Women & Conflict in the Middle East: Palestinian Refugees and the Response to Violence 9780755607693, 9781780761015

Women in conflict zones face a wide range of violence: from physical and psychological trauma to political, economic and

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Women & Conflict in the Middle East: Palestinian Refugees and the Response to Violence
 9780755607693, 9781780761015

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Acknowledgements This book, which began as part of my doctoral thesis in 1999, has been a labour of love. I would like to thank the many generous people, women and men, who went out of their way to help and guide me in Lebanon, especially those who contributed their life stories. In particular, I must express my most heartfelt appreciation to Kholoud Hussein for her patience, unfailing humour and hospitality. Thanks also to the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, which funded my project on Palestinian refugee women in Lebanon, in terms of memory and identity, in 2006– 7; to the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Westminster, which funded my fieldwork visit to Lebanon in 2011; to Maria Marsh at I.B.Tauris, who gave me the opportunity to write this book; and to the two anonymous reviewers for their very constructive suggestions. Most of all, I would like thank and dedicate this book to my husband, Ken Sabel, who provided support, good food and laughter throughout the often painful process of writing. Maria Holt London 2013

Chapter 1

Introduction

The Palestine of Our Imagination Whether represented as trauma or destiny, the historical domain of violence becomes the basis for the constitution of collective narratives of origin, loss, and recovery, as well as the precondition for any future reconciliation. Rather than being unitary and stable, such narratives are always contested, and constantly are reworked and rewritten in relation to the political experiences and requirements of each successive generation.1

Yasmine2 is 46 years old. Her parents fled from Palestine in 1948 and she was born in the Ain el-Hilwe refugee camp in southern Lebanon. When she got married, she moved to Nahr al-Barid camp near Tripoli in the north and, in 2007, as a result of violence between the Islamist group Fatah al-Islam and the Lebanese army, she moved to the nearby camp of Baddawi. Her life in Lebanon, she said, has been violent and she has many bad memories, especially of the Israeli invasion in 1982, when she was forced to give up her education, and during the Nahr al-Barid war in 2007, when she lost her house. During the Israeli invasion, she recalled, ‘some people were killed, others died because there was no medical treatment; people were hiding in shelters but the shelters were bombed’; she witnessed people being killed and injured. Similarly, in Nahr al-Barid, ‘I saw the Lebanese army deliberately targeting civilians so that they would leave the camp. We had to abandon our house with nothing, not even our clothes’. Later, her husband was arrested by the army and accused of being associated with Fatah al-Islam. Although Nahr al-Barid was her home, she has no strong sense of belonging there or anywhere else in Lebanon. ‘Home,’ she said, ‘exists only in my imagination.’3

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Yasmine’s story highlights the three main themes explored in this book. First, it captures the notion of homelessness and the pain of a people driven out of their homes and transformed into stateless ‘refugees’. It is a story of forced and recurring migration, of what Aouragh calls ‘exiled mobility’.4 Yasmine’s memories reveal a history of violence and helplessness that unites generations of Palestinians in exile, who have a strong sense of being connected to each other through traumatic memories such as these, shared experiences and present miserable living conditions; violence, in other words, acts not only to disempower but also to unify. Second, Yasmine’s words illustrate the complex roles of women living in conflict zones; on the one hand, as her story indicates, they are victimized by war but, on the other, they ‘become warriors and resisters’.5 She herself has been politically active since she was a young woman in Ain el-Hilwe camp in the south, first with Fateh and later with Hamas. She asserted that many women are active in politics and added that, in her view, political activity decreases the possibility of violence. Despite her perceived lack of safety or belonging, she is engaged in her community as a volunteer with Hamas and a participant in protest marches and non-governmental organization (NGO) awareness sessions for women. The third element is imagination. There is a tension between the need to recreate home, a secure place in which to enact family life, and a notion of home that exists, in Yasmine’s words, ‘only in the imagination’. The majority of refugees have an idea of what Palestine looks or looked like and they are aware of the symbolic meanings it possesses. This is a very powerful narrative; although it does not constantly preoccupy them, it is ready to emerge as a compelling discourse, when individuals are invited to reflect. These three themes will be more fully explored in subsequent chapters, principally through the voices of refugee women, for whom violence and the resisting of violence are part of everyday life. I will explore the effects of violence on Palestinian refugee women in Lebanon and will argue that they rely on several sources of strength to counter the debilitating effects of violence: first, they are supported by the solidarity of the camp and national community; second, they deploy a range of narratives that are ‘always contested, and constantly are reworked and rewritten’;6 third, they are reassured by familiar practices that preserve the link with ‘home’; it is ‘the moral value, the traditions and the land’;7 and, fourth, and perhaps most importantly,

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they rely on the comfort of religion as both faith and a form of activism. I will make this argument by analysing women’s accounts of violent incidents and the ways in which they have felt disempowered by these events and how they resisted, fought back and survived them. The responses of individual women are informed by a range of factors on the ground, from their own role in the violence, their perceptions of victimization and agency and the consequences of violent episodes. For example, the entire Palestinian nation was victimized in 1948 as the majority was forced from the land, but the effect on individuals and families was uneven and these subtle shifts in reaction emerge from listening to the accounts of those who fled and the inherited memories of their descendants. I am challenging the notion of an unchanging scenario of Palestinian tragedy by demonstrating that individuals and families react to emergencies in the most immediate and appropriate way. There are also, I think, significant differences between the reactions of men and women and the ways in which they deal with trauma, and one of my objectives is to move the debate on from the familiar linkages between, on the one hand, women as reproducers of the nation and men as protectors of the nation’s honour and, on the other, women as subordinated to male heroism. According to Palestinian legend, the woman too can ‘become a heroine by showing great courage and setting an example to other Palestinians on how to behave at [times] of great stress when weaker people may feel defeated and crushed’.8 What comes across strongly in the interviews with refugee women is the diversity of response, which is informed both by the ‘collective narratives of origin, loss, and recovery’ and the pressing need to address current problems. Women have demonstrated a broad range of coping mechanisms, from defiance and action to stoicism and, for some, self-pity and despair. My focus is on violence and its effects on women’s subjectivity; I ask how women define ‘violence’, how their definitions may differ from those of men, and what tools they have used to protect themselves from many forms of violence. I will argue that women’s means of protection or empowerment are not constant; they change in shape and emphasis and rely sometimes on action and at other times on faith or restraint. Increasingly, from my observations, religious identity is taking a more prominent role and, for some women, has become a method of protest and self-assertion. Above all, like women

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everywhere, my interlocutors are complex beings, assailed by threats of violence and subjected to insecurity but, at the same time, living multi-layered and nuanced lives. A devotion to the safety and wellbeing of their family lies at the core of women’s concerns. This is an important source of strength and continuity, and also places them within a conventional framework of Arab-Muslim practices. But their lived experiences go far beyond convention. Into her disquieting narrative, Yasmine threaded the symbols of ‘normal’ life: marriage, home-making, protection of children and involvement in the community; and yet, beyond these familiar props lies a world of terrifying uncertainty and the ultimate absence of home, and this is a reality she has had to contend with throughout her life. Since they are identified as stateless refugees, Palestinians in Lebanon are denied a basic right of security. They will always be subject to the priorities of the host government or army, as Yasmine vividly makes clear, and are therefore never truly ‘safe’. Her narrative emphasizes, above all, the underlying violence of Palestinian life in Lebanon, whether hurt and cruelty are expressed in overt or more subtle ways. From its inception, the Israeli – Palestinian conflict ‘has been shot through with continuous violence’9 and the character of the enemy has tended to define the parameters of the struggle; the refusal of Israel to contemplate or recognize Palestinian national claims has led many Palestinians to conclude that violence is the only realistic way forward; the violence perpetrated by Islamist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the occupied Palestinian territory has been perceived by some refugee women as ‘inevitable’. Palestinians have been described as ‘a bitter and frustrated community’;10 at the same time, however, they have developed characteristics of extraordinary resilience. Far from bemoaning an unjust fate, they have engaged in vigorous and multi-faceted resistance, which is both project and discourse. It is also a heroic narrative, employing language strongly associated with masculinity, which seems to exclude women. I am arguing that the ‘bitter community’ is also a ‘community of respect’, in which women’s contributions are valued. In support of this argument, my project seeks to contribute towards ‘the creation of a new type of material on women’ and is thus ‘the validation of women’s experiences’.11 While women are honoured as preservers of national memory and protectors

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of tradition and are victimized, as stateless refugees in a largely unwelcoming environment and as recipients of more private, unspoken forms of violence they also assume roles through devotion to family and community and a strong commitment to their faith, of ‘warriors and resisters’.

Outside the Interior Every direct route to the interior, and consequently the interior itself, is either blocked or pre-empted. The most we can hope for is to find margins – normally neglected surfaces and relatively isolated, irregularly placed spots – on which to put ourselves . . . 12

Refugee lives are constrained within a tightly woven framework of borders and boundaries, both in perception and reality. Palestinians cannot re-enter their homeland; they are stranded on the wrong side of a border fence, restricted to the narrow alleys of refugee camps. In this unsatisfactory environment, women have developed particular characteristics and, from their narratives, it is possible to glean something of the complexities of their lives. Umm Fawzi, who was six months old when her family left Palestine and has lived in Bourj el-Barajne camp in southern Beirut since 1990, asserted that ‘no matter where we are, we will always be in Palestine’; she added that, although it is important to keep remembering Palestine, she does not like to think back too much: ‘what is in the past is in the past.’13 Her ambiguity is typical of many camp women who, although they emphasize their right of return, exhibit a pragmatic attitude towards the present in the sense of ‘making the best of ’ their situation; this differs from male narratives of right, justice and the waging of militant struggle. Umm Fawzi’s sentiment that ‘no matter where we are, we will always be in Palestine’ echoes Yasmine’s sense of not belonging. When they fled into Lebanon in 1948, Palestinians could never have imagined that they would still be there, almost 65 years later, their situation still unresolved. The experience of the Palestinian refugee community has been one of sustained violence against a whole people. It began with the traumatic displacement and scattering of up to 1 million Palestinians from their homeland to make way for the new

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state of Israel, continued through years of war and instability in Lebanon, and exists still in terms of lack of individual and collective rights in Lebanon and the exclusion of the refugees from the unresolved Palestinian–Israeli ‘peace process’. As regards a just resolution to the Palestinian–Israeli conflict, Rami Khouri is correct when he asserts that ‘the single most important component of peacemaking always has been and remains today the status of the Palestinian refugees – not how to resettle them or find them jobs, but how to restore to them their full human rights and dignity within the context of their national community as they define that community themselves’.14 In other words, despite their perception of themselves as a forgotten people and a growing tendency to exclude their right of return from peace negotiations, the refugees occupy a symbolically significant position at the heart of the Arab–Israeli dispute and continue to situate themselves forcefully in terms of ‘the moral value, the traditions and the land’. At the same time, their position is constantly undermined by attempts both to reduce their plight to a humanitarian problem and even to erase their national existence altogether. The theme of ‘experiencing and resisting violence’ lies at the heart of my research; this book explores the historical and contemporary struggles of Palestinians through the lens of women’s experiences. The current status of Palestinian refugees or, as they prefer to be called, aydun (‘those who would return’), inspires a deep sense of pessimism. Yet, it is necessary to look beyond perceptions of hopelessness and to appreciate the unique community that has emerged in response to exile, violence and despair; to consider, in other words, the ‘transition from being in exile to becoming Palestinian once again’15 and in this book I will explore how the lived experiences of Palestinians in exile, especially women, have shaped their identity in the early twenty-first century, and enable them to become Palestinian again. Although ‘Palestinian-ness’ remains at the centre of the refugees’ identity, it is now inextricably intertwined in the reality of Lebanon and the refugees’ present lives on the border of their homeland. Often, ‘the concern with boundaries and their transgression reflects not so much corporeal movements of specific groups of people but, rather, a broad concern with the “cultural displacement” of people, things and cultural products’.16 However, ‘cultural displacement’ has other, unanticipated consequences. In the words of Jean Genet:

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Even more than the men [ . . . ] Palestinian women seemed strong enough to sustain the resistance and accept the changes that came along with a revolution. They had already disobeyed the customs [ . . . ]. The briefest and most prosaic of their tasks was but a small step in the self-assured journey towards a new, and therefore unknown, order, but which gave them a hint of a cleansing liberation for themselves, and a slowing pride for the men. They were ready to become both the wives and the mothers of heroes . . . 17

I am interested in understanding how being – but not belonging – in Lebanon has influenced refugees’ perceptions of themselves, and how the state of being uprooted has caused the Palestinian community to seek to ‘become heroic’ in order to rid itself of feelings of shame and victimization. How have Palestinian women in particular found an accommodation between their personal suffering and the national narrative of heroism and resistance? What impact has ‘living on the margins’, both in the physical sense and in terms of their relationship with the Lebanese host community, had on the development of identity? I will address the question of ‘identity on the margins’ through the narratives of Palestinian women living in the camps of Lebanon and an appreciation of the project and discourse of resistance. I have attempted in this book to synthesize their highly disparate experiences as a way of drawing conclusions about women as victims and resisters of violence.

Shape and Focus of the Book The subjects of this book are Palestinian women in Lebanon as symbols of collective suffering and exemplars of female resistance in the face of adversity. Given their environment, women are fighting on two fronts: the domestic front, where they struggle for the survival of family and nation; and the external front, where they increasingly involve themselves in various political movements.18 Both ‘fronts’ are characterized by violence and I am seeking to articulate the various forms of violence to which women have been subjected, as they define and describe them; equally importantly, I aim to reveal the strengths and innovations they have been able to derive from their experiences. My approach draws upon the insights that emerge from women’s complex narratives and the urgent need to move away from essentializing non-Western women or reducing them to meaningless

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stereotypes; this problem is particularly acute with regards to ArabMuslim women. A key objective of my book is to balance acts of violence experienced by women with their ‘strategies for survival, their understanding of agency and victimization’.19 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon possessed a number of important strengths, which gave them some protection during the early years of exile. They sought to retain close family and community networks; in some cases, people from the same Palestinian village were able to set up a camp together; for example, villagers from Majd al-Kroom in northern Palestine established Shatila camp in Beirut.20 They also depended on the familiar rituals of religion and tradition, which meant that women were usually protected; indeed, to preserve the ‘honour’ of women has been suggested as one of the principal reasons for the Palestinian flight. In 1950, the United Nations created a special agency to meet their needs; the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)21 is permitted to operate only at the discretion of the host government and is mandated to provide only assistance. The agency was initially welcomed by Palestinians as it supplied food and basic medical services for the refugees, helped them to build more permanent shelters and, most importantly, established educational services.22 In terms of international law, however, uniquely, this group of refugees lacks effective protection mechanisms. The denial of rights ‘has prevented the Palestinian refugee community from prospering and has placed them on a course of de-development’.23 At the same time, over the years, a framework of international human rights standards that promotes protection and assistance activities for refugee women has been constructed and this, in theory at least, supports the rights of Palestinian women in Lebanon, although in practice their rights are often not able to be upheld. Thus, women experience an uneasy ‘balance’ between their own ‘moral community’ and a larger environment that is at best indifferent and at worst openly hostile. Beyond fear, their experiences of violence reinforce a sense of solidarity within refugee communities, and the book will stress the significant argument that Palestinian women are not only victims but also active participants in the resistance project. In an atmosphere of violence, they find coping mechanisms and appropriate strategies to counter the pressures of conflict. Adherence to religious belief and

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valued traditional practices, as well as involvement in political and welfare activities and on occasion militant activism, are some of the methods employed by women. Clearly, for these women it is difficult to separate the personal from the national and, in addition, any discussion of the Palestinian community in exile cannot avoid questions of identity and entitlement. Even after over half a century, Palestinian refugees who reside outside the borders of Palestine,24 whatever their status or individual circumstances, are still regarded as ‘strangers’ and continue to regard themselves – first and foremost – as Palestinians; they retain both a strong yearning for their homeland and the certainty, supported by international law, that they have the right to return to it. To be Palestinian, especially ‘for very many camp Palestinians, means to be one who struggles’.25 This ‘struggleidentity’ has had both positive and negative effects on women. They occupy a central position in society; for example, ‘on patriotic occasions and in schools, women tend to have a larger role than men’.26 Sometimes ‘they can do a better job in the Palestinian community’ since they: . . . are active in all areas – politics, resistance, economic and social. The most important thing to understand is that they are not living a normal life; therefore, women have more responsibility; they support their families in the absence of men. They also participate in politics and they are participating more than any other Arab country. Women must hold internal social life, supporting Palestinian youth; it is very tough for them. They have responsibility for more than half. Women support the militant activities although they do not usually carry them out; their activities are more important, they are responsible for their families.27

This analysis of women’s position in society was articulated by one of the leaders of Hamas in Lebanon; his words are broadly reflective of the opinion of other political leaders who regard women as balancing family responsibilities with a commitment to militant struggle. These roles of support and family obligation were constantly reiterated by the subjects of my research and are usually regarded very positively; on the whole, women are proud to be ‘the wives and mothers of heroes’. At the same time, however, they continue to experience various levels of gender-based violence. Many of the women I met referred to their own participation in the conflict and yet there is also a sense of weariness that there is still a struggle to be waged.

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For the purposes of this book, I have divided ‘violence’ into six broad categories: first, personal violence: there is evidence, both anecdotal and statistical, to suggest that significant violence against women and girls takes place in the refugee camps; women also complain about the persistence of social and political violence; second, the violence of erasure: the narratives of Zionism, ‘annulling Palestine, denying its oppression by Israel, and telling the one-sided story of Zionism as a liberation movement’28 have sought to obliterate Palestinian national identity; the ‘stubborn nonrecognition or erasure of Palestinians as a political community’29 is referred to as ‘moral violence’ by some refugees; third, the violence perpetrated by the Lebanese state against Palestinian refugee communities, and also acts of cruelty or hostility by Lebanese individuals or groups: while there is a sense of obligation towards suffering Arab ‘brothers’, it has sometimes been accompanied by resentment that the refugees may be outstaying their welcome and, worse, may have actively contributed towards the destabilization of the country; fourth, war violence: refugee women have been badly affected by the various wars, invasions and massacres that have beset their community, and Lebanon in general; fifth, the violence of exclusion: the refugees ‘face isolation from the international community’s search for peace in the Middle East’,30 and even from the negotiating position of their own leadership;31 and, finally, the violence caused by the disintegration of daily life and the suggestion that ‘it is no longer possible to speak of a Palestinian society in Lebanon’s camps’;32 this affects the refugees in terms of an erosion of communal solidarity and the deterioration of moral values. I intend to break these categories down further and to explore how they overlap and, most importantly, how they impinge on women. My research with women in the camps raised particular methodological issues, which will be addressed in this chapter, including the question of how to conduct ethical research in ‘treacherous’ sites.33 I will also provide an overview of life for Palestinians in the camps of Lebanon in the early twenty-first century, in terms of their legal rights or lack of rights and their health and wellbeing. In Chapter 2, I explore some of the theoretical conundrums inherent in research of this kind. I am interested in asking how ‘violence’, broadly defined and taking into consideration understandings of ‘violence’ articulated by the subjects of my research, constrains and enables women’s activities and behaviour. In this

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chapter, I also consider the role played by Islam, as a faith and a form of political and militant activism, in the lives of refugee women; while most do not condone the use of violence in the name of religion, they regard a close adherence to Islam as a way of asserting their own moral order. Chapter 3 addresses the politics of home and place, and the violence of deterritorialization. In particular, I explore the painful tension between a ‘home’ lost but never forgotten and a ‘place’ that lacks all the elements of ‘homeliness’. In their narratives, many women referred to the importance of the camp as a place of belonging and a locus of safety; while most of the women I met did not wish to remain in these places, they have also developed a necessary familiarity. The reasons given by refugee women are practical but also of symbolic significance in terms of protection and mutual support. In national terms, the refugee camp represents the notion of a Palestinian entity that refuses to be obliterated. While the camps in which most of the refugees still reside are unsuitable sites in which to develop a functioning community, Palestinians have been successful in inspiring in successive generations a strong sense of what it means to be Palestinian. Ask any child, born and raised in a Lebanese camp, where ‘home’ is and she or he will name ‘their’ village in Palestine, and insist upon their right to return to it. However, beyond the dream of return lies an everyday life of violence and impoverishment. Although we assume that the various levels of violence to which women refugees have been exposed must have severely hampered their ability to sustain the mechanisms necessary to lead a normal life, their narratives reveal a more complex reality. Inevitably, the camps themselves have assumed some of the qualities of ‘home’ as a place perhaps not of safety but at least of familiarity and the repository of memories. But even this unsatisfactory reality, as in Yasmine’s case, is illusory. It can be shattered at any time as Palestinian communities are reminded that their presence in Lebanon is temporary and unwelcome. Women’s memories of the Palestinian nakba (catastrophe) in 1948 and the early bleak days of exile in Lebanon are explored in Chapter 4. In 1948, ‘women were not only displaced and made to suffer the effects of forced eviction and exile; they also took on responsibility for their children, their families, and the nation’.34 This shift in focus, while profoundly traumatic, also proved to be a tool of politicization for women, and this was attested by many of the women I interviewed. In Chapter 5, the ‘brutality and collective terror’35 of the

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many incidences of conflict in Lebanon are discussed. Of special concern, in the context of this book, is the ubiquity of violence and, in particular, two key events: the 1982 Israeli invasion, culminating in the Sabra and Shatila massacres in September of that year, and the Amal camp sieges between 1985 and 1987. In Chapter 6, I consider the insecurity of refugee women’s current situation, neither belonging in Lebanon nor permitted to return to their homeland, and the evolving methods they adopt to deal with unremitting violence. This chapter includes a discussion of personal violence, through the narratives of camp women, and an assessment of the effects of recent events in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Palestinian women in exile in Lebanon. Throughout, I balance references to the scholarly literature on women, memory, violence, conflict and identity with the personal accounts of a wide range of refugee women and my own analysis of how these women cope with and survive violence. Running through the book is a strongly expressed sense of grievance, in the sense that personal and collective identity is constantly under threat. While the whole community is aware of this, there are significant differences in the ways women and men tell their stories; women are less likely to prioritize historical change. It is necessary, therefore, ‘to conceptualize a female nationalist subject, whose narrative subverts the dominant one through revealing what the national narrative has effaced’.36 By analysing the women’s narratives from a national and personal perspective, I am seeking to understand how ‘violence’ frames and diminishes their lives and how they resist and survive it. I will argue that, in the face of multiple forms of violence, Palestinian women have struggled to keep alive the memory of ‘Palestine’ for themselves and their children; they have also taken on the role of preservers of national identity and, beyond this symbolic role, have achieved significant concrete results in terms of protecting their homes and articulating the plight of their community. In order to understand the reality of these women’s lives, caught up in the conflict and violence of Lebanon, it is necessary to appreciate the larger narratives, but also the ‘small’ stories of everyday resilience and survival. I observed, among many women I met, a high degree of stoicism. Many couched their often shocking stories in humorous terms, also bringing into the narrative an element of communal solidarity. However, as Farida, a NGO worker in Beirut, remarked:

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. . . although some forms of participation proved empowering for women, in the sense that it opens their eyes to aspects of life, expands their knowledge, so that they can act as a model for others, the negative aspects of participation is that the mentality of society does not change. Women participate outside the home but they are still responsible for the domestic arena. This means a woman does not have the space to think of herself as a human being.37

Her words echo the explanations given by male political leaders about women’s ‘balancing’ roles; their domestic activities are seen as essential and, although they are permitted to ‘participate outside the home’, their participation is constrained. But if she ‘does not have the space to think of herself as a human being,’ how is a woman to contribute to the larger ‘story of Palestine’? By considering the complex, and sometimes conflicting, elements of women’s narratives, this book will seek to draw larger conclusions about ‘negative’ and ‘positive’ aspects of their participation. Story-telling by women, however humble or ‘inaccurate’, lies at the heart of the research included in this book. Personal stories ‘occur spontaneously all the time’, but the artificiality of the encounter between a researcher and his/her subjects may inhibit these personal anecdotes by women, ‘through which outsiders could better grasp the way the Palestinian tragedy has affected particular lives’.38 This is clearly a constraint, as is the risk of misrepresenting; ‘while the women’s words may not “speak for themselves”, the kind of commentaries that accompany them often speak past them’.39 It is emphatically not my intention to question the framing of their narratives, nor the veracity of what the women told me, but simply to understand, within the context of their lives, why they explain things as they do. In this respect, an area of concern is my own position as a participant ‘within networks of discursive power’;40 it is essential to recognize the impossibility of remaining a ‘neutral’ observer.

Methodology Refugee women’s life-histories challenge hypotheses underpinning an Orientalist approach that views Arab and Muslim women as passive victims of an Islamic cultural tradition assumed to be inherently oppressive. These narratives also counter beliefs embedded in Middle Eastern scholarly literature

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that [ . . . ] confine women’s roles to those of the ‘preservers’ of culture and reproducers of men who fight the political and military battles.41

Farah’s suggestion that Middle Eastern women’s roles tend to be confined to those of ‘preservers of culture’ and ‘reproducers of men’ echoes Genet’s claim that Palestinian women were ready to become ‘the wives and mothers of heroes’; such perceptions of ArabMuslim women inhibit our understanding of the complexity of their lives and also their own agency. As I am challenging conventional understandings of Palestinian women and violent conflict, I will focus on several key methodological elements: first, it is necessary to highlight my own positionality as an ‘outsider’, trying to make sense of the lived experiences of Arab-Muslim women while, at the same time, avoiding the abusive image of these women ‘as passive and inert’;42 second, a more nuanced approach to the study of Palestinian refugee women in Lebanon, in terms of ‘contested narratives’ of violence, is also necessary; and, third, some of the pitfalls of conducting ethnographic research in supposedly ‘dangerous’ settings will be considered. I agree with Ra’ad that ‘new methodologies are required’, that will ‘challenge the invention of exclusivist claims and other habitual conflations of myth and history’,43 and will transform the task of gathering data from human respondents in Arab contexts into a more dynamic and egalitarian process.

From the Outside Looking In There are advantages and disadvantages to being an outsider; although the status of ‘outsider’ is believed to bestow objectivity and detachment, an ‘insider’ perspective benefits from the kind of special insights not usually available to outsiders.44 These are relevant distinctions, especially in environments where a person is blatantly an ‘outsider’, such as the camps of Lebanon. In such cases, it is crucial to uncover ‘the life history participant’s own definition of the terms “insider” and “outsider”, since these definitions could affect the kinds of information gathered and the interactional process within the interview sessions themselves’.45 It raises questions of power and powerlessness, something that Western academics studying the Middle East cannot avoid; yet, although nowadays most researchers reject

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orientalist traditions that support the construction of Islam as ‘an archaic and backward system of beliefs that determines the behaviour of the peoples who adhere to it’,46 such attitudes continue to colour relationships with the research community. This became apparent during encounters with camp women in Lebanon, who sometimes assumed that I was ignorant or biased against their cause. Umm Wael in Rashidiyya camp, for example, referred to the ‘terrorist Zionists’ and declared that she had felt she could never cooperate with foreigners until she heard about the American peace activist Rachel Corrie, killed by the Israeli army in Gaza in 2003, and realized that ‘some Westerners support our cause’.47 Other women refuse to give interviews as they have grown weary of talking to foreigners, believing these encounters do little or nothing to improve their situation. It is not possible to completely allay such suspicions; however, there are steps we can take to facilitate a more productive environment by consciously engaging with the vulnerability or ostensible ‘powerlessness’ of the research community. In the particular case of refugee women, ‘the researched’ are classified as ‘disadvantaged’ in some respect. They ‘may be socially disadvantaged, however, but they are epistemologically privileged; they are better placed to produce ‘maximally objective knowledge’.48 Palestinian camp women are undoubtedly ‘disadvantaged’, in the sense that they lack many of the basic requirements of a ‘decent’ life; but what they do possess in abundance are answers to and insights into the researcher’s questions. I refer again to Yasmine in Baddawi camp who, in her comprehensive narrative, provided not only an account of her own life experiences but also a broader perspective on women’s roles in the struggle. My own position as an ‘outsider’ was apparent to all the women I interviewed; however, their attitudes towards me varied; while Umm Wael and others may have been suspicious of my motives and sceptical about the benefits of participating in the research project, others were more forthcoming. There was a tendency to offer a standard account of the Palestinian ‘tragedy’, tailored to the perceived interests of foreigners, partly anecdotal but also including references to key grievances. But some, such as Yasmine, were prepared to reveal something of their personal feelings, and a few took the opportunity to reflect on some of the more painful episodes in their lives. It is possible that, on occasion, interviewees would be less than forthcoming as they preferred not to divulge more personal

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information to a possibly untrustworthy outsider. This raises the contested question of ‘truth’; I was concerned that the interviewees were, on the one hand, telling me what they thought I wanted to hear and, on the other, giving me the ‘official’ version of Palestinian history. Sayigh suggests that refugee women take the opportunity of ‘speaking to the world’ through foreigners49 and I was aware, on occasion, that women were contextualizing their own stories within a larger national narrative. Overall, however, I think that a reasonable balance was achieved, whereby individual women decided how best to frame their own stories, what to divulge and where to place the emphasis. The next problem, given that I am attempting to understand women’s experience from the overriding perspective of violence, was to avoid turning the subjects of my research into a homogenized, ‘powerless’ group. Mohanty correctly argues that ‘assumptions of privilege and ethnocentric universality, on the one hand, and inadequate self-consciousness about the effect of western scholarship on the “third world” in the context of a world system dominated by the west, on the other, characterize a sizable extent of western feminist work on women in the third world’.50 In terms of the insider/outsider debate, the emphasis on ‘difference’ poses ‘the dilemma of whether we can write across the divides of race, class and gender about other women’s experiences, past or present’.51 It is a pertinent question in the context of this book since, to some extent, the field of Middle Eastern studies in Western academia ‘continues to marginalize women’ due to its reluctance to explore more innovative scholarship or more creative approaches.52 This is part of the answer to challenges of the research environment. Our research methodologies need to adopt ‘more creative approaches’ and should certainly ‘empower our research subjects’;53 therefore, it is desirable that members of the research community be involved as participants in the project from the beginning. To do justice to this objective and reflect the diverse voices of Palestinian refugee women, and by building on previous research, I adopted a methodological approach informed by feminist theorizing and practice. I believe that feminist investigations of the social world are concerned ‘not just with truth, but also with how knowledge is produced and authorized’. Thus, feminists accept a ‘moral responsibility’ for their knowledge claims, and are also aware that they are accountable ‘to a community of women’.54 In this way, we are able to acquire ‘a more critical and

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less essentializing understanding’ of those defined as ‘others’.55 I acknowledge a responsibility to the women I interviewed on several levels: in terms of trust and generosity and also from the perspective of gratitude for sharing their knowledge. I have been careful, as far as possible, to avoid essentializing the experiences of ‘others’.

‘Collective Narratives of Origin, Loss and Recovery’ In my research, the ‘ethic of accountability’ is addressed through the imparting and hearing of life stories. Anthropologist Rosemary Sayigh, among others, has noted the absence of women in formal historical accounts. As a way of compensating for this lack, she has been contributing to the enrichment of Palestinian national history by gathering oral accounts from camp women. Women’s ‘centrality to nation and state formation’, she observes, ‘their absence from written history, the inappropriateness of conventional research methods for discovering women “in history” – all these have been the focus of recent feminist theory’.56 Others, for example Badil, an organization in the West Bank that campaigns for the Palestinian right of return, and the Al-Jana active memory project in Beirut, are also engaged in oral history surveys that give weight to women’s accounts. Autobiographical narratives are an effective method of exploring women’s lives, ‘and in particular the construction of gendered selves in the process of nationalizing histories’.57 In the Palestinian case, it gives ‘voice to women who have been left out of mainstream research models,’58 and thus reflects their diversity. A story, as Abu-Lughod remarks, ‘is always situated; it has both a teller and an audience’.59 The ‘Palestinian people have been denied the opportunity for selfrepresentation’60 and this is even truer for women. Yet the relationship between the ‘teller’ and the ‘audience’ permits each woman to represent aspects of her own life as she sees fit. Aretxaga also raises the question of representation. In her words: Conscious of issues of power and problems of representation, some ethnographers have opted for a hands-off narrative approach that allows women to tell their stories in their own words. Yet it seems to me that an engagement with the relations of power – and this includes feminist transformation – must go beyond recounting suppressed forms of experience to account for how this experience is constituted by the very power relations one

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seeks to illuminate. In my view, such account entails an interpretive exercise that might require getting one’s hands muddied; taking the risk of interpreting other people’s interpretations of the world might be the only way to establish a dialogue with them as well as with a community of colleagues. This seems a necessary premise for critical thinking.61

It is certainly the case that conventional narratives do not do full justice to the story of the Palestinian people. By focusing on Palestinian women’s subjectivity and the telling of their lived experiences, this book makes a contribution towards the construction of a more complete picture of the lives of ‘ordinary’ individuals, the ones that history – in its grand and heroic sense – often ignores or reduces to ‘preservers of culture’, ‘reproducers of the men who fight’ and ‘the wives and mothers of heroes’; individual women represent themselves across a spectrum, from victim or passive bystander to struggler and activist. It also acknowledges shared membership of a ‘moral community’ and the necessity for an appropriate response towards ‘the stranger in distress’.62

The Dangers and Attractions of ‘Dangerous’ Settings A final methodological consideration concerns the research environment. This relates to the presence of the researcher, both in terms of personal safety and also protection of the subjects of the research. Where members of the group being studied ‘are powerless or disadvantaged, they may fear exploitation or derogation,’ or they may believe the research is of no use to their lives.63 The people ‘being studied’ will not necessarily share the researcher’s interest in the topic; for the researcher, the experience is based around the collection of very specific data. However, ethical considerations and accountability to the research community means that the researcher must also be sensitive towards the concerns of his/her participants, and responsible for ‘producing knowledge that could harm them’.64 In Lebanon, individuals tend to be wary of outsiders asking intrusive questions; there is, quite understandably, suspicion about ulterior motives or hidden agendas, as Umm Wael’s remarks revealed. It is sometimes hard to know who to trust and ‘speaking out’ to strangers may lead to unwanted repercussions. During my fieldwork, for example, I met several women who had participated in militant

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activities in the 1970s and 1980s and had been detained by the Israelis; although proud of what they had done, these women were desperate not to be identified in case their decision to ‘speak out’ led to ‘trouble’ with the Lebanese authorities. This is where a feminist methodological approach is helpful, in the sense that it places the safety and interests of the participants at the forefront of the process; they should be fully engaged in the structure and direction of the research, which means that they will not be rendered ‘powerless’ by actions or decisions beyond their control. While I acknowledge that this is an ‘ideal’ scenario, and in reality women experience varying levels of power over their lives, it did at last signal sensitivity to the constraints inherent in ethnographic research of this kind. The researcher’s own safety and his/her relationship with the fieldwork site, especially if it is a conflict or post-conflict zone, also cannot be disregarded. In an interesting discussion about conducting research in ‘treacherous frontline field sites’, Swedenburg refers to poet Jean Genet, who spent two years in the early 1970s with Palestinian fedayeen in Jordan; Genet’s writings, which are not academic but passionate and partisan, according to Swedenburg, raise concerns about ‘the very definition of fieldwork’ and also the limits of a person’s own subject position. It forces the researcher to confront the question of ‘how I manage to cope with working in and writing about a geographic/academic area that seems so emotionally and politically overcharged and so excessively violent’.65 It may be considered risky or even perversely ‘glamorous’ to choose such ‘violent’ places and the reasons behind these choices may be complex, but it is also necessary to acknowledge your own positionality and complicity in ‘telling the story’ of Palestine and to strive for a balance between the increasingly discredited concept of ‘academic detachment’ and a responsibility to engage at a deeper level than mere listener.

Hearing the ‘Story of Palestine’ In the early 1990s, I started to visit Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and in Lebanon. My objective was twofold: on the one hand, as an advocate of Palestinian rights I wished to express solidarity and concern; and, on the other, as a researcher I wanted to learn about some of the ways in which the women of these

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communities had been able to participate in and cope with the situations of violent conflict in which their societies had become engulfed. I was particularly interested in women’s activism and their strategies for coping with what were clearly oppressive situations. It became a fascinating and eventually an all-consuming process. From the late 1990s, I decided to focus more closely on war and violence, and their effects on Palestinian women in exile. When I began the project, my intention was to invite the women themselves to set the agenda. During preliminary visits to Lebanon, I made contact with women’s organizations, such as the General Union of Palestinian Women, Association Najdeh, UNRWA, Medical Aid for Palestinians, and the Women’s Humanitarian Organization, and Palestinian political factions. These meetings were positive; they led to a degree of cooperation and I received valuable assistance both in identifying suitable participants for the project and articulating issues of mutual concern. I was able to discuss with these and other groups some of my areas of interest which were pertinent to their own work. In this way, their concerns and their experiences, rather than simply my abstract ‘outsider’ agenda, was one of the principal controlling factors. During a succession of visits to Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, I managed to meet with and interview a broad range of individuals. Palestinian women in both areas vary considerably in terms of age, class, educational attainment, employment status and other indicators. We must take into account, too, whether the women reside in refugee camps, whether they have been displaced more than once, and their subject position. In Lebanon, I conducted an ethnographic fieldwork study comparing the effects of violent conflict on Palestinian refugee women and Lebanese Shi’a women.66 My academic training and knowledge of the Arab world equipped me to appreciate the culture and diversity of the region and the backdrop against which these women lead their lives. Palestinians exist within a predominantly Muslim environment. They have experienced a particularly harsh form of European colonialism, which caused considerable upheaval. They have been affected catastrophically by the establishment of the state of Israel in the region. In response to dispossession and the Israeli occupation, Palestinian communities have produced activist Islamic movements, which seek to challenge the status quo but have also been demonized as ‘terrorist’

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organizations; although Islamist groups are active predominantly in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, they are also present in some of the Lebanese camps. In the 1990s, the Palestinian people experienced the beginnings of a ‘peace process’ in the form of the Oslo Accords: the passage from a state of conflict to an anticipated situation of conciliation and peace building, although this has so far been unsuccessful and, since 2000, has been largely reversed. Many of these early ‘interviews’ tended to turn into conversations; in some cases, other women – and occasionally men – were present and contributed to the discussion. The fieldwork in Lebanon was by and large conducted in refugee camps, mainly in Beirut and the south. Some of the women I interviewed were employed: in schools, hospitals, NGOs or small businesses; others worked as homemakers or volunteers. They included political activists, women involved in welfare projects, academics, students, Islamist women, secular women, and women who identify themselves as ‘feminists’; I enjoyed particularly fruitful encounters with women activists in some of the southern camps. By and large, the women were forthcoming about shared goals of national liberation and nation building and their own reasons for participating in what often appeared to be a bloody, chaotic and frequently hopeless conflagration. What emerged from these meetings was a strong sense of pride on the part of the majority of the women in their contribution to the struggle; they made it clear that they had no choice but to involve themselves. Forms of participation were described in creative and sometimes even humorous detail. I gleaned a feeling of a broad and vital objective shared by all members of the community. On the fringes of the consensus, however, I sometimes sensed an element of dissent, and began to be aware of areas in which women had experienced dissatisfaction, though these were rarely articulated openly to me. My experiences convinced me that it was impossible to arrive at any definitive version of the ‘truth’, or perhaps the women with whom I spoke simply did not wish to share their truths with me. Conversations were often simply that: an opportunity to exchange views and to establish where we all stood. At the same time, despite the problematic nature of the relationship between us, the women revealed – deliberately or inadvertently – something of the complexity of their situation and the ways in which they were coping with it. At the end of successive periods of research, I felt my

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knowledge was steadily growing. But new questions had begun to take root in my mind: what happens when the mask of consensus slips? Specifically, although the community shares a belief in the absolute necessity of presenting a unified front to the outside world, how do women come to terms with violence that is directed against them not from the enemy outside but from within their own society? I sensed that some of my interlocutors were disappointed that, although they too had risked their lives for the national struggle, their male-dominated society was still reluctant to give women a voice in the management of camp affairs or the articulation of a viable alternative.

Project on Memory, Identity and Violence Building on many hours of interviews and conversations, and also on closely observing camp life over a period of almost 20 years, the methodological approach adopted in this book focuses on two dominant strands: first, an appreciation of women’s oral narratives as a testimony to the uniqueness of individual experiences and also an illustration of agency; and, second, the likelihood that behaviour during times of conflict diverges from traditional or patriarchal practices and can therefore open new avenues of activity to women. The book is based primarily on ethnographic research conducted in the camps of Lebanon between 1998 and 200767 and again briefly in 2011. During several periods of fieldwork, I asked women about forms of violence they experienced during the Lebanese civil war and Israeli invasions (1975 – 90), the Israeli occupation of part of southern Lebanon until 2000, the brief Israel –Hizbullah war of 2006, and the Nahr al-Barid conflict in 2007. The first stage of research (1998 – 2004) focused on violence in the broadest sense, and encompassed the violence of exile, war and daily life. In the second phase (2006 –7), I researched the effects of memory on refugee women’s identity; this gave me, in particular, a rare insight into the lives of elderly camp women with real memories of Palestine as a homeland. The objective of the final period of fieldwork (2011) was to uncover more information about the sensitive area of personal violence. Besides listening to what the women were saying, I also carefully observed their nonverbal behaviour, the way they frame their stories and the ways in which they organize their lives.

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I began with a prepared list of relatively open-ended questions, to enable me to find out more about each woman and to encourage her to talk about her role in the struggle. The women described a variety of types of violence, from physical and psychological trauma to political, economic and social disadvantage. In addition, in times of war normal rules cease to apply and, since violence does not take place only on battlefields, the boundary between ‘private’ family violence and the ‘public’ violence of warfare tends to become blurred. Although they acknowledged the existence of domestic violence in the camps, the majority of women took care to stress that the most severe abuse has been inflicted on them by enemies from outside their community. In total, I interviewed 137 women of various ages and backgrounds and with diverse perspectives. As my intention was not to limit myself to a specific category of woman, I deliberately sought out women in differing socioeconomic strata, including students, academics, representatives of NGOs, politically active women, professionals, non-employed women, those who volunteer with camp or community projects, women with a strong religious identity and others who are disillusioned or uninterested in politics or are critical of religiously inspired activism. Most of the interviews were conducted in Arabic, with the assistance of local interpreters, and transcribed into English; most lasted between one and two hours; they mainly took place in the woman’s home, but sometimes in her place of work or education, or in a community centre. The interviews were almost always with one woman at a time, although several group discussions took place that produced a different but no less fascinating set of dynamics. They were loosely based on questionnaires and also provided a space for more complex narratives to emerge. Above all, the project is informed and inspired by the voices and experiences of these women. By referring to their authentic standpoint, I am confident that the book will enhance our knowledge of gender, displacement, conflict, violence and resistance, and will also give the reader a rare insight into lives that are impoverished in many respects but rich in memory and resourcefulness. I hope, finally, that I have been able to do full justice to the intricate and frequently multi-layered narratives of the many generous women who offered their time and their hospitality and agreed to share their stories with me.

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Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon: An Overview By far the most protracted and largest of all refugee problems in the world today is that of the Palestine refugees.68

The long struggle between the Zionist community in Palestine and the country’s indigenous Arab population resulted in dispossession for the majority of Palestinian Arabs and the establishment of the state of Israel in May 1948. In the process, at least 725,00069 Palestinians fled from their country; out of this total, about 100,000 arrived in neighbouring Lebanon (UN estimate). According to official sources, there are currently 436,154 Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA in Lebanon, although the true number of refugees residing in the country is believed to be below 300,000; of these, the majority (62 per cent) reside in 12 camps scattered throughout the country, while the remainder reside in ‘gatherings’, which are often located near official camps but do not receive UNRWA services. The refugees, who are mainly Sunni Muslims, represent around 12 per cent of the population of Lebanon. They can be divided into three groups: those registered with both UNRWA and the Lebanese government; those registered with the Lebanese government but not with UNRWA; and those not registered at all. There are approximately 35,000 unregistered refugees; they receive only minor services from UNRWA and no assistance from the Lebanese government.70 The annual growth rate among Palestinians in Lebanon is 2.3 per cent, the lowest among all five UNRWA fields of operation.71 An estimated 60 per cent live below the UN poverty line, although the real figure is probably higher. The refugee population is relatively youthful; over half of the refugee population is aged under 25 years72 and around 40 per cent of camp inhabitants are under the age of 15. The ‘illiteracy rate is high among adult Palestinians in Lebanon and may be rising as increasing numbers of refugee children drop out of school’.73 NGO worker Hoda remarked that ‘there has been a deterioration in the educational sector; one third of Palestinian women are illiterate; approximately 20 per cent drop out at elementary or intermediate stages. The cost of higher education impedes women. In my view, there should be networking among NGOs to combat illiteracy’.74 A significant number of the refugees in

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Lebanon have been displaced at least twice in their lifetimes as a result of civil war, invasions by Israel and violent attacks by various Lebanese groups on the camps and their residents. It is estimated that the community may have lost between 50,000 and 60,000 people in casualties and out-migration since the Israeli invasion of 1982. Several of the camps have been completely destroyed as a result of violent conflict. There is no agreement between Palestinians and Israelis either on the root causes of Palestinian displacement or ways of addressing it. The Israeli version of events is that ‘Palestinians fled during the 1948 war on orders of Arab commanders’ or that the wholesale displacement of ‘the local Arab population’ was ‘the unfortunate by-product of a war foisted on the new Jewish state’. Palestinians, in contrast, regard 1948 as the nakba ‘during which they were expelled by Israeli military forces and fled in fear, hoping to return to their homes once hostilities ceased’.75 Three possible solutions to the refugee problem have been suggested: ‘resettlement in a third country, local integration in the country of asylum, [or] voluntary repatriation’.76 While voluntary repatriation – or return – is the preferred solution of the refugees and is also guaranteed under international law, Israel continues ‘to view host country integration and resettlement as the primary durable solutions’.77 Any suggestion of resettlement in the host country is strongly opposed by the Lebanese government, which believes that, since Israel caused the problem, it must provide the solution. The question of permanent Palestinian settlement is also ‘the subject of contentious debate among Lebanese, ranging from statements calling for their wholesale removal to more measured and accommodating suggestions that they be granted civil rights and a more secure form of residency’.78 In the words of Umm Wissam, a widow with nine children: The Lebanese government does nothing; they talk about giving Palestinians nationality, which would give them more rights, but no one wants this; we will never accept Lebanese nationality. Even though the government does nothing, Hizbullah is talking about Palestinian problems and they’re asking for us to be given civil rights. The Lebanese government does not allow Palestinians to work, even as garbage collectors, but Hizbullah has allowed some Palestinian men to work on reconstruction projects in the destroyed areas of Beirut.79

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Palestinian refugees ‘have a status that is unique under international refugee law [ . . . ]. The primary international instrument governing the rights of refugees and the obligations of states towards them is the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees’;80 however, as Palestinians have their own UN agency, UNRWA, they are excluded from the convention and therefore do not benefit from the same level of protection as refugee populations elsewhere in the world. UNRWA’s ‘mandate is solely one of providing assistance to refugees’ basic daily needs by way of food, clothing and shelter’; it is not authorized ‘to serve the protection function given to the [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] UNHCR’.81 The right of return for Palestinian refugees is enshrined in United Nations General Assembly Resolution (UNGAR) 194, adopted on 11 December 1948, which states: [The General Assembly . . . ] 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.

The resolution was reiterated by the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which included ‘a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with UNGAR 194’, but also rejected ‘all forms of Palestinian patriation [tawtin, ‘settlement’ or, more pejoratively, ‘implantation’ or ‘forced integration’] which conflict with the special circumstances of the Arab host countries’.82 As many Lebanese believe that the Palestinians were the primary cause of Lebanon’s civil war and are also responsible for many of Lebanon’s current problems, they would like them to leave Lebanon as soon as possible; therefore, the question of tawtin has become a controversial issue or ‘emotional bludgeon’.83 In August 2010, the Lebanese parliament decided not to ‘enact relief ’ for the refugees. Palestinians also reject tawtin, with as many as 96 per cent of camp-dwellers, in a recent survey, insisting on their right of return to their homeland.84 This right is constantly reiterated to visiting foreigners by Palestinians of all ages.

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Initially regarded as temporary guests in Lebanon, the Palestinian presence soon grew problematic. After ten years, as it became apparent that the Palestinians’ stay would be longer than anticipated, a Department of Affairs of the Palestinian Refugees was created as an office within the Lebanese Ministry of the Interior to cope with the refugee population. Although it has ‘responsibility for administering the Palestinian presence in Lebanon,’ there is no obligation to provide basic social services – that is left to UNRWA.85 Under a Lebanese law of 1962, Palestinian refugees are defined as ‘foreigners’ and not allowed to work without a work permit. In 1994, only 0.14 per cent of a potential workforce of 218,173 – approximately 350 people – obtained work permits; a further 4.86 per cent worked in restricted fields; the remaining 95 per cent were either unemployed or casually employed in the informal sector.86 This unsatisfactory situation persists and is a principal cause of complaint for Palestinians, who insist that they are willing and able to work and support themselves if only they are given a chance. Hayat in Baddawi camp confirmed that the main problem in Lebanon is ‘lack of job opportunities’.87 Khawla in Bourj el-Barajne agreed that Palestinians face several problems in Lebanon, chief among them being the lack of rights, including the right to work, which means ‘we feel neglected by Lebanese society’.88 As well as UNRWA, other organizations play a role in assisting the refugees. ‘Donors and international NGOs have provided financial support, as well as the Welfare Association, the Norwegian People’s Aid, and ECHO. NGOs such as Islamic Relief, Popular Aid for Relief and Development, Al-Soumoud and Najdeh have assisted the population and ensured [their] basic needs.’89 Besides the difficulties that Palestinians face in finding employment, they are prevented from participating in most sectors of society. In the field of higher education, Palestinian refugees must compete with other non-Lebanese students for the small number of places available to foreigners at Lebanese educational institutes. In April 2002, tuition fees for foreign students, who include Palestinian refugees, were tripled. Palestinians, like other non-nationals in Lebanon, do not receive equal treatment in the court systems because they are denied access to the judicial support fund and are therefore unable to afford legal representation. Lebanese law prevents non-nationals, including Palestinian refugees, from forming representative bodies, such as unions or syndicates, or electing

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political representatives. In addition, a law passed in April 2001 requires that anyone owning property in Lebanon must be a citizen of an ‘established state’; as Palestinians are stateless, they are not allowed to own land in Lebanon. The Lebanese government has prohibited structural development services within the refugee camps which means: first, camps destroyed during the Lebanese civil war cannot be rebuilt; second, damaged or demolished houses within the camps cannot be rebuilt; and, third, new camps cannot be constructed nor existing camps expanded.90 During a visit to Bourj el-Barajne camp in Beirut in early 2007, several women pointed out to me damage to their homes that had occurred during the Israeli assault the previous summer; although UNRWA is responsible for repairs, the women complained that it had been slow to act. Hala, who has lived in Shatila camp for 40 years and is a survivor of the Sabra and Shatila massacres, said that Lebanese spies used to live in the camp; ‘no one could rebuild a ceiling or use lights at night,’ she said, ‘or build a toilet inside the house.’ She contrasted this to ‘the beginning of the Palestinian revolution,’ when ‘the fighters came in; we were able to rebuild the houses and do more; we started to smell life’.91 The denial of civil rights has not only prevented the refugee community from prospering, but has also ‘placed them on a course of de-development’.92 Able-bodied and skilled individuals are forced to sit at home or take on low-paid casual work, and this inevitably causes feelings of frustration and humiliation. Manal told me that her daughter is studying physiotherapy, ‘but Palestinians are not allowed to study at the Lebanese University and they also cannot work in Lebanese hospitals’.93 A Palestinian journalist in Beirut reinforced this gloomy picture; in his words: ‘There is high unemployment in the camps and a decreasing number of university students; early marriage has also increased. Everyone is trapped in their homes, only able to communicate with each other.’94 This situation is likely to lead to psychological problems; Umm Iyad, who is originally from Gaza and now lives in Ain el-Hilwe camp, observed that ‘some young women feel like they want to die. They long for tranquillity. They suffer enormous frustration. They are educated people but are never given a chance.’95 To address these problems, the Palestinian Human Rights Organization believes that ‘Palestinians must be recognized as

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refugees, not aliens, and granted the rights outlined in such covenants as the 1951 Geneva Convention on Refugees, and more broadly, the International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights’.96 Such moves would in no way compromise, as many in the Lebanese government argue, Lebanese support for the right of return. But they would enable the refugees both to make a contribution to the economy and to lead more dignified and independent lives. This argument was reiterated constantly, often couched in terms of exasperation or frustration with the restrictions governing their lives. While the situation for the entire community is a matter of grave concern, women are even more disadvantaged. They ‘have experienced refugee status differently from their male counterparts at all levels of the public sphere, by being discriminated against and marginalized in the labour force, in education, in political representation, as well as in the private sphere’97 and, as Hoda, pointed out, poor economic conditions are also a cause of violence against women.98 The majority of refugees in Lebanon, most of whose families came from northern Palestine, insist upon the right of return to their original homes, now situated in the state of Israel, a claim so far rejected by the Israeli government. In the meantime, the Lebanese government is keen to see an end to this long-running tragedy, both for the sake of the refugees themselves and also for the future of Lebanon, a country with a small population, limited territory and a finely balanced demographic structure. As a result, despite ‘their longstanding presence in Lebanon, Palestinian refugees remain excluded from key aspects of social, political and economic life in the country’.99 Far from treating the refugees more humanely, in 1995 the Lebanese authorities ‘decided that all Palestinians holding Lebanese travel documents [ . . . ] would henceforth require visas to enter the country. (This) ruling means effectively that these laissez-passer holders no longer have the legal right to reside in Lebanon, or indeed anywhere else in the world.’100 These additional restrictions on travel and residency have been imposed, say critics, ‘to encourage their permanent departure’.101 However, as Leila Zakharia argues,102 the policy ‘is short-sighted and detrimental to Lebanon itself ’. In addition, ‘Lebanon benefits from the image of the camps as “criminal ghettoes”: it isolates the camps from their Lebanese neighours; it dramatizes Lebanon’s burden to the international community; and it

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helps unify Lebanese opinion against the Palestinians.’103 According to a 2004 report: ‘A hostile attitude towards them prevails since the 1975 civil war and although they have been allowed to stay on a nonpermanent basis they are denied any social rights and in many regards their treatment violates international human rights law.’ Housing conditions are poor and, as Palestinian refugees ‘are not allowed to work in the public sector at all, nor in over 70 other professions,’ poverty and unemployment ‘tends to be very high’.104 Many international observers suggest that the first priority should be to address pressing humanitarian issues. For example, the health situation in the camps is a matter of growing concern. Cramped living conditions, inadequate sewerage systems and the lack of piped water into homes mean that infections spread quickly. UNRWA estimates that one-third of the refugees suffer from chronic illnesses.105 Many of the medical problems experienced by camp residents, including children, can be attributed to poor environmental conditions and also feelings of profound anxiety about the future. Manal’s story is typical; although she did not suffer any physical injuries during the war, ‘it affected everyone’s health’; now she has problems with her sight and also experiences lingering anxiety about ‘what might happen in the future’.106 The narratives of other women reveal a range of illnesses, from severe disability to psychological impairment. Many of the women I interviewed complained of health problems. Zaynab in Bourj el-Barajne camp, for example, said that, as a result of war, she became ‘very frustrated’; she is depressed and experiences bad headaches.105 She is not alone. Layla, also in Bourj el-Barajne, said that because of all the wars she is diabetic and suffers from high blood pressure.107 Umm Bilal, who was one-month-old when she left Palestine, recounted how her son died during the Amal siege in the 1980s; ‘a bomb exploded next door and shrapnel came in; he was sitting on the sofa and was hit. My daughter was wounded at the same time.’ After her son’s death, she became very sick; she has a problem with her spleen and liver and also with her memory.108 Conditions in the camps also have a negative effect on the provision of health care. In Rashidiyya camp, Reema, a 29-year-old woman with three young children, said that the lack of electricity in the camp meant that she had to postpone a blood test for one of her children. In her view, the leadership of the camp should take responsibility for the people who live there and should help them with health and education, but they

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are failing to play this role. ‘There is a difference between the leaders and the people,’ she observed, ‘if a person has good relations with the PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization], their children can be treated in AUH [American University Hospital], but ordinary people have been turned into beggars; they have to beg to have their son or daughter placed in a hospital.’109 Lila, who has five children and used to work as a nurse at the Haifa Hospital in Bourj el-Barajne camp, agreed that ‘if person has connections, they get more help; if not, they might not get anything. The political leadership are thieves.110 A lot of people were injured during the course of the conflict, causing long-term disabilities, or have developed illnesses as a result of stress and poverty. A great many lost family members during the war. Umm Mansour was married, in 1971, to her cousin; but he was the victim of a sniper during the ‘camp wars’; her oldest son had a heart attack aged 20, but she was unable to get medical treatment for him. She wrote a book about this period, she said, ‘but it was burnt because our house is near the entrance of the camp, near the Amal fighters’.111 The lack of affordable health care exacerbates the situation. Ayman, who works at a centre for the disabled in Rashidiyya camp, said that there are over 3,000 people who are disabled in the camps; some were injured by the war, others were born disabled.112 Hoda explained that: some women, when they give birth in private hospitals, cannot pay the costs and therefore their babies are kept in the hospital until they can pay; this is inhuman and many women have lost their babies because they could not pay. The situation has been improving over the last three years, but very slowly. UNRWA has started to pay more attention to maternity needs, but mainly on the side of primary care rather than hospitalization. Women are also more vulnerable to some diseases, for example cancer and heart attacks. Life expectancy is not high.113

A recent survey revealed that 56 per cent of refugees are jobless,114 with women ‘significantly more likely to be unemployed than men’;115 it is estimated that women form approximately 80 per cent of the unemployed Palestinian labour force and, in addition, more than 18 per cent of Palestinian families are headed by widowed women.116 Very high unemployment means that a large proportion of people are dependent on the free basic health care provided by UNRWA, which operates clinics inside the camps. Although consultations are free, the

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clinics are usually understaffed, which means patients may have to wait for a long time to see a doctor. This was the subject of much complaint by the women I interviewed. According to the survey, one third of the refugee population ‘is estimated to have chronic illness [ . . . ] 21 per cent stated that they experienced depression, anxiety or distress’.117 While the situation for the entire community is a matter of grave concern, women are even more disadvantaged. In general, ‘women more frequently reported chronic illnesses, psychological problems, and poor self-rated health’.118 Camp women confirmed these claims of poor female health; women of all ages complained of ailments, both major and less serious, for which they had been unable to obtain adequate treatment. Muna in Rashidiyya camp, for example, testified that, during the 1982 Israeli invasion, many young people were imprisoned in the Ansar prison camp in southern Lebanon; women were imprisoned too and ‘when they were released, they had psychological problems because of the torture and terror’.119 Another serious problem facing refugees is a lack of affordable hospital care. UNRWA ‘provides basic primary healthcare, but is only able to cover the cost of secondary hospital care and partial tertiary care’.120 In April 2011, however, UNRWA announced that it would increase its coverage of tertiary healthcare services to the refugees in Lebanon. It also ‘reached an agreement with the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health to avail at discounted rate, medications for cancer and other catastrophic diseases for Palestine refugees, at no cost to the Lebanese Government’.121 Besides UNRWA, the Palestine Red Crescent Society, which was founded in Lebanon in 1969 as a humanitarian affiliate of the PLO, also provides health care to the refugee community. In 1996, the Palestine Red Crescent Society conducted a survey to assess the health needs of the refugees. They discovered that deteriorating economic conditions and the resulting widespread poverty were significant contributory factors to a deteriorating health situation. In addition, the effects of long-term exile were blamed for an increase in psychological problems,122 as many of my interviewees attested. However, this infrastructure of misery is unable to do full justice to the lives of refugee women and stories such as Yasmine’s cannot be understood out of context. Beyond physical difficulties, they have also suffered what has been described as ‘moral loss’, which encompasses ‘mental suffering from dispersion, the division of families and the

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consequent impoverishment of women, torture, ill-treatment, imprisonment and detention of males and females’.123 As I argue, women have been traumatized by decades of civil unrest in Lebanon (many have seen their husbands and children killed or injured and, in some cases, they themselves have suffered physical or psychological damage); they have been subjected to economic exploitation, compelling some women to become sex workers. In a society that values honour, the behaviour of women and girls is closely watched; Palestinian camp women, in the past and today, are conscious that they must take responsibility for the ‘honour’ of the whole community. It is essential, therefore, that the concept of gender should be treated ‘as integral to any approach to refugees’.124 In addition, the plight of the Palestinian population in Lebanon goes far beyond humanitarian concerns and the refugees emphasize that their problems should not be considered only in these terms. There are also political and national dimensions. In the context of this book, poverty, the lack of civil or national rights, inadequate health care and the absence of any expectation of a better future are all defined as forms of violence. There are three key areas of responsibility to bear in mind when considering the plight of Palestinians in Lebanon: first, the responsibility of Israel in creating the Palestinian refugee problem and subsequently exacerbating it; second, the responsibility of the international community, through the non-enforcement of UN resolutions, specifically UN Resolution 194, and the lack of interest in resolving the conflict; and, third, the responsibility of the Lebanese government, which is currently failing to meet its international legal obligations with respect to the refugees. In 2012, Lebanon is facing a new refugee crisis, as families fleeing from the civil war in Syria flood over the border, seeking sanctuary. There is a real danger that Lebanon itself will be drawn into this war, once again plunging its residents, including Palestinians, into a spiral of deadly violence. During the period of my research (1998 – 2011), Palestinians in Lebanon experienced changes that had a negative impact on their already precarious situation. Although the formal ending, in 1989, of the Lebanese civil war was greeted with relief, other forms of violence continue. First, until the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, camps in the south suffered cross-border raids by Israeli forces. Palestinians continue to live in fear of fresh assaults from Israel. The

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brief 2006 war between Israel and the militant Lebanese group Hizbullah, although the camps were not directly targeted, caused distress and anxiety among refugee communities and reinforced their feelings of insecurity. Second, the 1993 Oslo Agreement between the PLO and the government of Israel meant, on the one hand, that PLO financial support for Palestinians in Lebanon decreased significantly and, on the other, the commitment to a right of return for all refugees was postponed until the so-called ‘final status negotiations’ stage between Israel and the PLO; many in Lebanon fear that this was a prelude to abandoning the right of return altogether, a suspicion that appears justified by some of the pronouncements of their national leadership. Third, with the cessation of hostilities in 1989, the Lebanese government was keen to reconstruct the country and to attract investment; this has hastened the desire of many Lebanese to obliterate the festering impoverished eyesores of the camps. Fourth, in the camps themselves, increased poverty and hopelessness are leading to a growth in internal violence; local organizations are reporting a rise in violence against women and also violence by children. Finally, the second intifada (uprising) against Israeli occupation, which began in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in September 2000, created violence and suffering on an unprecedented scale in these areas, the repercussions of which are still being felt. The use by militant Palestinian groups of suicide bombers has also led, particularly in the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks against the United States, to a tendency in some quarters to delegitimize the Palestinian struggle as ‘terrorist’. The ‘peace process’, already faltering by the end of the 1990s, has stagnated, with trust on both sides almost extinguished. At the same time, there has been a gradual change in Palestinian thinking. Having spent so many years effectively ‘in limbo’, neither belonging to their place of residence nor able to return home, many ‘Palestinian refugees are trying to think in terms of a post-national form of integration [ . . . ] one that should allow them to achieve rights and entitlements where they live, but without giving up their individual right of return and their membership claims in a Palestinian nation’.125 In this endeavour, they have the support of some within the Lebanese polity and civil society. In the next section, I will briefly consider how the role of identity, whether as victim or active resister, shapes Palestinian women’s lives and affects the way in which they tell their stories.

