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Worldview 5.9.12

Palestinian schoolgirls chant slogans during a protest in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners jailed in the West Bank village of Kufr Rai. The poster left reads, "Freedom to Bilal Diab, and all the prisoners." (AP/Mohammed Ballas)

Update: Wednesday May 9, 2012, 11:31 a.m.

Why do some national movements turn to violence, while others commit to struggle in nonviolent ways? These are questions author Wendy Pearlman takes up in her book Violence, Nonviolence, and the Palestinian National Movement.

In a 2011 article for Foreign Policy, Pearlman tried to explain why, despite recent events, the Palestinians had not launched a third Intifada or uprising:

Movements need national unity in order to muster the sweeping participation that fuels nonviolent protest, as well as the collective restraint to keep it from being provoked into violence. Political cohesion is critical for mobilization to be mass in scale and sustainable over time. That cohesion is currently lacking on the Palestinian scene, though one never knows when the tenacious vibrancy of Palestinian civil society might create it anew.

She goes on to write that the geographic space in which protests take place helps determine the type of protests that ensue, and that in this respect, Palestinians are at a disadvantage:

In Egypt, Yemen, and Bahrain, pro-democracy movements occupied a central square. In Tunisia and Libya, protest began in the periphery of the country and gained power as it moved toward the capital...If Palestinians have demonstrations in major towns in the West Bank of Gaza, Israelis will neither see nor care. Alternatively, Palestinians might have peaceful marches to Israeli checkpoints or settlements in the West Bank or toward Israel's crossing-points into the Gaza Strip.

This might help explain why in recent months (as Worldview reported recently) many Palestinians have turned to one of the oldest forms of non violent protest-- hunger strikes. An estimated 1,500 Palestinians are currently on a hunger strike protesting their detention in Israeli jails.

Wednesday on Worldview, we revisit an interview with Pearlman, who delves deeper into why so many Palestinians have chosen to return to this form of peaceful protest.

This interview originally aired on 2/21/12.

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