Alternative Palestinian Agenda
A paper to be presented at Alternative Palestinian Agenda- Nov.18-23.02-USA
"There is no
greater sorrow on earth than the loss of one's native land" (Euripides,
Resisting Oblivion: Historiographic presentation of a Palestinian demolished village
The idea to research Lubya's history began stirring in me long ago while I was still living in a refugee camp in Lebanon. In 1948, my parents and thousands of others from Lubya and the surrounding villages arrived at Wavel Refugee Camp, in Baalbek, Lebanon, after refusing to settle in proper houses, in the hope of returning home soon 1. They preferred to live in tents, distributed by the Red Cross, although they faced extremely cold weather when they first arrived; my father's wife, her son and many other refugee children died that year.
Protests did not help; all resolutions concerning the right of return were shelved for almost five decades in the archives of the United Nations. Every year the same resolutions, mainly resolution 194 2, were voted on and passed unanimously, with the exception of a single state that voted against it; the result, however, remained the same.
The 'temporary status' of the refugees turned out to be permanent. A child born in a refugee camp soon began to pose the normal, if naive questions: Who am I? Why are we refugees? Why are we not allowed to attend military classes in the Lebanese schools? Why are we living such a transitory life and why did father keep refusing to buy any heavy household goods such as a refrigerator, television or washing machine, saying that it is easier, when the time comes, to return home without cumbersome belongings? Why did we not have the same rights as the people we live among, whether in employment 3, nationality, or simply owning a passport, to name just a few? Why do they close the gates of the camp (which had only one main entrance and another secondary one for its almost 5000 inhabitants), and prevent anyone from leaving every time an official guest from abroad came to visit the historical ruins of Baalbek? (The Camp is situated on the main road from Beirut to Baalbek). Why were we "treated differently" by the authorities although we spoke the same language and shared a common history? Where do we originally come from?
It was all these questions; the stories about Lubya recounted by our parents and relatives; the discriminatory policies of the authorities who maintained a permanent secret police office in the camps (until the advent of the PLO in 1969), and my long life of forced displacement from one country to another, that motivated me to visit Lubya in 1994.
This visit to Lubya became possible only after I obtained Danish citizenship. For the first time in 43 years, and after compulsory migration from nine countries, I was finally able to carry my own official passport, a document that identified me and gave me official status. I was, however, unable to write in my passport the name of Lubya, which was once part of the district of Tiberias, as my place of origin (in my refugee documents, my place of birth reads Lubya-Tiberias). To the Danish passport authorities, Lubya had ceased to exist; they could, therefore, only write Tiberias, refusing even to include the word Palestine. Only then was I finally able to visit my homeland, but only as a tourist and not as a local or a citizen. That visit was followed by a second one on which I was accompanied by my parents and a Danish TV crew, in order to film a documentary about Lubya's history. The documentary was entitled: "The Grandparents' Land" (31/3/95), and was followed by a working paper, published by the Danish Refugee Council, under the title: "Palestinians from Lubya in Denmark, Dreams and Realities" (Lubyans in Denmark well exceed one thousand persons today). These two documents became the foundation of this research project, which I undertook with support from the Humanistic Research Committee in Denmark (20 months worth of work), and the Danish Institute in Damascus (9 months worth of work).
Although by any account, Lubya was a small village in Galilee, with a population of 2730 people in 1945, it never the less was the largest village in the Tiberias district during the Mandate period in Palestine. It was totally demolished in 1948 and its inhabitants uprooted and dispersed to as many as 23 countries, some within Palestine itself and others in nearby countries or in other far-flung places. Before its destruction, this village had its own vibrant history, its gentle culture and its intricate social network.
Fifty years of displacement and exile did not succeed in obliterating Lubya's history, neither from the minds of its inhabitants, nor from the minds of t hose who uprooted them. The stream of memories about bygone days is still flowing in the minds of its older generation; men and women in their sixties, seventies and eighties are still reminiscing and recollecting their past, both for their own sake as well as that of their children. The latter are still transmitting, more or less accurately, those same stories and traditions to their own sons and daughters.
The recounting of historical and social facts and anecdotes changes from one generation to another, however, the main stream of memories and images of the past still dominates, until today, the subconscious, as well as various aspects of the lives of present day Lubyans, old and young alike, although these images are no longer as crystal clear as they were before the diaspora. The image of the past, the "common sense", to use Gramsci's words, is "ambiguous, contradictory...multiform and strangely composite" 4 in the minds of the new generation. But that is not the case for the older generation whose memories are still coherent and reliable. Gramsci distinguishes between civil and political society. 5 Civil society in Lubya was a voluntarily network of school, cultural club, family relations, and common religious and social traditions; while a political society of their own, involving an army, police and central administrative bureaucracy, in the form of state institutions, was absent from the village. Culture and social harmony operated within this microcosmic civil society according to internal social codes, voluntarily agreed upon between the villagers themselves. The Ottoman, British and Zionist institutions were outsiders, each imposing its repressive and dominant narrative on Lubyan civil society to serve its own particular interests.
Although time and displacement are vital factors to be considered when reconstructing the past, these did not dim the villagers' recollection of their history prior to 1948; in recent times their culture was "collectively reproduced by remembrance put into words and deeds" 6
For teenagers, the middle-aged and the elderly alike, Lubya is an identical central image, a theoretical and subconscious point of reference, a cultural framework and a past and present mental image that shapes, inspires and impacts their personal lives today. In the late sixties, they joined in their hundreds what was then a promising Palestinian revolution, and ninety-two of them died since its onset in 1965. Again in the late eighties and early nineties, their dreams ended in frustration and despair with another wave of displacement and exile to various Arab, Scandinavian and European countries; we had once again, a new generation of children, ironically, reliving the experience of their uprooted parents. Nevertheless, and even in the diaspora, whether in Denmark, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, Germany or Israel, the common foundation upon which their present lives were built, as well as their "concept of the self", continued to be nourished by that central image. Their past history became the basis on which their plans for the future were based, in spite of half a century of time and distance from their land of origin. Reminiscences, eyewitness accounts, episode recollections and collective historiography, based on lore and traditions, became the chief source of inspiration for the elderly and the cornerstone of the young generations' identity.
Of all the hundreds of Palestinian villages, Lubya was recreated in Wavel Refugee Camp, a camp in Lebanon named after a British officer. For the refugees, 'Ain al-Hilwi in Lebanon, Yarmouk in Syria, Baka'a Camp in Jordan, and later, the suburbs of Berlin, Copenhagen and Stockholm, all became substitutes for Lubya.
Wherever they lived, "Displaced Refugees" was the broad category under which Lubyans, like other refugees, were categorised. Documents bestowing citizenship, providing asylum or just the required identity cards for alien residents were taken for what they were, serving practical purposes in order to facilitate daily life. In reality, however, and through their shrouded memories, whether fresh or withered, they were still attached to this piece of land called Lubya and to its history. Never mind that it was erased from the map; it still existed, albeit in ruins, both in its past physical form, in the remaining debris of wells, caves, the cemetery, and the olive and cactus groves; and as mere mental images of its past social, cultural and historical life.
Today, Lubya has become a "Promenade Park" named "South African Forest", with financing from South African and Rhodesian donors 7 as part of the "others'" strategy to erase and conceal all that could be a reminder of the Arab village. After demolition, heavy afforestation became the best way to obliterate Lubya's narrative and history.
The failure of the national movement and the new wave of emigration after the massacres of Za'tar, and Sabra and Shatila in 1982 drove the majority of young people to seek refuge, not only physically through migration, but also culturally in religion. Islam, they claimed, gave the young generation new hope and the ability to counter their frustration and fear. Religion prevented despair and nourished their collective identity, especially in countries such as Denmark, Sweden and Germany, where common cultural grounds are almost totally absent. Their interviews in Part Three of this book reflect various nuances of the once dormant but newly reborn identity. Why, and to what extent has religion influenced their cultural and social identity, especially in the last decade? Has this tendency any correlation with their background and recent status as immigrants in foreign countries?
Conditions of exile and memories of the past have had colossal effects on the social, religious and political life of Lubya's dispersed inhabitants. What are those effects and what are their social consequences? To what extent have alienation, integration, and/or assimilation policies affected Lubyans in the different countries where they now live? How does the socio-political history of their village affect their modern collective history? Is it a "real", an "invented nostalgia", or a "reinvented history" of Lubya that dominates their imagination and their discourse? What about the official and dominant narrative of the Israelis who displaced them and worked to erase any residual trace of their existence? What about those Lubyans that stayed in Palestine after 1948 and who, until 1966, lived under strict military rule? It was totally forbidden for the few Lubyans who remained in Palestine (about 500) to visit the remains of their village. Even the name Lubya, that had existed for hundred of years, was transformed to Lavie, the name of the kibbutz established for Jewish immigrants from Britain on 232/1949, on the land where Lubya once stood. The reinvention and reinterpretation of religious mythology is an ever-available tool to justify one's actions and abolish, for pure political reasons, the heritage of others:
On 8/2/1949 Y.A. Arikha, secretary of the names committee of Israel, addressed the religious pioneers at the agricultural centre of the Poel Ha Mizrahi as follows: "We have the honour of informing you that at its meeting yesterday, the names committee discussed the selection of an appropriate name for your settlement which is going to be established on the land belonging to Lubya in Lower Galilee. After a through discussion, the committee decided to select for your settlement the historical place name from the Second Temple period 'Lavie. 2'." (It is worth noting that aside from the historical considerations, the name Lavie symbolises the revival of the Jewish people and the establishment of Israel their land...)"
Israeli historiographers sought to justify, through their victorious narrative, the suppression of another people's history, the razing of Lubya's houses, the severance of the link between a people's identity and origin, and the obliteration of its historiography. The natural response of the defeated and the repressed is to struggle to revive, reshape, and retain the past, through reliving its social and cultural experiences, recounting its oral history through anecdotal reminiscences and passing on songs, proverbs and jokes from one generation to the other.
"Memory is a
Although by now two generations have not been born in Lubya, but in exile, their main objective is still to return one day to their original land. This was the answer given by the majority of the seven hundred young, middle aged and elderly people interviewed. What are the present and past social and historical factors and experiences that influenced this desire? Many Lubyans who never saw their village before return to visit; this is now possible, as it was for me, only because they were newly naturalised as Danes, Canadians, Americans, Swedes, Germans, and other nationalities. In an interview with Denmark's Radio, and standing amid the ruins of his house in Lubya, an old man who had returned after 46 years in exile said: "I will never exchange the chance to pitch a tent on the ruins of my house here with all the palaces of the Queen of Denmark... and if there is one wish I would want fulfilled, it would be to die here right now, where I am standing, rather than to leave this place again" 9. The old man, who had spent 30 years of his life in his village, had obtained from the Israeli Embassy a tourist visa valid for only one month. To obtain another, he would have had to leave Israel and apply for a new visa, which would have taken six to nine months to process, if he was lucky enough to be granted one again.
