This paper asks where and why Palestinian protests take place and how particular manifestations of territorial dislocation affect the dynamics of Palestinian political activism. Political, social and territorial transformations over the Oslo period had resulted in the fragmentation of Palestinian resistance, a development that had become most evident during the second intifada through the absence of mass-based non-violent protest. Israel’s complex control over Palestinian territory and mobility has been a key factor in driving this fragmentation. In contrast to checkpoints, forbidden roads, and closures, the construction of the Separation Wall had a very different impact, and amid the continuation of a violent and fragmented uprising, it presented a focal point for cohesive organised non-violent local protest. This paper examines to what extent the construction of the Wall has engendered a different type of protest, conception of activism and new forms of cooperation, that break the trend of the second intifada.
Israel’s system of closure divides Palestinian citizens of Israel from Palestinians of the West Bank. For members of both categories, road journeys spur political analysis, explicitly stated or implicitly packed into jokes or offhand comments. If, in liberal traditions, political knowledge is idealized as disembodied, abstract, and dispassionate, Palestinian knowledge gained while driving is none of these things. Yet it can provide important insights into the operations of Israeli power less easily represented in more formal outlets. Because the road system is an everyday site at which its users come into contact with the work of the state, driving is an important practice through which to examine popular conceptions of politics. Still, these two communities of Palestinians face obstacles in communicating about shared understandings of space and politics. In examining everyday political knowledge of subaltern people, we must attend to varieties of subalterneity to examine how these differences can perpetuate marginalization.