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Violence, Nonviolence, and the Palestinian National Movement Hardcover – October 24, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"Scholars will be fascinated by this book. Wendy Pearlman asks a question of tremendous importance: What explains when movements resort to violent and to nonviolent strategies? She approaches the question in a novel and almost counterintuitive way. Whereas previous studies ask how groups mobilize to support rebellion, Pearlman's work asks what enables a movement to take a nonviolent path. Pearlman argues, based on the Palestinian case, that organizational coherence is a necessary condition for nonviolence. It turns out that trying to explain nonviolence is a powerful way to uncover the dynamics of political movements. And the account is well-illustrated and supported by the various cases she adduces from the history of the Palestinian national movement."
- Nathan Brown, The George Washington University

"Wendy Pearlman poses a question of great scholarly and policy importance: Why do some national movements use violence while others employ nonviolent means of protest? Her explanation - the "organizational mediation theory of protest" - provides a convincing answer to this question and deftly critiques alternative explanations by exposing their flaws or insufficiencies. With its careful attention to concepts and mechanisms, Pearlman's study is an exemplar of qualitative research methods. Her innovative theory promises to illuminate the dynamics of violence and nonviolence in movements well beyond the Palestinian national movement as her brief analyses of the South African and Irish national movements indicate. Beyond its scholarly merits, the book generates important lessons for policymakers about the dynamics of protest and violence."
- Melani Cammett, Brown University

"Pearlman offers a commanding and comprehensive account on the use of non-violent and violent forms of protest. Examining the first and second Palestinian Uprisings in meticulous detail, Pearlman provides valuable theoretical and empirical insights about the ways in which organizational cohesion influences the content and form of protests. Her potent argument not only advances our understanding of the dynamics of Palestinian political society, but her findings have significant implications for the study of conflict and violence in comparative perspective."
- Amaney Jamal, Princeton University

"While most national liberation movements historically have adopted violent tactics to press their cause, a handful went the route of non-violence. Pearlman's masterful book argues that organizational cohesion is essential for non-violent tactics to prevail as the weapon of choice. When Palestinian leadership was cohesive, as it was in the early years of the first intifada, resistance was overwhelmingly non-violent; as Palestinian leadership fragmented during the 1990s, it inevitably led to violent (and fruitless) tactics during the second uprising. Informed by both theory and extensive fieldwork, Pearlman's book makes an outstanding contribution to scholarship on social movements and on Palestinian political history."
- Glenn Robinson, Naval Postgraduate School

"a valuable contribution to the study of the Palestinian national movement" -Lena Meari, Columbia University, Journal of Palestine Studies

Book Description

Why do some national movements use violent protest and others nonviolent protest? Wendy Pearlman argues that much of the answer lies inside a movement's organizational structure. Nonviolent protest requires coordination and restraint, which only a cohesive movement can provide. When, by contrast, a movement is fragmented, factional competition generates new incentives for violence and authority structures are too weak to constrain escalation. Pearlman reveals these patterns across one hundred years of Palestinian history, with comparisons to South Africa and Northern Ireland. Taking readers on a journey from civil disobedience to suicide bombings, this book offers fresh insight into the dynamics of conflict and mobilization.

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