To reconstruct the history of the village of Lubya, and to explore the complex relationship between the present day life of Lubyans and the past, four distinct and separate resources are necessary:
i. British Mandate
Britain, as the Mandatory power in Palestine, from the end of World War I to May 15, 1948, exercised full authority over Lubya and the rest of Palestine, even after the establishment of the state of Israel which resulted in the demolition of 531 Palestinian villages including Lubya. The modern history of Palestine, including the history of Lubya, was signed and sealed during the period that began with the Balfour Declaration in 1917, which explains my reason for choosing the British Mandate period as the starting point for this research project. In very few cases, however, such as the question of land ownership, references to Ottoman registration rules and land purchases by Jewish organisations will be necessary in order to explain the issue of Lubya's lands and other related topics.
ii. The Israeli archives:
The people who were once involved in Lubya's history and are still alive are the second main source of historical data for this period. Many of the relevant documents are, however, to be found in Israeli archives, the British authorities having turned over all land registration documents to the Israeli authorities on May 15, 1948. When I was doing research in the British Archives Department, the Public Records Office, the Oxford Library and the House of Commons' archives, I could not find any trace of the land registration documents. This confirmed that all such documents were indeed handed over to Israel - which keeps them dispersed in different state archive departments and other relevant institutions in Nazareth, Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv. A copy of these documents is also available at the UNCCP office at the UN headquarters in New York, and in Jordan there are newly available archives in government ministries that deal with refugee issues.
The recent lifting of the ban on the disclosure of historical Israeli documents of the 1940s and 50s made available a new source of data for Israeli historians. These documents reveal vital information concerning the history of Lubya including, for the first time, accounts by the officers and soldiers who participated in the occupation of the village.
The documents presented here will be followed by interviews with two Israeli officers who participated in the offensive on Lubya and its occupation in 1948. Their story and their opinion on past and present events, on the peace process and on the right of return of the refugees, are recorded. Their views will then be compared and contrasted with another Israeli view on the same subjects in order to highlight the controversial issues relevant to this research.
iii. Literature on
1948 was a vital year for Lubya and its inhabitants. Up to then, it was a lively, active and dynamic society; after 1948, however, it became a ravished village with no inhabitants following their mass exodus, a fact well recorded by those who survived the war. Therefore, 1948 is a central point both for this research and its interviews and for understanding the disruption in the social and historical life of Lubyans. The year 1948 was, and is still, the cornerstone for two historical stages in the life of this mini-social community, a microcosmic example for a macrocosmic tragedy that entailed the displacement of 2/3 of the Palestinian people - 850,000 persons.
The history of Lubyans before 1948, after the diaspora, and up to the present, will be the subject of the interviews with Lubyans in exile that will follow. Despite the controversy concerning the credibility of recording historical facts using this method, it is the only means available today to reconstruct Lubya's history. Lubyans left no written documents behind apart from two photographs, one taken by the British air-force and found in the Ministry of Law (Misrad Hamishpateem) office in Tel-Aviv, and the other, found in an old magazine, of a farmer ploughing the land. An old woman living in Yarmouk Refugee Camp near Damascus recognised her home in the picture even after fifty year of its demolition. None of the inhabitants foresaw what their future held in store for them, uprooting from a land they had cultivated as well as the end of the society they had built and a history happily shared by many generations. The only remaining option was to give a chance to the old to tell their story and that of their village through interviews; it would also afford Lubyans the opportunity to recount and share all aspects of their personal history as they saw it. But the question was which methods should a researcher employ to correctly document and appropriately bring to life this history?
Research necessitates methods of analysis. First and foremost, the methodology should be based on socio-historical analysis which relies on two main resources: documentation, British, Israeli, Palestinian and other relevant data; and oral history. The basic data used in reconstructing Lubya's history rests on qualitative interviews with elderly Lubyans. The interview questions refer to the historical, geographic, statistical, social, educational, land and property, housing, political and economic aspects of the village's life.
i. In British Mandate documents are to be found various statistics and detailed information on population, gathered in three main national surveys, 1922, 1931, and 1945. Also available are land registration deeds and petitions from Lubyans to the Jewish and Israeli Colonisation Organisations (JCO and ICO), on the establishment of a local council committee, as well as reports on health standards in Lubya and the diseases that prevailed in the thirties, and other. This information is not available from any other source, unless, one day, other documents pertaining to Lubya or nearby villages or cities will be discovered.
ii. Jewish and Zionist
documents from before the establishment of Israel are useful in understanding
the history of northern Palestine (Galilee) and the process that ended in
dispossessing Lubyans of their land, and consequently, of their historiography.
These documents are not neutral; they were written from a particular point
of view that reflected the Zionist experience of current events. It is therefore
necessary to analyse these documents with particular attention to the experience
and motivation of each of the parties in regard to the events that dominated
at that time. When rewriting their own modern history in the fifties, Israeli
historians often mentioned Lubya as a place for "criminals", "murderers",
and "thieves" 10. From the Israeli standpoint, the 'others' (Palestinians)
had neither history nor social existence. Only through recent interviews with
Israeli officers who participated in the offensive on the village in 1948
were Lubyans mentioned as brave, courageous and a people worthy of respect.
Oral history, therefore, recounted through a series of interviews, is a useful tool in recording Lubya's history. The interview questions cover a wide range of topics: Ottoman Land Law, the school system and educational clubs, land cultivation, songs and dances, weddings and burials, families and domestic conflicts, mukhtars and notables, the British Forces and their impact, Jewish-Palestinian relations, Lubyans and their Palestinian neighbours, Lubyans and the Arab Salvation Army; the Lubyans' resistance to forced evacuation from their village, the uprooting of the population, and finally, Lubyans in the diaspora. This latter topic covers the years in exile, the question of identity, the vacillation between national and religious feelings; relations with other communities in exile, integration, assimilation, and alienation; and expectations for the future and their consequences.
in the course of interviews:
In a special socio-historical case such as Lubya, every old man or woman is a lost library; each has a need to recount or rewrite his or her own past, although present bitterness and disappointments darken the happy experiences. The gap seems wide and unbridgeable between a past life rooted in social, traditional, and historical harmony and an actual one of exile without a proper social, geographical and historical context. Although the Arab states have a similar cultural, religious and historical background, attacks on Palestinians occur routinely. 1948 saw the uprooting and the diaspora; 1965, the massacre in Kufr Kasim in Israel; 1967, the occupation of the rest of Palestine and the creation of 1½ million more refugees; 1971, the massacres in Jordan; 1982, the massacres of Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon; and in 1991, the expulsion of almost 400,000 Palestinians from Kuwait. These are in addition to the oppressive measures the Palestinians suffer sometimes on a daily basis through discriminatory legislation, sometimes even under the pretext of supporting their right of return. An example of the latter is the case of the Palestinians deported from Libya between September 1995 and January 1997, who were compelled to live for quite a long period of time in miserable conditions on the borders between Egypt and Libya.
It is a well known fact that after the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, Palestinians living in there were prevented from working in 73 categories of jobs. Furthermore, a decision was adopted by the Lebanese parliament in March 2001 making it illegal for Palestinians to own land or real estate. Although they were not singled out by name, the Palestinians were the only group of people fitting the category of population to whom the resolution apples. All attempts to have the decision abrogated have so far failed. In a recent meeting held in Beirut, the Lebanese Minister of Information when questioned about this decision, responded by branding it as racist and inhuman, and promised to try his best to have parliament revoke it. His efforts have not borne fruit until now.
The method of compiling an oral history has its own shortcomings. Nevertheless, there are ways to avoid memory lapses such as forgotten names, dates and events. Furthermore, comparing the responses of the various interviewees to the same question about the same event, and the availability of written documents from British, Israeli and Palestinian sources among others, serve to clarify and bring out the "reality", while bearing in mind that pure facts do not exist. Documents, literature and data are, therefore, when available, the main source of reference, supported by interviews conducted with Lubyans who witnessed the events personally.
Lubya was a small village where all the inhabitants knew one another. Isolation from the rest of the country caused by a poor transportation system and the very nature of its social relationships built around the household, family and tribal units made it a very tightly knit community. In 1945, according to British statistics, there were only 2730 inhabitants in Lubya. According to the locals, however, there were more; Lubyans claim that they did not give real numbers during the census in order to avoid conscription in the Ottoman army. People were even afraid to register their land out of fear of being called to military service. Most of the young men who were recruited were sent to areas as far away as the Russian borders and never returned, except for very few that returned after many years of absence. For this reason, Lubyans were willing to marry into other villages and only a few people, namely the mukhtars and notables, dared to register their land in official kushans (Turkish word for land registrations). This reluctance to register land paved the way for the Jewish and Israeli Colonisation Agencies, JCA and ICA, to claim the right to buy unregistered and mortgaged land in Lubya. This was done mostly through rich afandis (rich upper-class landowners) who lived in Beirut, like Abdel-Ghani Beidoun, who sold many mortgaged plots to the JCA at the end of nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries 12.
Even now, with about 40,000 Lubyans dispersed among many countries, the same internal social network still exists. In Denmark alone, (and in one area of Århus), there are 98 Lubyan families living within one square kilometre, ghetto-like as a typical isolated community (in 1995, there were a total of over one thousand Lubyans residing in Denmark alone). The news from Lebanon, Palestine or Jordan spreads immediately among the Lubyans in Denmark, through what the French call "telephone Arabe". This communal life probably renders more credibility to the interviewees' accounts of their past and present experiences.
My relationship to Palestinians, both personal and public, which arose from my work within the Palestinian trade union movement and other institutions, has given me the opportunity to be in daily and direct contact with Lubyans all over the world. Therefore, the usual difficulties that face ethnographers at the onset of their anthropological research, to directly reach at the crux of the matter, did not apply to me. My Palestinian origin, my involvement in the Palestinian cause and my long stay in Europe, provided me with a dual vision and put me in a limbo position between the oriental culture I was born and brought up in, and the western one in which I have lived for the past twenty years. I can also say that my knowledge of, and contact with those Lubyans who remained in Israel, as well as with the "others" who have occupied the village and obliterated its geographical and historical narrative, could be considered as my "first contacts" with my new horizons and my new field of study.
The information and experience I accumulated during almost ten years of working in grass-root organisations in Lebanon, Jordan and Europe were vital to this research. This study is also the product of eight months of work among Lubyans in Denmark that resulted in a paper entitled "Lubyans in Denmark, Dreams and Realities". In addition, I spent fourteen months living as a participant-observer among Lubyans in Israel and Jordan, and later on, an additional nine months in Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank. Innovative and diverse approaches were necessary to cope with the widespread net of Lubyans, from Gaza and Ramallah in the Palestinian self-rule areas, to Deir Hanna, Nazareth, Um al-Fahm, and al-Makr in Israel. The net also stretched from Irbid and Amman in Jordan, and Wavel camp, 'Ain al-Hilwi, Bourj al-Shimali, and Bourj al-Barajni in Lebanon, to Lubyans in Berlin, Denmark and Sweden. Although there is a pattern of a common historical narrative and plight that traverses this wide spectrum, the responses to the questions were at times as different as the geographical locations in which the respondents live. Interviewing Lubyans in Denmark is different from interviewing those in Israel, or in Jordan. Therefore, the social situation and personal status of the interviewee, as well as the political situation in the country in which he or she resides, played a vital role in the narrative. To overcome some of these obstacles, earlier taped information would be compared with the new, and in some cases, meetings would be held bringing two or three of the interviewees together.