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‘A Story of Unfulfilled Desire’ Manal is 46 years old. Her parents left their village in northern Palestine in 1948. She was married at the age of 20 and has two daughters. Her story, which she related to me in 2011, contains many indications of an identity constructed out of violence. In particular, she mentioned her family’s flight from Palestine, after they heard about ‘bombings’ and also ‘the raping of women’. She feels ‘unwanted and insecure’ in Lebanon; her memories are of war, killing and massacres. Nowadays she suffers from depression and also has problems with her sight. She concluded that ‘Palestinians have no rights; they cannot improve their lives’.126 Manal’s story is, sadly, not unusual; like many other refugees, it is characterized by a balance between a ‘normal’ life, of marriage, children and work, and an existence haunted by ‘abnormal’ events that are beyond her control. The poet Mourid Barghouti has written that the ‘story of the Palestinian people since their nakba is a story of unfulfilled desires: the desire for normal life, for justice, for national independence and freedom’.127 It is the story of a nation threatened with obliteration, which has sought to practice various forms of resistance or accommodation, but these have been too little or inappropriate or ignored. For Palestinians living outside their homeland, the situation is even more precarious as they struggle not only to survive the rigours of exile but also to preserve their sense of national identity. For many refugees, as Manal’s story demonstrates, this assault on their rights and their identity is the cruellest form of violence. The question of ‘identity’ for Palestinian women cannot be detached from the larger national narrative, which emphasizes ‘the importance of sacrifice for the homeland’.128 Collective Palestinian ‘identity’ developed partly as a reaction to traumatic events; in particular, ‘(n)ational dispossession, a refugee status, and ensuing marginalization and alienation of exile and repression by the Lebanese authorities’.129 Inspired by memories of a lost homeland, many Palestinians sought to recreate ‘the abandoned way of life [ . . . ] an attempt to construct a meaningful identity in the context of life in alien [ . . . ] circumstances’.130 In other words, they sought to rebuild the nation, to satisfy their unfulfilled desires. In the narratives of refugee women, much emphasis is placed on the trauma of dispossession. Trauma has been defined as ‘an emotional state of

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discomfort and stress resulting from [ . . . ] memories of an extraordinary, catastrophic experience that shatter the survivor’s sense of invulnerability to harm’.131 The events of 1948 are associated with traumatic memory; they ‘shattered’ Palestinians’ ‘sense of invulnerability to harm’. I argue that trauma is ‘a specifically gendered form of wounding,’132 which results in distinct memories and ways of narrating these memories. While men tend to tell the formal ‘story of Palestine’, women are more likely to fix on smaller details, often homely or social. Yet memory for Palestinians is contested and even negated. The Israeli – Palestinian conflict is a battle in which sophisticated psychological as well as physical weapons have been employed. Such propagandistic devaluing of the enemy has inevitably had a negative effect on Palestinians’ self-image. Power ‘is not only exercised over the land and its people, it also controls the story, its point of view, and the meta-narrative of truth and memory’.133 The Israeli meta-narrative, argue Palestinians, ensures that their own story is seldom heard or acknowledged. At the same time, through their careful recollections and political claims, the refugees have constructed knowledge. Palestinian knowledge, which relies on an oral history of dispossession and a tradition of resistance, has been boosted by modernity; new technologies and also forms of global awareness are playing a part in keeping alive the trauma of 1948.

‘Only What is Inside you is Safe’: Narratives of Violence A principal focus of this book is the stories told by women about their lives. ‘Speaking itself ’ becomes ‘one way to render the oppressed no longer as abstractions, but as representatives of all too real human suffering’.134 This is particularly important in the case of Palestinians who have traditionally been denied a voice and, worse, have been reduced to nonparticipants in their own fate. For women, the ‘speech act’ is sometimes even more perilous; the way a woman tells her story will be shaped ‘by social, cultural and political contexts’; women may also fail ‘to recognize the importance of their experiences and the significance of themselves as sources of knowledge’.135 Part of the reason for their reticence may be found in traditional social structures that allot to men the primary responsibility for knowing and transmitting ‘the history of Palestine’, defined as ‘knowledge of events, from which experience, especially women’s experience, is

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rigorously excluded’.136 Since history ‘is always the group’s language’,137 women are obliged, as members of ‘the group’, to venerate the conventional narratives. However, there is another way of telling, a ‘narrative of recollection [ . . . ] the dreams from which we draw our strength’138 and it is here that women’s strength becomes apparent. While I agree that ‘women’s experience’ may have been excluded in the past when the majority of women were unschooled, had little knowledge of the outside world and usually deferred to men, there have been significant developments since the early days of exile, through education, the growth of the internet and increasing female self-confidence. My own observations of camp women suggest that they are no longer content to leave the telling of ‘the story of Palestine’ only to men. Most of the women I met seemed only too willing to tell me their stories. Maybe it was simply out of politeness to a foreigner, but I think it is more than that. For me, the women’s narratives represent a source of both knowledge and experience; they have travelled not only in terms of space from the Palestinian homeland to the claustrophobic spaces of Lebanon, but also from the perspective of aspiration and, in the process, have acquired the ‘power to dream’. Women are aware that ‘whatever is on the outside can be taken away; only what is inside you is safe’.139 My own observations reveal an abundance of stories told by women of all ages, from Umm Hamza, an elderly survivor of the nakba, who appeared on Saudi Arabian television and was shown walking in the alleys of the camp, to 23-year-old Jamila, who asserted that today’s young women are ‘completely different’ from the older generations – they are ‘stronger’ and ‘more outgoing’. Younger people such as Jamila have their own stories to tell; many use the internet to find out about Palestine; they chat online to other young people in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and elsewhere, and are thus able to develop a good understanding of the larger Palestinian community. Lila in Bourj el-Barajne camp said that her son ‘communicates with someone in Ramallah, to find out how Palestinians are living there; he has some basic information about Palestine but would like to know more’.140 Many of the women interviewed have family members in Europe, the Gulf or even in Palestine; for example Farzana, a woman in her mid-40s, said that she has two sisters in the Gaza Strip; she has not seen them for 22 years, ‘but recently I was able to see them on TV as there are journalists in

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Palestine and they can arrange direct broadcasts’.141 Mai, who is 42 years old and lives in Bourj el-Barajne, said she has family members in Sidon, Syria and Saudi Arabia; her son, aged 20, works in Abu Dhabi.142 As a result, the ‘stories’ change to encompass broader horizons. Camp women came across as articulate and coherent, and can no longer be excluded from conventional accounts. There are two aspects to women’s story-telling: on the one hand, ‘[i]n their attempt to wrest meaning from the world, persons construct themselves; and in their struggle for intelligibility they reflect’.143 Individuals, particularly those who feel they have been traumatized and humiliated, have a pressing need ‘to wrest meaning from the world’. The ‘uprooting’ of the Palestinians from their homeland in 1948 is commemorated as a tragic event, which endowed the refugee community with the identity of victims. This, in turn, has produced what Hoffmann describes as ‘the transmission of traumatic experiences across generations’.144 Palestinian refugees constructed meta-narratives to combat the violation of self and land, and it is clear from women’s testimonies that they have an interest in the dissemination of their national narrative of heroism. Talking about past events, present entitlements and future aspirations to each other, to strangers and to the world reinforces claims to justice. However, the approaches of men and women to the practice of narrativeconstruction tend to be different and it is often the case that while men prefer to concentrate on what is conventionally termed the ‘political’, women frequently focus on the many small details of everyday life. But they also reflect on the meaning of what has happened to them and clearly have not been marginalized from the telling of history. A cross-section of refugee opinion gathered in Lebanon in September 2000 reveals the heartfelt wish to return but, equally importantly, for recognition of their suffering. In the words of Hussein Qasem, ‘it is not a matter of compensation; it is a matter of dignity’. Amna Jibril agreed that ‘sometimes we feel that we have lost our dignity here in this country’. She added: ‘the international community believes what the Israeli leadership says all the time; that the old Palestinian generation will die and their children will forget. This is not true because even our children dream of Palestine and they want to go back.’ According to Haifa Jamal: ‘You can’t imagine what it means to be a refugee all your life. You can’t imagine what it feels like

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to think that you will continue to be a refugee in the future, and that your children will also be refugees.’145 Their words are echoed in the anguish of an elderly woman living in Ain el-Hilwe camp in southern Lebanon, who asked ‘how she should explain to her grandchildren, who had known only the stench of the camp’s open sewers, what it was like to wake up to the scent of fresh lemons’.146 In February 2001, several months after the start of the al-Aqsa intifada in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Beirut-based writer Rosemary Sayigh, who was finishing a chapter based on her interviews with women in the Shatila refugee camp in Beirut, wrote: I interrogate myself regarding my role as medium. Could I have done more, done better to communicate these stories to the world? Why should Palestinian suffering continue? Now I question my academic purposes, my musings over the relationship between nationalism and feminism, my professional concerns as a writer to frame and analyse their raw words to become ‘testimonial literature’. Now, even the radicalism of doing research in a refugee camp appears suspect and false. How much harder it would be to live their lives instead of merely writing about them. And live such lives with enough heart left to take in ignorant strangers!147

Given the hardships of their situation, the tension Sayigh identifies between ‘researching women’s lives’ and ‘living them’ is of particular relevance to my own research. It raises the question again of ‘in what sense do they constitute a political community? What do they want? Who speaks for them?’.148 While I cannot even begin to claim to ‘speak for them’, I hope that my work will shed some light on the diverse experiences of a particular group of women and will demonstrate how they have, to a heroic extent, transcended violence and asserted their right to a more tolerable and just future. They are more than capable of speaking for themselves, as ‘representatives of human suffering’, but also as ‘voices for human justice’. To contextualize and make sense of these experiences and the narratives of the many women I interviewed in Lebanon, the next chapter will look more closely at the various meanings of ‘violence’ that frame and inform this book.

Chapter 2

The Intimate History of Violence The history of cruelty [ . . . ] everywhere, so close and ordinary. The intimate history of violence.1

Randa works with a women’s organization in Beirut. When I met her in 2007, she described the ‘intimate history of violence’ experienced by Palestinian refugee women. In her words: There is violence against women in the community, but it is not natural; it is a product of circumstances, for example poverty, being uprooted, large families. Palestinian women faced tyranny before 1948, during the British occupation of Palestine and, after that, with the Israeli occupation. In spite of all this, women have been able to endure more and more. But they are experiencing increasing violence. There have been a lot of wars. Women have lost sons, husbands, and have been forced to become more responsible, but they do not enjoy full rights because they are women; this is another form of violence. If a woman is permitted to fulfil her own needs, she will be able to give more to the community. Honour crimes have occurred, especially in the 1970s. During the war, there were many examples of early marriage for girls, as young as 15. But this was to protect the girls; a lot of them were not in school and this was a problem for families so they preferred to find a suitable husband. This led to high divorce rates, which is another form of violence.2

Randa’s description of multiple forms of violence raises the question of how violence is understood and ‘to determine who has the power to define this concept’.3 Her nuanced narrative also throws into doubt some Western feminist writings about violence against women. ‘Power’ is the key word here: the power to define, but also to control what people do and how they behave. During my fieldwork with

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Palestinian women in Lebanon, many referred, either obliquely or directly, to the various types of violence of the past and the present. It sometimes felt, to an outsider, as if their very existence is structured and constrained by an ever-present threat of violence, whether it is the discriminatory nature of Lebanese government policies, the cruelty of Israel, the indifference of the international community or the pain of intimate abuse. My objective is to understand how violence originates, not just as a practice but as a system of control, and how it is expressed. This chapter will outline a theoretical framework that categorizes violence in terms of power relations, the gendering of war and peace, and the construction of female agency, taking into account the particular characteristics identified in this case study of Palestinian refugee women. It will contextualize theoretical insights within a framework of women’s narratives and will use the women’s own voices to critique some of the Eurocentric assumptions contained within much of the theory. As far as possible, I will ensure that the ‘power to define’ the concept is placed in the hands of the research community and relies on their terms of reference as a starting point. To do justice to the topic, a study of Palestinian women in exile must involve theoretical investigation in a relatively wide range of areas, from memory and identity to violence against women, women’s relationship with home and homeland, and their role as ‘active resisters’, and these will be explored in subsequent chapters. Bearing in mind that ‘theories of violence must be as varied as the practices in which they occur’,4 the approach I adopt to answer the question of ‘how violence is understood’ has three main strands. To begin with, it seeks to appreciate the complexity of violence suffered by Palestinian refugees as a group. Palestinians in Lebanon are located within a violent system. They are victimized by a local environment that disowns them and an international framework that seems uncaring of their plight. As a colonized people, Palestinians are also subjected to the ‘violence which has ruled over the ordering of the colonial world, which has ceaselessly drummed the rhythm for the destruction of native social forms’.5 Their rights, and even their national existence, are constantly threatened with obliteration. Some of my interviewees remarked that Palestinians are being punished by the international community for being ‘terrorists’. Rather than addressing a ‘historical injustice’, much of the world prefers to regard

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the conflict as a struggle between equals, which must be negotiated without outside interference. My second theoretical approach addresses the gendering of violence. In all parts of the world, ‘women are confronted with sexism, an ideology that designates them as inferior to men [ . . . ]. This power differential has meant that women’s rights may be violated in innumerable ways.’6 Hoda, a political activist, supported this argument; in her view, ‘there has been historical discrimination against women, and this is a global phenomenon. But there is also a religious influence; religion is misused, which is likely to have a negative impact on women. Another factor is the culture of society, which is patriarchal’.7 In other words, as Hoda makes clear, women’s rights are abused on the basis of the traditional structure of society and the power men assume for themselves. At the same time, as Randa said, violence against women in the community ‘is not natural’. Their rights become even more precarious during periods of conflict. Although violence against the whole community intensifies at such times, women tend to suffer particularly harsh treatment. Such violence can be physical, psychological or cultural; it is aimed at women both by the external enemy and sometimes by members of their own community, including intimates. While the decision to take up arms usually arises only during periods of conflict, aggression, including violence against women, is always present. This additional burden places a strain on refugee women, who must internalize not only their nation’s humiliation but also their own dominated status. My conversations with camp women reveal how they juggle these complex realities, with mixed results; while some appear demoralized by the struggle to maintain ‘a life of dignity’, others demonstrate agency and innovation. Their behaviour requires a more nuanced analysis of Western feminist writings about violence against women. The third theoretical strand highlights how the conflict between claims of ‘universal’ rights and the reality of cultural practices may mean that refugee women’s voices are marginalized. Dobash and Dobash highlight the dilemma of supposedly ‘universal’ concepts and specific cultural norms. What is thought to be ‘acceptable’ within particular societies, they observe, ‘poses perplexing and ethical problems for others’.8 It is clear that ‘cultural beliefs about the role of women in society can also accelerate or moderate the levels of

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violence used against women as well as its impact’. But of equal significance ‘is the extent to which these cultural beliefs can interact with particular conflicts to determine the extent and types of violence used against women’.9 Feminist activists and scholars have argued that ‘human rights are not static and fixed but are determined by historical movements and struggles’.10 Rights may be given to women or removed from them, in accordance with the whims of those in power, whether they be governments or male relatives. We should, however, beware of culturalizing the violence ‘as a way of dismissing it’.11 Although, there is a danger that, by focusing ‘on culturally specific forms of social expression’, one could be accused of ‘othering’,12 I argue that victimization is not culturally determined and that this is amply demonstrated by refugee women’s experiences. These women, whose own rights have been systematically denied, are well aware of the fluid nature of the ‘rights’ discourse. They know that the abuse of rights occurs at many levels. Hanan, a 20-year old student living in Rashidiyya camp in southern Lebanon, gave an example of discrimination. In her words: ‘I travel to university by bus. One day, on the bus, a young Lebanese man tried to make advances to me, so I asked the driver to speak to the man. But the driver said that, because I am Palestinian, the young man could do as he liked’.13 This apparently casual dismissal of Hanan’s rights ‘because I am Palestinian’ is far from unusual. Other women also spoke of harassment or downright hostility from Lebanese civilians ‘because they are Palestinian’. It places them in a framework of permanent conflict and it is my contention that Palestinian women’s experiences can best be appreciated by situating them within the area of conflict analysis that has, by and large, excluded a gender dimension in its understanding of the various elements involved in the execution and resolution of conflicts.14 Since violence is always ‘historically contingent [and] can never be morally or politically neutral,’15 the persistent presence of violence, even at the most mundane level, as Hanan’s anecdote shows, is likely to colour both women’s memories and their life experiences. They are at once victimized by many forms of violence and are developing the necessary tools to resist it, one of which is speaking out. On an empirical level, in situations of violent conflict there is evidence that women tend to suffer disproportionately; according to Amnesty International, over 80 per cent of the world’s refugees are

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women and children.16 When a community flees from conflict or persecution, systems of decision-making frequently break down, thus excluding women from formal or familiar channels of communication. Once they find themselves in the alien environment of temporary encampments, women are also more likely to suffer the effects of poor camp design, in terms of lack of privacy and safety, and are therefore vulnerable. Protection problems occur as a result of people’s feelings of isolation, frustration, lack of belonging to a structured society and lack of control over their own future.17 These statistics, which illustrate broader global trends, are applicable to the Palestinian case where many women express ‘feelings of frustration and lack of control over their own future’. The difference is that Palestinians are not a temporary refugee problem; Hanan’s experience of being bothered on a public bus in the twenty-first century is not unlike the harassment suffered by many refugees when they first arrived in Lebanon in 1948.

Defining ‘Violence’ The theme of this book is ‘violence’ and, in particular, the multiple forms of violence experienced by Palestinian refugee women in Lebanon. Dobash and Dobash have conducted significant research into violence against women. The concept has been used, they point out, in a relatively inclusive manner ‘to encompass verbal abuse, intimidation, physical harassment, homicide, sexual assault, and rape’.18 Beyond the personal, I also conceptualize ‘violence against women’ as political, economic and cultural violence, as well as violence or discrimination against a whole community. As the topic is broad, so too must be the definition. To gain a more complete picture of the forms of violence endured by women in conflict situations and start to formulate an adequate definition, it is necessary to appreciate, on the one hand, the ‘normal’ violence, suffered by women in socalled ‘peace’ time, as described by Randa; and, on the other, the particular forms of violence experienced by women in war, such as violence perpetrated by the enemy against all members of society, enemy violence that targets women on the basis of gender, and societal violence that is exacerbated by external conflict. Clearly, as Randa’s elaboration of violence against women indicates, the definition needs to encompass not only personal abuse

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but also the cruelties of war and conflict, the trauma of national dispossession and the assaults on personal and collective identity. The Palestinian community in Lebanon, as ‘an unresolved refugee problem’, is a key element of the Palestinian – Israeli conflict. As such, it exists in a limbo of non-peace. Even in the absence of overt hostilities, Palestinians cannot escape the violence of war and marginalization. As a result of their struggle with Israel, Palestinians have been subjected to catastrophic and continuing violence. They feel forgotten by the international community, unwanted by the host government and unable to exercise the choice of returning to their own land. However, while the Palestinian people as a whole have suffered, they are also affected by ‘everyday gender processes’19 and, in order to gain a more nuanced understanding about women’s relationships with many forms of violence, it is necessary to conceptualize violence, conflict and power dynamics in a different way. This approach requires an appreciation of more than simply who should be regarded as a victim and why. I will therefore construct a definition that takes into account the areas of violence identified by the women themselves, as well as the methods they adopt to combat it. To understand gender violence, we should not focus only on the social dimensions of women’s oppression, but should recognize the linkage of violence against women with the violence of war and ‘the continued displacement, occupation and victimization of the Palestinian people’.20 Cockburn has identified a similar linkage, or what she calls a ‘continuum’ of violence. In her view, violence is ‘gendered not just at domestic but right up to international level. Political violence and armed conflict are not distinct – one spills into ˇ izˇek says, ‘are the other.’21 Obvious manifestations of violence, as Z acts of crime and terror, civil unrest, international conflict’; but, he adds, we need to step back from ‘subjective’ violence in order ‘to perceive the contours of the background which generates such outbursts’.22 These inclusive definitions support the refugee women’s own articulations of a violent and indiscriminate environment. While I agree that this linkage is crucial, it should not be allowed to obscure the other forms of violence highlighted by the subjects of my research. In their narratives, refugee women touched on many forms of violence. Fatin, who is 20 years old and lives in Bourj el-Barajne camp, remarked that violence is not only physical. In her view, ‘when the Israelis say that it was a choice for Palestinians to leave in 1948, this

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is a form of moral violence’.23 Na’ila, who is an official of a Palestinian political organization, told me that in her view the greatest violence experienced by women refugees in Lebanon is being forced to live outside their own country.24 Many of the so-called ‘ordinary’ women of the camps echoed this sentiment, but to what extent is this part of the larger national narrative? Mariam, who works for an educational non-governmental organization (NGO) in Ain el-Hilwe camp, said that problems of violence occur as a result of overcrowding in the camps and the presence of weapons, which makes people afraid.25 The lack of civil rights appeared high on the agenda of almost everyone I spoke to. Many believe that other forms of violence and deprivation stemmed from this basic condition. It is likely that ‘being forced to live outside their own country’ has precipitated the forms of violence to which Mariam refers. Not being able to live on one’s land, agreed Ghada, a representative of the General Union of Palestinian Women, ‘creates feelings of permanent insecurity’. The Palestinians exist in a constant state of ‘temporiness’, which has persisted for over 50 years; ‘they are condemned always to resist yet never to enjoy the fruits of resistance’. The suffering of the Palestinian woman, she added, ‘is because she is deprived of her humanitarian rights in Lebanon. Women feel they are living in a place of refuge, which causes psychological problems’.26 It could even be, according to Wafa who lives in an unregistered camp in the south, that the cramped conditions of the camps and intense insecurity about the future have caused many Palestinians in Lebanon to forget Palestine; they used to tell stories about Palestine, she said, but now ‘everyone is tired of talking’.27 In the equally pessimistic words of Umm Usama, a Bourj el-Barajne resident: ‘The Palestinians and Israelis are talking about a future Palestinian state, but this has nothing to do with Palestinians in Lebanon. We have no rights in Lebanon’.28 These feelings of being ‘forgotten’ or ‘abandoned’ were frequently cited by women as forms of violence. As discussed in Chapter 1, without the right to live a ‘normal’ life, women are exposed to inadequate healthcare provisions, sparse educational opportunities, a lack of jobs even if a person is educated, highly substandard housing, no security about the future, an absence of belonging and negligible legal protection. These too are experienced, to varying degrees, as forms of violence. The refugees also suffer from the indifference of the international community. There are few

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mechanisms in place to protect this particular refugee community, and those that do exist are routinely flouted. In order to address the multi-layered complexities of Palestinian women’s lives, my first priority has been to take into account the criteria that the women themselves – the subjects of my research – believe to be applicable to their situation. We should not assume that women everywhere subscribe to the so-called ‘universalist’ approach to human rights. At the same time, differences within global societies do not mean that some women are not entitled to feel safe from cruelty or discrimination but, rather, that definitions of what constitutes a balanced life may need to be refined. Thus, we should beware of accepting without question versions of human rights codes that may be male-centred and, therefore, possibly biased against women. In the case of Palestinian refugee women, ‘rights’ will be understood as meaning their right to live free of violence and, more broadly, to assert their national existence. Some of the women I interviewed referred to human rights as an aspirational standard of international behaviour; to realize these aspirations, organizations have been established within the camps to educate women about their human rights and their rights according to Islam. Such practical steps have had an impact on women’s expectations; no longer are they content to leave the running of their lives entirely to male family members, and this determination was reiterated on many occasions. By adopting a broad-based theoretical approach, I hope to initiate new ways of thinking about Palestinian refugee women in Lebanon in order to support my argument that women’s identity formation is inhibited, to a large extent, by the violences that beset their lives. By considering the phenomenon of violence in terms of power relations, the specific contexts of forced migration, insecurity, and traditional male– female dynamics, set against a backdrop of human rights and entitlements, and by making use of relevant quantitative indicators to establish first aspirations and second progress, I have been able to gain a reasonably accurate picture of Palestinian women’s on-going predicament in Lebanon.

‘No Kind of Peace or Safety’ Umm Ayman was born in 1960 in the Ain el-Hilwe refugee camp; she has six children. When she got married, she moved north to Baddawi camp in Tripoli. She told me that:

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life in Lebanon is a violent experience; there is no kind of peace or safety. My worst memories are of the civil war; all the crimes were about religion; for example, kidnapping at checkpoints, slaughtering [ . . . ] all horrible things. Sometimes a group would erect a temporary checkpoint, just to kidnap people. It became very frightening to travel [ . . . ]. The war influenced my life very badly, and my education; I had wanted to study Pharmacy but, because of the camp wars and the Israeli bombing, I could not continue. I feel unsafe in Lebanon. Whenever Palestinians start to feel safe, something happens, for example the Israeli invasion or the Sabra and Shatila massacre [ . . . ]. I am sure we will never find safety in Lebanon.29

Umm Ayman’s narrative provides a vivid illustration of the violent environment in which the refugees exist. Her words ‘no kind of peace or safety’ were reiterated on numerous occasions, in different ways. For example, Zaynab, a 48-year old ‘housewife’ with six children, observed that ‘most of the people in the camp experience feelings of hopelessness and frustration’; when they hear about conflict in other parts of the Middle East, for example the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, they worry that there will be more violence in Lebanon, and ‘this affects our lives’. Palestinians, she said, ‘have no rights and always feel like refugees’.30 Umm Ayman also touched upon, although with less emphasis, the question of domestic violence. She had ‘heard of cases in the camp’ but, she insisted, ‘this is never acceptable’. The words of Zaynab and Umm Ayman create a complex picture of ‘hopelessness and frustration’ juxtaposed against attempts to create a place of safety. To do justice to the question of why Palestinian women in conflict situations are likely to be adversely affected by violence, we must start by distinguishing between ‘legitimate’ and ‘illegitimate’ forms of violence. Legitimate – or ‘positive’ – violence is perceived in terms of heroism, of protecting your family or country against outside aggression, while illegitimate – ‘negative’ – violence is enacted upon those who are weak or powerless, such as unarmed civilians or female relatives. Umm Ibrahim, who lives in Ain el-Hilwe camp, was arrested by the Israelis in 1982; although she was subjected to a range of indignities including the threat of rape, she tells her story with pride, in the sense that not only had she survived the horrors of torture and imprisonment but had also demonstrated ‘moral’ strength.31

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However, the use of violence for supposedly ‘just’ or ‘unjust’ ends is also problematic; as Benjamin notes, ‘a hypothetical distinction between kinds of violence must be based on the presence or absence of a general historical acknowledgement of its ends’.32 This is where difficulties arise, as any ‘acknowledgement’ will inevitably be subjective; for example, while Palestinians regard the violence of 1948 as a terrible disaster, Israelis believe it was necessary to create their state. Broadening the perspective, Sadiki argues that, within the international system, there is a myth of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ violence.33 ‘Good’ violence is enacted by the West, including the ‘liberal-democratic’ state of Israel, in the cause of ‘civilization’, while ‘bad’ violence is perpetrated by the unpredictable ‘other’, those who seek to subvert the hegemonic discourse. For example, the Israeli government routinely refers to ‘Palestinians fighting in defence of their families and the vestiges of their human rights and for the maintenance of hope for the restoration of their national rights, as simply “terrorists”’.34 This disregards both the roots of the conflict and the wider question of justice and morality, but it has become widely accepted, part of a meta-narrative of ‘superior’ Western values. As Ghada in Ain elHilwe camp remarked: People talk about ‘terrorism’, but this was created by Israel and the US. The terrorist is the one who occupies the land and uproots people [ . . . ]. Terrorism will not end until Israel withdraws from Palestinian and Arab land. Until this happens, there will always be resistance; the international community should understand this. But Israel is still re-invading, assassinating, demolishing, confiscating land, and so the Palestinians are resisting.35

Ghada’s words illustrate the notion of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ violence, while Umm Ibrahim’s experience provides a practical example of how individuals make sense and reinterpret the violence they are forced to endure. Refugee women are subjected to ‘good’ and ‘bad’ forms of violence, in the sense that some forms of violence, as Umm Ibrahim’s narrative demonstrates, are associated with legitimate resistance against an unscrupulous enemy, and thus are regarded as a matter of pride, while others are justified by male control over women. Khulood in Al-Bass camp noted that her own brother used to beat his

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wife every day; but after he travelled to France he changed completely and ‘now he does not beat her at all’. She said that the reason he was violent was because ‘life in the camp made him nervous’.36 Her reference to environment is interesting; while violence against women stems partly from cultural and religious practices, it has also been attributed to harsh living conditions, a point that was reiterated by other women. This links violence to wider debates in Palestinian society and raises a question ‘about the mechanisms by which colonial and nationalist discourse and practices are en-gendered and the process by which gendered subjects may change them via practice’.37 As I argue, there is evidence in the Palestinian camps of an increasing trend among women to assert control over an ‘en-gendered’ nationalist discourse. By acknowledging that certain kinds of violence are ‘bad’ or unacceptable, women are repositioning themselves in a more representative national order.

Violence Against Women: An Obstacle to Peace War is only one of many forms of violence to which women are subjected worldwide. There are other types of violence which affect most women at some point in their lifetime, regardless of their class, colour, religion or culture, and which can be equally devastating, even life-threatening. Every day, women are battered, sexually harassed, abused, raped and psychologically tortured in the home, the workplace and society.38

Camp women, through their narratives, present a picture of lives framed by structural violence, broadly defined as incorporating the abuse of the basic needs of others into social structures.39 This abuse has created a system of patriarchy that is characterized ‘as direct violence with males as subjects and females as objects’,40 and also has normalized war-making as a legitimate course of action; it has constructed, in other words, a permissive environment. The notion of ‘structural violence’ is a helpful one in the context of Palestinian refugee communities, and ‘prompts us to look again at maledominant gender relations’.41 Gender-related violence has been defined as ‘violence which embodies the power imbalances inherent in patriarchal society’.42 In Palestinian society, men tend to be more active and outspoken; they are expected to make

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decisions on behalf of the whole community and they do not question this responsibility. But these are not always wise decisions. Some of the women I interviewed drew attention to the actions of male political, religious and military leaders in 1948 that eventually precipitated full-scale flight. Others referred to the inadequacy of the various Palestinian political factions that have neither been able to find a solution to the conflict nor to protect refugee communities. According to Western feminist theory, violence is ‘fundamentally concerned with power’,43 ‘at the international level between states and at the domestic level between marriage partners’. Theories that equate male violence against women with the need to control female sexuality44 argue that women are permanently in danger of being subjected to or threatened with violence, including rape by strangers and intimates, and that this constant state of threat provides a way for men to maintain their positions of power – personal, social and political. If they step beyond the bounds of ‘respectability’, as it is socially defined, women lay themselves open to abuse and, even if they manage to avoid social marginalization, women are likely to experience feelings of powerlessness, in both the public and private sense, vis-a`-vis men. If this is indeed the case, how do women cope with or internalize the ever-present threat of gender-based violence? Would Palestinian refugee women agree that their lives are circumscribed in the way these theorists describe? The testimonies of some of the women interviewed for this book call into question such generalizations. One way of understanding relations of power is to argue that women, as a ‘dominated’ group, ‘apply categories constructed from the point of view of the dominant to the relations of domination, thus making them appear as natural’.45 In other words, women are required to evolve and perfect their own ‘categories’ as a way of making sense of a fearful situation. Extending this theoretical perspective into the lives of the Palestinian refugee women in Lebanon, evidence suggests that the threat or reality of violence, including the violence of social and traditional pressures, are present and act as a curb on their behaviour. This is part of the construction of appropriate ‘categories’ in which women can enact their lives and these, over time, come to ‘appear as natural’. Their society tends towards conservatism and relatively few women are willing to

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confront mainstream views as this might place them in a vulnerable position. In addition, signs of ‘rebelliousness’ or dissent, by women, and this is a pattern across traditional Muslim societies, are likely to be regarded as sexual provocation, the ‘uncontrolled sexuality’ equated with shame and disgrace. It could be men’s fear of women, as Accad suggests, and ‘in particular of their sexuality, that leads men to subjugate and oppress them’,46 although again we are in danger of generalizing. A cherished value of Arab-Islamic society is the notion of ‘family honour’, which ‘implies that one’s sense of dignity, identity, status, self, and public esteem is linked to the regard with which one’s family is held by the community at large’.47 This is strongly felt in the Palestinian camps, where boundaries are carefully maintained to prevent the spread of chaos and insecurity in an already unstable environment. Palestinians, as a disempowered people, are aware that the demonstration of ‘moral behaviour’ is a way of preserving dignity and identity. An example of these ‘moral boundaries’ can be found in the recollections of women who fled from the besieged Nahr al-Barid camp in Tripoli in the spring and summer of 2007. Munia, a 35-yearold unmarried woman who had been forced to flee with her family to Beirut, explained that life ‘is completely different in Nahr al-Barid; different dress and customs; and people’s relationships with each other are different; we are less open and more strict in the north, for example relationships between unmarried young people are not allowed’.48 Suha, a married woman in her mid-30s who also left Nahr al-Barid to take refuge at Bourj el-Barajne, agreed that ‘I feel like a stranger here. We are completely shocked by the ways of living and behaving in Bourj el-Barajne, especially ways of dressing. It is so different from Nahr al-Barid where we still followed village ideas. We are not modern and we do not accept new customs. We disapprove of life in Bourj el-Barajne and would like to return to our camp as soon as there is a ceasefire.’ These ‘boundaries’ created by individuals and camp communities mirror the borders that prevent the refugees from returning to their homeland. But, as Suha and Munia’s accounts show, standards of acceptable behaviour vary between camps. At the same time, we could argue that the centrality of honour in Muslim societies has resulted in somewhat contradictory versions of womanhood, where women and girls ‘are expected to protect their family’s reputation and “honour”,’49 but are also treated as symbolic of

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their nation’s aspirations. Under the guise of protection, as Munia indicated, women are closely watched to ensure they observe the rules of respectable behaviour; young women are forbidden from mixing with unmarried males of their own age so as not to expose them to temptation. The conversation with Munia took place as part of a larger discussion that included women from Bourj el-Barajne; all of them made clear that there are significant differences between the two areas; whereas, young people are strictly controlled in the northern camps, the Beirut camps are more open; people ‘go out to the beach’. Like Suha, Munia admitted they were finding it ‘difficult to cope with life in Beirut’. For Palestinian women, like the majority of women in Arab countries, family honour ‘is defined in terms of women’s assigned sexual and familial roles as dictated by traditional family ideology’.50 The notion of ‘honour’ constrains women’s involvement in the public world of education, politics and employment. It means they are sometimes discouraged from taking an active role in the economic life of the community. But there is also the argument of necessity and, as my research reveals, the constraints of honourable behaviour has not stopped women from participating in the public sphere. In the camps, it is sometimes the case that women are able to find casual work with NGOs or international organizations while their husbands sit at home unemployed. In extreme cases, such arrangements may lead to resentment or even physical ill-treatment as the disempowered male attempts to assert control. Amina in Bourj el-Barajne camp provided a practical example: Women do everything nowadays; they work inside and outside the home. This sometimes leads to problems with men; sometimes men do not want women to work as they feel this shows disrespect for men. But not all men are like that. My husband prefers me not to work, but he is not around very much.51

Khawla agreed that: women are almost able to work like men nowadays. A woman who does not go to work stays at home not because of her husband but because she does not want to work. A woman has two roles, as a mother and as an employee. She cannot neglect her duties as a housewife and mother. When a woman wants to take a job outside the home, she must agree this with her husband, so that he will help

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her with raising the children. My own experience is that my husband helps all the time; he helped while I was not at home, otherwise it would have been a big pressure.52

It is clear from these women’s words that they must strike a careful balance between the opportunities they have to support their families economically, by working outside the home, and the respect that must be paid to traditional family relationships. We should take care when discussing the violence faced by Palestinian women since ‘the discourses surrounding that violence are prone to appropriation within Orientalist interpretations of Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim cultures and societies’.53 Like the tendency to demonize Palestinian resistance as ‘terrorism’, it is too easy to dismiss Arab society as misogynistic. The situation is further complicated by the fact that the primary source of violence is perceived – at least in public discourse – as coming from an outside enemy and therefore all members of the community feel a sense of solidarity in the face of external aggression. However, power differs according to perception and experience. While a community threatened with violence from an external source is likely to experience feelings of helplessness, it can also draw strength from communal solidarity, whereas the disempowerment of women, best defined as ‘structural’ violence, is both systematic and deliberately intended to exclude. On the other hand, Palestinian refugees, women and men, all suffer the violence of exclusion, demonization and uncertainty.

Rape: The ‘Unspeakable’ Face of Peace and War Violence enacted on women during times of war is by no means a recent phenomenon. In conflicts worldwide and throughout history, women have been the accidental – or very often the deliberate – victims of various forms of violence. One of the most pervasive manifestations of violence against women is the use of rape, as ‘is an efficient weapon for demoralization and humiliation’.54 Whether in war or peacetime, men do not usually rape out of sexual frustration but in order to assert their power over women – the collective domination of men over women; in this sense, rape should be understood as ‘a form of mass terrorism’.55 There is no doubt that,

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during periods of militarization and warfare, sexual violence tends to increase. Indeed, rape is perceived as being such an integral part of war that it has recently been classified as a war crime. This became particularly apparent during the conflict in former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, when rape became ‘an effective instrument of territorial cleansing [ . . . ]. When women are raped, it is experienced not as women’s pain, but as male defeat on the grounds that [men] were too feeble to defend their own property.’56 These atrocities brought the issue of sexual violence against women during times of conflict to the forefront of international attention. Some scholars, as well as refugees and their descendants, argue that rape as an ‘instrument of territorial cleansing’ was deliberately used in Palestine in 1948. On the one hand, ‘male bonding has been buttressed through resort to rape and sexual violence as a deliberate strategy of war’57 and, on the other, rape is also used ‘to punish a woman for defying the rules of respectability’.58 But what place does ‘respectability’ have in war? Rather than being used as a punishment in war, rape is a means of asserting power, whether power over enemy men or power as men. Indeed, rape is not about sex at all; it is ‘a crime of power and control’59. As a result, the fear of violent assault ‘limits women’s freedom of movement. It constrains what they can do, where they can go and with whom they can socialize. In other words, both the reality and the fear of violence act as a form of social control.’60 Such fears become even more pronounced during times of conflict. Thus, ‘rape and sexual violence against women in wartime is not only a crime perpetuated by “the enemy” [ . . . ]. The likelihood of women being subjected to rapes and beatings from their own men increases at times of heightened aggression.’ This suggests that it is artificial to draw a distinction ‘between war and other forms of male violence’; instead, we should recognize ‘the real problem which is patriarchy’.61 These arguments linking violence against women in peace and war, help to clarify the precarious situation of refugee women. The extent of sexual violence against them is not easy to gauge as incidents are seldom reported; in many ‘cultures and communities, sexual attacks are perceived as shameful and victims are stigmatized’.62 Palestinian refugee women are understandably reluctant to speak about incidents of sexual violence. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that the threat or reality of rape and sexual abuse is familiar to them. According to NGO worker Nawal:

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During the war, women were exposed to violence. The enemy tried to approach women in a sexual way, to touch them, even to kill them. One woman was taken from a checkpoint and it is believed that she was raped, although no one knows for sure. She became unstable as a result of her experience; her husband divorced her [ . . . ]. During this period, there were sexual taunts and sexual violence in the camps, by husbands too. This also happened at the hands of the Phalangists in 1976 and in Sabra and Shatila in 1982.63

The revealing detail that ‘her husband divorced her’ suggests that not only did this woman suffer trauma, but that she was subsequently marginalized by her own society; the alleged rape became a mark of shame. This leads us to conclude that sexual violence continues to be ‘unspeakable’. Older women recall the fears of sexual violence that accompanied their flight from Palestine in 1948. There is evidence that Jewish military units used rape ‘in several dozen cases’.64 Rumours of rape, ‘though subsequently silenced by both perpetrators and victims, spread as quickly as the news of massacres’.65 In the words of a researcher: Nobody talks about rape. But it is almost always present. It’s there: ‘we left because of massacres, fear of massacres, fear of rape, rape’. The men in the village will not talk about it [ . . . ]. The society could not talk about it.66

There is also evidence, as Nawal said, that sexual violence took place during the Lebanese civil war; committed, for example, by the Kata’ib and Lebanese Forces at Tel al-Zaater refugee camp in the mid-1970s and by the Amal militia in the mid-1980s. According to NGO worker Farida: although the Israelis did not commit acts of sexual violence, they encouraged others to do it, for example in Sabra and Shatila in 1982. But, as the occupying forces, they bear responsibility. They acted against their responsibility to protect civilians and opened the road so that the Lebanese Forces could enter the camp.67

Others tell a slightly different story, suggesting that, while they Israelis may not have committed acts of sexual violence, they certainly used sexual threats. Samira, who was arrested by the Israelis in the Ain el-Hilwe camp, recalled:

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The Israelis arrested my 60-year-old grandfather, as well as my father and brothers. They turned the hospital into a prison. I was there with other women. One of the soldiers tried to say bad words to us. I was 19 at the time and very nervous. I tried to curse him so he beat me. I felt pain in my shoulder. After this experience, my parents were afraid; they expected the Israelis to come to our house. So I stayed with a friend; I moved from place to place. My parents wanted me to escape to Syria. I managed to cross the border and stayed in Syria for eight months. Eventually, my parents told me it was safe to return. I came back to Lebanon and spent three days in Bekaa. When I arrived at the camp, the Israelis arrested me. They said I was wanted and they would investigate me. I was taken to a military base near Sidon. I was tortured, psychologically more than physically. I spent three days sitting in a corner with a sack over my head. Every two hours, they questioned me, always different questions. All the interrogators were men; they asked if I had been involved in the killing of soldiers. They accused me because I had come from Syria. They threatened to rape me. There were many women in one room but they placed me in isolation. I denied everything. At night, soldiers came to interrogate me. They tried to touch my body.68

Unlike the woman in Nawal’s account, whose husband divorced her because she was raped, Samira was only threatened with rape and was therefore able to preserve her family’s honour.

Men, Masculinities and Violence I am arguing that a strong link has been established between power and violence, according to which sexuality is socially constructed and the threat or actual use of violence is the basis of men’s control over women; I further argue that this link is enhanced by the existence of an insecure and challenging environment. It raises the question of why men routinely use violence to manage their dealings within the household, society and the wider world, both in words or deeds, and why this behaviour is rarely questioned. Many of the women interviewed for this book referred to male violence, whether as a refusal to allow them to engage in certain activities, an insistence on controlling communal or family affairs, or simply an aggressive style resulting from frustration, nervousness or conventional behaviour. The accounts of other women, however, indicate that male violence and aggression is by no means the norm; husbands are reported as

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being supportive and encouraging, and sharing household tasks with their wives. To deconstruct forms of violence and their causes, we need to explore not only female suffering but also the concepts of ‘men’, ‘masculinity’ and ‘aggression’, since the various forms of violence that women experience during times of conflict are usually – although by no means always – committed by men or occur as a result of men’s actions. In a study such as this, ‘male dominance, masculinity and men’ are bound to be ‘part of the research’.69 Yet, although they are ‘part of the research’, their centrality and impact vary considerably, depending on circumstances. Palestinian refugee men have experienced disempowerment; they have not been able to defend their families or communities. Therefore, while ‘popular understandings of men’s nature often associate masculinity with violence and/or militarism in ways that naturalise or even heroise male violence,’70 the Palestinian situation is more nuanced. At the same time, this image has some resonance in the refugee community where heroic masculinity is valued. In common with many societies and cultures, it seems to be the case that being a ‘proper man’ is closely linked to ‘the capacity to use weapons’.71 In Palestinian society, too, the fida’iyyin (male fighters) are celebrated as the embodiment of heroism and potential liberators of the nation, although in the absence of ‘liberation’ their role is increasingly contested. Without tangible outcomes such as national liberation, male violence against women in the camps can be understood as an expression of power and is used by men ‘to reproduce and maintain their relative status and authority over women’.72 Since masculinity, like femininity, is socially constructed, it is useful to examine the ‘processes through which socialization into masculinity takes place’,73 in an attempt to discover how the link between male power and violence is forged and how much this generalization applies in the Palestinian case. Patterns of male violence and male dominance have become established over time and these violent cultures have tended to overwhelm other forms of life.74 According to this argument, ‘women’s bodies are constructed as [ . . . ] vehicles through which the nation/group can be reproduced,’75 which has relevance in the case of refugee women. On the one hand, the land of Palestine was compared to a helpless woman violated by the enemy; and on the other women’s bodies are celebrated as producers of new ‘fighters for the revolution’.

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In seeking to understand why men resort to violence in the camps of Lebanon, I argue that men employ violence in general, including the threat or even possibility of violence, as a means of keeping control and that it is a way for certain men, because they are experiencing feelings of powerlessness, to victimize other individuals – frequently women who are less able to fight back – in order to protect their own self-esteem. In other words, there is a political dimension and also a personal one. In patriarchal Palestinian society, there are culturallyaccepted boundaries of female behaviour; men are expected to adopt the role of defender of their people. In the 1970s, however, these boundaries started to blur as women became more politically active. At the same time, it is possible that the use of force by men may provide the most compelling explanation of ‘why women internalise gender inequality’76 as the best way to make sense of it. This behaviour has been described as a ‘patriarchal bargain’, that ‘influences both the potential for and the actual forms of women’s active or passive resistance’.77 Elements of it may be witnessed in the camps where, although care is taken to at least appear to be preserving traditional gender relations as they existed in Palestine, the disempowered status of most men means that such relations have become unbalanced. My fieldwork findings demonstrate that such assumptions are both true and untrue. First there is certainly a shared understanding of gender boundaries and an awareness of the ‘patriarchal bargain’, but this is affected by necessity and changing norms. For example, nowadays many women have jobs outside the home. Second, male violence, the role of the ‘heroic liberator’, has not succeeded in liberating the homeland. Third, as religion – as faith and a form of activism – takes a more central position, violence against women becomes increasingly unacceptable. As more than one woman said, although violence occurs ‘it is never acceptable’. It is also the case that the role of violence varies between societies, and we must guard against making blanket generalizations about ‘male power’ and ‘female victimization’; these are loaded categories and must be treated with care. We should also bear in mind the significance of symbolic violence. In order to appreciate the violence in some relationships between husbands and wives, we need to know about the nature of the relationships themselves and their underlying systems of rules. Power relations between men and women cannot be detached from domestic arrangements and the rearing of children. In

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the Palestinian camps – as in most predominantly Muslim societies – such arrangements are based on ‘a traditional patriarchal system [ . . . ] and a regime of male privilege in matters of marriage and divorce’.78 To control potential disorder, some Muslims argue that religion and even the Qur’an itself permit the use of violence by men against women.79 But violence against women is a contested form of behaviour, much criticized by camp women and many men too. Its ‘acceptability’, as I have indicated, is dubious. According to Nawal in Bourj el-Barajne camp: People have misunderstood the Qur’an. It should empower women. But the way people interpret it is that men are better than women – better because they bring more money, not because they are men. In the camp, not many men marry more than one woman, but this is for economic reasons. In the community, old people try to protect women.80

The attempt by older members of the community ‘to protect women’ suggests that neither in religion nor in pre-1948 Palestine has violence been an appropriate way of settling problems. Women, too, are increasingly claiming religious knowledge as a way of protecting their dignity. Is it right, therefore, or even useful to extract the act of violence from its cultural setting? I would like to suggest that, although I agree there is a global tendency of male violence against women, the differences in specific situations are significant since they are capable of shedding light on what is generally perceived as a relatively impenetrable area. In the context of this book, I am arguing that forms of violence overlap and influence each other. On the whole, Palestinians enjoy strong communal cohesion; their marginalized status tends to mean that their loyalties are directed towards the group and the shared objective of national liberation. But, as the women’s stories reveal, the whole community suffers from disempowerment, which leads both to the asserting of traditional attitudes, such as control over women, and to the exploration of less traditional alternatives, such as women’s enhanced participation in the public sphere. Thus, men’s dominance is not altogether secure and this sometimes leads to displays of aggressive male power; however, as many of the women’s narratives make clear, such behaviour attracts disapproval.

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Since violence, as is abundantly illustrated in the Palestinian case study, does not only take place on the battlefield or during enemy attack, the boundary between ‘private’ family violence and the ‘public’ violence of warfare tends to become confused. Besides the obvious cruelties of the battlefield, there is ‘the violence of social oppression, which [ . . . ] often attempts to dehumanize women’.81 Many refugee women referred to social practices that placed them at a disadvantage or even humiliated them. The notion of the ‘dehumanization’ of women is an important one and it is here that the unweaving of violences becomes crucial. We might aspire to separate ‘legitimate’ from ‘illegitimate’ violence in order to outlaw altogether certain manifestations of violence, but at what point does seemingly ‘legitimate’ violence, by which I mean violence directed against an outside enemy, become ‘illegitimate’ – or criminal – violence? What persuades a society to change its definitions in order to criminalize certain forms of violence? In the Palestinian camps, the mechanisms for resolving internal conflict and defusing tension are first and foremost the family, and then the camp committees, comprising local notables – usually men – political factions and religious leaders; my observations suggest that these outlets are not entirely satisfactory, since they tend to reinforce conventional behaviour and discourage expressions of dissent, which might bring shame on the family. In addition, there are a growing number of women’s organizations, some of which provide advice to women experiencing family difficulties, although such counselling must be undertaken discreetly.

