Recent research on contentious politics in the Middle East emphasizes the importance of repression and its effect on social movements, often manifested in demobilization and so-called ‘nonmovements’. This case study of West Bank Palestinian activism seeks to go beyond such outcomes. The current, youthful nonviolent Palestinian grassroots activism in the West Bank is persistent, despite repeated violent repression. Focusing on the interplay between context, practices, and networks, this article shows how an increasingly vocal and visible popular resistance movement has asserted itself despite facing double repression – from the occupying Israeli state and the Palestinian National Authority. In a highly repressive context characterized by widespread demobilization, especially among young people, the impetus for mobilization is not perceived opportunity, but rather existential threats. The analysis focuses on how long-term repression from the external occupier and the internal elite contributes to forming specific kinds of contentious practices and networks among young Palestinian grassroots activists. By deploying new and creative contentious tactics they partly succeed in challenging the Israeli occupation without risking sanctions from the internal Palestinian elite. They are also able to criticize this elite implicitly, bringing popular pressure to bear on it. However, while the strategic use of nonviolence has provided these activist environments with a degree of resilience in the face of repression, they are unable to mobilize on a wide scale as long as the Palestinian political elite does not support them.
Høigilt, Jacob (2015) Nonviolent mobilization between a rock and a hard place: Popular resistance and double repression in the West Bank, Journal of Peace Research 52 (5): 636–648.