Different psychological factors, such as fear and insecurity, also played a vital role in the narrative, especially in countries where discrimination is practised against the Palestinian minority, whether in Israel or in some Arab countries. An interview with a Palestinian, who visited his village Lubya, in 1994, resulted in barring him from ever returning because of what he said in the interview. Nevertheless, Lubyans found speaking about their past easier than giving their views about recent events and the current political situation. We must bear in mind, however, that during the course of the interviews, the past often became intertwined with the present. One has to pay attention in such situations not to let reminiscences about the past get overshadowed by, or suffer at the expense of, the present, a trap many sociologists often succumb to.
While recalling their past, present fears were a dominant factor in the interviews. Exile and life as refugees have left a heavy toll on Lubyans in terms of oppression and marginalisation, both in their private and public lives. These feelings complicated the interviewers' task; for only when assured of anonymity, would the interviewee start to speak, and only a few consented to their full name being given. This was not a problem for the Israeli officers; they spoke with confidence and without reservation; and unlike their Palestinian counterparts, they were not afraid to speak of the past. They denied the fact that deportation orders were issued, but the truth of the matter has just now been discovered after 50 years of silence as shown by Benny Morris. Israeli journalists, 13 such as Ilan Pappe an Avi Shlaim, now dare to quote paragraphs from the new book of Benny Morris: Correcting a Mistake - Jews and Arabs in Palestine/Israel, 1939-1956. The book is about an Israeli Zionist, Yoseph Nachmani (1891-1965), who worked for 40 years for the Zionist land enterprise (he too was involved in Lubya, as I will show later) and who wrote the following in his journal: " the acts of cruelty committed by our soldiers after they went into Safsaf, the village and its people raised a white flag. They separated the men from the women, tied the hands of some 50 to 60 peasants, and shot and killed them, burying them in a single hole. They also raped a number of the women from the village. Alongside the wood, he (probably an eyewitness by the name of Freedman - G.L.) saw a few dead women, among them one who was holding her dead child in her arms." "In Salha, which raised a white flag, they carried out a real massacre, killing men and women, about 60 to 70 people. Where did they find such a degree of cruelty like that of the Nazis? They learned from them."
Without the elderly people, modern history would lack its foundation, namely the social history of the oppressed, the marginalised, the exiled, the "others", and the defeated. Most modern history is written by the victors, thus it can never relay the "truth" or the "reality" in all their aspects. Therefore the untold history, which is that of the conquered and the defeated, should be studied independently within its own socio-historical context. When I met refugees from Safsaf in 'Ain al-Hilwi Camp, a teacher from the village gave me a list of all those who were massacred there, which outnumbers the figures given by Nachmani, two years before the publication of the new book of Benny Morris. It was the job of the "others" to write their own version of history themselves; this kind of account could be classified under the broad modern terminology of "opposition literature".
Language usage poses
a real threat to the credibility of the interviews. That is true whenever
the researcher attempts to understand and make sense of the linguistic and
symbolic aspects of the language of a given village. The speaker usually tries
to use language to give a complex representation of real events; I have, therefore,
marked the different words used by the villagers in Italics, followed by their
English translation. It is my responsibility to translate the recorded texts
from Arabic to English, bearing in mind that a total, and 100% accurate, rendition
of what was said is almost impossible, because we could not transmit the gestures,
body movements, demeanour, or any other human emotion, through the spoken
word alone. Unfortunately, very few papers found in British and Israeli archives
were written in Arabic, which would have been helpful in depicting the different
socio-historical aspects of the village. Taped interviews are and remain a
mere copy of life, not reality; but through the use of different interview
techniques and critical analyses of available documents and literature, it
was possible, to some extent, to bridge the gap between what really took place
and the narrative that this research consists of. 14
Memorial landmarks of the past in the collective consciousness of Lubyans
It amazed me to realise, while interviewing a number of elderly Lubyans, that some historical events, such as Salah al Din's (Saladin) battle of Hittin in 1187, as told by the Arab Muslim historian Ibn al-Atheer and the detailed description of it in the diaries of a teacher from Lubya, as well as the death of Damascus Governor Suleiman Basha in Lubya (1743) and Napoleon's march through it on his way to besiege Akka (Acre), are events that they enthusiastically recount as part of their own personal heritage. Abu Sameeh al-Samadi who lives in Yarmouk Camp near Damascus is one of them; he has managed to assemble a private library that fills the walls of three rooms in his house. The library contains detailed documents from old Arabic manuscripts that recount different historical events that took place in and around Lubya. Such strong awareness of one's heritage, when inter-linked with a state of permanent exile, helps to strengthen the individual's psychological and mental balance, as well as his coping mechanism with the huge loss he suffered and that nothing can compensate for. It is also a struggle to preserve the history of the self against the ravages of time and forgetfulness. Moreover, it is their spiritual piece of bread by which they manage to overcome and surpass their dilemma and the hardships of exile, and ultimately find the resilience to rebuild their shattered lives in a refugee camp. Abu Sameeh got his high school degree when he was over fifty years old, and now his library is visited by many researchers looking for documents about Arab and Islamic history; he also wrote several small booklets about historical figures as well as a long interpretation of the holy Kor'an. Less than one hour after entering his home, all the relevant books that mentioned Lubya, directly or indirectly, were piled up in front of me. To my astonishment, my name and that of my brother were there as part of a detailed genealogical tree of the family, going back to the seventh century and to Caliph Ali's sons, Hassan and Hussein. To what extent this map is correct, how credible it is and what role it played in the collective consciousness of the community and the self will be discussed in a special section about genealogical claims. Thanks to this map, Abu Sameeh was invited to Iran as a member of the dynasty of the Prophet Mohammad.
Another elderly man, Karzoon, who also resides in Yarmouk Camp, woke up one night and started drawing the village of Lubya on a piece of paper until he had drawn all of its houses and marked down the names of all its inhabitants. At the end of the interview he said to me: "Excuse me if I have missed two or three names which I am not quite sure about, but I will write them in the new version of the map". When I gave him a photograph of Lubya, he held it as he would his own child and silently wept and kissed it. As he placed it beside the map he had drawn, it was very difficult to distinguish between the "imagined" Lubya he had drawn from memory after 50 years, and the real one.
A third example of the strength of memories is the case of Abu Majid; he recounted to me, as if by rote, all the historical events that took place in Lubya in the past 200 years. He remembered who arrived first and who followed, as well as all that happened in and around the village. He talked for hours, and when I had no more cassettes to tape on, he said to me, "if you are tired now you are welcome to come back tomorrow"; more than twelve hours of taping over a two week period had not tired him out. The people who come to listen to him highly enjoy the emotional way in which he recounts the history of the village; his narrative is interspersed with a lot of singing and many entertaining episodes from the lives of the people of the village. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of al-Nakba, many newspapers and radio stations interviewed him, and when at times he could not remember certain dates, there was always Abu Sameeh standing on guard, ready to immediately correct him. (The texts of the interviews with both men will follow).
To conclude, I list below the five historical events that elderly Lubyans most vividly remember and most often recount:
1. The battle of Hittin that took place on the fields of Lubya in the year 1187
The name Lubya appears
as early as the Middle Ages as the battlefield where the European Crusaders
were defeated on the 4/7/1187. Although named after the heights of Hittin,
the actual battle was fought on the land of Lubya. After this decisive battle,
other cities fell to the Muslim forces, one after the other, including Jerusalem,
which fell on Friday the 2/10/1187. Lubya was well known for its water resources,
as was nearby Hittin. Salah al-Din, the Kurdish Muslim leader, had established
his headquarters south of Lubya, in Kufr Sabt, where he could clearly observe
the battle. Actually, when the Crusaders no longer had access to the water
sources of Lubya, Hittin and Tiberias, they surrendered after losing a fierce
final battle that weakened the power of their attack. The Crusaders had attempted
during the battle to reach the large reservoirs in both Tur'an, and Lubya,
but found them empty. 15 "Damia", one of the famous fields of Lubya,
is said to get its name from the blood which watered the fields (dam in Arabic
The famous historian, Ibn al-Athir, (1160 - 1232), (555-630 hijri), described the battle as follows: "Those who saw the dead thought that there were no prisoners, and those who saw the prisoners thought that there was no one killed 16". The plan shows the paths of withdrawal of the Crusaders and the road Salah al-Din followed to Tiberias, which he conquered the 5th of July, to Akka, which he conquered the 10th of July, and to Jerusalem, which he conquered on Friday 2/10/1187.
A teacher from Lubya, Abu Isam 17, provided me with another geographical and historical reference to the battle Salah al-Din fought on Lubya's land: "north of Lubya is a land called al-Rik where the battle between Salah al-Din and the Crusaders took place. This is what was written by Hilal Ibn Shaddad in his book Tarikh Salah al-Din, (The History of Salah al-Din). Hilal accompanied Salah al-Din on all his battles, and in the battle of Hittin, he wrote in detail of the tactics Salah al-Din employed, for example, how cutting off the water supply from the springs of Hittin played a fundamental role in the victory, because the army of the Crusaders was thirsty and the weather was hot. Among the prisoners was Arnaud, leader of the castle at al-Karak (located today in Jordan), from where he used to harass the pilgrims, and once imprisoned the sister of Salah al-Din. That was the reason why Salah al-Din killed him, refusing him the mercy he granted to other imprisoned leaders."
2. Lubya was the birth-place of Abu Bakr al-Lubyani (Abu Bakr Abdel-Rahman Bin Rahhal Bin Mansour Al-Lubyani), a famous Muslim scholar of the fifteenth century, who taught Islamic religious sciences in Damascus. He was known as the "Fikhist and Muslim' s Mufti" according to the Tarajim al-Siyar.
3. The death of Damascus
Governor Suleiman Basha in Lubya in 1743
The third important historical incident was the death of the leader of the province of Damascus, Suleiman Basha al-Atheem. He died on the 24th of August 1743 while he on his way to Deir Hanna to challenge the dissident Dhahir al-Omar, who had refused to pay taxes to the central government in Damascus 18. (Ironically, the majority of Lubyans who stayed in Israel after Lubya's destruction are now living in Deir Hanna). Dhahir al-Omar became one of the most powerful leaders in the area, especially after annexing Akka, Haifa, Jaffa, and the whole area around Lubya, Safforia, Shafa-'Amr, Tiberias and 'Ajloun. One of the titles of Dhahir al-Omar was The Prince of Galilee.
