Beyond the Terrorist Label : How Five Palestinian CSOs Experience and Resist Terrorist Allegations

University essay from Försvarshögskolan

Abstract: This thesis investigates the terrorist designation issued by Israel against six Palestinian civil society organizations in 2021. The organizations are based in the West Bank and remain designated as terrorist organizations according to Israeli law, despite rejections and condemnations by the European Union (EU), the United Nations (UN), and the United States (US). The investigation builds on an interpretive approach and in-depth semi-structured interviews with five of the six designated organizations. By using the theory of ontological counter-securitization to investigate a case of shrinking civic space, this thesis brings the theory to a new context. Given that the context of Palestinian civil society is understudied, the aim is to contribute new context-specific findings as well as theoretical knowledge. More specifically, this approach is aimed at better understanding views and means of resistance among the interviewed organizations. The findings show that the five organizations view their terrorist designation as a way to defund Palestinian civil society. It is further implied that the terrorist designation has impacted the organizations' relationship with their donors. To maintain their work, the organizations have undertaken a form of risk management. The analysis also shows that enhanced recognition, cooperation and conviction have constituted means of resistance. The main finding of the analysis concerns the construction of a new identity among the designated organizations. It is argued that this identity construction is a specific form of resistance against the shrinking civic space. The findings are central to enhancing the understanding of how security practices are resisted in asymmetric power relationships.

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