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At the beginning, anyone setting out to examine the situation of Palestinian women confronts a dilemma, both practical and ideological: the need to decide whether or not there is a problem of woman independent of the collective national problem, and what is the correct relation between the two. Any attempt to escape this dilemma leads either to a feminism that ignores the effects of Ottoman/British/Israeli oppression on Palestinian social/family structures; or to a sterile nationalism without social content.


Current interest in the situation of Third World women has naturally had its effects in the Palestinian arena. After decades of media-starvation, Palestinians are suddenly being bombarded by journalists, film-makers, researchers, novelists, conference-conveners, all interested in one topic: Palestinian women. Torn between their need for international exposure, and their. distrust of singling out any particular category (especially women) for the spotlight, Palestinians have responded with confusion.


Invited to attend the Copenhagen Conference of July 1980 (the second in the UN Decade for Women), with Palestinian women tabled on the official agenda, the General Union of Palestinian Women (GUPW) sent a delegation armed with data on the "Case," but little on women. Whether this way out of the dilemma was due to a principled stand, or to insufficient preparation, it missed a rare opportunity to present a world audience with researched information about Palestinian women: their conditions, educational levels, employment, health problems, participation in national struggle, social, political and cultural activities. One must admit that the GUPW's implicit stand (the priority of national struggle over women's "rights") represents a broad national consensus, well expressed by Samiha Khalil Salameh in a letter to the Palestine Human Rights Campaign, when she answered an invitation to speak on Palestinian women by commenting that women suffer the occupation like all other Palestinians, and do not demand to be singled out for special attention. This argument is cogent and clear, and has the advantage of satisfying a nationalist need to challenge Western frameworks in general (including feminism, seen by most as a "foreign ideology"). The problem with it is not that it fails to meet a public relations opportunity, but that it does not try to grasp what is happening at the level of reality. Equally it fails to meet the need to imagine concretely a future Palestinian society.


The feminist/nationalist debate in Palestinian circles has proved rather sterile so far, unable to move beyond statements of principle, reactionary or progressive. The weakness of the feminist statements is that they have all, except for that of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), been the product of individual women, [1] without organizational roots, easily discounted by the mainstream as Western-oriented and bourgeois. On the other side, the topic is of such low priority that the only considered statement is that of Munir Shafiq [2] which expresses in quasi-Marxist terms the Fateh preference for avoiding the "woman question." PFLP leader George Habash's two pamphlets [3] put women's liberation on the same footing as national and class liberation, but his arguments remain abstract, not closely articulated to mass conditions or culture, and informed sources say that PFLP praxis is not markedly different from other groups. As long as progressive positions continue to sound like translation of Marxism-Leninism into Arabic, while reactionary positions continue to idealize the Arab past and the jihad, the debate is bound to remain out of touch with reality.


Restricted and infertile as the debate has been, however, things look very different on the ground. There has been an extraordinary development since 1965 in what women undertake, particularly in areas like Lebanon and Occupied Palestine where crisis has been continuous. This is not to say that women's activism is in itself a sufficient guarantee of irreversible change in gender relations; definitely this cannot happen without a policy of radical social change at the leadership level. But if properly used by the women's movement and the progressive forces, it does provide a campaign basis for change "at the top."


Part of the interest of women's situation in Occupied Palestine, apart from their increased involvement in resistance, is the emergence of new groups with a more radical stand on class and gender relations than those of the national movement outside. These will be described briefly in the following paper, along with a selection from meetings with women in Occupied Palestine made during a brief visit in 1980.




Since Camp David the tempo of resistance has accelerated, involving all strata of the population of the West Bank; students, schoolchildren and women have been particularly visible, almost as if a new division of labour has emerged, with men's obligations as family providers moving them out of political roles. [4] Every day brings fresh evidence of women's activism. A typical incident is the arrest of eight women in Nablus (including Mayor Shak'a's wife) on charges of illegal demonstrations and throwing stones at the vehicles sent to break them up. Women I was advised to meet were hard to disengage from a maelstrom of sit-ins, demonstrations, press conferences, and other national/social work. Of those I managed to meet, most had been interrogated and/or imprisoned.


Visual images remain longest: a TV newscast shows a women's demon- stration in Ramallah dispersing as a helicopter drops tear-gas bombs, and an elderly woman limps slowly out of the square.... On the same day, in Tel Aviv, three young women, primary school teachers, wearing Palestinian colours, defy the Israeli court's right to try them for sabotage. My last sight of Palestine, on the road to the Bridge, is of three white-scarfed, tong-robed women shouting angrily at an Israeli roadblock....


Between 1967 and 1979, according to a recent researcher, [5] 1,229 named women have been arrested or detained, but this is definitely an undercount since it omits: i) over 150 names for which no other details were obtainable; ii) mass detentions such as those in Gaza in the early 1970's; iii) cases not reported in the press. Cases of administrative detention are generally not reported though detention may last for periods longer than a year. This is an impressive record that totally explodes the "silent," "passive" Arab woman image, as well as the idea - sometimes encountered - that Palestinian women are less involved in the national struggle than were their Algerian sisters. The difference is that they have had less media exposure. [6]


A lawyer who defends many Palestinians on political charges says that women resist interrogation better than most men, attributing this to women's lesser daily-life contact with Israelis. Another explanation is that men's involvement in politics is "natural," part of their male role, so that many who get drawn in are not particularly heroic. Women, on the other hand, usually have to defy the "government" of the family before they defy the occupation; hence, those who cross the line between sentimental and active resistance are a courageous minority with a minority's capacity for stubbornness and secrecy.


The inevitability of interrogation is taken for granted by all the women I meet - indeed it has become an initiation rite marking their graduation to an (adult) national role, the abandonment of the (child/ woman) domestic one. R.E. tells me unemotionally of her two weeks in the Moscobiya, when they tried to force her to sign a "confession" that she belonged to the PLO. Apart from interrupted sleep and continuous discomfort, interrogation was accom- panied by forced stripping, name calling ("prostitute") and threats of rape.


Schoolchildren have increasingly been subjected to violence: I meet Intisar al-Sheikh Qasim, the 15-year-old schoolgirl from Jalazun camp who was severely beaten on both thighs with rods early this year in an attempt to force her to give the names of others in her school who had participated in demonstrations. Press photos showed Intisar's swollen, blackened thighs (her head covered). I find a smiling, neatly dressed, attractive girl, apparently completely recovered from a terrifying ordeal. She is doing so well in secondary school that her father intends to give her teacher or nursing training; the Israeli occupation is evidently concerned to repress leadership qualities even at this early stage. It's no longer rare for schoolgirls to be arrested, or harrassed in class by occupying forces who break in, using tear-gas bombs and their rich assortment of riot-control equipment. [7] The effect is repercussive: teachers in Jerusalem comment on the ever-earlier politicization of girls.