4. Napoleon's march
through Lubya en route to Akka
Napoleon Bonaparte's attack on Egypt and Syria (1798-1801) marked the beginning of the struggle between the French and British in the Middle East, which lasted more than a century. The successor to Dhahir al-Omar, Ahmad Basha al-Jazzar (1722-1804), succeeded in defending Akka against the French, (the British sided with al-Jazzar), who succeeded in occupying Safad and Nazareth. The Ottoman forces, arriving from Damascus, occupied Tiberias and the village of Lubya, but were defeated near Mount Tabor (south west of Lubya). The French burned many villages on their way through the Lubya area to besiege Akka. Nine consecutive attacks failed to defeat al-Jazzar. (The first attack on Akka took place on 28/3/1799). 19 Napoleon gave up the siege, and ordered his forces to return to Egypt. It was the beginning of a new era of conflict in the region, between the emerging powers of the industrial revolution in Europe. 20
5. The leader of al-Jazzar's artillery forces, Khalil Ibrahim Azzam, was an officer from Lubya; Abu Isam wrote the following story concerning the family of the officer, al-Shanashri, to which he also belongs:
"The al-Shanashri family was known because of its influence in the area; for example, Khalil Ibrahim Azzam was an artillery officer in the army of al-Jazzar 21. He was well known for his role in the battle of the latter against Napoleon, but later on disagreed with him and al Jazzar imprisoned his father Ibrahim Azzam for a ransom, which Azzam refused to pay. While in prison his father met the prince Yousef al-Shihabi, then governor of Lebanon. The guards found a paper in the latter's food on which Azzam promises to free both the prince and his father from captivity. Azzam deserted and fled with a contingent of soldiers, and al Jazzar followed him to Lubya, partly destroying the village in revenge. I, (Abu Isam wrote), have been told by elderly people who were present when Lubya was destroyed by al Jazzar forces that the villagers have always been able to communicate with each other by mimicking the sound of birds and animals so as to escape from al Jazzar's men."
III. Topography, Geography, Names and Population
According to al-Maosoo'a al-Falastiniya (Palestinian Encyclopedia), Lubya was the largest village in the district of Tiberias as well as in the whole of Palestine. The distance from Tiberias to Lubya, which lies west south-west of Tiberias on the road to Nazareth, is 10.5 km. The village was built on a hill 325 meters above sea level and its lands extended in a plain that covered the area to the east, as well as to the north west hill of Jabalah, which is 294 meters above sea level 22. The area of the populated village was 210 dunums, (one dunum is about one thousand square meters), while the area of its lands was 39,629 dunums. (A detailed diagram is shown in the chapter concerning Lubya's land issue).
Before his death on December 28, 1989 Abu Isam, Mohammad Khalil (born in 1914) recited to his son several pages of the history of Lubya. He had been a teacher in Lubya and a director of schools in Ailoot and Nazareth. His father, Haj Khalil Abdel-Kader al-Lubani, who died in 1952 at the age of 65, was the most respected mukhtar of Lubya and his wife and ten children are still living in Nazareth. I will preface the history of Lubya as written by Abu Isam with comments from other sources. As far as I know, Abu Isam is the only Lubyan of the older generation who left a written diary about Lubya.
"Lubya was situated on the caravan road between al-Sham, Egypt and southern Palestine, and at a crossroads between Hauran in Syria, and the coast (of the Mediterranean Sea) where Akka was known as a main starting point for caravans from the coast. There was a road that crossed Lubya from north to south called Tareek al-Sham, Al Sham road (Bilad al-Sham is the old name of all the area roughly comprising Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan today) and another road crossed the village from east to west called, Tareek Hauran. Thus caravans passed through Lubya from east to west and from north to south. From Hauran, the caravans carried seeds to Akka and goods were carried from Syria to Egypt and vice versa. There were two wells where rainwater was gathered; and east of the village there was a lake. The walls of the lake were built of stone which made it strong and durable even though it was built long ago."
In the early nineteenth century the British traveller Buckingham described Lubya as a very large village on top of a high hill. [Buckingham, 1821:491]. The Swiss traveller Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, writing in 1822, noted the wild artichokes that covered the plain on which the village was located. [Burckhardt 1822:333]23. Later in the nineteenth century, Lubya was described as a stone village, on top of a limestone ridge. The inhabitants, numbering between 400 - 700 persons, cultivated olive and fig trees. The older houses were clustered on the eastern side of the village, as were the newer buildings constructed during the British Mandate period. [SWP (1881) I: 361]. 24
Khan Lubya, two kilometres east of the village, was used as a caravansary during the Ottoman period. There are remains of a destroyed pool and the ruins of old houses built with big stones. Lubya was known as an archaeological site, and many caves and tunnels were discovered under the village.
In Murray's Handbook for Travellers in Syria and Palestine, published in 1903, Lubya was mentioned as located on the way from Nazareth to Tiberias and described as follows:
"Our road lies across the plain to the E., and there is nothing of interest to detain us by the way. After 5 m. (1½ hr.) we pass Lûbieh on our rt., standing on the top of a low rocky hill, and surrounded by hedges of prickly pear. Several caves, tombs, and sarcophagi, rock-cut winepresses and cisterns, are to be found in this village, which thus probably occupies some ancient important site.... After crossing the caravan-road from Damascus to Jerusalem and Egypt, by the side of which are some deep wells, we come in sight of a saddle...The horns of Hittin, the scene of the famous victory of Saladin over the Crusaders on July 5, 1187. The battle itself was fought on the irregular plateau between Hittin and Lûbieh, which we are now crossing. The Crusaders were nearly annihilated in this desperate conflict." 25
In a Hebrew document (at the Hagana archives in Tel Aviv) more details were written: "Lubya is located at Tiberias-Nazareth road. There was a khan at two km from the village. The houses are from stones. The roofs are made of wood or cement. Cactus trees form the walls of the village. There are two valleys al-A'laka and al-Hima".
Abu Isam's diaries also give us a detailed and precise image of the borders of the village and the history of the different tribes and villages near Lubya:
"The inhabitants of the village were prosperous farmers because of its rich and extensive fields. It then extended to the east to the borders of Tiberias (Tal al-Ma'oon) which is a land owned by al-Tabari family (Sheikh Sa'id al-Tabari). It is a high hill. To the east of this hill was Ard al-Manara, a wide field overlooking Tiberias and Sahl al-Hima, a very rich plain with a high temperature. To the east of this plain lived a tribe called Dalayki. They sold their land to the Jews who built on it the Kibbutz of Beit Jan and Yamma 26. To the north of the village, the land of Lubya bordered Hittin's land and the horn of Hittin. To the west are the lands of Tur'an and al-Shajara, and to the south al-Shajara and Kufr-Sabt. Originally, the Kufr-Sabt inhabitants were from Morocco. They emigrated from their country in the period of Abdel-Kader al-Jazairi, from Algeria, who fought against the French and was expelled with his followers to Syria. Prince Abdel-Kader remained in Syria but the others came to live in the south of Lubya in a land called al-Shafa. They established different villages: Kufr-Sabt, 'Olam, Ma'thar. A few of them lived in Samakh and others lived near Shafa Amr, al-Kasair, and Kokab.
"The fields of Lubya are fertile, with black and volcanic earth. Lubya was well known for its seeds that were exported to Nazareth, Akka and Haifa. There were two harvests annually, in summer and winter 27. In the south west of the plain al-Hima was located a very rich area called Khirbit Damia, which was rich with springs. In this area there was an old lake used for watering cattle: sheep, cows and camels. The fields nearby were watered as well. South of the plain on the slope of the mountain was Makkam Bassoum 28. There were also springs of water in al-Bassoum and Wadi al-Nassa, and from these the Jews took water to their two Kibbutzim. In the north of al-Hima was located Khirbit Sarjouni, its name taken from the Roman word for "sergeant". It was believed to be a military settlement where a Roman sergeant lived. Later on, this area was inhabited by Arab-al Khawalid. There were Roman ruins in Ard al-Tal east of the village."
Origins of the name
In Mu'jam al-Buldan 29, al-Baghdadi quotes Bin Katta's definition of the word Lubya as a kind of bean if it ends with alif, lub(ya). But if it ends with ta, i.e. Lubi(eh), then it is the name of a city between Alexandria and Burka. He quotes Abu al-Rihan al-Beiruti concerning the Greek division of the planet into three with Egypt as the centre. The land south of Egypt was named Lubieh. (The other two parts were 'Aoraki and Asia). Ihsan Hakki 30, however, says Lubya is a Greek word which means "bilad al-beed, (white countries)" which lies in modern Libya. South of these lands are the "black countries" (Ethiopia)". Ahmad Dawood 31 says that "Libya" is the name of the daughter of the king of Tire; while for Dabbag (in Biladona Falastine, V.6, p. 424) it was the name of a plant, Lubya, or the name of an old Greek city. Dabbag refers also to a book al-Daw' al Lami' (11/43) to confirm the link between the well known Islamic scholar Abu Bakir bin Abdel-Rahman bin Rahhal bin Mansoor al-Taki al-Loubiani and Lubya. Abu Baker died in Damascus in the year 838 (hijri).
On the subject, Abu Isam's diary reads, "Lubya is originally a word that means labwa, or the feminine of the lion. It was so named because of its strong position, built on hills surrounded by valleys. It was a fortified castle, difficult for anyone to attack."
Jewish sources also trace the name of the village to "A Jewish town from Roman Byzantine period whose name was retained in that of the Arab village of Lubya ." 32 In another reference they trace the name to the Hebrew origin of the word lavan, which means white, and also to the Arabic word that means laban 33 (yoghurt). Another reference is to the daughter of King Turan, who was named Lavie.
Fayiz al Fawaz claimed
that the origin of the word Lubya is al-Jadir. It was carried through word
of mouth by Kamil al-Huwayin from al-Shajara village, who took it from Ali
Ahmad al-Shajrawi, a writer, a poet and a religious man. Fayiz al-Fawaz claims
that the latter found this explanation in one of the old books.
In 1596, Lubya was a village in the nahiya of Tiberias (liwa' of Safad) with a population of 1117. Shumacher 34 in 1886 gives the population of Lubya as 2,730. The British censuses of 1922, 1931, and 1944/45 give it respectively as 1,712, 1,850, and 2,350 (see diagram p.82). The preacher of al-Hula district, Sheikh Sha'ban Salman, gave the population of Lubya in March 1936 as 3000 35 persons.
IV. Families and Tribes
"All families invent their parents and children; give each of them a story, character, fate, and even a language." 36
This section is based primarily on British documents that classify families and describe the relationship between them and the authorities. The second source is the information given by Lubyans themselves in the interviews; and the third, is the contents of Abu Isam's diary which include the origins of Lubyan families from the nineteenth century onward.
a. According to Jewish sources based on a document entitled "Lubya: 1943-1944" found in the archives of the Hagana, there were six main families in Lubya and three mukhtars officially appointed by the British authorities.
Those families were:
1. The al-Shihabi family, hailing from Tal Shihab in the Hauran region, they were among the original inhabitants of the village. They possessed three fifth of its land and property and were considered of moderate financial means. They numbered around 500 persons and their leaders were Yihya Sa'id and Fawzi al-Ali;
2. al-'Atwat family: they numbered 500 persons and their muktar was Hassan Abu Duyis (or more correctly Dhais). Some are the descendants of the original village inhabitants while others are originally from the town of Abood in the Ramallah area. They owned two thirds of the land and their financial situation was good. This clan consisted of two sub-groups, the al-Hajajwi family that numbered 100 persons and their mukhtar was Ahmad Suleiman, and al-Shanashri family, which numbered 300 and their mukhtar was Haj Khalil al-Abid.
