Violence in Nonviolent Action: Power Relations in Joint Activism in Israel and Palestine
Article by Anne de Jong
This paper critically engages with nonviolent activism and resistance in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. By placing nonviolent direct actions directly in the context of its violent surrounding, it will be argued that structural and symbolic violence can be present in nonviolent actions and that unequal power relations can therewith be reproduced. Certain nonviolent actions in Israel and Palestine, this paper poses, mirror or even enable the injustices they initially seek to oppose.
Based on nineteen months of fieldwork research in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories including annexed East Jerusalem and besieged Gaza, this paper provides a ethnographic description of a so called joint Palestinian-Israeli nonviolent action near the Gaza Strip. The ethnographic detail enables an analysis which reveals 1) how unequal power relations can be reproduced within nonviolent protests, and 2) how certain nonviolent protests can perpetuate the structural violence they initially seek to oppose. The primary aim of this paper is not to differentiate between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ activism or resistance perse. It does aim to show how meticulous attention to less visible forms of violence can deepen our understanding of the reproduction of power and structural violence within nonviolent protest.