The meeting in Jalazun with Intisar's family makes very clear what all the testimonies of political prisoners show, that the occupation deliberately uses family relationships for control and collective punishment. The life of the al-Sheikh Qasim family was completely disrupted for the three weeks of Intisar's interrogation (first in Ramallah, then in Moscobiya). Each day her mother or father accompanied her for the day-long sessions; it was her mother who was there the day of the beating, sitting in the corridor, unable to do anything while her daughter screamed. Her father (a building labourer whose father owned olive-growing land near Lydd) lost two weeks' pay and faced a lawyer's fee of IL20,000. The family has also suffered from Intisar's press exposure - her father told me he would not forbid his daughter taking part in demonstrations but did not like her photo in the newspapers. Knowing that the authorities could easily disrupt his daughter's education (as they have done in many other cases, especially in Jalazun), he had signed a statement denying allegations of his daughter's beating.


Everyone engaged in resistance, from the most active to the mildest form, knows that their families will suffer if they are caught. Parents are often jailed along with children accused of resistance, or for refusing to tell of their whereabouts. The homes of militants are blown up or sealed off, sometimes even houses where they have lodged (as in the case of one of the teachers currently on trial). To the stubborn resistance of children, for instance in stoning or petrol-bombing Israeli vehicles, the occupation invariably responds with curfews and punishment of the whole community.


Where girls and women are concerned they are vulnerable as females, not just as Palestinians, because the Israeli reading of Arab psychology leads to sexual aggression or threat being used against them as a means of intimi- dating the population as a whole. Apart from what women have suffered on their own account as activists, perhaps three times as many have been tortured or threatened to put pressure on husbands, brothers or sons. Many men who had otherwise resisted interrogation have broken down when threats were made against their sisters. Rasmiyeh Odeh's father was forcibly involved in his daughter's sexual violation in a complex attempt to shame both of them. [8] All possible combinations of family-bound male/female feelings - love, fear, shame, protectiveness - are employed to shock and break down resistance. Up to now, this form of pressure has not been successful: the politicization of women appears to be increasing rather than lessening. But the fear is that the occupation will not draw the lesson that its family punishment policy is a failure, but will rather conclude that it has not been pushed far enough. Gush Emunim violence is particularly likely to choose this form of punishment/provocation, [9] and only a more alert world public opinion can prevent this violation of human and women's rights from reaching new levels.




Quite apart from their involvement in national resistance, Palestinian women under occupation are highly visible in social work that takes on a national significance under present conditions. With the growth of their access to education, they are also becoming an important element in intellectual and productive work. In what follows I shall consider the shakhsiyat [10] and the "women intellectuals" separately, with a final brief section on "ordinary" women (that is, those without any apparent public role).


Assia Djebar, speaking of Algerian women under French colonialism, remarks that:


The woman, traditionally the guardian of the past, became (increasingly) passive in her role. The Algerian man was only colonized at that time in the street, in his work. Obliged to speak a language that was not his own, he found his real life at home, in his house, with his wife. The house was still a sacred place, which the foreign power never entered. [11]


Djebar puts her finger here on the repercussive effect of foreign domination on family relations (an effect ignored by Orientalists who portray colonialism as "modernizing"), and it is useful to apply her perceptions to the Palestinian case. One feels their truth very much in Israel, where male Palestinians have greater access than women to the dominant system, speak Hebrew, work in Israeli institutions, occasionally marry Jewish women, while women remain much more confined to the indigenous sector. But in those parts of Palestine occupied in 1967, their validity is challenged by the visibility of women, not only in resistance, but in community organization and the cultural renaissance that has been such an important accompaniment of political struggle.


The difference between these two population segments, one occupied twenty years longer than the other, is striking, attributable to the cultural as well as political suppression of the Palestinians in Israel, their isolation from the Arab world, and their starvation of funds for community development. Women here have a much harder struggle against the combined effects of national and family oppression, and it is one more evidence of the power of Israeli propaganda that even a rather enlightened book like Lesley Hazelton's on Israeli women [12] should remark of Arab women in Israel: "Their status is higher than most women in Arab countries, yet lower than that of Jewish women," for, whatever criteria one takes - education, employment, family/ legal status, or participation in public life - there is no objective evidence to prove this statement.


Historically, the shakbsiyat (like their male counterparts) emerged in a situation of intermittent mobilization against a powerful foreign occupation, in a society composed of deeply-rooted local lineages, where social structure remains relatively stable and repression prevents nation-wide organization. The local leader role is evidently class-bound, yet within its class limits there remains a significant difference between the Jerusalem leader-families, those of the more important provincial towns (like Gaza, Jaffa and Acre) and those of small townships and large villages. One finds a growing radicalism as one moves outwards (in space) and downwards (in wealth). The same transformation of the role is also evident over time, with the shakhsiyat of today much more overtly political than those of the Mandate period.


The shakbsiya has never been by any means purely an ascribed role, even though incumbents come from "known" families; it involves hard work, commitment and efficiency. Perhaps some of the great ladies elected to the Executive Committee of the first Arab Women's Union in 1929 were brought in because of their family connections, but the escalation of violence through the course of the Mandate would certainly have weeded out all but the most committed. After 1948, with the national movement apparently annihilated, there was even less scope for tokenism: those who continued to be active were only the most dedicated. This is the period when many of the best known sbakhsiyat showed their mettle: Miss 'Andalib al-'Amad set up an orphanage and hospital in Nablus; Zulaykha Shihabi, Secretary-General of the first Arab Women's Congress, started projects for the refugees near Jerusalem; Widad Khartabil kept the Union going in Lebanon, also setting up women's projects and an orphanage; and the Halabi sisters rescued Palestinian peasants' designs in their Jerusalem workshop. Similar projects, and similar women, were to be activated by the June 1967 war.


As a group, the local women leaders have certain things in common besides the fact of coming from "known" (property-owning) families: their activities, though intense, fall within the boundaries of the socially acceptable, for example, social work; they are broadly nationalist but do not join political parties or groups; they are strong culture loyalists, careful not to disturb existing structures of class and gender relations.


Each town, each village has its local women leaders. In Gaza, the lady everyone counsels me to meet is Sitt Yusra Berberi (whereas in Lebanon and Israel women leaders are called ukht - sister - in the occupied territories a touch of feudalism is retained in the widely used sitt - lady).