Information sources on this family tell us that there was no corruption among its members; however, there were rumours of sporadic violence because there is evidence that these families did not think well of each other 37;
3. al-'Ajaini family numbered 200 persons and their mukhtar was Mahmoud Hussein;
4. al-'Asafri family numbered 150 persons and their mukhtar was Yousef al-Mousa;
5. al-Za'atmi family (correctly: al-Za'atri), numbered 150 persons, and their mukhtar was Hafith al-Issa; and
6. al-Fukara family, numbered 200 persons and their mukhtar was Gharib al-Mughawish.
All the village families were allied to the Tabari family of Tiberias.
There were three main
mukhtars in Lubya in the period 1943-44:
1. Khalil al-Abid from the al-'Atwat family; he was an old mukhtar, appointed by the British government and accepted by the inhabitants of the village. He was also a leader of the local council of Lubya, majlis al mahall;
2. Hassan Abu Dhais was also appointed by the British government, and was a well-known personality and well accepted by the people. He was married to Sa'id Afandi's daughter from Tiberias and through this marriage he also gained influence in the Tiberias area; 38
3. Yahya Sa'id, from al-Shihabi family, was also appointed by the government with which he had good working relations.
b. The accounts given
by the Lubyans themselves about their sheikhs, mukhtars and tribes were somewhat
different; they name the last 10 Sheikhs of the village until al- Nakba as
1. al-'Ajayni, Mahmoud Hussein Issa, (Abu Saleh);
2. Kafarni or Hajajwi, Ahmad Suleiman Hajjou, (Abu Zaki);
3. Samallout, Ibrahim Thyab Hamdan, (Abu Thyab);
4. al-'Atwat, Hassan Abu Dhais, (Abu Mustafa);
5. al-'Asafri, Yousef Mousa al-Thyab, (Abu Mohammad);
6. al-Za'atri, Hafith Issa al-Mahmoud;
7. al-Shanashri, Khalil Abdel-Kader;
8. al-Kilaniyyi & al-Rifa'iyya, Ghareeb Abu Ismail;
9. al-'Awaydi, Nayif al-Younis; and
10. al-Shihabi had two, Sheikh Fawaz al-'Ali & mukhtar Yihya al-Sa'id.
The following is an overview of the different families of the village as recounted by the Lubyans themselves:
1. al-'Ajaini, their mukhtar was Mahmoud Hussein. They came originally from 'Ajloun in Jordan. They were four brothers: Milhem, Othman, Rihayyil and Subuh. Their name now is Samadi and they are descendants of Hussein Bin Ali the fourth Caliph of Islam. Their grandfather was Nasir Bin Salem, from Anjara:
[Are the lists of
names that follow the main family name, names of mukhtars or of family branches,
or sub-clans or descendants? Please specify, and arrange accordingly]
- al-Malahima: Hassan and Hussein Issa, Khalil Joodi;
- al-'Athamni: Younis Ali, Karroob Alzein, Suliman Ali, Raja;
- Ammouri: Fawaz Muharib, Awad Yasin, Ali Ammouri;
- al-Hamzat: Ismael Hamza, Hamada Hussein, Khalil and Yasin Ismael;
- Ruhayyil: Hussein Ali, Ahmad Amin Ali, Salim Mohammad;
2. al-Shanashri, their
mukhtar was Khalil al-Abid:
-Rashdan, Ali Bash, Ahmad and Hassan Younis, Suleiman Atiya, Saleh Mohammad Taha (Gaith), Ahmad Kalid;
3. al-Samallot, their
mukhtar was Ibrahim al-Thiab:
- Dirawi, Ali al-Khalil (nickname Korkashi), Awad Shabkon, Mufaddi Mahmoud, Rashrash Alshiri, Abdallah Abu Alsheik (their grandfather is Azzam);
4. al-'Atwat, their
mukhtar: Mohammad Mustafa Yasin; sons: Kwatin, Kuftan, Ukla, Hijris and Hadrus:
- al-'Asafri; Almanasra: Ata Mansour, Abdel-Rahman, Aldabiat, al-Za'atri;
- al-Kafarni: 'Oda, Ali Alyasin, Abdirazak Dabbas, Ibrahim Taha, Ibrahim Asi, Kayid, Karzon, Hadrous;
6. al-Shihabi, who
came originally from Lebanon 39:
- Kasim Sihabi and his sons were: Ali, Salih and Haidar, Said Yahya, Ali Odwan, Fawaz Ali, Ali Hussein Mahmoud;
7. al-Fokar, Rifaiya
their grandfather was Zeid al-Rifa'i, Ali Raja, Suliman Musleh, Ali Mohammad, Mohammad Mahmoud, Ahmad Darwish, Mahmoud HamOdeh, Mar'i HamOdeh, Mohammad Abdilgani;
8. al-'Awaidi, their
mukhtar was Abdu Alaidi:
Kasim Alaidi, Ali Warda, Mohamad Abu Alhumum, Abu al-Sa'id;
9. al-Talalzi: they
were originally from Nablus in the West Bank:
- Zaid and Muhamad al Badir;
10. al-Lababidi, they came originally from Kufr Soom in the Hauran;
11. al-Galili, they came originally from Nablus;
12. al-Jamal, they also came originally from Nablus.
Distribution of land between the inhabitants:
The village was geographically
divided into four equal plots of land, each belonging to a group of families:
1. al-'Ajaini and al-Hajajwi;
2. al-'Atwat and al-'Asafri;
3. al-Samallote and al-Shihabi;
4. al-Shanashri, al-'Awaidi and al-Fokara.
c. Abu Isam's diary gives a detailed picture of the origins and name of each hamula, or family, and its members. Those family members were spread over a wide area in and around Lubya, as well as in various parts of Palestine, usually as a result of migration after a family dispute. He started with the history of the Shanashri family to which he belongs, and according to his account, the Shanashri were the first inhabitants of the village. Abu Isam writes:
"There were two brothers who came from a village named Kufr Allaban in the Toulkarim area, from a family named Aboudi. Those two brothers were Shanshir and Madi. These were the first two people known to have settled in Lubya. The sons of Shanshir lived in the eastern part of the village and the sons of Madi lived in the western part and a mosque was subsequently built between the two family areas by a member of the Madi family. This mosque 40 was built on special basalt pillars in the same architectural style as the white mosque in Nazareth and the upper mosque in Tiberias. The mosque stood until 1948. The village's inhabitants multiplied during the years and a dispute occurred between the two families, as a result of which the Shanashri family took control of the villa ge after defeating the Madi family. Some of the Madis were killed and others emigrated to neighbouring villages. A few of them settled in Safforia, in the Nazareth region known as Dar Abu Haite. From this family descended the 'Abbassi and Touba families who were big landowners in the village.
"Another group from the Madi family settled in al-Mijaidil village and were known by the family name of Lubani (in relation to Lubya 41), they were landowners and of good standing in the village; others from the Madi family lived in Ja'oni village which today is named Roshbina. A branch of the family named al-Amayri left for Lebanon and Syria, and another part of the family, from which the Jabir family is descended, left to Beit Fourik, east of Nablus, and a few of them lived in Nablus itself. There was also the al-Hardanin family who settled in Hamama village near Jerusalem, while others settled in Ijzim 42 in the Haifa region and retained the name of Madi. Others also settled in Tantoura, a village on the coast near Caesaria and 'Itlit; these were intelligent, well educated, and renowned for their generosity. All left for Lebanon in 1948.
"In the past it was difficult to be in contact with all these people in different villages, but later on, after the roads were improved, the original close relationships were re-established; now the members get together as one family, although they are dispersed all over the country."
Following are Lubya's
family genealogies and land distribution plan, according to Abu Isam's diary:
The families of the village were the Shanashri, Shihabiya, 'Atwat, Kafarni (Hajjou family), Samallout, Karazni, Kilaniyi, and Rifa'iya.
Abu Isam went on to say: "The Shanashri family were the sons of Rashdan 43from Saleh; Issa al-Rashdan and his sons left for Syria where they worked as merchants. Haj Kasim and his sons, and Yasin and his sons descended from Saleh; and 'Al-Ghaith, the descendant of Azzam, moved to Lebanon. The al-Shanashri family was influential in the area. (Detailed information about the family has already been given in the account about Khalil Ibrahim Azzam, from al-Shanashri, the artillery officer in the army of Ahmad Basha al-Jazzar).
"The Shihabi family were renowned as fighters. Originally they came from Lebanon where they were the followers of Prince Yousef Shihabi who had fought in vain against Ahmad Basha Al-Jazzar, and was executed by him as was mentioned before. Ali al-Ahmad from Lubya was executed in Nazareth in the Monday Market, while Ibrahim al-Azzam was set free because of the intervention of friends. After the execution of their leader Yousef Shihabi (by Ahmad al-Jazzar, Governor of Akka), his followers joined the forces of Khalil Ibrahim in Lubya. Khalil settled them in a land named al-Shafa, where the Circassians lived in Kufr Kama. After the death of Khalil Ibrahim, his son Abdel-Kader took over the responsibility for the whole region of Tiberias and invited the Shihabi family to settle in Lubya.
"In my time, the tabu (a Turkish word that means land registration) was established. The land was distributed between the different families of Lubya as follows: From the north of Lubya to the borders of Tiberias belonged to the Shanashri family, and every family member took the plot of land adjacent to his house. The plain of al-Hima was divided equally among all the families of the village 44. Every hamula (many families descending from one grandfather) distributed the land between its families, and then each family distributed plots to its different members; the faddan land measure, which is equivalent to 200 dunums (one dunum is approximately 1,000 square meters) was used at that time. According to British documents, there were 50 families who did not own land in Lubya.
comprised al-'Athamni, al-Za'atri, al-'Asafri, and al-Samallout families,
and it was said that they originally came from Samallout in Egypt. Al-'Ajaini
are also called al-Samadiya, from the Samadiya tribe in East Jordan. The Hajjo
family (when I say family it means hamula, or clan, which consists of many
families), named also al-Kafarn, comprised the al-'Aidi and Karzoon families.
"Al-Rifa'ya family was called al-Fukara or al-Daraweesh; they followed a special religious sect and had a place named al-Zawiya where they would meet together; al-Kilaniyya or al-Zaidiyya were also followers of a special religious sect.
"Many foreign families lived in Lubya, such as the Tallouzi, and the Abid and Badir families who were descended from the former and originally came to Lubya from Tallouza, in the Nablus area, during the Ottoman period. So did the Shara'an sons, Mustafa, Mahmoud and Abdel-Rahman who originally came from Siilet Al-Thahir, and the Al-Shahin family who came from Arrabit al-Battoof. There were also families from al-Libbid in the Nablus area, and the al-Jamal family from Gaza, and the Jalila family from Arrabit Nablus.
"During the Ottoman period aal Yasin and aal Hamzat, (aal stands for 'family of') from al-'Ajaini, emigrated to Tiberias and to Jordan, while Sharif Mansour and his sons Mohammad and Ahmad emigrated to Haifa. There, the latter became known as big merchants, and Mohammad Sharif also became very well known as a property owner and had good standing among the merchants. His sons, Adib and Hassan, studied at the Arab University in Beirut, but in spite of their good grades, they chose not to become teachers and continued to work with their father."