Victimologies/Levels of Vulnerability: Domestic Violence in the Camps There has been much scholarly debate on the familiar role of woman as a victim. On one side are those, such as Jeanne Vickers, who exemplify women principally as victims of violence and warfare while, on the other there are researchers who suggest that women internalize gender inequality as a coping mechanism, rather than as a confirmation of ‘victimhood’. Differences in attitude between men and women, suggests Vickers, ‘are primarily the consequence of socialization and learning, as are most forms of aggressive and violent behaviour’. She adds that women themselves, in accepting the role of

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victim, ‘have contributed to the perpetuation of these attitudes’.82 The question then arises as to how much this assertion reduces women – and men – to simplified and even stereotypical categories. Attempts to create change ‘involve questioning who decides “what counts” as victimization and who defines its meaning and seriousness,’83 questions that are comprehensively explored in this book. Clearly, it would be a mistake to define women only as victims, and I argue here that we need to re-examine the whole concept of ‘victimology’ and rename aspects of it in ways that take into account deliberate female strategies. Victimologies, after all, ‘have their limitations too. They tend to create the false impression that women [ . . . ] cannot be effective social agents on behalf of themselves or others’.84 This ‘false impression’ is increasingly being challenged by feminist scholars and researchers who have begun to engage in a process of redefinition to refine the language of victimization and agency. In their discussion of sexual violence, Kelly, Burton and Regan argue that ‘there is a complex struggle occurring over the meaning of victimization’.85 It was, they say, and continues to be ‘feminists who insisted that forms of physical and sexual violence were named – words used and, if necessary, created, which make explicit both violation and agency’.86 Although sexual violence may no longer be ‘unspeakable’ in many societies, it is still a taboo area in some parts of the world, and this is especially true in the Muslim Middle East, where it tends to be associated with shame and dishonour. I would argue therefore that, instead of generalizations, male violence should be ‘theorized and interpreted within specific societies, in order both to understand it better and to effectively organize to change it’. This will prevent women from consistently being defined as the victims of male control.87 Refugee women face several levels of vulnerability. They are affected, as Randa said, by poverty and statelessness; they have no access to employment, poor access to medical services and education; they experience fear and anxiety about the future with regard to Israeli aggression or civil unrest in Lebanon; and they risk economic exploitation. In addition, they are sometimes victims of male violence. Many of the women I met in the camps were emphatic about the unacceptability of violence. Khawla said that violence against women is not widespread in the camp; it used to be worse.

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‘Men do get frustrated,’ she observed, ‘but they usually express it in words rather than hitting. A husband does not have the right to beat his wife; in religion it is completely forbidden.’ The problem of violence, she added, ‘is a question of tradition. It is a problem with the mothers who bring up their sons to believe they are the man and can do what they like; in this sense, it is the woman’s fault. But Islam is against any form of violence.’88 Hayat agreed that: men have no right to beat their wives; however, there are many cases of beating, although more in the past than now. The problem is now not widespread in society. This generation has more awareness between couples; a man might shout at his wife but not hit her. In the past, hitting was very common. But now violence is not acceptable.89

Lina, who is in her early 40s and has six children, said that she has always been dominated by her husband and his mother; she feels she has a weak personality. Her parents-in-law used her ‘as a slave’; they did terrible things to her. But now she is earning money and has become more self-confident.90 Amina explained that: there are various forms of violence against women, for example beating, being forced to get married, and so on. But now women can talk and demand their rights. Yet they still have some problems of violence. Men retain the final authority; they sometimes refuse to let women do things and there is nothing women can do about it. Women tend to work more than men in the camp and, therefore, men do not force them as much as they used to. Before, women were too scared to talk but now they have more self-confidence.94

Her words, and Lina’s first-hand account, highlight women’s growing economic role and the effect this is having on gender relations. One of the problems, according to political activist Hoda, is that: Palestinian NGOs have been slow to focus on women’s issues because the situation is so difficult, in terms of Lebanese laws, wars and the economy, and so we have concentrated on relief programmes, vocational programmes, national and political issues; people were thinking we had to liberate ourselves, return to our homeland, gain our civil rights – and women are part of the whole community so that is what they think about too. But, in the second half of the 1990s, some NGOs started working on women’s issues. As a result of this gap,

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some religious groups have tried to impose their own agendas. Economic conditions are another cause of violence against women; for example, women are prevented from employment – only about nine per cent of women are economically active; the authority of the man as breadwinner is threatened. Personal status law in Lebanon discriminates against women, in areas such as divorce, inheritance, child custody and so on, and this has an impact on the whole community.92

As she noted, some women have begun to move away from an exclusive focus on national liberation; now they are thinking about their problems as women. The words of Amina, Hayat, Lina and many others highlight the need to test theories of sexual violence against women’s real-life experiences. However, despite indications of more positive developments, the victimology perspective persists. There is evidence, both anecdotal and statistical, to suggest that significant personal violence against women and girls takes place in the refugee camps; women also complain, as Hoda pointed out, of social and political violence. However, while a persistent link has been established between war and domestic violence, we also need to know the extent to which this kind of violence was present in the society before the start of conflict and what other factors account for the presence of violence against women, for example the claim that religion allows men to use physical violence against ‘disobedient’ wives. Violence may be present in the home because the climate of fear and powerlessness created by the conflict has a negative effect on men, the principal defenders of their communities, and the honour of their communities. In this sense, as violence extends into the domestic arena, war becomes the ultimate form of control, but it is control based on very precarious foundations. Women, too, experience feelings of confusion and conflict between an instinctive desire to engage in the protection and liberation of their nation and the fear of violence shattering the safety of the home. Women’s bodies have been turned into ‘sites of resisting oppression’ by both the external colonial power and the internal patriarchal/masculine power. While colonizers tried to ‘modernize’ and ‘liberate’ women, patriarchal powers sought to ‘protect’ them from external invasion.93 Violence against women in the context of the family is both difficult to explain and painful to discuss. Although, understandably, most were usually unwilling to talk about it, refugee

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women in Lebanon gave many indications of attitudes towards the question of personal violence. They contextualized it in terms of more prevalent forms of violence (such as war violence and national violence), an understanding of violence against women as an inevitability in an oppressive environment, and domestic violence as a decreasing threat. But there is no doubt that many camp women experience this sort of violence in their personal lives. ‘Early marriage, high fertility and inadequate contraceptive advice’ means that many women are obliged to produce more children than they may have wished, and are therefore ‘burdened with child care and domestic duties’.94 This leads to the creation of a tense environment in which ‘casual’ violence, both physical and verbal/psychological, is likely to occur. A key objective of Palestinian women’s organization Association Najdeh is to help women cope with the everyday violence of life in the camps, including domestic violence. According to its executive director, there are no shelters for battered women in Lebanon, although two or three Lebanese organizations have set up domestic abuse hotlines. She told me that Najdeh was also planning to start a hotline, but ‘we have to do it discretely since conservative and Islamic groups disapprove’. They prefer to work ‘in a quiet, low-key way with women,’ she added. There is a counselling centre in Shatila camp in Beirut, which means ‘there is someone for women to talk to or to get advice if they need social or legal support; this is usually co-ordinated with Lebanese organizations as they are more specialized and have more funds. There is now also psychological counselling, in the form of either group or individual therapy.’95 The presence of these outlets has been welcomed by many women for whom the violence in their lives has proved unbearable. Political activist Hoda described how her organization works with women and children. Through their work, she said, ‘we can protect some women from domestic violence. We coordinate with other Palestinian organizations, for example Najdeh, and tackle problems directly. We find that some women need economic help to face violence and, therefore, we provide courses and workshops, for example on how to run a micro-economic project, how to develop skills in handicrafts, so that women can raise money and become more independent’.96 Hoda’s words resonate with many of the women I met, both those working with organizations and ‘ordinary’ camp women who work

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hard to improve their quality of life and raise awareness about violence against women. A number of opinion polls have been carried out in the Lebanese camps to ascertain the extent of violence taking place and people’s attitudes towards it. A survey conducted in 2002 sought to find out from both women and men whether they thought it appropriate for a husband to hit his wife under certain circumstances. Although this is a highly sensitive area and any statistics should be treated with caution, the survey came up with the following information: women express acceptance of violence against women more often than men; 40 per cent of women and 47 per cent of men oppose the beating of women under all the conditions listed in the survey.97 The survey further notes that attitudes vary significantly according to age, education and income. Persons with higher education: express much lower acceptance of violence against women than any other group. Persons aged 30 – 44 are more sceptical of violence against women than any other group. Older women are more likely to express acceptance [ . . . ]. There is also less acceptance of violence against women in high-income households, but among the richest and poorest of households women are much more likely to accept violence than men.98

A more in-depth study of domestic violence among the Palestinian refugee communities of Lebanon was carried out by Association Najdeh in 2000 that revealed, in the sample households,99 that 29.6 per cent of wives had experienced physical violence and a further 56.9 per cent were the recipients of verbal abuse.100 In early 2003, research carried out by a Lebanese television channel, Future TV, confirmed that 56 per cent of Palestinian women have been exposed to violence. According to Nawal, the true figure is probably higher. It is getting worse, she observed. Palestinian society ‘did not have this problem before; only for the past few years, since the war ended’. Violence against women is regarded as a shameful problem, she said, ‘but it is also a hidden problem’.101 While these statistics are troubling, they should not detract from the centrality of the family in Palestinian refugee communities. Male violence against women may be regarded as a desperate but perhaps unsurprising response to poverty and frustration; it also highlights the dichotomy of the notion of men as protectors of their families and preservers of

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national identity and the image of a Palestinian patriarchy that expresses itself through oppressive control over women’s sexuality and consequently their mobility; inevitably, the two sometimes overlap. The director of Najdeh explained that an interest in gender-based violence is relatively new in Arab society. Najdeh was the first NGO to deal with it among the Palestinian refugee population in Lebanon, she said. The organization began to raise awareness of reproductive health issues in 1997 and discovered abused women, victims of violence. In response, ‘we started to train staff to listen and also held workshops, which attracted a high level of interest’. When women have the opportunity to talk, she said, ‘they are very relieved’.102 Salma, who works for Najdeh in Rashidiyya camp, said that, although the organization has a domestic violence programme, it does not operate in the camp. However, she added: We have a programme to listen to women’s problems and we explain these problems to a specialist. If there is someone with a particular problem of this kind, we call a specialist; the specialist can listen, for example, to the problems a mother is having and can help her solve these. This programme targets not only women but men as well, for example, one young man was trying to improve his life but he was failing and therefore developed psychological problems; he is now seeing a specialist. This has a very positive impact on the community; even if people’s problems are not solved, at least it gives individuals an opportunity to express themselves.103

Maha, a gender specialist in Beirut, described how: On 25 November, the International Day for Combating Violence against Women, I conducted a workshop in Mar Elias camp. There were lively discussions among many young women, also between men and women; some were extremely anti-violence against women, while others believed that violence was acceptable – one 18-year-old woman said that women must obey their husbands or risk violence. Religious young men tend to respect women, but there is a limit; they do not accept women leaders. Yesterday, on al-Arabiyya TV, there was an interview with a shaykh and a woman professor at al-Azhar University; they were arguing about a speech made by the Mufti; he had issued a fatwa that women do not have the right to become president. Egypt is very influential and so this kind of speech affects the whole community. The professor argued that a woman cannot be the leader of the whole Islamic community but

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that, since there is now no ummah, a woman could be president of an individual country.104

The debate described by Maha gives an important insight into the layers of opinion in Palestinian society. I have outlined, in this chapter, a number of Western feminist approaches to the question of violence against women and global trends towards outlawing practices of sexual violence in conflict and personal violence within societies; and yet, as Maha notes and the opinion surveys confirm, violence is sometimes considered to be unavoidable or even ‘deserved’: ‘women must obey their husbands or risk violence’. The role of religion is also notable, with the observation that ‘religious young men tend to respect women’ being repeated to me on a number of occasions. Amina told me about the humiliation and enforced powerlessness of being beaten by her husband. Even when he did not beat her, she said, he treated her with contempt, belittled her opinions and prevented her from doing what she wanted. She added that she could not leave him because, if she did, he would not let her see her children. Only when the children were grown up and independent would she be able to get away from this abusive man.105 Some people say there cannot be violence between married couples because the camp is so crowded and the houses so close together that everyone would hear it. Others say that they hear it all the time; violent behaviour and abusive language used by men against women goes on every day. During a youth programme, I was told, young people would comment on how their parents ‘were fighting last night’. If a man is not working and his wife tries to discuss the problem, they might end up fighting.106 But is such violence only a result of cramped conditions and the status of being a refugee? Or is it, in common with violence against women elsewhere, an outcome of a patriarchal system in which women’s needs are subjugated to those of men? My interviews with women revealed that both factors are relevant. Hayat in Baddawi camp said her worst memory was my marriage. It was not my choice to marry this man; my father arranged it. We were engaged for 16 months. When we married, I discovered he was a violent man. I became pregnant, but he beat me and tried to cause a miscarriage. Since we divorced, I have had a very bad time with my ex-husband. He

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re-married and established a new family. My daughter wanted to know her father, but he does not want to see her, and this has made her very upset. It makes me sad too.107

Although her experience is by no means untypical, the frankness with which she spoke about it was unusual; her disclosures took place within a domestic environment in which the other women present were familiar and trusted. I got a feeling she was relieved to share her painful history with a stranger, both to illustrate her ability to survive and to have successfully raised her daughter. Her story contradicts ‘the often excruciating situation constructed for women by patriarchy’ that is ‘frequently silenced by Palestinian society as they do not want to air their dirty laundry’.108 It also shows that, while various forms of violence against women are present in Palestinian exile society, ‘a discourse on violence against women that only stresses the status of “victim” or the process of victimization can also be counterproductive in that it can and too often does further encourage stereotypical beliefs about women as passive, vulnerable, and weak, and about women’s society as pre-modern and/or backward’.109 My impression of Hayat was not of a ‘weak’ or ‘victimized’ woman but rather one who had suffered at the hands of a violent man and whose status as a mistreated woman was not acknowledged by her society. This has little to do with a ‘backward’ community but concerns an appreciation of gender-based violence that is global and all-pervasive. Part of the explanation for the relatively disempowered position of Palestinian refugee women can be located in the structures and traditions of Arab societies. I am arguing here that it is not Islam as such that oppresses women but ‘the continuity of patriarchal values [ . . . ] that limits women’s agency’.110 Through the patriarchal family, violence remains ‘structurally anchored in society’111 and an association has been established between traditional family structures and the absence of women’s rights. As there is a lack of governance in the Palestinian camps that could institute changes in attitudes towards personal status issues, more conservative elements tend to maintain their dominance. Thus, despite their activism, women have discovered that it is much harder to escape the confines of ‘tradition’. Nonetheless, it is still necessary to challenge the preconceptions and stereotypes of Arab-Muslim women ‘as victims of oppressive patriarchies.112 Some are certainly victimized but most also

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demonstrate agency; they exert a measure of control over their lives. We should not ghettoize them as culturally unique or disadvantaged. A number of women alluded obliquely to the problems of violence. On one occasion, I heard about the case of a woman whose husband, when under the influence of drugs, would rape his daughters. This is considered to be so shameful that it is surprising the woman was able to gather the courage to tell someone about it.113 Haifa in Baddawi camp observed that the violence against women in society is more widespread than before, ‘and this is because of the wars and also as a result of violent films and cartoons, and the internet’. But, she added, ‘according to religion, a man has no right to beat his wife; religion prevents all violence’.114 Dina in Rashidiyya camp agreed that a husband has no right to beat his wife. Unfortunately, she said, ‘the problem of violence is widespread because of the economic situation. When there is no work, a man feels unable to provide for his family; if his wife asks him for something, he may feel frustrated and may want to prove his manhood by using violence against her. But this is not acceptable.’115 Their words illustrate the cycle of violence in the camps; while most people find physical violence repugnant, there is a high level of economic deprivation that leads to frustration and inappropriate behaviour. Several women echoed Nawal’s belief that things have deteriorated since the war ended. Umm Usama in Bourj el-Barajne camp said that: ‘In the past, there was war, but now it is worse. We have a bad economic situation. We experience feelings of helplessness.’116 I wonder whether this is really the case or whether it is rose-tinted memories, even of events that were so traumatic at the time. What I think they mean is that, at least in the 1970s and 1980s, people saw a point in struggling; they believed that, if they tried hard enough, they were capable of winning and thus creating a better society for themselves. With the destruction of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Lebanon, the hardening of attitudes within the Lebanese government and the general decrease in standards of living, this optimism has now ebbed away. As Khawla in Bourj el-Barajne camp noted, ‘violence is not only physical but also verbal or psychological’. She said that physical violence has decreased since her parents’ time; in those days, women could not defend themselves but now a woman might hit her husband back and nowadays women are less likely to keep silent. Also, she said,

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‘things have changed in the world and nowadays women do not keep silent’. In the past, she added, ‘when a girl was nine years old, she was stopped from going out to play; her education was stopped and she had to stay at home to help her mother; when she was 14, she was expected to get married. But now it is completely different.’117 Umm Ayman in Baddawi camp attributed the growth in violence against women to an increase in the use of women’s bodies for advertising, or ‘using women for bad things’ as she put it.118 Whatever the reasons, the threat of intimate violence makes ‘home’ an even more insecure place for many women. NGO worker Maha agreed that matters are improving; although there are no accurate figures, she said, around one-third of women are believed to face physical violence. However, in her words, ‘whereas it used to be a taboo subject, it is now becoming possible to talk about violence against women; women come to the counselling centre to ask for legal and social assistance. Nonetheless, it is still new in society and the majority do not talk about it.’ She added that ‘now Islamic and conservative groups are growing; they discourage talk about violence against women and use religion to convince women’.119 Her words add another layer to the argument that ‘religious young men tend to respect women’; perhaps their ‘respect’ is being used to shape a different discourse about violence in the community. Clearly, in the debate over whether things have improved or not there is no consensus; while many women agree that their lives are better in terms of education, rights and opportunities, some argue that they are worse off as a result of being forced to live outside Palestine and seeing their national rights slowly ebbing away. The camps themselves, I was told, are becoming increasingly violent places. People spoke to me about more children fighting, children hitting their mothers, more arguments and fights in the street, and a general decline in civility. Children feel angry, observed Nawal, ‘at being brought into this life’. It is difficult to bring up children in the confined and unsanitary conditions of the camps.120 Houses are too small and there are no play areas within the camps, apart from the PLO-controlled Rashidiyya camp in the south where a small garden and zoo have been created. Otherwise, residents are forced to endure an acute lack of privacy; indeed, it would be difficult for anyone ‘to separate the “inside” from the “outside” in a place where the roof was made of corrugated tin and

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the front door opened immediately onto the clamour of the alley and the invading dust of its unpaved earth’.121 Sometimes women turn the violence on themselves to avoid hurting their children. As Nawal commented, ‘violence comes from inside and from outside,’ and it is important to teach people how to live with their situation.122 Some women identify faith-based practices and attitudes as provokers of violence. Their narratives focus on the central role played by Islam, both as a source of comfort and a form of activism, particularly in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; it also refers to the question of appropriate dress. In the camps, many people believe that the Qur’an gives men the right to beat their wives. But, according to Nawal, the way people interpret it is that men are better than women. In the camps, she commented, ‘not many men marry more than one woman, but that is for economic reasons’.123 There are many widows and divorced women in the camps. I was told by a United Nations Relief and Works Agency official that women lose a lot in cases of divorce. Sometimes a man leaves his family to marry someone else, ‘but Islam does not approve of this; it recommends justice for all and equality’. Unfortunately, she added, ‘the society is patriarchal’.124 In these accounts by women, several themes emerge. First is the idea that violence is an inevitable result of patriarchy; men use the threat of violence to control female family members and this is attributed to ‘tradition’. While this is partly true, it somewhat overlooks women’s agency. Second is the use of violence as a response to abnormal circumstances; the claustrophobic society of the camps breeds a kind of incivility, which means that casual violence occurs at all levels, from the chastising of women and children within the home to shouting in the street and between neighbours as a method of communication. Again, while partially accurate this disregards balancing factors such as solicitude and the construction of frameworks of caring. Third, the discussion of violence against Palestinian refugee women cannot be separated from the larger context of how people exist within a violent and insecure environment and the effect this is likely to have on ‘normal’ life. From its inception, the Palestinian struggle against Zionism has been a violent one, and this is by no means unique. Violence has been the preferred choice of many postcolonial and national liberation movements. ‘Revolutionary violence’, as Palestinians describe it,

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‘was an expression of independent national will, proof of the existence of a distinct Palestinian people’.125 These claims throw into question arguments explored in this book: on the one hand, that violence and war are solely male arenas and spaces in which male power can flourish at the expense of women’s rights; and, on the other, that Palestinians in Lebanon had no choice but to combat Israeli aggression with violence of their own. The decision to use violence as a means of countering oppression has been a conscious one and, although it may be regarded with regret by many women, is recognized as being a realistic course of action. Finally, as I argue, the role of religion is growing in centrality for Palestinian communities, both in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and in exile, from the claim that ‘religious young men tend to respect women’ to counter-arguments that Islamist groups are having a negative impact on women’s room for manoeuvre. It is also the case, however, that religion has been misinterpreted to permit violent attitudes; nowadays, many people recognize that certain forms of behaviour are ‘not Islamic’ and have started to refuse to follow these traditions. In the next section, I will look more closely at how Islam in its various forms – as faith, militant action and political struggle – sustains women but may also lead to violence against them.

Islamist Politics and the National Struggle To be a Muslim is everyone’s choice, their ideology. The problems tend to be political. Hamas believes it is the choice of the Palestinian people whether to have an Islamic state, although personally I would like it. An ‘Islamic state’ means the freedom of people, equality, the right to participate in all decisionmaking. It is more than democracy; it can guarantee justice for all.126

In response to the violence they experience, some refugee women told me that they are finding solace in religion; in Wafa’s words, ‘religion is a comfort for people who do not have much to look forward to’.127 Umm Omer in Bourj el-Barajne camp does not have ‘much to look forward to’ but takes comfort from religion. She remarked that the influence of Islam on women means that a woman respects herself and takes care of her house and her children.128 Asma,

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a 35-year-old woman in Rashidiyya camp, recounted her own experiences; in her view, ‘Islam gives a woman the right to education and to work side by side with men,’ which means that men are willing to tolerate their wives taking on additional responsibilities. She herself received a loan from a local NGO to start a shop in the camp; she had to get permission from her husband who was unemployed. She stressed the psychological aspect. ‘My husband was happy because of my economic contribution. There is no shame and the situation has a positive impact on all the family.’129 There is a local and personal environment and a broader, more political one, and I would like to examine both in turn. From the mid-1990s, religion started to play an increasingly significant role in the Palestinian struggle to end the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Several Islamist groups emerged during the first intifada (1987 – 93), most notable among them Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The reason for their growing popularity was that many Palestinians felt the secular nationalist leadership, embodied in the PLO, had been too conciliatory in its dealings with Israel and corrupt in its administration of the Palestinian territories in the period following the Oslo Accords (1993) and the creation of a Palestinian Authority in 1994. Far from easing the occupation and moving towards the creation of an independent Palestinian state, Israel had dragged its feet and, in the wake of the second intifada, had intensified violent control of Palestinian Authority areas. Thus, many looked to other solutions and Islamist groups appeared to some to provide a more muscular response to Israeli repression. Many ordinary Palestinians, both in the occupied territory and in exile, admired the way they stood up to Israel’s bully-boy tactics. The danger was, however, that the Islamist strategy, of targeting not only Israeli military personnel but also civilians in indiscriminate bomb and suicide attacks, would backfire as the international community recoiled in horror at what were generally regarded, both abroad and by many at home, as very barbaric practices. This perception became particularly acute in the wake of the attacks by Islamist terrorists against the US on 11 September 2001. Suddenly the entire Muslim world appeared potentially dangerous and Israel was able to tap into Western fears of Islamic violence by defining Palestinian Islamist groups as indistinguishable from al-Qa’ida. Another factor used to delegitimize Palestinian resistance was the use of women in suicide – or

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‘martyrdom’ – attacks against Israel;130 this, argued Israelis and others, was not simply controversial but proof of Palestinian ‘brutality’; much was made of the ‘unnatural’ Palestinian mother who permitted her children to sacrifice their lives and then celebrated their deaths. For their part, Palestinians respond that they have few weapons at their disposal to resist the occupation of their land other than their own bodies. In the camps of Lebanon, the situation is somewhat different. Although there is some support for Hamas and much appreciation expressed for the Lebanese Shi’a party Hizbullah, which fought against the Israeli occupation in the south of Lebanon, the culture of ‘Islamic resistance’ is less well defined; indeed, several women expressed disapproval of Hamas’s behaviour since winning the Palestinian Legislative Council elections in 2006. Instead, individuals profess personal piety as a way of dealing with a difficult situation. Lila in Bourj el-Barajne camp said that Islam gives a woman all her rights; it provides safety ‘so that I feel protected wherever I go’. She studies and teaches religion and said that now women are more knowledgeable about the Islamic texts and their rights according to Islam.131 This also gives them more confidence. Sara in the same camp confirmed the growing religiosity. She pointed out that people need to distinguish between religion and tradition; ‘people always follow tradition’, she said, ‘and this needs to change’. Now, she added, ‘there are many like me who become knowledgeable about their religion; many women follow religion and are teaching their children’.132 Umm Nabil, a 45-year-old mother of seven children, agreed that ‘Islam gives a woman all her rights, but the problem is that people follow tradition rather than Islamic law. During the Prophet’s time, women were regarded as very precious; they had an important role. But now there are many shaykhs and each has a different interpretation.’133 Amira also confirmed that religion plays an important role in camp life. She herself works for a religious organization that distributes food and clothing. But, she said, ‘the mosque is small and can only accommodate men, so the women perform their ceremonies at home’. There are some religious-based political groups in the camps, she added, and Hamas is represented in most of the camps, but ‘women are not involved in politics. We just act as volunteers and engage in social work.’134 Other women disagree. Several told me they support and are active with Hamas.

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Hind in Baddawi camp, for example, said she belongs to Hamas. ‘Many women are involved in political action,’ she added, ‘such as demonstrations.’ She continued: ‘Woman plays a very active role; she is half the community, and not only inside the house but also outside. Religion is important because it organizes all aspects of life. Women can certainly be active in politics, for example Hanan Ashrawi. If political action focuses on social work, it will decrease the violence in society and the tension at home.’135 Whereas Amira downplayed her own role as ‘just’ acting as a volunteer, others – such as Hind – did not appear to distinguish between political, military and social activities undertaken by religious-based parties; they are all regarded as part of the resistance. Heightened feelings of religiosity have expressed themselves in dress. There has been an increase in veiling even among younger women in the camps, although some of this can be attributed to a desire to conform rather than out of piety. Many of the women I met, both young and old, said that women are more respected if they wear a head covering. Layla, who is in her 50s, told me that ‘in Islam, a girl should be veiled and pray by the time she is 15 years old’; mothers were obliged to teach their daughters and even compel them to cover their heads.136 But Umm Usama argued that religion is personal not political. A woman, she insisted, should be respected for her personality; it does not matter whether she is veiled or not.137 Jamila, who is in her early 20s, echoed this view. Whether a woman wears the hijab or not, she said, she is still the same person. Some of her friends wear it, but others do not. No one can force her, she insisted, ‘it is a personal matter’.138 Zahira, a 17-year-old schoolgirl who is not veiled expressed the view that women should wear the hijab; it is up to their mothers to enforce it.139 Sara agreed that now there are more veiled women and this is good as ‘a woman has to wear the hijab because it is mentioned in the Qur’an’.140 Most of the women I met insisted that religion was a personal matter and should not be dragged into politics. They also tended to agree, as Suad remarked, that ‘in general, veiled women get more respect’. Suad is in her late 40s, a widow with four daughters. One of her daughters, Bushra, was present at the interview and disagreed with her mother. In her view, younger women are more open-minded and less bound by convention. ‘Girls are able to build their own personalities,’ she said, and this does not depend on being veiled.141

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This debate was repeated in a number of homes where women of all ages were present. It was not always the case that younger women were calling for greater ‘freedom’ while the older generation resisted it. In some cases, elderly women bemoaned the fact that faulty interpretations of Islam had placed restrictions on women’s mobility. Layla left Palestine when she was two years old; she argued that ‘girls nowadays have more freedom; they can go out and are more sociable. Twenty years ago, parents used to treat girls and boys very differently; a girl was not entitled to rights or opinions, but now they want girls to finish their education just as much as boys.’142 Others echoed this sentiment, noting that in Palestine, most girls had been unschooled and therefore tended to be ignorant about religion. Khawla pointed out that ‘sometimes people follow incorrect traditions and customs, but religion attempts to put these right. Some people do not implement religion in the right way; they need to go back and find out how to do it properly.’143 Farida articulated a similar view. ‘Religious traditions have become more important than religion itself,’ she said, ‘they are seen as the traditions of the society. For example, if a woman is beaten and goes to her family, they ask what she did to make her husband angry. Women are assumed to be guilty of neglecting the home or the children. But formal Islam does not condone violence.’144 Mariam, a NGO worker in Ain el-Hilwe camp, took a different view: ‘if a husband beats his wife,’ she said, ‘this is not violence as it is usually understood. It is not torture, but is something normal that happens from time to time; then they become friends again.’145 But Randa agreed with Farida that Islam has been misinterpreted. ‘Husbands do not practice violence against their wives because of religion,’ she said, ‘Islam respects women and gives them duties and rights. Although violence does occur sometimes, it is not a particularly significant phenomenon. If a husband practices violence, the rest of the family will stop him. Islam is a tolerant religion and has been responsible for the liberation of women. But if the Qur’an is interpreted in a bad way, it will affect society negatively.’146 Like a number of women, Amina was critical about Hamas. She asserted that Palestinians should not be fighting each other. She used to admire Hamas because they spoke about liberating Palestine, ‘but, since they started killing other Palestinians, they are losing their

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religion. They are only interested in power.’147 Women’s rights activist Hoda said that, in her opinion: the growth of fanatical religious groups, for example those that try to impose the shari’a [Islamic law] as a basis for legislation, is likely to have a negative effect on women; for example, the imposition of the hijab or the belief that women should stay at home. Hamas and Islamic Jihad are not as strong in Lebanon as in Palestine, but there are other groups, for example in Ain el-Hilwe camp. In Lebanon, there are also Islamic groups that work in the camps; they have tried to impose their attitudes, and women tend to be the most vulnerable.148

As Hoda pointed out, a more disturbing trend has emerged. A ‘new religious ideology’ has taken root in some of the Palestinian camps, described by Rougier as ‘the global space of jihadist Islamism’.149 As the camps provide ‘a peripheral urban space’, that is ‘closed off to the legal authorities,’150 some of them, specifically Nahr al-Barid in the north and Ain el-Hilwe in the south, became permissive environments in which an extreme form of Salafist jihadism has been able to flourish. Some argue that jihadist elements are provoking ‘a radicalization in the Palestinian areas themselves’.151 When asked about Fatah al-Islam, Munia, who lived in Nahr al-Barid until violence erupted in 2007, said: Many people in the camp knew the Fatah al-Islam members. We knew they were not Palestinian; they were different nationalities, including some Lebanese. After the summer 2006 war ended, some of these people came to Nahr al-Barid. The people in the camp thought they were running away so they rented houses to them. The men had long beards and the women were completely covered. Many young men arrived and eventually they took over the office of the intifada. The army started to search women with covered faces in case they were men. Huge amounts of weapons started to enter the camp; we were surprised by all the weapons these people had. Fatah al-Islam related to people through Islam; they gave religious lessons to the youth; some of them got married to people in the camp. They were nice to camp people, talked to them in a peaceful way; they said they were there for Islamic reasons. I saw no bad side to them and did not expect these terrible things to happen.152

The presence of such groups and individuals was the reason, in 2007, for the violent clashes in Nahr al-Barid as the Lebanese army

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attempted to remove the Islamists and, in the process, the camp was largely destroyed, resulting in the displacement of women such as Munia and her family. There were further clashes in early 2010 when a ‘Salafist-jihadist trend’ emerged, especially in Ain el-Hilwe camp. On 15 February, ‘skirmishes erupted between Usbat al-Ansar and Fateh Movement which escalated into violent clashes leading to several casualties.’153 Rougier describes this latest development as a ‘battle for identity’, in the sense that ‘when faced with uncertainty and vulnerability, displaced people search for something with which to identify’.154 This suggests that their existing ‘identity’ has proved inadequate because it failed to liberate the homeland. Bearing in mind Munia’s words, however, I think an explanation based on ‘identity’ is not quite correct. According to the narratives of Munia and other women who had fled from Nahr al-Barid, the camp and its inhabitants had a distinctive and positive identity. In Munia’s words: ‘The houses were bigger and more beautiful than those in Bourj el-Barajne; they were tidier, with better furniture and gardens. The camp was equated with the homeland; we forgot Palestine because we were living happily; we had land.’ Suha agreed that ‘life in Nahr al-Barid was very beautiful [ . . . ]. We would like to return to our camp as soon as possible; we will go back and rebuild our houses.’155 As Islamist groups grow in strength in some of the camps, some women express anxiety at the possibility of an Islamist backlash. They worry about their minimal rights and freedoms being eroded. Other women, as in the occupied territories, welcome the reassertion of Islamic values. Maha, who works with an NGO in Beirut, explained that: only in the last five years has Hamas been organized in Lebanon. They have many female supporters but no women representatives. The Islamist groups are becoming much stronger, but so-called progressive parties have been disappointing; they are failing to achieve what people need in terms of democracy and Palestinian rights; the PLO and Fateh have failed. They focus on the ‘peace process’, but this has been a disappointment. Therefore, the refugees suffer as Palestinians in general and in Lebanon in particular. As life becomes more difficult, Islamist groups grow stronger; they are very active socially. When people become frustrated, they become more religious; they turn to religion. There have been many changes in Palestinian society from ten years ago; now many women wear the veil, whereas in 1990, only a few women in

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the camps were wearing it, now almost all do. But this does not mean they are religious; it is a political statement, and it has been good for the Islamic groups. People like Hizbullah not because of religion but as resistance.157

The women’s comments reveal a degree of confusion in camp society. In common with many women across the Arab world, some Palestinian women have adopted more modest dress, but this trend to some extent has been fetishized. It is not always attributable to enhanced piety; it sometimes signals protest against the colonizing project of Israel and the West or could indicate growing fearfulness. Several women spoke of pressures to conform; there is disapproval directed against unveiled women in the camps, according to a number of my interlocutors. These attitudes, as Farida noted, spill over into patterns of behaviour, get assimilated into traditional ‘values’, and then more pronounced religiosity is used as a justification for placing greater controls on women. With a population of over 70,000 people residing in an area only 1 km2 in size, Ain el-Hilwe camp in the southern city of Sidon is the largest in Lebanon and, since the early 1990s, an atmosphere of fear has prevailed. Inter-factional fighting is a common occurrence here and religious groups, too, are taking advantage of the general instability. Reputedly better off than other parties, groups such as the militant Usbat al-Ansar are resorting to tactics similar to Hamas in the occupied territories. Usbat al-Ansar and the al-Nur Mosque group ‘play the role of a vice squad or morality police’ in the camp, which includes insulting unveiled women who they see walking alone in the camp and also women who work for humanitarian organizations or speak to visiting foreigners.158 Ain el-Hilwe, where violent incidents frequently occur, has an air of menace; any foreigner wishing to enter it is required to obtain special permission from the Lebanese army. According to Nadia, a local resident whose husband is active with the Fateh militia, two Islamic groups are now destroying the camps. ‘This is not real Islam,’ she observed, ‘real religion rejects all violence. There are many Islamic parties in Ain el-Hilwe. Some are true and pure and serve the community, others do damage.’ The situation has become so dangerous, she added, that they cannot sit outside their houses anymore because they expect shooting. ‘After the second night prayers, everyone closes themselves inside their

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houses and does not go out. We are living all the time in terror. Life is full of war and fear. We only feel safe inside our houses.’159 As Nadia’s account makes clear, camp residents are unhappy about the presence of these groups, many of whom are not Palestinian, in their midst. Not only do they harm the reputation of refugee communities, but they also cause physical and psychological suffering to the people who live there.

Chapter 3

‘Violated Spaces’ Palestinian Women and the Politics of Place As women, the interviewees denote their sense of home in multiple ways and with different functions and meanings. These range from an idea of the home in terms of spatial organization and social affiliation to the home as a concrete physical presence or a place rich with symbolic meaning. Over time, home is simultaneously seen as a place of safety and abundance, as well as a battleground coming under attack.1

A ‘Battleground Coming Under Attack’ In the refugee camps of Lebanon, the notion of ‘home’ as ‘a battleground coming under attack’ is both a fear and a reality. The camps are home and yet not-home, sites of non-belonging; they are associated with diverse forms of violence and reveal how ‘home’ can ‘simultaneously be a place of safety and terror’.2 This binary was constantly stressed by the women I interviewed who referred to ‘taking shelter’ in their homes and ‘closing their doors’ to keep safe; but also, as they acknowledge, these flimsy structures are unable to afford genuine protection, as survivors of the Shatila and Nahr al-Barid camps attest. The outside world tends to perceive the refugee camps, if they think about them at all, as shattered and ‘violated’ spaces. Yet they are much more than this and I want, in this chapter, to grapple with this parallel reality. For Palestinian women, the camps are the only home they have. Their lives in this environment take place in light and shade: the light of communal life, marriage, birth, the rearing of children and mourning of the dead, but also the shadow cast by their fearful and insecure lives.

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Many women complain about the dangers of camp life. Nada and Farah in Bourj el-Shemali camp in Tyre, for example, identified the presence of Lebanese army checkpoints that are located at the entrances to all camps in the south of the country as ‘a form of violence’. Anyone entering or leaving the camp, said Farah, is subjected to questioning, ‘which is often impolite’. The women agreed that this treatment produces ‘many obstacles to daily life’; it causes inconvenience and frequent frustration.3 The restrictions described by the two women resonate with Palestinian experiences elsewhere. As with the Israeli surveillance system in the occupied West Bank, the ‘checkpoints are not Palestinian spaces [ . . . ] they are contested spaces’ [italics in original].4 The Lebanese camps, in contrast, are Palestinian spaces, although their ‘Palestinian-ness’ is constantly subject to attack and renegotiation. Women are conscious of existing in an unreliable environment over which they have no control, in the same way they had no control over leaving their homes in Palestine. However, by continuing to defy ‘the destruction of violence’ in these ‘violated spaces’,5 they embody the absence of home but also engage in the rituals of home-making. Their ‘sense of home’ is complex and often painful; it raises questions of history, identity and justice. The ‘violated spaces’ of the camps provide only a minimum of protection, although this is by no means constant, and their inhabitants are therefore compelled to seek safety in imagination and also in the responsibilities of everyday life; many of the women I interviewed seemed resigned to the fact that they ‘cannot change anything’, they have to get on with their lives. The stories told by Nada and Farah, and numerous others, exemplify the varieties of violence experienced by the refugees as a result of losing their homeland and trying to reassemble a sense of belonging, however temporary and uncomfortable, in exile. When I began this project, one of my objectives was to understand the various ways refugee women engage in identity-construction; specifically through memories of Palestine, the gendering of space and the transformation of these spaces into tolerable places to live, and how these are infused by violence. In this chapter, I will explore the idea of ‘home, that is at once lost and sometimes regained, but always a place of commemoration,’6 through an exploration of three key questions: first, how refugee women cope with the violence of nostalgia for lost homes and homeland; second, how women in an insecure and hostile

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environment actively struggle to create an acceptable existence for themselves, their families and their communities; and, third, how they move beyond place-making to resist ‘active silencing’7 and create ‘new identities germane to a culture of tolerance’;8 in other words, how we conceptualize notions of ‘home’ in a post-national world. I will focus in particular on the possibility of ‘new identities’ available to those ‘who give up the privileges of that ideological place called home’ in favour of ‘alternative [ . . . ] sites of potential empowerment,’9 although I do not think most refugee women perceive their situation in terms of ‘privilege’. Clearly, as Preston and Wong suggest, ‘spaces and places are gendered’10 and, in order to better understand the processes by which gendering occurs, I will refer to theoretical understandings of home and place, the trauma of dispossession and its effect on personal and collective identity, and how memory and narrative attempt to make sense of the violence of forced migration and the dangers of nostalgia.

‘A Story of Erasure, Denial and Active Silencing’ My name is Samar. I am 18 years old. My family is from Tarshiha in northern Palestine; I heard it is a lovely country and living there would be very nice. I was born in Libya; when I was one year old, we moved to Tyre and then to Bourj elBarajne. I am studying hairdressing at an UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency] school; in future, I would like to have my own hairdressing shop. I would also like to return to Palestine but, if I could not go back, I would prefer to go to Europe. I do not like the camp. The Lebanese call us ‘refugees’ which I do not like. In future, I want to follow Palestinian traditions. I think of Palestine as a green land, but it has been ruined by the Israelis. I have seen it on the internet. I feel angry that they took away my homeland.11

Samar’s words highlight the hollowness of assertions such as that made by former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in 1969 that: ‘there are no Palestinians. It’s not as if we came and took anything from them. They didn’t exist.’12 Her words encapsulate a Zionist narrative ‘that has actively denied’ the presence and coherence of the Palestinians ‘as a national people’.13 As will be discussed in Chapter 4, this narrative is part of a carefully orchestrated process of exclusion that has succeeded in constructing a myth of triumphant Jewish return. The narrative of

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Palestine, in contrast, is ‘a story of erasure, denial, and active silencing’14 through which one people has systematically and violently sought to realize its national ambition at the expense of another people. The Zionist/Israeli discourse of ‘glorious rebirth’ has caused its victims, the native Palestinians, to ‘disappear from the scene’.15 It has achieved its aims through a deliberate ‘strategy of transformation’ that has turned ‘resistance from a simple opposition to a control of the means of representation’.16 The struggle for recognition and selfrepresentation is also a story of multiple forms of violence and, in this chapter, I will focus on how Palestinian subjectivity has been affected by the violences associated with the loss of home, the reconstruction of ‘home’ in exile, and the longing for the lost homeland. In the 64 years since their dispossession, Palestinians have been subjected to other forms of destruction, especially in Lebanon where they have been victimized by sieges, massacres and invasions. But, in the face of ‘active silencing’, Palestinians have preserved not only a strong sense of identity but also vivid memories of home, the ‘Palestine of imagination’. Khalili argues that ‘nationalist narratives are not stable’17 and it is likely that personal narratives are similarly fluid. They rely on memories that are shifting and contingent. They are also informed by experience; for those who do not have personal experience of Palestine, their memories are either based on what they have heard or on more immediate events. Umm Ayman, for example, who was born in 1960 and lives in Baddawi camp, spoke of both ‘inherited’ memory – her parents told her how one of their Arab Jewish neighbours was killed for refusing to join a militant Jewish group – and ‘real’ memory – of the ‘horrible things’ that occurred during the Lebanese civil war.18 Memory has been described as an ‘act of transfer’ or, more precisely, ‘an act in the present by which individuals and groups constitute their identities by recalling a shared past on the basis of common, and therefore often contested, norms, conventions, and practices’.19 Palestinian refugee women recall ‘a shared past’, in terms of history, community and belonging. The ‘memory’ of Palestine, whether real or inherited, sustains them in exile but also provokes unbearable anguish; it is not only lost but can never be recovered. These symptoms characterize cultural trauma that occurs ‘when members of a collectivity feel they have been subjected to a horrendous event that leaves indelible marks upon their group

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consciousness, marking their memories forever and changing their future identity in fundamental and irrevocable ways’;20 these are the ‘horrible things’ of which Umm Ayman spoke. The ‘trauma’ can be attributed to conflicting emotions experienced by the refugees; on the one hand, life before 1948 is evoked as ‘happy’, ‘sociable’ and ‘harmonious’. Dina, who was born in Rashidiyya camp, heard from her father about the ‘happy life’ they led in their village in Palestine. She said that, when she thinks about the village she has never seen, ‘I regard it as my roots and this gives me the determination to survive in the difficult present and, one day, to return’.21 Similar sentiments were expressed by many women who associate Palestine with safety and hope. Yet the notion of ‘Palestine’ has, to some extent, been mythologized as, for example, in the following fictionalized account: We were living in Alama, in the country, amongst the plantations and the olive trees. There was bounty all around. Amongst the blossoms, the orange blossoms. Oh, how beautiful it was [ . . . ]. We had fig trees, grape vines and olive trees. A woman used to go to the fields and work with her man. She was just like him.22

This evocation, while idealized, resonates with many of the stories told to me by refugee women. Hikmat, who was born in Bourj el-Shemali camp, heard about Palestine from her parents. She referred to the ‘beauty’ of her village, local traditions and the good relations enjoyed with neighbours.23 These are all elements of a ‘shared past’ and are highly valued. On the other hand, memories of the exodus from Palestine in 1948 have all the symptoms of trauma. Khawla in Bourj el-Barajne camp repeated the stories of her grandparents. They heard about the Deir Yassin massacre, she said, and ‘how the Zionists were raping and killing Palestinians’; they felt afraid but still wanted to stay in their village. They were told to leave ‘for three to four days’ and then they would be able to return. But, she added, 64 years later, ‘we are still waiting’.24 Women recall, either because they experienced it themselves or have heard about it from family members, the horrors of flight: having to walk long distances in the hot sun, without food or water, seeing people falling ill or even dying along the way, not having any idea of where they would go. Taken together, these conflicting memories form a complex narrative that is both personal and communal. If, as I argue, this narrative has been forged by a

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complex web of violences, its ‘unreliability’ should hardly be surprising. Memories such of these have been deployed in the construction of nationhood; as such, the ‘national myth’ is open to manipulation and interpretation. Questions of ‘truth’ become obscured by an urgent need to reassert national claims. It is necessary, therefore, to deconstruct the tension between positive memories of home, a shared sense of nationhood, and a commitment to resistance; and the refugees’ experiences of violence in Lebanon, the constant negation of their national identity, and their exclusion from the Palestinian – Israeli ‘peace process’. This is also, as I note, a generational question; whereas many older Palestinians retain unmediated memories of their homeland, younger people, who were born in Lebanon, have developed more nuanced relationships with home. Their memories are coloured by war, insecurity and lack of rights in the place where they live. Umm Wissam left Palestine when she was two months old; her husband was killed in 1982 and one of her daughters was killed in 1989; she has eight surviving children. Speaking to me in her home in Bourj el-Barajne camp, she said that, in some ways, women today are better off than their mothers and grandmothers; they can work and are able to choose their own husbands. On the other hand, they cannot work on the land and therefore, in her view, ‘the older generation was better off, more comfortable’.25 Memory is also gendered, however, and women’s stories serve ‘as a challenge and a countermemory to official hegemonic history’.26 As men are the leaders and spokespeople of their communities, women have traditionally been denied the right to narrate ‘the story of Palestine’; thus, their memories are ‘smaller’, more personal. Rather than a conscious articulation of the ‘grand narrative’, women tend to focus on details: a pair of new shoes left behind, remembering to turn off the stove before leaving her house, the interruption of dancing at a wedding. As Silverstein and Makdisi suggest, memory and the narration of memory ‘play important roles in the constitution of national and postnational consciousness’.27 By their preservation of an intricate interweaving of details, women are carving out a place for themselves in the construction of ‘postnational consciousness’. During my fieldwork, I often listened spellbound as an elderly survivor of the nakba described her journey into exile: how they travelled, what they took with them or left behind, where they

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stopped along the way. Her story has no less ‘value’ than that of a man, but the emphasis may be different; whereas one embodies the need to convey a precise picture of what happened and why, the other puts greater emphasis on ‘how we felt’.

Space and Belonging: The Politics of Identity Umm Wissam’s story exemplifies the refugee experience in Lebanon. It touches on recurring themes of Palestinian identity and it is clear that certain elements, such as national dispossession in 1948, their subsequent status as refugees and their ensuing marginalization, and finally the alienation of exile and persistent repression by the Lebanese authorities, have acted together ‘to forge a collective identity’.28 Her story also raises questions about the relationship between women’s identity, their sense of ‘belonging’ and the spaces they occupy. Many of the women I interviewed have been uprooted at least once, and often more than once, as the camps where they reside have been destroyed or badly damaged; many have lost family members as a result of violence. Women are in the contradictory position of depending on home and yet, at the same time, not feeling that they belong. While their narratives indicate the existence before 1948 of a strong sense of community and shared identity, subsequent events have thrown this identity into doubt. It has been manipulated to reinforce the national myth and to manufacture an idealized image of ‘home’. Yet, in the words of Salma in Rashidiyya camp, ‘the identification with Palestine is the only thing that keeps us going’; without identity, she added, ‘there is no future’.29 I am interested in how identity, both personal and national, is formed, how the link between identity and national space is preserved, and how women’s experiences of living in exile affect their ability to participate in both the national struggle and the ‘postnational struggle’. ‘Nationalism’ is based on the claim that ‘while men and women have many identities, it is the nation which provides them with their primary form of belonging’.30 But what do we mean by ‘the nation’, especially in the case of Palestinian who do not inhabit a specific territory? Perhaps, as Crick suggests, ‘the minimum definition of the nation is a group of people who think they have the same general characteristics. The difficulties begin when one looks for actual characteristics.’31 Palestinians, as ‘a group of people who think they

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have the same general characteristics,’ locate their identity in yearning and aspiration. But the land to which they feel attached has been lost or, as Palestinians see it, ‘stolen’, which raises the question of the relationship between these feelings and the imaginary ‘nation’. Is it sufficient to acknowledge ‘the same general characteristics’ as a basis for communal solidarity? Given the gap between their national aspirations and the desperation of their daily lives, it sometimes appears to outsiders that the refugees have little to cling to other than memories; some have even suggested that they should ‘move on’. But this would disregard the emotional element of national belonging. In other words, while the ‘actual characteristics’ of the Palestinian nation are hard to pinpoint and Palestinians are ‘confined’ and ‘regulated’ by identity processes, their ‘sense of self ’ is firmly linked, as Salma said, to identification with Palestine, ‘the only thing that keeps us going’. Some scholars claim that feelings of a distinct national identity for Palestinians started to take shape in the early twentieth century in response to the encroachment of political Zionism in Palestine and the influence of nationalist ideologies elsewhere. Others argue that, as the memories of individuals tend to be localized, to be associated with a person’s village or neighbourhood, it is unrealistic to speak of a Palestinian ‘national’ identity before 1948. Sari Hanafi, for example, suggests that, although ‘the construction of Palestinian identity began after the establishment of the British Mandate in Palestine, the crystallization of this identity [ . . . ] is a relatively recent phenomenon’.32 It is informed by memory, experience and, as I have suggested, imagination. Muhammad Siddiq, too, has argued that the experience of becoming ‘a refugee nation’ after 1948 ‘has served as a major catalyst for the consolidation and development’ of Palestinian national identity’.33 Azza, an unmarried 31-year-old who has lived in Bourj el-Barajne camp all her life, confirmed this assertion. In her words: The camp is only a place where I am living. The most important thing for me is to be living with my people. There is no difference between Palestinians wherever they are; there will always be a relationship; even if a Palestinian goes abroad, he will meet others – there is always a good relationship. The big joy in my life is to imagine Palestine. This is a very deep emotion, to talk to relatives. We cry when we see on TV what is happening in Palestine.34

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Notions of ‘national identity’, clearly articulated by Azza and others, have undergone significant changes since 1948. In the process, Palestinians have developed new ways of envisaging themselves as a nation. This raises the question of how differences between Palestinians, as individuals and communities, affect the notion of a shared ‘national identity’. It also raises the question of whether it is even possible to reassemble a shattered national past. Without identity, as Salma noted, ‘there is no future’. Since identity is an attribute both of the individual and the community or nation, there is a conflict between an individual’s complex subjectivities and the narrative of the Palestinian people as a collectivity or scattered community, described by Swedenburg as ‘official Palestinian nationalism’.35 In recent years, Palestinian identity has been demonized by Israel and its supporters as violent and terrorist, and this perception is having an effect on how Palestinians practice resistance. As political activist Ghada commented, ‘the UN has voted over 100 times in favour of the Palestinians, but all of this has been ignored and this is because of the special position of Israel – supported by the US, their pampered son’.36 This observation provides a helpful understanding of Palestinian communities in exile, where ‘identity politics’ has provoked ‘relentless waves of violence’37 and ‘existing patterns of life’ have become fragmented. For Nabulsi,38 like Azza in Bourj el-Barajne, ‘identity is based exclusively on the general will’ of the Palestinian people, wherever they are. Palestinians describe themselves as a ‘nation’, but their nation most closely approximates Anderson’s ‘imagined political community’39 since they recognize that, rather than a territorial entity, their nation is an ‘ideological and political construct’.40 I firmly believe that Palestinians, while they have been denied a nation-state and are scattered all over the world, have a strong sense of themselves as a nation, in the sense that they have a shared past and a shared political and emotional agenda of wanting to return. Azza’s words confirm this. As 38-year-old Sara also remarked: ‘Wherever they are, Palestinians belong to one identity – they are Palestinian.’41 This notion of ‘Palestinian-ness’ was reaffirmed by many of the women I interviewed. Since the refugees have been denied continuity in terms of fixed location, I would argue that Palestinians, as a result of their dispersal, may also have developed multiple identities, which in no way conflicts with the overriding claim of a single Palestinian identity. While they

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insist that they are a single ‘nation’, possessing certain characteristics in common, Palestinian exile communities throughout the Middle East have also evolved into unique entities, stemming from ‘different senses of what it means to be Palestinian,’42 resulting from over 60 years of exile. This apparent ‘difference’ does not detract from the shared agenda; if they were successful in their struggle to return, some would choose to go while others would not. Besides shared history and aspirations, identity for Palestinians residing in Lebanon has been shaped by the experience of living in an alien and difficult environment, the long years of violence, the forces of modernization, continuing marginalization and of course memories of ‘home’. In addition, the question of ‘identity’ for Palestinians cannot be detached from the centrality of ‘the Cause’ and ‘the importance of sacrifice for the homeland’.43 Expanding on her claim of a single Palestinian identity, Sara said: It would be nice to live in our own country. This would be the best feeling, even if we were living in bad economic conditions; at least we would be living on our own land. But we have good relations with Palestinians in other places, especially family members; we visit or phone each other. My brother in the Netherlands had some difficulties; he was only able to return for a visit after seven years. But we manage to keep in touch with everyone.44

This notion of a ‘collective identity’ was reiterated by many of the women I interviewed. According to Ghada, who heads a women’s organization working in the camps, the Palestinian identity is of primary importance. From birth, she said, ‘young people are taught that they are Palestinian and that Lebanon is not their country’.45 Indeed, a central aspect of Palestinian identity is the sense of being different from the Lebanese, and this is reinforced through the preservation of a distinct dialect and local Palestinian traditions. Many refugee women refer to the possession of habits and ‘objects’ from Palestine; for example, Fatme who works for a non-governmental organization (NGO) in Bourj el-Shemali camp, said she still has the dress her grandmother wore when she left Palestine; ‘it is very special and I wore it last year. I also have my grandmother’s scarf.’46 Although Palestinians are dispersed around the world, and especially in the states bordering their former homeland, many of the women I interviewed, such as Sara and Azza, placed great

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emphasis on a shared identity. When I asked refugee women what they had in common with Palestinians elsewhere, their responses varied. Asma, a shopkeeper in Rashidiyya camp, said that there are differences between Palestinians in Lebanon and Syria as ‘in Syria, they have the opportunity for education and work, but this is not possible in Lebanon’.47 Her words were echoed by Sara, who asserted that ‘there is a big difference with Palestinians in Syria; they get all their human rights; also in other countries, but not Lebanon’.48 But Umm Omar in Bourj el-Barajne disagreed; in her view, ‘Palestinians are the same wherever they are; whenever they meet, they talk about the same things’.49 But is it possible to maintain a coherent identity in the absence of territory? Can we realistically speak of a ‘deterritorialized’ identity? What unites scattered and demoralized Palestinians is a determination that the Palestinian people, as a unique national entity, are not going to disappear. Edward Said has written that exiles ‘are cut off from their roots, their land, their past’; in response, they feel the need ‘to reconstitute their broken lives, usually by choosing to see themselves as a part of a triumphant ideology or a restored people’.50 However, their ‘need’ has been frequently undermined and overwhelmed by the claims of a more powerful ‘restored people’. Many of my interviewees acknowledged this but countered it with their own natural right of justice. During a British parliamentary enquiry into ‘the right of return’ conducted in 2000, Palestinian refugees across the Middle East were asked what they wanted. Despite differences in living conditions and rights, there was much uniformity in their responses: they demanded the right to return to their homeland; they called for justice; they remembered the homes that had been lost. Yet, when we start to dig below the surface of consensus, a more nuanced set of aspirations emerge. While the collectivity start with a broadly shared identity expressed through ‘continuing attachment to the notion of Palestine, the collective loss and trauma of exile, the outrage over the injustice of dispossession and mis-recognition, the idea of return, and the concept and practice of resistance,’51 individuals articulate more personal desires. The ‘notion’ of Palestine and the ‘practice of remembering and reconstructing,’52 in other words, have been augmented by experience and change. One wonders whether ‘identity’ is the same for women and men and, in the context of this book, what role violence plays in the

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gendering of identity. As I have discussed, ‘identity’ is expressed through a national struggle that involves men and women equally.53 However, men have traditionally assumed responsibility for militant action, while the bearing and raising of children remain women’s prime task and their most important contribution to the national cause. In this gender structure, we see the articulation of ‘ideal’ roles. Papanek argues that certain ‘ideals of womanhood’ are established as being integral to the realization of an ideal society.54 These are often related to traditional values, such as family ‘stability’ and an ‘unchanging’ role for women, and may be especially pronounced when processes of change are perceived as coming from beyond the group’s control, thus ‘threatening existing patterns of life’.55 The notion of ‘family stability’ is particularly valued by Palestinian society. However, I would argue that it is no longer realistic for the refugee community to aspire to ‘ideal’ roles for women, since the society as a whole can no longer define its identity in terms of a peaceful settled existence. At the same time, I believe that ‘patterns of life’ continue to be influenced by notions of an ‘ideal’ that, because it is associated with pre-nakba Palestine, is able to exert considerable pressure. An outcome for women of ‘processes of change perceived as coming from beyond the group’s control’ has been a dissolving of boundaries between their identity as keepers of the home and their membership of a community of solidarity against the outsider or ‘antagonist’. In this respect, as women’s narratives illustrate, violence has been instrumental: first, in building a unique Palestinian identity; and second in creating conditions of empowerment for women. But what impact is this identity, rooted in memory and forged through violence, likely to have on women’s relationship with place? Even though they have the benefit of shared language and culture with the host community, women may be experiencing alienation, anxiety and physical discomfort. There are several reasons for this. First, female spaces tend to be circumscribed; they ‘are largely enclosed within men’s power and a male-dominated public sphere’56 and therefore are characterized by assumptions of powerlessness. Second, through their link with home-making and child-rearing, women are assumed to have a closer relationship with the physical space of the home. Third, women are subject to the subsuming of ‘differential aspects of identity’, including those based on gender, within ‘an enveloping political and public identity’.57 Many women,