Member of a well-known nationalist family, Sitt Yusra refused to continue her work as Inspector of Girls' Schools under the Israelis, and now devotes herself full time, but on a volunteer basis, to the Women's Union, [13] whose centre is the neatest I have ever seen. It contains a large day-care centre (one of four) where working mothers can leave children from four months to five years old. Kitchen and bathroom are immaculate. In another room are laid out superb specimens of crochet work and handknitting. Gay colours and orderliness make the Union a little oasis in the greyness of the Strip.


The person behind the order, Sitt Yusra, is a straight-backed lady with iron-grey hair, flat shoes, a simple black suit. She has an almost Germanic reputation for neatness and hard work - perhaps because, as a girl, she attended the Schiller College in Jerusalem. But it is more for her defiant stand towards the occupation than for her efficiency that other Palestinians admire her. As headmistress from 1950 to 1958 of Gaza's only girls' high school, she brought up a nationalist generation, among them Um Jihad, said to be Fateh's first woman member. I feel Sitt Yusra embodies the pride of Gaza, once Palestine's second city. The black bandeau she wears in her hair seems a sign of mourning for it, now the saddest.


She emphasizes the national importance of social work of the kind the Women's Union does. "We help prisoners' and needy families, educate children and bring them up with a nationalist consciousness. We help working women, and the wives and daughters of martyrs and prisoners." Gaza has a population upwards of 441,300 (1977), most of whom are refugees; there's little employment, whether for unskilled workers or university graduates. An unusual number of women are without male support (owing to the ruthless repression of the early 1970's), and several thousand are bussed daily to work in Israeli factories. The means the Women's Union has to confront the problems of the mass of women are minute, and it is with anger - well controlled - that Sitt Yusra says, "The Union of Palestinian Women has money. We don't. We work."


Closer to Jordan and to funds, the West Bank situation is less stagnant. Most of the occupied territories' 150 charitable associations are located here, and women's role in them is crucial: every township and large village has its association and its active women leaders. Dr. Amin al-Khatib, President of the Federation of Charitable Associations, admits their preponderance in work that has taken on a national importance under occupation: "Women are more active than men - it's a fact and I can't deny it." But he notes another significant fact: that before 1967 women headed the voluntary societies as well as forming the bulk of active membership; now, they still do most of the work but men have tended to take over the leadership. Men leave social work to women unless they are blocked from normal political activity; when social work becomes national work, men move into leadership. [14]


With so many prominent women to meet, and so little time, choice becomes arbitrary. I am touched to find Sitt Zulaykha in her office in the Jerusalem Women's Union by 8 a.m. Her life spans the history of the national movement, and I gather from her some precious details about their work in the Mandate period. A visit to friends in Ramallah makes it easy to see Um Khalil, whose In'ash al-'Usra (Family Resurgence Society) is widely admired for its growth and success. Other oustanding women I regretfully leave to another time.


The In'ash started out in 1965 with JD 100 - just enough to rent two rooms, hire a sewing teacher, and recruit ten girl students. Now there is a three-storey building with 32 rooms, 67 employees, and a monthly pay-roll of JD 2,500. There is also a day-care centre for the children of working women; 13 literacy centres in nearby villages (run in conjunction with Bir Zeit University); help for 130 needy families; a sponsorship scheme for war victims and the children of martyrs and prisoners. The In'ash also markets the product of about 2,000 women who work at home. Local doctors and dentists have been enlisted to give treatment to ten cases each a month. There is also a food-processing factory.


Successful in its mixture of social work and profit-making, the In'ash has moved into the cultural field. It has a folklore museum and a magazine, Culture and Society, that is widely read by Palestinians outside for its contribution to the post-1967 renaissance of Palestinian culture and identity. A study of a West Bank village - Turmus'ayya - a collection of proverbs, research into women's traditional handicrafts are further enterprises in this line.


Um Khalil is very much the centre of this spreading network of projects, obviously a woman of energy and drive. Perhaps 60, with black hair combed straight back into a bun, she has the noble profile and stance of an Indian chieftain. It's 8.30 a.m. when we meet in her modest home on the outskirts of Ramallah, and already she has a pan of stuffed squash on the stove -,no domestic help and a long day ahead. Her friend Rima Terazi tells me that Um Khalil brought up her four children and kept house almost unaided throughout the growth of the In'ash.


Now she lives alone with her husband - all of her children are outside [the country], and only one can return to visit her. Two sons were deported, one was imprisoned.

Like Yusra Berberi, Um Khalil is loved because she symbolizes defiance to the occupation. Her social work has spilled over into demonstrations and sit-ins; she has been imprisoned six times. The occupation has tried to interfere with the In'ash's activities, closing down most of its village centres, but the maintenance of Jordanian law in the West Bank has given the charitable societies their small basis for action.


I ask Um Khalil if she thinks women's earning power is improving their position in the family - "Yes, it is. In the past men wouldn't let women go to meetings; now they ask them to go. Village people used not to let their daughters have education. Now many are in university." But she is no feminist: "When a girl begins to earn money she may begin to impose conditions on her family. We don't encourage such a spirit in our girls. To open the door too wide would cause a bad reaction."


She responds enthusiastically when I ask how she views women's position in the future Palestinian society: "I will work to make women the majority! " She finds women better to work with, more hardworking, more loyal, less egoistic. For her, social concern and nationalism are inseparable: "This is the way to liberate our land."


Before 1967, the charity-running middle and upper class used to draw a hard line between social work and politics [15] viewing the first as respectable, the second as suspect; but the occupation has had the effect of obliterating the line, and legitimizing the expansion of women's social role into a national/political one. The difficulty will be to sustain this expansion once the national problem is solved; but if there is any good to be found in the long drawn-out nature of the Palestinian struggle it is that mass and women's participation may have irreversibly changed sex and class relations.


Where an earlier generation of local women leaders turned belatedly to mass work, without real knowledge of mass conditions or culture, those who have assumed this role after 1948, though not from the masses, have been much closer to them than the great ladies who founded the AWU in 1929. [16] They are not separated from the women of villages and camps by high status, great wealth, foreign education, or different lifestyle: they talk the same language, cook the same food, perform the same domestic duties. Reflections of this role can be found in any camp or village, and from its pervasiveness one can guess that it meets both the subjective needs of women for a public sphere of action, the cultural/social restraints of the local community, and the overall oppression which maintains fragmentation by blocking nation-wide organization.


