Schleifer, Ron. Psychological Warfare in the Intifada: Israeli and Palestinian Media Politics and Military Strategies. Portland, Ore.: Sussex Academic, 2006. 272pp. $69.50
In the wake of the second Palestinian intifada against Israel (2002 through 2006), it has been easy to lose sight of the fact that the first intifada (December 1987 through October 1991) was largely nonviolent but highly successful. It achieved the primary goal of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO)-forcing Israel to recognize the PLO by initiating negotiations. In this work Ron Schleifer offers a unique, though logically flawed, perspective of the first intifada, which he describes as "political warfare." That is, he examines how the PLO assumed control of what began as a spontaneous nonviolent uprising in December 1987 to produce a successful campaign that was based on a range of largely persuasive techniques and lasted more than three years. Schleifer analyzes the successful Palestinian tactics and compares them to the unsuccessful Israeli response through the components of "psychological operations" (PSYOP) as presented in the U.S. Army Manual of Psychological Warfare.
Schleifer's book is based on research gathered for his doctoral dissertation completed at the University of Leeds. He chose the PSYOP manual and its taxonomy as his theoretical basis, and he is at his best when using the components of the PSYOP manual to analyze and compare how both sides prepared their campaigns, determined and applied consistent themes or messages, chose and used dissemination techniques and tactics, responded to enemy messages, and applied countermeasures. He offers convincing evidence that within the first few weeks of the uprising, the PLO seized and maintained the initiative and dominated what we now call "the information environment," while the Israelis, riven by internal ambiguity and dissent, floundered.
Unfortunately, this work is ultimately unsatisfying, because its organization and thesis have logical flaws. Readers interested in a more concise, better organized analysis of nonviolent conflict based on psychological operations can find it in Schleifer's 2006 article "Psychological …