Sunday, February 04, 2007

Intramural Pal. Activities

The news from Gaza is that the latest deaths raised to 27 the number of Palestinians killed in factional clashes in the last four days. More than 80 Palestinians have been killed in the fighting since December, when unity government talks between the ruling Hamas movement and Abbas's Fatah faction broke down and the moderate president called for new elections.

Which reminds me of an earlier period:

...political fragmentation became a very serious problem in the Arab World
...unfortunately, the Palestinian Arabs could not escape their traditional rivalries. The Palestinian national movement fell victim to internal divisions and political fragmenta-tions. At times, Arabs fought Arabs while their Zionist enemy confronted them with unusual stubbornness and determination to succeed in their ultimate goal of creating a Jewish state in Palestine.

It should be remembered that the divisions and rivalries which characterized
relations among big families of Palestine were in part a by-product of a rigid social
structure. According to J.C. Hurewitz, "the Muslim community was atomized by clannish separatism."(31) The clan was the social class' basic unit. Headed by a
shaykh, the clan in the small village aligned itself with a particular clan in the
larger village and also with a clan in the town or city where the powerful
landowning families always resided as absentee landlords.

As mentioned earlier, rivalries among the big families were old going back to the Qaysi and Yamani rivalries of pre-Islamic time.(32) The latter divisions had a
geographic dimension involving north Arabia, where Qaysi's power rested, and south Arabia where Yamani's influence extended. Yet Palestinian factionalism carried with it no ideological connotations, for the simple reason that big families competed for the control of existing resources and did not aim at changing the social structure.(33) In Jerusalem, as elsewhere in Palestine, ideology and politics rarely went together. In fact, the Palestinian national movement never manifested genuine ideolo-gical inclination. At any rate, prior to 1948, family feuds and factional politics were responsible for the failure of Palestinians to successfully challenge the Zionist movement in its attempt to create a Jewish state.(34)

It got worse between 1938-1939.

But let's not forget their main goal:-

Historian [Benny] Morris writes: "On the morning of April 4 [1920] a procession of six hundred pilgrims from Hebron, a town known for its Muslim orthodoxy, entered the city. There were cheers for 'King' Faisal and Arab independence; Jerusalem mayor Musa Kazim al-Husseini swore the gathered crowd to spill their blood for Palestine…The crowd chanted: "We will drink the blood of the Jews…As the demonstration drew to a close, the head of the Hebronite pilgrims shouted, 'Itbah al-Yahud' [Kill the Jew]—and violence erupted. The crowd went on a rampage, moving toward West Jerusalem: Jews on Jaffa Street were stoned and Jewish shops looted." (3)

Christian Arab Palestinian eye-witness Khalil al-Sakakini (1878-1953), who was head of the Jerusalem Teachers' College at the time of the Nebi Musa Riots, described the scene:
"[A] riot broke out, the people began to run about and stones were thrown at the Jews. The shops were closed and there were screams…I saw a Zionist soldier covered in dust and blood…Afterwards, I saw one Hebronite approach a Jewish shoeshine boy, who hid behind a sack in one of the wall's comers next to Jaffa Gate, and take his box and beat him over the head. He screamed and began to run, his head bleeding and the Hebronite left him and returned to the [Nebi Musa] procession…The riot reached its zenith. All shouted, "Muhammad's religion was born with the sword"…I immediately walked to the municipal soul is nauseated and depressed by the madness of humankind." (3)

The carnage included 5 Jews killed and 216 wounded, 4 Arabs killed and 23 wounded, and 7 British soldiers wounded. The Nebi Musa procession during Ottoman rule in Palestine had required deployment of thousands of soldiers to keep order in the narrow streets of Jerusalem. The military head of Jerusalem in April 1920, Ronald Storrs, had at his disposal only 180 Palestinian policemen and 8 British police officers! Many of the Arab policemen joined the Arab rioters, rendering the civil police force impotent. The situation—called a "pogrom" by Zionist Jews—had been predicted by Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann who tried to warn Storrs, to no avail. (4)

3. Benny Morris: "Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-2001". Vintage, 2001, p. 95.

4. A.J. Sherman: "Mandate Days: British Lives in Palestine 1918-1948." Johns Hopkins Press, 1997, p. 54

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