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even as they relate personal stories, are strongly aware of the need to maintain this ‘public identity’. These understandings of ‘identity’ are broadly shared by the women I interviewed, who see their own identity as a combination of remembering the homeland and gaining from that memory the strength to resist; this can certainly be defined as ‘the basis of their political identity’. At the same time, perhaps inevitably, there is a conflict between Palestinian identity, as embodied in the national narrative, and the complex reality of everyday life in the various sites of exile, and this can lead, on the one hand, to what may be described as ‘proclaimed’ memory and, on the other, to different expectations of a satisfactory outcome. Sometimes individuals relate their memories not in order to paint an accurate picture of the past, but either to assert their shared story of national suffering or to put a stop to intrusive questioning. Palestinian sociologist Sari Hanafi,58 for example, writing about his own family in a refugee camp, rightly notes that the ‘person asking the questions can determine the results’. While individual refugees may express certain reservations in private, they often to prefer to wax ‘ideological and eloquent, announcing that “as a Palestinian, like any other, I long to return no matter what the conditions”’. Sara’s words are typical: Palestine is especially blessed by God. It is my homeland, a very blessed country. I would like to live in Palestine. I raised my children to struggle and fight to liberate Palestine, and by this I mean all of Palestine. There is no alternative to return. We will never give up our right.59

Individuals, such as Sara, however, lay claim to particular places in complex and diverse ways that are both public and private. The ‘country of words’,60 is portrayed in idyllic terms but is also a place associated with pain and humiliation. Palestinians ‘went through the trauma’61 of becoming refugees, and those who found themselves in Lebanon inhabit an insecure and fearful situation – the antithesis of home. Their uprooting is commemorated as a tragic event, which endowed the refugee community with the identity of victim. This, in turn, has produced what Hoffmann describes as ‘the transmission of traumatic experiences across generations’.62 The primary motifs are mourning and nostalgia. Umm Nasif ’s narrative exemplifies the trauma of Palestinian experience. Now in her late 70s, she was born in

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the province of Safad; she lived in Nahr al-Barid camp in Tripoli until she was again forced to flee in the summer of 2007. In her words: We were farmers; we grew olives and grapes, and depended on agriculture. What is happening now reminds me of 1948, running away from bombing. We were told to leave the camp with only the clothes we were wearing. We had spent half a century building our houses; now everything is destroyed. We have a feeling that history is repeating itself.63

Palestinians as a Deterritorialized Entity We should bear in mind that the Palestinians did not choose to live in Lebanon; they are victims of forced migration, both in war and daily life. In Turton’s view, the best way of understanding forced migration is by focusing ‘not on the needs or numbers of forced migrants but on ourselves [ . . . ] forced migrants make a special claim on our concern [ . . . ]. They require us to ask what our responsibilities are to the stranger in distress [italics in original].’64 Palestinian refugees, as a special category of forced migrants, make claims not only on the resources of the Lebanese government and the international community, but also on our own ‘moral community’.65 As ‘strangers in distress’, they demand compassion and yet, as a result of complex counter-narratives by their enemies and critics, ‘our’ response tends to be equivocal; our ‘moral community’, instead of offering compassion, has turned its back, believing that the Palestinians are rooted in denial, are incapable of compromise, are terrorists. According to Amina, ‘the international community has been unfair to the Palestinians; after Hamas got elected, even the EU has stopped funding the Palestinian Authority; and UNRWA services, especially medical treatment, are decreasing’.66 Basma, a former teacher, agreed that ‘the Palestinian position is distorted internationally. If a Palestinian does something bad, everyone is implicated as terrorists.’67 For Zahira, in her early 20s, the international community ‘is only interested in helping Israel’.68 These critiques offer a perspective on why refugee communities have so little faith in outside intervention as a way of solving the problem. The removal of the majority of Palestinian Arabs from their homeland in 1948 in order to make way for the new state of Israel was an act of violence which, Palestinians argue, has never been redressed

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or even acknowledged. Much of the violence stems from the Palestinian experience of forced migration and on-going homelessness. Preston and Wong refer to ‘the profoundly geographical nature of conflicts in which men, women and children are displaced, travel long distances, settle in new places, and rebuild homes in transformed landscapes’.69 Most Palestinians did not ‘travel long distances’ but, rather, fled to neighbouring countries as close as possible to the borders of their homeland, and they waited for an opportunity to return. Some went north into Lebanon, where they and their descendants have remained ever since. Here and elsewhere, the refugees have continually had to defend their right to exist and their right to a national identity, which is constantly challenged. Writing on the sixtieth anniversary of the nakba, in May 2008, British journalist Seumas Milne commented: It is to Britain’s historic shame that having played such a central role in the creation of the Israel– Palestine conflict and the dispossession of a people it had promised to protect, it has done so little to try to right those wrongs. In [Prime Minister] Gordon Brown’s message of congratulation to Israel, he didn’t find it possible even in passing to regret the terrible injustices its foundation entailed.70

Palestinians in exile are often described as a diaspora or ‘specific sort of transnational network’,71 on which there is an abundant literature. Diasporas have been characterized in a number of ways, but there is some debate about whether this is the correct definition of the Palestinian exile community. Some analysts72 make a distinction between ‘diasporas’ from ‘other categories of persons on the move,’ such as migrants, exiles, expatriates, refugees and tourists.73 Others74 use the term ‘in a looser, more metaphoric sense’ and therefore attribute ‘diasporic features’ to a wider range of migrant groups.75 ‘Diaspora’ refers to the ‘dual loyalty that migrants, exiles, and refugees have to places – their connections to the space they currently occupy and their continuing involvement with “back home”’.76 This would appear to include Palestinian exile communities who frequently have a reluctant ‘loyalty to the space they occupy’. But it is also a complex loyalty, and many Palestinians reject the term ‘diaspora’. For Weingrod and Levy, ‘the tone and meaning’ of the word ‘diaspora’ have been changed. ‘In the older vocabulary’, they argue, the ‘homeland’ tended to be presented as ‘a sacred place filled with

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memories of past glory and bathed in visions of nobility and renaissance’.77 Such images resonate with Palestinian memories of home as a ‘sacred place’. Farzana, for example, compared Palestine to ‘heaven; we can imagine how beautiful it is’.78 For Sara, too, ‘Palestine is especially blessed by God; it is mentioned in the Qur’an, the land of three religions. It is my homeland, a very blessed country.’79 But there is another, more modern interpretation; in this view ‘diasporas’ are ‘embraced as arenas for the creative melding of cultures and the formation of new “hybridic”, mixed identities’.80 Tololyan, too, sees ‘diaspora’ as embracing immigrant, expatriate, refugee, guest-worker, exile community, overseas community and ethnic community; in other words, ‘the vocabulary of transnationalism’81 is utilized as a convenient blanket to encompass categories whose backgrounds and aspirations are widely different. Others agree that today’s diasporas have become ‘somehow normative, creating a pattern of human movement and instability, against which geographical and territorial certainties seem increasingly fragile’.82 But such positive views are unlikely to find favour with refugees in Lebanon for whom ‘exile’ is seen in terms of banishment rather than opportunity. While these discussions of ‘diaspora’ are useful in a general sense, they fail to do justice to the situation in which Palestinian exile communities currently find themselves. Safran argues correctly that the term ‘diaspora’ should be limited to populations who satisfy precise criteria, which include dispersal from an original centre to two or more peripheral regions; retention of collective memory of the homeland; partial alienation from the host society; an aspiration to return to an ancestral homeland; commitment to maintenance or restoration of that homeland; and derivation of a collective consciousness and solidarity with a relationship with the homeland.83 These criteria seem to define the various aspects of Palestinian refugee experience. Van Hear also offers a more nuanced understanding of diaspora as: populations which satisfy three minimal criteria [ . . . ]. First, the population is dispersed from a homeland to two or more territories. Second, the presence abroad is enduring, although exile is not necessarily permanent [ . . . ]. And third, there is some kind of exchange – social, economic, political or cultural – between or among the spatially separated populations comprising the diaspora.84

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Again, this definition broadly speaking is applicable to Palestinian refugees, although the notion of ‘exchange’ is problematic and the criterion that their ‘presence abroad’ will be enduring also raises questions. Notions of transnationalism and mobilities have given rise to alternative ways of viewing ‘diasporas’ and also the possibility that ‘the nation-state system [has] exhausted itself ’.85 In his essay highlighting ‘the contribution of diasporas to deterritorialization,’ Rabinowitz notes that it is necessary to redefine ‘the nexus between place and identity’ and ‘to unpack the hitherto unproblemizatized connection between territory, ethos, and state’.86 Since ‘people are chronically mobile and routinely displaced’ and, therefore, ‘invent homes and homelands in the absence of territorial national bases – not in situ, but through memories of, and claims on, places’ that they no longer inhabit,87 deterritorialized Palestinians are transformed into a symbol of ‘modern-ness’ rather than victims of an unjust fate. But, for Nabulsi,88 the notion of a cosmopolitan and mobile ‘Palestinian Diaspora’ is ‘largely a false image’. She argues that ‘the overwhelming character of the Palestinian people remains that of a landed people with a close bond to their homeland’. Her view is largely supported by the women interviewed for this book. Despite their lack of a state, Palestinians regard themselves as ‘being rooted in place and as deriving their identity from that rootedness’.89 But there is a disjuncture between the places in which they feel rooted and the places where they currently reside. Thus, rootedness becomes an abstract notion. Far from feeling that they are beneficiaries of greater mobility or are cosmopolitan citizens of a globalized world, the refugees yearn to reroot themselves in their national soil. Building on Tsagarousianou’s suggestion that ‘diasporas should be seen not as given communities, a logical, albeit deterritorialized extension of an ethnic or national group, but as imagined communities, continuously reconstructed and reinvented,’90 I want to consider the Palestinian ‘diaspora’ in terms of an ‘imagined community’.91 Although ‘home’, in the sense it is deployed by most refugees refers to ‘Palestine’, the lost homeland, other place-bound expressions of identity have developed in the camps and there is no doubt that the refugees perceive themselves as a clearly constituted national group, bound to a particular territory. Palestine is ‘imagined’, both by those who have real memories of life before 1948 and those

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who have heard the stories of parents and grandparents. For women, ‘home’ and ‘homeland’ have acquired meanings that are both political and emotional. While refugee women yearn for their lost land, they have forged complex relationships with the places where they live now. During interviews, one of the aspects of their lives that came across to me most strongly was the contrast between the nostalgic image many of these women have of their homeland and the brutal reality of their current place of residence. Women conjured in vivid terms the idealized nature of life in pre-1948 Palestine and set this against the dangers and hardships they experience in Lebanon. I was interested in the idea of a place that, although it exists now only in the memories and imaginations of exile communities, continues to be the primary source of action or lack of action; and, in contrast, the Lebanese refugee camps where many of the refugees live – in which violence, chaos and deprivation have become constant motifs. These women’s life stories contain frequent references to place, whether their village of origin, the stages of their journey into exile, or their camps of current residence.

The Gendering of Space By asserting that some areas are ‘women’s spaces’, is a society telling women that they are not welcome, not permitted or not safe elsewhere, and is this also true of ‘men’s spaces’? Do women feel they ‘belong’ in some spaces but not in others, and how does this affect their sense of national inclusion? Palestinian identity, as I argue, is an individual and a collective construct; it is expressed both through subjectivity and representation. It is also a gendered concept. Identity is shaped by an individual’s entitlement to move within communal spaces, but this varies across cultures. El-Guindi argues that what she calls ‘Arab privacy’ is based on ‘a specific cultural construction of space and time central to the functioning of Islamic society’.92 Her argument fits with a notion that is central to Western feminist thinking, of a public/private split; in other words, the separation between the public political world of men and the private domestic realm of women. But this divide needs to be deconstructed.93 In the refugee camps, as space is severely limited, it is harder to maintain barriers between the sexes; whole families are forced to occupy a few

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small rooms, which makes privacy impossible. Yet an assumption of separate spaces remains and this is strongly linked to ‘ideal’ roles. Women continue to do the bulk of cooking, cleaning and childcare and therefore they possess a sense of entitlement to occupy the spaces in which these activities take place; they mingle with other women at the food market; they chat to each other from their balconies and sit together in groups with their children; these spaces are thus visibly female. To gain a clearer picture of how gender difference has placed ‘greater restrictions on women’s mobility, and on the spaces they occupy, as compared with men’s,’94 and to ascertain whether this resonates with refugee women’s experiences, I refer to understandings of traditional Islamic societies. In such settings, every area of life is structured according to a ‘gender system’, which maintains that: relations between women and men rest on two main principles: the first is that the two genders [ . . . ] must be separated, allocated different fields of work, different spaces, different areas of influence. The second principle is that of male supremacy – whatever is the masculine arena will always be allocated the most authority, dignity, and worth.95

I would argue, however, that we should treat such generalizations with caution by asking, first of all, whether men and women in Arab societies uniformly experience the division of space in this way; and, second, whether it is indeed articulated in terms of ‘male supremacy’. Moreover, does the ‘communal solidarity’ of Palestinian society transcend conventional divisions? I suggest that, in order to appreciate how solidarity acts as an agent of mobilization for Palestinian women, we must analyse the relevance of the Islamic ‘gender system’ in terms of how ‘the subject is positioned on multiple, conflictual axes of identity/difference such that her agency itself is constituted, even enabled [ . . . ] by daily dilemmatic choices and negotiations’.96 Palestinian refugee women certainly acknowledge the importance of Islam as a framework for their lives, but it is more nuanced than Hirdman’s model suggests. Although many Palestinians believe that the Islamic texts decreed segregation between men and women, attitudes towards the occupation of space have changed over time. As women move into the workforce and higher education, their presence in public becomes

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increasingly tolerated, and even unavoidable. In most Muslim societies, women are a familiar sight on television; a minority of women has achieved political positions; and women are increasingly present in the arena of business. However, ‘space’ does not only mean movement within the physical environment; it also refers to a sense of belonging in the social structure. While Palestinian refugees are exiles in a hostile environment, they have maintained, as far as possible, a familiar framework of roles and responsibilities. The gendering of space is apparent in the camps but is increasingly challenged. This was demonstrated in a number of ways. Suad, a divorced woman with four daughters, gave two examples of how women lay claim to communal spaces: during the war and air raids on the camps, she said, women had no choice but to go out and get on with their lives – ‘it gave us more power’. With no one to support her, Suad works in the vegetable market; nowadays, she remarked, ‘women are not confined to the home. They have started to go out to work. This gives women stronger personalities and also provides an income.’97 My own observations confirm greater female confidence to inhabit the communal spaces of the camp; this is a result, as Suad said, both of the abnormal circumstances of war, which presented women with untraditional opportunities for movement, and also the pressures of everyday life, which may mean that women are the sole wage-earners for their families and have no alternative but to go out of their homes; both have increased their sense of entitlement. Space should also be understood in terms of ‘the nation’ and how it is situated. For national communities struggling against dispossession and the extinction of their identity, the notion of ‘homeland’, a place of belonging, may well assume mythical or even sacred dimensions, as the women’s testimonies reveal.

Meanings of ‘Home’ for Refugees in Lebanon I wish we had died instead of leaving but they threw us out of our houses.98

To be Palestinian now, in the words of author Suad Amery, means ‘never to feel at home, because you have no control over time or space’.99 The memory of being ‘thrown out of our houses’ continues to haunt the refugees. Umm Tareq, who is almost 80 years old and

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lives in a former hospital building in the Sabra area of Beirut, understands well what it means to have ‘no control over time or space’. She was born in Lydda in Palestine, now the Israeli ‘Lod’ airport, and remembers that ‘there were figs, lemons, olives and gooseberries’; there were also schools and hospitals, although most girls did not attend school and she herself did not learn to read or write. Umm Tareq left Palestine when she was 14, but she still feels that her home is Lydda.100 This raises the ‘question of the relation between place and identity’101 and how memories such as Umm Tareq’s affect Palestinian identity today. Attachment to the land, as her words exemplify, is passionately and frequently repeated by those who remember pre-1948 Palestine; however, for most people it was ‘not a sentimental notion but a matter of practical necessity, though subsequent loss has now made such tenacious attachment appear romanticized’.102 Almost every woman interviewed for this book, when asked what ‘home’ means for her, replied without hesitation ‘Palestine’; it is a ‘Palestine’ that is experienced on several levels, from a family memory and a place waiting for its inhabitants to return to a site of present trauma, glimpsed across a border fence or on the internet. Umm Rafiq, for example, was born in Acre city and was 14 years old when she left. She confided that: when I think of Palestine, I yearn to return. I do not know about my children but I think they share these memories. My strongest memory was, when we first entered Lebanon, we lived in tents. We were living in Rashidiyya and it was a long walk into Tyre. My mother had to cover her face because she was so pretty. We were too poor to take cars so we had to walk everywhere. Life was good before 1982 but, during the invasion, we were sometimes at home and sometimes in the shelter. We moved to Beirut and lived there for seven months, until Arafat left for Tunis.103

Pre-1948 Palestine meant not only landscape and an abundance of fruits and vegetables, but also a familiar way of life. Women such as Umm Tareq compared a settled, harmonious life in their own land with the uncertainties and humiliations of exile. Their memories are characterized, first and foremost, by feelings of loss. Those old enough to have known Palestine before 1948 described life in traditional village or rural settings, while younger women repeated the stories of their mothers and grandmothers, often in vivid and compelling detail.

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Their descriptions of customs associated with marriage and death, with styles of dress and cuisine impart a feeling of identity and solidarity, in the sense of knowing where they belong; Umm Wissam remarked that the refugees ‘still follow Palestinian traditions in everything: food, dialect, dancing’.104 Many women told me proudly how they retain their Palestinian accent as a marker of identity. They contribute to the sustaining of a scattered community through consciously gendered narratives. The possession and dissemination of these precious memories, to family members and strangers, constitutes a powerful form of female resistance and also a strong narrative of entitlement.

Nostalgic Dissidence I’m from the village of Dechoum in the Safad region of Palestine. I remember I was seven years old when we were forced out of our village and walked here to Lebanon. In the past this land was one land but they created a line between us. The enemy has been dividing us for a long time, while we are stuck in inaction. Right now all we need to do is regain Palestine. We first need to clear our hearts and unite as one people without all the unproductive divisions. Palestine is our right [ . . . ]. I ask God to punish all those who conspired against us, who made us homeless and stateless, and let’s see if they can bear the life we are living. Let them try the humiliation and deprivation that we go through. We are a people with a right. I’m only here today because I feel close to my country. I want to breathe the air of my country. We are going back to our land and it’s inevitable.105

Umm Ahmed’s defiant narrative evokes not only the land she left behind, but also the keen sense of grievance retained by those who were forced to flee, and their shared determination to put right the historical injustice. As she says, Palestinians are ‘only guests in Lebanon’, a sentiment frequently articulated during my fieldwork. While ‘there is nothing better than our land,’106 memories of home also generate feelings of loss, pain and insecurity, as Umm Ahmed’s words illustrate. The imagination of home and homeland, and the longing to return, remain very strong for Palestinians in Lebanon and, out of this sense of attachment, successive generations have enacted forms of resistance: from resilience and survival to militant activism.

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How much of this can be explained as a form of nostalgia that has given rise to ‘a series of contradictions between a realm of authenticity and fullness of being, and the actually existing forms of human association’?107 Indeed, how useful is the category of ‘nostalgia’ as a conceptual tool in understanding women’s memories? Boym argues that, although ‘nostalgia appears to be a longing for a place [ . . . ] it is actually a yearning for a different time’.108 The ‘danger of nostalgia’, she adds, ‘is that it tends to confuse the actual home and the imaginary one’.109 Umm Ahmed’s evocation of past, present and future provides a clear indication that ‘Palestine’ is not perceived as an ‘imaginary’ home. On the contrary, the words ‘We are only guests in Lebanon,’ repeated frequently by my interviewees, confirms their understanding of this continuing temporariness. For Palestinians, there is no confusion between ‘a community of history and destiny,’110 as articulated through narratives of home and homeland, and a community of suffering, as expressed through narratives of exile. Refugee women ‘denote their sense of home in multiple ways and with different functions and meanings. These range from the idea of the home in terms of spatial organization and social affiliation to the home as a concrete physical presence or a place rich with symbolic meaning [ . . . . It is also seen] as a place of safety.’111 However, the meaning of ‘home’ as a place of safety and nurture is increasingly contested.112 Often, for women, home is a site of violence and fear, a place to which they are attached by circumstances rather than choice. Versions ‘of place which see it as an unproblematical “home”, as a site of indulgence in nostalgia,’113 resonate with the notion of a gender system. Massey argues that the construction of home as ‘a woman’s place’ highlights the view of place ‘as a source of stability, reliability and authenticity’.114 It is, in other words, inherently dangerous. These ‘versions of place’ are thrown into question by the experiences of Palestinian camp women. For them, ‘home’ contains much ambivalence, and may also be a ‘place of conflict’; in Kassem’s words ‘a battlefield coming under attack’.115 While the place where a person resides may feel ‘familiar’ and ‘safe’, Palestinians understand that the protection it affords is deceptive. On the one hand, the refugee community, since its arrival in Lebanon, has faced constant danger and insecurity outside the home and, occasionally, forcible intrusion into the home; on the other hand, most of the refugees regard ‘home’, in any meaningful sense, as Palestine. Many of the

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women I interviewed confirmed this. Umm Nidal, a 42-year-old woman living in Bourj el-Barajne camp in Beirut said that ‘there is no alternative to return’. To live in dignity in one’s homeland, she added, would be better than living in Lebanon.116 Souad in the same camp observed that home means power; ‘as long as you have your own land’, she said, ‘this is power’.117 For Hala, who described herself as a ‘housewife’, home means having honour and dignity.118 And Manal, speaking to me in 2011, said simply that Palestine ‘means everything’: sympathy, yearning, hope for the future, ‘it gives us hope to live’.119 Their narratives articulate a clear division between ‘the actual home and the imaginary one’ and provide a critique of conventional understandings of ‘diaspora’. As the majority of Palestinians in Lebanon, such as Hala, Souad and Manal, have never seen their homeland, their relationship with geography is complex. Home is ‘much more than a physical structure. The house is the site of lived relationships’.120 The collective home, Palestine, on the other hand, ‘is presented as a site of commemoration [ . . . ]. It not only signifies loss, but is also the one place where history and memory are transmitted, thereby preserving the continuity of cultural and national identity.’121 We should note the significant differences in background between individual refugee women. While some originated from rural, farming environments, others were from cities or towns. Many were relatively impoverished, although a few had enjoyed wealth and status in Palestine. In leaving their land behind, all of them became equally ‘poor’, their identities homogenized. Most of the women who had travelled to Lebanon from Palestine were unschooled; the ones who survive were young when they left and it is likely that their memories are not entirely reliable. Nonetheless, there is firm thread running through their narratives, of confusion, shock and fear; the vast majority did not leave of their own free will. It is not only the elderly who claim knowledge of Palestine. Most refugees have heard stories about their homeland. They know about the villages that their parents or grandparents left behind and about the rituals of everyday life. The food, dress and ‘moral behaviour’ of home, which means the way life was conducted in Palestine, provide comfort and a sense of continuity. Hayat, who is 39 years old and lives in Baddawi camp in Tripoli, related how her parents left Palestine in 1948: ‘it was a long road’, she said, ‘people walked, some were killed, everyone was very afraid.’ For

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Hayat too, Palestine is ‘paradise on earth’; she regards it as home. ‘Home’, she said, means dignity, belonging, name – everything.122 As women ‘struggle to shape the meanings of spaces and create places, they reconstitute and transform gender relations’.123 This has certainly been true for Palestinian refugee women in Lebanon, whose efforts to ‘create places’ have accommodated nostalgia but also, as I argue, have challenged it. While there remains some dispute about the events of 1948, what happened next is not in doubt. The new Israeli state wasted no time constructing its own meta-narrative of entitlement. In the words of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon: ‘Our parents came with a dream and struggled against all odds until they realized the dream.’124 Their ‘dream’ was to establish continuity with what Jews call the biblical ‘land of Israel’. To do this, they had to create and nurture their own national myth while, at the same time, systematically de-legitimizing all Palestinian claims to the land. Following the nakba, Israeli politicians and scholars devoted themselves to constructing an elaborate framework of justification, much of which depended on transformation of the landscape and changing the Arab place names into Hebrew ones. It was not enough to have conquered the land and driven out most of its inhabitants, narratives of entitlement and redemption also needed to be put in place. To accomplish this deception, Israel ‘has to deny and suppress Palestinian history. To impose its design on Palestine, it has to somehow make the Palestinians disappear.’125 This process embodies another form of violence, the violence of erasure, whereby the narratives of Zionism, ‘annulling Palestine, denying its oppression by Israel, and telling the one-sided story of Zionism as a liberation movement’126 have sought to obliterate Palestinian national identity. The Israeli establishment’s objective was to render ‘the refugees memory-less objects and the land impossible to remember as Arab’.127 The process of erasure also highlights the gendering of space and memory; while ‘national identity’ tends to be the preserve of men, ‘the land’ and memories of ‘how we used to be’ are often coded female. Once the human landscape, the indigenous population, disappears, ‘the physical space is inevitably transformed’.128 Inspired by the provocative slogan ‘A land without a people for a people without a land,’ the Israelis set about demolishing villages and urban neighbourhoods in order to ensure ‘the physical erasure of Arab

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existence’129 and the official policy of non-return ‘tried to eradicate Palestinian memory’.130 The ‘politics of place names’, as Ra’ad suggests, ‘captures the essence’ of the Palestinian – Israeli conflict; this topic relates ‘to power and entitlement, to assumptions in the Zionist claim system, to colonizing strategies and the response by the colonized’.131 The ‘response by the colonized’ has been a persistent refusal to forget; the original place names and the character of the landscape live on in the memories of refugees. Muntaha is over 80 years old; she was born in the village of Kabri in Acre province and got married before she left; she used to work in the fields and orchards. They were self-sufficient, she said, ‘everything came from the land’.132 Umm Nabil, whose family was also from Kabri, told a similar story. She said that Kabri ‘is beautiful; it depends on agriculture; there is a stream with sweet-tasting water, many trees’.133 According to records, the village of Kabri was well-known for its many springs, including Ayn Mafshuh, Ayn Fawwar, Ayn al-Asal and Ayn Kabri, which together were the largest freshwater source in Palestine. The village contained an aqueduct built during the Hellenistic period, which supplied ancient Acre with water; it also had a water canal, built in the nineteenth century. In 1948, the village had a population of 6,218 and 1,477 houses; the land was overwhelmingly Arab-owned. Kabri was ‘ethnically cleansed’ of its inhabitants and occupied by the Israelis on 21 May 1948. All that remains of the village, according to historian Walid Khalidi, ‘are crumbled walls and stone rubble overgrown with thorns, weeds and bushes’.134 However, by seeking to impose its Zionist identity on the landscape,135 the Israeli state also succeeded in igniting an abstract and deterritorialized notion of a ‘Palestinian nation’ that continues to be nourished by the dreams and memories of those in exile. As a Palestinian child in Jenin declared: ‘The Israelis can kill and maim, but they cannot win [ . . . ] all the mothers will have more children [ . . . ] and we will continue the struggle’.136 Her words echo those of Nabila in Rashidiyya camp who said that she was raising her children to fight the Israelis because the Israelis had hurt their mother; as a consequence, she said, ‘they have to continue until they get their homeland back completely’.137 Sara, too, is proud that she raised her children to struggle and fight to liberate Palestine.138 Similarly, Umm Abdullah in Bourj el-Barajne camp who said that Palestinians are

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hopeful they will return; her parents told her a lot about their home and she tells her children what her parents told her; they have to fight, she said, ‘so that the next generation might return’.139 In the end, as Boym observes, ‘the only antidote for the dictatorship of nostalgia might be nostalgic dissidence’.140

Reality of Home: The Refugee Camp as a Site of Significance Since they have been home to several generations of refugees, the camps themselves have become sites of significance. For example, after its destruction by the Lebanese Phalange militia in 1976, Tel al-Zaatar camp in Beirut ‘became a symbol of tragedy, a repository of memory of defeat, massacre, and erasure [ . . . ] it also symbolizes heroic resistance’. Shatila camp, too, after the 1982 massacre ‘became closely linked to heroic defence, steadfastness, and tragedy.141 In response to threats against their lives and homes, refugee women ‘creatively imposed their own imprints on the space and meaning of the camps’.142 These ‘imprints’ were revealed by many of the women interviewed for this book. Maha, who works for a NGO in Beirut, said: Palestinian women, in general, become more active during difficult times, for example war; they become more involved in political and public life. For example, in 1982 –85, they played a very important role because the men were in prison or in exile, and therefore women became responsible. They organized demonstrations to ask Israel to release Palestinian men. They participated in the great struggle against the Israeli invasion, and also in the camp wars. As the men could not go out of the camps, the women became responsible for defending the camps. Women had to organize how to move as they were the only ones who could go outside.143

Such ‘imprints’ are an important source of strength for the community but, as Maha added, ‘there was no respect for women’. She related how a group of Amal fighters came to her home at midnight to search for weapons; ‘they behaved badly towards the women, even my 80-year-old grandmother’. The camps themselves tend to be small claustrophobic environments, in which gossip is rife. Even those who appreciate

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the symbolic value and the protection provided by the camp are critical of its many shortcomings; the inadequate structures, overcrowding and lack of amenities. Umm Nabil, in her early 60s, born in Palestine, declared it does not matter whether she lives inside or outside the camp. The problem in the camp, she added, is that no one has any privacy in their home; for example, if she wants to argue with her husband or children, everyone can hear and will gossip.144 Umm Ghassan agreed that ‘living in the camp is difficult’, especially if a woman has no one to support her; the houses are not healthy.145 Women must also take care not to contravene the social conventions of camp life. Umm Ja’far, who became a widow at the age of 22, told me that society makes life very difficult for widows; after the death of her husband, she could not live alone and was forced to return to her parents’ home. ‘People gossip’, she said, ‘and imply that I may not be a respectable woman.’146 But Umm Omer disagreed. ‘I feel safer in the camp,’ she said, ‘because I am in my own house; I can sleep with my doors unlocked and I feel safe with my own people around me.’147 Unfortunately, even the safety of the camp is no longer certain, as impoverished outsiders have begun to move into some of the camps. In addition, the high rate of joblessness in the camps leads to frustration among unemployed or underemployed men which, in turn, sometimes finds an outlet in violence against women and children; the risk of physical and psychological illness is a prevalent factor; and the absence of the means to take care of their children is driving some women to desperate measures, such as involvement in the sex industry. I heard the story of a woman in Bourj el-Barajne camp whose husband had died, leaving her to bring up several children. In the early 1990s, she lost her job as a cleaner and, as one of her children was already at university and another was about to start, the woman in desperation turned to prostitution. She felt she had no choice because if she did not do it her daughters might be forced into it. As a person who was respected within the camp community, however, she felt shameful and dirty and was terrified that her secret would get out. A woman in Shatila camp confirmed that ‘women must bear the weight of special scrutiny’.148 In her words, a woman ‘should be controlled because eyes are fixed on women [ . . . ] she must respect her house, and respect herself ’.149 Women are also only too aware that home is not necessarily a ‘place of safety’. This is illustrated starkly by the testimonies of survivors of

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the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre. Shahira Abu Roudeina, whose eye-witness account formed part of the complaint lodged in Belgium against Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, recalled the night of Thursday 15 September. Her father and sister had already been shot dead and the remainder of the family had locked themselves inside the house: The noise of the killing and the screams haunted us until dawn. At five in the morning, they came down through the roof and suddenly we saw them on the stairs in front of the door of the bedroom where we were. About fifteen armed men positioned themselves at the window, and four of them came in. The children screamed and cried, and we women screamed, too. They put the men against the wall – my husband, my paternal cousin and my brother – and they pumped them full of bullets in front of us.

It is understandable, therefore, that for Nadia, a 20-year-old woman in Bourj el-Barajne camp, Lebanon means ‘nothing’. The camp, she said, is ‘temporary’, whereas ‘home’ means safety and security, and this can only be achieved in Palestine. ‘I feel unsafe in Lebanon,’ she said, ‘because I’m afraid that Israel might come at any time.’150 Samira in Baddawi camp agreed; her own experience of Lebanon has been violent; some Lebanese sympathize with the Palestinian cause, she said, but others ask why the Palestinians came to Lebanon; it is ‘a kind of racism’, she added.151 The relationship between Palestinian refugees and the Lebanese host community is complex and has shifted over time. Although there remains a strong undercurrent of support for what is generally regarded as an unresolved injustice, some Lebanese perceive the refugees as a disruptive element, responsible for much of the violence that has plagued their country since the 1950s. For others, ‘Palestine’ is a noble cause; Lebanese, as individuals and groups, have fought for the Palestinians and spoken out for their rights. When they first arrived in Lebanon, the refugees did not imagine they would be staying long. But while they did not want to be there and had no sense of permanence, they also saw the need to improve their living conditions. Housing in the camps tends to unhealthy and overcrowded, as increasing numbers of people are forced to inhabit confined spaces. In camps such as Shatila and Bourj el-Barajne, the ‘streets’ between houses are narrow, meaning that neighbours are uncomfortably close. This kind of enforced ‘neighbourliness’ leads to

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unsought intimacy and any notion of privacy has to be abandoned. The camps are also in urgent need of repair and modernization. Huda, who is 15 years old and lives in an unregistered camp in the south, said that ‘the roads of the camp should be fixed. There are a lot of tin houses and some are still made of blocks of soil.’152 There is a tension between the natural desire to be comfortable and ‘at home’, on the one hand, and reluctance on the part of most refugees to become settled on the other. For example, a plan by UNRWA in 2007 to improve living conditions for camp dwellers was greeted with suspicion. While some argued in favour of greater comfort, others saw ‘the use of concrete in construction [ . . . ] as a threat to the Palestinians’ struggle to return to their homeland’.153 When I first visited Beirut in the early 1990s, I was taken to visit Shatila camp. It appeared to me to be a bleak, desolate place; many of the houses were damaged and there were piles of rubble and unexploded land mines at the entrance to the camp. It was hard to imagine how its residents could even begin to construct tolerable lives. In the intervening period, little has changed. During a visit to Bourj el-Barajne camp soon after the 2006 Israeli invasion, which had targeted the Shi’a area of Haret Hreik situated close to the camp, women pointed out to me the structural damage caused to their homes; while they are indifferent to the camp as a site of belonging, they insist that UNRWA must repair and maintain their houses. UNRWA has acknowledged that the majority of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon ‘live in appalling conditions; conditions that fall well below minimum international environmental, health and safety standards’. At the end of 2005, Fouad Siniora, then Lebanese prime minister, had a meeting with the director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, Richard Cook, to discuss the government’s intention to improve humanitarian conditions in the refugee camps. This represents ‘a significant change’ in the Lebanese government’s thinking on the refugee issue.154 But, according to camp residents, there have been no discernible improvements. Almost everyone agreed with Nadia that ‘home’ means Palestine, but it sometimes became apparent that it was meant in an abstract or symbolic sense. Although the right of Palestinian return is not negotiable, there are reasons why women might be unable or unwilling to go back: the country is not safe, a husband, child or parent is buried in Lebanon. For some women, Lebanon itself has

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become ‘home’; for example Umm Samir, an elderly woman who was born in Palestine, said that she now considers Lebanon is her country; she is not hoping to return to Palestine; she prefers to stay rather than moving to another place. She does not want to leave the camp; it is ‘like Palestine’ for her.155 Liana, who is 15 years old and lives in an ‘unregistered’ camp in southern Lebanon, expressed a similar opinion; she would like to return to her country, she said, but at the same time she would not like to go; Lebanon, in one way or another, ‘has become our country’ and she would be afraid to go back to Palestine ‘to find war and destruction’.156 Umm Khalid pointed out that there is a difference between ‘home’ and ‘homeland’; home is equated with husband and children, the place where one lives, but homeland means belonging – everyone goes back to it; ‘it is everything for us,’ she said.157 A younger woman, Muna, agreed. She has no choice but to live in the camp, she said, but it ‘is only a place’.158 Several women echoed this sentiment. Fadwa, a 31-year-old woman, said that the camp is ‘just a place where I happen to be living’; the most important thing is ‘to be with my people’.159 Layla concurred that Lebanon is ‘only a place to live’. Everyone treats the Palestinians differently, she added. She does not feel comfortable and has no sense of belonging.160 Umm Tariq, a 52-year-old mother of six children, said that her homeland is ‘in my heart’, in memories and imagination.161 Yet, while the camps may be ‘only a place to live’ and have the appearance of shanty towns, they are often very hospitable environments. Most of the women were interviewed in their own homes, which contained treasured personal items and pictures of loved ones. In addition, there ‘is probably not a house, however small and poor, in a refugee camp in Lebanon where images of Palestine are not prominently displayed,’162 very often a picture of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. Without exception, the women went out of their way to make me feel welcome; hot or cold drinks were usually offered and sometimes also fruit or cakes. On the other hand, many Palestinian women display feelings of attachment to the camps where they live, but these are also ambivalent feelings and denote a complex sense of belonging. Umm Hassan remarked that ‘the most amazing thing about the camp is that people, especially older people, do not feel lonely; they can always see their neighbours; this is the positive side’. However, the negative side is that, unlike the Lebanese, ‘we have no one to protect us; we

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experience racism’.163 The refugees could not hope to recreate Palestine in the alien environment of Lebanon but they could at least preserve some of the habits and traditions of home and, in this respect, women have played a key role. Refugee narratives ‘show how women reproduce a sense of place while out of place in numerous ways’; for example, by refusing to relocate outside camps and by fostering social networks that re-establish Palestinian belonging.164 The networks sustained by camp women are rooted not only in family and geographic ties, but also shared memories. Several women in Bourj el-Barajne camp talked about the meanings of this place, which is the only home they have known. Umm Walid, a middle-aged woman with seven children, said ‘the camp is our society and culture’.165 For Rasmiyeh, too: ‘Living in the camp is not that bad. You feel that you live among Palestinians like yourself. We are accustomed to camp life.’166 According to Latifeh: ‘I like living in the camp. I was born and raised here. I do not like to live outside because I feel my heart is in the camp.’167 Umm Munir, a woman in her early 40s, observed that the camp is calm, better than living outside; if anything happens, ‘we are with our own people’.168 Hanan, aged 44, agreed that it is important to be together. She said that she prefers the camp to being outside because, as long as she is there, she is ‘with the revolution’. Outside the camp ‘feels like strangers’.169 Umm Walid insisted that the people in the camp have to defend each other so that no one can attack them. Her neighbour Siham stressed that, in the camp, she is with her own people: ‘we endure the same suffering’.170 The reasons given by these women are practical but also of symbolic significance in terms of protection and mutual support.

The Multiple Violences of Homelessness Women in the camps refer to the expulsion from their homeland in 1948 is one of their worst memories of violence. Besides the personal stories of tragedy and struggle associated with this period, it also marks the start of a shared national trauma of dispossession and the humiliation of being in a place but never belonging. In addition, the refugees have been affected by the various wars, invasions and massacres that have beset their community – and Lebanon in general – since the late 1940s, which have disrupted their ability to feel at home. Husna, who lives in Bourj el-Shemali camp, described a

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massacre in the camp in 1982 when the Israelis bombed a shelter and over 100 people died. In another bombed shelter, she said, five died; ‘whole families were killed in this way’.171 Umm Tareq in Sabra described how her husband and three of her sons were killed in the Tal al-Zaatar massacre in 1976. First, she lost her parents in Palestine, she said, then her sons in Lebanon.172 Hala, a middle-aged woman in Ain el-Hilwe camp, remembered her father who was murdered in the Sabra and Shatila massacre in 1982. In her words: My father was one of the group that went to see the Israelis. My uncle and brother wanted to go as well but my father insisted he would go alone. He sacrificed himself. The Red Cross told us to collect his body, to bury him. We heard that Saad Haddad’s army had arrived so we ran away; the people who were killed remained unburied for many days. When people inside the camp began to say that people were being killed, others did not believe it. The bodies were placed in plastic sacks and buried in big holes. I did not see my father; I was with another woman, from Tal al-Zaatar, searching for dead bodies, but I did not recognize my father. Eventually my brother found him.173

This desperate image of a young woman searching for her dead father evokes the very worst excesses of violence against Palestinians in Lebanon. The violence perpetrated by the Lebanese state against Palestinian refugee communities is constantly reiterated as a cause of misery. In the view of Umm Khalid in Bourj el-Barajne camp, Palestinians are treated badly in Lebanon. There have been wars and discrimination. She said, ‘I never feel safe; I worry about attack and I do not trust the Lebanese’.174 Following the 1982 massacre, residents of Shatila were subjected to ‘continual harassment from the Lebanese forces’. According to Umm Ahmed: Since the PLO [Palestinian Liberation Organization] left Beirut, life has been very difficult for the Palestinians who remain. First it was the Israelis, now it is the Lebanese. During the invasion there was a lot of propaganda against us. The Lebanese people believe that we are responsible for what happened. After the massacres Lebanese soldiers took many of those who survived away, maybe to prison – I don’t know – but they never came back. With the PLO gone we have nobody left to defend us, so all the time we are searched, insulted and searched again.175

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Maha agreed that the ‘Lebanese forces still hate the Palestinians because of the demographic situation. They worry that Lebanon will be obliged to naturalize Palestinians and this will break the equilibrium of religious sects.’176 In the summer of 2007, during fierce battles between the Lebanese army and the Islamist group Fatah al-Islam, approximately 40,000 Palestinian refugees were forced to flee from their homes in the Nahr al-Barid camp near Tripoli in northern Lebanon. I had the opportunity later that year to interview some of the women who had taken up temporary residence in Bourj el-Barajne camp and they revealed another side to Palestinian imaginings of ‘home’. According to Fadwa, a 35-year-old woman, Nahr al-Barid was ‘completely different’ from other camps in Lebanon. ‘We had a lovely life,’ she said, ‘we lived peacefully.’ The houses were bigger and more beautiful than those in Bourj el-Barajne; they were tidier, with better furniture and gardens. The camp is equated, she said, ‘with the homeland; we forgot Palestine because we were living happily and we had land’.177 Umm Ahmad, also in her 30s, has lived in Nahr al-Barid since 1986. She agreed that life in the camp was very beautiful. She and her husband built their own house 15 years ago, but in 2007 ‘we lost everything’.178 These women were devastated by the loss of their homes, their community and all their possessions. Their experience confirmed their powerlessness and lack of protection. Deep-seated hostilities also emerged. According to news reports, many Lebanese civilians in Tripoli welcomed the army’s actions, thus ‘bringing to the surface longstanding tensions between Lebanese and Palestinians’. One man said: ‘We wish the government would destroy the whole camp and the rest of the camps [ . . . ]. Nothing good comes out of Palestinians.’179 Suha’s account of her family’s flight from Nahr al-Barid provides a vivid example: We left the camp with nothing. We even lost our shoes while running away. The only thing we brought with us was the stuffed animal that our daughter was carrying. People started to leave the camp because they heard there would be massacres; we were afraid because we had heard stories about Sabra and Shatila. The Lebanese army was shooting at people; the children were panicking; everyone was screaming. The way was very difficult. We walked a long way. A minibus was brought by a Palestinian from [Baddawi], but

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they were shooting at the buses too. The driver decided to keep going; the Lebanese army kept shooting even though they were aware they were shooting at civilians. The army even cut off the roads so that the Palestinians could only get to Baddawi. Most people were sleeping on the streets, in mosques and kindergartens.180

Suha’s relative, Muna, added that Lebanese civilians were also shooting at the fleeing Palestinians. ‘One couple tried to take a short cut,’ she said, ‘but they were shot by a Lebanese civilian.’181 The future of these former residents of Nahr al-Barid is uncertain; although the camp is being rebuilt, many have no idea whether they will be allowed to return or will be resettled elsewhere. Umm Salah, in her mid-70s, remarked that it reminded her of 1948, when she and her family had to run away from bombing.182 As these women’s accounts reveal, many Palestinians fear that the government’s unspoken agenda is to expel all Palestinians from the country. The experience of the Nahr al-Barid residents is similar to those displaced from Tel al-Zaatar after the siege and massacre of 1976. Refugees forced to move to Shatila ‘wistfully reminisced about the “good days” [ . . . ] when the camp was like a big village [ . . . ]. People used to know one another, know where they came from.’183 We hear such sentiments also from Palestinian refugees displaced to Lebanon from neighbouring Syria in 2012 as a result of the escalating civil war. Mufida Nasser, who was born in Jaffa and lived in Damascus since 1948, ‘barely remembers her early childhood’. She asserted: ‘Of course I will return. My home is in Syria in Yarmouk.’184 Following the 1982 massacre of Sabra and Shatila, when much of the camp was destroyed, people started to return to resume their lives because ‘there is nowhere else for us to go’.185 The recollections of women who lived in these places evoke the complexity of their belonging; although their memories are characterized by the violence of massacre or displacement, they are able to recall ‘the good days’ or ‘the lovely life’ they had enjoyed. This suggests that they have an ability, by necessity, to separate home as a site of protection and family life from the traumatic reality. The lives of Palestinians have, in some ways, become ‘a metaphor for defeat and trauma’186 and it sometimes seems that their collective identity will always be tinged by the scars of tragedy. Trauma occurs ‘when members of a collective feel they have been subjected to a

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horrendous event that leaves indelible marks on their group consciousness, marking their memories forever and changing their future identity in [ . . . ] irrevocable ways’.187 The experiences of Palestinians in Lebanon can certainly be described as ‘a horrendous event’, as the women’s recollections attest. However, most of the refugees do not regard their memories of ‘48’ as a ‘dictatorship of nostalgia’ but rather as a communal responsibility, handed down through generations, not to forget. As Samira in Baddawi camp asserted, home means having faith that ‘one day I will return to Palestine or my children will return’.188 The notion that nostalgia is somehow debilitating or sentimental is challenged by women such as Samira. In her discussion of ‘grass-roots commemorations’ in the camps of Lebanon, Khalili argues that the refugees commemorate their lost villages and their lives before 1948 ‘not as an act of nostalgia, but as a meaningful political activity inscribed in the organization of their daily lives, their identity and their social institution’.189 I would also argue that the ‘act of nostalgia’ may also be interpreted as a constructive response to events beyond their control.

The ‘Palestine of Our Imagination’ The theme of this chapter has been the many forms of violence associated with ‘contested spaces’. I have attempted, first of all, to make a connection between the solid reality of the homeland to a ‘Palestine of our imagination’. Second, I have aimed to unravel the vexed relationship between the refugees and the Lebanese host community. Third, I have explored the links between the ‘violence of erasure’ and the gendering of spaces, places and memory. Over the years, the reality of ‘Palestine’ has faded for the refugees. It has become a cherished memory, handed down through the generations; a myth, as useless as the rusting keys for houses in Haifa and Kabri that no longer exist. A 1998 film made with children in Shatila camp reveals the rosy imaginings of ‘home’ compared to the grim brutality of everyday life in Lebanon.190 ‘Home’, for these children and many others, has been mythologized. But as the older generation, the ones who made the journey from Palestine, gradually passes away, the tangible link with the land diminishes. To ease the transition from reality to imagination, in some of the camps old people have been encouraged to tell their stories about Palestine to groups of younger

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people, in the same way that families have passed their memories of home on to their children. In the words of political activist Hoda: As NGOs and political parties, we have done a lot of work on the memories of Palestinians; this is a result of living so long outside our country. It starts at kindergarten level, the transmission of memories; we tell children about their history, about Palestine, about the discrimination we suffer. Most NGOs give special attention to strengthening memory across generations. Families should give the same attention but life problems tend to take priority.191

Museums have been established near Tyre in southern Lebanon and in Shatila camp in Beirut to preserve some of the documents and artefacts that connect Palestinians in Lebanon to their homeland. But Umm Salih, born in Palestine in 1944, said that: My children and grandchildren are not interested in the stories. One day, my granddaughter was doing some research about Palestine, for a school project; she asked her grandfather and he told her all about the positive side. So I asked him why he did not tell her about the bad things that happened. For instance, one of my relatives was carrying a grenade; at that time, we were living in the border area, in a tent; he was a child and did not know what it was; he threw the grenade into the fire – it exploded and he lost his toes. We should always speak about these bad things too.192

Her words inject a note of realism into an event that has been perceived, by its participants and others, as the starting point of national and communal solidarity. They remind us of the complexities of ordinary people’s lives and the fact that many of the participants in the ‘catastrophe’ of 1948 suffered personal tragedy that continues to colour their relationship with the homeland. The ‘official’ voice of Palestine has always been one of militant struggle; the nakba was a violent conflict and it is largely remembered through male narratives of heroism, the ‘positive side’ referred to by Umm Salih; women’s recollections have been muted and even rendered irrelevant. In response to the dominant discourse, I have tried to illustrate how Palestinian refugee women have used homemaking as a way of expressing agency. The tenacity with which women protect and are protected by their homes is reiterated time and again. By recreating ‘home’ in exile, they not only lay claim to an

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alternative site of belonging but also establish social networks. Beyond fear and feelings of alienation, their experiences reinforce a sense of solidarity within refugee communities and it is important to stress the significant argument that Palestinian women are not only victims, although the degree of victimization has been great. In an atmosphere of violence, they find coping mechanisms and appropriate strategies to counter the pressures of conflict. Adherence to religious belief, as well as involvement in political and welfare activities and physical activism, are some of the methods employed by women. ‘Palestinian women became more active during difficult times,’ as NGO worker Maha remarked.193 The narratives of many of the women I interviewed support her observation. Some of them told stories of how they rebuilt their homes and camps, for example in Ain el-Hilwe camp in Sidon following the Israeli invasion of 1982 and in Shatila camp after the massacre, and this is a source of pride. Their relationship with the homes in which they live, rather than the memory of a long lost homeland, thus becomes part of a strategy of survival. Despite their longing to ‘return’ to the homes from which they or their parents or grandparents fled in 1948, women acknowledge that they have constructed lives in Lebanon and, for many, Lebanon itself has become home, the site of happy events such as marriage, the birth of children and the forging of communities. But it has also been an inhospitable environment: Lebanese public discourse ‘is saturated with negative representations of Palestinians’; the refugee camps ‘are perceived as breeding grounds for lawlessness and militancy [ . . . and the] people of the camp are seen either as potential terrorists or wanted criminals’.194 There is also ambivalence about the notion of greater permanence or ‘resettlement’ in the host country, an outcome fiercely resisted by most Palestinians. As a result of these feelings and despite the fact that several generations of Palestinians have been born and lived their whole lives in Lebanon, they lack a real sense of belonging. They remain ‘refugees’, a temporary presence living on the fringes of Lebanese society. There are also generational differences. The older generation, by their own accounts, retains a strong attachment to ‘Palestine’ and a longing to return; however, younger generations, with the benefit of education and a broader world view, have adopted an attitude of survival, not only in terms of militant resistance and coping with difficult circumstances, but also through attempts to imagine a

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different future. They describe themselves as ‘those who resist and fight, those who will never give up’.195 Some observers argue that a new narrative is emerging. In the words of one: ‘Since 1948 the Palestinian narrative was al-nakba [ . . . a] narrative [ . . . of] loss and suffering, of exile and refuge.’ However, the narrative being shaped in recent years ‘is one of heroism, of struggle for freedom, liberation and independence. It is a narrative of the meek against the mighty, of resistance and determination.’196 While these developments are encouraging, they are unlikely to succeed unless they address fully the core issue, the refugees’ yearning for home, the Palestine of their imagination.

Chapter 4

‘She Still Has the Key’

The Multiple Violences of Exile The grandmother stood up and shuffled into a little hut-like concrete alcove, her bedroom, and emerged carrying something in a handkerchief. ‘It is from our home in Haifa’, she said, unwrapping the cloth. And there was her key, its gunmetal grey shaft rusted brown but the handle still gleaming. How many families kept these keys? They did not know. Only the grandmother was old enough to have lived in Palestine. Her son and his family regarded the instrument as the key to ‘their’ home, just as they regarded Haifa as ‘their’ town although they had never been there.1 When we had locked the house up my mother put the key in her pocket and said, ‘I must get that veranda repaired when we get back’. She still has the key.2

For Palestinians, the significance of 1948 cannot be underestimated; this was the year of the nakba, or catastrophe, when the majority of Palestinians fled from or were forced to leave their homes and their land in order to make way for the new state of Israel.3 It was the year that ‘Palestine ceased to exist. It lost its name, it lost its territory, and it lost many of its people.’4 The events of 1948 have their roots in the late nineteenth century when the Zionist movement, organized in response to anti-Jewish racism in Europe, chose Palestine as the preferred site to create a Jewish state, since it possessed historical and religious significance for the Jewish people. Arguing ‘that Jews constitute a single nationality, the Zionists advocated the founding of a state as a physical expression of Jewish nationalism and as a place and refuge for world Jewry from oppression and violence’.5 In this endeavour, they had considerable support from outside. The British

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government, first through the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which pledged support for ‘a national home for the Jewish people’, and then through its mandatory regime in Palestine from 1922 to 1947, ‘enabled the Zionists to create the springboard from which they were ultimately able to take over the entire country at the expense of its indigenous population’.6 Zionist success rested on two principal foundations: first, they ‘imported a European nationalist ideology and adapted it to the colonization of Palestine’; and, second, they established a convincing connection with the past.7 For Palestinian Arabs, however, the Zionist campaign to claim and transform their country was simply another example of European colonial expansion. In the history of ‘colonial production’, as Spivak notes, ‘the subaltern has no history and cannot speak’8 and this was the case for colonized Palestinians whose voice remained unheeded. In this chapter, I will discuss the traumatic events of 1948, the journey into exile and the early difficult life as refugees in Lebanon. There are still women alive today in the camps who remember life in Palestine before 1948 and I will draw on their voices of experience. Many others have inherited memories. This indicates the continuing centrality of this period to Palestinians’ lives. I will argue that the violence unleashed during the nakba shaped the framework in which Palestinian victimization took root. In response to a triumphant and entitled Zionist narrative of ‘return’, Palestinian voices became muted. Israel quickly moved to occupy the high moral ground, thus legitimizing Palestinian dispossession. I will also explore how demoralized Palestinians started to reject victimhood and embarked on a project of resistance. This incorporated women and had profound implications for gender dynamics in an otherwise conservative society.