Um Khalil well illustrates the way the shakhsiya role has changed in response to growing national mobilization: i) she comes from a small land-owning family in a small township (al-Bireh); ii) she is not highly educated, sat for the tawjihiya with her son Saji; [17] iii) her organizational methods are personal and charismatic; iv) her own involvement is nearly total, leaving the irreducible minimum for domestic/social obligations. The directing-nucleus remains essentially uni-class - a group of friends who trust each other - and is not expanded to incorporate other classes. [18]




In Israel, political and economic oppression have blocked the emergence of a Palestinian leadership, male or female, and women's domestic role has been deepened by land confiscation, the spread of capitalist relations of production, and by the cultural conservatism that has been one reaction to alien domination. Surveillance and lack of public funds have prevented the emergence of local development projects on the scale of the West Bank, and women's absence from the few that exist is as marked as their presence the other side of the Green Line. Palestinian women who work outside the home (14.2 percent of all women aged 14 and over in 1978) tend to be absorbed into the dominant Israeli institutions, and have little time for extra community work. Women's public role is thus more limited here than elsewhere; yet the shadow of the sbakhsiya is still visible. I hear of several active women in the villages of Galilee, and there is a Women's League in Acre, running a kindergarten and a teacher-training workshop. In Nazareth there are several groups including the Democratic Women's Movement (affiliated to Rakah and to the International Federation of Democratic Women), whose president is Samira Khoury.


In spite of her membership in the Communist party, [19] Ukht Samira bears a strong resemblance to the shakhsiyat: the same energy, the same simple life-style (very different from that of most bourgeois women), the same mingling of domestic and public roles. Like them, she began to work in response to national crisis, when, in 1948, her training to be a teacher interrupted, she joined with a few friends to help the refugees who poured into Nazareth from the surrounding villages. In that period, the Jewish forces would surround refugee quarters, round up the men and threaten to deport them in an attempt to get families to leave. Samira's group distributed food and clothing (there was no international relief organization inside Israel), and led demonstrations against deportation threats. "We felt the pressure to organize, saw people helpless, without consciousness, ignorant, felt we must teach them, lead them."


From this early social/national work grew a first women's group, the Union of Democratic Women, later to become the Democratic Women's Movement (DWM). Samira joined Rakah (losing her teaching job), and the same year married a fellow teacher and fellow party member, Fuad Khoury.


Contacts with Palestinian women's groups were only made after 1967, and have remained restrained by the presence of Jewish members in the DWM. All but seven of the DWM branches are in Arab areas. Peak activities are the three big annual celebrations, Woman's Day, Children's Day, and Worker's Day. Recently instituted summer work-camps bring up to 2,000 volunteers to Nazareth each year.


It is hard to tell in a short visit whether Rakah/DWM social policy is as conservative as younger critics say, but its progressive political platform does not seem to have differentiated its social praxis from the West Bank charitable associations. The cultural residues of a class society remain, [20] and family values have changed less here than elsewhere, at least in the villages. Rakah has a strong following in the villages, but women's liberation is not part of its aim there. There continues to exist a de facto gender separation, both in villages and towns, with women members meeting separately, and engaged mainly in social activities on the old, pre-1948 pattern. "Starting from reality" has the problem that, without a clear policy of change, one tends to get stuck there.


If, to some of the younger generation (increasingly drawn to the Abna' al-Balad movement), Rakah seems insufficiently radical on the "woman question", their criticisms are parallel to those that can be heard in the West Bank or Lebanon. Younger women find the shakhsiya generation anachro- nistic. In Jerusalem a young professional woman told me: "The problem with that generation is that they need to be constantly worshipped. But we have to work from a sense of obligation, not for praise. Besides, their methods are outdated." What divides the local women leaders from the category I am calling the "women intellectuals" is primarily a generation gap, sharpened by crisis-accelerated change.




The category of women intellectuals came to maturity after the 1948 disaster; this fact has marked them deeply. Their movement into universities and professions must not be viewed as a response simply to economic pressures or to "modernization"; it is also a reaction to national crisis, part of the collective quest for revival. As a group, they are educated to a more advanced level than the shakhsiyat (for whom universities were not available in Palestine), and are more specialized. They are also more likely to be employed, and the organizations they join are more likely to be professional or political, not charitable. Their nationalism has a different, more ideological, more book-learned flavour. Where, in the past, nationalist women competed with each other from family and local power bases, younger women are divided along party and ideological lines. Another important difference is the much broader class spectrum from which the women intellectuals come; though still overloaded at the upper end (because of the maldistribution of education), they include women from the small bourgeoisie, villages and camps.


In using the term "woman intellectual", I am keeping in mind the distinction that Nakhleh makes between an intellectual and someone who is university educated. [21] While entrance to university remains restricted by class, oppression and crisis are creating, along with growing literacy and mass communication, the conditions for a new "mass intellectualism" that does not overlap with the official education system, particularly not with its upper levels. Because of continuing pressures towards early and universal marriage, because of their relative exclusion from tertiary education and the professions, Palestinian women are a large part of this phenomenon. For this reason, I include within the category not just the prominent women whom every journalist hears of, but also the thousands of anonymous primary school teachers, laboratory assistants, nurses, students and literate housewives.


L. is a social worker from a small village near Jerusalem, her family belonging to the medium land-owning peasant class that provided fighters and local leaders to the 1936 Revolution. Her father, of whom she speaks with great warmth, [22] is one of that tough breed; jailed together a few years back, L. discovered that this was his twenty-third time in prison (under the British, the Jordanians, and now the Israelis). As mukhtar he still refuses to use an Israeli stamp. One of her brothers is in prison, another deported. Her admiration for the male members of her family make her cool towards women's liberation.


Some of the women intellectuals, for example Raymonda Tawil and Sahar Khalifa, attack the family subordination of women from a straight feminist standpoint. Others, like Hanan Ashrawi, have a theory linking women's oppression to collective weaknesses that impede liberation. I suspect the majority would agree with L. who says: "I would feel guilty if I asked for more rights as a woman at a time like this."


When I ask her what she thinks of certain Palestinian feminists, she makes a gesture: "They're only interested in liberation from here down."  Unmarried, she teases a male colleague who has just got engaged to a family-picked girl from his village; I sense she has no sympathy for girls who don't fight their way out of the domestic trap as she has. Employed ever since leaving school, she financed her own university training abroad to demonstrate her independence. With men around the office she employs a kind of tough flirtatiousness that reminds me of the Italian film star Anna Magnani, once famous for her "daughter-of-the-people" roles.


L. has been under Moscobiya interrogation and imprisoned twice, but the experience seems to have left her unsubdued: "I would have been happy to have had another year there. I learnt a lot. There were two Bedouin girls with us, older women; it was a cross-section of Palestinian life. We taught each other English, French, Hebrew, and Arabic to those who were illiterate." She shrugs her shoulders, smiles. Prison is something Palestinians have to face, like the occupation:


Even if you try to forget the occupation and lead a normal life, the Israelis won't let you. A woman taking a sick child to the doctor is stopped at a barricade, people are beaten for doing nothing. People who won't resist, we should walk over them.