V. Education in Lubya
a. The school:
According to information documented by the Jewish authorities in the years 1942-1943, the school in Lubya was a government institution with about 135 students. The names of the teachers mentioned in these documents are, however, different from those the Lubyans remember, the reason being that the villagers remember those who taught at the school at an earlier date. According to Jewish documents the teachers were Nasri Nakhla (the director) from Nazareth; Mohammad Ali Fahoom, also from Nazareth; Hassan al-Haj, from Safad; and Mohammad Abdel-Kader, from Raini. Also according to the same document, all the teachers were employed by the state and one third of the Lubyans were literate.
The only radio in the village was to be found in Abu Dhais' house, and the newspapers46 which the locals read were Palestine and al-Difa'a. In the village, there were also one tractor, owned by Abu Dhais, which he used to rent out, one carpenter, Awad Mohammad, and one master builder, Mansoor Bakkar.
The first school in the village was established in the year 1315 hijri, (1896) 47, during the Ottoman period, and its construction was financed by the villagers themselves. This school continued to function unde r the British Mandate and its inspector at the beginning of the forties was Mr. Humphrey Bowman. The principal was Sami al-Khouri, followed by Nasri Nakhla, both from Nazareth. The teachers at the school, as the Lubyans remember them, were Abdallah al Kartabil from Tiberias; Mohammad Abdel-Kader also from Tiberias; Abdel-Rahman Hajo from Lubya; Mohammad Johar from Lubya; Najib al-Kadra from Safad; Mohammad al-Sifrini from Sifrin (in the West Bank), and Mustafa al-'Anabtawi from 'Anabta (the religion teacher).
There was also a one-room school headed by Sheikh Ali Shihabi and attended by about sixty pupils, which for a period of two years taught Arabic and the Koran; it was considered equivalent to a preparatory school that normally takes five years to finish. The subjects offered were religion, geography, history, arithmetic, Arabic, English (from grade four), drawing and sports, and there were twenty students in each class.
After grade five, one could continue his or her education in Tiberias. However, there were very few children from Lubya who were able to do this; further education depended on the economic situation of each family. In the forties, Hauran Abdel-Rahman sold a plot of land and part of his cattle to pay for his son's education in Beirut, though the son, Abdel-Rahman, returned home after only two years when the money ran out.
b. The Educational
On 29/7/1941, letters in Arabic were sent from Lubya to the District Commissioner of Tiberias and to the assistant commissioner, requesting the establishment of an Educational Club in the village. Six additional documents were subsequently written to clarify the aims and specify the regulations of the Club, which would be linked to the British Council in Palestine. Five of its committee members were to be from Lubya: Fawzi Shihabi, the chairman; Hafith Saleh Yihya, the vice chairman; Mohammad Lafi Kayid, secretary; Nayif Yihya Shihabi, treasurer; and Hussain Ali Yasin, auditor. The original request was signed by both Fawzi Mahmoud Shihabi and Nayif Yihya Shihabi; however, the record also shows that on 8/8/1941, Nayif Yihya Shihabi asked to be relieved of his position on the committee.
On December 5, 1941,
a group of 30 people from Lubya sent another petition signed by committee
members, which included 20 articles of the Club's rules and urged the British
authorities to grant their request for the establishment of the Educational
Club. The petition was headed as follows:
Name of the Society: The Lubya Educational Club
The address: Lubya village -Tiberias
Aim of the Society: to encourage education, agriculture, trade and development.
The request, which was addressed to the Tiberias District Commissioner, asked for his permission to establish the Club according to article 6 of the Ottoman Law that governs and regulates societies. On January 2, 1942 the divisional police headquarters in Tiberias sent its response to the Assistant District Commissioner concerning the matter in the following manner: "I am not very much in favour of the formation of such a club in Lubya village. The responsible persons are not altogether trustworthy and are reported to be inclined towards agitation."
This was not the only objection against the Club, however; some of the mukhtars also protested against it. In the above mentioned twenty rules, eleven concerned the role of the Club's president; within the paternalistic hierarchy that dominated Lubyan society at the time, there was very little tolerance among hamula leaders for anything that could eventually pose a threat to their authority. This was implicit in the letter sent by the Chairman of the Club Mahmoud Shihabi to the ka'im makam, the deputy governor in Tiberias, in which he thanked the Councilman for his help in spite of the objections of a number of villagers.
Also implicit in the answer of the District Commissioner of Galilee was the fact that the establishment of a society or club could not be rejected except on political grounds. The letter says: "The police, however, is at liberty to lodge its objection against those members who were sentenced for a crime or to deprivation of rights to citizenship, or who are under the age of 20, section 5 of the law of societies. I observe from paragraph one of the rules of the club that members under 18 years of age are also admitted. This is not allowed and I am asking the promoters to amend rule one to read 20 years instead of 18."
Finally, on 24/1/1942, the chairman of the "Lubya Educational Club" received the approval for the establishment of the society from District Commissioner D. Headly of Galilee District, after amending article one to read "20 years of age in lieu of 18 years."
Letters were also
addressed to the Office of Agriculture in Tiberias requesting permission to
plant different kinds of trees, such as olive and apple (Cinchona and Locusts
The three main components of this research project - the documentation, the interviews with Lubyans, and the interviews with Jewish officers who were involved in Lubya's history - form the main body of the book. In short, these components comprise the historiography of Lubya from the end of the 19th century to recent times, and each of them has been used to verify and analyse the contents of the other two. Written documents, whether from British, Palestinian, or Jewish sources, have been presented in different chapters as primary sources of information, and were supplemented, whenever possible, by other Israeli and Palestinian references, either to confirm the veracity of their content or to give another interpretation of the events in question. The study of the non-linguistic meaning of the text (the semiotics, as Susser calls it) adds different social and personal dimensions, such those that emerge from the interviews, to the understanding of documents. The reconstruction albeit on a small scale, of the structure of a demolished village, Lubya, which is also a process of reconstructing a microcosmic piece of historiography, took almost 3½ years to complete and has not been an easy task to accomplish. Various pieces of information were collected and pieced together like a "mosaic", to use Jonathan Schwartz's words. The modern history of the conflict, in Palestine and the region, had to be presented as a background frame to the research on Lubya itself, for to fully understand the tiny segments of Lubya's narrative requires the presentation of the entire picture, the macrocosm. Therefore, I used extensive footnotes to shed light on those vital events that are essential and relevant to the text. The other key elements that supplement the narrative are the appendixes at the end of the manuscript, and more than one thousand pages of pictures, maps, and film on Lubya - all available at the Carsten Nieburgh Institute library, for those who are interested in further details. An exhibition about Lubya is being prepared right now, which will comprise the whole content material of this research, such as documents, photos, film, reconstruction of a model of the village as it was before 1948, agricultural tools, genealogical trees, embroidery, household articles, costumes, maps etc. Danish and German ethnographic museums have already accepted to host the exhibition in 2004. Modern history, especially of the Middle East, involves a lot of controversial issues and divergent claims by Palestinians and Israelis about the issue of land and the interpretation of historical events. Nevertheless, I have tried to present Lubya's history objectively, basing myself on information I acquired through the three components mentioned above.
In the course of preparing the book, I interviewed 700 people from Lubya in different areas of the world where they live, including Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Germany, Sweden, and Denmark. I also interviewed Jewish veterans and academics. The 21 interviews I conducted with Lubyans in Denmark, which were published in a paper by the Danish Refugee Council in 1995, are included in this text, together with the texts of an additional round of interviews with the same people.
The main topics of
Part One are the historical background, topography, population, genealogy
of families, education system, economy, agriculture, the land question, the
1936 revolt, and Lubya's contract of sale. This part, which is mainly based
on documentary sources, constitutes the historiography and socio-economic
background of Lubya, from the last period of the Ottoman Empire to the end
of the British Mandate in 1948, and the expulsion of the Lubyans from their
village and the confiscation of their land by Israel. According to the 1950
Law of Absentees, 240 people from Lubya were declared absentees and their
land confiscated, as part of the mandate given to the administrator of lands.
The brief historical incidents, such as Salah al-Din's battle on Lubya's fields in 1187, the death of Suleiman Basha in Lubya in 1743, Napoleon's march through it to besiege Akka in 1799, and the partial destruction of Lubya by Ahmad Basha al-Jazzar as revenge for the desertion of a Lubyan officer from his army, were presented to give the reader an idea about the historical importance and the social continuity that underlies the village's history. Despite its incorporation into the Ottoman Empire (1516-1917) and later its falling under the British Mandate until 1948, Lubya remained, to a large extent, an identifiable separate socio-economic entity, living in social harmony, and depending mainly on agriculture for its survival. It had also developed a cultural identity of its own, which prevails up to the present among Lubyans in exile.
The patriarchal system that dominated the social and cultural structure of Lubya was mainly based on its family-oriented pattern of life, with Islam acting as a dominant and unifying factor. Islam also played a fundamental role in the consistency of the solidarity and the sense of responsibility among Lubyans in the diaspora. Religion functioned as a main frame that underlay the social life of the village in general throughout its history. Lubya is known as the birthplace of the famous Muslim scholar and "Mufti" of the 15th century, Abu Bakr al-Lubyani. This collective consciousness and the village's unity were displayed in the modern era in the staunch struggle by Lubyans against both the British and Zionist military forces. The 1936 "revolt", in Palestinian terminology, and "disturbances" in British terminology, underlined the historical awareness of the villagers, as manifested in their direct involvement in the resistance movement under the leadership of the religious preacher Iz al-Din al-Kassam. British sources state that the villagers were followers of al-Majalis (in relation to Haj Amin al-Husseini); but in reality, the young people of Lubya mainly supported the military branch of the revolution under Iz al-Din al-Kassam. Those interviewed say that Haj Amin al-Husseini had once refused an invitation to enter the village while he was on his way to Tiberias, as a sign of his dissatisfaction with its leadership. Up to 1948, the tribal, family and local identity remained prevalent among Lubyans, while their national identity was strengthened only when outside forces threatened the village's existence.
Despite the tribal divisions mentioned in the British documents, the cultural identity with and the affiliation of Lubyans to their social system was the main feature of the village. (An order from the revolutionary committee to shoot a villager was rejected by the man who was asked to execute the order, while the killing of the mukhtar 's son would have provoked a serious split in the village 177). Family disputes were temporary and the villagers always bonded together, and their collective interest became a priority whenever there was an outside threat to the village.
In their exile after1948, Lubyans continued to establish different societies, committees and clubs to deal with the serious and urgent problems that arose among them. 178 The former identity of Lubyans which was strongly connected to their village, continued until the beginning of 1968 179when it began to be replaced by a new national identity which emanated from their strong support for the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) leadership. With time, the patriarchal identity also started to wane, but was not entirely obliterated. Hundreds of Lubyans joined the revolution as a demonstration of this united identity, and 92 villagers have died in action since the revolution's onset in 1965. After the evacuation of the PLO forces from Lebanon in 1983, a new wave of emigration among Lubyans started, especially following the Sabra and Shatila massacres. That is when the religious identity started to edge the national one and dominate inside the refugee camps, as well as to gain ground in the Arab countries and abroad as a valid national movement. Mosques and religious clubs were established in all the communities where Palestinian refugees are now living, whether in Germany, Denmark, Sweden or anywhere else. Thus, the modern Palestinian identity became a mosaic of several moral commitments, or a multiple foci of identities, such as regional, Arab, religious, familial, tribal, and various national loyalties that often overlapped. Defining identity, therefore, is becoming more and more complicated and controversial, especially when all the factors mentioned above, to which should be added tradition, customs, culture, and history, converge to form both a construct and a process of identity, to use Anthony Smith's definition of a modern nation.
