Selective Memory, Gender and Nationalism: Palestinian Women Leaders of the Mandate PeriodAuthor(s): Ellen L. FleischmannRe...
FEATURE:          NARRATIVES, MEMORIES                                                                                    ...
142                      HistoryWorkshop                                       Journalintrudeupon individual collectiverem...
Palestinian                                   WomenLeaders                          143competingnarratives claimsto repres...
144                      History Workshop Journalarbitrarily endowedwith meaning.Mythsunityand coherenceare ...           ...
Palestinian                                  WomenLeaders                       145exampleof this kind of collectivememory...
146                       History Workshop Journalmoderation(compromisewith the Britishgovernmentand the Zionists)and radi...
Palestinian                                    WomenLeaders                         147the versionmentionedabove in whichS...
148                                    Journal                         HistoryWorkshopas a woman who almost singlehandedly...
Palestinian Women Leaders                      149attendinglaw schoolin the United States.The couplewent to Jerusalem     ...
150                      History Workshop Journaland little discussed(or even known) to this day. I began to questionpor-t...
Palestinian Women Leaders                       151withinthe latter.The multiplecollectivememoriesof Palestinians        l...
152                      History Workshop Journal   Duringthis period, accordingto SorayaAntonius,a new idea began toslowl...
Palestinian Women Leaders                      153this group could hardly symbolize or epitomize the heroic, nationalistwo...
154                      History Workshop JournalWesternversionsof history- indeed, to the denialin these versionsof theve...
Women                               Palestinian    Leaders                                 155with a contradictory    char...
156                              History Workshop Journal     8 Noa Gedi andYigalElam,Collective                  -       ...
Palestinian Women Leaders                                    157MacMichael    (High Commissioner Palestine)to MacDonald(Se...
158                              History Workshop JournalState,New York:ColumbiaUniversityPress, 1988, pp. 197-199. The co...
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  1. 1. Selective Memory, Gender and Nationalism: Palestinian Women Leaders of the Mandate PeriodAuthor(s): Ellen L. FleischmannReviewed work(s):Source: History Workshop Journal, No. 47 (Spring, 1999), pp. 141-158Published by: Oxford University PressStable URL: .Accessed: 20/03/2012 16:10Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact Oxford University Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to History Workshop Journal.
  2. 2. FEATURE: NARRATIVES, MEMORIES 0Delegation of Arab Women to see the British High Commissioner for Palestine, Jerusalem, 1929. Matiel Mughannam is second on the left. Selective IMemory, Gender and Nationalism:Palestinian Women Leaders of the M4andate Period by Ellen L. Fleischmann INTRODUCTIONDuring the British Mandate period in Palestine (1920-1948), organizationsestablished by Palestinian Arab women evolved into a dynamic movementwhich, while working within the framework of the (male-led) nationalistmovement, developed its own distinct character, leadership and identity. Agroup of educated, urban, elite women, only vaguely remembered today,acquired leadership skills through their political work, and becamerenowned in the press as well as among the British government officials withwhom they did battle in the struggle for Palestine. This essays deals with the nexus of memory, gender and history in theconstruction of national narratives. At the crux of this issue are questionsabout how the leadership of the Palestinian womens movement during theBritish Mandate -period is remembered and forgotten in the nationalistlexicon. When it is convenient to remember women, why are someexpunged from the historical narrative while others are elevated to cele-brated prominence? How does a dominant nationalist interpretationHistory Workshop Journal Issue 47 C)History Workshop Journal 1999
  3. 3. 142 HistoryWorkshop Journalintrudeupon individual collectiveremembrances womenshistorical and ofrole, inventing and re-inscribingan imagined history? Specifically,Iexaminewhy certainleadershave been relegatedto historicaloblivionincollective memory while one in particular, Zlikha Shihabi,is continually -evoked in nationalistnarratives or myths,even - whichcontradictotherhistoricalsources.But althoughselective memoryoccasionallypropelsanisolatedfigureto the forefront,ultimately, womensmovement,Shihabi theincluded,has been relegatedto the marginsof the nationalnarrative.Itshistoryis only invokedwhenconvenientfor contemporary politics.The dis-juncture between historical rememberingand forgetting highlights thepoliticization memory,genderand history. of MYTHS,LEGENDS,AND THE MEANINGOF COLLECTIVEMEMORY Nothing but a legend, you say? You want nothing but facts? Facts are per- ishable, believe me, only legends remain, like the soul after the body, or perfume in the wake of a woman.1 Amin MaaloufThe questionsraisedin this paper originated,as such issues often do, as apuzzlewhichemanatedfromresearch. Whilelookingfor empirical datain aresearch projectwhichaimsto answerspecific, historicallyframedquestions,the historianoften becomesderailedby the questioning process,whichitselfprovokespreviously unimagined Thus,whileplumbing sources inquiries. thefor the history of the Palestinianwomensmovement,I continuallycon-frontedodd disjunctures discrepancies and amongthe data.A kindof refrainkept recurring,particularly contemporary in sources, that was not onlyabsentfrom coeval ones, but even contradicted them. (By contemporary, Imean current, modernof our own period;by coeval,I mean of the sameage - withinthe historicalperiod understudy.)I kept hearingor readingwhatI cameto regardas nationalist mythsor legends.I myselfhadunreflec-tivelyrepeatedthese mythsin my ownwriting, it was onlywhenI delved andinto extensive researchin primarysources that I began to examine theirorigins and assumptions. Divertingthe inquirywas analogousto openingPandoras soon otherquestionstumbled one afterthe other,pushing box; outmethodological issuesto the forefrontof my researchagenda. One couldbe forgivenfor assuming thatmy use of the wordsmythandlegend (particularly quotes) indicatesthat what is at issue here is the inseeminglypasse question of how historiansauthenticatethe veracity ofsources,and attemptto sort throughthe conflicting data collectedin orderto arriveat some sort of objective,empirical,verifiabletruth.Truthhasbecome a slippery,contestedconcept recently- to the extent that, as onescholarobserved,it is not altogetherfashionable speakof it anylonger.2 toRelativism, positionality of researcher and researched, recognition of