Conflicting Narratives of Territory For years, I thought this obsession with places and family names and who was related to whom was just a quirk of my parents [ . . . ]. It took me years to realize that after 1948, establishing a person’s origin became for Palestinians a kind of mapping, a surrogate repopulation of Palestine in negation of the Nakba. It was their way of recreating the lost homeland, as if the families and

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the villages and the relations they had once known were all still there, waiting to be reclaimed.9

One of the most violent aspects of the conflict, as far as the Palestinians are concerned, is the loss – or theft – of territory. As discussed in Chapter 3, they are attached to their land in both real and symbolic ways. There has been a Palestinian Arab presence on the land for thousands of years, despite Zionist arguments to the contrary. But their claims to it are contested by a conflicting and more powerful Israeli narrative of entitlement. Territory lies at the heart of the conflict, the notion of a land sacred to two peoples. In pre-1948 Palestine, the aim of the Zionist movement and its leader David Ben-Gurion was ‘to gain control of as much territory as possible with the fewest possible Arab residents’. This was a necessary stage that would lead to ‘the re-establishment of the Kingdom of Israel on the territories that Ben Gurion imagined were its biblical boundaries’.10 Zionist claims rest on assumed religious traditions: ‘the historicity of biblical narratives [ . . . ] the myth of Diaspora, the religious importance of Hebrew, and claims of Judaism as the first monotheism’.11 Basem Ra’ad, however, argues that such traditions are ‘misguided’. The Zionist colonial project, he suggests, ‘is impelled by an imperative to disinherit and disperse the Palestinians [ . . . ]. It robs them of the native status which Zionists see as competing with their assumed entitlement and pretended nativity.’12 This dismissal of ‘native status’ continues to lie at the core of the conflict. In 1947, realizing it could no longer control the escalating violence between Palestinians and Jews, Britain handed the problem over to the newly formed United Nations (UN). By this time, the Zionists had established a well-organized and well-armed fighting force (the Haganah), while whatever capacity the Palestinians may have had for ‘guerrilla war had been largely smashed in the rebellion of 1936 – 38,’13 sometimes described as the first Palestinian ‘intifada’. By the time the UN voted to partition Palestine into two separate states,14 fighting was already underway between the two sides. On 15 May 1948, the armies of several Arab states crossed into Palestine; during the fighting, and following its declaration of statehood, Israel ‘continued to gain territory’. By the time an armistice was agreed in 1949, the new state of Israel controlled 73 per cent of historic Palestine.15 The official Israeli narrative is that ‘war was imposed on

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the Jews by a much more superior alliance of Arab states’; Israelis argue that ‘the unprovoked Palestinians and their Arab neighbours attacked Israel with the intention of destroying the day-old state and throwing all Jewish residents into the sea’.16 However, others contend that the objective of the Zionist colonial-settler project was always ‘to acquire the lands of the Palestinians, drive the peasants off that land, and establish an exclusive Jewish economy’.17 This seemed to be a ‘natural’, or at least unquestioned, extension of European colonizing adventures in the Middle East, which included methods for dealing with ‘native’ populations. As early as 1940, Joseph Weitz, who was involved in Zionist colonizing activities, wrote: Between ourselves it must be clear that there is no room for both people together in this country [ . . . ]. We shall not achieve our goal of being an independent people with the Arabs in this small country. The only solution is a Palestine [ . . . ] without Arabs [ . . . ]. And there is no other way than to transfer the Arabs from here to the neighbouring countries, to transfer all of them; not one village, not one tribe should be left.18

While the emergence of Israel has been described as ‘a phenomenon unique in its kind, a marvel and prodigy of history, before which Jew and non-Jew alike stand in awe and amazement, wondering over its significance,’19 it is also held responsible for an unresolved injustice, and the continuing dispossession of the majority of Arab Palestinians. The deference shown to Israel as ‘a marvel of history’ has meant that any conflicting Palestinian narrative of territory has been suppressed. The removal of the bulk of the Arab population during and immediately after the violent events of April and May 1948 continues to be contested. While it is clear that ‘most Zionist leaders wanted the largest possible Jewish state in Palestine with as few Arabs inside it as possible,’20 the translation of this goal into action is less straightforward. Amit and Levit argue that, during the period of the British mandate, ‘Ben Gurion gave increasing consideration to a massive transfer of the Arab population’. Although a voluntary transfer would have been preferable, Zionist leaders did not rule out ‘a transfer by force’.21 They took the view that ‘the Palestinians were not a distinct people but merely “Arabs” [ . . . ] that happened to reside in the country’.22 In Ben-Gurion’s words: ‘There is no conflict between Jewish and Palestinian nationalism because the Jewish nation is not in

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Palestine and the Palestinians are not a nation.’23 There is general agreement that the Zionist leadership was keen to see the departure of as many Palestinian Arabs as possible; however, Israeli and other historians are divided about the sequence of events in the early part of 1948, with some claiming that ‘the expulsions were carried out as part of a military strategy that was spontaneous and instigated on an ad hoc basis by local commanders’ or that ‘the Palestinians left voluntarily in response to radio broadcasts from their leaders’.24 Benvenisti suggests that, although the Jewish settlers encouraged the Palestinians to leave, ‘through acts of intimidation, violence, and psychological warfare,’25 this does not amount to ‘ethnic cleansing’. Pappe, in contrast, is adamant that a process of ‘ethnic cleansing’ is precisely what occurred.26 Many of the older refugees now living in Lebanon have clear memories of life in Palestine under British colonial administration. In her observation about the hiding and silencing of the subaltern, Spivak notes that ‘the subaltern as female is even more deeply in shadow’27 and it is valuable therefore to uncover this ‘muted’ voice. It raises the question of our own ability to hear; the majority of refugee women I interviewed, of all ages, were in no way reticent about the ‘speech act’ and often revealed a robust and spirited way of telling. But their efforts are sometimes handicapped by the preconceptions of their listeners, who have become accustomed to hearing only one side of the story. Umm Shafiq, an elderly woman now living in Beirut, recalled the 1936 revolution which, she said, ‘the British suppressed with great brutality’. Her father was arrested by the British; he was held in appalling conditions, without sanitation, she said, ‘and almost died’. She witnessed how her own mother stood up to the British when they came to arrest her father. Women, she told me, ‘used to take food to the revolutionaries hiding in the mountains’.28 The role of women during the British mandate period, while not usually regarded as central, contributed in practical and symbolic ways to the struggle; they ‘launched a dynamic and active women’s movement that participated in all of the major events and reacted to the crises that occurred in this era’.29 Two levels of women’s activism become apparent through these accounts: on one level, women supported men by ‘taking food to the revolutionaries’ and in similarly vital, but less obviously heroic, tasks; while, on the other level, they ‘were able to assert a feminist agency and autonomy from the male

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nationalist project’.30 As in liberation struggles elsewhere, women are motivated by an obligation to defend ‘the nation’ but are prevented from undertaking the same sorts of activities as men as these are considered ‘too dangerous’; nonetheless, their response does indeed demonstrate an ‘assertion of feminist agency’, although individual women are unlikely to use such terms, and it is clear that ‘the hegemonic silencing of both the Palestinian voice and cause’ have continued to influence women’s resistance.31 Umm Walid, now 74 years old and unschooled, remembers how the British army used to come to homes, searching for weapons. She got married when she was 17 years old. Her husband worked for the British army; one day, ‘an explosive device was placed under his vehicle, resulting in the loss of one of his legs’.32 Khadija, who left Palestine when she was 10 years old, was married at the age of 16 and now lives in an unregistered camp in southern Lebanon, also recalled her homeland. They had a good life, she said, her father was not a poor man. Whenever the British visited her father, ‘he would always kill a goat in their honour’. But, she said, ‘the British were not good people. They used to tax the Palestinians. They were on the side of the Jews against the Palestinians.’ Khadija also never had the opportunity to go the school and remained illiterate. She had 20 pregnancies and has nine surviving children.33 Some women referred to good neighbourly relations between Palestinians and Jews before 1948. Khadija, for example, said that ‘the original Jewish inhabitants’ were friendly; her father, who was a local leader, worked with a Jewish businessman and, she insisted, ‘many of the local Jewish people urged us not to leave’.34 Umm Bassam, who fled from Acre when she was 15, recalls that: We lived in a three-storey building; on the first floor were Muslims, on the second floor Christians, and the third floor Jews; we lived peacefully. The Jews who were born in Palestine were different; but later, the European Jews, the Zionists, came to Palestine and ruined relations between the communities because they had plans to occupy all Palestine. But we all used to live peacefully. As there was no media at that time, we did not have any idea about current events so we did not know what plans were being made by the Jews.35

Basma also alluded to the fact that the three religions ‘all lived together harmoniously’ in Palestine before 1948 but, ‘as a result of the Zionist

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movement and its greed – they wanted the whole country’ – these good relations disappeared.36 Rihab, who is in her mid-50s and lives in Bourj el-Shemali camp, heard similar stories from her parents: They talk about Palestine and where they come from. There are three categories – Jews, Christians and Muslims – and relations were very good between the three; even during religious festivals. They shared food among their houses; there were exchanges of visits between the three religions; it did not matter, they were all Palestinians.37

The accounts of these women can be compared to conflict situations elsewhere; for example, people enduring the siege of Sarajevo in the early 1990s recalled how the different faiths used ‘to live together harmoniously’ before ethnic violence shattered their city. During my research, I had the opportunity to meet some of the ever-decreasing number of elderly women who have real memories of life in Palestine and the exodus of 1948, and several of them alluded to this painful period of Palestinian history. Umm Muhammad who was 15 years old when she left Palestine, recalled that her village was ‘very lovely’, agricultural with big orchards. Her father was a carpenter. People helped each other, ‘for example, if someone was poor’. There was the British colonization, she added, ‘then the Jews decided to kick us out. We had no weapons to defend ourselves so we could not fight back.’38 Umm Rafiq, who was born in Acre city, commented: My father worked for the British army. We were living in a city, but there were parks for the children, and orchards. I remember going to the swings with friends. When the war started, my brother came and told us we must leave. We were the last people to leave Acre; the city was empty. I know that, if I went back to Palestine, I would remember where my house was. It was like living in heaven, a wonderful life.39

Umm Mansour recalled that, ‘when Israel started to bomb the village’ a local religious leader encouraged the people to leave.40 Umm Salih, who also left when she was quite young, recalled her mother telling them that ‘because of the bombs’ they would have to leave ‘for a week or two’.41 Umm Mustafa has a similar story: when the war started, she said, her family heard bombing and came out of their house; a bomb

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exploded in the orchard and her parents fled, leaving her behind; a neighbour later returned her to her family.42 Their recollections are supported by Israeli historian Alon Kadosh who explained how Palmach (pre-1948 Jewish military forces) operations were conducted: They advance on a village and when they reach its outskirts, they blow up one or two houses. Usually the Arabs get the message and evacuate the village. If they don’t, the Palmach advances a little further and blows up a few more houses, preferably with some people in them. After that there is no question that the Arabs get the message and leave in a hurry.43

Most of the refugees now living in Lebanese camps are too young to have known Palestine; however, they too have ‘memories’. Hind, who was born in Ain el-Hilwe camp in 1961, said that her parents told her about their village and country, which she says, ‘I miss and would like to see’; she heard that her village has been destroyed and is now an almond and apple grove.44 Umm Nabil, who was born in Bourj el-Barajne camp, said that her family have told her about their village; it depends on agriculture, she said. ‘There is a stream with sweettasting water, and many trees. Up to now, the village is still there and still beautiful; a few Israeli Jews live close by.’45 Mai, in her early 40s, was told by her mother that she came from ‘the most beautiful village in Acre’; it is famous for tobacco, she said, ‘and also olive oil; it is very productive’.46 As the situation deteriorated and acts of violence increased, some Palestinian families decided that it would be prudent to leave until the situation became more stable; most had no inkling that their departure would be permanent. Mariam, born in Palestine in 1936, told me about her childhood in Jaffa. She described hearing bombs and shooting at night, of people shouting ‘The Jews are attacking!’. In April 1948, she recalls, they left by car and headed north, through a landscape of explosions and overturned vehicles. The family left most of their possessions behind, confident that the problem would soon be solved. She never saw her home again.47 Like so many narrators, Mariam told her story with a mixture of stoicism and anguish. Hayat, born in Baddawi camp in Tripoli 24 years after the nakba, heard from her grandfather ‘how the Zionists put explosive powder in barrels, which killed people. So they were scared and ran away. It was a long

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road, people walked, some were killed, everyone was very afraid. They had a feeling they would never return.’48 Another exile recalled: I was born in 1944 in Haifa [ . . . ]. On the day we left our home, my mother told us we were going to Lebanon and, as she called us to assemble, she began to count heads. I did not come down immediately. Noticing I was not there with the others, she shouted at me: ‘Why don’t you answer, Laila?’ At that exact moment, a shell hit the car. I told my mother later that I did not answer her immediately because I wanted to take all the dates in the kitchen so that the Jews would not get them. Thinking we were going for a short break, I took a box of powder for my baby sister. My mother cried all the way, and we cried along with her.49

The child grew up to be possibly the most famous Palestinian woman resistance fighter, Leila Khaled, who went on to avenge her family’s dispossession by hijacking airliners on behalf of the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine in the 1960s and 1970s. These stories, told by women who lived through the pre-1948 period of intermittent and intensifying violence, are authentic historical records of a way of life and a community now lost forever. They illustrate women’s ability to remember the past and to articulate not only the sequence of events leading up to the nakba, but also to put these events into context in order to preserve their own version of history. Palestinians today regard it as their sacred responsibility to guard these memories and, like Leila Khaled, to avenge them.

The Nakba of 1948: A Time of ‘Innocence’ and Massacres The story of al-nakba, in Rema Hammami’s words, is one of ‘an innocent and mostly leaderless population facing a well-prepared, powerful military force [ . . . ] which results in dispersion and national destruction’.50 Edward Said refers to ‘large herds of innocent and bewildered people requiring urgent international assistance’.51 The word ‘innocent’, used by both Said and Hammami, is a significant one, implying that the uprooted Palestinians were victims of an unprovoked injustice. This image of Palestinians ‘as innocent victims, passive recipients of Israeli barbarism’ has constructed ‘a particular narrative, one in which Palestinians appear as objects of Israeli history rather than subjects of their own history’.52 Memories of

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victimization continue to occupy a central place in the idea of ‘the nation as a continuous narrative of national progress’.53 Palestinians, then and now, regard themselves as a nation, and their nationalist claims, barely acknowledged, throw into question Israel’s right over the land. The creation of Israel ‘has been framed as both an outcome of urgent necessity and an act of heroism’54 or as ‘Western civilization’s gesture of repentance for the Holocaust’.55 It is treated as somehow inevitable. As a result, the Israeli ‘myth of origin’ has become ‘a nearly universal myth’, whereas ‘there is no established, authoritative Palestinian master narrative’56 to set against it. On the contrary, Palestinians regard themselves principally as ‘victims of a historical process in which power trumped claims of justice’.57 Their struggle, rather than being seen in terms of rights, is relegated to irrelevance, an unnecessary distraction from the Israeli ‘act of heroism’. However, in more recent times, Israel’s ‘universal myth’ has been challenged by a Palestinian counter-narrative of resilience and resistance and also by the work of new Israeli historians who have uncovered evidence that the ‘myth of origin’ is not as ‘heroic’ or as unproblematic as it has been presented. Many of the older women I met, who were born in Palestine, told me about their experiences of being forced out of their homes in 1948. Umm Fawzi, now in her 60s, said that her family was relatively prosperous; her father was mukhtar of the village and her mother’s family owned land. Buses were brought in, she said, to take them away; ‘some of the Jewish people gave the children sweets and told us that we would return’. People believed them, she said, ‘some of them took their documents and the keys to their houses, but not much else because they thought they would be back’.58 Mariam, whose family in Jaffa had also been well-off, recalled that her mother had packed the silver but did not bring most of the furniture; they left behind their best dining table and the piano.59 Like so many others, Umm Al-Farajh, who was married in the 1930s and fled with her family in 1948, believed their absence would be temporary: We thought we would only be away from our village for a few days. But the Jews entered the village. My husband was in the fields and he saw them blow up our new house. They discovered the olive oil we had left behind and they took all our olive oil machines. The Jews destroyed all the village. Even the cemetery was destroyed – my father had been buried there.60

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Too young to remember, Umm Fuad repeated some of the stories told to her by her grandfather, who was a farmer in Palestine. He told her that he sold his wife’s gold ‘so that he could buy a rifle to defend the village’. They heard about the Deir Yassin massacre, she said, ‘and the execution of young men and destruction of houses, and people being displaced in a nearby village’. After that, they made their way to Lebanon, ‘but it was promised that this would be only for one week’.61 British soldiers, reported Saba, ‘played a big role’ in supporting the Zionists; they ‘told the Palestinians to go to Haifa harbour and made them leave’.62 Palestinian memories of victimization, as Umm Fuad’s story makes clear, are made even more intense by the extreme violence associated with this period and later. According to the testimonies of witnesses and their descendants, a significant number of massacres precipitated the flight from Palestine in 1948,63 the beginning of what has been described as ‘Palestine’s history of massacres’.64 Women I interviewed between 2003 and 2011 referred to various violent incidents. Basma in Bourj el-Barajne camp, for example, recalled that her family fled their village in Palestine because there was bombing and they heard about a massacre.65 Umm Muhammad in the same camp, who left Palestine at the age of 15, said that, when the war started in her village, they had no weapons to defend themselves. A massacre took place, she said, ‘in which many people were killed’.66 Evidence gathered by Israel ‘new’ historian Ilan Pappe confirms that, in some Palestinian villages, ‘the expulsion was accompanied by massacres’.67 Umm Sohail, a 77-year-old woman who was born in Kabri in Palestine, said that ‘one night we were dancing to celebrate a wedding; a man came and told us about massacres taking place nearby; we fled on foot’.68 Umm Hamza from the same village recalled that her mother-in-law was making dough to bake bread when her father-in-law arrived at the house to say that a battle had begun; they ran away to the nearby village of Tarshiha and, ‘while we were there, there was an air raid and many people were killed’; it was, she said, ‘a massacre’.69 A striking image, constantly repeated in eye-witness accounts, is the juxtaposition of normal life – the enjoyment of a wedding, the baking of bread – with sudden terrifying violence. One of the most notorious incidents of this period was a massacre carried out in the village of Deir Yassin near Jerusalem in April 1948, during which approximately 250 mostly unarmed civilians were

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slaughtered by members of two Zionist groups, the ‘Irgun’ and ‘Stern Gang’.70 A survivor, Zaynab Atiya, recalls that, at 4am on Friday 9 April: I heard a woman cry, ‘They threw the baker into the oven’. Our house was quite far from the oven. I ran with some other women to seek refuge in the house of the Mukhtar Mohammad Ismail Sammour. A few moments later, Mohammad Mahmoud Sammour, armed with a rifle, joined us. Outside, the shooting and explosions were terrible. Then we heard a great noise that made the whole house shake, followed by shots and the screams of women. They started pounding on the door, ‘Open up! Open up!’ I moved forward and shouted, ‘Will you kill us if we open?’ A voice answered, ‘No. Are there any men with you?’. ‘Yes’. ‘How many?’ ‘Three’. ‘Open’. ‘Swear by your ten words [the ten commandments] that you will not kill us’. He swore. I opened the door and went out first. They immediately threw a grenade inside, killing the four other people in the house. I started running, and I saw the dead body of the Mukhtar’s wife Hajja Fudiya (60 years old) lying on the doorstep beside her grandsons, Sammour Khalil (12 years old) and Ismail (15 years old).71

In the words of Meron Benvenisti, ‘the Deir Yassin Massacre deserves to be characterized as ethnic cleansing of the cruellest and most brutal sort’.72 By their own admission, many of the individuals who took part ‘were intent on a massacre’ from the very beginning. One of their aims was ‘to break Arab morale’ and ‘create panic throughout Palestine’.73 Describing Deir Yassin as a ‘new experiment’, Sharif Kanaana argues that it: was not to be the only, the last, the biggest or the ugliest massacre to be committed by the Zionist and Israeli forces. However, the novelty of it, its effectiveness in emptying the village of its inhabitants, and the effect it had on other Palestinian communities made it, by far, the best known of all the massacres perpetrated on the Palestinian people by the Zionist forces during the war of 1948.74

To this day, Palestinians still refer to this event as the embodiment of Israeli cruelty and comparisons are often made with more recent acts of violence. This raises the question of the different effects of massacres and violent conflict on women and men. It is noteworthy, as Benvenisti

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observes, that some scholars have felt a need ‘to explain the exodus as having been caused by the fear of violation of family honor [and have stressed] the intentional murder of women and children by the Jewish forces for the purpose of inducing panic – and particularly citing numerous cases of rape – even though,’ he says, ‘these sorts of incidents were in fact rare’.75 But Pappe disagrees; in his book on ‘the ethnic cleansing of Palestine’, he alludes to numerous cases of rape. On 12 August 1949, for example, he recounts that: a platoon of soldiers in the Negev [ . . . ] captured a twelve-year old Palestinian girl and locked her up for the night in their military base [ . . . ]. For the next few days, she became the platoon’s sex slave as the soldiers shaved her head, gang-raped her and in the end murdered her.76

In Deir Yassin too, there is evidence that ‘a number of the women were raped and then killed’.77 A Haganah soldier, Meir Pa’il, who was an eye-witness to the massacre, asserted that there was no rape at Deir Yassin, but a British team, including investigators and a doctor, who interviewed survivors a few days after the event, concluded: ‘There is no doubt that many sexual atrocities were committed by the attacking Jews. Many young girls were raped and later slaughtered. Old women were also molested.’78 As Slyomovics asks: ‘Were Israeli soldiers out of control or were they obeying directives to employ any means to intimidate the civilian population and force them to flee?’79 Benny Morris, too, reveals that new material from the Israeli Defence Force Archives shows us that that there were far more acts of massacre than I had previously thought. To my surprise, there were also many cases of rape. In the months of April – May 1948, units of the Haganah were given operational orders that stated explicitly that they were to uproot the villagers, expel them and destroy the villages themselves [ . . . ]. In Acre, four soldiers raped a girl and murdered her and her father. In Jaffa, soldiers of the Kiryati Brigade raped one girl and tried to rape several more. At Hunin, which is in the Galilee, two girls were raped and then murdered. There were one or two cases of rape at Tantura, south of Haifa. There was one case of rape at Qula in the centre of the country [ . . . ]. At the village of Abu Shusha, near Kibbutz Gezer, there were four female prisoners,

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one of whom was raped a number of times. And there were other cases. Usually more than one soldier was involved. Usually there were one or two Palestinian girls. In a large proportion of the cases the event ended with murder. Because neither the victims nor the rapists liked to report these events, we have to assume that the dozen cases of rape that were reported [ . . . ] are not the whole story.80

In Pappe’s view, ‘[t]radition, shame and trauma are the cultural and psychological barriers that prevent us from gaining the fuller picture of the rape of Palestinian women’ during this period.81 Family honour in Palestinian society depended, and to some extent still depends, on the ‘moral’ behaviour of women and girls. Kitty Warnock has written about the obligation for male family members to protect women from danger. This was demonstrated in 1948, she says, ‘when many of the Palestinian families who fled their homes did so primarily out of fear that their women would be raped by Zionist soldiers’.82 The threat of rape, ‘a specifically gendered form of wounding,’83 became ‘a weapon used by the Zionists to terrorize the Arab civilians in Palestine’; and Palumbo argues that, in view ‘of the Arab sensitivity about rape, it is not surprising that many Palestinian civilians later remembered fear of rape as a prime motive for their exodus’.84 In their discussion of the gendering of the nakba, Humphries and Khalili argue that, because it was more important, for many men, to defend their women from being raped rather than to defend their homes, ‘narratives of rape and fear of it are associated with the guilt of losing the land, once again encouraging silencing of memories of atrocities against women’.85 Nahla Abdo agrees; she writes that the ‘slogan al-Ird Qablal Ard (Honour before Land) became a powerful cultural tool in responding (to the expulsion of Palestinians), which was often accompanied by massacres of women and children and rape’.86 Umm Rashid, who fled from her village near Jerusalem when she was 18 years old, recalled that several men in her village were shot by the Zionists; people started to panic, she said, and one of the village dignitaries told them to leave ‘or the Jews would come and rape the women’.87 Clearly the threat of rape, as Palumbo and Warnock argue, was a highly effective method of removing the indigenous population and creating the ‘land without a people’ that the Zionists demanded. According to some, the use of rape was not only a Zionist tactic; Hasnaa, who lives in Bourj el-Shemali camp, related the story of a Palestinian woman who was raped by a British soldier; ‘her family killed her’.88

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Such provocations continued long after Palestinians had dispersed beyond the borders of their homeland. Julie Peteet recounts that, during the Lebanese civil war too, Palestinian women and children became ‘specific targets of attack’. The logic behind this ‘gruesome strategy’, she suggests, was ‘to sow panic in the refugee community and precipitate a Palestinian flight to neighbouring Arab countries, as well as to demoralize men [ . . . ] by revealing in stark grotesqueness their inability to protect their families and homes’.89 The Sabra and Shatila massacre in 1982 was also characterized by the ‘gruesome strategy’ of sexual violation. But we could also argue that, by this time, Palestinian coping strategies had evolved to survive assaults on their presence in Lebanon and, by implication, their identity as a nation. Following Sabra and Shatila, a number of women survivors came forward to testify about the systematic rapes that had accompanied the massacre. Many came to believe that the decision to place ‘honour before land’ had been a mistake.

The Journey into Exile The lament of Arab women on the day that their families left Ja’uni [ . . . ] still rings in my ears today. The men rode on donkeys and the women followed them weeping bitterly, and the valley was filled with their lamentation. As they went they stopped to kiss the stones and the earth.90

Such eye-witness accounts cast doubt on Israeli claims that ‘the Arabs’ left ‘voluntarily’. Umm Shafiq described how, in 1948, she finished school and returned to her home in the village of Birzeit. She recalls that: People had left their homes in Lydd and Ramla and were walking on the roads; some of them reached Birzeit [now in the Israeli-occupied West Bank] after three or four days. I heard on the radio that Palestinians had been told to drink their own urine so that they would not become dehydrated. There were hundreds of refugees, but Birzeit was not equipped to deal with such a massive influx of people; there was no sanitation, nothing. They stayed under the olive trees and soon there were swarms of flies. It was a miserable situation. Everyone, all the villagers, tried to help, to provide food and water. After a few days, the UN came and eventually camps were established.91

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Umm Talal left Palestine when she was two years old. In the beginning, she said, her parents stayed in Lebanese villages in the south, but then they heard that tented encampments were being set up so they made their way to Beirut.92 Others encountered resistance in attempting to cross into Lebanese territory; Nada in Bourj el-Shemali camp reported that ‘the worse memories for my family during their departure from Palestine was shooting at the Lebanese border because the Lebanese did not want them to enter. Many people died on the way to Lebanon, or became sick.’93 Umm Mohammad, who spent her early years in Kabri, remembers leaving Palestine when she was 15 years old. She said: We moved from place to place on foot; of course we were very tired and worried about finding a place to stay. Then my father heard about a camp that had been established at Bourj el-Shemali in southern Lebanon; there were tents. He took the family there and we were given bread and sardines to keep us going. We moved to other camps, to Anjar where there was good weather in summer but bad in winter, and then to Nahr al-Barid near Tripoli, where I got married.94

Farzana, who is 42 years old and lives in Bourj el-Barajne camp, heard how her grandparents travelled to Lebanon ‘to get away from the bombing’; to begin with, they lived in the south and then Beirut; it was a sandy area. She said, ‘they lived in tents and, later, built zinc houses’.95 Dina, now living in Ain el-Hilwe camp, also has memories told to her by her parents. Her father had been a fighter and was imprisoned by the British for five years. Her mother was very young when they left; they carried bread with them and ‘cheese from home’. They travelled to Lebanon by ship, to Mieh Mieh in the south; they were given tents.96 Umm Hamza, who is now over 80 years old, described her family’s flight in 1948: After leaving Tarshiha and walking for more days, we reached the Lebanese border. My daughter was only 15 days old. In southern Lebanon, we rented a room, but my husband became ill; they took him to the hospital, where he later died. When we heard that camps had been established, we decided to go to Beirut. I have been there ever since.97

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Umm Sohail, who was also already married by the time she left Palestine, recalled that her mother refused to leave without taking her sheep: ‘150 sheep, she walked with them from village to village’.98 Umm Bilal, who was born on the street of a Druze village while her parents were fleeing from Palestine, related the stories her mother had told her. In her words: While we were running away, my mother was still bleeding as she had just given birth. She was carrying an olive oil tin on her head and also holding her baby. The shelling frightened her so she threw the baby away by mistake, instead of the olive oil. My uncle pointed out what she had done. Many people left their babies behind by accident. We first came from Palestine to the south of Lebanon. We were taken in trucks to the north, to Tripoli, where we were given tents. I got married when I was 15 and moved to Beirut.99

A similar story of personal tragedy was related by an elderly man, Abu Rashid, who recounted his own departure from Palestine: I am from the Carmel area of Haifa, close to the port and the railway station. I remember that the Jews were shelling this area with rockets and the British army were taking the [Palestinian] commandoes who had weapons, and killing them. The Jews told us by megaphone to leave the area. We were transported by a small British ship to Acre and then put into a smaller boat. While we were sailing, the sea became very rough. The boat was heavy because of all the people and their possessions. Everyone was asked to throw their clothes over the side, to make the boat lighter. People threw away the pillows they were holding. One woman was hugging her baby daughter with her pillow. She suddenly missed her child and realized that she had thrown her over the side by accident.100

Such incidents did not always end so tragically. Ferihan, who lives in Mieh Mieh camp, had heard about a woman in Safad who was carrying her baby and trying to escape from the shooting. The baby’s dress became attached to a piece of iron in the road and, as her husband was ahead with their other children and the mother felt afraid, she ran after them, leaving her child behind. Fortunately, her husband was able to return later to rescue the baby.101 While many of the memories told by the refugees are of personal experiences, others are second-hand; they have been transmitted through oral narratives and the half-remembered stories of family and neighbours. Together,

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they become part of a ‘mythical imagination’. This is in no way meant to denigrate them; taken together, the ‘real’ events, eye-witness accounts and apocryphal tales form a single coherent narrative. To remember, after all, ‘is not simply to retrieve stories [ . . . ] out of the storehouse of memory, but rather to reconstruct, reinterpret, and represent events for specific audiences and in specific contexts’.102

‘Bereft of Place’: Coming to Terms with Exile The violence of the nakba cannot be underestimated. Bereft of place, people become homeless in at least three existential senses. First, they suffer the angst of being dislodged from their most enduring attachments and familiar places. This is compounded by being beset chronically by problems of adjusting to new surroundings. Second, they also suffer banishment and the stigma of being outcasts [ . . . ]. Finally [ . . . ] they are impelled by an urge to reassemble a damaged identity and a broken history.103

Palestinians forced to leave their homes and land still feel ‘bereft of place’ and have passed this feeling down to their children like a precious possession. They continue to ‘reassemble’ their ‘damaged identities’. The first few years after 1948 were ones of physical hardship, material deprivation, and psychological trauma over the loss of kin, homes and country. Conditions at the beginning were very bad, as one survivor describes: ‘Seven families to a tent, some families lived in caves. There was overcrowding and sickness. Many old people and children died’. Another recalls: ‘We often went to bed hungry, and suffered badly from the cold since we were too poor to buy winter clothing or shoes’. The loss of Palestine was likened to ‘mourning over a dead loved one’.104

Life was difficult but could also be violent. According to one refugee: ‘I was a teenager in Beirut when one day I arrived home at the camp [ . . . ] to discover that a group of drunken policemen had forced their way in and beaten up my mother and two sisters, apparently for failing to produce an identity card or UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency] card or some other wretched document’.105 As Mariam remarked, although many Lebanese were very kind, she was

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often made to feel different. ‘Palestinian’ became ‘a dirty word’ and was often used as an insult.106 The refugees experienced abrupt dislocation from the only homes they had ever known, a forced and often very brutal departure and a new condition of having nothing. This resulted in intense insecurity, bewilderment, a sense of loss and grieving, and uncertainty about the future. These former peasants ‘felt powerless in the wake of the sudden loss of control over their destiny and an intense frustration over the inability of any person, institution, or government to remedy their situation’.107 They experienced varying degrees of violence. For example, Lina Mikdadi, who was born in Palestine and left with her family in 1948, recalls: I saw myself standing on that balcony in Jaffa overlooking Tel Aviv; I was six, but did not stay long. That same year, I was in another town in Palestine, Tulkarm, with hundreds of canons blasting away around me. Fire and hatred mingled [ . . . ]. Then Lina in Beirut: a happy-go-lucky girl who did well at school [ . . . ]. A dying mother in 1957, and suddenly four children, three brothers and one sister, left without that protective cocoon. A civil war in Lebanon in 1958 – knives and guns were used, a little war. A home destroyed; father and two brothers wounded.108

Her memories of childhood are by no means unique. Leila Khaled remembers her mother saying to her that: I must not pick oranges from the grove nearby. I was puzzled and insisted on knowing why. My poor mother, with tears streaming from her eyes, explained: ‘Darling, the fruit is not ours; you are no longer in Haifa; you are in another country’ [ . . . ]. For the first time I began to question the injustice of our exile [ . . . ] I, as a dreamer living on the bare subsistence provided by a UN blue ration card [ . . . ] stand as a witness to Zionist inhumanity.109

Her narrative illustrates how Palestinian scars ‘have accumulated like layers of sedimentary rock, each marking a different crisis – homelessness, occupation, war, dependency’110 and how, in response, resistance has been constructed and articulated. Refugees are exposed to several levels of vulnerability. To begin with, they endure the trauma of abruptly losing everything they have ever known. Individuals and families, who had for generations been

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living on their own land, were ‘removed from their habitat, disorientated, without political rights, and dependent on the goodwill of their neighbours and the local authority’.111 Their sense of national belonging was taken from them, thus denying their claims of history. There are gender implications to these experiences of loss. Women are located at the heart of the home-making project; their identity and sense of self are closely linked to the safety, comfort and continuity of home. The ‘centrality of their socially constructed roles as the primary caregivers and emotional providers for their families becomes the main source of their strength in confronting the crisis of their lives in exile’112 and, in this sense, women had little choice but ‘to reassemble their damaged identity’ in order to provide emotional support. Since they define ‘home’ not only in concrete terms, ‘but also as a symbolic construct’,113 women attempted to link communal memories to the harsh new reality and to hopes of an eventual return. As stateless persons, however, the refugees have limited access to employment, education or medical services. This has led to impoverishment and disempowerment. It has also fuelled a cycle of violence in the sense that men may be inclined to take out their frustration on female family members. According to nongovernmental organization worker Farida, ‘the current situation exacerbates violence against women. If a man is unemployed and at home, he will be nervous, angry and may become violence. In this respect, women suffer more than men.’114 From this account, it is clear that the symbolic roles demanded of women, as sources of memory and continuity, are at odds with the everyday violence they experience. This illustrates my argument that a key area of violence experienced by women is the dislocation between, on the one hand, their traditionally respected roles as ‘partners of men’ in the liberation struggle and, on the other, their victimized status within the family; this causes discomfort and sometimes produces feelings of alienation.

The Crisis of ‘Lives in Exile’ As the women’s recollections make abundantly clear, the refugees believed at first that their situation was a temporary one and that they would eventually be able to return to their homes in Palestine. Khadija, who was ten years old when she left Palestine, told me how she and her family fled to the border and lived for a time in a village

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close to Palestine. Eventually they moved further from the border and established a rudimentary camp. The camp grew over the years but, as it was not registered by UNRWA, its population had no facilities; residents did not obtain running water until 1985.115 Umm Hassan described her own experiences of arriving in Lebanon as a young child. Like others, she heard that camps were being built in Beirut and so travelled to Bourj el-Barajne. At first, she recalled: they were giving out tents according to family sizes; we were a small family and therefore we received a bell tent; larger families got pyramid tents. Our feet were burnt by the sun; there was sand in the food and flies in the tents. This was before concrete floors; people used anything they could find, for example zinc, for floors. Later, we bought cement and made stones to build houses, with zinc roofs. There were two schools, also in tents. They gave the pupils milk before teaching. When they improved the houses, they also improved the schools. This was in the 1950s.116

Dina, who lives in Ain el-Hilwe camp, related the story of her family. Her father worked at the port of Haifa. He was single and was expelled from Palestine while the rest of the family remained in the West Bank. In Lebanon, her father married a woman from Haifa. They lived in Shatila camp. Three of their children were delivered in tents in the 1950s, Dina said, ‘which suggests they took a long time to start building houses’. These were one-room houses with tin ceilings; the rain came into the house in winter; they had to use buckets to catch the rainwater. The mattresses and blankets were wet and no one slept well. ‘These are difficult memories,’ she added, ‘there was no privacy.’117 The absence of privacy was constantly reiterated. Umm Sohail confirmed the terrible discomfort of their lives as she recalled: I have given birth to half my children in a tent. The tents were white and that meant people could see in from outside, so we decided to paint them black. In the beginning, we were given purple tents, but these were too small; we needed bigger tents but these were the see-through white ones, so we bought tar to change the colour. It was very hot in summer. Eventually we heard there was a camp in Beirut so we moved there and found very big tents, enough for five families. I brought two mattresses for a small part of the tent and had to put up a blanket for privacy.118

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Umm Rafiq, now in her late 70s, revealed her own memories of exile: I have lived in Lebanon since 1948. At first, we stayed in the south. My brother’s family tried to return to Palestine, but they were taken prisoner by Israel and kept for one year. My father had worked with the British until Palestine was completely occupied, and then he moved to Lebanon. We lived in Rashidiyya; my brother moved to Tyre and bought a house. After I got married, we moved to a rented house in Shatila and then, in 1978, to Bourj el-Barajne. The mukhtar gave my husband some land and he built a house on it; the house was destroyed three times but he kept rebuilding it.119

Her account presents something of the helplessness of a population thrust against their will into exile and dependent on the munificence of others. She and her family display both resilience and pragmatism. In some of the camps, attempts were made to recreate the structure of Palestinian villages: families and former neighbours attempted to reside together, thus reinforcing the reterritorialization of former communities; this ‘fragmented geosocial reconstitution generated a new landscape, enhancing the presence of the past in partial ways while suggesting new possibilities for present and future’.120 The primary motifs were mourning and nostalgia. A myth of a ‘golden land’ began to take root in the communal imagination which, while based on memories that were not disputed, also assumed heroic proportions. Although the ‘Palestinianism’ that developed during this period ‘was not yet expressed in an organizational format, [it] was eventually to form the basis of collective action’.121 It was a time of nostalgia and renewed determination. However, ‘the collective nature of loss [ . . . ] affect[ed] the sexes differently. Women’s traditional role as socializers of children was infused with new significance in the exile community, where a specifically Palestinian identity was emerging and memories of the past were highly valued’.122 In this way, although women had lost the primary locus of their identity, they embraced new roles as preservers of a prized tradition. The Palestinian exile community also started to produce ‘memorial books’ in which they used ‘their own voices to describe and evoke their villages destroyed in 1948’.123 Davis argues that, although these books offer a unique insight into the past, the ‘shared experiences’ memorialized have been ‘shaped by a nationalist idealization of peasant life’.124 While this may

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be true, it does not detract from the reiteration of contrast between a destroyed ‘peasant life’ and a marginalized present. As time went on and hopes of return began to recede and the refugees became resigned to living outside their homeland; they also started to develop longer-term strategies to ameliorate their situation. They experienced feelings of growing antipathy on the part of sectors of the Lebanese population and the Lebanese authorities, who increasingly resented the presence of large numbers of Sunni Muslim Palestinians. Women were exposed to various forms of violence. Umm Muhammad, now in her 70s, recounted that, in the past, ‘the Lebanese government treated us badly’. On one occasion, she recalled, her small son urinated; ‘I tried to clean it up. A soldier demanded my ID but I did not have it so he told me I had to pay, just because my son peed.’125 The refugees suffered from lack of opportunity and difficult living conditions; there is evidence that overcrowding and enforced idleness acted as a breeding ground for domestic violence; women, like men, continued to mourn the lost homeland. Yet while they recognized the necessity of improving their circumstances, their scope for action was limited and, given the heavy constraints imposed by the Lebanese government, their activities were forced to be clandestine. Sayigh argues that a ‘negative effect of exile was that, since the Lebanese environment was perceived as alien and aggressive, the entire camp community focused on women’s behaviour, condoning “honour” crimes and hiding them from the Lebanese authorities’.126 She suggests that the camps were transformed into ‘moral communities’, wherein the reputation of a family, neighbourhood or whole camp ‘would be discussed in terms of the behaviour of its banat (young unmarried women). Mothers were judged in terms of their skill in raising daughters with the essential female virtues – modesty, self-control (rakiza), and truthfulness (sadiqa).’127 In spite of their precarious position and changing gender dynamics, the camps – to some extent – continue to be regarded as ‘moral communities’. Many girls are reluctant, or unable, to stray beyond the bounds of respectability, as narrowly defined. Zahira, who is 20 years old, confirmed that ‘girls do not have their freedom; there is discrimination against girls – this is traditional; they are controlled by their parents and then, after marriage, by their husbands’.128 Umm Wissam, who left Palestine when she was a baby, agreed that: ‘the

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woman has no role in society’. In her view, since Islam gives a woman all her rights, it is best to marry a religious man because he knows how to give a woman her rights.129 Hind in Baddawi camp asserted that ‘the woman plays a very active role; she is half the community, not only inside the house but also outside. Family sizes are getting smaller; in the past, a woman had no choice but now she can choose her husband and the number of children.’130 This theme of increasing female choice was repeated on several occasions, although the constraints on opportunity were also stressed. However, the comments of these women indicate a process of change in camp society. While the original ‘moral community’ was a reaction to an ‘alien environment’, more recent trends to affirm ‘moral’ behaviour can be attributed to the activities of Islamist political groups, both locally and regionally, and also a feeling on the part of many refugees that ‘politics’ has failed and, therefore, a ‘return’ to the religious values of the past may yield a more fruitful outcome. Part of the problem is that the camps tend to be conservative and fearful communities. In spite of the growth of female education, until the late 1970s ‘most camp families remained hostile to the employment of women outside the home and preferred their daughters to marry as soon as possible after leaving school. Once married, women were seen as being obliged to give priority to childrearing and running the household.’131 Umm Wael in Rashidiyya camp said that, although women are now better educated and have more employment opportunities, men still prefer them to stay at home. She herself is 57 years old and is married to a man 22 years her senior; her parents announced her engagement without telling her. Umm Wael insisted that her own daughter, now aged 18, would also not be able to marry without her father’s permission.132 The restrictions placed on women by their society were often cited during the course of my fieldwork. Randa, a woman in her early fifties, told me how her husband, who had been a fighter, was killed in the first Israeli invasion of the south. Only 22 years old when her husband died and with a week-old baby, ‘I found life very difficult’. Society, she said, ‘does not look kindly on widows and cannot accept that a woman might choose to live alone’. She was never able to re-marry and was therefore prevented from having the large family she had wanted.133 Randa’s story indicates that women are identified primarily in terms of marriageability and child rearing; without a

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husband, a woman is left with few options. This was experienced by some of the women to whom I spoke as a form of violence. Although gender roles are largely accepted, women sometimes point out the restrictions on their movements. It appears from all accounts that women’s behaviour is held to a higher standard than men’s. This can be attributed both to the cultural values of a traditional society and a desire to preserve themselves as a ‘moral community’.

Growth of Palestinian Resistance I have discussed the traumatic nature of the flight into exile and the many negative aspects of life for the refugees once they arrived in Lebanon. From the start, they suffered discrimination and lack of opportunity. In the aftermath of the nakba, the displaced people began to plan their return, anticipating that the UN or the Arab states would help them to achieve their objective. Their expectation of a speedy resolution to the problem, consistently ignored by the international community, gradually faded and, as the years passed, ‘the lack of concrete progress began to frustrate the refugees [so that] they became increasingly disillusioned’.134 But Palestinians did not sit idly waiting for their fortunes to change. By the 1960s, they had tired of their identification as powerless refugees and thus turned their energies to taking charge of their own fate. They began to construct a resistance movement in terms of militant action and the reshaping of the national narrative; no longer were they prepared to be simply the ‘victims’ of history. In 1964, as a result of an initiative by Egyptian President Nasser and the Arab Summit, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was created and, in time, it ‘came to serve as an organization for liberation and the maintenance of Palestinian national identity’.135 Yasser Arafat, leader of the Fateh guerrilla organization, became head of the PLO in 1969. Also included under its umbrella were other Palestinian political factions, such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. For Palestinians in Lebanon, the PLO became ‘a symbol of their usurped homeland and a source of pride – the embodiment of their hopes and aspirations’.136 The Palestinian National Charter, revised by the Fourth Palestinian National Council meeting in Cairo in July 1968, declares that:

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armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine. Thus it is the overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase. The Palestinian Arab people assert their absolute determination and firm resolution to continue their armed struggle and to work for an armed popular revolution for the liberation of their country and their return to it.137

This declaration was highly significant as it signalled a refusal to comply with the colonial project promoted by Israel and the West that insisted on classifying Palestinians as those deemed inferior, the silenced subaltern. The Palestinians’ course of action echoed liberation movements elsewhere and was regarded as an integral part of the anti-colonial struggle. Following the events of ‘Black September’ in 1970, when the PLO ‘found itself in armed confrontation with the forces of Jordan’s King Hussein,’138 the organization was expelled from the country and relocated to Lebanon. Here, ‘unfettered access to the [refugee] camps allowed the construction of a mass base, in which the primary impetus to mobilization was provided by military activities’ which, in turn, led to the emergence of a ‘statewithin-a-state’.139 The disempowered refugees, including women, were only too happy to find themselves at the centre of the resistance project. Following talks in Cairo in November 1969 between PLO leader Yasser Arafat and Emile Bustani, commander of the Lebanese army, an agreement was reached whereby the presence and activities of the Palestinian guerrilla movement would be ‘tolerated’ by the Lebanese authorities. The Lebanese government’s acceptance of ‘an open, armed Palestinian presence [ . . . ] redefined the regulations governing the refugees’.140 The Cairo Agreement meant that the refugee camps ‘were freed from the heavy hand of the Lebanese army’s Deuxieme Bureau [secret service], which for the past two decades had exercised a rigid control over every tiny detail of day-to-day life in the camps’; as a result, after 1969, the camps became ‘a key popular base for the guerrilla movement’.141 The Palestinian revolution (al-thawra alFilistiniyya) was flying high. The ‘Resistance era’ (1968 – 82) was ‘characterized by a high level of political and military autonomy and the flourishing of cultural forms focused on an ethos of militancy’.142 It was a time of intense activity for Palestinians in exile.

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By the end of the 1960s, the fedayee [one who sacrifices himself] had come to dominate Palestinian symbolic politics, becoming the centre of a constructed heroic national narrative of steadfastness, struggle and resistance. Armed struggle became the central element of the ‘imagined community’ of the Palestinians.143

But this period was also a time of escalating violence. Starting in 1968, ‘PLO raids against Israel from southern Lebanon and commando operations originating from Lebanon gave Israel the pretext to retaliate against civilian and military targets in the country’.144 Adopting the modus operandi of liberation movements elsewhere, the PLO ‘fought a guerrilla war against the Israeli state, attacking both military and civilian targets’ and Israel responded by bombing PLO positions, Palestinian refugee camps and Lebanese villages.145 Despite the fact that, ‘as early as the 1970s in Lebanon, the PLO had become bureaucratized, and in this process became more and more of a quasi-state and less and less of a national liberation movement,’146 Palestinian militancy and involvement in domestic Lebanese affairs were having an increasingly destructive effect; although the PLO’s revolutionary rhetoric ‘resonated with Lebanese leftists and Muslims who had grievances against the institutional domination of Lebanon by Maronite Christians [ . . . ] Palestinians were [also] demonized by right-wing representatives of the Maronite community, and especially by the Kata’ib (Phalange) party’.147 In the early 1970s, the refugee camps ‘were coming under increasing fire from the Lebanese army, right-wing Christian militias [ . . . ] and Israeli incursions’.148 Sayigh argues that one of the reasons for Israeli attacks against Lebanon was ‘the fundamental political aim of destroying the Lebanese sectarian equilibrium’149 and, by the time the civil war erupted in 1975, this objective seems to have been realized. If Matar is correct about armed struggle becoming a ‘central element’ of the Palestinian Revolution, where this left women whose role in a ‘constructed heroic national narrative of steadfastness, struggle and resistance’150 is less clear cut. Given the necessity for all members of the community to contribute to the struggle, and also the realization that al-Ird Qablal Ard had become an empty slogan, women were encouraged to join the Revolution, thus challenging ‘the cultural order of gender’.151 The PLO and its commitment to an ‘armed popular revolution’, together with greater autonomy within the camps, provided an opportunity for some women to become

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politically active. During the rise of the resistance movement, women’s status underwent considerable change and it appeared that the gender hierarchy was being transformed. Under the umbrella of the PLO, the General Union of Palestinian Women was established in 1965. There was a feeling of optimism and many people were confident that their efforts would enable them, in time, to return to Palestine. As a result of UNRWA’s free educational facilities, the majority of girls for the first time had the opportunity to go to school. The ‘meaning of work for women’ also changed during this period as women started to regard work not simply as a ‘temporary necessity brought upon them by the difficulties men faced in finding employment,’ but as ‘a national endeavor and a statement of women’s increased autonomy and participation in public life’.152 Women working with the resistance ‘often saw themselves as politicizers of their families. Arriving home from work, they initiated lively discussions, bringing news and analyses of the latest political and military events, as well as information about new services and projects in the camp, thus linking the family with the larger world outside the home and their neighbourhood.’153 According to a female Fateh member working in one of the Beirut camps in the 1970s: As a girl, it’s easy for me to enter homes in the camp. Building a relationship with families makes it easier to mobilise their girls. I focus on women who have a brother, father or husband in the Resistance. I tell their fathers or brothers to encourage these girls to come to demonstrations and celebrations.154

This campaign of politicization proved highly effective and, for many young camp women, the opportunity to contribute to the widely respected ‘national endeavour’ was experienced as a form of empowerment. Although the ‘days of revolution’ were abruptly ended by the 1982 Israeli invasion, as Afaf Younis at UNRWA observed, ‘this empowerment for women translates into changes in society and the family’.155

Conclusion: Developing a ‘Language of Refusal and Militancy’ If we consider the events described in this chapter through the lens of feminist understandings of conflict, two conclusions emerge. First,

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Western feminist theory ‘tends to represent war as a continuum of violence from the bedroom to the battlefield’ and thus, women ‘make connections between the oppression that is the ostensible cause of a conflict [ . . . ] in the light of another cross-cutting one: that of the gender regime’.156 Refugee women are not arguing that the violence of their dispossession is rooted in patriarchy but, rather, are signalling an awareness that links can be observed between the slogan ‘honour before land’ and the flight from Palestine; and the different types of violence they suffer. Although the majority of women who fled from Palestine in 1948 were unschooled, we cannot assume that they were unaware; their narratives indicate that they knew what was going on and were involved in resisting the occupation of their land. Fleischmann and others have convincingly argued that non-Western women create their own indigenous feminisms and that Palestinian women in the early twentieth century ‘marked out their own spheres of activity and developed their own “language of refusal and militancy”’.157 This language was expressed at the elite level by women’s organizing on behalf of Palestinian rights, which included protests and demonstrations against the British occupation; and, at the grassroots level, by simple acts of defiance such as standing up against British brutality and supplying the revolutionaries in the mountains with food and weapons. Through their diverse activities, women displayed ‘refusal and militancy’ and expanded the understandings of these words. However, the Palestinian ‘gender regime’ ensured that, in the face of threatened sexual violation by the enemy, Palestinians preferred to flee rather than placing women in danger. In exile, cracks began to appear in the ‘gender regime’ as women gained access to education and took an active role in the revolution and it became increasingly difficult to preserve a protected female space. The second conclusion contrasts an emerging feminist consciousness with the day-to-day impoverishment of women’s lives. By ‘feminist consciousness’, I mean the development of emancipatory projects situated ‘not along a trajectory of liberation from patriarchy’ but, rather, within situations of anti-colonial nationalism and changing social orders.158 I argue that, while the growing role of women was significant, their situation continued to be constrained by the violence of forced exile, lack of rights in an inhospitable environment, and the persistent negation of their national existence.

Chapter 5

War and ‘Uncivil Violence’ in Lebanon People are still being kidnapped, never to be found again. Maybe those who left [ . . . ] were right after all. The snowball is still rolling; neither Washington nor Moscow seem to want to stop it. I can see no logic behind the current of events, no matter what the final analysis, only absurdity. But then, I am neither in Washington nor am I in Moscow; I live in the ruins of what used to be the Switzerland of the Middle East. Every event in the world seems to be linked to the Lebanese bloodbath in one way or another: PLO [Palestinian Liberation Organization] representatives shot down in London, Kuwait, Paris [ . . . ] Iraqis hit in London, Paris, Beirut, Islamabad [ . . . ] a coup d’etat in Afghanistan [ . . . ] the war in Ethiopia [ . . . ] a bloodless (that term still exists!) coup d’etat in Mauritania [ . . . ] a Polisario ceasefire [ . . . ] Aldo Moro of Italy and the Red Brigades [ . . . ] maybe even the Korchnoi-Karpov chessgame in Baguio City. A deadly game, chess, but not as deadly as the game played in Lebanon where two peoples, the Lebanese and the Palestinians, seem to have bought, willingly or otherwise, a one-way ticket to annihilation.1

To embark upon a discussion of recent Lebanese history and politics is a precarious venture. It involves grappling with the much-rehearsed complexities of state formation, sectarianism and long-term violence, the quest for a meaningful national identity, the battle for supremacy among religious-based groups and the emergence of a more equitable balance of power. I was working in nearby Cyprus in the summer of 1982 when Israeli forces invaded Lebanon, besieged Beirut and facilitated the massacres of Sabra and Shatila, and I remember watching the televised unfolding of events with fascinated horror. I needed then as I need now, nearly 30 years later, to understand how all-encompassing violence can enter and consume a society. Despite my curiosity about Lebanon, I was not able to go there until early

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1993. I found a country physically and psychologically traumatized but containing little sense of present danger. On the contrary, visiting post-war Lebanon, one witnessed the resumption of hospitality and civilization. Where have all the dark dangerous forces gone? Have they disappeared forever or might they one day reappear? Can such a decline into chaos occur anywhere or was Lebanon a special case? For the purposes of this book, ‘conflict’ refers to the Lebanese civil war (1975 – 90) and the resistance struggle against the Israeli occupation of the south of the country (1978 – 2000).2 But ‘conflict’ also defines the nature of an environment in which all notions of safety and ‘proper behaviour’ disappeared. This chapter focuses on the period of the Lebanese civil war. Although very small, Lebanon, politically speaking, is a country of enormous diversity and even greater complexity. It is an artificial creation, a remnant of colonial manoeuvring, traditionally part of a larger entity (the Ottoman Empire, Greater Syria, the French Mandate). While its diversity may be regarded as a source of strength, it also contributed towards the weakening of Lebanese civil and political life in the latter part of the twentieth century. Modern Lebanon became the site of competition between mutually exclusive and frequently antagonistic groups. The state, the result of an unwritten ‘National Pact’ between Christians and Muslims,3 seemed incapable either of creating an all-encompassing ‘Lebanese’ identity or of satisfying the aspirations of all its citizens. The agreed principle of ‘confessionalism’ (fixed proportional sectarian representation) ‘applied not only to the highest offices but also extended throughout the political system’;4 it gave Lebanon the semblance of democratic pluralism, but also highlighted its precarious demographic balance. The situation was further exacerbated by the presence of large numbers of Palestinian refugees, who arrived in Lebanon after 1948, the various invasions and occupation by Israel, and the interference – some would say, constructive support – of neighbouring Syria. The lack of a clear Lebanese identity was a stumbling block from the beginning. Salame suggests that the rise of the modern state ‘represents a real challenge to the individual, a challenge to his feeling of belonging to a group and to the security of having a defined place within it’.5 Some Lebanese, he believes, ‘have felt that they were alien

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to the Lebanese identity and that this was imposed on them by external powers [ . . . ]. Most of the Muslims before 1943 and some Maronites after 1975 think [ . . . ] that [ . . . ] their attachment to Lebanon is not “primordial”, is not “given”, and could consequently be negotiated or even radically repudiated’.6 Such evident insecurity meant that a collision of identities was inevitable. Prior to 1948, as described by many of the refugees, there had been considerable crossborder movement between Palestine and Lebanon, and some intermarriage; I met several families in which the wife or husband was Lebanese. With the nakba, however, the differences between the two communities became formalized and Palestinians were re-identified as ‘other’. As a result of its historical development, Lebanon has had to contend with the problem of sectarian spaces. With an increase in urbanization in the mid-nineteenth century, ‘Beirut began to assume some of the features associated with confessional segregation’.7 These divisions became entrenched. By the 1930s, the neighbourhoods of Beirut had become ‘the scene of violent clashes between Christian and Muslim gangs, one side brandishing the banner of Lebanonism, the other of Arabism’.8 With the arrival of the Palestinian refugees and the beginnings of cross-border Israeli incursions in the south of the country, there was a movement of displaced people, mainly Palestinians and Lebanese Shi’a, to Beirut. The so-called ‘misery belt’ started to grow on the fringes of the city and contributed to what Khalaf describes as a ‘burgeoning geography of fear’.9 The civil war, which started in 1975 and continued for over 15 years in a bewildering variety of guises and degrees of intensity, is regarded with incomprehension by most people outside Lebanon, and even by many within the country. It has been described as an ‘explosion of anger, hatred, and fear that penetrated every corner of people’s lives’10 and as an ‘orgy of violence and death’.11 For almost two decades, ‘Lebanon was besieged and beleaguered by every possible form of brutality and collective terror known to human history; from the cruelties of factional and religious bigotry to the massive devastation wrought by private militias and state-sponsored armies’.12 Although no more violent than civil unrest elsewhere, the Lebanese war was an event so utterly and randomly destructive that

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few seemed able to make sense of it. What they did know was that danger engulfed the whole society as the conflict invaded areas of life hitherto regarded as safe, comfortable and private: ‘No space could provide shelter against the ubiquity of danger. There was no longer any difference between the experiences of the home and the street.’13 Violence in Lebanon: was not only relentless, protracted and futile. It also assumed, particularly during the last interludes of civil strife, even more pathological forms: it became random, diffused, and displaced. Unlike other comparable encounters with civil strife, which are often swift and localized and where much of the population could remain sheltered from its cruelties, the Lebanese experience has been much more overwhelming and homogenizing. The savagery of violence was also compounded by its indiscriminate, random and reckless character. Hence there is hardly a Lebanese today who could be exempt from some of its atrocities, either directly or vicariously as a mediated experience. Virtually no area of the country has been spared the ravages of war.14

Or, as Mai Ghoussoub reflects: ‘I needed to cross thousands of miles [ . . . ] to realise how terribly cruel our cruelty was.’15 As the conflict proceeded and one atrocity was succeeded by another, order and any semblance of civil society gradually disappeared. Eventually a situation of anarchy prevailed, whereby individuals joined militias, sought the protection of armed groups, locked themselves away in rooms, or left the country altogether. The lone sniper became a figure of romance and heroism to many. Yet, according to Cooke, ‘this was not a war of suicide, but a war of survival’.16 In order to better understand women’s roles in this ‘war of survival’, I will address some of the problems that arise in any discussion of women and the violence of war.