Concerning the peace process, 81% of those interviewed abroad were not satisfied with the Oslo accord's Declaration of Principles signed between the PLO and Israel in 1993. On the other hand, the majority of Lubyans inside Israel, (75%), were more positive towards the eventual establishment of a Palestinian state and the implementation of the right of return. There was unanimous agreement among all generations of Lubyans, inside and outside Palestine, concerning the right of return to Lubya and the rejection of the idea of compensation. Those who were optimistic about the peace process expected a positive outcome from the negotiations between the Committee on the Rights of Refugees and Israel. 180 The pessimistic outlook was more prevalent among the older generation than the young one, and the hope of returning one day to their homeland overall has diminished dramatically in the last few years. 181
Research and statistics on Lubya have clearly shown that the grounds on which Lubya stood, and 93% of its land, are still vacant and unused. Its fields, however, are planted for the benefit of a few hundred settlers living in Kibutz Lavie.182 This is one of the main reasons why religious preachers have replaced revolutionary leaders in their influence among the refugees; the former feel more at liberty to address the basic concerns and demands of the refugees concerning important issues such as "the right of return" . Theoretically, the religious preachers are resurrecting the hopes of the distressed and disillusioned refugees, a phenomenon which opens the way to a more problematic issue that of integration, which is discussed in Part Three of the book.
Therefore this research project, with all its implications, is a necessary compilation of data, nationally and internationally, for Palestinians, Israelis and the international community, in order to understand and attend to the needs and aspirations of the refugees. This project is also important for the eventual establishment of a comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East, built on UN resolutions and other resolutions and agreements relevant to the Palestinian issue. In 1948, the recognition of the new State of Israel and its membership in the UN were contingent upon it acceptance of all UN resolutions concerning the Palestine question, including the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and lands. 183
Consequently, and according to international law and UN resolutions, all the contracts of sale which were signed and sealed by two official Jewish organisations and based on the Law of Absentees of 1950, do not legally deprive Lubyans and their descendants of their right to their property, even if they left their county to escape war and for fear for their lives. The list of the people whose land was confiscated is a documentary witness to the rights of those concerned. There were a few people (not exceeding 10 individuals, according to the interviewees) who sold their land, either by mortgaging them, as we have seen in the chapter dealing with "the land question", or directly to one of the Jewish organisations. Documents and interviews revealed that only 8% of Lubya's land was owned by Jews during the Ottoman period and under the British Mandate. (The land ownership map of 1944/1945 shows that out of a total of 39,629 dunums of land belonging to Lubya, the Arabs owned 32,895; the Jews 1,051; and 5,683 was public property) 184. This percentage is what the Jews themselves quoted when claiming their share during the first act of sale concluded between Jewish buyers and Abdel-Ghani Beidoun in 1886, without the direct consent of the Lubyans. Stein confirmed in his book The Land Question in Palestine 1917-1939 that only 2 million dunums out of a total of 26.3 million dunums, which is the estimated area of Palestine, were bought by Jewish organisations by 1948. Different sources also put the percentage of land sold to Jews since the beginning of the land purchase process at the end of 19th century and up to 1948 at approx. 6.3%. 185
Part Two is mainly concerned with the Jewish version and account of the events in Lubya. The interviews with two former Hagana soldiers who were involved in the occupation of Lubya, and the accounts of the main leaders of the Jewish force that occupied the village, were recorded without sparing any detail. It shows clearly that the Lubyans fought with all they had in terms of simple and basic weaponry 186 against a well equipped army supported by aeroplanes, canons, and armoured vehicles. The assessment by the leader of the attack on Lubya, Jacov Dror, demonstrates that the Lubyans themselves, without support from the Arab Salvation Army, and before the arrival of help from other villages had succeeded in repulsing the first main Jewish attack on their village. According to the Israeli military assessment of the battle, Lubya was the first place in Palestine to have repulsed the Jewish forces. Only on the third attempt, and after the occupation of the nearby cities of Tiberias and Nazareth, was Lubya conquered after three consecutive days of shelling (18 - 21/7/1948). The official story of the fall of Lubya that appears in "the History of the War of Independence" 187 erroneously reads: "Lubya fell without fighting, and the road to Tiberias was open to us".
Lubya's struggle to defend itself and its existence is yet more contradictory evidence to the official Israeli story that the Palestinians left their homes following orders from Arab leaders. (All the research done about this period has not yet found any concrete proof to support these claims).
Also in Part Two the past peaceful coexistence between the Palestinians and the original Jews of Palestine prior to 1948 and its implications for the future, were clearly demonstrated through interviews with Jews and Palestinians. But the documents also show that the central administration of the Jewish Agency had worked hard to implement the conquest of Palestine through the policy of buying as much land from the Palestinians as possible. In 1917, the Balfour Declaration was issued as a result of this, in direct contradiction to the Mandate's declared policy of establishing a national home for the Jews in Palestine without affecting the rights of the indigenous population.
An interview with an Israeli who does not share the views of the war veterans was given as an alternative to the official version of events concerning the right of return and the future prospects of peace in the region.
However, memories of these battles and their annual commemoration by both Palestinians and Israelis, has acted as a historical register of events, and also as an education for both people. The steps on the road to a permanent and peaceful solution, and the cornerstone of future reconciliation between the parties, must be built on the recognition of the facts and the events as they happened, and not on the slanted narrative of politicians and their self-interested interpretation of them. Therefore I recorded with utmost accuracy, and to the best of my ability, facts about the events that took place in and around the village of Lubya up to the time of its demolition, as they were narrated to me.
Part Three allows the Lubyans to speak for themselves about their past, present and future identity, yearnings, hopes and dreams, as well as their own version of the events that took place in their beloved village. For this purpose, I chose different countries where Lubyans are now living, and interviewed three different generations, in order to best compile a narrative and analyse the main topics that underline the issues involved (as mentioned in the introduction). Although they all came from the same village, the daily life of Lubyans in Israel, for example, is different from the life of those in Denmark, Jordan or Lebanon.
Lubyans living in Israel were totally isolated from their families in the diaspora for the first 18 years after the Nakba, i.e. from 1948 until the end of emergency military rule in Palestine in 1966. Prior to 1967, very few persons, not exceeding ten in total, were granted visas to visit their families in Israel. Now, however, Lubyans from the second and third generations are visiting their families as well as the ruins of their village, thanks to their new European citizenship that made it possible for them to travel without the need for prior permission from the Israeli authorities. The majority of some 500 Lubyans living inside Israel work in construction and still hold onto traditional family connections as the basic unit at the heart of their social network. Marriages still take place among Lubyan families, with very few exceptions to the rule.
Recently, and after
the Oslo Agreement, a conference that brought together Palestinians living
in Israel, also called Arab Israelis, was convened to ask for the right of
the refugees living inside Israel to their property. Being Israeli citizens,
they are trying to achieve their goals through legal means. (A Lubyan is an
elected member of this committee 186).
The majority of the Lubyans who had settled in Lebanon, emigrated to Europe in the past ten years. There are now about 2000 of them living mainly in Denmark, Sweden and Germany. After their settlement in these foreign countries, the main question that still worries them is that of their personal and cultural identity. The official policies of these countries, if any, have fallen short of achieving their declared goal of integrating the refugees. Following the interviewees' accounts, the following points emerged as the major concerns and worries of Lubyans in particular, and other Palestinian refugees in general:
The political and cultural vacuum that the refugees now live in after leaving an actively revolutionary society to settle into a remote and detached one. This vacuum was filled with religious discourse, which produced the Islamist phenomenon, in lieu of the nationalistic atmosphere that dominated their lives in the sixties, seventies and eighties.
The little information in the official Danish school curricula about the roots of the Palestinian problem and the plight of the refugees has caused tremendous frustration among the young generation. It would be very helpful to start teaching the history of Palestine in a more objective manner that would involve Palestinian students in talking about and rewriting their own history. This would also give them the chance to air their own version of events, and would undoubtedly play a fundamental role in creating a more stable social and psychological atmosphere for the young refugees and help ease their frustrations.
The lack of collective traditional, national and cultural activities among the refugees is strengthening their feeling of isolation at the expense of more involvement in local European social activities. Only the young and the students have a real possibility of breaking the ice of integration, through language and direct contact. The only outlet available for the older and middle generations is the consolidation of their internal social networks. It may be true that the inclination among the refugees to live in close communities seems to be contradictory to the spirit of integration; nevertheless it is a necessary development at this stage. It helps them fill the gap between the generations, on the one hand, and between them and the Europeans, on the other. The eventual possible disintegration of families and the weak personalities that could emerge as a result of alienation will not contribute positively to the process of integration. The few tragic episodes in which some refugees were implicated in Denmark show that a weakness in the internal social structure of the refugee family and community could result in violence towards "the others" . The study I have conducted on the three tragic episodes that took place in Denmark shows the existence of deep rifts within the family unit itself, and in the relationships of those involved in the incidents.
The sanctity of the traditional family unit is diminishing drastically, especially among the young. The struggle between the young and their parents, under the liberal laws of Europe, pushes many refugee parents to insist on more conservative lifestyles. Religion, for example, is seen as a means of personal protection against an alien culture, and against a general tendency among the young to forge and consolidate their own characters and personal identity. Young women are generally more inclined to follow their parents' model, except in a very few cases where Danish social authorities had to give protection to fleeing Palestinian girls. Young men, on the other hand, are split between the two modes of life; the majority, 82%, chose to abide by the dictates of Islamic religious practice and discourse, while a few, 3%, chose to delve into the "liberal" life of European cities. (150 persons, both male and female, were questioned about their religious beliefs and practices) [by whom?]. In the Århus community in Denmark, 0.7% out of 2000 Palestinians showed signs of, and tendencies towards violence.
The decision by the Lebanese authorities in 1995 to prevent any Palestinian holding a Lebanese refugee document to return to Lebanon without a visa had a very negative impact on Palestinian refugees in general (This decision was cancelled in 1999). The impossibility of returning to their original homes in Palestine, compounded by the decision of the Lebanese authorities and the lack of any social or political structure to deal with their daily problems in exile, has created a state of scepticism and instability among the refugees. The compliments the refugees express about their host countries conceal their despair and frustration towards the authorities that close the door on their personal and collective rights. Insecurity and depression are predominant in the Palestinian community in exile. Out of approximately 15,000 Palestinian refugees in Denmark alone, only 6% are officially registered as employed. This percentage has changed since Danish municipalities started to force refugees to work in temporary jobs at the end of 1996. In a small district of Copenhagen, Mjølner Parken 40 to 50 % are now temporarily employed. In Germany, employment among Palestinian refugees is 60% (there are some 40,000 refugees in Germany, out of which 18,000-20,000 live in Berlin). Over 1000 Pizza restaurants in Berlin alone are owned by Palestinians who arrived in Germany around the same time as their relatives and friends in Denmark. The question as to why things have not worked out as well in Denmark has to be researched in another thesis. (In Sweden, for example, in the city of Landskrona, the employment percentage among Palestinian refugees before 1992 stood at 80%, but now has dropped to 20%). 187
Finally, I hope that this study fulfils a regional, national and international need for additional historical, social, legal, political and cultural data on the status of the Palestinian refugees. There is still room for more research on the same subject and it is sorely needed, especially since some central topics, such as cultural identity and integration, need more time to research and investigate. The issue of the Palestinian refugees was, and still is, one of the main sources of unrest in the Middle East, and without serious attempts at addressing it the circle of violence will continue unabated, not only in the Middle East, but eventually also in Europe. Out of 22 million refugees in the world today (according to UNHCR), five million are Palestinians.