  4. 4. Palestinian WomenLeaders 143competingnarratives claimsto representations truth,andaccusations and ofof essentialism3 have causedhistorians (amongothers)to rejectnineteenth-centurypositivisms once rulingbelief that the simpletask of the historianis to revealthe past as it reallywas,in Rankesfamousaxiom.Indeed,onecan say that thereis no suchthingas Truth,in the sense of knowledgethattranscends definitions, the values,andrulesof any or all specificknowledgecommunities. visionof a Truththattranscends The historicalcircumstancesand societalcontextis ultimatelya dreamof powerover others.4 And yet, a cautionarynote needs to be interjected.Despite new ques-tioningof old assumptions that an objective,empiricallyprovabletruthisretrievable, suchinterrogations not absolvescholarsfromresponsibility doaboutthe use of sources,as if we were entitledto concludewhateverwe like Wefrom our investigations.5 must,rather,be self-conscious aboutour ownrole as interpreters the past, and attemptto engage in a cautiousjuxta- ofposition of alternativetruths.6 point is, that until fairlyrecently,his- Thetoricaltruthwas not, in fact, perceivedin the pluralbut insteadsingularlydefinedby rigidrules and conventionswhichconvenientlysilenceduncon-ventional, alternative,subversive or unauthorizedsources and voices.Although these rules are currentlybeing contested and transformed,acertainamountof resistanceand confusionnonethelessreigns.How does ahistorian evaluate sources? This question raises fundamentalquestionsabouthistorysvery essence. In this essay, I am not interested in necessarilyverifyingsupposedlyneutral historicalfacts, while invalidatingmyths and legends; nor do Ipropose to release alternativetruthgenies out of some bottle where theyhave lain captive,repressedand silenced.Rather,I explore the politics ofconflicting historical interpretations representations.7 examining and In theprocessesby whichhistorical narratives constructed, askhow historical are Irepresentations used ideologically.These processes, and the political areand epistemological assumptions whichundergird them,tell theirown kindof truthaboutthe use of history. Whatdo I mean here by mythsand legends,andwhatis theirrelationto so-called validhistory?8 using the terms myth and legend, I do not Inintendto disparage theirveracityandpassjudgmenton it, althoughI admitthat by using this languageI do call it into question;establishinga truthscale, however, is not the point. Myths and legends constitutetheir ownform of historicaltruth.But, as with any source,we need to considerideo-logicalor social functionsas well as actualmessagesand content. Mythsandlegendshave been commonlyconsideredfictitious even fan--tastic- symbolicandallegorical explanatory devices,often deployedby cul-tures to explainthe unknown,or to constructfolkloricrepresentations ofculturalcharacters,stereotypes,or histories.Roland Barthes emphasizesmyth in its form as a systemof communication, messageand type of aspeechwhichhasthe task of givingan historical intentiona naturaljustifi-cation.Mythis infinitelyflexiblein its composition,since anymaterialcan
  5. 5. 144 History Workshop Journalarbitrarily endowedwith meaning.Mythsunityand coherenceare ... bedue to its function.9Barthes claims that mythis depoliticizedspeech, astatementwhichseems to contradicthis (and others)linkingof myth andhistoricalrepresentation.10 nationalistmythswhichkept croppingup Thein my research,for example,were clearlyendowedwith politicalmeaningand served ideologicaland politico-nationalist functions.Indeed, the verysubjectof these mythicalnarratives was expresslypolitical,coveringsuchmattersas the historicaloriginsof politicalmovementsand leaders.This isnot to say, however,that mythsfunctionand content are alwaysexplicitly(or implicitly)political;myth can incorporatemanyideologicalfunctions-cultural,social and even spiritual- whichmay overlapwith, or be distinctfrom,politicalones. A useful idea that helps clarifythe political potential and meaningofmyth is Liisa Malkkisconcept mythico-history, definedas a kind of col-lective narrativewhich subversivelyrecasts and reinterpretshistory infundamentally moral terms.For our purposes,mythico-history cast in isnationalist, political terms that have an underlying moral message. Whatmakes a narrative mythical,according Malkki,is not its truthor falsity tobut rather,its concernwith ordering reordering social andpolitical and ...categories.... It seize[s]historicalevents, processes,and relationships andreinterpret[s] them withina deeply moralschemeof good and evil.1" A legend, accordingto Palestinianethnologist Sharif Kanaana,is adevice which in some way helps people to come to termswith the powerswhich cause ... collective stress. Legends, myths, and mythico-historyenablepeople to defineandmouldrepresentationsof collectivestress,effec- -tivelyopeningan outletfor theirparticipation the construction whether inoral or written- of their own history.12 A crucialaspectto myth,legendsandmythico-history theirorigination isfrom the repositoryof collective memory:in order to enter mythologicallore, the narrativemust be recounted and retained in memoryby manypeople. The boundaries betweenmyth,legend,mythico-history, collec- andtive memoryare thereforequite tenuous.Indeed,the relationship betweenhistory and memory is a thorny one for scholars:some highlight the"fundamental opposition" betweenthe two, claimingmemoryis "anunre-liablesource"of history,while others,more accurately, identifytheirinter-dependent yet contestive relationship" .13 Collectivememoryhasbeen definedas a sociallyarticulated socially andmaintained"realityof the past", inherent in a communityof memorywhichis createdanddefinedby its remembrance a traumatic of event.14Theact of remembering not necessarily isolated,individualistic is an activitybutone whichtakes place in a social and politicalcontext,resultingin the con-struction of memory.15Ultimately, the community is defined by themeaninggiven to the event, ratherthan the event itself16so that membersof the community not necessarily do need to haveexperienced traumatic theevent, but do need to share in the interpretations its meaning.A clear of
  6. 6. Palestinian WomenLeaders 145exampleof this kind of collectivememoryis how the childrenof Palestin-ian refugees remembertheir parentsvillages throughestablishingtheirown identitiesfrom a sense of belongingto place - even places they havenever seen; thus, the child of a villagerfrom Asdud (Ashdod) calls himselfan Asdudiregardlessof not havingset foot on Palestiniansoil.17 Collectivememoryis not only interpretative can itself be a complex, buteclectic,politicizedconstruction, with sourcesrangingfrommyths,legends,oral and personalnarratives writtendocuments.I should note that, for tothe purposesof this essay,I sometimesuse the termscollectivememoryandcollectivehistoryinterchangeably; collectivememoryis in most respectsaconstituentpart of collectivehistory. It is perhapsaxiomaticto note that the producers factssuchas those ofinscribed documentary in recordsare humanbeingswho interpret truth theas subjectivelyas an individualwho transmitsinformationorallyor infor- Inmallythroughpersonalnarrative. examining meaningsandprocesses theinherent in the constructionof mythico-history, however, we arrive atanotherkind of truth,for such an explorationrevealshow mythico-historyinformshistory-writing. also revealsmuchaboutthe ideologiesandpower Itdynamicsembeddedin this kind of history. REMEMBERINGAND FORGETTING: SELECTIVE NATIONALISTHISTORY ... memoryis, by definition, termwhichdirectsour attentionnot to the a past but to thepast-present relation. is becausethe pasthas this living It existencein the presentthat it mattersso muchpolitically.18 PopularMemoryGroup(1982)In this section I examinesome specificmythsand legends whichinformedthe historicalnarrativeof the Palestinianwomens movement. How arewomen rememberedand (significantly) forgotten? When I started my research,I conceived the task rather simply:thestraightforward (I thought)was to deepen understanding the emer- goal ofgence and developmentof the womensmovementthroughreconstructingits chronologyand uncovering richdetailsaboutits key figuresand events.The bare outline of the story is as follows: in the early 1920s, educated,upper-middle-class Palestinianwomen began to organize politically andsociallyin womensorganizations aroundthe nationalissue. They, like therest of the Arab populationin BritishMandatePalestine,were galvanizedby the violent disturbances between Arabs andJewsin 1929,knownas theWailing Wall incident. The mainstream,male-led Palestinian nationalmovement,whichhad begunto organizein the 1920swith the conveningofseven PalestineNationalCongresses by the Arab ExecutiveCommittee led(AE), became increasinglyradicalizedin the 1930s.The AE dissolvedin1934, debilitatedby increasingpoliticaldifferencesbetween the voices of