R., as a teacher of sciences, represents the largest occupational sector within the female labour force. Her profession is one that attracts the great majority of qualified women: it's approved by society and easy to combine with marriage. Often teachers come from a stratum less well off than the old middle class: small shopkeepers, civil servants, medium or small farmers. R.'s father was a teacher in the public system.


She is from Jerusalem where education for girls has the oldest roots. Home was full of books, visitors, political talk. Her father wanted all his seven children to go to university, but the year R. finished school the Jordanian government retired him without a pension. Somehow she found the means to get to Ain Shams University, where she studied physics and chemistry, graduating the year after the annexation of Jerusalem.


Unmarried, R. still lives with her family in Jerusalem, commutes some 20 kilometres to work every day.


She tells me of the Graduates Club and the Civil Servants Club, foci of national/cultural activities in which she takes part. In July 1979, she directed an exhibition for the first Palestinian Social Conference which brought together all the charitable associations. The occupation had tolerated their activities as local groups; but meeting together gave them a dangerously national character. There were arrests, and R. was one of those taken in for interrogation.


It took place in the Moscobiya and lasted more than a month:


They try to give you the idea that they know everything about you. They kept accusing me of belonging to the DFLP [Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine]. I stuck to my position that I have no links with any organization, that I have a political stand, but my activities are social. They told me, "You talk against Camp David." I said, "Of course I'm against it, because it's against the interests of the Palestinian people."


Because a Jerusalem detainee should be charged within 24 hours of arrest, they moved her to Ramleh where she was brought before a military court and forced, under a new law, to choose from a list of authorized lawyers. Her subsequent imprisonment was for her, as for L., a "learning experience." The Women's Action Committee: I had first met R. on a one-day bus trip to Gaza with members of WAC, a new group launched from the Ramallah area. Unlike the charitable associations whose structure reproduces class bound- aries (the middle class directs for a needy clientele), WAC members include professional, clerical and factory workers. Other signs of difference: it is moving fast to outgrow its local origins; it is trying to avoid the parapher- nalia of institutionalism (offices, elections, etc.); it is an all-woman group, combining in its manifesto the goals of women's, class and national liberation.


R. says:


We formed the Committee because the older societies did not encourage working women. They only give money and services, don't have development projects, don't try to change consciousness. We go to women, try to involve them in social and political activities. At first the older societies resented us as newcomers. This has been a big problem. But now some of them help us.


Classical income-generating projects for women are geared to women working at home - practical but limited, without any effect on the social and cultural conditions in which low-income women live. WAC is focusing on literacy classes and social centres in camps and villages. To find out more about the problems of working women and housewives they recently conducted a field study [23] in the Ramallah area, where there is a concentration of industrial projects employing women. As far as I know, this is the first research study to be done by any Palestinian women's group.


Women in Science: The proportion of Arab women now entering the "hard" fields of science, medicine and engineering is probably higher than in the US. Though there are many accomplished Palestinian women writers and artists, [24] I give up the chance to meet them in favour of a woman scientist.


M. teaches biology at Bir Zeit University, and is deeply concerned about the deteriorating public health situation in the West Bank. The military authorities closed two hospitals and froze health facilities when they occupied the West Bank, and there is an ever-increasing pressure of population on inadequate resources. Medical personnel are too few, demoralized by poor equipment, lack of funds, and the heavy workload. The authorities' annual health reports are naturally unrevealing. There is a pressing need for systematic monitoring, but no indigenous institution has the funds, and no foreign institution is (so far) interested. M. began collecting public health data two years ago, and is now trying to involve her students.


There are indications that infant mortality rates are rising (a reversal of the overall Palestinian trend), but the only studies so far have been based on samples too small for conclusive evidence. Still unanalysed data from the Zbaydat village study undertaken by Bir Zeit for the Mennonites indicate a level of more than 100 deaths per thousand.


Malnutrition and frequent pregnancy are certain causes, but probably gastro-enteritis is the biggest killer. Conditions in Zbaydat as M. describes them (she undertook the health side of the study) sound like Iraqi villages I saw before the 1958 Revolution. Lying in the Jordan Valley about 40 kilometres north of Jericho, far from the municipalities, Zbaydat was almost starving when the Mennonites decided to experiment there with drip irrigation.


The inhabitants are originally Bedouin from Bir Saba, refugees from the 1948 war, who now pay rent to the Israeli government for land they were promised by the Jordanians. Nutrition is low on proteins, with meat eaten on average once a month. They grow grains and legumes for the market, live mainly on bread and kbubbayzeb. There is no doctor, nurse or clinic in the village, nor even near it, and women generally resort to herbal and magical cures, often giving birth in the fields. Many of their rituals surrounding childbirth are those that Hilma Granqvist described almost half a century ago. [25] What more convincing evidence could there be of the "de-development" of Palestinian society by colonialism?


Women Intellectuals in Israel: Some of the special difficulties faced by women intellectuals in Israel emerge in an evening's discussion with girl students at the Hebrew University. Out of a total Arab population of 570,000, only 2,000 (about 0.35 percent) are in Israeli universities, and of these only a handful are female. The difficult bagrut exam (in Hebrew) and special college entrance tests form the first barrier (apart from inadequate access to secondary schools). Then there is the difficulty of gaining access to the field of their choice: all I meet have had to switch; it is almost impossible to enter pharmacology, medicine or engineering. University fees are high and there are no public scholarships for Arab students. This and the difficulty of finding jobs after graduation make many families draw back from investing in university for their daughters.


A girl from Deir Hanna thinks that parents' readiness to educate their daughters is directly related to their own level of education. Her mother and father are both teachers; her father is also a member of the Abna' al-Balad movement. They are even ready to send her abroad to do a PhD; but the problem is what she will do when she returns, an over-qualified pharmacologist, to a village which has no hospital and not even a secondary school.


A girl from another village says her father has only elementary schooling, while her mother is illiterate, but they too are ready to send her abroad. Only one other girl from Meshed has gone to university. But she plans to return - all of them do - and maybe she will be able to find a teaching job in Nazareth. Life in the villages sounds dismal: a club for women was opened by the Meshed Local Council a few years back but closed after only a week. Even Rakah holds separate meetings for men and women.


N. from Tarshiha is studying sociology and speaks of the backward situation in her home town (whose sons in the Dispersion are famous for their high educational level). She estimates that though about 80 percent of girls go through high school (a much higher figure than in the villages), only about 30 out of 200 university students are girls. [26] Most families don't allow their daughters to work; training courses provided locally are the usual sex-stereotyped ones: secretarial, accountancy, sewing, home management. She herself plans to do social work but expects no encouragement from her family.


