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Forming a Social Movement

Forming a Social Movement

(p.39) 2 Forming a Social Movement
Days of Awe
Atalia Omer
University of Chicago Press

The chapter examines why groups of Jewish critics, conveying a deepening crisis of authority and increased questioning of the Jewish establishment's position on the occupation and Israeli policies, constitute a shift from advocacy to social movement. This chapter highlights four groups in particular: Open Hillel, IfNotNow, Center for Jewish Nonviolence, and Jewish Voice for Peace. Drawing on sociological literature focusing on meaning-making through a movement's contentions and a dialogic turn to semiotics, this chapter anticipates the later discussion in the book of how activists participate in religious innovation and re-signification of Jewishness. It exposes the emerging need to unpack the hermeneutical dimensions of Jewish Palestine solidarity activists' efforts to re-imagine post- and non-Zionist Jewish theology and alternative sociopolitical and cultural Jewish identity or Jewishness. The chapter traces nonviolent direct actions of Jewish activists in coalition with Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank, examines American Jews' shifts of affective loyalties, the performativity of prophetic functions through social movement, and the electrifying emotion of acting Jewishly through an emotion of ethical indignation. The latter generates self-approval rather then self-hate as well as self-reshaping through action. Hence, the social movement becomes a religiocultural space rather than merely performing a prophetic function.

Keywords:   social movements, Jewish nonviolence, Israeli Palestinian conflict, American Jewish critics of the occupation, public narratives

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