  7. 7. 146 History Workshop Journalmoderation(compromisewith the Britishgovernmentand the Zionists)and radicalism (complete rejectionof Zionism).With the onset of a six-month GeneralStrikein 1936,the struggleevolved fromone of diplomaticwranglingwith the Britishgovernmentinto a three-year,full-scale,armedrevolt which ended only when the Britishput it down with great militaryforce in 1939. The movement never entirely recoveredfrom the Revolt,weakenedas it was by internaldivisionsand the imprisonment exile of andits leadership. the 1940sit was unableto mountan effective,unitedfront Inagainst the far better-organizedand extremely well-trainedand armedZionistmovement. The womensmajorentry into the nationalarenaoccurredin 1929withthe conveningof the Palestine Arab WomensConferencein Jerusalem,attendedby hundredsof womenfrom all over the country.The conferencewas immediatelyfollowed by a motorcadedemonstration againstBritishgovernment policies,and the dispatchof a delegationto presentgrievancesto the BritishHigh Commissioner Palestine.The conferenceanddemon- ofstration,widely consideredthe key events which launched the womensmovement,constituted primary the impetusfor the establishment numer- ofous womensorganizations throughout countrythatformedthe nucleus theof the newly emergentmovement.From the 1930s on, these groupswereactively involved in: demonstrations; fundraisingfor prisonersand theirfamilies;smugglingand providingarmsfor the 1936-39 Revolt; garneringregional and international supportthroughpropagandaand the press forthe Palestiniannationalcause;offeringservicessuch as medicalcare andeducation within a nationalistframework;and participating regional, inpan-Arab,Oriental,and international womensconferences.19 move- Thement remainedactive and viable until the events of 1948 dispersed,dis-rupted and fractured Palestinian society and its attendant social andpoliticalinstitutions. The major,recurring mythabout the movementon whichI focus con-cerned the role of individualwomen leadersin the seminalearly years ofthe movementsestablishment. continually I stumbledacrossdiscrepanciesin contemporarysources centred upon the revered figure, Miss ZlikhaShihabi,who, from 1937until her death in 1992,was presidentof the mostprominentwomensorganization, Arab WomensUnion of Jerusalem the(henceforthAWU). The recurring line, or refrain,about her ran like this:she was the founder,and the firstpioneerof the womensmovement;thehighestmodel for all Palestinianwomen;the creatorof the firstPalestin-ian womensorganization; firstpresidentof the AWU,sinceits incep- thetion; and the head of all the womenssocieties.20 commonversion of Athe foundingstorywas that Shihabi,who was bornin 1903,co-foundedthePalestinian Womens Union in 1921 with Melia Sakakini, sister of arenownededucatorand nationalist,KhalilSakakini. At firstglance,there was nothingso remarkable about these claimsandthe phrasesused to describethem.I took them at face value.(I did question
  8. 8. Palestinian WomenLeaders 147the versionmentionedabove in whichShihabi,an eighteen-year-old, singlewoman,founded womensmovement.)Whatsoon becamepuzzling the andfrustrating, however,was that, when I attemptedto sharpenthe focus on Shihabi fillin the detailsof thesestories,concreteinformation almost and wascompletelyabsent.The elusivenessof her presencein the primarysources defied expectationsand created frustration.Instead, the data which did emerge contradictedthe dominantnarrativeabout Shihabisrole to the extent thatit piquedmy curiosityand raisednew questions. In primary sources,Shihabiappearedsimplyas a nameon lists of leaders duringthe early period of the movement.She was not noted as the leader or pioneerof the movement,and indeed, did not engage in the activities whichdistinguished other womenleaders,such as speakingbefore crowds, leading demonstrationsor participatingin regional and internationalwomens conferencesheld in the early 1930s. She did not, for example, attendwhatwasprobably firstregionalconferenceamongArabwomen, thethe EasternArab WomensAssemblyheld in Beirut in April, 1930.21 Shewas merelya member,not an officer,of the firstmajorleadershipapparatusof the movement,the Arab WomensExecutiveCommittee(AWE),whichwas elected duringthe 1929PalestineArab WomensConferenceand sub-sequently directed the movement. In the aftermathof the Conference,members of this executive committee formed the influentialJerusalemArab WomensAssociation(AWA),to whichShihabibelonged.The presi-dent of the ArabWomensExecutivewas Wahida the al-Khalidi; firstpresi-dent of the AWAwas ShahindaDuzdar.22 But the majorcontradiction these sourceswhich particularly in caughtmy attentionwas that anotherleaderwho was prominently featuredin thepress and the governmentdocumentsduringthe 1920s and 1930s,Matiel wasMughannam, barelymentionedin contemporary writtensources,andwas particularly absent in oral-history interviewsI conducted.Only fourpeople mentionedMughannam, while at least fifteen mentionedShihabi.Yet accountsof Mughannams activismpractically leapt from the pages ofsourceswrittenin the 1920sand 1930s.Mughannam, unlikeShihabi,was anofficerof the Arab WomensExecutiveCommittee,was the spokespersonat numerous meetingswiththe HighCommissioner, participated an Arab inWomensconferencein Beirutin 1930,and agitateda crowdby deliveringa fieryspeechfroma balconyduringnotoriousdisturbances Jaffain 1933 inwhich resulted in numerousdeaths and an officialinquiryby the Britishgovernment into the police treatment the womeninvolved.23 wasfre- of Shequently interviewed,quoted and describedin the press as well as con-tributingarticles to it herself. She remains one of the major sources ofinformationof the womensmovementduringthis period, havingwrittenthe only book on the subject,whichwas publishedin 1937.24 The contradictions these accountsof the two womensactivitynatu- inrally led to closer examinationof sources.A patternemergedfrom inter-views, contemporary newspaperarticles,and books: Shihabiwas depicted
