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A Quiet Revolution: The First Palestinian Intifada and Nonviolent Resistance Paperback – Bargain Price, July 12, 2007

4.9 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Starred Review. Ascholar of nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience, King contends that the first Palestinian intifada (1987-1993) was explicitly peaceful from its inception. Stating that [h]istory is often the narrative of wars, and military historians enjoy prestige, whereas the chronicling of how societies have achieved major accomplishments through nonviolent resistance is scant by comparison, she draws on a wealth of documentary and statistical evidence to demonstrate that the Palestinians exercised remarkable restraint during the first years of the intifada. Tying together the threads of civil society, political mobilization and social change, she delivers a fascinating account of a nation in transition. In the occupied territories, she argues, the Israeli military brutally repressed the wedging open of nongovernmental political space and development of institutions not under official purview and deepened the Palestinians' desire for change. The closure of the educational institutions in the West Bank in 1988, for example, caused teachers and professors to return to their home villages, where they were quickly able to politicize uneducated people. While King may be faulted for ignoring the gradual return to violence that's characterized the situation in recent years, her book is essential reading for anyone interested in Mideastern peace. (Aug.)
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About the Author

Mary Elizabeth King is an expert on Nonviolent Political Strategies and worked alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. as a student. She is a Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University for Peace of the UN, and a Distinguished Scholar at the American University Center for Global Peace in Washington, DC. She is the author of "Freedom Song" (which won the RFK Memorial Book Award) and "Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Power of Nonviolent Action." King lives in Washington, DC.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 488 pages
  • Publisher: Nation Books (July 12, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560258020
  • ASIN: B0035G035I
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,948,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Amentahru Wahlrab on January 12, 2008
Format: 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.
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Format: 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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Format: 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.
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