A problem that all the girls face in the university is isolation: Jewish and foreign students avoid them, and so do young Arab men. There are few social or cultural activities on campus, so they end up spending their free time studying, not much more liberated than back home.


Two out of the 17-member Arab Student's Council are female, but the boys don't encourage the girls to take part in politics except just before elections ("After the elections they don't even say marhaba," one of the girls tells me). Male students have been known to accuse political girls of behaving like Israelis, and recent moves to start a women's consciousness-raising group have been strongly opposed by the male students, almost as if they wish to keep the girls in a pre-political state.


The narrowness of chances for Palestinian girls to get higher education in Israel does not mean that the "woman intellectual" phenomenon does not exist there, but means its wider diffusion, particularly among younger women. The "de-development" of the Palestinian minority has produced a mood of acute rebellion against class and family structures that transmit Israeli oppression. Both in Nazareth and in a village near Haifa I encounter small women's study circles - none university-educated - eagerly reading Nawal el Saadawi, the Egyptian radical feminist. [27] Z. a young newly-married woman from Qariya, [28] tells me that she only found confidence to speak on politics in the presence of men after reading el Saadawi.


Z. belongs to the Abna' al-Balad movement, the first Arab political movement to arise in the villages, not the cities. [29] Her father, though educated, took her out of school in ninth grade, saying, "The girl is for the house. What does she want with education? " and since then Z. has carried on a sustained struggle with her family, to attend political meetings, to marry a man from the movement, to let her younger sister stay on in school. Her politics have been sharpened by this struggle; in a village almost totally without independent cultural facilities - its schools being part of the Israeli control system - this girl reads, thinks, observes women's lives, draws clear and hard conclusions.


In Z.'s generation (or a minority of it), rebellion against Israeli oppression and the patriarchal family are fused. I hear of more than one teenager running away to join the Resistance movement in Lebanon. It is not hard to imagine their passionate hope, at this age, of belonging to a collectivity more inspiring than clan or village. For them, the idea of Palestine has become the symbol of this larger belonging. Z. expresses something of this when she says:


When I was small we didn't even know the word "Palestine," we used to think Jenin was in Jordan. On Independence Day we used to carry the Israeli flag. But now children know; they sing Biladi [30] even though it's forbidden. This year some of them refused to take part in Independence Day.


To this new Palestinianism (which is the driving force of Abna'al-Balad) is linked Z.'s drive for autonomy as a woman, and a part in the struggle. She supports birth control, seeing clearly the way large families pin women down in the home, and not only women but men too, drawing them out of politics through heavy economic obligations. She intends to have only two children, whether or not they are boys, and to bring up daughters in the same way as sons. She thinks all women should be able to provide for their families in case their husbands are imprisoned.


Later, in an Abna' al-Balad meeting (mixed), I meet other girls like Z., mostly unmarried, though there is also an older woman with two small children who has been a candidate for the local council. The rapporteur is a competent girl in a Muslim headscarf (a reminder that it is possible to be both pious and progressive). Because of the difficulty of desegregating the sexes after so long, the women also meet separately to discuss their problems: for example, family restrictions on attending meetings.


The group discussion leader - a young man who steadily encourages the girls to participate - makes a statement on the movement's stand towards women's liberation:


The main stand of Abna' al-Balad towards the issue of women is that we must destroy all traditional values and all obstacles to the participation of women in struggle. Our main goal now is to form women cadres who will reach the stage of taking part in all levels of organization, so that they will be able to work side by side with men.


Z. assures me later that "All the group is committed to the struggle for the liberation of women. This is one of our fundamental principles, not a minor point." What she says is confirmed by the young men at the meeting. One makes a speech opposing the subordination of women, and looks forward to the day when men and women workers will take decisions together, when more girls will go to university, when children will see their mother and father involved in the same struggle. He and other speakers stress the links between capitalism, Zionism and the domestication of women.




It is very clear to me, in constructing a three-category framework through which to view Palestinian women, that the third category is no more than a rag-bag. There are no "ordinary" women. I try other labels: "uneducated"? "illiterate"? "housewives"? "traditional women"? All of them are unsatis- factory, loaded with elitism; but they do point to the way schooling has increasingly become a discriminating factor between women, shattering the older unity of a similar domestic/social role and a shared "protection" by (subordination to) the family.


There are still regions, classes, and a whole generation hardly touched by the spread of schooling: outside the cities and the middle class, few women over 35 are schooled, and though not numerically preponderant in this young population (50 percent under 18), they undoubtedly account for most of what remains of female illiteracy (recently estimated at 40 percent for the West Bank). [31] In peripheral areas (small outlying villages like Zbaydat, or the Negev), there are still no girls' schools at all. Bedouin as a class still have highly inadequate public schooling, though richer families are sending daughters to private schools. Girls in the poorest areas - refugee camps, villages, city slums - may have elementary schools, but not the secondary levels that open the door to skilled employment.


Wherever girls are excluded from secondary education they remain subject to pressures towards early marriage (as a form of economic security), large families, [32] and exclusion from acceptable employment. Current conditions of internal colonialism, brought about mainly by land confiscation, are increasingly forcing unqualified women into the labour market, to work in Israeli factories or on plantations at discriminatory wage rates. This trend is, of course, much more advanced in Israel, but it can be seen too in the occupied territories in spite of their greater scope for national industry and public services.


In Qariya we visit one of the new village factories employing girls. It is financed by Jewish capital from Haifa but there is a local "partner" who also supervises production. About 25 unmarried girls and two slightly older married women "foremen" work from 7.30 a.m. to 3.30 p.m., with two quarter-hour breaks, machine-sewing women's dresses. For this they are paid three and a half dollars a day.


This wage is lower than they could get in larger factories outside the village, but their families prefer to give Israeli capital a higher surplus-value because of their fear of Muslim Brotherhood violence: two buses that carried women to work were burnt last year. In Nazareth, there is the same pay difference between the large, Histadrut-organized factories and the small, backstreet workshops where women's participation remains socially invisible.


In spite of the low pay and the strict control (they must not talk between breaks), the girls seem happy to be away from home. Their political consciousness is awakened: they have already carried out two strikes, one to get paid regardless of electricity cuts, the other for a 10 percent pay increase. This year they refused to work on Yawm al-Ard (Land Day), and when we ask why their pay is so low and taxes so high, they answer, "Because the government wants to build settlements and hit the Palestinians."