  9. 9. 148 Journal HistoryWorkshopas a woman who almost singlehandedly, heroically,establishedand con-tinuouslyled the womensmovementfromits inception.One manfromhergeneration,Abd al-RahmanKayyali,when asked what he recalledaboutthe womensmovementduringthe 1930s,highlightedShihabis leadership,describing as outgoingandbrave,witha strongpersonality. hadthe her Shefreedomto go wherevershe wantedandall the womensmovementwas ledby her. Another contemporary commentedthat she was more politicalthan other women, and was alwaysthe firstone to go to demonstrationsand demand different things.25 The few people in interviewswho didmention Mughannam usuallydid so only in responseto explicitquestions(manydid not rememberher at all), whereasquite a numbernot only drewattentionto Shihabi,but describedher, despitenot knowingher personally.Kayyali,for example,narratedin ratherexplicitdetail how Shihabiorgan-ized and led demonstrations, when asked if he ever witnessed any, yetrepliedthat he had not. On the other hand, in British governmentrecords,and in Arabic andEnglishnewspapers fromthe Mandateperioditself,it wasMughannam whowas frequentlyportrayedas the most active leader of the womensmove-ment, althoughother women (includingShihabi)also featuredas partof agroup of leaders.26 Mughannams words, from press interviews,demon-strationsand meetings with British governmentofficials,are extensivelyquoted,andher signature appearson dozensof protesttelegramsandmem-oranda. She wrote a number of direct appeals to internationalpublicopinionthatwerepublishedin both the English-language Arabicpress. and Who were these two women,andwhatdo we know aboutthem?Detailsabout Shihabispersonalbackground characterare surprisingly and vagueand elusive.Interviews with survivingofficialsof the Arab WomensUnionwhichshe headedfor morethanfiftyyearsproducedconflicting informationon her familybackground suchbasicsas whather fatherdidfor a living, andand how manyand what sex her siblingswere. Her fatherwas probablyanofficialof the Ottomangovernment,and she may have been the youngestof three brothersand two sisters.27 know she was born in Jerusalem We in1903, and died there in 1992. A Muslim,she attendedthe Sistersof ZionSchool, run by Catholic nuns, but it is not clear how many years sheremainedthere. She never married.Interestingly, a sort of curriculum invitae Shihabiherselfwrote,she does not claimthat she foundedthe ArabWomensUnion (AWU);rather,she statesthat she becameits presidentin1937.28 This date is significant itself, a point to whichI shallreturn. in We know muchmore aboutMatielMughannam, who left more of a his-toricalpaper trail.Significantly, was marriedto Mughannam she Mughan-nam, a prominentmember of the oppositionNashashibifaction, and thegeneralsecretaryof its politicalorgan,the NationalDefence Party.Matiel,a Christianwho was born in Lebanon,was raised in Brooklyn,where sheattendedhigh school (but did not graduate),and met her futurehusband;he was a Protestant,a nativeof the Palestinian town of Ramallah, who was
  10. 10. Palestinian Women Leaders 149attendinglaw schoolin the United States.The couplewent to Jerusalem fortheirhoneymoonin 1921,anddecidedto settle there,sincetherewas a needfor English-speaking lawyers.29 MatielsEnglishskillswere also in demand.She translated from Arabicto Englishfor the delegationthat met with the High Commissioner duringthe Arab WomensConferencein 1929 (see photo).30Her fluent Englishand Americanupbringing undoubtedlyfacilitatedher comfortin English-speakingcompanyand culture.Althoughextremelyactive in the womensmovement in the 1930s, Matiel Mughannamwas culturallyvery pro-Westernand Anglophile,31 despite her fiery nationalistspeeches,writingsand activism.She evidentlymanagedto separateher socializingfrom herpolitics:she hosted a tea partyfor the wife of the High Commissioner ninedays after the Arab WomensAssociationsent him a telegram- of whichshe was the chief signatory- protestingagainstthe Britishpolicesabuse,disgraceful behaviourand oppression attackinga crowdof demonstra- intors in Nablus.32 Mughannamtried to use her Western connections tobenefitthe Palestinian cause,for instancewhen in 1931she took out a full-page advertisement the English-language in versionof the Palestinian news-paper, Filastin(Palestinein Arabic), entitled, An Appeal:To my Friendsand Countrymen the United Statesof America.33 in In 1939 the Mughannamsmoved to Ramallah,where Matiel helpedestablishthe RamallahArab WomensUnion. Mughannam does not seemto have been particularly liked by otherwomen.One peer describedher asstuckup, andcommentedthatshe did not reallylike womenbut preferredthe companyof men, which is ironic,consideringthat she was one of thefew women in the movementwho drew attentionto feministissues, albeitcautiously and circumspectly.34 an interesting parallel with Shihabi, InMughannamremainedpresident of the Ramallahorganizationfor fortyyears,afterwhichshe movedto the United States,whereshe died in 1992.35(The longevityof these tenuresraisesimportant questionsabouthow demo-craticthese primarily upper-class womensorganizations were.) In 1937-38, the Arab WomensAssociation(AWA)whichwas foundedin 1929splitinto two organizations. Tensionarosewithinthe originalgroupover the issue of politics,reflectingthe factionalism withinthe Palestiniannationalmovement.Up untilaround1936,the Palestinian nationalistmove-ment had been relativelyunitedin its struggle,the dissolutionof the ArabExecutivenotwithstanding. the courseof the 1936-39strikeand Revolt, Inhowever,the divisionswithinthe movementhardenedinto two distinctfac-tions roughlyallied with two majornotable familieswhose politicalbaseswere in the Jerusalem area,the HusaynisandNashashibis. This internecineconflict has been cast in the nationalist narrative as pitting the ultra-nationalistfaction allied with the Husaynisand its leader, Hajj Amin al-Husayni, against a collaborationist(moderateaccordingto the British)opposition,the Nashashibifaction. The subjectof the splitin the womensmovementremainscontroversial
  11. 11. 150 History Workshop Journaland little discussed(or even known) to this day. I began to questionpor-trayalsof the unity of the womensmovementafter I read throughalmosttwenty-eightyears worth of newspaperarticlesin the Arabic press, andnoticed the developmentaround1939 of two womensgroupswhicheach,separately,containedsome of the membersof the originalArab WomensAssociationand its Arab WomensExecutive.I then asked women aboutthe split and managedto elicit informationabout it, althoughthey wereclearlyreluctant talkaboutit even morethanfifty-five to yearsafterthe fact. The reason for the split in the predominantwomens organization,accordingto one reluctantinformant, the competitionbetween Zlikha wasShihabi, a known Husayni supporter,and Zahiya Nashashibi,anotherleader in the movement,over the office of president.The women,like themen, began to have politicaldifferences.And they divided.36 Anotherwoman commentedin an interviewthat Hajj Amin al-Husayni,wantedPalestinianwomen to mix with other [national]womens unions.37 Thisremarkprobablyrefersto the prominentrole playedby nationalwomensorganizationsof Egypt, Lebanon and Syria in a big womens conferenceheld in 1938 in Cairothat focused on bolsteringpan-Arabsupportfor thePalestiniancause. The conferencewas directedby the renownedEgyptianfeministHuda Sharawi, presidentof the EgyptianFeministUnion. The result of the split in the Palestinianmovementwas the existencefrom1938of two separatewomensgroupsin Jerusalem: ArabWomens the(or Ladies) Association, established by Nashashibi along with theNashashibi family,andthe ArabWomensUnion,38 loosely associatedwiththe dominant Husayni faction.39 Ultimately,the Jerusalem-based AWUbecamethe leadingumbrellaorganization the nationalwomensmove- forment. It is an interesting,confusing twist that Mughannamsgroup inRamallahused the word unionin its name, althoughnot alignedwith theAWU. It waspreciselyat the momentwhenthe womensmovementitselfbeganto fractureinternally- around1938-39- that Shihabirose to prominenceandMughannam fadedinto the background. in Starting the 1940s,the ArabWomensUnion and its president,Shihabi,began to dominatepress andother accountsof the womensmovement,and other leaders increasinglyplayeda moresecondary role.The ArabWomens Association,on the otherhand,droppedout of the politicalarenaand focusedalmostexclusivelyonsocial-welfare work. It is importantto note that, after 1948,regionalfragmentation Pales- oftinian society resulted in commensuratefragmentedcollective memory.Palestiniansstill living in Jerusalemand the West Bank rememberdiffer-ently fromthose in exile in Lebanon,for example.Theirdivergenthistoriesand experiencesafter1948shapetheirmemoriesof pre-1948life. Whenwespeak of Palestiniancollective memory,we cannot speak of a monolithic,united act of remembering. Here, however,is the point at whichcollectivememory and collective historypart ways;the formerbecomes embedded
