987-1990), the author does carry a strong argument: "the zenith, this phase produced the greatest and most enduring results of the uprising and lasted for more than two years, from January 1988 until March 1990, when leading figures were incarcerated" (296). In other words, the most nonviolent of this overwhelmingly nonviolent revolution was incredibly effective, resulting in significant political gains as well as the construction of a thriving civil society within the Occupied Territories. Though the gains of Oslo I and II were minimized over time as a result of Israeli backpedaling, the fact of the matter is that a few years of nonviolent activism were objectively more successful than decades of PLO advocacy of violent revolution.

King is also incredibly sensitive to Israeli fears. She concedes that it was Israeli fear that prohibited most Israelis from actually seeing that the first Intifada was not a movement to destroy Israel but rather a movement towards independence. In fact, one of the primary results of the Intifada was to reconcile a majority of Palestinians to the existence of Israel. Thus, the Intifada was waged against the occupation and against the PLO which was forced to concede acceptance of Israel in significant portions formerly Mandate Palestine.
King concludes with an epilogue that is both realistic and hopeful. She reinforces her earlier argument by indicating that further study of the development of a Palestinian civil society will benefit both Palestinians and Israelis. The nonviolent movement from 1987-1990 built institutions that have not been destroyed and there are leaders who have popular support among Palestinians who should be supported not jailed. As she says, the road to Israeli security lies through the creation of a Palestinian state and the road to a Palestinian state lies through a peaceful settlement with Israel.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remembering history to re-live it?, January 31, 2008
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This review is from: A Quiet Revolution: The First Palestinian Intifada and Nonviolent Resistance (Paperback)
Mary King has achieved an extraordinary feat. In A QUIET REVOLUTION she first demolishes the myth (especially popular among some academic experts on non-violent movements) that the first Palestinian intifada, or uprising (1987-1993), somehow wasn't "really" non-violent because of the iconic stone-throwing children. She demonstrates the strategic non-violence that in fact underpinned that movement, all the while recognizing that its mass popular character was an equally important feature. In doing so, King demonstrates how the breadth of that social mobilization - bridging class, gender, age, occupation, political views, factional affiliation -- made the first uprising so historically significant. And crucially, King understands, as so many observers of the photogenic intifada did not, that the real power of the uprising lay not in the children and teenagers challenging Israeli soldiers across the dusty streets of the occupied territories, but rather how it transformed and opened up Palestinian society itself. The very term, "intifada," refers less to direct resistance than to the notion of shaking up, or shaking out -- agitating and remixing sclerotic social relations.

Today, as Palestinians on the Gaza-Egypt border, those in the West Bank mobilizing non-violent direct action against Israel's Apartheid Wall and all those challenging the ever-encroaching expanexpansion of settlements, the lessons of the first intifada are more relevant than ever. We should all be grateful to Mary King for teasing out the lessons of history of that crucial time.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why is non-violent action received as violence?, February 2, 2008
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This review is from: A Quiet Revolution: The First Palestinian Intifada and Nonviolent Resistance (Paperback)
Mary Elizabeth King's book, A Quiet Revolution, presents a thorough, documented description of the first intifada (uprising) of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza during the years of December 1987 through the late 1990's. It is a textbook on non-violence, really, and should be used in college courses on peace, non-violence, conflict resolution, etc.

I have been a close student of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the early 1960's, but I missed the significance of the Intifada. As King says, coordinated, non-violent resistance is hard to spot. It consists of a demonstration here, a sit-in there, a store closing in another location. Only a trained eye can see that there is a coordinated effort underway.

The book is full of stories of how the Palestinians coordinated their efforts. Such simple things as not observing the onset of daylight saving time (by setting watches ahead two weeks early) infuriated the soldiers who smashed watches that were not set at the correct time. Why? Because they are showing that they cannot be controlled. Leaflets announcing sit-ins were passed arm to arm during prayers when men are standing and kneeling arm-to-arm. The humanity and dignity of those who tried to bring their situation to the attention of the world is vividly described in this "must-read" book for anyone trying to understand the conflict in Israel and Palestine.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent survey of neglected aspects, October 5, 2010
This review is from: A Quiet Revolution: The First Palestinian Intifada and Nonviolent Resistance (Paperback)
- of the Palestinian intafada. Ms. King's in-depth analysis overturns the prevailing stereotype of the primitive, bloody-handed Arab who "understands only force." To the contrary, the Israeli political establishment (and public) stands revealed, in this history, as even more preoccupied with vindictive violence and blind to anything but ruthless force. This book is a needed addition to any account of the endless intafada that has marked this area for a century.

That said, I have some problems with an institutional bias. As an appointee of the Carter administration (with the former president obligingly offering a forward) Ms. King seems too attached to US policy intitiatives, when overwhelmingly the US has backed Israel's "security needs" over any lasting resolution of Palestinian demands. She also glowingly compares the "color revolutions" of the 2000s in Serbia, Georgia, the Ukraine and Lebanon with the US civil rights movement; in reality, these "rose" and "orange" movements were well-funded imports designed to remove unfriendly "regimes" in the interests of NATO expansion and oil politics. What "democracy" they produced is problematic to non-existent. With a straight face Ms. King recounts how Serbian students in the late 90s "had begun studying the academic writings of Gene Sharp in [non-violent] skill-training workshops led by Colonel Robert J. Helvey, a retired U.S. military officer." [p.24.] Obviously the active-duty NATO commanders who subsequently blitzed Serbia with "accidental collateral damage" were not in attendance. . . .