It is true that in certain areas, particularly Gaza now, even secondary education does not necessarily lead to skilled employment. The ratio of girls in secondary school in Gaza is higher than most other parts of the Dispersion [33] but there is heavy unemployment. I remember Amneh in Beach Camp, whose marks in the tawjihiya were good enough for her to have gone to university if her refugee family could have afforded it, but, even with secretarial and sewing courses she hasn't been able to find a job. Unmarried - there's a big male/female imbalance in Gaza from Israel's iron repression in the early 1970's - she sits at home with nothing to do except help the neighbours' children with their lessons. She would gladly go to Saudi Arabia to work but lacks a male guardian. [34] Like Intisar's family in Jalazun, her family considers work in Israel shameful, only excused by dire need.


Whatever the importance of schooling in determining women's status, it has no clear relationship to participation in national struggle. Everyone who has been in prison confirms the wide age and class range of women prisoners. [35] I hear of a Bedouin girl jailed for throwing a bomb to avenge her husband, and of old women imprisoned for refusing to tell the whereabouts of fedayeen sons, or for feeding them. I hear of women who resist eviction from their homes for extraordinary lengths of time, and am shown photos of one old widow, the last of her village, who hangs on to her home despite the daily growing encroachment of a vast Israeli housing project. I think also of the victims: the wives of prisoners, the mothers whose children are all in prison, or dead, or deported, and the women of the Bedouin settlements in the south, isolated from the world, subjected to mass uprootings and depredation. Reflection on our extreme ignorance of the lives of "ordinary" Palestinian women leads to the conclusion that funds for a nation-wide survey must somehow be found. What organization is likely to fund such a project?


Another important form of "ordinary" women's resistance - not re- marked because taken for granted - is the capacity for staying put. If the Palestinian emigration rate out of the occupied area is much lower than Israelis would wish, this is not a little due to women who make no special pleas for an easier life. Several men I meet pay tribute to their wives' steadfastness, and a politicized girl in Bir Zeit tells how she blocked her father's plan to mdve the entire family to the Gulf. Women, one sometimes feels, have even deeper roots in this soil than men, with their wider circle of mobility. They have domesticated and "Palestinianized" many an alien terrain, from barracks in the Beka' to Kuwaiti suburbs, but they remain attached to the native landscape at deeper, pre-political levels of consciousness. Laila S. says the only time she ever weeps is when she hears the word "Haifa."


If "ordinary"women cannot be distinguished from the other two categories in their Palestinianism, I think they can in the degree to which they suffer from the occupation. Indeed, one of the reasons why it is so necessary to bring them into view, even while knowing so little about their conditions and feelings, is that if one considers only the shakhsiyat and the intellectuals, one leaves room for a false link between their "advancement" and Zionist intervention. That Israel has nothing to do with women's increased education or wider public participation is clear from a comparison of Israel and the West Bank, [36] or Occupied Palestine and Lebanon. But it becomes even more obvious if we consider the broad effects of the occupation on the third category in particular, that is, on women who have no chance to "com- pensate" through interesting work or a leader role.


It is not easy to measure the psychological strain on "ordinary" women of threats to the families with which they are so completely identified, but one can get some idea by reading accounts of the curfew in Hebron after the deportation of Mayor Qawasmeh. The Mayor's wife suffered a breakdown when, soon after her husband was deported, troops threatened to shoot one of her children seen playing in the garden. There is no Palestinian wife/ mother in the occupied territories who has not gone through similar traumas, larger or smaller.


A different set of problems arises from Israeli "de-development" policies which starve Palestinian communities on both sides of the Green Line of funds needed for social infrastructures. As unpaid family/social labour, women's workload automatically expands to fill in deficiencies in public facilities. Inadequate public hygiene means more time spent cleaning. Poor transport and health facilities mean more time spent carrying sick children to clinics, more time spent waiting for care. Inadequate water and fuel supplies mean more time spent on housework.


Samira Khoury, president of the DWM, in an interview given in Nazareth showed understanding of both types of effect. Although she began by saying that "women are part of the whole population and face the same general problems," her presentation implicitly recognized the double burden. She began by speaking of:


... the neglect of Arab towns and villages, and discrimination between Arab and Jewish localities. The Ministry of the Interior gives three times more to Jewish than to Arab municipalities. For example, Affuleh with a population of 14,000 gets a budget of IL 250 million while Nazareth with 45,000 has just had a budget of IL 180 million refused....


In the so-called "mixed" cities (Acre, Haifa, Jaffa and Lydd) the situation is even worse because the Arabs live in separate quarters which are starved of municipal funds. They can't develop, can't build schools and kindergartens, or sports centres. It's the same in the villages. Children are learning under the trees, without equipment, without even lavatories.


It's the same story with the Ministry of Health: medical facilities for Arab areas lag far behind. The Histadrut gives health insurance to all its members, but their clinics only exist in Jewish centres, and Arabs, especially from the villages, can't always reach them. In a recent measles epidemic, many children died because their mothers couldn't reach the clinics.


Of course, such conditions affect women psychologically. They are always under the strain of problems and anxiety. The bad economic situation affects them, inflation, unemployment. Their men often have far to go to work, there are many checkpoints, and if they are a few minutes late they are sent back, and lose a whole day's pay.


In the conditions of internal colonialism which characterize the situation of Palestinians under occupation, women can only be seen as "advancing" if we focus exclusively on political consciousness, and eliminate from view the deterioration in women's situation caused by forced proletarianization, and the transformation of the indigenous household from a centre of multiple activities - social, cultural, economic - into a dormitory for workers and schoolchildren.


Beyond this, there is the problem of woman's centrality as a symbol of social order. With Palestinians increasingly polarized between progressive and reactionary currents, women are likely to pay a heavy price for "over-visibility." Here again, Israeli hegemony, seen as "modern" and "Western", has strengthened ideological counter-currents that place false emphasis on "our" women remaining "traditional." The fear of loss of control over the female sector, of a sexual revolution, of emancipation on the Israeli model (with mini-skirts and pre-marital sexuality falsely equated with "emancipation"), have added new dimensions to the "woman problem." I hear of an increase (more in Israel and Gaza than the West Bank) of "honour" crimes, and daughter- and wife-beating; and though such things are not publicized, they point to the need for a national policy not based on an idealization of the Arab past, or the Arab family, but on understanding of the new, complex realities which are coming into existence.



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Rosemary Sayigh is the author of The Palestinians: From Peasants to Revolutionaries (London: Zed Press, 1979). She is at present engaged on a field study on the politicization of Palestinian women, made possible by a research grant from the Institute for Arab Studies, Boston.


1. For feminist statements see: 1) May Sayegh, The Arab Palestinian Woman: Reality and Impediments (Beirut: GUPW, 1980), in Arabic and English. May is a Fateh member but without strong following on this issue); 2) Raymonda Hawa-Tawil, Mon Pays, Ma Prison (Paris: Seuil, 1979); 3) Nuha Abu Daleb, "Palestinian Women and Their Role in the Revolution," Peuples Mediterraneens, No. 5 (Oct.-Dec. 1978), pp. 35-46.