  12. 12. Palestinian Women Leaders 151withinthe latter.The multiplecollectivememoriesof Palestinians livinginplaces as disparateas, for example,Lebanon,the PersianGulf states andthe West Bank together form the elements which constitute collectivehistory.In the complex process by which Palestiniancollective history isconstructed,legends and myths begin to take on particularsignificance,sinceothertypesof historical sources- physical, concreteones suchas docu-mentsandpersonalpapers - have been lost, confiscated destroyed.Thus orthe term mythico-history works well for this kind of collective history,whichis an attemptto knit togetherthese disparatememoriesin ordertoforma coherent,unitarynarrative.40 Mythico-history above all, an order- is,ing process, and Palestiniancollective history represents an attempt tocreate some kind of ordered,linear,explicativenarrativein orderto staveoff historicalchaos and oblivion. It is significantthat the characterizations Shihabias the pioneerand offounder of the movement began to gain currencyin the 1970s. Whatcaused a retrospective of reinscription memory41 between the Mandateperiodandthe 1970s?How andwhy didthe 70sandbeyondfigurein newlyconstructedhistoricalrepresentationsof womens political involvement,reinserting women into the historicalnarrative? In orderto answerthese questions,it is necessary brieflyto examineboththe global and Palestinian political and historical context of the late1960s-early1970s.This period witnessedthe birth of the PalestineLiber-ation Organization(PLO) in 1964, the onset of armedstruggle,the 1967war,Black September1970(whenthe Palestinian ResistanceMovementinJordanwas crushedby the regimeandsubsequently relocatedto Lebanon),andthe CivilWarin Lebanon,whichbeganin 1975.The Palestinian Resist-ance Movementcame of age duringa period of global politicaland socialupheaval, when revolutionaryand liberation movements waged anti-imperialistresistancein the Third World, and civil-rights,student, anti-Vietnamwar and feministmovementsemerged in the United States andelsewhere.Beirut,whichwas the centreof the Palestinian Resistancemove-ment, wasa vortexof progressive pro-Palestinian and activity. ManyPales-tinianswere affectedby a new cultureof resistance.42 At the beginningof this era, in 1965,ZlikhaShihabi,along with a com-mittee of other Palestinian women,formedthe GeneralUnion of Palestin-ian Women(GUPW). Although nominallyindependent,the GUPW was,for all intents and purposes, an arm of the PLO. Originallybased in itJerusalem, was soon forcedto relocateseveraltimes due to the 1967Warand other tumultuousevents; eventually,it was reorganizedin Beirut in1974.Fora shorttime afterits founding,Shihabiwasits president.The ArabWomensUnion in Jerusalem,which Shihabicontinuedto head without wasinterruption, independentof the PLO and the GUPW.43 Shortlyafterthe 1967warbroughtEast Jerusalem (underJordanian administration since1948) under Israeli control, Shihabi was briefly deported by the Israeliauthorities.44
  13. 13. 152 History Workshop Journal Duringthis period, accordingto SorayaAntonius,a new idea began toslowly percolate: that women constitute half the available manpowerresource,one that a small,embattlednationcannotaffordto waste.45 Warand the national movement acted as catalysts, undermining ... asym-metricalgenderrelationsandexposingthemto scrutiny.46 new atmos- Thisphere resultedin publication the 1970sof books on Palestinian in womensrole in the revolution both the GUPWandthe PLO ResearchCentre.47 byThese, together with articles which began to appear during the 1970s,marked a new interest in Palestiniancircles in the question of womenspoliticalrole, initiatingdebate on genderand nationalism.48 But in addressing theircontemporary situation,Palestinians foundthem-selves confrontingthe past. Clearly,some of the older women leadersdidnot appear out of a historicalvoid. Shihabi, after all, had founded theGUPW.It was necessaryto recognizesome sort of pre-history of which outshe emerged,andto tracethe historical trajectoryof herprominence. was Itat this point of recognitionthat Palestinianwomen had a historicalrole inthe nationalmovement,that mythsand legendsaboutthis role beganto bereiterated.49 I call the stories about Shihabimyths because they serve a mythical,didacticpurpose.In collectivehistory,as with anyhistory,personalities andcertaineventsbecameimbuedwithsymbolic,mnemonicimportance. Thesememories- such as that of Shihabias the strong,educatedpioneerofthe movement- were importantin the here and now to serve currentpur-poses as exemplarsand symbols.ZlikhaShihabihad to embodyPalestinianprogressand modernityto both outsiders and Palestiniansociety, inorderto provethatPalestinian societywasnot primitive,atavistic there- andfore undeserving nationhood.Of course,this historicalimaginingwas ofpoliticallycalibrated counterZionistversionsof Palestinian to history.Col-lective or mythico-history often has a defensive cast to it. One almostinevitablyneeds the presenceof the Other,a role servedverywell by theoppressor. The caring for the past is always coupled ... with havingsomeone challengeyourvision of it.50 But also, a crucial ideological purpose in recasting Shihabis andMughannams respectiveroles in historywas to ensurethe construction ofa coherent, unitary historicalnarrativewhich could inspire currentandfuture generationsto carryon the nationalstruggle.A key aspect to thisprocess is the corollaryto collectivememory:collectiveforgetting.Whenwe speak of forgetting,we are speakingof displacement(or replacement)of one version of the past by another.51 Mughannams memorywas dis-credited and even, to an extent, expunged,from the nationalistnarrativebecause she was associatedwith the Nashashibifaction, whose membershavebeen widelyviewedin Palestinian historiography collaborators as withthe British,if not outrighttraitorsto the nationalistcause. As such, theyhave been blamed for the betrayal and disunitywhich are perceived asmajorfactorsin the loss of the country. womantaintedby association A with
  14. 14. Palestinian Women Leaders 153this group could hardly symbolize or epitomize the heroic, nationalistwoman. No matterthat Mughannam herself was a staunchnationalist,and thatwomen marriedto nationalistmen did not alwayspoliticallytoe the linewiththeirhusbands.52 MatielMughannam in manywaysless thanideal wasas a historicalexemplar.She was an outsider- practically foreigner- and ashe enthusiastically adoptedmuch of the cultureof the colonizer,despiteher ardentnationalism.Her lack of deep, local, clan roots in Palestiniansociety, her Christianity, and her embrace of Western culture probablyfurthercontributed her historicalmarginalization. was more conveni- to Itent to forget her and de-emphasizeher historicalrole, in order to enablethe dominantnarratives shape to hold, and to distanceit from the taint ofinauthenticity, collaborationand unpatrioticacts which her connectionsimplied. Shihabi,on the other hand,was the better candidateto be the symbolicfounderand pioneerof the movement.She was a Jerusalemite birth, byand was thus alliedwith,and had networksamong,the powerfulJerusalemelite who dominatedthe politicalscene. The sheer longevity of Shihabisinvolvement;her brief associationwith the PLO, paradigmof Palestiniannationalism;and the fact