Women and the Violence of War It is not just terror and totalitarianism that are unacceptable today, but war itself.17

Since Palestinian refugee women are situated within a framework of on-going conflict, I argue their struggles must be contextualized

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through a broader understanding of women’s experiences of war. While war may be ‘central to the process of carving out political spaces and identities,’18 this does not explain the connection between processes of war making and the various forms of violence experienced by women during periods of conflict. One wonders what sort of ‘spaces’ and ‘identities’ are meant here; it suggests they are likely to reflect conventional male values. When considering the roles of women in war, there is a tendency to separate the private from the public, a separation that I consider to be artificial and misleading. There has been a great deal of general theorizing about how men manage violent conflicts and how women endure them, much of it relating to the broad themes of male power and female passivity. Since men ‘play a crucial role in defining the parameters within which violence is defined and understood’19 and also carry out the main military operations,20 one gains the impression that the identity being ‘carved out’ for women is likely to be that of victim or passive bystander; indeed, statistics reveal that the majority of war-affected victims are women and children. As Callaway,21 Morgan22 and others suggest, while women and men equally mourn their dead and celebrate their victories, they are usually allotted different responsibilities in the mechanics of conflict. The tools of violence, as I argue, are largely controlled by men and the waging of war – even a war of national liberation – is a tool almost exclusively in the hands of men. This means that, in order to take part in the liberation or protection of their society, women are obliged to accept a male definition of the struggle and a male plan of action. At the same time, women do find ways of participating and, as this book illustrates, Palestinian women have played important and innovative roles in their national struggle. These have generally tended to be support roles, however, while men retain overall responsibility. This is in line with traditional interpretations of male and female modes of action in the Muslim world and elsewhere. There are both public and private aspects to the waging of violence. The public aspect of conflict is a communal response: shared suffering, resistance, humiliation and victory. But it is also a gendered and conditioned response. The men of the community fight for the honour and salvation of their people; they are the heroes, the ones

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who are celebrated and remembered, and also the martyrs. Women, in contrast, are more likely to remain in the background, unremarked; their role is, as far as they can, to preserve family life and support the men. However, as Peteet points out, historically Palestinians did not make a direct link between war-making activities and manhood. Rather, she says, ‘Palestinian masculinity references abilities to protect, defend and sustain home and family [ . . . ]. In fact, among Palestinians, the space of combat and violence was not defined as exclusively male.’23 Nonetheless, the system of political management developed by the Palestinian leadership has been ‘male-dominated, in many ways patriarchal’;24 this ‘management style’ was sometimes mocked by the women I interviewed, who referred to self-important or ineffectual male political leaders. The division of responsibility, which defines men as protectors and women as supported, may have worked when conflict was a circumscribed activity between groups of combatants. However, several relatively recent developments have shifted the goalposts of conflict analysis. First, modern warfare has blurred the boundary between the home front and battlefield, meaning that women and children can no longer rely on men to protect them or keep them at a safe distance from the frontline. During periods of conflict, violence is likely to enter the domestic sphere from two directions. The external environment of instability and tension is bound to have a detrimental impact on women’s mental and physical wellbeing. Besides harming and harassing male fighters, the enemy well understands the symbolic importance of the woman – her protected sexuality, her position in the home and her status as preserver of the nation’s honour – and targets her too, with the intention of demoralizing the larger community. This, for refugee women, has had contradictory outcomes: while the Lebanese state and the Israeli invader’s ‘attack on the private sphere is responsible in important ways for sharpening Palestinian women’s national feelings and for crossing the line between public and private sphere,’25 it has also led to the tightening of restrictions on women and an increased sense of impotence among Palestinian men. Second, since many men ‘are accustomed to enforcing gender norms and stereotypes through physical violence,’26 some of these men are likely to vent their anger and frustration on the women in their families. Women experience additional disadvantage because, in times of war, normal rules cease

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to apply. This means, on the one hand, that men may use external conflict as a justification for reinforcing their dominance over women. On the other hand, women are seen as guardians of the home and, therefore, providers of a safe domain. But this very role means that men feel able to abuse women because they feel safe and frustrated at the same time. This raises the question of what we mean by ‘warfare’, what we mean by ‘combatants’ and what we mean by ‘civilians’, and how differences in definition affect the experience of the participants. Broadly speaking, men’s and women’s experiences of violence differ. Men, on the whole, tend to be more involved with the direct violence of armed combat and, although women may also experience such violence, ‘they are more often victimized by forms of aggression peculiar to women’s experience’;27 they are often also discouraged from taking a militant role. As I have discussed, ‘women’s experience’ may include rape and domestic abuse. Conventional gender roles equate women with passivity and victimization and men with action and decisiveness, which I consider problematic categorizations, especially in Palestinian society where motherhood is imbued with connotations of agency and heroism. Nonetheless, while mothers are celebrated as occupying a key position in the national liberation struggle, it is ‘one ranked as somehow less central than formal masculinist militancy’.28 Heroism is overwhelmingly linked to masculinity. A final change concerns the activities of women themselves. No longer content to be simply the ‘passive victims’ of traditional conflict analysis, many women are joining the battle in a variety of ways. During my research in Lebanon, I met or heard about women who had participated in the national struggle using innovation, courage and what are often considered to be non-traditional skills. Samira, who was imprisoned by the Israelis, tortured and threatened with rape, said that ‘my experiences gave me a kind of honour in Palestinian society; because I was in prison, people are proud, even of women’.29 Abir, a PLO activist in Rashidiyya camp, was arrested by the Israelis in 1983 when she was 22 years old. She recalled: In the early 1980s, I was part of a cell which was comprised of young men and women together. We were fighting against Israel. We did not only use weapons but facilitated the bringing of weapons and also writing graffiti against the Israelis. This was secret work. I was arrested and spent 13 days under torture by

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Israeli soldiers. They put a sack over my head and tied my hands behind my back. I denied everything. In the end, they took me to an unknown place and I was treated in a bad way; they hit me. Then I was taken to a women’s prison. We were permitted outside for just one hour a day; in this period, we sang revolutionary songs. Whenever they heard the women talking to each other about the revolution, they put us in isolation. I spent three months and ten days in this place. Eventually, there was a prisoner exchange between Israel and the PLO and so the women were taken to Ansar and released along with the young men.30

These experiences, although appalling, gave Abir both a sense of purpose and self-worth and, like Samira, ‘a kind of honour’. Nabila, who also lives in Rashidiyya camp, had a similar experience. She was arrested when she was only 18 years old. In her words: As prisoners, we should be entitled to certain rights, but we had no rights at all. There is no difference between women and men for the Israelis. They shouted at all of us and said bad things about God. The cell was just one metre wide and less than two metres high. When the Israelis arrested me, it gave me the power and determination to keep fighting. I have the right to fight them and they have to endure it. The world calls Palestinians terrorists, but the opposite is true; we consider the Israelis to be terrorists; it is our land. If anyone is imprisoned like that, just imagine their feelings. I was proud to be in prison, not just for myself or my family, but for a larger cause.

Nabila added that she is ‘a fighter for Palestine’, ready to commit her five children to the fight. She will never give up, she said, and will fight ‘to the last woman’.31 Her stirring words demonstrate a sense of moral superiority over her Israeli captors, who fail to respect women and say ‘bad things about God’, and also a high degree of motivation: ‘I have the right to fight them.’ As with the other women, she contextualizes her experiences in terms of the ‘larger cause’. Yet, at the same time, none of the women see any contradiction between their roles as fighters and their ‘natural’ function as mothers. Like other camp women, they insist that it is ‘a national duty to bear many children to replenish wartime losses’.32 Despite a general decrease in family sizes, the bearing of children remains the primary role of most women; it is generally regarded positively, not only as a ‘national duty’, but also as a source of fulfilment.

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We should distinguish between acts of violence against women and the ways in which society deals with such violence. In a situation where conflict is not present, one would expect to find a functioning government and a legal system capable of affording a degree of protection to women at risk from domestic or other violence. But in a conflict environment, where such mechanisms are absent, a woman is more likely to find herself vulnerable to opportunistic violence or violence caused as a by-product of the general chaos of conflict. In the Palestinian case, neither the Lebanese government nor the international community affords significant protection to the refugees, and therefore it is not surprising that women are victimized by various forms of violence. However, women do enjoy a degree of protection as a result of religious values and a traditional framework of respect. As Samira, Abir and Nabila’s testimonies show, when women take on an activist role, they not only acquire ‘a kind of honour’ but also feel entitled to add their voices to the national narrative. We can see this sort of change increasingly in the camps of Lebanon, where women such as these proudly claim their sacrifices on behalf of the nation to be equal to men’s. They are by no means alone; other women without a background of overtly militant activism also spoke about their contribution to the national effort. Khawla in Bourj elBarajne camp, for example, said that she volunteered to help with first aid during the 1982 Israeli invasion; at the time of the massacre, a family managed to escape from Shatila and came to their house. ‘We heard what had been happening at Sabra and Shatila,’ she said, ‘and went to see if we could help, but we could not get in because of the terrible smell.’33 Other women speak of rebuilding their destroyed houses following the invasion. Vickers argues that ‘it is in the separation of human values into categories of masculine and feminine, as a way of making social and cultural distinctions between men and women that the roots and the perpetuation of violence are to be found’.34 Her perspective, while useful, seems to me to be incomplete and fails to fully take into account Palestinian women’s experiences. The separation of male and female qualities detracts from the ‘nobility’ of the struggle as a cause for which men and women are prepared to lay down their lives. It is more fruitful to construct a larger framework that appreciates not simply women’s traditional status but men’s vulnerability and their

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inability to control the external situation. Thus, it is not simply a question of violence being inflicted on ‘helpless’ women. Such observations become meaningful only when applied to specific societies and developed accordingly. Although the Palestinian community in Lebanon is unconventional, it is still possible to perceive a link between constructions of masculinity and femininity, on the one hand, and the making of war, on the other35 although, as I have argued, such distinctions are increasingly fluid. The key question, in the Palestinian context, is what effect do the contradictory impulses of, first, their assumed passivity and dependence and, second, a sense of obligation to contribute to the national liberation struggle, have on women? If we equate power with ‘having a voice’, refugee women are neither powerless nor passive. In this case, paradoxically, it is possible that the presence of conflict in a society may have the effect of weakening male control. In my opinion, to link men solely with war-making and women with pacifism is unsatisfactory. It ignores the roles some women have chosen to adopt in the waging of violent conflict. They do not usually choose these roles out of aggression but as a way of committing themselves to a national struggle that transcends gender. Many feel that they have no choice; on the one hand, it is an imperative shared by the whole community but, on the other, individuals have no alternative but to protect their families. Nabila’s narrative presented her as a fighter but also as a mother with particular responsibilities towards her children.

‘A Killing Field for Other People’s Wars’ During the 1982 invasion, we were humiliated and displaced. We suffered a lot. I will never forget the war, for example when children were killed; it was an ugly war, involving killing and massacres. I can never forget, both physically and psychologically, no matter how many happy moments I have. I will always remember the days of war and that makes me depressed.36

As a result of their awkward presence in Lebanon, the refugees have not been able to avoid the wars and acts of violence that have beset the country over many decades. But to what extent have Palestinians themselves been responsible for some of the violence? The Lebanese

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government, which had welcomed the refugees in 1948 and had offered them temporary sanctuary, has always regarded them as a problem. As the years passed, the relationship deteriorated and certain sectors of the Lebanese population began to resent the Palestinians, especially the existence in their midst of armed groups that threatened the very fabric of Lebanese society. The Lebanese establishment, ‘particularly the Christian Maronite leadership, viewed the Palestinian movement with increasing consternation and anger. In their eyes it was recklessly drawing Israel’s well-known and bloody reprisals [ . . . ] onto Lebanon, and more seriously it was undermining the character and institutions of the state which the conservative establishment cherished’.37 The Muslim leadership, on the other hand, was more ambivalent: they could not ignore the mass Muslim support on the streets for the Palestinian cause but, at the same time, it was in their interest to maintain alliances with the Maronite leaders. As tensions with Lebanese factions grew, Palestinian resistance – following the 1969 Cairo Agreement – gained in confidence, much, it has been argued, to the detriment of ‘civility’ in Lebanon.38 Nonetheless, the Palestinian revolution acquired legitimacy and a ‘peculiar beauty’39 and, for a time at least, it was an exhilarating experience for those involved, both men and women. In the words of Hamida, an activist: During the Palestinian revolution, boys and girls were fighting together; they were arrested together and society was proud of them, including the fighter girls. This was a golden period for the Palestinian woman; she worked for different organizations, participated in mass activities, became militant – and all without any problem. She was in training camps and learnt how to use weapons.40

Khadija agreed that ‘many women worked with the fighters; many were imprisoned. Women transported food and weapons.’41 But revolutions, as Ajami points out, ‘cannot hover in the air. They require concrete channels, and the channel for the Arab revolution was to be the Palestinian movement. Where it had once been believed that the Arab states would liberate Palestine, it was now expected that the Palestinian struggle would topple the Arab order.’42 Such aspirations, if that was indeed the case, would be a source of alarm for a precariously balanced Lebanese political system. The revolutionary moment, according to Ajami, lasted for three years. The Arab states

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‘needed heroic deeds’ after the ignominious defeat by Israel in 1967 ‘and the Palestinians were able and willing to provide these deeds’.43 This placed Lebanon’s confessional balance of power under severe strain. As this strain became increasingly unbearable, Lebanon ‘was transformed into a killing field for other people’s wars’,44 although this could by no means be attributed solely to Palestinian militancy. However, in seeking to understand ‘how violence acquires a more perilous life of its own and how it crosses over into incivility’,45 there is ‘evidence of the role of Palestinian militarism in undermining the consensual character of Lebanese politics and in escalating the magnitude of violence’.46 While there has been a debate about Palestinian culpability for the war in Lebanon and Israel’s destructive role in the country’s affairs, the involvement of other actors, both internal and external, cannot be disregarded. Violence, as I have argued, is gendered, and war violence more intensely so, and this ‘truth’ lies at the heart of any discussion of Palestinian refugee women’s relationship with war and violence in Lebanon. They are first and foremost victims, and there is abundant evidence for this assertion. Julie Peteet carried out fieldwork on authority structures in the Palestinian camps of Lebanon prior to 1982. One of her case studies is of Khadijah, an 18-year-old girl living in one of the camps of southern Lebanon. When Khadijah became politically active within the national movement, her father and one of her brothers expressed strong disapproval. They tried to intimidate her, using verbal and physical violence. After she was seen selling political calendars in the camp, her brother threatened to kill her for bringing shame on the family. She sought protection from a local schoolteacher, who attempted to mediate between Khadijah and her family. Although nothing was resolved and the situation did not change, the teacher ‘was able to defuse the potential for violence’.47 At the same time, as Sayigh notes, there were frequently conflicts between the ‘generation of the revolution’ and their parents. She quotes Dalal from Shatila camp, whose mother was not happy about her nationalist activities: ‘My mother completely refused that I should work with young men. She wanted me to marry so that she could relax.’48 This theme of parental disapproval or anxiety was repeated by some of my interviewees.

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The question of authority is an important one. War in Lebanon has been an overwhelmingly male affair, which raises the question of where women, and particularly refugee women, fit into the practice of war. The experience, preparation and commemoration of war, as Cockburn notes, ‘shapes masculinities and femininities’.49 She argues that patriarchal gender relations, ‘in which men and masculinity are constituted as sharply contrasted to women and femininity, and as both superior and complementary to them, are highly favourable to militarist and nationalist interests’.50 As I have argued, the Palestinian revolution produced a mode of heroism strongly associated with male characteristics of action and courage. While some women, as Peteet and Sayigh describe, did become involved in political work, they were usually excluded from military actions. Although Palestinians in Lebanon adopted the language and methods of violent resistance to achieve their objectives, their revolution unfolded within a framework of traditional attitudes and practices, which protected women from the excesses of violence but also enabled a degree of involvement. Nonetheless, the experiences of Rima, a married woman in her mid-50s living in Ain el-Hilwe camp, indicate that not all women were ‘protected’. In her words: I was born in Bourj el-Shemali. My husband is from Ain el-Hilwe. We have two children. I have worked with the GUPW [General Union of Palestinian Women] since 1970, in many positions, including the military army of Palestine. I am a member of the Palestinian Communist Party in Lebanon. I have participated in many courses, especially communist workshops, for example in Russia in 1989. From 1983 to 1984, I lived in Libya because I was wanted by the Israelis; then I returned to Baalbek.51

In April 1975, the massacre by the Kata’ib militia52 of 27 Palestinians on a bus passing through the Ayn al-Romaneh suburb of East Beirut is generally believed to have triggered the civil war. Palestinian women recall this period with horror. Several women told me that ‘many young women’ were raped by the Kata’ib. Between 1975 and 1977, ‘(k)idnap, rape and massacre became the common currency of a war that probably killed in the region of 50,000, mostly noncombatants’.53 Tel al-Zaater refugee camp in Beirut was besieged for nine months in 1975– 6; when the camp finally fell, hundreds of

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Palestinians were massacred and thousands more forced to flee. Peteet quotes a woman, who survived the siege: We couldn’t get water or food, and children were dehydrated. Ten women would go out for water; only two or three would come back. They died – there was no solution: either their children died of thirst or their mothers died under the shells and bullets [ . . . ]. One woman was killed in front of me. She was balancing a bucket on her head when a bullet hit her.54

In total, three United Nations Relief and Works Agency camps were destroyed during the civil war,55 displacing some 6,000 Palestinian families who had to seek shelter elsewhere, often in already overcrowded camps in other parts of the country. Umm Tareq, a 77year-old woman who was born in Palestine and now lives in the Gaza Building, originally a Palestinian hospital in the Sabra area of Beirut, told me how her husband and three of her sons were killed during the massacre. This, she said, is her strongest memory and, since then, she has lived in a ‘sad situation’.56 Umm Bilal, who was one month old when she left Palestine and was married at the age of 15, recounted how, during the massacre, a sniper shot her in the leg; her cousin was shot in the leg and chest.57 Although the destruction of camps resulted in a severe shortage of space, the Lebanese government forbade any growth of existing camps. In the south of the country, camp residents were subjected to regular bombardments by the Israelis. In January 1979, for example, in the words of Mouna in Rashidiyya: I’m tired, very tired. We’re all tired [ . . . ] it’s been going on for a month [ . . . ]. Last week was dreadful, two women were killed by Israeli shells in Bourj el Shemaleh, 70 houses were damaged and 15 totally destroyed. In Rashidiyeh we have shelters enough, we’ve always been most exposed, but in Bourj el Shemaleh there are not shelters for everyone. I’ve been awake all night and have visited their shelters, I have visited the injured in the hospitals, have gone round talking to the men and women from the houses that were destroyed [ . . . ] I’ve tried to convince them to stay [ . . . ] but it’s very very difficult. They want to go north to Saida and Beirut. They don’t want to die! Thirty per cent of the population in Bourj el Shemaleh have left their homes.58

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In 2011, the residents of Bourj el-Shemali continue to experience adverse conditions. They refer to it as the ‘martyrdom camp’, with the ‘biggest number of martyrs for the homeland’; over 200 people were killed in the 1982 Israeli invasion. A study on poverty revealed that 80 per cent of people in the camps, and 66 per cent in Bourj el-Shemali, live in poverty. According to Nada, ‘violence is now widespread, more than before, especially among young people; some carry knives; ten-year olds are seen smoking cigarettes. The reason is the harsh living conditions. There is also a drug problem.59 Besides its militant activities, the Palestinian revolution was also responsible for widespread social change. Throughout the 1970s, the PLO ‘developed a vast network of social and cultural institutions that provided security, quasi-governmental services, and an emergent economic sector’.60 By 1982, the organization had established a substantial institutional framework, often referred to as a ‘state within a state’, in which Palestinian national identity could flourish. Many women were mobilized and assumed responsible roles within the resistance movement and its various organizations. Some of the women I interviewed recalled their own involvement, as members of political groups or humanitarian organizations. These factors must be viewed as sources of strength for a community under siege. There was also a feeling of optimism, shared by women and men, that through their own efforts and their steadfastness (sumud), Palestinians would succeed in returning to their homeland. However, the carefully constructed edifice of hope was abruptly shattered in 1982. According to a Palestinian commentator, there have been two key events that had a large impact on women; the first was the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and the second the lengthy sieges of some of the refugee camps in 1985 –7 by the Lebanese Shi’i Amal militia. These two violent episodes in a short period, he said, ‘caused a lot of damage to social life. There was a lot of killing, a lot of emigration. Palestinian women were affected very badly’.61 The dream of return was effectively ended.

Israeli Invasion of 1982 Oh people, tell the world about what happened to the Palestinian people. Describe what happened to us.62

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In June 1982, using the attempted assassination of the Israeli ambassador in London and the firing of missiles by the PLO across the Lebanese border into northern Israel as a pretext, the Israelis launched a massive air and land invasion of Lebanon. Their primary objective was to destroy the PLO and, with it, the carefully constructed physical and psychological sense of Palestinian identity. In the words of an Israeli military officer: ‘I would like to see all the Palestinians dead because they are a sickness everywhere they go.’63 The Israeli invaders used indiscriminate violence to terrify the local population and break Palestinian morale. Women living in the south recall that when the Israelis entered Lebanon there was shelling from planes and shooting from tanks. According to Aziza, who witnessed the invasion: Israel used a lot of violence, especially against young people. It gathered them in bad conditions and accused the young men of being in the military, but this was not true; they were civilians. The Israelis used loudspeakers. They destroyed houses and placed the men inside the large empty space. This happened in front of their wives, mothers and children. Israel captured students and destroyed the future of all of them.64

These tactics are the same as military strategies employed by the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, designed to frighten and humiliate. Wafa, who lives with her family in an unregistered camp in southern Lebanon, described how they were forced to live in shelters, ‘terrified that the Israelis would come and kill us. Many people were killed. People tried to run away, but there were no cars.’ All the men over 16, she said, were arrested and some were taken to Israel. One of her brothers was in Sidon, ‘in a shelter that was hit by a shell. People were scared even to go out for water. There was no food, nothing to drink, no school.’65 These incidents continued throughout the summer of 1982 and beyond. Lamia, a survivor now living in Ain el-Hilwe camp, recalled that: one of the Israeli tricks was that they started by shelling, then – as people tried to evacuate the injured – they shelled again. I was injured by the third air raid. I was hit, I felt the blood, then lost consciousness. When I awoke, I tried to get up because there was another air raid. Some of the young men tried to move me from danger; they took me to hospital. I had to have surgery for more than five hours. I could not believe I was still alive. During the same air raid, three people

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were martyred. I still have a small piece of shrapnel in my body. But, for me, survival is incredible. Many women were injured. In Ain el-Hilwe, about 15 women were killed between 1982 and 1985.66

Some of the people in Sidon took shelter in a hospital after their camp was evacuated, but the hospital was destroyed. Women in these places, said Lamia, were cooking, washing clothes67 – it provided a basic level of survival. We brought flour to make bread. It was distributed to all the people. There was no male adult to take care of the family so the women had to do it [ . . . ]. We heard news of the Ansar68 prisoners through the Red Cross. We organized a demonstration at the Israeli military base to demand the release of the men. Israel occasionally released some prisoners, so the women were all the time waiting at the military base for news. It was a big responsibility for women – our families and the prisoners. Life was hard at that time; three or four families had to live together.69

Haifa in Baddawi camp has ‘many bad memories’ of the Israeli invasion. At the time, she lived in Ain el-Hilwe where, she said, ‘there was a lot of violence; some people were killed and others died because there was no medical treatment. People were hiding in shelters, but the shelters were bombed. I witnessed people being killed and injured in shelters.’70 Dina in Rashidiyya camp also remembers the bombing of the shelters; many people were killed in the camp, she recalled.71 These memories are an important strand of the communal narrative, the horror still fresh even after over 30 years. Muna, in Rashidiyya camp near Tyre, recalled the destruction of homes and having to move from the camp to another place. It is a pattern, she said: first leaving our country, then having to leave the camp. Children lost their parents. Many young people were imprisoned in the Ansar prison camp. Women were imprisoned too; when they were released, they had psychological problems because of the torture and terror. As Palestinians, we refuse war but it was forced on us. Many people became disabled.72

The theme of ‘refusing war’ but ‘having it forced upon us’ was much repeated, conjuring the image of a victimized people; yet an equally

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strong strand of the Palestinian narrative is that of heroic resistance in the face of overwhelming power. Women acquiesced to the need for resistance. A few women spoke to me about being arrested and imprisoned by the Israelis. PLO activist Abir described enduring 13 days of torture by the Israelis: ‘They put a sack over my head and tied my hands behind her back. I was interrogated and beaten.’ Eventually she was taken to a women’s prison in Nabatieh, where she spent three months in a tiny overcrowded cell without access to basic rights.73 Umm Ibrahim in Ain el-Hilwe camp was active with Fateh in 1982; she described how she was arrested by the Israelis. She was subjected to physical and psychological intimidation and threatened with torture. One night, her captors brought two men to me and told me that they would have sex with me. They cut off my buttons and tried to take off my clothes. I was crying. They cut off all my hair. They accused me of being a prostitute. One of the men took off his shoes; it was two in the morning. He said I was a very bad woman. I told them I wanted to see my children, so they brought the children but they would not let them see me; the oldest was 12. They offered me money and said I could go home if I agreed to become a spy and brought them names. I refused and told them, every spy is a dog.74

As a result of her experiences, she suffers from long-term health problems.75 The accounts of these two women are illuminating in several respects: they demonstrate, first of all, that it was not unusual for women to be active with the resistance – like men, they suffered arrest and physical mistreatment; and, second, the gendered aspects of female militancy is stressed – former detainees consistently refer to the use of sexual threat and innuendo by their captors, their children were frequently used to coerce them into cooperating. By accusing women prisoners of being ‘bad mothers’ or ‘prostitutes’, the Israelis played on Palestinian notions of ‘honourable’ behaviour. It is likely that such fears, building on the values of their own society, prevented some women from playing a more active role. The role of Palestinian women at that time, explained Aziza in Ain el-Hilwe camp, was ‘to take care of their families after the capture of the men. In Ain el-Hilwe, much was destroyed. The importance of the women was to rebuild the family and to maintain it for three years while the men were detained.’76 Women ‘did not sit at home weeping

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when their menfolk were arrested as they had a vital role to play.’77 The camp, added Aziza, ‘is a symbol of Palestinian society. Palestinians are a civilized people. Before 1948, women were working to help their husbands. I heard from my mother and grandmother how women shared in the revolutions before 1948.’78 This echoes Sayigh’s description of the camps as ‘moral communities’, sites that exemplify ‘Palestinian difference’ and apartness from the host society.79 Aziza’s narrative, like Umm Ibrahim’s, also highlights notions of morality. Palestinians often contrast their own restraint to the boorish behaviour of Israelis, who are ‘regarded as lacking in ethics [ . . . ] as deficient in empathy with the suffering of others’.80 This presumption of ‘moral difference’ gave outnumbered and dispirited Palestinians the strength to continue their struggle. In the absence of men, women worked to rebuild the destroyed camps, often with their bare hands. In Lamia’s words: Journalists came. They saw how the women were cleaning the camp and trying to make it feel like home. When they saw women cleaning and using cement to rebuild the houses, they asked why we were doing it. The women replied that we were working like this because the young men were in prison. Slowly we were able to rebuild the houses so that the families could return.81

These narratives of women in southern Lebanon highlight the diversity of the roles they chose or were forced to adopt; they emphasize the extraordinary resilience displayed by many women during the 1982 invasion. They show too that, beyond the militant activities of the fida’iyyin, other forms of heroism were practised by Palestinians. Some of the women who were imprisoned by the Israelis observed that their experiences endowed them, as Samira in Rashidiyya camp said, with ‘a kind of honour’ in Palestinian society, whereas Israeli ‘aggression deprives its practitioners of claims to honour and morality’.82 People were proud of those who were in prison, women as well as men. In the summer of 1982, Israeli forces moved rapidly towards Beirut, leaving havoc and terror in their wake. Umm Usama in Beirut recalled her first memory of the Israeli invasion. She was at home and there was an air raid so she took her children and went to a shelter. The house next door was bombed. Her mother and sister were in another house and that was bombed. She was very scared. She saw the

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bombing and saw people being killed and ‘shattered into pieces’.83 Fatma, in the same camp, recounted how her husband was injured, her mother was killed and her home was completely destroyed.84 These are memories of terrible trauma and clearly affect every member of the camp communities; the dread of future aggression continues to haunt families and is reinforced by events such as the Israeli war with Hizbullah in July 2006. In Umm Usama’s words: Life was very difficult. We had to go to the bakery but it could take half a day to get bread. The Israelis were bombing and it was very frightening. Everyone, especially women, had no choice but to find bread and vegetables. The Israelis bombed the camps for three months.

Her mother was badly injured; a shell fell next to her and they had to amputate her finger; her stomach was also ripped open and in the end ‘she was unable to survive’.85 It is important to stress that most of those killed or injured were civilians, sitting in their homes or walking in the streets of the camp; Israel’s carefully constructed image of a ‘terrorist’ people has turned all Palestinians – women, men and children – into aggressors and therefore deserving of indiscriminate attack. Layla, who was born in Palestine and has lived in Bourj el-Barajne for most of her life, is a typical eye-witness. She testified that: I was injured during the Israeli invasion. There was a dead body in the street and the parents of the boy wanted to retrieve his body so some women volunteered to bring it, but the Israelis started shooting again. Everyone was either injured or killed. The body was full of holes. We managed to drag it to the side of the road. One of the women received a very bad wound; she is now disabled. In the end, we were unable to bring the body.86

One can observe parallels here with other traumatic events, such as the Holocaust, when normal, civilized life was shockingly interrupted and shattered, or the siege of Sarajevo in the early 1990s when snipers in the surrounding hills targeted citizens, creating an atmosphere of terror and uncertainty. Under such circumstances, there are no ‘innocent victims’, only ‘enemies’ who have to be expunged. In July, the Israelis besieged predominantly Muslim West Beirut. A Canadian doctor, Chris Giannou, who was working in a Palestinian

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hospital at the time, testified to the US Congress that he had witnessed ‘the total utter devastation of residential areas, and the blind, savage, indiscriminate destruction of refugee camps by simultaneous shelling and carpet bombing from aircraft, gunboats, tanks and artillery’.87 Mariam told me how she and her family survived the two-month siege. It was, she said: a situation of horror, which went on and on. I hated to wake up in the morning because there was nothing to wake up for. People became dehydrated by the lack of water and fresh vegetables. We took gallons of water wherever we could find it; the gallon cans became a part of life and very precious. We learned how to wash with as little water as possible. I longed for the day when the war would be over. But it never ended. If there was not sniping, then it would be shells and car bombs. Sometimes there were no phones. We never knew what might happen.88

In situations like this, women are usually the ones who struggle to maintain a semblance of ‘normal life’: they venture out of their homes to search for food and water; they do their best to shield their children from the worst excesses of war violence, although of course this is not always possible. On the occasion of American Independence Day, 4 July 1982, an American doctor who lived in West Beirut throughout the Israeli siege addressed a letter to Ronald Reagan, president of the United States. She wrote: The evening was very stimulating. Our water and electricity have been cut off, all the better to see the real live fireworks in the sky [ . . . ]. There were flare bombs to light up the sky, great explosions all over the horizon, red rockets that blazed across the sky in such wonderful formations and made such great noise [ . . . ]. I wanted some of my patients to watch the fireworks with me but they couldn’t. Salwa Ikbani is only 14 years old and she has lost seven brothers and sisters, her aunt, cousins, both eyes, and has been in coma for the past 12 days. I doubt she knows what’s going on. Inas Shaaban was 112 years. She would have enjoyed the show but she was burned severely and died last night. Anna Kasir would have enjoyed it, but I couldn’t get her out of bed. She’s lost both her legs and her daughter and her mother, her sister and her nieces. She wasn’t in the mood for fun.89

Theories of ‘women and war’, with their claims of male ‘power’ and female ‘victimization’, are challenged by such accounts. As my

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interviewees reveal, their primary concern was to survive and to protect their families and homes, by doing whatever they needed to do; it is another strand, albeit an extreme one, in the strategy of sumud or ‘getting on with life’ with which women still shield themselves.

The Massacres of Sabra and Shatila The massacres did not take place in silence and darkness. Lit by Israeli flares, the Israelis were listening to Shatila as early as Thursday evening. What partying, what feasting went on there as death seemed to take part in the pranks of soldiers drunk on wine, on hatred, and probably drunk on the joy of entertaining the Israeli army which was listening, looking, giving encouragement, egging them on.90 Massacre of innocent people is a serious matter. It is not a thing to be easily forgotten. It is our duty to cherish their memory.91

Following the siege of West Beirut in July and August, PLO fighters left the country under a US-brokered agreement. It was the culmination of the Palestinian resistance project. Sitting in Cyprus, watching the evacuation on television, I was moved by the bravado of the young men, shooting their rifles into the air as they bade farewell to their families. The safety of Palestinian civilians left behind had been guaranteed under the terms of the agreement. However, in the early evening of 16 September 1982, 18 days after the last of the fighters had departed, an event began that was so shocking and monstrous that a wave of revulsion shook the entire world. The massacre of the Sabra and Shatila area of Beirut was committed against Palestinians and other civilians by Lebanese Christian militiamen with the support of the Israeli army. Over three bloody days and nights, as many as 4,000 defenceless civilians, many of them women and children, were slaughtered in cold blood.92 Many women and girls were raped before being killed. One eye-witness account records the following scene: Through the shattered door of the house, they could see the half-naked body of Aida, laying there on the floor. Umm Wisam went into the house in spite of her

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son-in-law’s attempt to stop her. She could see scratches over the girl’s chest and neck, deep bruises on the left side of her chest and two bullet holes in her left breast. But the worst shock to Umm Wisam came when she saw the end of a bayonet emerging from Aida’s groin.93

Another survivor described the murder of her young daughter: My daughter was wearing a very beautiful dress. Her brother had brought it for her as a gift when he came back from Saudi Arabia [ . . . ]. They shot my daughter dead. The bullets ripped through her chest [ . . . ]. My daughter looked like an angel in the prettiest dress she’d ever worn in her life.94

Radwa, who was working as a nurse at one of the Palestinian hospitals at the time of the massacre, recounted how a wounded teenage boy managed to reach the hospital and two male nurses went down and brought him in: ‘There was no electricity at the hospital, all we had was candles. The boy could not breathe; the doctor operated using candlelight and a local anaesthetic; we put him in a bed.’ She went to see him and he told her that people had entered his house and killed his family; he had pretended to be dead. He said he was born in Tel al-Zaater and survived the massacre there. Radwa said she discussed the situation with the director of the hospital, but he concluded ‘we are surrounded by Israelis so what can we do?’. She continued: We also did not want to frighten people. We tried to communicate with the Gaza hospital, at the other end of the camp, by walky-talky but the Israelis and the Lebanese militia members were in between us and they intercepted the call; they told us that they were there to massacre all the Palestinians; they uttered very bad words. So we went back to the director and told him we were in trouble but only a few people knew about it. We managed to get a couple of hours sleep, on the ground, but then we heard screaming and shooting. One of the ambulance drivers tried to go to his house, which was opposite the hospital, to get coffee. He returned to say they were behind his house and were saying it was a hospital full of Palestinian fighters.

Eventually the Lebanese militiamen attacked the hospital; those who were on the ground floor were able to jump out of the window but others were not so lucky; some of the nurses were raped and killed.

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Radwa added that the teenage boy who had survived the massacre at Tel al-Zaater was later murdered when the killers invaded the hospital.95 Souad, a survivor of the massacre, gave her testimony to the Arab Women’s Court in June 1995. She stated: On Thursday 17 September 1982 at 5am, 13 soldiers backed by Israel broke into our home. I was then sixteen. My youngest sister (hardly a year and a half old) was the first to die from a shot in her head [ . . . ]. I was raped by three of them, one after the other [ . . . ]. They returned again the day after and sneered at me. As they heard the words of depreciation I could not withhold, they shot me, point blank, in the breast and head. I did not die but fell unconscious and lost the ability to move until the third day, when I was shaken into consciousness by a voice from outside [ . . . ]. My condition has not changed since the massacre. I became a cripple condemned to a wheelchair. I fear nothing and desire nothing more than ultimate victory and the end of this painful drama.96

Ahlam, now in her fifties and still living in the Sabra area of Beirut, told me how she lost her husband and her home in the 1982 massacre. At that time, ‘my daughters were one year old; my husband was holding one of the children when he was killed’. Her sister’s husband was also killed in the massacre.97 Umm Nabil, aged 45, now living in Bourj el-Barajne camp, said: I was married in 1975, the beginning of the civil war. All I remember if war, sad memories. My brother died in the Sabra and Shatila massacre; he was on his way for a visit when the invasion started; the Israelis arrested him. My daughter also died that year. Saad Haddad’s forces98 killed my brother but we never found his body. At that time, we were all waiting, expecting to die; we believed there was no way to escape. During the massacre, we heard a rumour that Haddad had come to kill Palestinians; people were trying to get out but the Israelis were at the entrances to the camp and prevented us from leaving.99

In their defence, Israeli army officers claimed they were under the impression that not all the Palestinian fighters had left Lebanon during the PLO evacuation; they believed that a significant number of armed men remained in some of the camps, including Shatila. When the massacre began, a group of older men from the camp decided to go, bearing a white flag, to talk to the Israelis and to tell them that there

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were no fighters left in the camp; none of the men returned. Hala in Ain el-Hilwe camp told me that her father was one of the group. ‘He sacrificed himself,’ she said. The Red Cross told them to collect his body, to bury him. But ‘we heard that Saad Haddad’s army had arrived so we ran away; the people who had been killed remained unburied for many days’.100 In June 2001, surviving victims of the massacre brought a complaint in a Belgian criminal court against Ariel Sharon,101 who by then had become prime minister of Israel. He was accused of crimes against humanity. The accounts by eye-witnesses, including Souad, provide harrowing testimony. According to Shahira Abu Roudeina: They made us come out and lined us up in our turn against the wall, wanting to pump bullets into us as well, but then they started arguing about who would be the first to shoot. Then they took us to the Sports Centre and took us into a room full of men, women and children. While guarding that room, they were also sharpening their axes and preparing their guns [ . . . ]. At midday, they brought back the young men and the women from the rest house, as well as some people from the Kuwaiti embassy. In the middle of the Sports Centre there were mines which had been there since the beginning of the Israeli invasion. One of the mines exploded. People fled, and we were among them.102

Another survivor testified: ‘When the massacre was over, we went back and saw the corpses of the dead, including that of our neighbours’ son Samir, who had been murdered. And under the corpses, they had placed bombs as booby-traps.’103 Mrs Nazek Abdel Rahman al-Jamal, who lost her two sons in the massacre, stated: ‘They made us walk as far as the Kuwaiti embassy, and when we got there they said, “Women go home.” There was an explosion and the people ran, on the way back I saw dead bodies on both sides of the road, women and old people.’104 In the testimony of another survivor: A woman came in from the Irsan quarter. She shouted, ‘They’ve killed Hassan’s wife!’ She was carrying her children and shouting that it was a massacre [ . . . ] the shelling got stronger and we went back to the neighbours’ shelter. The shelter was full of women, men and children; a woman from Tel Al Zaatar was crying, saying, ‘This is what happened at Tel Al Zaatar’.105

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A year later, ‘the relatives’ hopes were dashed again’ when the Belgian judges ruled that the case against Sharon was inadmissible.106 Writing a year after the massacre, an anonymous correspondent, noting that Shatila ‘has become memorable for an atrocity which stands out, even in an area where massacres are commonplace,’ considered some of the ways in which the survivors were coping with their experience. The first reaction ‘was an explosion of grief and anger – no one who went there can forget the black-robed women wailing among the corpses [ . . . ]. Mourning rituals have gone on ever since [ . . . ]. On the individual level, people have gone on retelling and reliving in detail their own massacre stories, so that gradually, with all these retellings, the massacre has been transformed from private grief into the property of the whole community.’ Another survival mechanism, suggested the journalist, ‘was the obligation to search for and properly bury the bodies of kinsfolk’. Finally, after burying the dead, ‘the obligation to look after the living: having to find food and shelter for their children was the only thing that kept many women going in the aftermath, especially women who had lost both home and husband’.107 The act of mourning brings dignity and meaning to a brutal and senseless act, while efforts by women to carry on with normal life appear almost heroic. In her painstaking analysis of the massacre, Bayan al-Hout records the posthumous words of one of the victims. When urged by her daughter to leave the area for a safer place, the woman replied ‘Where can we go? I’m staying here with my people. Whatever happens to them happens to all of us.’108 Her words capture a sense of what it means to be an exile; beyond feelings of solidarity and safety to be found with one’s own people lurks another element of Palestinian identity in exile, which could be described as resignation to the inevitability of victimization. But there is also a lingering sense of anger, partly because ‘Lebanese reconciliation’ has ‘demanded silence on the largest single massacre of Palestinian civilians in the history of the Arab– Israeli conflict’109 and party as a result of the apparent indifference of the international community. As I have argued, ascribing the Palestinian response simply as ‘victimization’ fails to do justice to the complex reality of their situation. Peteet suggests that Tel al-Zaater and Sabra-Shatila were ‘prime exemplars of camps as semi-sacred sites of violence perpetrated by

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Arabs and Israelis and thus of suffering and martyrdom. Tel al-Za’ter lived in collective memory and in the social relations it continued to generate. Sabra-Shatila was also a living symbol, part of the texture of daily life for its inhabitants.’110 The ‘mourning rituals’ described by the anonymous journalist are evidence of a refusal by Palestinian women to identify themselves only as victims, as is the rebuilding of homes and camps by women in the south. However, a scholar involved in the collection of oral history narratives of camp life suggested that Shatila today is viewed negatively by many of its inhabitants,111 not as a mutually supportive community like some of the other camps but as no longer ‘Palestinian’ in the sense that other nationalities also reside there and contribute towards feelings of alienation. According to a social worker in the camp, it is the site of drug-taking and other criminal activities.112 Abou Moujahed, the founder of the Children and Youth Centre in Shatila camp, believes that the situation is getting worse; the fact that more young people are turning to radical Islamic groups shows that they feel abandoned by world leaders. The feeling of hopelessness, he says, ‘comes from the living conditions in Shatila. Home ruins and mass graves are reminders of massacres and wars’.113 Although it is impossible to extract any lesson from an incident as senselessly cruel as the Sabra and Shatila massacres, it is worth pointing out the obvious gender dimension of the situation. A largely defenceless population, its young fighting men having been expelled from the country, was subjected to a brutal and overtly sexual assault by a band of heavily armed males, fuelled by alcohol and drugs. Women, children and even unborn babies bore the brunt of this savage violation. The Christian militiamen were finally able to unleash their pent-up fury and frustration against their enemy, the PLO, in a way that is sadly familiar to those who have studied war situations elsewhere, from Vietnam to Bosnia. There were very few sources of strength available to women during this episode of sustained violence. Although Palestinians express pride in the vigorous resistance mounted by the PLO in response to the Israeli invasion and the fact that ‘a tough spirit of militant popular resistance emerged fairly rapidly after the imposition of the total siege among the majority of West Beirut’s residents who remained in the city throughout,’114 in the end the PLO were driven out of Lebanon. One hears numerous stories of individual and communal heroism in

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the face of sustained terror, for example the many people who assisted in caring for the wounded and obtaining food and water. There are also touching reminiscences of moments of happiness. Amina told me that, as a teenager in one of the Beirut camps at the time the MultiNational Force came in, she befriended a young Italian soldier. She showed me a card he had sent her from Italy, still treasured over 20 years later.115 There was also recognition of the role played by women. As he left Beirut at the end of August 1982, PLO leader Yasser Arafat said: ‘I salute the women who stayed and helped in the siege and battle of West Beirut. I will never be able to express my thanks.’116

Amal Camp Sieges Territory [ . . . ] comes to function as a repository of past violence, a landscape filled with anger, sorrow, and jubilation.117

Even after the Israeli army withdrew from most of Lebanon, Palestinian camps continued to suffer, this time at the hands of a Lebanese Shi’a militia, in a confrontation that Hudson describes as ‘one of the most brutal episodes in a brutal civil war,’118 and Sayigh characterizes as ‘fratricidal in class as well as national and religious terms’.119 The towns and villages of southern Lebanon are inhabited largely, although not exclusively, by Shi’i Muslims. This has meant that the Shi’a have been on the front line of a war between the Palestinian fida’iyyin and the Israeli army. Both sides in this lowintensity conflict have inadvertently or deliberately targeted the civilian Lebanese population in the south. The local Shi’i community, therefore, more than anyone, suffered from the on-going border scuffles, their villages becoming war zones. In the immediate aftermath of the nakba, the villagers of southern Lebanon were sympathetic and supported Palestinian calls for justice and return. However, as Palestinian militancy increased and cross-border operations were launched against Israel, the Israelis would retaliate by attacking southern Lebanese villages. As a result, countless innocent Lebanese civilians were killed and wounded. Slowly, sympathy changed to aversion.

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Shi’i anger culminated in the infamous ‘camp wars’ of 1985 – 7, when the Amal militia besieged the Beirut refugee camps of Shatila and Bourj el-Barajne and some of the camps in the south, in an attempt to drive the Palestinians out. The first siege (1985) lasted for one month; the second (1986) for ten days; the third (1986) for 45 days; and the fourth of 1986 – 7 for six months. The periods and intensities of the sieges varied according to camp. But what were the reasons behind ‘one of the most ferocious battles of Lebanon’s protracted civil wars’?120 Some scholars121 and also many ordinary people attributed it to a rising sense of grievance felt by many Lebanese against the Palestinians. These feelings were explored in a fictional account of the Tel al-Zaater siege and massacre; one of the Lebanese characters says to a Palestinian acquaintance: I want to know, Sayyed, what has happened to you people? You used to keep yourselves to yourselves and mind your own business. Why do you spread all over our country like ants? The country is ours, but you behave like a bunch of demanding beggars. When will you stop? Disarm yourselves and kick out the armed men amongst you and things will be alright between us.122

Although the work is fictional, it reflects the exasperation felt by some segments of the Lebanese population about the Palestinian presence in their midst. Other observers explain Amal’s actions as an explosion of rage by the powerless and marginalized Shi’a community against their neighbours, Palestinian refugees who were equally impoverished but enjoyed a degree of material support from the international community. Some camp residents conclude that the battle began as a fight between young men but quickly escalated. Whatever the reasons, the sieges were a source of bewilderment and terror for the refugees, their impact felt particularly painfully by women. Peteet argues that, even at a time when ‘trust in the world exterior to the camps was completely suspended, Palestinians placed some trust in Arab cultural practices that ensured the safety of women during times of conflict’.123 But camp women’s narratives reveal that they were far from immune from the violence of this period. Stories of the siege are harrowing. For example, a woman in Bourj el-Barajne camp said: ‘When the siege was over, we went out to buy things we needed. One day as we returned from the town, [Amal] began sniping

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at us. Many women were killed, including the daughter of our neighbours.’124 Umm Samir, also in Bourj el-Barajne camp, recalled: There was no food. The hardest was the six-month siege, when we were so hungry we had to eat dogs and cats and grass. In the end, we consulted a religious leader to get permission to eat dead human beings. No one could get in or out of the camp. There was no anaesthetic for operations.125

Amina, a teenager at the time, reported that the sieges were ‘the worst period’. A friend from school was shot as they walked along together. The Amal men, she said, behaved in ‘an insulting and humiliating way’ towards women and girls. They used bad language, forbade women from going outside the camp and shot at women. Once, she said, four Amal fighters took her to a building and threatened to rape her. ‘They used to rape women outside the camp. It was very frightening.’126 Amira, in the same camp, recalled that Amal sieges had ‘a bad psychological effect’. Her brother was killed by Amal. People suffered from hunger, she said, ‘many were killed, the hospitals were inadequate for all the injured people, and there was no international organization to protect them’.127 Shafiqa reported that, on one occasion, the Amal militia made an opening so that women and girls could go out and get food but, when they returned, some of them were killed and the food was stolen.128 Soraya, a 42-year-old woman with six children, recalled that the Amal fighters took her husband away for one week and tortured him; she remarked that ‘all Palestinians are victims’.129 Umm Mustafa, who was born in 1947 in Palestine, said that she lost her son during the 1982 Israeli invasion and her husband during the first days of the Amal siege; it was difficult, she added, ‘to bring up my children alone’.130 Her neighbour Umm Bilal recounted how her son had been sitting on the sofa when a bomb exploded in the building next door – he was hit by shrapnel and died; her daughter was wounded at the same time.131 Umm Muhammad, aged 75, shuddered when she recalled the Amal war as being ‘the most difficult time. We were stuck in the camp; Amal would enter, to kill and rape.’ She too lost her son; he was wounded in the leg, but they could not find out what was happening to him. Although he was in a hospital, ‘they killed people in the hospital,’ she said.132 Here again we see a picture of a victimized population; as their male protectors

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had been forced to leave, women, children and the elderly were left to fend for themselves and somehow ‘to carry on with normal life’. In the words of Jamila, who was eight years old when the camp siege began: it was very bad for children. I was always hearing screaming and I saw dead and injured people. My house was near the hospital. I was scared of bombs, always waiting, never knowing if we would survive. Friends of my family were killed. It was impossible to leave the camp. Sometimes there was food and sometimes not. My mother and aunt went out to get food [ . . . ]. We were not able to go to school for long. The war destroyed houses. My father lost his job; he had been a mechanic and earned good money. But, as a result of the war, we lost everything. My father became sick and has never worked again.133

For Umm Umar, too, the camp wars bring back bad memories; she lost both her brothers.134 Muna in Rashidiyya camp added her own observations: When the men are in prison, women take on an important role. They have to take care of their families on their own. [During the Israeli invasion], women went out of Rashidiyya to get food, but Israeli soldiers took it from them and threw it on the ground. There was also the problem of militias. When the Israelis left, the Amal movement took over control and they did the same things the Israelis did.

Having survived the Israeli invasion and siege, many Palestinians, as Muna’s account illustrates, were shocked by the behaviour of Arab-Muslim ‘brothers’. Wafa in Kasmiyye camp related that Israel withdrew in 1985 but, in 1987: when the camp wars took place, the camp became like a prison. People were starving; it was even worse than when Israel was here [ . . . ]. The Amal militia killed Palestinians for no reason; they did not want Palestinians to work. Amal killed many women too. For example, women went on to the streets and were screaming. The Amal fighters started to shoot at the women’s feet, then killed some of them. But the women were only trying to protect the men.135

Nonetheless, a few women were able to identify more positive aspects of the Israeli invasion and Amal sieges. Layla in Bourj el-Barajne

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recalled that people in the camp were ‘very united. They could not allow themselves to be defeated or humiliated.’ Women, she said, played a very active role. ‘Women’s work was to help wounded people and children who were lost. All the women of the camp helped; it was social and humanitarian, finding food, giving people hope, women were very active.’136 Khawla, who lives in the same camp, related her own experiences during the war period. In the mid-1980s, she was 21 years old, unmarried and keen to do something to help. She joined the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and engaged in ‘social, not military, work, such as making sandbags and distributing food’.137 This may not sound particularly ‘revolutionary’; however, it represented a change of attitudes and indicated that the rigidly protective system governing women’s behaviour was being relaxed. Lamia in Ain el-Hilwe camp agreed that ‘Palestinian women had an important role during the 1982 Israeli invasion. They were solely responsible for their families and society because all the men were in prison.’ At that time, she said, ‘Palestinians used schools as places to escape from camps; they used to bring blanket and other provisions from the camps’. She continued: The hospital where people were sheltering was destroyed. The camp was evacuated of its population. Women in these places were cooking, washing clothes; it provided a basic level of survival. We brought flour to make bread and this was distributed to all the people. There was no male adult to take care of the family so the women had to do it. UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency] tried to register our names but the Lebanese advised us not to rent houses in the city because our homes were in the camp. But there were no houses in the camp; they had all been destroyed.138

Lamia’s story, which also tells how women slowly rebuilt the houses, highlights both the traditional role of women as providers of ‘a basic level of survival’, but also introduces a new focus; with no men left to take care of them, women took over areas traditionally regarded as ‘masculine’. This change of gender dynamics was well illustrated by the former activists in Rashidiyya and Ain el-Hilwe camps, such as Abir and Samira, who told me how they had been proud to fight for their nation and how they were determined to go on fighting and also encouraging their children to struggle against Israel. The ‘new

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woman’, personified by Abir, Nabila and Lamia and many others, was a product of determination and national pride, but her emergence was precarious. As Suad commented: ‘Sometimes a war gives people more strength. Despite the air raids, we were going out, living our lives; it gave us more power.’139 Despite her frightening experiences of war, Jamila was also pragmatic. In her opinion: Today’s young women are completely different from the older generation. When the people came from Palestine, women only had homes and domestic activities. But my mother is educated and my own children will be different. Women are now stronger than before. Men are changing too; they are more open-minded. Attitudes are changing.140

Jamila was 23 when I met her; she has taught herself to speak English, works for a non-governmental organization in one of the camps and holds thoughtful and hopeful views. Her narrative is a good example of agonizing events as a source of strength. However, political activist Hoda argued that: Women were very special at that time, but afterwards they went back to fighting for their rights. They were unable to sustain their gains by participating in decision-making structures. In political parties, the presence of women in leadership positions is not comparable with their historical role. Women’s rights were not on the agenda; national rights were the priority and it was believed that women’s rights would naturally follow. There has been some progress in involving women at the decision-making level, but it is not at the top of anyone’s agenda.141

Taken as a whole, the women’s memories, while they display a realistic assessment of the terrible dangers of conflict, also demonstrate innovation and resilience. Women such as Wafa and Suad exemplify how the limits of women’s abilities can be stretched by abnormal circumstances. Yet, as Hoda said, women’s status did not change and the violence of social practices remains intact. Even after the Amal sieges ended, there lingered at the back of everyone’s minds the ever-present danger of Israel. Refugee women are haunted by actual acts of aggression committed by Israel against them and the fear of what Israel could do. Women describe witnessing acts of violence. Umm Usama said she remembers the bombing.

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People ‘became shapeless masses’, she said, ‘unable to be recognized’.142 Zaynab recalled hearing about the Sabra and Shatila massacres; she was terrified when she heard that the Israelis were coming to Bourj el-Barajne. To her, the Israelis are ‘terrorists who kill the innocent and commit massacres’.143 When I visited the camps in February 2003, several people expressed the fear that, if the US and Britain launched a war against Iraq, Israel might use it as a pretext either to expel more Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip or to launch another military incursion into Lebanon. At the same time, I observed among many women I met a high degree of stoicism. Many couched their grim stories in humorous terms, bringing into the narrative an element of communal solidarity. However, as non-governmental organization worker Farida noted, although some forms of participation proved empowering for women, in the sense that it ‘opens their eyes to aspects of life, expands their knowledge, so that they can act as a model for others,’ the negative aspect of participation is that the mentality of society does not change; ‘women participate outside the home but they are still responsible for the domestic arena. This means a woman does not have the space to think of herself as a human being.’144 Her observation was reiterated on a number of occasions, suggesting that, although women’s scope for action expanded, they failed to transform it into a ‘feminist’ consciousness. Despite the vivid depictions by many camp women of the violence they suffered, their words fail to convey the sheer horror of the situation. The Israeli siege of Beirut (June – August 1982) lasted for 67 days, during which, according to United Nations figures, 6,775 people were killed and 29,912 wounded in West Beirut alone. It was ‘a battle in which one of the world’s most sophisticated military machines threw all the nasty tricks of ultra-modern military technology against an overwhelmingly civilian concentration of hundreds of thousands of people, whose defenders wielded, at best, only hand-held technology, a limited amount of medium artillery, and a few score old-model tanks’.145 Instead, the narratives tend to focus on small details of pain, fear and survival. Perhaps this is the nature of eye-witness accounts of atrocities. The narrator cannot possibly encompass the full meaning of the catastrophe and can only evoke the terror through personal recollections.