1 According to decree no.319 of 2/8/1962 Palestinians in Lebanon are specified as "foreigners not holding documents from their original countries, and residing in Lebanon". See Alnatour, Souheil Mahmoud (1993)" The legal Status of the Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon" in Refugees in the Middle East, Nordic NGO Seminar, Oslo, March 26-27, 1993, Oslo: Norwegian Refugee Council.
2 See United Nations Document A/648, Resolution 194 /(111), 11/12/1948: paragraph 11: "Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible; Instructs the Conciliation Commission to facilitate the repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of the refugees and the payment of compensation "
3 The number of permits given to Palestinians since 1948 does not exceed 2500 permits, Alnatour 1993:43); quoted in FAFO report, Finding Ways: Palestinians Coping Strategies in Changing Environments, p.30 (N.B) in Lebanon there are approx. 350000 Palestinian refugees.
4 Ted Swedenburg in Memories of Revolt, the 1936-1939 Rebellion and the Palestinian National past, p.27; quoting Gramsci (1971: 324, 423; 1985:189)
5 See Said,
Edward; Orientalism , 1978, pp.6-7
7 One of the donors is Hans Riesenfield from Zimbabwe (previously Rhodesia), see Appendix: photos.
8 Op. Cit. Ted quoting Alistair Thomson, p.5
9 Quoted from a documentary film " The Grandparents' Land", which appeared on Danish Television DR, on 31/3/1995.
10 See: Hahatishvot BiGalil Hatahton, (Settlement in Lower Galilee), pp. 105-107; 572-575
11 UNRWA discussed the issue of opening a school for the 71 children who were living in the camp at the borders. President Qaddafi justified the deportation of Palestinians by saying that it proves that the Oslo declaration between the PLO and Israel was a complete failure. Wednesday, 15/1/1997, al-Hayat newspaper no. 12376 published an announcement to the Palestinians who were expelled to the borders with Egypt, to return to Libya. There were almost 1000 persons at the borders.
12 Concerning this point see part I, Chapter VII: The Land Question.
13 This quote is written by the Israeli journalist Gideon Levy in Ha'aretz, "Exposing Israel's Original Sins" on 3/11/2000.
14 The whole collection of pictures, original recorded tapes, video films, maps, more than one thousand related papers and interviews in manuscript, and DR documentary film about Lubya, are available at the Carsten Niebuhr Institute, (CNI) for anyone interested in this field of research. An exhibition of all findings on Lubya is being prepared.
15 al-Maosoa'a al-Falastinia: Volume II, p. 408
16 Ibid, p. 511 cited from Ibn al-Athir: Alkamil, vol. II, pp. 532-537
17 More information about Abu Isam and the papers he left will be discussed in detail, plus interviews with his family.
18 Ibid ,
p. 834, quoting al-Bidairi: The daily incidents of Damascus, pp. 42-47
see also Khalidi's reference to (Abu Dayya, 1986:19).
19 Mohammad Omar Hamada; A'lam Filastin, part I, Dar Kutaiba, 1985, pp 162-3.
20 Ibid, pp. 720-727
21 Ahmad Basha al-Jazzar was known in history as the man who fought against Napoleon and prevented him from taking Akka.
al-Falastinia, Four Volumes, Fourth Volume, pp. 54- 55, Damascus, 1984; citing
from Mustafah Dabag, Biladona Falastine, Volume Six, Beirut, 1974.
from the files of the Foreign Office and Colonial Office (FCO) in Britain,
Murray 1903, p 244.
27 Ibid, in summer corn, watermelon and sesame were planted; while in winter beans, corn, kirsanna, lentil and beans were planted.
28 Ibid; the peasants used to put their field instruments at night in the makam, and thieves were afraid to enter the makam because they thought that God would punish them. Even in 1999, I was warned by the man accompanying me on a visit to Lubya not to go inside the makam; which still stands as it was before.
29 Shihab al-Din al-Hamawi al-Roumi al-Bagdadi, Mu'jam al-Buldan, Volume V, Beirut 1376/ 1975, p. 25.
Hakki, al-Jaza'ir al-Arabiyya - Ard al-Kifah al-Majid, Beirut, al-Maktab al-Tijari,
32 From the official Guide to Israel, Ministry of Defence, Carta, the Israel Maps and Publishing Co. Ltd., p 287
33 Ernest Klein, A comprehensive ethnological dictionary of the Hebrew language, 1987, p. 292
34 Rafik Abdil-Karim, Palestine in the Ottoman era, from 19th century until 1918, in Al-Maosoaa Al-Falastinia, 2nd Vol. pp 850-976.
35 From a report written by Sha'ban to the Muslim leadership in Jerusalem.
W. Said: Out Of place, A memoir; London, 1999, p 3
38 A man
from al-Ja'ooni living in Yarmouk Camp told Fayiz a story of how he arrived
in Lubya, slept at the mukhtar's house and in the morning while drinking coffee,
they heard a furious man shouting outside and menacing to kill those who stole
three of his ploughing tools (Arabic: ski). The mukhtar intervened, paid the
man three liras and the episode ended. When asked by the guest if he knew
the man who stole the tools or had anything to do with the angry man, the
mukhtar answered negatively, saying that his only purpose was to stop the
feud that could end in someone's death. The mukhtar told his guest that in
the past ten years since he has been mukhtar, he had not known of any killing
incident in the village.
39 There is more detailed information about al-Shihabi in the books of Biladuna Falastin. Mustafa Aldabbag, published by Dar Altali'a, Beirut, 1974. Also in Karyat Lubya, mentioned above.
40 Ibid; the mosque was large enough for 300 to 400 worshipers, and it had no minaret, mi'thani. Two main preachers, those of Tiberias and al-Hula, Sha'ban and al-Khalidi, visited Lubya many times to give the religious sermons. Elderly villagers from Lubya showed me the ruins of the mosque which was demolished with the rest of the village.
41 See interview
with Issa Lubani in Part Three.
Ibrahim was the best known son, Ahmad, Sabdu, Mustafa, Mohammad, Abdel-Rahman,
Latif: all of them had children and left to Syria
consisted of different pieces of land: al-Khallalat, Dami, al-Akkoba, al-Ghodran,
al-Ma'abir, al-Bassas, Um-Alsuyouf, Bassoum, Sarjoni, al-Karasi, Halhoul,
al-Zaafaraniyi, al-Boskandiyi, al-Mu'tirda, Um Al-Khait, al-Mila'abi, al-Baranis,
al-Jamra, al-Sahin, al-Kinnara, al-Kuroum, al-Arid, al-Karroubi, Tal, Ras-Alzaytoun,
46 The names of non-governmental publications in Palestine in the 1920s were:
Mir’at al Shark - daily, Jerusalem
Doar Hayom, daily Jerusalem
Palestine Weekly -Jerusalem
Al Jami’a al Arabiyah – bi- weekly – Jerusalem
Hator - weekly, Jerusalem
Palestine Bulletin - daily, Jerusalem
Sawt al Shaab - bi-weekly, Jerusalem
Kol Israel - Weekly, Jerusalem
Palestine and the Near East- Fortnightly, Jaffa
La Palestine - bi -weekly, Jaffa
al Jazirah - weekly, Jaffa
Ha’aretz- daily, Tel-Aviv
al Akhbar - weekly, Jaffa
Davar- daily, Tel-Aviv
al Nashra al Tijariyeh - quarterly, Haifa, Jaffa
Hapoel Hazair - weekly, Tel-Aviv
al Yarmuk – bi-weekly, Haifa
Ktuvim – weekly, Tel-Aviv
al Carmel - weekly, Haifa
Kuntress - monthly, Tel-Aviv
al Zuhur - weekly, Haifa
Hassadeh - quarterly, Tel-Aviv
Sawt Al Haq - thrice-weekly, Haifa
Hamahar - monthly, Tel-Aviv
Hashiloah -monthly, Jerusalem
Hahinuk - monthly, Tel-Aviv
Holedet - monthly, Jerusalem
47 According to the Ministry of Education's 1321 yearbook, p. 443. See also Dabbag (Biladuna Falastin, 1991, pp. 424-426)
178 One such committee was established in Damascus at the beginning of the fifties to give financial assistance when tragic incidents befel individuals. The committee had branches in Lebanon and Jordan as well. There are still such committees in 'Ain al-Hilwi camp, in Berlin and in Scandinavia.
179 The new
revolution started in 1/1/1965, but became a dominant force among Palestinians
in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan only in 1968.
181 In an interview with the head of the Palestinian Refugee Committee, Elias Sanbar, he admitted that four years of negotiations with Israel ended with nothing. Palestinians had insisted on the implementation of UN resolutions, especially 194, and Israel continued to refuse to recognize the validity of those resolutions concerning the right of return of the 1948 refugees. (Interview in al-Hayat newspaper, on 18 and 19/12/1996, nos12350-12451, conducted by Nuri al-Jarrah).
182 Research done recently shows that most of the land that belongs to the refugees is still empty or used by only 2.7% of the Israeli population. For more details see: Salman Abu Sitta, the Right of Return: Sacred, Legal and Possible; Palestinian Return Centre, Crown House, London, UK, 2000.
184 Palestine, Village Statistics, [ Publsisher?] 1945, p.72. For more information see also the diagram in the chapter entitled "The Land Question."
186 "There were between 100 and 120 men (including a small infantry detachment from ASA) armed with 100 rifles, two machine guns, two Bren guns, two mortars with only two shells, and between 70 to 100 rounds of ammunition for each rifle." This is according to an interview with both Haj Sa'id al-'Abid and Fawzi Mahmoud Abu 'Alul, conducted by Nafez Nazzal, in 'Ain al-Hilwi Camp, Lebanon, on 18 and 19/2/1973. (Nazzal. p.81).
187 al-Khalidi, p.527 citing Benny Morris' book: the Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949
186The meeting took place on 11/3/1995 in Kasr al-Salam, and representatives from 29 villages participated. The number of the members of the elected committee is 15.
187 It is difficult to obtain precise percentages of Palestinian employment because of the different national registration systems. (In the first years after their immigration the majority were registered as Lebanese and Jordanians). Therefore I used my own research methods, with help from different Palestinian and other refugee organisations in the countries concerned, to get the numbers mentioned above.