that she remainedin Jerusalemfor the entireperiodof her life, furtherembeddedher in peoplescollectivememory.Theassumption naturallyfollowed that since she had alwaysbeen active,shemust have always,in fact, led. DISCORDANTMEMORIES CONCLUSION:The basicquestionsI firstaddressedwere:why is Shihabiremembered andwhyis Mughannam forgottenin collectivememory,andwhatare the mythsand processeswhich informedthe constructionof Palestiniannationalistmythico-history? in fact, the realunderlying But premiseof the nationalistnarrative - its mythico-history- is the marginalizationof Palestinianwomens political role during this period. The process by which it isachievedis subtle and complex. Mythico-history portrayed a defensivecultural historical is as and device,utilizedto preserve a communitys cohesion- particularly underattack onefromexternalforces;it is conceivedof as subversive the sense thatit acts into counter hegemonic, externally-opposed historicalinterpretations. Butmythico-history not static and one-dimensional; can also be manipu- is itlated by groupsto constructhegemonichistoricalinterpretations order into subordinateand silence alternativehistoricalvisions from within the ofcommunity memory.Thusits historical - interpretation constructed fromboth silences and forgettings, mythsand legends- can become dominant. How thisinterpretation changesover time illustrates powerrelationshipswithinsubaltern communities memory.53 of Initially,Palestinians collectivememoriesand sense of historywere responsesto the dominantZionist and
  15. 15. 154 History Workshop JournalWesternversionsof history- indeed, to the denialin these versionsof thevery existence of Palestinianhistory.Thus a male-dominated, nationalistnarrative developed which itself, while an expression of defiance toimperialism, constituted,paradoxically, repressionof alternative also a his-toricalnarratives. The exigenciesof a strugglethat demandsnationalunitytend to circumscribe potentiallyoppositional [a] spacein collectivehistory.Peoples sense of historywas overdetermined the currentsituation.54 byBut, in the case I examine,the currentsituationis itself historicizedandtransformedby moving back and forth throughtime and space. Besidesrespondingto dominant,externally-imposed historicalinterpretations,thesourcesalso spoke to changing internalperceptions genderandthe politi- ofcal role of women duringdifferentperiodsof Palestinianhistory,and evenin differentplaces (Lebanon,and the WestBank/Jerusalem).55 The fact is, both Shihabiand Mughannam remainobscureand anony-mous to the majorityof Palestinians. The endlessrepetitionof the myths-as well as the forgettingprocess- indicatehistoricalneglect and marginal-ization of women. History-writerssimply could not be bothered withresearchingwomensrole or checkingtheir sources;they were content torepeatthe mythsandlegendsunreflectively unquestioningly orderto and inpropagandize whateverline was currentpoliticalideology,and to move onto the main narrative: male-lednationalmovement.Indeed,in the few thehistoricalnarratives whichbrieflymentionwomenspoliticalactivityduringthe Mandateperiod,women are only namedon lists (as presidentof such-and-suchgroup);or mentionedbecausethey were martyred unusually, or,involvedin militarystruggle,like the famousandconstantly-evoked femalefighter,FatmaGhazzal,killedin the 1936Revolt.Rarelyarea womansindi-vidual actions, characteristics, words describedor cited, despite their orabundance the historicalrecord. in Nationalistnarrative contentto keep Palestinian is womenin their (his-torical)place, whichis playinga heroicrole alongsidetheir men. In thisrespect,(vague) collectiveremembrances constructbland,generically thatheroiccharacterizations Zlikha Shihabifit in well with the nationalist ofagenda.The fact thatmost depictionsof Shihabiresultin her ultimatechar-acterlessnesshas helped to marginalizewomen as nonentities. Shihabiherself conformed - whether consciously or not we may never know - tonationalist imperativesin order to demonstratenational unity. Shihabineverchallengedgenderednormsof the patriarchal statusquo- sucha chal-lenge wouldhave been considereddivisiveandsecondaryto the primacy ofthe nationalproblem.During a 1944 Arab WomensConferencein Cairowhich focused on the status of women in Arab countries,for example,Shihabi stated in a press interview that women in Palestine would notdemand more rights than what is allowed by Islamic law and the holyQuransince demanding womensrightswas before its time.56 On the otherhand,Mughannam, is barelyremembered all, much who atless as a nationalheroine,nonethelessemergesas a real humanbeing albeit
  16. 16. Women Palestinian Leaders 155with a contradictory characterand politics, at least from the Palestiniannationalistpoint of view. The contradictions her personalityonly high- inlight her individuality and reality as a historicalcharacter.One feels as ifone knows her from the accountsof her in the primarysources,and evenfrom the negativecommentsof those few who remembered her. But even beyond the Shihabi-Mughannam dichotomy,the earlier,for-mativehistoryof the womensmovement- its inceptionand development- just seems of little interest in contemporaryPalestinian collectivememory.In the few writingsthat mentionthis history,writerstend to referdismissively the women leadersas bourgeoisand politicallyunaware toin otherwords,not revolutionary.57 These narratives quicklyskip forwardto the post-1967period. Both officialPalestiniannationalistand collectivehistoryelide all evi-dence of the nuances, contradictions,and complexities of the womensmovement:its independence,factionalism, individual power struggles,andoriginality.It is tellingthat, to this day,the split in the womensmovementwhichoccurredalmostsixtyyears ago has been successfully repressed,andthose who do rememberit are reluctantto discuss it.58The representationsof the womensmovementhad to correspondto and fit within the majornationalistnarrative- in some ways to rectify the weaknesseswithin themale-ledmovement- in orderto be more seamless,more united,and morepositivisticallylinear in its progressand triumphs.The result is the con-struction a mythico-history whichwomensimportance the national- of in inist narrative is based largely on obscuring the rich ambivalences andcontradictions their role in orderto maintainunifyingnationalistmyths ofand legends.NOTESAND REFERENCESI wouldlike to thankTed Swedenburg his helpfulinputandcriticism an earlierdraftof for ofthis article,Julie Peteet for her advice and suggestionsduringthe writingprocess,and theeditors of History Workshop Journal - Anne Summers, in particular - for their constructive Aeditorialcomments. versionof this articlewas presentedat the 1996annualconferenceofthe MiddleEast StudiesAssociationin Providence,Rhode Island. 1 AminMaalouf,TheRockof Tanios, translated DorothyS. Blair,New York:George byBraziller,1994,p. 261. 2 Iwona Irwin-Zarecka, Frames of Remembrance: the Dynamics of Collective Memory,New Brunswick London: and TransactionPublishers,1994,p. 145. 3 CarolynBynum, WhyAll the Fuss About the Body? A Medievalists Perspective,Critical Inquiry 22, Autumn 1995, p. 28. 4 CamillaSivers,Reflections the Role of PersonalNarrative SocialScience,Signs on in18:2, 1993,p. 411. 5 Sivers,p. 420. 6 Personal Narratives Group, Truths, Interpreting Womens Lives: Feminist Theory andPersonalNarratives, editedby PersonalNarratives Group,Bloomington: University Indiana ofPress,1989,p. 264. (Emphasis added.) 7 Ted Swedenburg, Memories of Revolt: the 1936-1939 Rebellion and the PalestinianNationalPast,Minneapolis: Universityof MinnesotaPress,1996,pp. xxviii,xxvi.