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Conclusion The theme of massacres has recurred throughout this chapter. Violent displacement, including massacres, accompanied the flight from Palestine in 1948 and has been a feature of refugee life in Lebanon. As a political activist146 declared: ‘We did not come here of our own free will. We came to escape massacres at the hands of the Zionists.’147 His words are supported by a survivor of the Sabra and Shatila massacre: ‘It is only with a fair political settlement that we can make sure that massacres are not repeated in the future.’148 Tragic as the events discussed in this chapter have been, they also play an important role as markers of national identity. They provide a shared history for Palestinians in exile and the confirmation of their status as a ‘moral community’. Yet they also evoke somewhat different reactions from men and women. While men feel a responsibility to fight back, to defend their community, women have responded through rituals of mourning and have transformed incomprehensible acts of violence into promoters of strength and activism. Beyond the eye-witness accounts of survivors, almost all camp women live with a sense that violence, including massacres, constantly lurks on the margins of their lives. Shalhoub-Kevorkian’s assertion that ‘the war is never over for us’149 still rings true. But women have evolved ways of coping, in which the rituals of mourning and ‘getting on with life’ are constantly repeated motifs. In their memories and with their actions of solidarity, women mourn the victimization of the Palestinian people. In this chapter, I have tried to show that, in some ways, the position of women seems more solid than that of men. As the leaders of the revolution, the practitioners of politics and the traditional heads of families, men have borne the brunt of failure. Women, in contrast, have managed to enlarge the boundaries of their lives through enhanced participation in the public sphere, involvement in the work of non-governmental organizations, sole care of home and children when men have been killed or imprisoned, and the ritualization of loss. However, ‘coping’ and ‘surviving’ are inadequate substitutes for a just resolution to the refugees’ plight. There are, I think, two specifically troubling aspects to the scenario outlined above. The first concerns versions of ‘truth’ and the fact that Palestinian women as witnesses and participants are denied the dignity of being ‘truthtellers’. The community speaks and women, despite the pain of

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recollection, are keen to transmit their narratives of suffering to the world, but it seems that no one is listening. The second problematic element lies in the tension between the ‘resilience and agency’ of refugee women, on the one hand and, on the other the continuation of struggle, violence and the non-recognition of Palestinian claims for justice. This has an impact on all Palestinians but women bear a heavy responsibility as mothers and the guardians of tradition. At the same time, as women’s narratives attest, the trauma of dispossession and prolonged violence has also elicited a spirited response, a kind of pride, from many women. One can observe the building of a secure identity, rooted in resistance, and the development of skills with which to face the enemy and the hostile environment. As Dalal, an 18-year-old woman in Bourj el-Barajne camp said: ‘I am proud to be a refugee because it means I am Palestinian’.150

Chapter 6

The Politics of Forgetting We promise that we will not rest until the right of return of our people is achieved and the tragedy of our Diaspora ends.1

Despite President Abbas’s fighting words, Palestinian refugees in Lebanon feel that they have been forgotten. They are caught between two hostile systems: on one side, the Israeli– Palestinian ‘peace process’ continues to marginalize the ‘refugee issue’ and deny Palestinian rights while, on the other, the Lebanese government is equally insistent that the refugees are not their responsibility. The international community, as a supposed arbitrator, has been less than neutral. In 2004, according to former US President George W. Bush, for example: The United States is strongly committed to Israel’s security and well-being as a Jewish state. It seems clear that an agreed, just, fair and realistic framework for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue as any final status agreement will need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state, and the settling of Palestinian refugees there, rather than in Israel.2

His assertion confirms the fears of many camp women that they are on no one’s agenda. Soraya, for instance, aged 25, pregnant and living in Rashidiyya camp, admitted that she does not ‘believe in the international community’. She would like to return to Palestine but would rather stay in Lebanon than go to the West Bank or Gaza Strip; these places are not ‘home’.3 Umm Nabil in Bourj el-Barajne camp agreed; she would like to live in Palestine more than anywhere and does not want to go to the West Bank or Gaza where, she said, they would continue to be regarded as ‘refugees’.4 Although the

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majority of women interviewed were adamant that there is ‘no difference’ between Palestinians wherever they are, it was notable that many refused to contemplate the idea of moving to a future Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza; some acknowledged that this outcome might be preferable to living outside the homeland but most, as Umm Nabil’s perspective illustrates, see it as a continuation of living as a refugee. This chapter will assess the current situation of Palestinian refugee women in Lebanon in terms of continuing violence, dwindling hope and threats against the resistance project. I will contextualize the discussion within a review of recent developments in the Palestinian – Israeli conflict and the occupied Palestinian territory, and how these impinge on those living in exile. I will focus on key issues facing refugee women in the early twenty-first century, specifically their yearning for their homeland in the absence of return; how Palestinian identity is evolving to encompass fresh ways of expressing national solidarity, despite the presence of significant violence; and, finally, some of the changes being experienced by women in the camps. These questions will be explored through refugee women’s narratives that, as I have indicated, differ from men’s narratives and from ‘official’ Palestinian narratives by shifting attention to the female nationalist subject and her efforts to historicize ‘the home, gender, and sexuality’ and to register ‘actions and experiences that would otherwise be forgotten’.5 The argument I will make is that, as their options narrow and a solution to the Palestinian –Israeli conflict appears more remote than ever, women have been forced to access new strategies of resistance and survival. These rely on traditional models and also modern ones.

‘Getting On with Life’ In October 1989, Lebanese leaders signed the ‘National Accord Document’ in the Saudi Arabian city of Ta’if, thus bringing about a formal end to the civil war. Silverstein and Makdisi argue that Lebanese ‘peace’ depended on a ‘politics of forgetting’,6 whereby the various communities, including the Palestinians, were required to put the violence of conflict behind them and ‘get on with life’. This may have been the preferred option for the majority of war-weary Lebanese, but for Palestinian exiles the challenges have been more

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complex; it is more difficult for them to forget. As attention turned to rebuilding their devastated country, the Lebanese became impatient to be rid of their unwelcome Palestinian guests. In addition, the end of the war coincided with a collapse of outside donor interest and funding for assistance projects [ . . . ]. In the case of the Palestinians in Lebanon the ‘no emergency – no money’ situation was compounded by a number of other factors. First, those agencies which had traditionally been involved with assistance in Lebanon found new priorities in the Occupied Territories, where the intifada had raised levels of interest and awareness of the situation there. Secondly, the reconstruction of Lebanon competed for funding from similar sources. Thirdly, the beginning of the Peace Process in Madrid in 1991 led many NGOs [nongovernmental organizations] to adopt ‘a wait and see’ attitude to planning assistance for Palestinians in Lebanon, fearful of being seen to pre-empt the outcome of political negotiations or of exacerbating the post-war tensions between the Palestinians and the Lebanese community.7

While Palestinian communities found it difficult to put the painful memories of war behind them, many women echoed the need to ‘get on with life’ because there was nothing else they could do. They had not forgotten about the violence but, rather, had more immediate concerns. The 1991 Madrid ‘peace process’ between Israelis and Arabs, regarded as more symbolic than ground-breaking, was followed by a more promising development in the shape of an agreement between the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and the government of Israel, which was signed in Washington in September 1993, whereby Palestinians gained partial control over the West Bank and Gaza Strip through a governing ‘Palestinian national authority’.8 The PLO, which had moved its headquarters to Tunis after being ejected from Lebanon in 1982, returned to take control of the ‘liberated’ territories, and Yasser Arafat was elected president in 1994. These events were initially regarded favourably by Palestinians in the ‘occupied territories’ as a positive first step, but were greeted with pessimism and dismay by many refugees living outside the country as the agreement postponed difficult issues such as the question of the refugees until a later stage, many interpreted it as a betrayal by the leadership of their ‘right of return’. Shafiq al-Hout, the former PLO

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Representative in Lebanon, who resigned from the PLO’s Executive Committee in protest, concluded that ‘the dream has been transformed into a nightmare so distressing that one would wish to wake up and find out that it is no more than this’.9 Palestinians in Lebanon were most seriously affected, since this community lacks even the most basic rights. There were widespread feelings of abandonment. The ‘peace process’ led to a new crisis in Palestinian national aspirations as ‘[v]ictim identity again became more prevalent than resistance’.10 In al-Hout’s view, this ‘Agreement [ . . . ] will not yield peace. It may impose a truce and may even drop one of the dimensions of the struggle, like the military one, [but . . . ] so long as Palestinian rights and “homeland” continue to be usurped, the struggle will persist.’11 Since then, the focus has shifted to the occupied territories. Palestinians in Lebanon, many of whom shared al-Hout’s profound disappointment over the PLO’s apparent disregard about their future, continued to see their ‘quality of life’ deteriorate. This was reiterated by many of the women interviewed for this book. Hasiba, who works with a human rights organization in Beirut, said that: the right of return is not impossible; it is not a dream or an imagination; many such problems have been solved. If one asks a woman about the past, she will cry; everyone will cry. It is a difficult task for parents but the right of return can never be forgotten. I wonder why the Lebanese army surrounds Ain el-Hilwe camp, why the Lebanese government forbids construction material to enter the camp. There is no reason. Palestinians are deprived of the right to earn – why?12

According to al-Hout, the deal will result in the present generation of children, both Palestinian and Israeli, growing up with even stronger hatreds than before and thus ‘true peace’ will be even harder to achieve. The agreement was not just a missed opportunity but potentially ‘a catastrophe’.13 In light of subsequent events, his words seem sadly prophetic. With a decline in living conditions came the ebbing away of hope. By the start of the new millennium, the dream of return had all but evaporated. In their rush to build a state on even a small portion of pre-1948 Palestine, it seems that the leadership has been prepared to bargain away all refugee claims. This had an effect on women too, and some of the women interviewed for this book

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expressed concern that those outside the country had dropped off the national agenda. They reasoned that, while the creation of a state was a step forward for those Palestinians still living ‘on the land’, it was nothing to do with refugees in Lebanon; worse, complained some, it felt like a capitulation to Israel’s larger plan of severing the connection of Palestinians with their homeland once and for all.

Breakdown of the Oslo Accords, the Second Intifada and More Massacres It was certainly the case that the Oslo agreement initially raised hopes among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that the long-running conflict might finally be resolved. A number of measures were undertaken by both sides to increase Palestinian autonomy and relax Israeli control over the territories. Gradually, however, hope turned to despair and anger as Israel consistently refused to implement genuine peace-building measures, such as ceasing its settlement-building activities in occupied territory. Many outside commentators were puzzled by the reluctance of Israel, as the stronger partner, to implement policies that would contribute constructively to building trust between the two sides. Amit and Levit attribute it to ‘a Masada complex mentality’ which, they argue, ‘will lead to self-destruction’.14 By the end of the 1990s, the disillusioned and embattled residents of the Palestinian territories had concluded that Israel was not serious about peace; they turned to other options, in the shape of a second uprising (the al-Aqsa intifada), which began at the end of September 2000. Despite different experiences and circumstances, Palestinian communities, in the Middle East and beyond, are united by feelings of ‘Palestinian-ness’: a shared past and an attachment to a just outcome to their struggle with the Israeli state. Palestinians in Lebanon have watched helplessly as the situation has deteriorated in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since the start of the second intifada. The intensification of violence in these areas, which has led to thousands of deaths and injuries, the demolition of large numbers of homes, the reoccupation by Israel of almost all of the West Bank and an end to peace negotiations, has caused widespread frustration among Palestinians in Lebanon. They have felt angry and impotent at what they regard as the terrorization of the civilian population, for example

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in the Jenin massacre of April 2002, when ‘Israeli tanks rumbled through narrow refugee alleyways destroying flimsy shelters and violating the concept of the camp as a sanctuary’; as a result, Jenin has ‘been integrated into the political culture as the symbol of Palestinian heroism,’15 like Tel al-Zaater and Shatila. These links were made explicit by several of the women I interviewed. The Israeli military campaign against Gaza since the election of Hamas in 2006 also caused severe disquiet. For example, in early November 2006, at least 19 Palestinian civilians were killed and over 40 injured when Israeli shells hit a row of houses in the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip. In the words of President Abbas: ‘This is a horrible, ugly massacre committed by the occupation against our children, our women and elderly.’ 16 Refugees in Lebanon regard such events as a continuation of similar ‘ugly massacres’ in the past. In June 2006, I sat with a group of women from Ain el-Hilwe and Mieh Mieh camps in Sidon. They spoke movingly about the past, contextualizing their struggle in terms of a procession of massacres, starting in 1947 –8 and continuing to the present. One referred to a massacre in Ayn az-Zaytun village in 1948 – ‘there is a woman still alive who witnessed this,’ she said, ‘she is living in Mieh Mieh camp’ – and another to killings in Bourj el-Shemali camp in 1982.17 No distinction was made between these events, far apart in time and space: all of them, for these women, are part of a continuum of extreme violence. The Israeli invasion of Gaza in late 2008, described by Eid as the ‘latest genocidal war’, lasted for 22 days and included the use of F-16s, Apache helicopters, Merkava tanks and conventional and nonconventional weapons against a largely civilian population;18 far from destroying their spirit, this act of violence strengthened the determination of the refugees to oppose and resist Israeli colonial policies. John Ging, head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza, declared that the situation was ‘inhuman’ and added that ‘the whole infrastructure of the future state of Palestine is being destroyed’.19 Amnesty International reported that 3,000 homes were destroyed and a further 20,000 damaged during the hostilities.20 The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights estimated that, of the approximately 1,415 Palestinians killed, 1,185 were civilians, including many children.21 Women in Gaza also came under fire when they attempted to help a group of militants who had taken

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shelter in a mosque. According to Beit Hanoun resident Elham Hamad: There were about 30 women in our group, all in the main street. We were moving into the town and passing by the Israeli tanks. We carried two white flags. They didn’t ask us to stop and then suddenly we saw them shooting at us. I was hit but there were no ambulances. We were calling for them but there was nothing.22

Accounts like this resonate with the experiences of refugee women in Lebanon who are all too familiar with this sort of indiscriminate violence. But I would argue, too, that parallels can be discerned between the helplessness of civilian populations, as the women in Sidon described, and forms of female heroism. In November 2012, the Israeli army, claiming that it was responding to the firing of rockets by Hamas across its southern border, launched airstrikes against Gaza; as on previous occasions, civilians, including women and children, were killed and injured, and infrastructure was damaged or destroyed. As before, Hamas claimed a victory for the ‘Islamic resistance’. Looking in from outside, refugee women are torn; some are heartened by such displays of Palestinian strength while others deplore the endless and ‘futile’ cycle of violence. Many refugees also regard these brutal events as part of a larger Israeli plan. They fear that this strategy – which, besides outright invasion, includes the demonization of Palestinian resistance and the negation of human rights – is aimed ultimately at ending the conflict solely on Israel’s terms. Ahlam, a 13-year-old girl living in Kasmiyye camp in southern Lebanon, said that she knows about Palestine: Israel is occupying it and has expelled its owners; ‘now they are killing Palestinians’; she knows this from television.23 Like Ahlam, most of the refugees watch the unfolding of these events on television with enraged impotence. They ask how the outside world can permit such cruelties and how they can continue to support the Israeli narrative of self-defence. Umm Selim, a 58-year-old woman whose husband was killed in 1982 and whose daughter was shot dead while standing on her balcony in Ain el-Hilwe camp in 1989, observed that ‘the international community does not care about Palestinians; everyone is against them and nobody seems to care that many are being killed every day in Palestine’.24 Joseph Massad agrees that ‘the West and

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Israel will continue to defend Israel’s right to defend itself and to deny the Palestinians the right to defend themselves’.25 This denial of Palestinian rights is reiterated time and again in US and European Union support for Israel despite its racist policies. In response, ‘rituals of mourning’ by refugee women in Lebanon have continued in the shape of demonstrations in support of Palestinians suffering the extreme violence of Israeli occupation and other acts of solidarity. In July 2006, during a visit to Lebanon to interview Palestinian camp women about their memories and experiences, I found myself trapped by a massive Israeli assault on the country. Within days, the airport had been bombed and roads out of the country cut off. Hearing the sounds of distant bombardment in the southern suburbs of Beirut and seeing the constant horrific scenes of death and destruction on the television screen, I began to gain a very small inkling of the insecurity, the fear and the violence with which Palestinians in Lebanon must constantly live. Israel invaded Lebanon in 2006 with the objective of ‘getting rid of ’ the militant Islamist group Hizbullah, as it had done in 1982, to ‘get rid of ’ the PLO. The battle raged for 34 days, during which time the Israeli army caused significant material damage and loss of life. Although, on this occasion, the Palestinian camps were not direct targets of the Israeli attack, their proximity to Hizbullah ‘targets’, both in the southern suburbs of Beirut and the south of Lebanon, meant that they inevitably suffered some damage. This time, however, the women of Ain el-Hilwe found themselves in the unusual position of providing refuge themselves for some of the many thousands of Lebanese villagers fleeing Israeli air strikes. In the words of the head of the Palestinian women’s union in the camp: ‘So many refugees are coming to Sidon. Local schools are full so we cooperated with the municipal authorities to take them in [ . . . ]. Our families collected food and blankets for them. As Palestinians who have experienced being refugees from various battles, we feel with these people.26 An eye-witness, who visited Bourj el-Barajne camp six days after the fighting began, reported a scene of utter devastation. In her words: Everything was in deep silence and destruction [ . . . ] as we approached the camp it seemed to me from the first impression as if haunted by ghosts. No one can enter the area as it is extremely dangerous with the bombed airport on one side and the now totally destroyed Shi’i suburb on the other. It was a scene of

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total devastation with all the buildings and roads totally smashed. I was shocked and overwhelmed. There was the smell of death and destruction everywhere [ . . . ]. The women, children and elderly are terrified and trapped after days of sustained brutal bombing of the entire area around our camp.27

Olfat Mahmoud’s description evokes the horrors of the past and highlights the dangerous insecurity in which the Palestinian community in Lebanon continues to dwell. However, she has also talked about how women were central as agents of humanitarian relief during this conflict.28 Once again, we see ‘resilience and agency’ juxtaposed against the helplessness of war. This illustrates, first, how women are haunted by the constant possibility of violence suddenly being unleashed at any time; and, second, by the overriding imperative to ‘get on with life’. It is not difficult to appreciate why, as a result of this and other violent attacks, Palestinians do not feel safe in Lebanon; and women perhaps feel least safe. In the July 2006 war, ‘the losers are us, women,’ suggested an activist. ‘We had absolutely no chance to participate in the decision making mechanisms that started this war, the decisions which precipitated this war.’29 Her remark emphasizes the essential powerlessness of women, not only in the home but also in the public sphere. Their ‘resilience and agency’, while admirable, is little more than a sticking plaster over a gaping wound. Their voices are muted not only by the colonial project but also within their own societies, by men who ‘own’ the national narrative, who preserve for themselves the ‘right’ to tell the story of Palestine. Olfat Mahmoud’s account acknowledges the horror of the 2006 invasion and the helplessness it inspired, but also matter-of-factly describes how women addressed the basic needs of those caught up in conflict. Building on her reasoned assessment, I have sought in this book to challenge assumptions of enforced female silence by reproducing women’s own narratives of survival. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559 of 2004 called upon ‘all remaining foreign forces to withdraw from Lebanon’ and, further, demanded ‘the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias’. The disarming of militant factions within the Palestinian camps is part of the ‘national dialogue’ taking place between political groupings in Lebanon. Israel, during its July 2006 invasion, insisted on the implementation of Resolution 1559. But, as

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Khalili observes, the ‘Palestinian reluctance to give up their arms arises from their experience of extreme violence during the Lebanese civil war [ . . . ] when thousands of Palestinians were killed – sometimes in horrific massacres’.30 The theme of massacres continues to reverberate, a nagging anxiety at the back of everyone’s minds, but is also a present reality as observed in Jenin (2002), Lebanon (2006) and Gaza (2008 – 9; 2012).

Palestinian Refugee Women in the Twenty-first Century In Rashidiyya camp, near Tyre in southern Lebanon, I met a group of young women, members of the ‘Future Mothers’ project. Aged between 18 and 29 years, the women were articulate and eager to talk about their lives. All had a strong sense of their roots in Palestine, even though none of them had ever been there. Most agreed that Palestinians would never accept Israel as a state because the Zionists had uprooted the indigenous population by force. The only solution, they said, would be ‘for the Israelis to return the land to its rightful owners’. Most were pessimistic about their current situation in Lebanon. Like refugee women elsewhere, 20-year-old Hanan complained about discrimination by the Lebanese against Palestinians in areas of education and employment. As a result of unemployment, she said, men are forced to emigrate for work: ‘They sometimes leave their families behind; some even get married in their new countries. This places women in a difficult position.’ When a Palestinian student graduates, she added, he or she cannot work. If a Palestinian is involved in an argument with a Lebanese, ‘the authorities always support the Lebanese person’. These everyday ‘facts of life’ are experienced by women as forms of violence; they demonstrate the many small cruelties of daily life that lie just below the surface, and they reinforce feelings of unwelcomeness and ‘difference’. Members of the ‘Future Mothers’ project agreed that Islam protects a woman, it gives her respect and rights, and offers her a chance to choose her own husband. Many people believe, they said, that religion oppresses women but, in reality, it gives them liberty and provides justice. It also protects children. While they believed, on the whole, that Muslim women have more rights than women in Europe, they were critical of their own society. Some parents, they observed, prevent their daughters from continuing with their education or

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working outside the home. One of the young women compared the camp to a prison, but there is also a degree of pragmatism. On being asked about their ambitions for the future, the women responded as follows: one wanted to be a nursery school teacher; another to return to Palestine to work; a third to continue her education; one expressed the wish to be a doctor; another wanted to live in peace in Lebanon; another said she did not wish to be controlled by others; the objective of another was to make a good family; and another’s wish was to raise awareness about Palestinians.31 As I argue that memories of violence and violence against women in everyday life contribute towards a worldview that is both pessimistic but, at the same time, defiant, it is important to distinguish between types of violence: the violence inflicted on them by their enemies has inspired a determination to resist, whereas intimate abuse causes private pain and uncertainty. As the Future Mothers’ narratives reveal, violence is by no means always physical. Most of the women to whom I spoke identified areas of distress and discomfort in their present circumstances that make it impossible for them to lead lives of dignity and self-respect; these are defined as forms of violence. Women’s primary grievance concerns conditions in Lebanon, which prevent Palestinians from earning a livelihood, having access to adequate housing, enjoying satisfactory educational facilities for their children or a reasonable standard of health care. As Zakharia and Tabari32 point out, ‘reductions in international funds allocated to UNRWA’s essential services are eroding Palestinian women’s health and their educational levels’. From a socioeconomic perspective, they suggest, ‘the Oslo-inspired political decisions reducing UNRWA’s mandated services are fundamentally in conflict with United Nations commitments adopted at the Social Summit in Copenhagen and the Women’s Summit in Beijing in 1995’.33 Many of my interviewees complained about the shortcomings of UNRWA. Their dependence on it, in the absence of social or economic alternatives, is a source of intense irritation. It is corrupt, they argue, its medical facilities are hopelessly inadequate. Asma, for example, a married woman with four children, acknowledged that ‘UNWRA plays a role’ yet, she added, ‘it does not do enough; the Palestinians have many needs’.34 However, while they are critical, they also recognize UNRWA’s symbolic centrality as confirmation of their existence and unresolved status. Over the years, Israel has sought to minimize UNRWA’s role

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and reduce its funding as a way of erasing the Palestinian refugee problem. There is an additional problem with non-registered and non-identified refugees. They cannot register without the approval of the Lebanese government and, therefore, are not entitled to UNRWA services.35 Aysha was 22 years old when I met her in 2007. She is from the West Bank city of Tulkarm; however, because her family arrived in Lebanon after 1967, she does not possess an official identity. Although she was an active student and wanted to continue her education, her lack of an ID meant that she was not able to attend a Lebanese university; she will also find it difficult to get married. According to Aysha, there are approximately 3,000 people living in Lebanon without ID; in her words, ‘it is as if we do not exist’.36 In response to the international non-recognition of Palestinian rights, some women say they would be prepared to use violence themselves or have already engaged in resistance activities to drive Israel out of their land. Manal, in her mid-40s with two teenage daughters, declared that ‘when there are difficult times, it is acceptable for a woman to commit violence against the Israeli occupation. This is not suicide. We will never accept the borders Israel has created.’ Her nephew, who was also in the room, added that ‘we will always fight, against the Israelis and the whole world’.37 In the small, unregistered camp of Kasmiyye in southern Lebanon, I talked to a group of teenage girls at a youth centre. One said: ‘I have a dream to go back and fight the Israelis because they kill children in Palestine.’ Another added: ‘we have to defend ourselves; all of us want to become martyrs to kill Israelis.’38 One senses, however, a degree of resignation behind their fighting words; unlike the Islamic resistance, which forced Israel to leave Lebanon in 2000, the Palestinian national movement, including the Islamist group Hamas, has been unable to liberate even a square metre of their homeland. Although almost everyone remains loyal to the right of return to their homeland, some now see it as an unrealistic dream. This, in many respects, is the worst form of violence since it negates national existence and threatens the precarious foundations of Palestinian resilience. It raises the persistent question of what alternatives exist. How can the refugees reconcile their just claim for return or compensation with the threat of being treated as pawns, bargaining chips or, worse, inconsequential? Most of the women I interviewed were pessimistic; there was a feeling that, while they have morality and steadfastness on

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their side, they have little support from the outside world. Neither the Arab states nor the wider international community seem prepared to offer tangible support. Therefore, as in the past, they have little choice but to rely on their own resources. While their primary identity is Palestinian, refugee women also have other points of reference. One of the most important of these, as I have discussed, is Islam which, on the one hand, is mythologized as a religion that oppresses women and therefore all ill treatment can be put down to its negative effects and, on the other, is felt by many women to be a source of comfort and empowerment. Women also have access to organizations inside the camps, established to provide support, in terms of their human rights and their legal rights according to Islam. Nonetheless, women, as activist Samira Salah confirms, are oppressed and ‘[w]e continue to see this oppression to this day everywhere, in homes and outside’.39 Their verbal accounts consistently support her comment. Association Najdeh, based in Beirut and working in many of the camps, describes its aim as ‘to transform deprived women into productive members of society; to make them role models for other women, beginning with their own daughters, to empower them and fulfil their aspirations’. The organization works with refugee women, as discussed in Chapter 2, to address problems of personal violence. It also seeks to empower women. Another of its objectives is to keep alive an important part of Palestinian women’s cultural heritage: the art of embroidery. Traditional embroidery ‘not only expressed women’s regional identity through design, colour and motifs characteristic of their village, town or region, but also gave them a strong sense of their own worth as women’.40 Sayigh quotes a woman in Shatila camp, remembering her mother: ‘Our sheets, everything, she embroidered them. When she went visiting there was in her bag a needle and thread and something to embroider. She learnt this from her mother.’41 But many have forgotten these local traditions. Nowadays, there is little regional distinctiveness; instead, women tend to assume amorphous ‘Islamic’ dress or ubiquitous Western attire. Najdeh, in its workshops and camp programmes, is training women to reproduce authentic Palestinian designs both as a way of raising consciousness about their origins and also as a method of generating income. As I have argued, women have also witnessed progress in several areas of their lives: most have greater access to education, including higher education; many have jobs, paid and unpaid, outside the home

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before marriage and even after marriage; some have become politically active; a sizeable number – the ‘generation of the revolution’ – participated in the armed struggle before 1982; others ‘became members and, occasionally, officials in various organizations as well as employees in the resistance/PLO offices’.42 Many of the women I spoke to said they now have more freedom about who to marry and how many children to have: whereas in the past it was not unusual for women to have as many as 15 children, now five or less has become the norm. According to Dalal in Rashidiyya camp, most women now have a choice about who they will marry. Her own grandmother was married when she was 14 years old to a man of 60 whose first wife had been unable to provide him with sons.43 Liana, a 13-year-old girl, said that her father had two wives; the first had 12 children and the second eight.44 Umm Rafiq, in her late 70s, conceded that in the past ‘parents were very strict and children were not allowed to do anything; but now young people have more freedom’.45 Some of my interviewees argued that women are now more visible in their society. Whereas in the past their sole function was to care for the house and the children, they now have other roles; this means that they tend to be less dependent on men, both economically and emotionally. Amira in Bourj el-Barajne said that: Young women today are more open. Their mothers and grandmothers were very strict, but now younger women talk to their children, have conversations with them; in the past, this was impossible. Women have more freedom. Previously, not many women worked outside the home; now, they can give their opinions, even in front of their husbands; before, their husbands would not let them speak; now they can make decisions.46

Suad in the same camp agreed. Today, she said, women are different, even though there are still people who are strict and do not want girls to have more freedom. Her own daughters attend a mixed school. Some camp residents are critical, she said, ‘because my daughters walk with boys’. But she thinks that girls must build their own personalities and she does not care what people say. Suad, who is divorced, added: As a woman with no one to support me and four daughters who rely on me, I have to go to work. The woman is the main foundation for society. She raises

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her children and has a big role in society. The man is just there to provide the money. He does nothing except go to work and bring money. Men do not help their wives. They do not know how to do these things.47

Their defiant words belie the general lack of freedom of camp residents that, together with a dismal economic climate, has created a severely oppressive situation for women. Several told me about their longing to leave; if they could not go back to Palestine, said some, they would prefer to go to Europe or Canada; many of the women interviewed have family members living abroad. They also felt betrayed by the revolution but, faced with constant violence within the camp and few options, they have little choice but to carry on producing more children for the imagined nation and to hope that someday their resilience and maternal sacrifice might lead to a more tolerable outcome.

‘The Palestinian Nation Lives On’ The secret rotting at the core of the state of Israel is its refusal to admit that the Zionist project in Palestine – to create a state based on the dispossession of the non-Jewish inhabitants of the land – was never noble: the land it coveted was the home of another people, and the fathers of the Israeli nation killed, terrorized and displaced them to turn the project into actuality. But the Palestinian nation lives on – visibly and noisily and everywhere.48

Shalhoub-Kevorkian argues that ‘the hegemonic silencing of both the Palestinian voice and cause have had an impact on women’s resistance’.49 This echoes Spivak’s argument that ‘the subaltern has no history and cannot speak’.50 Nonetheless, as Foucault said, ‘where there is power, there is resistance’.51 We have seen how impoverished and disempowered refugee women have resisted various forms of power, but how successful have they been? I think the answer to this question is complicated. A key dilemma for women living in the camps has been the conflict between national liberation and women’s liberation and how this has, for some, fragmented efforts to resist. Whatever feminist voices might have been raised, ‘the dominant thesis in Lebanon’ has tended to insist that ‘women’s liberation would come

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through participation in the nationalist struggle’.52 It was apparent from my interviews that the small minority of politically active women are well aware of the need to enhance refugee women’s rights and awareness; but others insist that the national struggle must be placed ahead of other concerns. There is a realization that, without their own state and government, it will be difficult to improve women’s status. At the same time, as I have argued, women’s agency has translated into an expression of feminism, in the sense that – through their activism and their experiences of surviving and resisting violence – many women have been able to access strength of spirit. Although it is not always articulated as such, there are clear feminist trends. It would be fair to claim that their involvement in the resistance movement gave many women the confidence to take a larger role in the society, and I have cited throughout this book countless examples of this transition. However, it is not clear exactly what this new role might entail as it has not been supported by other factors, such as economic stability, a secure environment or contact with wider gender networks; therefore, it could not be said to have resulted in liberation. In the view of a leftist political leader, ‘women’s main role in the resistance is to have children and to raise and educate them about their country. Women work outside the home, in medicine and social work for example, and this gives them more confidence to work for the cause.’53 It is evident from his words that ‘the cause’ is expected to take precedence and, while it may ‘give women more confidence’, their gender rights are not addressed. His view, although from a secular perspective, mirrors that of Islamist groups such as Hamas, whose leaders also assert that a woman’s main responsibility is to bear and raise children and, if she has time, to engage in socially acceptable work. The reality of women’s experiences, however, tells a different story. There is a tension between women’s roles as mothers and activists, on the one hand and the potential access these roles give them to other forms of consciousness on the other. In her account of ‘activist mothering’, Peteet correctly argues that Palestinian women in Lebanon ‘were activists by virtue of their caring labour,’ but also ‘the deadly sacrifice they endured’. She adds that these women’s ‘particular form of mothering became the grounds from which they later launched a critique of the Resistance movement and era’.54 In other

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words, some of the women who had sacrificed their sons for the nationalist cause felt betrayed since even this terrible sacrifice had not led to a positive outcome.55 Peteet writes about her meeting with one such woman, Umm Ali, the mother of five martyrs who lived in extreme poverty in Shatila camp.56 Umm Ali was understandably bitter about her desperate situation. She said: ‘We gave our blood and milk and look how we are living – we are barely able to feed ourselves.’57 Although Umm Ali is certainly not adopting a feminist position, she is signalling an awareness of a form of power brought about by maternal sacrifice. She also provides an example of how women’s narratives may differ from national narratives. Many of the women I interviewed asserted that women were ‘empowered’ by their participation in the national struggle, and I am interpreting this sense of gaining strength from adversity as a form of feminism. As Nawal said, ‘during the war, men could not move out of the camps and therefore women had more freedom; they became social workers, nurses [ . . . ] they had more power. But then, the men started to resent women’s freedom, so there was more violence.’58 Despite the male backlash, the trend of greater empowerment is hard to reverse, and these are the stories that women tell with pride.

The Arab Revolutions The self-immolation of another impoverished individual, the vegetable seller Muhammad Bouazizi in Tunisia at the end of 2010, triggered a wave of popular unrest across the Arab world. The socalled ‘Arab spring’ has changed the dynamics of Middle East politics in ways that cannot yet be predicted. However, it is likely that these events will have an impact on the Palestinian – Israeli conflict. With the election to power of Islamist parties in several Arab states, a ‘model of success’ has been initiated. As Lebanese Hizbullah MP Ali Fayyad suggested, calls for freedom cannot be separated from the imperative of resistance.59 Unlike the former ruling regimes, compromised by their subservience to the US and Israel, new Islamist governments are likely to be less compliant and more actively supportive of Palestinian rights. We are already witnessing an unfolding of this ‘model of success’. For example, each year on 30 March, Palestinians commemorate Land Day (yawm al-ard) to remember six Palestinians with Israeli

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citizenship who were ‘gunned down by Israeli forces in 1976 during a general strike in protest of expanded land confiscation inside the state’.60 In 2011, inspired by the various revolutionary uprisings unfolding in parts of the Arab world, hundreds of Palestinian refugees attempted to make their way to the Lebanese– Israeli border in a symbolic attempt to ‘reclaim’ their homeland. Lebanese soldiers tried to disperse the protesters, who were chanting ‘By our soul, our blood, we sacrifice ourselves for you, Palestine’. As demonstrators tried to break through the fence, the Israelis spoke of ‘Iranian provocation, to try to exploit the Nakba day commemorations,’ and ordered their troops to open fire; in the process, ten Palestinians were killed and many more injured.61 When I visited Lebanon, just over a month later, I saw and heard evidence of their journey: a flag stained with the blood of a ‘martyr’, the story told by a child who believed he had been to Palestine. In the upsurge of revolutionary optimism, Israeli rhetoric – for instance its repeated claims of ‘Iranian provocation’ – sounds increasingly hollow and unconvincing. There is a possibility of fundamental change as popular revolt sweeps through the region, toppling long-standing dictators and raising the prospect of greater democracy; even the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria is under attack. As Levy remarks: Any thoughts of the Arab awakening ‘proving’ that Palestine was in fact a marginal concern in the region were unequivocally banished [ . . . ]. To imagine that a popular Arab push for democracy, freedom, and dignity would ignore Israel’s denial of those same aspirations for Palestinians was a flight of fancy. The opposite is unsurprisingly true – Arab democracy will be less tolerant of Palestinian disenfranchisement than was Arab autocracy.62

In this sense, the demand for ‘a totally new order’ is becoming an increasingly realistic possibility. The spirit of revolution echoes the Palestinian revolution of the 1960s and 1970s and on-going events in the Arab region present a continuation of a strong desire for change and greater social justice, which is sometimes supported or curtailed by violence. From their marginalized vantage point in the camps, most women are not optimistic about change, and yet they continue to raise their voices, to demonstrate or simply to express quiet dissent. Another development was the decision of Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, to ask the United Nations in September

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2011 to formally recognize a Palestinian state. This move was seen as ‘a powerful appeal to the conscience of the world to recognize that the Palestinian people were entitled to their own “Arab spring”’.63 While there is some debate about the wisdom of this course of action – Ghada Karmi, for example, argues that the ‘new Arab revolutionaries have not fought just to attain a few rights; they have demanded a totally new order,’64 it is unlikely to have much effect on the lives or futures of Palestinians in Lebanon. As ever, they have been excluded from the construction of nationhood and this is an on-going source of violence. Although the Security Council refused to consider Palestinian statehood in 2011, President Abbas returned to the United Nations a year later, this time to seek General Assembly approval for a change of status to a ‘non-member observer state’; this was overwhelmingly accepted by member states; the assembly voted 138– 9 in favour, with 41 countries abstaining. Celebrations erupted across the West Bank and even Palestinians in Lebanon shot into the air to applaud what is at best a ‘pyrrhic victory’.

‘It Is Time for Us to Narrate Our Own Story’65 A central theme of this book is the power of narrative, both as testimonies of personal experience and the formulation of a larger communal testament to counter and make sense of violence. I have focused primarily on the words of women. Hearing and understanding what women say provides important insights into the history and also the current circumstances of particular communities. For Palestinians in Lebanon, the story is, by and large, a tragic one. It includes the painful and on-going experience of dispossession and exile, the creation of a revolution as a way of fighting back and reclaiming their land, the ultimate failure of resistance, the betrayal of the ‘peace process’ and, finally, poverty, hopelessness and little prospect of return to the beloved and increasingly imaginary homeland. At the same time, it is a story of persistence and progress. Women have been empowered by their participation at all levels of society. Despite many setbacks, the ‘grand narrative’ remains one of defiance. As a result of its history, the Palestinian refugee community in Lebanon has tended to idealize its national past in contrast to its present, generally dismal, existence. In the camps of Lebanon, Palestinians experience lives of fear and harshness. They are both

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outsiders and part of the cycle of communal violence that has beset the country for so many years. Lebanon represents a special case as far as the Palestinian diaspora is concerned. Although the welcome it offered the incoming refugees in 1948 was ambivalent and the rights afforded them have been minimal, it provided a fertile environment for the growth of the Palestinian resistance movement. One is faced, therefore, with a paradox. For a brief period, Palestinians in the camps of Lebanon were able to savour the power and hope of organized resistance, relative autonomy and the possibility of regaining their homeland. But their scope for action has always been circumscribed by local, regional and international constraints. Throughout their violent history, the refugees have created and articulated a national narrative of steadfastness. By means of personal accounts and recollections, I have traced refugee women’s contribution to the various stages of Palestinian history and the ways in which they have resisted violence in order to make their voices heard. In response to their difficult plight and with the ultimate objective of returning to their homeland, the Palestinians created a revolution in the 1960s and 1970s, and women were an integral part of this movement. The resistance built institutions to enhance the refugees’ quality of life, politically, economically and socially. Although, in military terms, it could never hope to be a match for Israel, the Palestinian resistance movement succeeded in establishing a framework in which a national identity could develop and flourish. Women have made positive contributions that are social, institutional and military. Many recall the ‘days of revolution’ as being preferable to the present; however, this optimistic period abruptly ended with the Israeli invasion of 1982, and the priorities of the population shifted from activism to survival. This raises the question of where women are located in this scenario. Like men, they experienced the fragmentation of their resistance as a cruel blow, but they were also able to access sources of personal strength. As I argue, they have been both inhibited and enabled by the multiple violences framing their lives. They have also found their voices and spoken to the world. It is very apparent from the testimonies of Palestinian refugee women that they have a stake in the dissemination of their national narrative of heroism. But why do people feel the need to tell their stories and, beyond the personal, why do communities share an urgent desire to create large explanatory myths? The roles of men and

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women in the practice of narrative-construction tend to vary and, as I have argued, it is often the case that, while men prefer to concentrate on what may be broadly termed the ‘political’, women frequently focus on the many small and often more telling details of everyday life. Talking about past events, present entitlements and future aspirations to each other, to strangers and to the world, reinforces claims to justice. But women also have their own stories. Although these are not usually classic tales of daring, they illustrate less obvious forms of heroism. Nonetheless, the narratives indicate something of the complexity of Palestinian women’s lives in the camps of Lebanon. Individuals – men and women – experience feelings of profound powerlessness; they have struggled to fight back but their efforts have failed. Most women place their stories within the larger framework of the ‘national endeavour’. Sometimes, they mention personal afflictions, such as disabilities or illnesses, and the difficulty of obtaining medical care or the medicine they need; almost all bemoan the injustice of their lives in Lebanon. Although most have had no direct contact with the Israelis, they describe them as ‘terrorists’ or ‘horrible’. Either they speak from the perspective of the national narrative, in terms of their origins in Palestine and what they perceive as a catalogue of Israeli atrocities, or they touch upon local concerns, such as difficulties with their houses or the problems of schooling for their children. While their narratives contain a wealth of anecdotal detail, the women rarely choose to divulge information that would shame them as individuals or dishonour their community. Instead of personal revelation, most of my interlocutors preferred to focus on the communally accepted ways of describing the horrors of war and invasion. There are, however, exceptions. I have referred already to Hayat, a 39-year-old woman in Baddawi camp. She spoke candidly about her brief marriage to a violent man, who left her while she was pregnant, remarried and refuses to have any contact with his daughter.66 Her story has parallels with that of Umm Mahmoud, a woman in her 60s who lives in the West Bank village of Hawwara, hear Nablus. She also married a violent man; they had three children together before her husband announced he wanted to marry another woman. In Umm Mahmoud’s words: ‘Islam says that a man can marry more than one woman, but he has to be fair with them. My husband did not do this. He built a big house for his new wife, with electricity; we have no

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electricity, no TV, no radio. My husband gives us no money. I was 25 and could not ask for a divorce.’67 What is interesting about the accounts of these two women are the similarities but also the differences between them. Both suffered cruel and unreasonable treatment at the hands of violent husbands. Hayat is educated; she has managed to bring up her only daughter with the help of her parents; now she is employed in a small embroidery business. Umm Mahmoud, in contrast, is illiterate; her only daughter is now 38 years old and unmarried because ‘she is affected by her mother’s negative experiences’. Whereas Hayat told her story in a way that highlighted resourcefulness and optimism, Umm Mahmoud appeared sorrowful; she dwelled on the negative aspects of her experiences. Yet, while Hayat lives in a refugee camp and longs to return to her town in Palestine, which she described as ‘paradise on earth’, Umm Mahmoud is not a refugee: she was born in Hawwara and remains ‘on her own land’, although she has been living under Israeli occupation since 1967. Their grasp of the larger picture also varied: Hayat was adamant that ‘men have no right to beat their lives’; whereas Umm Mahmoud, and perhaps this is also a generational difference, seemed to internalize her experience, seeing it in terms of ‘bad practice in Islam’ and something that was somehow her fault. I cite this comparison to illustrate what happens when narrators venture beyond the conventions of what it is permissible to tell and to illustrate the breadth of experiences of women and how these experiences are understood and talked about. For most of the women I met, it is as if they have grown used to speaking to outsiders and have perfected their stories. While this may be partially true, the other reality is that these have been their experiences. There is a genuinely shared response. At the same time, many ‘ordinary’ women ‘tend to be more outspoken’; their testimonies may reveal underlying tensions ‘between national discourse and women’s experiences’.68 This was certainly the case in the sense that many women expressed contempt for ‘politics’. Few seemed to have any faith that becoming involved in political activity, whether secular or religious, would improve their situation. Political activism was regarded by most as being largely male-dominated and futile, although quite a few women revealed that they have been active in political parties, either in support roles or, rarely, as militants. This is regarded as a national obligation. However, the unwavering lack of

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success or resolution has proved deeply disillusioning. For some, the only solution is to leave Lebanon, to go ‘somewhere better’. As they can no longer believe they will ever return to Palestine, some younger women expressed the wish to move to a European country. As Jamila in Bourj el-Barajne camp said: ‘I would like to go abroad, to continue my education, to work and have rights.’69 Many worry about getting married, as they do not want to reproduce the same lives of hopelessness and poverty in their children. Some fear they cannot get married as they do not have a legal ‘identity’ in Lebanon. Above all, refugees reveal that violence has inhibited their ability to participate in the national struggle. Despite this, it should be kept in mind that the violent environment, paradoxically, has created opportunities for greater female involvement and that violence has also constrained men’s participation. In their stories, women reveal multiple ways in which they express agency, and Hayat provided a good example. Both men and women have taken part in the struggle against Israel, although in some cases women were victimized on the basis of gender. Individuals have been killed, imprisoned and tortured by the Israelis and evidence suggests that the imprisonment and torture of women is regarded as no more shameful than that of men, although rape remains a taboo subject. Given their experiences during the nakba, this is a painful area and one that has continued to haunt the resistance. As supposedly ‘dependent’ persons, women have been expected to take a secondary role; they have deferred to men. Most of the leaders were and still are men and many women now say there is little point playing a role in formal politics; but there have been influential female political figures and today, too, a number of women play prominent roles in the various political factions, as the narratives in this book illustrate. Women are active in human rights work, the education of children and care of the elderly; their disappointment has not rendered them idle. As we consider the future for Palestinians in Lebanon, it is difficult not to feel a sense of pessimism. They have moved full circle: from refugees to revolutionaries and back to an unwelcome refugee problem. They have seen their homes and institutions destroyed time and again, and have had to stand by helplessly while their leadership made agreements that seemed to exclude them. In the process, the majority of Palestinians in Lebanon have remained steadfast in their determination to return to their land and, at the same time, have

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developed an identity rooted in resistance. This identity has been shaped by the experience of living in an alien environment, the long years of violence, and of course memories of ‘home’. But is this identity the same for women as for men? Is it sustainable? The women’s narratives provide important insights into how they view the preservation of identity and how it shapes their lives. But identity, as I suggest, is fluid and constantly being renegotiated. Diana Allan has questioned the emphasis on the narratives of 1948 in ‘the production of national belonging’ for refugees in Lebanon; she argues that new ‘communication technologies are altering the form and content of historical discourse, with the processes of transmission becoming less narrative-based [ . . . ] and increasingly individuated’.70 It is certainly the case that, while many of the women I met recognized the need to pass on to their children some notion of the homeland, many had no stories to tell or admitted that their children were more interested in cultivating online relationships with Palestinians elsewhere; this, as Allan suggests, has become a more effective way of asserting ‘national belonging’ in the absence of territorial belonging. In this chapter, I have argued that, since the ending of the Lebanese civil war in the early 1990s, Palestinian refugee communities have witnessed many changes. There has been a ‘peace agreement’ between Israelis and Palestinians, which quickly broke down and was followed by even more deadly violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Camp dwellers have seen their economic situation and their hope for a solution severely reduced as the ‘refugee issue’ was postponed until some far-off future date. An assertive Islamist movement has burgeoned in the Palestinian territories and this has had implications in the camps of Lebanon. At the same time, Palestinian resistance has been further delegitimized as a result of Islamist violence in other parts of the world. A movement of popular protest has been ignited in the Arab world and is likely, in the future, to affect the mechanisms of the Palestinian – Israeli conflict. Yet, as my interviewees’ narratives show, although some things change, much stays the same. There is still the threat of Israeli incursion, as was brutally demonstrated in the summer of 2006. Violence remains a fact of life in the camps. In short, women are still ‘getting on with life’ because they have little alternative.

Chapter 7

Conclusion

Counter-narratives of Resistance We were besieged for five months and the world said, ‘Let them be destroyed.’ But insh’allah we shall remain strong and hold our heads high. We have a cause. Our goal isn’t Lebanon. If they offered me the whole of Lebanon, I’d tell them it’s not equal to one Palestinian olive.

These words were uttered by Umm Muhammad,1 an elderly woman in Shatila camp, in the wake of the 1982 Israeli invasion and the camp sieges by the Amal militia. They beautifully and succinctly capture the several themes explored in this book. Not only do they illustrate Palestinian resilience and the passionate and undimmed determination to return to their homeland, but also the ability of women ‘to narrate their own story’. In 1948, traumatized Palestinians arrived in Lebanon, bringing their memories with them. Since then, they have remained attached to the memory of home, and this sustains them through difficult times. It has given them a cause and a distinctive identity. Beyond these elements of comfort and continuity, the aydun have developed a counter-narrative of resistance that draws inspiration from both the growing strength of Islamist politics as a modernizing project and the solidarity of exile. But it is also a resistance tinged with violence. In this book, by adopting women’s own descriptions and understandings of violence I have developed a broad working definition and have established a link between the various types of violence suffered by women and the constraints these place on their ability to contribute to the national struggle; I also explored the impact of violence on processes of identity formation. Drawing on theories of power, patriarchy and conflict, I analysed violence against

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women from the perspectives of national and cultural violence directed against the Palestinian people; social, political and economic violence suffered by Palestinian refugees in Lebanon; and personal violence inflicted on women, mainly by outside enemies but also by members of their own families. My research confirms that refugee women have been significantly disadvantaged by violence. While it is a worldwide phenomenon, the particular case study of Palestinian women reveals a complex picture of victimization and agency. I have argued that violence, broadly defined, has had a debilitating effect on women’s identity, from the violent expulsion from Palestine and the difficulties of life in exile to the erasure of the Palestinian people as a national entity and the impossibility of return, and the pain and humiliation of personal violence. At the same time, women have also undergone momentous processes of change that, although bounded by unpredictable violence, have enabled them to carve out for themselves and their communities a defiant rejection of victimization. The situation of Palestinians in Lebanon is not a formal ‘war’ but, rather, an ad hoc liberation struggle characterized by acts of resistance by militarily weak groups and civilians against a well-armed enemy. It is also a propaganda war, as Israel utilizes all means at its disposal to delegitimize Palestinian aspirations. From the perspectives of the women I met, there was some sense that Palestinians are waging a battle for greater justice; in other words, it is an issue of morality that allows the widespread informal participation of all citizens, including women. The Palestinian example illustrates that gender dynamics within society have undergone some modification, which has focused attention on the ‘woman question’. Women themselves, by their active involvement, have been able to have an impact on the agenda. They may be weary of never being allowed to forget their status as a suffering people but this has not prevented them from ‘getting on with life’ and also developing strategies to resist violence. From the stories told to me by a diverse range of women during the years of research, I would like to draw several conclusions. The first concerns meanings of ‘violence’. As I outlined in Chapter 2, violence can be conceptualized from two perspectives: on the one hand, as the random and indiscriminate violence of war; and, on the other, the specific issue of violence against women. In the Palestinian context, the categories to which I refer are, first, the savage acts of violence committed against Palestinians by their enemies (mainly the Israelis

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but also, in the past, the Shi’a Amal and Christian Kata’ib militias); and, second, violence as a background to everyday life, by which I mean the denial of civil rights by the Lebanese government, the poverty and deprivation of the camps and the violence experienced by some women in their own homes. Economic violence, too, is a constant factor haunting the refugee community; there is always a shortage of money, even to cover basic necessities. They lack the means to access adequate health care or to maintain their homes. The refugees are also forced to endure cultural violence in terms of the obliteration of their identity; gradually the symbols defining Palestinians as a national entity are being eroded so that they see themselves reduced merely to a ‘refugee problem’, unwanted by the host state and with nowhere else to go. Their resistance has been tarnished by association with violent transnational groups that use Islam as a weapon of war. It is quite apparent that Palestinian refugee women in Lebanon, as was forcefully and repeatedly articulated by individual women, have been subjected to multiple violences. Besides physical violence, in the shape of enemy attacks and violence from within their own families, they have suffered psychological violence as a result of witnessing the horrors of civil war and invasion and from a lack of tangible hope in their lives, either for themselves or their families; many women told me that they are too worried about their day-to-day problems and getting food for their children to think about the larger picture. In addition, they feel anxiety about what might happen in the future. Many of the 400,000 or so refugees in Lebanon ‘fear they will be forcibly and finally “resettled” in Lebanon, or, worse, that they will be sent somewhere else’.2 The spectre of tawtin continues to haunt them. For the refugees, it has been a struggle for survival and national assertion, a fight to achieve their right of self-determination and to end the occupation of their land, which has continued for over 60 years. In Lebanon, it was impossible for Palestinian women to remain apart from the conflict. Individuals, irrespective of gender, have been victimized by indiscriminate violence. Men and women saw their cherished way of life – their territory, freedom, and value systems – coming under attack, and tried to protect their homes and families as best they could, and to survive. The constant presence of violence in its many forms has, I have argued, had a profound and damaging effect on women’s identities, in a situation where national identity is fragile.

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For many, reassurance is derived from memories of home and a community of solidarity rather than the illusory possibilities of political action. Some of them feel betrayed by the Palestinian leadership, their sacrifice rendered meaningless. But their ‘grand narrative’ is the story of Palestine. It is a story of sorrow, loss and defiance. A second conclusion focuses on the other, more positive side of the story. Violence, I argue, has victimized the refugees; yet, at the same time, it has given them the determination to resist. This synthesis between the disempowering of a national collectivity and resistance as a moral imperative has given rise to ‘a new confidence and selfesteem’3 and this has endowed refugee women with several sources of strength. After the establishment of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in 1950, free primary education became available to all children, including girls. This led to the development, in the early days, of the best educated population in the Arab world, although this excellence is now in decline as a result of wars and persistent upheaval. Palestinians take great pride in their status as a well-educated community and are proud that girls as well as boys have benefited. Possession of an education has meant, on the one hand, that women have developed the confidence to go out into the wider society, either to take up paid employment, where this is available, or to become involved in voluntary work and, on the other hand, that women have been better able to assert themselves within the family. They also feel part of a ‘moral community’ that is bound together by the ties of memory, shared identity and solidarity. The notion of ‘empowerment’ is a complex one; it stems from factors that affect the whole community and also from feelings of personal power and control. These were reflected in the stories and coping mechanisms of the women I interviewed. For example Khawla, who is almost 50 years old and lives in Bourj el-Barajne camp, provided a good case study of agency. She is an active and articulate woman, knowledgeable about the Palestinian past but also engaged in the present; she holds strong opinions, has a background of activism, and is well aware of the dangers of violence in women’s lives.4 In contrast, Lina, who is in her mid-40s and also lives in Bourj el-Barajne camp, spoke of feeling ‘helpless’ and ‘weak’; married off by her parents at the age of 13, she has little knowledge of her village in Palestine. Her experience has been as a victim of violence, dominated by her

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husband and his parents; she looks to others to solve the problems that she and the larger Palestinian community suffer.5 The widely divergent outlooks of these two women illustrate degrees of female agency; while some are demoralized by their ‘hopeless’ situation, others locate sources of strength and ways of countering despair. My third conclusion concerns change. There have been changes both in types of violence and women’s coping mechanisms. In 1948, a predominantly rural population was dispossessed by a more powerful and better organized enemy; strong Western sympathy for the Jewish people in the wake of the Nazi Holocaust tended to overshadow Palestinian claims. At that time, the majority of women were unschooled; they experienced the loss of their homeland and shock of exile as a form of national violence. Later, as Palestinians started to organize themselves to fight back against dispossession, women adopted a more nuanced articulation of their plight; rather than appearing ‘inevitable’, violence was to be resisted and challenged. With the rise of global awareness of violence against women, some refugee women located their ‘private’ problems within a broader framework. All the women I interviewed, without exception, responded to questions about changes in attitudes by asserting that women today have the ability to make ‘more choices’, and it certainly seems to be the case that many women have more scope to express their opinions and to take a more prominent role in society. Many now have greater choice in matters of marriage and child-bearing, although this is by no means unrestricted freedom. When the older generation came from Palestine, women mainly thought about their homes and domestic responsibilities; all that was expected of them was that they should marry, produce children and take care of their houses. Many of my interviewees noted that attitudes, to some extent, are changing and men are changing. Having experienced the years of violence and having contributed to the resistance and the protection of their society, women are more confident than in the past. They speak of the next generation in terms of the heartfelt wish that life will be better, more peaceful, and less insecure. Umm Jamal, a 67-year-old widow in Bourj el-Barajne camp, provided an apt example. She has six daughters and one son and, when I interviewed her in 2006, several members of her family were present. Umm Jamal insisted that ‘there is a big difference between the

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generations. Young people never used to disobey their parents, but now they do not listen. Nowadays, girls are more independent, more developed.’ She added that ‘now, no one would accept to be promised at birth to a cousin’. This remark provoked a vigorous debate among the other people in the room, with one of her children arguing that, in reality, young people are brought up to accept whatever happens to them; they do not have much choice. But Umm Jamal retorted that ‘a woman has many rights; if she is married, her husband is obliged to treat her well; he should not beat her; he should support her and respect her. If he does not, she should leave him.’ Again, her remarks generated heated discussion.6 This incident demonstrates, first, that there is little consensus about the treatment of women; and, second, that there is a lack of agreement about the extent of change. While some believe women have more ‘freedom’, others assert that things are much the same. At the same time, however, perhaps it is an illusion of freedom. On the one hand, as many of the women interviewed attested, Palestinian society continues to be structured according to patriarchal values, although these structures are increasingly challenged; while women, whatever their level of education or whatever their feelings about women’s rights, tend to defer to men, their horizons are expanding. On the other hand, since all the refugees – men and women – lack basic human rights, their space for manoeuvre is bound to be severely limited. While some women I met spoke of the growing violence to which women in the camps are exposed, including a rise in incidences of domestic violence, there is a more positive side to this picture. The word ‘despair’ is frequently used by Palestinians to characterize their situation, but it would be a mistake ‘to take this as evidence of a total loss of will to survive or of national feeling and identity.7 Although an element of ‘despair’ is always present, many women have attended training courses in the camps and are aware of their human and legal rights. It is apparent that women are gaining in confidence to protest against violence; whereas, before, many were too afraid to speak to anyone about private violence and would not have known where to turn even had they wanted to speak to someone. It is also the case that some of the women’s organizations provide discreet opportunities for women to receive counselling about domestic and other violence that they may be suffering. In contrast to the image of the disempowered camp woman, there is evidence of a growing awareness among

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women of their rights and an increasing assertiveness about claiming those rights. As I discussed, many women became involved in the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s political and institution-building work in the 1970s, a period remembered with fond nostalgia as ‘the days of revolution’; some assumed positions of leadership and a few participated in military operations. From all accounts, women benefited from their resistance work. According to a male leader of a secular political faction: Since the Palestinian revolution started, the woman has had an important role in the struggle, along with the man. She is a mother, she raises her children to love their country and to sacrifice themselves for their homeland. Women are involved in all work – political, social and voluntary work; a few are involved in military work. But there is no need to carry a gun to be a fighter. For example, about 35 women were killed during the camp sieges. Women used to go out, aware they might be killed. The role of women has changed. Now the struggle is social. Women work in the social area. There is another role for women in the struggle: to protest in order to gain civil rights and the right to return, by talking to responsible people and supporting the intifada in Palestine.8

The Hamas representative, too, affirmed that ‘we have a special section for women; they work with particular categories, such as orphans or displaced Palestinians from Syria. Women and men work together in solidarity activities and marches.’ In the past, he added, ‘women were involved only in social work, but now they are taking more diverse roles,’ as in the West Bank and Gaza Strip where Islamist women have been elected to the Palestinian parliament.9 Throughout the various phases, women had no option but to develop survival strategies, and these continue to be an important source of strength. Through their participation in the civil society networks that exist in the camps, many women have had the opportunity to contribute to an enhancement in quality of life for the refugee population. Education in many areas, such as literacy, skills training and women’s rights, has enriched their existence. Women are the primary transmitters of group identity and this important role has endowed them with dignity and their lives with meaning.

