Sep 29, 2015
Continued terrorist attacks and the involvement of foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq have prompted a surge of interest among policymakers, law enforcement, journalists, and academics on both sides of the Atlantic on the topic of terrorist radicalization. Many of the factors that push or pull individuals toward radicalization are in dispute within the expert community. Instead of examining the factors that lead to radicalization and the commission of terrorist acts, this report takes a new approach. What Factors Cause Youth to Reject Violent Extremism? Results of an Exploratory Analysis in the West Bank empirically addresses the topic of why youth reject violent extremism. To do this, the authors focus on the Palestinian West Bank. The report begins with a theoretical model and then tests this model with data gathered through structured interviews and a survey. For this study, ten semistructured interviews were conducted with politicians from Hamas and Fatah in 2012. Along with these interviews, the authors conducted a survey among 600 youth (ages 18–30) who lived in Hebron, Jenin, and Ramallah.
The overarching findings from this effort demonstrate that (1) rejecting violent extremism, for residents of the West Bank, is a process with multiple stages and choices within each stage; (2) family plays a greater role than friends in shaping attitudes toward nonviolence; (3) demographics do not have a significant impact on attitudes toward nonviolence; and (4) opposing violence in theory is distinct from choosing not to engage in violence.