  17. 17. 156 History Workshop Journal 8 Noa Gedi andYigalElam,Collective - Memory WhatIs It?,History Memory and 8.1,Spring/summer 1996,p. 33. The full quoteis revealing(the authorsare discussing articleby anPierreNora):ForNoradoes not simplyreferto the obviousgapbetweenmemoryandhistory,that is, the well-knownfact that memoryis an unreliablesourceof valid history. find this Istatementproblematic, I although mustsidestepit here.One questionswhatconstitutes validhistory- a termthe authorsuse unself-consciously withoutdefinition. and 9 RolandBarthes,Mythologies, New York: NoondayPress,1992[1957], 109,142,110, pp.119. 10 Barthes,Mythologies, 143. p. 11 Liisa Malkki,Purityand Exile: Violence,Memory,and NationalCosmologyAmongHutuRefugeesin Tanzania, Chicagoand London:Universityof ChicagoPress,1995,pp. 54,55. 12 SharifKanaana,The Role of Womenin IntifadaLegends,Discourseand Palestine:Power,Text, Context, AnneliesMoors,ToinevanTeeffelen,Sharif and ed. and Kanaana, IlhamAbu Ghazaleh,Amsterdam: Spinhuis,Het 1995,p. 153. 13 Gedi andElam,CollectiveMemory- WhatIs It?,p. 33; Collective Remembering, ed.David MiddletonandDerek Edwards, London: SagePublications, 1990,p. 3. 14 Irwin-Zarecka, Frames, 54, 47-49. pp. 15 Numeroussocial scientistswho write aboutcollectivememoryand historical remem-beringemphasize socialcontextof memory, do not seem to focuson the politicaluses the butto whichconstructed collectivememory put.See, forexample, is IwonaIrwin-Zarecka, Frames;PaulConnerton, HowSocieties Remember, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,1989;andMiddletonandEdwards, Collective Remembering. 16 Irwin-Zarecka, Frames, 49. p. 17 RosemarySayighdescribesthis kind of remembering her ethnographic in study ofPalestinian refugees,Palestinians: to FromPeasants Revolutionaries, London: Zed Press,1979.Palestinian - collectivememoryis deeplyterritorialized to paraphrase Malkki.It constructs a tokind of historywhich claimsmoral attachment a specificmotherland homeland,and orposits time-honored links between people, polity, and territory. Malkki,Purityand Exile,p. 1. 18 Popular MemoryGroup,Popular Memory: theory,politics,method,Making Histories:Studies HistoryWriting Politics,ed. Richard in and Bill Johnson,GregorMcLennan, Schwarz,andDavid Sutton,Minneapolis: University Minnesota of Press,1982,p. 211. 19 A numberof womensconferenceswere convenedin this period, in Beirut (1930),Baghdad,Damascus, and Tehran (1932), and Cairo (1938 and 1944). Most were calledOriental(or Eastern)womensconferences,and includedwomenfromIranand Afghanis-tan, whereasthe 1944one in Cairowas calledthe ArabWomens Conference. 20 Asma Tubi,AbYr majd,Beirut:MatbaatQalalat,1966,p. 152, KhadijaAbu Ali, wa toIntroduction Womans Realityand her Experience the Palestinian in Revolution(Arabic),Beirut:GeneralUnion of Palestinian Women,1975,p. 44; RandaSharaf,ZlikhaShihabiinHistorysConscience: Pioneerof the WomensMovementin Palestine,founderof the ArabWomens Union(Arabic), Al-mara13,June1992,p. 8; TheSunWillNot Set:ZlikhaShihabiBetween the Lines(Arabic,n.a.), al-Ittihad, March1992;and WadiaKhartabil, 18 Memoirsof WadiaQadduraKhartabil, SeekingHope and the Nation:Sixty YearsFrom a WomansStruggleon behalfof Palestine(Arabic),Beirut:Bisan al-nashr,1995, p. 60; Amy Aramki,interview withthe author,26 Nov. 1992,Bir Zeit;HindHusayni, interview withthe author,15Feb. 1993,Jerusalem. 21 A delegationof eight womenwas sent by the Arab Womens Executivein Jerusalem.Filastmn (Palestine, of the majorPalestinian one newspapers, 1911-1967),10 April 1930. 22 The ArabWomens Executivemaywell have been modelledafterthe ArabExecutive,mentionedabove.Like the AE, whichdissolvedin 1934,the ArabWomens Executiveseemsto have also eventuallydisappeared some time afterthe 1930s. 23 Filastmn April 1930; British Colonial Office Official Palestine Correspondence 10(hereafterCO) 733 239/5,Pt. I andII, 23 Oct. 1933. 24 Thiswas TheArab Woman thePalestine and Problem,London: HerbertJoseph,1937. 25 Interviews withAbdal-Rahman al-Kayyali, March1993,Amman,andSaidaJarallah, 819 April 1994,Jerusalem. 26 Mughannam often identifiedas the secretary the Arab WomensCommittee; is ofother reportsdescribeher as leadingthe women in demonstrations, call her an ardent andnationalist,who playsan activepartin the Womens Nationalist movement: Despatchfrom
  18. 18. Palestinian Women Leaders 157MacMichael (High Commissioner Palestine)to MacDonald(Secretaryof State for the forColonies),5 April1938,CentralZionistArchives(CZA) RG 25S,Political Affairs,file 22793;Cunliffe-Lister (Secretaryof State of the Colonies)to Wauchope(High Commissioner), 23Oct. 1933,CO 733 239/5PartI; ArabWhosWho,CO 733 284/22. 27 WhenI interviewed current(as of 1993)president the AWU,Aminaal-Kadhimi, the ofandits accountant HassanIstambuli, bothof whomknewShihabi personally, theyarguedoverthese particulars. Furthermore, neitherseemed to knowwhat had happenedto her personalpapers,or the archival dataof the AWU itself.Interview withAminaal-Kadhimi Hassan andIstambuli, Jerusalem, April1993.A newspaper 22 articlestatedthatshe wasbornto a patrioticJerusalem family,but providedno otherdetails:The SunWillNever Set (see note 20). 28 A sort of curriculum vitae, writtenin the firstperson some years before her death,provides mostof these details(exceptforthe yearof herdeath,of course).Thistwo-pagetype-writtenCV underthe letterheadof the Arab Womens Union was givento me by Amina al-Kadhimi.There is no date but Shihabistates her age as 82 and her birth date as 1903, sopresumably waswrittenin 1985. it 29 CO 733 284/22 17693,Arab Whos Who, 1933;interviewwith Matiel Mughannam,conducted JuliePeteet andRosemary by Sayigh,10 August1985,Washington, telephone DC;interviewwithTheodoreMughannam (Matielsson) by the author,28 Sept. 1995,Arlington,Virginia.(I would like to thank RosemarySayigh and Julie Peteet for their generosityinproviding with the transcript theirinterview.) me of 30 Falastin-English,Nov. 1929. 