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The Revolution Within
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Book description

Why do some individuals participate in risky, anti-regime resistance whereas others abstain? The Revolution Within answers this question through an in-depth study of unarmed resistance against Israeli rule in the Palestinian Territories over more than a decade. Despite having strong anti-regime sentiment, Palestinians initially lacked the internal organizational strength often seen as necessary for protest. This book provides a foundation for understanding participation and mobilization under these difficult conditions. It argues that, under these conditions, integration into state institutions - schools, prisons and courts - paradoxically makes individuals more likely to resist against the state. Diverse evidence drawn from field research - including the first, large-scale survey of participants and non-participants in Palestinian resistance, Arabic language interviews, and archival sources - supports the argument. The book's findings explain how anti-regime resistance can occur even without the strong civil society organizations often regarded as necessary for protest and, thus, suggest new avenues for supporting civil resistance movements.


'Zeira supports her innovative argument with never-before-collected survey data that is simply breathtaking in its ingenuity. Her representative sample of 650 Palestinian West Bank males in the target age bracket is the most innovative data collection effort I have seen in that region. Although many researchers have studied Palestinian rebellion during the first intifada, none has used her comprehensive, careful, sophisticated, survey methodology. The author brings best practices from political science and public health to the survey table, allowing her to present data, and analysis, of vital importance.'

James Ron - Harold E. Stassen Chair of International Affairs, University of Minnesota

'This impressive study offers original and important insights about why some Palestinians participated in the first intifada while others did not. With evidence from extended and in-depth fieldwork, including but not limited to the design and conduct of a large-scale survey, Zeira both enriches our understanding of the political dynamics shaping Palestinian behavior and makes a significant contribution to collective action and social movement theory. Blending deep knowledge of the Palestinian case, a strong and original foundation of evidence, and a serious engagement with relevant theoretical literatures, Zeira makes a very important and original scholarly contribution.'

Mark Tessler - Samuel J. Eldersveld Professor of Political Science, University of Michigan

'Scholars typically view state institutions as sites of control and judge that groups with low organizational strength seldom launch social movements. Yael Zeira convincingly challenges both of these conventional wisdoms by showing how integration into schools and disciplinary institutions can aid anti-regime resistance by joining individuals in new social networks, facilitating the sharing of information, and reducing risks from uncertainty. Employing one-of-a-kind original surveys and in-depth knowledge forged by years of fieldwork, Zeira sheds fresh light on the first Palestinian Intifada and beyond. Students of contentious politics, social networks, authoritarianism, and liberation movements will find much to learn in this fascinating and nuanced work.'

Wendy Pearlman - Northwestern University, Illinois

'The Revolution Within offers a powerful new argument to explain why some individuals participate in unarmed resistance, while other remain on the sidelines. With evidence from Palestine, Yael Zeira shows that integration into state-controlled mass institutions, such as the education system and the prison system, provides individuals with greater access to information about tactics and potential participants, which mitigates uncertainty about the risk of resistance activities and leads to more individuals participating. This book is a must read for scholars and students of nonviolence and unarmed resistance.'

Kathleen Gallagher Cunningham - University of Maryland

'An insightful, novel analysis … The Revolution Within shows how Palestinians created networks of resistance from within state-controlled schools and prisons. While prior scholarship has stressed that strong civil societies produce successful social movements, this study argues that state institutions themselves can be appropriated and used to facilitate sustained non-violent protest. Through field work and original survey data, this meticulously well-researched and engaging study provides a compelling account of how a nationwide protest movement began.'

Adria Lawrence - Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore

'Yael Zeira’s probing new study asks a critical question: how does anti-government opposition emerge in authoritarian societies which lack the kind of deep civil society groups that often form the backbone of protest movements? Her answer: state institutions themselves can serve as the site of pro-reform organization. This brilliant insight helps explain critical historical events, from the rise of the Anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa and the rise of the Arab Spring in Egypt.'

Jacob Shapiro - Princeton University

'The Revolution Within presents fascinating new insights into how and why Palestinians mobilized against Israeli occupation. Yael Zeira’s unique, carefully designed survey research and rigorous analysis reveals the unanticipated ways in which schools, prisons and other civil society networks served as key facilitators for the organization of collective action. This important book not only provides a deeper understanding of Palestinian political organization, but also provides important comparative insights into the underlying mechanisms of collective action.'

Marc Lynch - George Washington University

‘… her findings will be useful for future studies of revolutionary processes.’

S. Zuhur Source: Choice

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