Also problematic is Ms. King's position that non-violent movements are invariably crushed outside the "liberal democracies." A brief glance at the history of organized labor in the US and UK shows that liberal democracy, with its pro-corporation bias, had no trouble inflicting massive violence on labor protest for a century, out of all proportion to the violence offered by the labor movement.

That said, I do recommend this book as an "alternative history" to the standard operating view of Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Especially cogent is the sabotage of the intafada by the PLO as a rival movement, which effectively destroyed it as much as Israeli brutality. But again, the failure of the "democracies" to put their money where the mouth lies is also a prime factor in the intafada's burial.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The only durable solution to achieve a peaceful Middle East, March 5, 2008
This review is from: A Quiet Revolution: The First Palestinian Intifada and Nonviolent Resistance (Paperback)
I write this after reading the morning paper about retaliatory attacks between Hamas inspired militants and the Israeli government that resulted in the deaths of innocent civilians on both sides. It is a too familiar and painful story over the past months and years. Decision makers on both sides of this divide would do well the take a few moments from their mutual distrust and animosity to read Mary Elizabeth King's new book, A Quiet Revolution. Painstakingly researched and gloriously written, it tells a story of hope for nonviolent change and documents the arduous journey of peace-seeking activists involved in the first Palestinian Intifada.

After an uplifting review of decisive moments across the span of human history in which nonviolent resistance yielded positive and even revolutionary change (and there are more examples than commonly meets the untutored eye), Mary King plunges into the little know story of repeated attempts by Palestinians to defend their rights using non-violent methods. Occurring during the decades following the Balfour Declaration, these courageous efforts occur against the backdrop of accelerating Palestinian armed resistance that echoed similar efforts on the other side. Her own profiles in courage and imagination include Mubarak Awad, Jonathan Kuttab and Gene Sharp who were among "the accoucheurs for the Palestinians' catalytic alterations in thinking on nonviolent struggle" during the decade of the 1980s and beyond. Completely unattached to the PLO, their peaceful insurgency sparked mobilization that eventually led to the first Intifada. She also points to the East Jerusalem and Ramallah activist intellectuals who struggled vainly against the predations of the PLO to keep the first Intifada from turning violent. As the story of this resistance unfolds, regrettably both sides contribute to the sad narrative of escalating violence. The author gives full expression to the hope for an alternative narrative reminding us again and again that it could have been different.

By documenting the advances achieved during the "non-violent" phase of the Intifada, and corollary movements around the world, Mary King's book forcefully reminds us of the potential durability of solutions that emerge from non-violent resistance. We have only to look around to conclude that resorting to violence doesn't work.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Eye Opening, May 16, 2012
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I received this book as a gift that was signed by the author, thank you Mary!

As a Palestinian living in America I can only see what is in front of me. I've always thought that the only way to overcome the illegal occupation was from within the US as AIPAC controls congress. I never realized all that was being done from within Palestine to nonviolently overcome apartheid. Israel has worked very hard to ensure that only violent accounts about Palestinians reach America and the rest of the world. This book showed me all the non violent work that Palestinians have done from within. Thank you Mary for opening my eyes.

As I finished this book two Palestinians along with 100s more were waging a hunger strike from within Israeli prisons to protest the conditions along with administrative detention, meaning jailed without charge, yet it never reached the US media. Two have been without food for over 77 days.

I've always wondered what I can do to help and I realized it is educating others in the US about all that is being done from within Palestine to peacefully resist the illegal occupation. Thank you again!
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Learned insights into the Israel-Palestine situation, January 6, 2009
This review is from: A Quiet Revolution: The First Palestinian Intifada and Nonviolent Resistance (Paperback)
I read this book as a senior UK medical academic with an interest in global health. My personal background is relevant in that I am from Jewish Eastern European heritage, with relatives who died at the hands of the Nazis, but I consider much of what is taking place in in Israel/Palestine as an abuse of the concept of a Jewish homeland.

This is a scholarly work, and so relevant to the current disaster. It
provides a superb overview of the historical context for the first Intifada, but in so doing, contextualises the Palestine-Israel divide by describing the events which led up to the state of Israel, and the global events which were played out on this local stage. The fact that during most of the last 30 years, the PLO was based in Tunis was completely new to me, as was the fact that Hamas was initially encouraged to undermine the PLO.

But what the book does so skilfully is to make the links between the
discourse in Palestine with that in other parts of the world - the
Southern States in the US, India, South Africa. Visiting Palestine
seems like entering a very different and strange world, and for novices
like me, that makes it seem at first that there is little connection
between political debate here and that in the rest of the world. Mary King's book makes those links in a most learned, yet accessible, way.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read in today's slanted Israeli news coverage., February 13, 2008
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This review is from: A Quiet Revolution: The First Palestinian Intifada and Nonviolent Resistance (Paperback)
I think the press is slanted toward Israel and Mary Elizabeth King gives a very unbiased picture of the Israeli-Palestinian situation.
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