2 31 At one point, she said in an interviewin the press, All Englishwomen think Arabwomenare uncultured. Theybelievethey speakonly Arabic,thatthey all wearveils andrushawayat the sightof a man.How I wishI couldtakeEnglishwomenaroundto see my culturedArab friends.How surprised they would be - Europeanclothes,silk stockings,highheeledshoes, permanently wavedhair,manicured hands.Palestine Post,7 Dec. 1936. 32 Filastmn, and27 August1931. 18 33 Falastin-English, Oct. 1931. 17 34 Ellen Mansur, interview with author,6 Sept. 1992,Ramallah, WestBank. 35 There is some discrepancy about when Mughannam returned; her 1985 interview inwithPeteet andSayigh,she saidshe camebackto the US threeyearsago.Her son statedthatshe returnedin the 1950s.Interestingly, and Shihabidied in the same month and year, sheAugust,1992. 36 Interview,Saida Jarallah; SamahNusseibeh(then presidentof the Arab WomensSociety),Jerusalem, Nov. 1992. 23 37 Interview, SalmaHusayni,Jerusalem, April 1993. 19 38 Interview, SaidaJarallah. of the appellation Use unionis also important. Until 1938,I nevercameacrossuse of the wordunionto designate Jerusalem the womensgroup,despitenumerousclaimsthat the Palestinian Womens Union was foundedin 1921.The appearanceof the word,beginning 1938,was clearlypartof an effortto distinguish groups,one of in twowhichhad not previouslyexisted.Yet confusionover nameswas the majorresult.(As I notebelow,use of the name did not, in fact, indicatepoliticalalignment with eitherfaction.)Theissueis further complicated the sloppiness the newspapers otherwritten by of and sources, whocontinually referredto the variouswomensgroupsby differentnames,resulting confusion inover groupsidentities.(For example,the groupswere referredto, variously,as the ArabLadiesSociety,the Arab WomensCommittee,the Arab WomensUnion, the Arab LadiesCommittee,etc.) The Arab Ladies Society now translatesits name as the Arab WomensSociety(not a literaltranslation the Arabic,whichretainsthe wordladies)in English.In of1944,the ArabWomens Union changedits nameto the Palestinian ArabWomens Union. 39 For more details of the split, see Ellen L. Fleischmann, The Nation and Its "New"Women:Feminism,Nationalism,Colonialism,and the PalestinianWomens Movement,1920-1948, D diss.,Georgetown Ph University, 1996,pp. 256-267. 40 In Malkkis workwiththe Hutus,she,too, dealswitha refugeepopulation, whichsharessimilaritieswith the Palestinian situation.See Purityand Exile. 41 Swedenburg, Memories Revolt,p. 90. of 42 Swedenburg, Memories Revolt,p. xviii;JuliePeteet,Gender Crisis: of in Women theandPalestinianResistance Movement, New York:Columbia UniversityPress,1991,p. 31. Indeed,the factthatthe Palestinian Resistance Movement considered calleditselfa movement and andnot merelythe PLO is significant. 43 LaurieBrand,Palestinians theArab World: in Institution Buildingand the Searchfor
  19. 19. 158 History Workshop JournalState,New York:ColumbiaUniversityPress, 1988, pp. 197-199. The commentabout theAWUs independencewas made in an interviewwith May Sayeghby SorayaAntonius,inFighting TwoFronts: on Conversations WithPalestinian Women, Journal Palestine of Studies8: 3, Spring1979, p. 29, n. 8. The GUPW, along with other Palestinianorganizations, wasconsidered illegalby the Israelimilitarygovernment whichoccupiedeast Jerusalem, West theBank and Gaza after1967. 44 The SunWillNot Set, al-Ittihad, May 1992. 18 45 Antonius,Fighting, 28. p. 46 Peteet, Genderin Crisis,p. 6. 47 Abu, Ali, Introduction, Ghazi al-Khalili,The Palestinian and Womanand the Revol-ution(Arabic),Beirut:PLOResearchCenter,1977. 48 Salwaal-Amid, Observations the realityof womenin the Palestinian on Revolution(Arabic),ShuunFilastiniyya April1981,pp. 9-19;Ghassan 113, Abdal-Qadir, Woman theinPalestinian NationalStruggle(Arabic),Malafal-talia26, 1979;Nuha Abu-Daleb,Palestin-ian WomenandTheirRole in the Revolution, PeuplesMediterraneens Oct-Dec. 1978,pp. 5,35-47;MunaAhmadGhandur, FemaleGuerrillas, AhmadandHer Three Um in Daughters theResistance(Arabic), Beirut: Matbaatal-Wafa,1969; Ghada Karmi, LiberationThroughRevolutionfor Palestinian 14 Women,TheGuardian May1976;IjlalKhalifa,Woman the andPalestinian Cause(Arabic),Cairo:ModernArabPress,1974. 49 AlthoughI focus on the ones aboutShihabis role in the Mandateperiod,othersalsoappeared. Someof theseconsistedof simplistic adagessuchas:beforethe establishment the ofPLO women were backward oppressedby tradition. and Abu Ali, Introduction, al- 43;Khalili,ThePalestinian Woman, 80. 50 Irwin-Zarecka, Frames, 76. 60, 51 Frames, 118. p. 52 Interview withMatielMughannam conducted JuliePeteet andRosemary by Sayigh,15August1985. 53 Muchof whatfollowsI owe to Memories Revolt.I obviouslyfollowin the footsteps ofof Swedenburg, haslaid the groundwork examining issueof Palestinian who for the collectivememoryandits politics. 54 Swedenburg, Memories Revolt,pp. 7, xxvi. of 55 IndraniChatterjee foundperhapsan even morecomplexdynamic workin studying atthe differencesbetweencolonialand indigenoussourcesin her work on eighteenth-centuryIndia.Not only did she have to pay attentionto the historicityof sources,as well as theirfacticity;she also discoveredcomplications the interplay hiddenindigenousmeanings in ofwith the structuresand forms of [the] colonial state. The oppositionbetween indigenoushistoryand colonial historywas not alwaysclearcut;rather,the interactionbetween themproducedhistoricalmyths(if I may use the word once again)of their own in both types ofsources.See IndraniChatterjee,Testingthe Local Against the ColonialArchive,HistoryWorkshop Journal 1997,pp. 215-224. 44, 56 Filastin,13 Dec. 1944. 57 Al-Khalili,ThePalestinian Woman, 80. (The Arabicwordfor awareis used to mean p. - - politicallysophisticated awareof the situation in the contextof the Palestinian national-ist struggle.) 58 Mughannam herself participated this repression.In her interviewwith Rosemary inSayighand JuliePeteet, Sayighaskedher if therewere conflicts, competition, problems [or]betweenmembersandshe deniedit.