Explaining Non-Diasporic Mobilizations for Distant Causes

A Comparative Study of the Palestinian and Kurdish Struggles

in Israel Studies Review
Author:
David Zarnett University of Toronto, Canada david.zarnett@utoronto.ca

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Abstract

While the Palestinian struggle has received widespread support from non-Palestinian activists across North America and Europe, the Kurdish struggle in Turkey, which is similar to the Palestinian cause in important ways, has not received such extensive support from non-Kurdish activists. Existing explanations do not fully account for this difference. I argue that this variation in non-diasporic support is in part a product of the impact that differences between the Palestinian and Kurdish diasporas in the West have had on how each group has sought to mobilize grassroots support for their cause. The small size and internal divisions of the Palestinian diaspora incentivized Palestinian activists to focus on recruiting non-Palestinians, creating the conditions for their mobilization. The larger size and greater degree of organization of the Kurdish diaspora incentivized Kurdish activists to focus primarily on mobilizing their ethnic kin and less on recruiting non-Kurds, resulting in relatively little non-Kurdish support.

Contributor Notes

DAVID ZARNETT has a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Toronto, where he currently works as an Undergraduate Advisor and Sessional Lecturer. His research focuses on the transnational dimensions of intra-state conflict, human rights NGOs, and the comparative study of the Israeli-Palestinian and Turkish-Kurdish conflicts. E-mail: david.zarnett@utoronto.ca

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