“Struggling to Remain Relevant”: Why and How Radicalization Was Impeded in the Struggle against the Gaza Pullout

Eitan Y. Alimi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The role of cognitive mechanisms in processes of radicalization cannot be overestimated. However, focusing solely on violence-prone values and ideologies without examining how they gain and lose consequentiality in the context of relational dynamics, hampers our understanding of the shift from support for, to actual engagement in political violence. Using a case of nonradicalization—the predominantly nonviolent struggle of Jewish settlers against the Gaza Pullout (2004 to 2005)—this paper accounts for the process whereby despite the presence of violence-prone values and ideologies we observe little engagement in political violence. Findings from a mechanism-based, mixed-method design that includes content analysis, in-depth interviews, network analysis, and contention-repression data, reveal how the combined operation of the reversals of relational mechanisms mitigate the salience of cognitive mechanisms and, consequently, impede radicalization on the part of militant Jewish settler organizations. The contributions of the findings to a relational theory of radicalization are discussed in the conclusion.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)597-623
Number of pages27
JournalCanadian Review of Sociology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The materials for this article are based on research supported by the Levi Eshkol Institute and the Cherrick Center at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. I am grateful for insightful comments and suggestions on earlier versions by Chares Demetriou, Mario Diani, Steven Messner, Michael Schwartz, Sidney Tarrow, and Gilda Zwerman. Special thanks go to Alon Burstein, Efrat Daskal, Adi Livni, and Gaya Polat for their valuable assistance in the research.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Canadian Sociological Association/La Société canadienne de sociologie


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