Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Arab Christians in British Mandate Palestine

Arab Christians in British Mandate Palestine: Communalism and Nationalism, 1917-1948

Noah Haiduc-Dale
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 232
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Arab Christians in British Mandate Palestine
    Book Description:

    Noah Haiduc-Dale focuses on the relationship between Arab Christians and the nationalist movement in Palestine as the British Mandate unfolded throughout the first half of the 20th century. Evidence of individual behaviours and beliefs, as well as those of Christian organizations (both religious and social in nature), challenges the prevailing assumption that Arab Christians were prone to communalism. Instead, they were as likely as their Muslim compatriots to support nationalism. When social pressure led Christians to identify along communal lines, they did so in conjunction with a stronger dedication to nationalism.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-7604-0
    Subjects: History, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Introduction: Nationalism and Religious Identification
    (pp. 1-18)

    My first exposure to the Palestinian–Israeli conflict came in high school when I travelled with a group of American teenagers for a month-long stay with Elias Jabbour, founder of the House of Hope in Shefaʿamr, an Arab–Israeli village near Haifa. Jabbour, a Melkite Christian, framed his approach to the conflict through his religious beliefs, describing himself as ‘a Christian, Palestinian, Arab, Israeli’.³ Two years later, while living and studying the conflict in Jerusalem as a college student, I was confused when the programme director insisted that the conflict was not about religion at all, but about land, economics...

  6. 1 1917–1923: Balancing Religion and National Unity
    (pp. 19-60)

    In March 1920 ʿArif al-ʿArif, Arab nationalist leader and editor of the newspaper Suriyah al-Janubiyah (southern Syria), extolled some since-forgotten show of religious unity:

    Never in all its later history have Palestine and ancient Jerusalem witnessed so great a day as last Friday. On that day the national feeling swayed Arabs, Christians and Moslems – on that day an end was put to religious strife. These two religions will henceforth live in peace. Until this historic day Europe has not inclined an attentive ear to the words of the Palestinians because they were not united, and did not have the...

  7. 2 1923–1929: Christians and a Divided National Movement
    (pp. 61-96)

    In 1931, a group of leaders from the Nashashibi-led National Party demanded that the Husayni-run Supreme Muslim Council stop renting mosques to Christians, complaining that Armenians were storing wine in the mihrab of one mosque and someone was keeping pigs in another.³ Another sign of emerging factionalism occurred in the 1930s when a Nashashibi leader wrote to followers in the Nablus, Jenin and Tulkarm subdistricts alerting them to a large number of Christians in a Husayni delegation to London. Fakhri al-Nashashibi assured regional organisers that raising this issue among the rural population would increase support for the National Party ‘in...

  8. 3 1929–1936: Towards Communalism
    (pp. 97-129)

    It was Tuesday, 27 August 1929, just four days after a dispute over al-Buraq (the Western Wall) triggered violent Arab riots and Jewish counter-attacks. Yusef Marroum and his wife (unnamed in police records) of Qalunya, a village of roughly 500 citizens about four miles from Jerusalem, heard a car pull up in front of their house. Marroum slowly opened the shutters to see who had arrived in the otherwise quiet town. He was greeted with a bullet to the face. As he lay bleeding on the floor, he heard boot steps come around to the door and enter. The British...

  9. 4 1936–1939: Standing Aloof? Arab Christians and the Great Revolt
    (pp. 130-162)

    In December 1936, the ‘Carriers of the Banner of al-Qassam’ issued a leaflet calling for a boycott of Arab Christians: ‘God is great! God is great! Oh Muslims, boycott the Christians. Boycott them. Boycott them.’ The pamphlet contained a list of accusations concerning Arab Christians’ lack of dedication to nationalism, specifically calling for communal separatism. Christians, the leaflet explained, ‘compromised the nation for their personal benefit’: they arrived at protests late because they were unwilling to face risks like Muslims, they held the majority of government jobs, worked as teachers educating Muslim youth ‘on the Christian principles that are in...

  10. 5 1940–1948: National Strength through Communal Unity
    (pp. 163-195)

    In 1944, the Union of Arab Orthodox Clubs (UAOC) set out to adopt a logo for the club’s various publications. Nearly a dozen options were considered, all including a gold cross and a black, green, red and white Palestinian flag. The artist who drafted the samples must have been shocked by the ensuing debate in which the majority of Union committee members rejected the cross logo ‘under the pretext that [if] an emblem with a symbol of the cross is adopted . . . [their] Arab Muslims brothers [would] become angry’.² Jiryis Hanna Butrus of Ramallah wrote to the Union...

  11. Conclusion: Nationalism and Communal Identification – Conflicting Identities?
    (pp. 196-201)

    Arab Christians in Palestine constantly renegotiated their place in society and the meaning of their religious identification during the British Mandate. They shaped their relationship to Palestinian nationalism in debates among themselves as well as with the British, Zionists and other Arab communities in Palestine. The Arab Christian story is neither simple or linear, nor is it even one story. Contrary to generalised accounts of Christians during the Mandate, religion was neither insignificant nor essentially determinant, and its relationship to society and politics varied from Christian to Christian based on a wide range of influences. Certainly, the politics of the...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 202-214)
  13. Index
    (pp. 215-224)