2. Munir Shafiq, "Mawdu'at hawla Nidal al-Mar'a" (Themes on the Struggle of Women), Sbu'un Filastiniya, No. 62 (January 1977), pp. 200-227.


3. George Habash, Hawla Tabarrur al-Mar'a (On the Liberation of Women), (Beirut: Information Centre of the Rejection Front, n.d.). The PFLP also published a pamphlet in 1970 on "The Revolution and the Liberation of Women Issue" (K. Abu Ali, Muqaddimat bawla Waqi' al-Mar'a wa Tajrubatiba fi al-Tbawra al-Filastiniya (Beirut: GUPW, 1975). For an individual PFLP statement, see Rasmiyeh Odeh in S. Antonius, "Prisoners for Palestine: A List of Women Political Prisoners," Journal of Palestine Studies, IX, No. 35 (Spring 1980), 29-80.


4. Of course, the bulk of militants, political prisoners and deportees remain men. But women have joined men in the most dangerous kinds of resistance, while they play a predominant part in civil resistance (which can also be quite dangerous).


5. S. Antonius, supra, note 3.


6. Special committees were set up in France, involving eminent intellectuals like Picasso, Mauriac, de Beauvoir, Tillion, to mobilize public opinion against the torture and imprisonment of Algerian women militants (see D.C. Gordon, Women of Algeria (Harvard: Harvard University Press, 1968), pp. 54-55). Later French disillusion with women's situation in independent Algeria may have been partly a reaction to this support.


7. Occupation troops seen in Ramallah and Hebron bristled with arms. Besides machine guns and cudgels, several carried quivers filled with rods.


8. See S. Antonius, supra, note 3.


9. In Ramallah last year a girl was kidnapped by settlers for a few hours in what appeared like an attempt to provoke mass disturbances.


10. Sbakbsiyat is used colloquially in the West Bank/Jerusalem area, though perhaps not elsewhere, to indicate prominent women involved in social/national work. It implies both a forceful personality and a leading social/family status.


11. Assia Djebar, interview with Sylvie Marion, France Observateur, 24 May 1964, quoted by D.C. Gordon, Women of Algeria (1968), p. 47.


12. L. Hazelton, Israeli Women: The Reality Behind the Myths (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1977).


13. Several branches of the pre-1948 Arab Women's Union survive in Occupied Palestine where the GUPW (founded in 1965) is prohibited.


14. The charitable associations were originally a response to Jordanian oppression. Women's role in them varies depending on generation and overall conditions; in Lebanon, where women can join political parties, their membership in voluntary social organizations has declined, whereas in Jordan and the occupied territories it remains high.


15 See R. Hawa-Tawil, supra, note 1, p. 77, for a description of her struggle with Miss 'Andalib al-'Amad to broaden the activities of the Women's Union of Nablus. (Her sobriquet, "the Florence Nightingale of Nablus," gives an idea of her life's work; Raymonda's proposal to start jazz concerts and mixed discussions must have shocked her culturally and politically). 'Andalib was posthumously awarded a shield by the Union of Charitable Societies in Jerusalem last year.


16. See M. Mogannam, The Arab Woman and the Palestine Problem (London: Herbert Joseph, 1937), pp. 70-73, for details. Among Executive Committee members were Mrs. Jamal Husseini, Mrs. Mousa Alami, and Mrs. Ouni Abdul Hadi.


17. Sbakbsiyat of Yusra Berberi's generation were the first, almost, to be university-educated (Matiel Mogannam had a law degree); Palestine lacked a university. Today, the enrolment of Palestinian girls in tertiary level education is probably one of the Arab world's highest.


18. See K. Abu Ali, supra, note 3, for a critique by younger politicized women of older women's domination of the PLO's social institutions.


19. Concerning the attitude of Arab Communist parties to the "woman issue," K. Abu Ali, supra, note 3, remarks that before 1948 Rakah had a "European approach" because of its Jewish members, but that this was later modified to take into consideration prevalent social customs and values.


20 In spite of what people often say, the elimination of the local and national leadership in and after 1948 did not turn remaining Palestinians into a classless society. See Sherif Kenaana, Socio-Cultural and Psychological Adjustments of the Arab Minority in Israel (California: Rand Corp., 1976).


21. K. Nakhleh, Palestinian Dilemma: Nationalist Consciousness and University Education in Israel (Shrewsbury, Ma.: AAUG, 1979).


22. In contrast S---, a university student, remarks that an Arab girl's most difficult first step in growing up is confrontation with her father.


23. Hawla Awla' al-Mar'a al-Filastiniya fi al-Manatiq al-Mubtalla: Dirasa Maydaniya (The Situation of Palestinian Women in the Occupied Territories: A Field Study), (Ramallah, 1980).


24. Among writers, outstanding names are Fadwa Tuqan, Sahar Khalifa, Hanan Mikhael-Ashrawi; among artists, a young ceramist whose work I liked (in Notre Dame, Jerusalem) is Vera Tamari.


25. H. Granqvist, Birth and Childhood Among the Arabs (Helsinki: Soderstrom, 1947); and Child Problems Among the Arabs (Helsinki: Soderstrom, 1950).


26. In Bir Zeit about 40 percent of students are female; in the other West Bank universities the figure is slightly lower.


27. One of Dr. el Saadawi's books is now available in English: The Hidden Face of Eve (London: Zed Press, 1980).


28. An invented name.


29. The majority of Israeli Palestinians are rural in origin and place of residence. The coastal cities lost their pre-eminence in 1948 with the elimination of their national elites and administrative functions.


30. "My country," best known of Resistance songs, and unrecognized national anthem.


31. Based on data from the literacy survey undertaken recently by Bir Zeit University.


32. There are growing signs of female opposition to large families. I ask girls in an UNRWA sewing class in Gaza how many children they want. Answers range between none and eight, with an average of three, and two as the most often chosen number.


33. See Statistical Yearbook 1977-78 (Vienna: UNRWA-UNESCO Department of Education, 1979), p. 19.


34. A husband or male relative within the degree prohibited for marriage.


35. Wider than for the women deportees, who seem to belong mainly to the sbakbsiya or intellectual categories.


36. See F.S. Nasru, Education in the West Bank: Government Schools 1968 - 1976/77 (Bir Zeit: Bir Zeit University Documentation and Research Office, 1977), for evidence that girls' enrolment in school has suffered in the West Bank as a consequence of parents' fear of Israeli army violence.

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