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Fourth, women – by their own accounts – derive much strength and comfort from their religion. It is noticeable that, both in the Palestinian territories and the sites of exile, religious observance and activism are increasing. They are key components of the moral community. The struggle is taking place within an Islamic cultural framework, with the restrictions and formalities that this implies but, at the same time, the protection it affords its members; as it is sanctioned by religion, the conflict has the potential to act as a tool of empowerment for women. This also represents a significant change: in 1948, Palestinians as a pious population looked to religion for comfort and meaning; whereas 60 years later it has acquired a political and even militant position. The Islamist group Hamas is present in all the Lebanese camps; according to its representative, the group’s foremost priority is ‘to provide a dignified life for the refugees’ and, while the right of return remains paramount, Hamas is working with other Palestinian factions and is in dialogue with the Lebanese government to improve the situation in the camps and enhance the refugees’ civil rights.10

‘Every Day I Dream of Returning Home’11 Finally, one of the key themes running through this book has been the importance of ‘home’ to women in exile. In November 2012, Palestinian refugees gathered outside the Palestinian Authority’s embassy in Beirut. They were demanding the removal of President Mahmoud Abbas following his controversial remarks on Israeli television against the right of return for Palestinian refugees. The protestors’ anger mirrored recent popular uprisings in several Arab countries. There was a feeling that individuals have a right and a responsibility to object to the unjust actions of their rulers. While not full participants in the Arab revolutions, Palestinians have taken advantage of the burgeoning environment of change; in various ways, they have drawn attention to the fact that their rights are still unresolved, chief among them the right of return and the lack of ‘home’. However, although they retain a strong yearning for their lost homeland, camp women have managed to recreate the rudiments of home in their place of refuge; at the same time, it can never compensate for their loss or replace the idea of Palestine in their

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imagination. Having suffered so much and for so long, what do the refugees themselves want? Many say they would simply like a place to live that is safe and permanent; they would be willing to remain in Lebanon because that is all they know; most have no wish to move to the West Bank or Gaza Strip as these are not the places they come from. However, a poll conducted in 2003 reveals that, if they had a choice, only 10 per cent of refugees would opt to stay in Lebanon. The vast majority said they would prefer to return to what is now Israel, although they totally reject Israeli citizenship.12 Several women I met reaffirmed this conclusion, asserting that their objective is to return to their land where, in the words of Nabila, ‘we can continue the fight to get rid of the Israelis. Fighting from Lebanon is useless.’13

‘Still I Rise’ You may write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt But still, like dust, I’ll rise. Maya Angelou

Writing from Cairo in February 2012, Egyptian author Ahdaf Soueif observed that ‘everything is fragmented and fluid and unstable and hopeful and dangerous’.14 Her remark could apply to the current plight of Palestinians in Lebanon, for whom the situation is more ‘unstable and dangerous’ than ‘hopeful’. But still, ‘like dust’, they continue to rise. This ability to get on with life in the present, to make the best of a miserable situation characterizes refugee communities in Lebanon, but it should not detract from the urgent need for a just resolution to the Palestinian – Israeli conflict, of which the future of the refugees is a key component. While efforts have been made to deny the existence of a Palestinian people by the Israeli colonial project and by the claims of Western media and politicians for ‘balance’, they refuse to go away. Beyond nostalgia, they have engaged constructively in their own survival. This book has focused on refugee women in terms of multiple forms of violence. Through the voices of individual women, old and young, it has explored the past: the traumatic flight from Palestine and

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early period of transition in Lebanon; the many wars, invasions and massacres that have beset Palestinian life; and the ways in which the various ‘peace processes’ and the will of the international community have consistently marginalized and betrayed Palestinian rights and aspirations. Through the lens of violence, the book has considered the importance of home to refugee women – many of whom have never even seen Palestine, the strategies they adopt to transform the inhospitable camps into an illusion of home for themselves and their children, although these are rarely successful, and the stories they tell to make sense of their lives. I have tried to encompass more than just the bare ‘facts’ of women’s lives. Although I made every effort to maintain a professional distance between myself and my interlocutors, it was hard not to be affected by their stories of loss, hope, mourning and dignity. I offer this book as a testament to their courage and conclude with the heartfelt wish that they will indeed continue to rise, and eventually to fly.

Notes Chapter 1 1. Makdisi, Ussama, and Silverstein, Paul A., Memory and Violence in the Middle East and North Africa (Indiana, 2006), p. 2. 2. The names of all women interviewed for this book have been disguised. 3. Interview, Baddawi camp, Tripoli, 12 July 2011. 4. Aouragh, Miriyam, ‘Confined offline, traversing online: Palestinian mobility through the prism of the Internet. Mobilities VI/3 (2011), pp. 375 – 97. 5. Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Nadera, Militarization and Violence against Women in Conflict Zones in the Middle East: A Palestinian Case Study (Cambridge, 2009), p. 1. 6. Makdisi and Silverstein, Memory and Violence in the Middle East and North Africa, p. 2. 7. Abu Hijji, a West Bank farmer, quoted in Kestler-D’Amours, Jillian, ‘UN finds “crisis of dignity” as settlers destroy Palestine’s olive trees’, Electronic Intifada, 30 October 2012. 8. Kanaana, Sharif, Struggling for Survival: Essays in Palestinian Folklore and Folklife (Al-Bireh, 2005), p. 83. 9. Hirst, David, The Gun and the Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East (London, 1977), p. 13. 10. Harik, Iliya, ‘The Palestinians in the diaspora’, in G. Sheffer (ed.), Modern Diasporas in International Politics (London, Sydney, 1986), p. 315. 11. Gluck, Sherna Berger, ‘What’s so special about women? Women’s oral history’, in S. H. Armitage, P. Hart and K. Weathermon (eds), Women’s Oral History (Lincoln, NE, London, 2002), p. 5. 12. Said, Edward W., After the Last Sky (London, Boston, 1986), p. 63. 13. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 1 February 2007. 14. Khouri, Rami, ‘Foreword’, in D. E. Arzt, Refugees into Citizens: Palestinians and the End of the Arab-Israeli Conflict (New York, NY, 1997), p. xii. 15. Said, Edward W., in a conversation with Salman Rushdie on Palestinian identity, in The Politics of Dispossession: The Struggle for Palestinian Self-Determination 1969– 1994 (London, 1995), p. 4.

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16. Malkki, Liisa, ‘National Geographic: The rooting of peoples and the territorialization of national identity among scholars and refugees’, Cultural Anthropology VII/1 (February 1992), p. 25. 17. Genet, Jean ‘Four Hours in Shatila’, in J. Murphy (ed.), For Palestine (New York, 1993), p. 27. 18. Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Militarization and Violence against Women in Conflict Zones in the Middle East, p. 12. 19. Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Militarization and Violence against Women in Conflict Zones in the Middle East, p. 52. 20. Sayigh, Rosemary, Too Many Enemies: The Palestinian Experience in Lebanon (London, New Jersey, NJ, 1994). 21. The United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was established in May 1950, ‘to provide emergency assistance to the hundreds of thousands of destitute Palestinians who had been uprooted as a result of the 1948 Arab – Israeli conflict’ (Hansen, Peter, UNRWA Commissioner-General, Building on Success: 52 Years of Work to Protect and Promote the Health of Palestine Refugees (Lebanon, 1998)). It provides free schooling to refugee children between the ages of six and 16, and basic medical services. 22. McDowall, David, The Palestinians (London, 1987), p. 1. 23. Palestinian Human Rights Organization, Beirut, n/d. 24. By ‘Palestine’ I mean the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the territory of the former British mandate, which became the state of Israel in May 1948. 25. Sayigh, Rosemary, ‘The Palestinian experience: Integration and non-integration in the Arab Ghourba’, Arab Studies Quarterly I/2 (Spring, 1979), pp. 108 – 9. 26. Interview with UNRWA official, Bourj el-Shemali camp, Tyre, 14 July 2011. 27. Interview with Osama Hamdan, Beirut, 4 May 2007. 28. Bresheeth, Haim, ‘The continuity of trauma and struggle: Recent cinematic representations of the nakba’, in A. H. Sa’di and L. Abu-Lughod (eds), Nabka: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory (New York, NY, 2007), p. 178. 29. Doumani, Beshara, ‘Palestine versus the Palestinians? The iron laws and ironies of a people denied’, Journal of Palestine Studies XXXVI/4 (2007), p. 50. 30. AbuZayd, Karen, ‘Exile, Exclusion and Isolation: The Palestinian Refugee Experience’, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (20 June 2008). Available at http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL. NSF/0/9AB8F1CEF06ADDEB8525746E00469DB8 (accessed 29 April 2013). 31. In an interview on Israeli television on 2 November 2012, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stated: ‘I want to see Safad. It’s my right to see it, but not to live there. Palestine now for me is 67 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. This is now and forever [ . . . ] this is Palestine for me. I am a refugee, but I am living in Ramallah. I believe the West Bank and Gaza is Palestine and the other parts are Israel.’ 32. Rougier, Bernard, translated by Pascale Ghazaleh, Everyday Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam among Palestinians in Lebanon (Cambridge, MA, 2007), p. 3.

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33. Swedenburg, Ted, ‘With Genet in the Palestinian Field’, in N. Scheper-Hughes and P. Bourgois (eds), Violence in War and Peace: An Anthology (Oxford, 2004), p. 411. 34. Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Militarization and Violence against Women in Conflict Zones in the Middle East, p. 12. 35. Khalaf, Samir, Lebanon Adrift: From Battleground to Playground (London, 2012), p. 80. 36. Sayigh, Rosemary, ‘Gender, sexuality and class in national narrations: Palestinian camp women tell their lives’, in S. H. Armitage (ed.), with Patricia Hart and Karen Weathermon, Women’s Oral History (Lincoln and London, 2002), p. 318. 37. Interview, Beirut, 3 June 2003. 38. Sayigh, Too Many Enemies, p. 9. 39. Abu-Lughod, Lila, Writing Women’s Worlds: Bedouin Stories (Berkeley, CA, 1993), p. 31. 40. Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Militarization and Violence against Women in Conflict Zones in the Middle East, p. 52. 41. Farah, Randa, ‘Out of the shadows: Listening to place-based narratives of Palestinian women’, in W. Harcourt, and A. Escobar (eds), Women and the Politics of Place (Bloomfield, CT, 2005), p. 218. 42. Dabashi, Hamid, The Arab Spring: The End of Postcolonialism (London, 2012), p. 189. 43. Ra’ad, Basem, Hidden Histories: Palestine and the Eastern Mediterranean (London, 2010), pp. 4 –5. 44. Perks, Robert, and Thomson, Alistair (eds), The Oral History Reader (London, 1998), p. 102. 45. Kikumura, Akemi, ‘Family life histories: A collaborative venture’, in R. Perks and A. Thomson (eds), The Oral History Reader (London, 1998), p. 141. 46. Lazreg, Marnia, ‘Feminism and difference: The perils of writing as a woman on women in Algeria’, Feminist Studies XIV/1 (Spring 1988), p. 13. 47. Interview, Rashidiyya camp, Tyre, 14 July 2011. 48. Harding, Sandra, Whose Science? Whose Knowledge? Thinking from Women’s Lives (Milton Keynes, 1991). 49. Sayigh, Rosemary, ‘Remembering mothers, forming daughters: Palestinian women’s narratives in refugee camps in Lebanon’, in N. Abdo and R. Lentin (eds), Women and the Politics of Military Confrontation (New York, NY, Oxford, 2002), p. 58. 50. Mohanty, Chandra Talpade, ‘Under Western eyes: Feminist scholarship and colonial discourses’, in R. Lewis and S. Mills (eds), Feminist Postcolonial Theory: A Reader (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2003), p. 51. 51. Sangster, Joan, ‘Telling our stories: Feminist debates and the use of oral history’, in R. Perks and A. Thomson (eds), The Oral History Reader (London, 1998), p. 96.

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52. Fleischmann, Ellen L., ‘Crossing the boundaries in history: Exploring oral history in researching Palestinian women in the Mandate period’, Women’s History Review, V/3 (1996): 351 – 71, p. 353. 53. Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Militarization and Violence against Women in Conflict Zones in the Middle East, p. 29. 54. Ramazanoglu, Caroline, with Holland, Janet, Feminist Methodology: Challenges and Choices (London, Thousand Oaks, New Delhi: Sage Publications, 2002), p. 14. 55. Domosh, Mona, ‘Toward a more fully reciprocal feminist inquiry’, Acme Journal II/1 (2003). 56. Sayigh, Rosemary, ‘Palestinian camp women as tellers of history’, Journal of Palestine Studies, XXVII/2 (Winter 1998), p. 42. 57. Abdo, Nahla, and Lentin, Roint, Women and the Politics of Military Confrontation. Palestinian and Israeli Gendered Natiatives of Dislocation (New York, Oxford, 2002), p. 1. 58. Hesse-Biber, Sharlene, ‘Feminist research: Exploring the interconnections of epistemology, methodology and method’, in S. N. Hesse-Biber (ed.), Handbook of Feminist Research: Theory and Praxis (Thousand Oaks, London, New Delhi, 2007), p. 12. 59. Abu-Lughod, Writing Women’s Worlds, p. 15. 60. Ashcroft, Bill, ‘Representation and its discontents: Orientalism, Islam and the Palestinian crisis’, Religion XXXIV (2004), p. 116. 61. Aretxaga, Begona, Shattering Silence: Women, Nationalism, and Political Subjectivity in Northern Ireland (Princeton, NJ, 1997), p. 17. 62. Turton, David, ‘Conceptualising Forced Migration’, RSC Working Paper No. 12 (Oxford: Refugee Studies Programme, October 2003), p. 8. 63. Lee, Raymond M., and Stanko, Elizabeth A., Researching Violence: Essays on Methodology and Measurement (London, 2003), p. 3. 64. Ramazanoglu with Holland, Feminist Methodology, p. 158. 65. Swedenburg, ‘With Genet in the Palestinian Field’, p. 411. 66. My PhD, entitled ‘Testimonies of violence: A comparative study of the impact of violence and Islamic teachings on Palestinian and Shi’i women in conflict and post-conflict situations in Lebanon’, was completed in 2004. 67. Funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council in 2006– 7. 68. UN High Commission for Refugees, The State of The World’s Refugees 2006: Human Displacement in the New Millennium (Geneva, 2006), p. 112. 69. Abu-Sitta (1998) estimates that 413,974 Palestinians (52 per cent) left before the state of Israel was created, 339,272 (42 per cent) left during the 1948 war, and a further 52,001 (6 per cent) after the Armistice Agreements were signed, making a total of 805,067. In all, 531 Palestinian towns and villages were depopulated. 70. Palestinian Human Rights Organization, ‘An Emerging Refugee Society: Palestinians without Identification’ (Beirut, 2002), p. 3.

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71. UNRWA fields of operation: West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. 72. UNRWA, 1 January 2012. 73. Arzt, Donna E., Refugees into Citizens: Palestinians and the End of the Arab-Israeli Conflict (New York, NY, 1997), p. 46. 74. Interview, Mar Elias camp, Beirut, 30 January 2007. 75. Rempel, Terry M., ‘Who are Palestinian refugees?’ Forced Migration Review XXVI (August 2006), p. 5. 76. Elsayed-Ali, Sherif, ‘Palestinian refugees in Lebanon’, Forced Migration Review XXVI (August 2006), p. 13. 77. Rempel, ‘Who are Palestinian refugees?’, p. 5. 78. Peteet, Julie, ‘From refugees to minority: Palestinians in post-war Lebanon’, Middle East Report CC (July – September 1996), p. 29. 79. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 27 January 2007. 80. Akram, Susan M., ‘Reinterpreting Palestinian refugee rights under international law, and a framework for durable solution’, BADIL – Information & Discussion Brief, I (February 2000), p. 2. 81. Akram, ‘Reinterpreting Palestinian refugee rights under international law, and a framework for durable solution’, p. 2. 82. Lamb, Franklin, ‘Divergent views from Lebanon, but one common goal’, bitterlemons-api.org, IV/2 (2011). 83. Lamb, ‘Divergent views from Lebanon, but one common goal’. 84. Quoted by Lamb, ‘Divergent views from Lebanon, but one common goal’. 85. Said, Wadie, The Status of Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon (Palestine, 1999). 86. Said, The Status of Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon. 87. Interview, Baddawi camp, Tripoli, 12 July 2011. 88. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 10 July 2011. 89. Hanafi, Sari, ‘The Nahr al-Bared camp as a space of exception’, The Daily Star, 6 December 2007. 90. Palestinian Human Rights Organization, n/d. 91. Interview, Ain el-Hilwe camp, Sidon, 3 February 2007. 92. Palestinian Human Rights Organization, Beirut, n/d. 93. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 10 July 2011. 94. Interview, Beirut, 5 June 2006. 95. Interview, Ain el-Hilwe camp, Sidon, 29 May 2003. 96. Palestinian Human Rights Organization, n/d. 97. Abdo, Nahla, Engendering Compensation: Making Refugee Women Count! Prepared for the Expert and Advisory Services Fund International Development Research Centre, Ottawa (Palestinian Refugee ResearchNet, Quebec March 2000). 98. Interview, Mar Elias camp, Beirut, 30 January 2007.

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99. American University of Beirut, Socio-Economic Survey of Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon (prepared for UNWRA, December 2010), p. ix. 100. Khalidi, Muhammad Ali, ‘Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon’, in Middle East Report (Middle East Research and Information Project, November – December 1995), p. 28. 101. Zakharia, Leila, ‘Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon’, Outsider (The Newsletter of Minority Rights Group, Number 48, October 1996), p. 6. 102. Zakharia, ‘Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon’, p. 6. 103. Sayigh, Rosemary, ‘Greater insecurity for refugees in Lebanon’, Middle East Report Online, 1 March 2000, p. 2. 104. Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs, Palestinian Refugees, Special Bulletin (Jerusalem, May 2004), p. 6. 105. UNRWA, Lebanon Field Office, ‘Restoring Dignity: Responses to the Critical Needs of Vulnerable Palestine Refugees in Lebanon, 28 September 2011. 106. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 10 July 2011. 107. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 3 June 2003. 108. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 7 February 2007. 109. Interview, Rashidiyya camp, Tyre, 31 January 2007. 110. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 7 February 2007. 111. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 4 February 2007. 112. Interview, Rashidiyya camp, near Tyre, 5 June 2003. 113. Interview, Mar Elias camp, Beirut, 30 January 2007. 114. American University of Beirut, Socio-Economic Survey of Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon, p. x. 115. UNRWA Lebanon, ‘Palestine refugees: A special case’, UNRWA (2011). Available at www.unrwa.org (accessed 17 April 2013). 116. Zakharia, ‘Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon’, p. 6. 117. American University of Beirut, Socio-Economic Survey of Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon, p. xiii – iv. 118. American University of Beirut, Socio-Economic Survey of Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon, p. 67. 119. Interview, Rashidiyya camp, Tyre, 5 June 2003. 120. UNRWA: www.unrwa.org/etemplate.php?id¼ 65. 121. Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), ‘UNRWA to increase its coverage of tertiary healthcare to Palestinian refugees in Lebanon’, 12 April 2011. 122. Medical Aid for Palestinians, personal communication, 2000. 123. Abdo, Engendering Compensation. 124. Abdo, Engendering Compensation. 125. Salih, Rub (17 February 2011), ‘Rethinking Palestinian refugeehood’, bitterlemons-api.org, IV/2 (accessed 17 February 2011). 126. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 10 July 2011.

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127. Barghouti, Mourid, ‘He is the son of all of you’, Guardian, 16 August 2008. 128. Sayigh, Too Many Enemies, p. 9. 129. Peteet, Julie, Gender in Crisis: Women and the Palestinian Resistance Movement (New York, 1991), p. 30. 130. Buijs, Gina (ed.), Migrant Women: Crossing Boundaries and Changing Identities (Oxford, Berg, 1993), p. 18. 131. Stiles, Kristine, ‘Shaved heads and marked bodies: Representations from cultures of trauma’, in B. B. Lawrence and A. Karim (eds), On Violence (Durham, 2007), p. 523. 132. Whitehead, Anne, ‘Trauma: Introduction’, in M. Rossington and A. Whitehead (eds), Theories of Memory: A Reader (Edinburgh, 2007), p. 188. 133. Bresheeth, ‘The continuity of trauma and struggle’, p. 165. 134. Westerman, William, ‘Central American refugee testimonies and performed life histories in the Sanctuary movement’, in R. Perks and A. Thomson, editors, The Oral History Reader (London: Routledge, 1998). 135. Kassem, Fatma, Palestinian Women: Narrative Histories and Gendered Memory (London, 2011), p. 52. 136. Sayigh, Rosemary, ‘Voices: Palestinian Women Narrate Displacement’, http://almashriq.hiof.no/palestine/300/301/voices, 2007. 137. Mernissi, Fatima, translated Mary Jo Lakeland, The Veil and the Male Elite: A Feminist Interpretation of Women’s Rights in Islam (1987; English translation 1991, Oxford), p. 10. 138. Mernissi, The Veil and the Male Elite, p. 10. 139. Winterson, Jeannette, ‘Forbidden fruits’, Guardian, 29 October 2011. 140. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 7 February 2007. 141. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 27 January 2007. 142. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 7 February 2007. 143. Crawford, June, Kippax, Susan, Onyx, Jenny, Gault, Una, and Benton, Pam (eds), Emotion and Gender: Constructing Meaning from Memory (London: Sage 1992), p. 39. 144. Hoffmann, Eva, After Such Knowledge: A Mediation on the Aftermath of the Holocaust (London, 2005), p. xiii. 145. Joint Parliamentary Middle East Councils, Commission of Enquiry – Palestinian Refugees in September 2000: Right of Return (London, March 2001). 146. Zureik, Elia, ‘Palestinian refugees must be allowed to choose’ (Ramallah, n/d and LA Times). 147. Sayigh, ‘Remembering mothers, forming daughters’, p. 71. 148. Doumani, ‘Palestine versus the Palestinians?’, p. 49.

Chapter 2 1. Hoffmann, Eva (2008), Illuminations (London: Vintage Books, 2008), p. 121. 2. Interview, Beirut, 29 May 2003.

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3. Zuckerhut, Patricia, ‘Feminist anthropological perspectives on violence’, in Moha Ennaji and Fatima Sadiqi, editors, Gender and Violence in the Middle East (London: Routledge, 2011), p. 13. 4. Lawrence, B. B., and Karim, A. (eds), On Violence: A Reader (Durham, NC, 2007), p. 7. 5. Fanon, Frantz, The Wretched of the Earth (New York, NY, 1961). 6. Farmer, Paul, ‘On suffering and structural violence: A view from below’, in J. Vincent (ed.), The Anthropology of Politics: A Reader in Ethnographic Theory and Critique (Oxford, 2002). 7. Interview, Mar Elias camp, Beirut, 30 January 2007. 8. Dobash, R. E., and Dobash, R. P. (eds), Rethinking Violence Against Women, Volume 9 of SAGE Series on Violence against Women (London, 1998), p. 5. 9. McWilliams, Monica, ‘Violence against women in societies under stress’, in R. E. Dobash and R. P. Dobash (eds), Rethinking Violence Against Women, Volume 9 of SAGE Series on Violence against Women (London, 1998), p. 117. 10. Bahar, Saba, ‘Human rights are women’s rights: Amnesty International and the family’, in B. G. Smith (ed.), Global Feminisms Since 1945 (London, New York, NY, 2000), p. 267. 11. Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Nadera, Militarization and Violence against Women in Conflict Zones in the Middle East: A Palestinian Case Study (Cambridge, 2009), p. 51. 12. Zuckerhut, ‘Feminist anthropological perspectives on violence’, p. 13. 13. Interview, Rashidiyya camp, Tyre, 5 June 2003. 14. El-Bushra, Judy, ‘Transforming conflict: Some thoughts on a gendered understanding of conflict processes’, in S. Jacobs, R. Jacobson and J. Marchbank (eds), States of Conflict: Gender, Violence and Resistance (London: Zed Books 2000); Moser, Caroline O. N., and Clark, Fiona C. (2001), ‘Introduction’, in C. O. N. Moser and F. C. Clark (eds), Victims, Perpetrators or Actors? Gender, Armed Conflict and Political Violence (London: Zed Books, 2001). 15. Lawrence and Karim, On Violence, p. 6. 16. Amnesty International, 1995: 22. 17. Reach Out Refugee Protection Training Project, UNHCR, Protecting Refugees: A Field Guide for NGOs (1999). 18. Dobash and Dobash, Rethinking Violence Against Women, p. 4. 19. Cockburn, Cynthia, Gender, Armed Conflict and Political Violence, World Bank, Washington DC, 10 –11 June 1999, p. 2. 20. Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Militarization and Violence against Women in Conflict Zones in the Middle East, p. 65. 21. Cockburn, Gender, Armed Conflict and Political Violence, p. 18 – 19. 22. Zˇizˇek, Slavoj, Violence (London: Profile Books, 2009), p. 1. 23. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 10 July 2011. 24. Meeting with a member of the Democratic Palestinian Women’s Organization, Mar Elias Camp, Beirut, 18 September 2002.

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25. Interview, Ain el-Hilwe camp, Sidon, 29 May 2003. 26. Interview with a representative of the General Union of Palestinian Women in Lebanon, Ain el-Hilwe camp, Sidon, 7 June 2003. 27. Interview, Kasmiye camp, near Tyre, 31 May 2003. 28. Interview, Bourj el Barajne camp, Beirut, 4 June 2003. 29. Interview, Baddawi camp, Tripoli, 12 July 2011. 30. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 3 June 2003. 31. Interview, Ain el-Hilwe camp, Sidon, 3 February 2007. 32. Benjamin, Walter, ‘Critique of violence’, in B. B. Lawrence and A. Karim (eds), On Violence: A Reader (Durham, NC, 2007), p. 270. 33. Sadiki, Larbi, ‘Reframing resistance and democracy: Narratives from Hamas and Hizbullah’, Democratization XVII/2 (April 2010), p. 350. 34. Naylor, R. T., ‘From bloodbath to whitewash: Sabra-Shatila and the Kahan Commission Report’, Arab Studies Quarterly V/4 (Fall 1983), p. 350. 35. Interview, Ain el-Hilwe camp, Sidon, 7 June 2003. 36. Interview, al-Buss camp, near Tyre, 14 July 2011. 37. Aretzaga, Begona, Shattering Silence: Women, Nationalism, and Political Subjectivity in Northern Ireland (Princeton, NJ, 1997), p. 11. 38. United Nations, Women: Challenges to the Year 2000 (New York, NY, 1991), p. 66. 39. Galtung, Johan, Peace by Peaceful Means: Peace and Conflict, Development and Civilization (Oslo, London, 1996). 40. Galtung, Peace by Peaceful Means. 41. Cockburn, Cynthia, ‘The gendered dynamics of armed conflict and political violence’, in C. O. N. Moser and F. C. Clark (eds), Victims, Perpetrators or Actors?: Gender, Armed Conflict and Political Violence (London, New York, NY, 2011), p. 17. 42. El-Bushra, Judy, and Piza-Lopez, Eugenia, ‘Gender related violence: Its scope and relevance’, in O’Connell (ed.), Women and Conflict, Vol. 2 of the Oxfam Focus on Gender Series (Oxford, 1993). 43. Moser and Clark, ‘Introduction’, p. 6. 44. Barry, Kathleen, Female Sexual Slavery (Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1979); Brownmiller, Susan, Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape (New York, NY, 1975). 45. Bourdieu, Pierre, ‘Gender and symbolic violence’, in N. Scheper-Hughes and P. Bourgois (eds), Violence in War and Peace: An Anthology (Oxford, 2004), p. 339. 46. Accad, Evlyne, Sexuality and War: Literary Masks of the Middle East (New York, NY, 1990), p. 18. 47. Joseph, Suad, and Slyomovics, Susan, ‘Introduction’, in S. Joseph, and S. Slyomovics (eds), Women and Power in the Middle East (Philadelphia, PA, 2001), p. 6. 48. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 24 July 2007. 49. Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Nadera, ‘Researching women’s victimization in Palestine: A socio-legal analysis’, in L. Welchman and S. Hossain (eds), ‘Honour’: Crimes, Paradigms, and Violence Against Women (London, 2005), p. 163.

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50. United Nations, Report of the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, its Causes and Consequences (New York, NY, 1999), para 18. 51. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 1 June 2006. 52. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 10 July 2011. 53. Yaqub, Nadia (2011), ‘Dismantling the discourses of war: Palestinian women filmmakers address violence’, in M. Ennaji and F. Sadiqi (eds), Gender and Violence in the Middle East (London: Routledge, 2011), p. 231. 54. McWilliams, ‘Violence against women in societies under stress’, p. 114. 55. Griffin, Susan, ‘Rape: The all-American crime’, Ramparts X/3 (1971), p. 35. 56. Zajovic, S., ‘Women and ethnic cleansing’, Women Against Fundamentalism Journal 5(1) (1994), pp. 34 – 6. 57. McCollum, H., Kelly, L., and Radford, J., ‘Wars against women’, Trouble and Strife XXVIII (1994), pp. 12 – 18. 58. Enloe, Cynthia, Does Khaki Become You? The Militarization of Women’s Lives (London, 1988), p. xxxiii. 59. Burton, Nadya, ‘Resistance to prevention: Reconsidering feminist antiviolence rhetoric’, in S. G. French, W. Teays and L. M. Purdy (eds), Violence Against Women: Philosophical Perspectives (Ithaca, NY, London, 1998), p. 185. 60. Maynard, Mary, ‘The reshaping of sociology? Trends in the study of gender’, Sociology II (1990), p. 270. 61. Steans, Jill, Gender and International Relations: An Introduction (Cambridge, 1998), p. 101. 62. UNHCR, Sexual Violence Against Refugees: Guidelines on Prevention and Response (Geneva, 1995), p. 5. 63. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 9 June 2003. 64. Morris, Benny, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited (Cambridge, 2004), p. 592. 65. Humphries, Isabelle, and Khalili, Laleh, ‘Gender and nakba memory’, in A. Sa’di and L. Abu-Lughod (eds), Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory (New York, NY, 2007), p. 211. 66. Interview with Saleh Abdel Jawad, 6 May 2004, quoted in Slyomovics, Susan, ‘The rape of Qula, a destroyed Palestinian village’ in A. Sa’di and L. Abu-Lughod (eds), Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory (New York, NY 2007), p. 35. 67. Interview, Beirut, 3 June 2003. 68. Interview, Ain el-Hilwe camp, Sidon, 7 June 2003. 69. Kelly, Liz, Burton, Sheila, and Regan, Linda, ‘Researching women’s lives or studying women’s oppression? Reflections on what constitutes feminist research’, in M. Maynard and J. Purvis (eds), Researching Women’s Lives from a Feminist Perspective (London, 1994), p. 33. 70. Pettman, Jan Jindy, Worlding Women: A Feminist International Politics (London, New York, NY, 1996), p. 92.

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71. Jacobs, Susie, Jacobson, Ruth, and Marchbank, Jennifer (eds), States of Conflict: Gender, Violence and Resistance (London, New York, NY, 2000), p. 11. 72. Alder, Christine, ‘Violence, gender, and social change’, in M. B. Steger and Lind N. S. (eds), Violence and its Alternatives (Basingstoke, 1999), p. 114. 73. Ghoussoub, Mai, and Sinclair-Webb, Emma, ‘Preface’, in M. Ghoussoub, and E. Sinclair-Webb (eds), Imagined Masculinities: Male Identity and Culture in the Modern Middle East (London, 2000), p. 9. 74. Kelly, Liz, ‘Wars against women: Sexual violence, sexual politics and the militarised state’, in S. Jacobs, R. Jacobson and J. Marchbank (eds), States of Conflict: Gender, Violence and Resistance (London, New York, NY, 2000), p. 50. 75. Kelly, ‘Wars against women’, p. 50. 76. Blom, Ida, ‘Global women’s history: Organising principles and cross-cultural understandings’, in K. Offen R. Roach Pierson and J. Rendall (eds), Writing Women’s History: International Perspectives (Basingstoke, 1991), p. 139. 77. Kandiyoti, Deniz, ‘Islam and patriarchy: A comparative perspective’, in S. HesseBiber, C. Gilmartin and R. Lydenberg (eds), Feminist Approaches to Theory and Methodology: An Interdisciplinary Reader (Oxford, 1999), p. 223. 78. Mayer, Ann Elizabeth, Islam and Human Rights: Tradition and Politics (Boulder, CO, San Francisco, CA, 1995), p. 105. 79. Qur’an IV: 34. 80. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 9 June 2003. 81. Eck, Diana L, and Jain, Devaki, ‘Speaking from experience: Women in the midst of conflict’, in D. L. Eck and D. Jain (eds), Speaking of Faith (London, 1986), p. 18. 82. Vickers, Jeanne, Women and War (London: Zed Books, 1993), p. 44. 83. Kelly, Liz, and Radford, Jill, ‘Sexual violence against women and girls: An approach to an international overview’, in R. E. Dobash and R. P. Dobash (eds), Rethinking Violence Against Women, Volume 9 of SAGE Series on Violence against Women (London, 1998), p. 71. 84. Vickers, Women and War, p. 5. 85. Kelly, Liz, Burton, Sheila, and Regan, Linda, ‘Beyond victim or survivor: Sexual violence, identity and feminist theory and practice’, in L. Adkins and V. Merchant (eds), Sexualizing the Social: Power and the Organization of Sexuality (Basingstoke, 1996), p. 77. 86. Kelly, Burton and Regan, ‘Beyond victim or survivor’, p. 84. 87. Mohanty, Chandra Talpade, ‘Under Western eyes: Feminist scholarship and colonial discourses’, in C. Talpade Mohanty, A. Russo and L. Torres (eds), Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism (Bloomington, Indianapolis, IN, 1991), p. 58. 88. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 10 July 2011. 89. Interview, Baddawi camp, Tripoli, 12 July 2011. 90. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 1 June 2006. 91. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 24 February 2003.

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92. Interview, Mar Elias camp, Beireut, 30 January 2007. 93. Shalhoub-Kevorkian, ‘Researching women’s victimization in Palestine’, p. 162. 94. Zakharia, Leila F, and Tabari, Samia, ‘Health, Work Opportunities and Attitudes: A Review of Palestinian Women’s Situation in Lebanon’, Journal of Refugee Studies, Vol 10, No 3, September 1997, p. 411. 95. Meeting with the Executive Director of Najdeh, Beirut, 3 June 2003. 96. Interview, Mar Elias camp, Beirut, 30 January 2007. 97. The survey asked whether it is appropriate for a husband to hit his wife if she: (1) does not care for the children in an adequate way; (2) does not respect his family; (3) goes out in public unaccompanied; (4) does not do household chores properly; (5) does not have meals prepared properly or on time; (6) deliberately disobeys what he asks of her; (7) ‘talks back’ or speaks in a hostile way to him; or (8) behaves in a way he dislikes either at home or in public. 98. Ugland, Ole Fr (ed.), Difficult Past, Uncertain Future: Living Conditions among Palestinian Refugees in Camps and Gatherings in Lebanon (Oslo, 2003), pp. 248 – 50. 99. Interviews were conducted with 452 Palestinian refugee mothers of children attending kindergartens in camps all over Lebanon, in February and March 1999. 100. Khalidi, Aziza, Domestic Violence among Some Palestinian Refugee Communities in Lebanon: An Exploratory Study and Ideas for Further Action (Beirut, 2000), p. 19 and 26. 101. Interview, Beirut, 9 June 2003. 102. Interview with the Director of Association Najdeh, Beirut, 3 June 2003. 103. Interview, Rashidiyya camp, Tyre, 31 January 2007. 104. Interview, Beirut, 29 January 2007. 105. Interview, Beirut, February 2003. 106. Interview, Beirut, 9 June 2003. 107. Interview, Baddawi camp, Tripoli, 12 July 2011. 108. Kassem, Fatma, Palestinian Women: Narrative Histories and Gendered Memory (London, 2011), p. 31. 109. Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Militarization and Violence against Women in Conflict Zones in the Middle East, p. 47. 110. Saliba, Therese, Allen, Carolyn, and Howard, Judith A. (eds), Gender, Politics and Islam (Chicago, IL, London, 2002). 111. Kesic, Vesna, ‘From reverence to rape: An anthology of ethnic and genderized violence’, in M. R. Waller and J. Rycenga (eds), Frontline Feminisms: Women, War, and Resistance (New York and London: Routledge, 2001), p. 26. 112. Economist, ‘Now is the time: Women and the Arab awakening’, 15 October 2011. 113. Interview, Beirut, June 2003. 114. Interview, Baddawi camp, Tripoli, 12 July 2011.

Notes 115. 116. 117. 118. 119. 120. 121. 122. 123. 124. 125.

126. 127. 128. 129. 130. 131. 132. 133. 134. 135. 136. 137. 138. 139. 140. 141. 142. 143. 144. 145. 146. 147. 148.

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Interview, Rashidiyya camp, Tyre, 14 July 2011. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 4 June 2003. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 10 July 2011. Interview, Baddawi camp, Tripoli, 12 July 2011. Interview, Beirut, 29 January 2007. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 9 June 2003. Ghoussoub, Mai, Leaving Beirut: Women and the Wars Within (London, 1998), p. 11. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 9 June 2003. Interview, Beirut, 9 June 2003. Meeting with the Women’s Programme Officer, UNRWA, Beirut, 4 June 2003. Sayigh, Rosemary, ‘Remembering mothers, forming daughters: Palestinian women’s narratives in refugee camps in Lebanon’, in N. Abdo and R. Lentin (eds), Women and the Politics of Military Confrontation (New York, NY, Oxford, 2002), p. 219. Interview with Osama Hamdan, former Hamas representative in Lebanon, Beirut, 4 May 2007. Interview, Kasmiye camp, near Tyre, 31 May 2003. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 1 February 2007. Interview, Rashidiyya camp, Tyre, 31 January 2007. In reality, very few Palestinian women have carried out suicide missions. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 7 February 2007. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 3 June 2006. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 27 January 2007. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 2 June 2003. Interview, Baddawi camp, Tripoli, 12 July 2011. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 3 June 2003. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 4 June 2003. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 9 June 2003. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 2 June 2003. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 3 June 2006. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 4 June 2003. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 3 June 2003. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 10 July 2011. Interview, Beirut, 3 June 2003. Interview, Ain el-Hilwe camp, Sidon, 29 May 2003. Interview, Beirut, 29 May 2003. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 1 June 2006. Interview, Mar Elias camp, Beirut, 30 January 2007.

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149. Rougier, Bernard, translated by Pascale Ghazaleh, Everyday Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam among Palestinians in Lebanon (Cambridge, MA, 2007), p. 2. 150. Rougier, Everyday Jihad, p. 2. 151. Erlanger, Steven, and Fattah, Hassan M., ‘Jihadist groups fill a Palestinian power vacuum’, New York Times, 31 May 2007. 152. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 24 July 2007. 153. Saleh, Mohsen Moh’d, The Palestinian Strategic Report 2010/11 (Beirut, 2012), p. 162. 154. Rougier, Everyday Jihad, p. 3. 155. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, 24 July 2007. 156. Interview, Beirut, 29 January 2007. 157. Interview, Beirut, 29 January 2007. 158. Rougier, Everyday Jihad, p. 104. 159. Interview, Ain el-Hilwe camp, Sidon, 29 May 2003.

Chapter 3 1. Kassem, Fatma, Palestinian Women: Narrative Histories and Gendered Memory (London, 2011), p. 190. 2. Brah, Avtar, ‘Cartographies of diaspora: Contesting identities’, in M. Rossington and A. Whitehead (eds), Theories of Memory: A Reader (Edinburgh, 2007), p. 289. 3. Interview, Bourj el-Shemali camp, Tyre, 14 July 2007. 4. Aouragh, Miriyam, ‘Confined offline, traversing online: Palestinian mobility through the prism of the Internet’, Mobilities VI/3 (2011), p. 380. 5. Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Nadera, Militarization and Violence against Women in Conflict Zones in the Middle East: A Palestinian Case Study (Cambridge, 2009), p. 50. 6. Kassem, Palestinian Women, p. 18. 7. Bresheeth, Haim, ‘The continuity of trauma and struggle: Recent cinematic representations of the nakba’, in A. H. Sa’di and L. Abu-Lughod (eds), Nabka: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory (New York, NY, 2007), p. 179. 8. Khalaf, Samir, Beirut Reclaimed: Reflections on Urban Design and the Restoration of Civility (Beirut, 1993), p. 30. 9. Honig, Bonnie (1996), ‘Difference, dilemmas, and the politics of home’, in S. Benhabib (ed.), Democracy and Difference: Contesting the Boundaries of the Political (Princeton, NJ, 1996, pp. 260, 271). 10. Preston, Valerie, and Wong, Madeleine, ‘Geographies of violence: Women and conflict in Ghana’, in W. Giles and J. Hyndman (eds), Sites of Violence: Gender and Conflict Zones (Berkeley, CA, 2004), p. 153. 11. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 27 January 2007. 12. Meir, Golda, Statement to the Sunday Times, 15 June 1969.

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13. Silverstein, Paul A, and Ussama Makdisi, ‘Introduction’, in U. Makdisi and P. A. Silverstein (eds), Memory and Violence in the Middle East and North Africa (Bloomington and Indianapolis, IN, 2006), p. 17. 14. Bresheeth, ‘The continuity of trauma and struggle’, p. 179. 15. Sa’di, Ahmed, ‘Reflections on representation, history, and moral accountability’, in A. Sa’di and L. Abu-Lughod (eds), Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory (New York, NY, 2007), p. 286. 16. Ashcroft, Bill, ‘Representation and its discontents: Orientalism, Islam and the Palestinian crisis’, Religion XXXIV (2004), p. 113. 17. Khalili, Laleh, Heroes and Martyrs of Palestine: The Politics of National Commemoration (Cambridge, 2007), p. 2. 18. Interview, Baddawi camp, Tripoli, 12 July 2011. 19. Connerton, Paul, How Societies Remember (Cambridge, 1989), p. 39. 20. Alexander, Jeffrey, ‘Toward a cultural theory of trauma’, in J. K. Olick, V. Vinitzky-Seroussi, and D. Levy (eds), The Collective Memory Reader (Oxford, 2011), p. 307. 21. Interview, Rashidiyya camp, 14 July 2011. 22. The fictional character Um Hassan in Tal el-Zaatar camp, recalling her early life in Palestine (Badr, Liana, translated from Arabic by Samira Kawar, The Eye of the Mirror (Reading, 1991), pp. 108 – 9). 23. Interview, Sidon, 7 June 2006. 24. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, 10 July 2011. 25. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 27 January 2007. 26. Hirsch, Marianne, and Smith, Valerie ‘Gender and cultural memory: An introduction’, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society XXVIII/1 (2002), p. 225. 27. Ussama Makdisi and Paul A. Silverstein (eds), Memory and Violence in the Middle East and North Africa (Bloomington, Indianapolis, IN, 2006), p. 11. 28. Peteet, Julie, Gender in Crisis: Women and the Palestinian Resistance Movement (New York, NY, 1991), p. 30. 29. Interview, Rashidiyya camp, Tyre, 31 January 2007. 30. Ignatieff, Michael, Blood and Belonging: Journeys into the New Nationalism (London, 1994), p. 3. 31. Crick, Bernard R., National Identities: The Constitution of the United Kingdom (Oxford, 1991), p. 91. 32. Hanafi, Sari (2005), ‘Rethinking the Palestinians abroad as a diaspora: The relationship between the diaspora and the Palestinian territories’, in A. Levy and A. Weingrod (eds), Homelands and Diasporas: Holy Lands and Other Places (Stanford, CA, 2005), p. 112. 33. Siddiq, Muhammad, ‘On ropes of memory: Narrating the Palestinian refugees’, in E. V. Daniel and J. C. Knudsen (eds), Mistrusting Refugees (Berkeley, CA, 1995), p. 87.

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34. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 3 June 2006. 35. Swedenburg, Ted, ‘Popular memory and the Palestinian national past’, in J. O’Brien and W. Roseberry (eds), Gold Ages, Dark Ages: Imagining the Past in Anthropology and History (Berkeley, CA, 1991), p. 175. 36. Interview, Ain el-Hilweh camp, Sidon, 7 June 2003. 37. Hanafi, Sari, ‘Palestinian refugees in the Arab world: The right to have a right’, The Daily Star (Lebanon), 15 November 2008. 38. Nabulsi, Karma, ‘Being Palestinian: The general will’, Government and Opposition XXXVIII/4 (2003). 39. Anderson, Benedict, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London, New York, NY, 1983, revised 1991). 40. Yuval-Davis, Nira, Gender and Nation (London, Thousand Oaks and New Delhi, 1997), p. 15. 41. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 3 June 2006. 42. Bowman, Glen, ‘“A country of words”: Conceiving the Palestinian nation from the position of exile’, in E. Laclau (ed.), The Making of Political Identities (London, 1994). 43. Sayigh, Rosemary, Too Many Enemies: The Palestinian Experience in Lebanon (London & New Jersey, 1994), p. 9. 44. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 3 June 2006. 45. Interview, Ain el-Hilweh camp, Sidon, 7 June 2003. 46. Interview, Bourj el-Shemali camp, Tyre, 14 July 2011. 47. Interview, Rashidiyya camp, Tyre, 31 January 2007. 48. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 3 June 2006. 49. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 1 February 2007. 50. Said, Edward, ‘Reflections on exile,’ in R. Ferguson, M. Gever, T. T. Minh-ha and C. West (eds), Out There: Marginalization and Contemporary Cultures (New York, NY, Cambridge, MA, 1990), p. 360. 51. Peteet, Julie M., ‘Lebanon: Palestinian refugees in the post-war period’, Writenet Country Papers, UNHCR, December 1997, p. 11. 52. Khalili, Laleh (2004), ‘Grass-roots commemorations: Remembering the land in the camps of Lebanon’, Journal of Palestine Studies XXXIV/1 (Autumn 2004), p. 19. 53. Sayigh, Rosemary, ‘Remembering mothers, forming daughters: Palestinian women’s narratives in refugee camps in Lebanon’, in N. Abdo and R. Lentin (eds), Women and the Politics of Military Confrontation (New York, NY, Oxford, 2002), p. 67. 54. Papanek, Hanna, ‘The ideal woman and the ideal society: Control and autonomy in the construction of identity’, in V. M. Moghadam (ed.), Identity Politics and Women: Cultural Reassertions and Feminisms in International Perspective (Boulder, CO, 1994), p. 45. 55. Papanek, ‘The ideal woman and the ideal society’, p. 47.

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56. Pettman, Jan Jindy, Worlding Women: A Feminist International Politics (London, New York, NY, 1996), p. 182. 57. Bowman, Glen, ‘A death revisited: Solidarity and dissonance in a MuslimChristian Palestinian community’, in U. Makdisi and P. A. Silverstein (eds), Memory and Violence in the Middle East and North Africa (Bloomington, Indianapolis, IN, 2006), p. 33. 58. Hanafi, Sari, ‘Opening the debate on the right of return’, Middle East Report CCXXII (Spring 2002), pp. 2 – 7. 59. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 3 June 2006. 60. Mahmoud Darwish’s poem ‘We Travel Like Other People’ ends: ‘We have a country of words. Speak speak so I can put my road on the stone of a stone. We have a country of words. Speak speak so we may know the end of this travel.’ 61. Kilpatrick, Hilary, ‘Introduction’ in G. Kanafani (translated by H. Kilpatrick), Men in the Sun (Washington DC, 1978), p. 2. 62. Hoffmann, Eva, After Such Knowledge: A Mediation on the Aftermath of the Holocaust (London, 2005), p. xii. 63. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 24 July 2007. 64. Turton, David, ‘Conceptualising forced migration’, RSC Working Paper No. 12 (Oxford: Refugee Studies Programme), October 2003, p. 8. 65. Turton, ‘Conceptualising forced migration’, p. 8. 66. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 1 June 2006. 67. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 2 June 2006. 68. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 2 June 2006. 69. Preston and Wong, ‘Geographies of violence’, p. 152. 70. Milne, Seumas, ‘Expulsion and dispossession can’t be cause for celebration’, Guardian, 15 May 2008. Available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/may/15/israelandthepalestinians.usa (accessed 16 July 2013). 71. Cesari, Jocelyne, ‘Muslim minorities in Europe: The silent revolution’, in J. L. Esposito, and F. Burgat (eds), Modernizing Islam: Religion in the Public Sphere in Europe and the Middle East (London, 2003), p. 225. 72. Safran, William, ‘Diasporas in modern societies: Myths of homeland and return’, in S. Vertovec, and R. Cohen (eds), Migration, Diasporas and Transnationalism (Cheltenham, 1999); Cohen, Robin, Global Diasporas: An Introduction (London, 1997); To¨lo¨lyan, Khachig, ‘The nation-state and its others: In lieu of a preface’, Diaspora I/1 (1991), pp. 3– 7. 73. Levy, Andre, and Weingrod, Alex (eds), Homelands and Diasporas: Holy Lands and Other Places (Stanford, CA, 2005), p. 7. 74. Clifford, James, Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century (Cambridge, MA, 1997); Appadurai, Arjun, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization (Minneapolis, 1996); Bhabha, Homi K., ‘Introduction: Narrating the nation’, in H. K. Bhabha (ed.), Nation and Narration (London, 1990); Hall, Stuart, ‘Cultural identity and diaspora’, in J. Rutherford (ed.), Identity (London, 1990).

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75. Levy and Weingrod, Homelands and Diasporas, p. 7. 76. Lavie, Smadar, and Swedenburg, Ted (eds), Displacement, Diaspora, and Geographies of Identity (Durham, NC, London, 1996), p. 14. 77. Levy and Weingrod, Homelands and Diasporas, pp. 4– 5. 78. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 27 January 2007. 79. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 3 June 2006. 80. Levy and Weingrod, Homelands and Diasporas, pp. 4– 5. 81. To¨lo¨lyan, ‘The nation-state and its others’, p. 5. 82. Appadurai, Arjun, and Breckonridge, Carol, ‘Editors’ comment: On moving targets’, Public Culture II/1 (1989), p. i. 83. Safran, ‘Diasporas in modern societies’, p. 83. 84. Van Hear, Nicholas, New Diasporas: The Mass Exodus, Dispersal and Regrouping of Migrant Communities (London, 1998), p. 6. 85. Kaldor, Mary, ‘Armageddon myths’, New Statesman, 26 May 2003, p. 1. 86. Rabinowitz, Dan, ‘Postnational Palestine/Israel? Globalization, diaspora, transnationalism, and the Israeli – Palestinian conflict’, Critical Inquiry XXVI/4 (Summer 2000), p. 758. 87. Malkki, Liisa, ‘National Geographic: The rooting of peoples and the territorialization of national identity among scholars and refugees’, Cultural Anthropology VII/1 (February 1992), p. 24. 88. Nabulsi, ‘Being Palestinian’. 89. Malkki, ‘National Geographic’, p. 27. 90. Tsagarousianou, Roza, ‘Re-thinking the concept of diaspora: Mobility, connectivity and communication in a globalized world’, Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture I/1 (2004), p. 52. 91. Anderson, Imagined Communities. 92. El-Guindi, Fadwa, Veil: Modesty, Privacy and Resistance (Oxford, New York, NY, 1999), p. 77. 93. Waylen, Georgina, Gender in Third World Politics (Buckingham, 1996), p. 135. 94. Blom, Ida, ‘Global women’s history: Organising principles and cross-cultural understandings’, in K. Offen, R. Roach Pierson and J. Rendall (eds), Writing Women’s History: International Perspectives (Basingstoke, 1991), p. 136. 95. Hirdman quoted in Blom, ‘Global women’s history’, p. 139. 96. Honig, ‘Difference, dilemmas, and the politics of home’, p. 259. 97. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 4 June 2003. 98. Falak, a Palestinian student, quoted by Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Militarization and Violence against Women in Conflict Zones in the Middle East, p. 6. 99. Shehadeh, Raja, ‘Author, author’, Guardian, 24 April 2010. 100. Interview, Gaza Building, Sabra, Beirut, 25 January 2007. 101. Massey, Doreen, Space, Place and Gender (Cambridge, 1994), p. 167.

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102. Graham-Brown, Sarah, Palestinians and their Society 1880 – 1946 (London, 1980), p. 135. 103. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 1 February 2007. 104. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 27 January 2007. 105. Umm Ahmed, aged 71, quoted in ‘“We are only guests in Lebanon” – Palestinians look homewards on Land Day’, Electronic Intifada (2012). 106. Interview with ‘Umm Nabil’, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 27 January 2007. 107. Frow, John, ‘Toute la me´moire du monde: Repetition and forgetting’, in M. Rossington and A. Whitehead (eds), Theories of Memory: A Reader (Edinburgh, 2007), p. 150. 108. Boym, Svetlana, ‘Nostalgia and its discontents’, in J. K. Olick, V. VinitzkySeroussi and D. Levy (eds), The Collective Memory Reader (Oxford, 2011), p. 452. 109. Boym, ‘Nostalgia and its discontents’, p. 453. 110. Smith, Anthony, ‘The ethnic origins of nations’, in J. K. Olick, V. VinitzkySeroussi and D. Levy (eds), The Collective Memory Reader (Oxford, 2011), p. 232. 111. Smith, ‘The ethnic origins of nations’, p. 232. 112. Kassem, Palestinian Women, pp. 189 – 190. 113. Webster, Wendy, Imagining Home: Gender, ‘Race’ and National Identity, 1945– 64 (London, 1998), p. ix. 114. Massey, Space, Place and Gender, p. 10. 115. Massey, Space, Place and Gender, p. 180. 116. Kassem, Palestinian Women, p. 190. 117. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 27 January 2007. 118. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 2 June 2006. 119. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 27 January 2007. 120. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 10 July 2011. 121. McDowall, David, The Palestinians (London, 1987), p. 92. 122. Kassem, Palestinian Women, p. 190. 123. Interview, Baddawi camp, Tripoli, 12 July 2011. 124. Preston and Wong, ‘Geographies of violence’, p. 166. 125. Quoted in Benvenisti, Meron, Sacred Landscape: The Buried History of the Holy Land Since 1948 (Berkeley, CA, 2000), p. 192. 126. Soueif, Ahdaf, ‘A project of dispossession can never be a noble cause’, Guardian, 17 November 2006. 127. Breseeth, ‘The continuity of trauma and struggle’, p. 178. 128. Piterberg, Gabriel, ‘Can the Subaltern remember? A pessimistic view of the victims of Zionism’, in U. Makdisi and P. A. Silverstein (eds), Memory and Violence in the Middle East and North Africa (Bloomington, Indianapolis, IN, 2006), p. 177. 129. Benvenisti, Sacred Landscape, p. 5. 130. Piterberg, ‘Can the Subaltern remember?’, p. 182.

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131. Piterberg, ‘Can the Subaltern remember?’, p. 184. 132. Ra’ad, Basem, Hidden Histories: Palestine and the Eastern Mediterranean (London, 2010), p. 176. 133. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 7 February 2007. 134. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 27 January 2007. 135. PalestineRemembered.com. 136. Benvenisti, Sacred Landscape, p. 8. 137. Quoted in Bresheeth, ‘The continuity of trauma and struggle’, p. 169. 138. Interview, Rashidiyya camp, Tyre, 5 June 2003. 139. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 3 June 2006. 140. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 27 January 2007. 141. Boym, ‘Nostalgia and its discontents’, p. 456. 142. Peteet, Julie, Landscape of Hope and Despair: Palestinian Refugee Camps (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005), pp. 142 –3. 143. Peteet, Landscape of Hope and Despair, p. 94. 144. Interview, Beirut, 29 January 2007. 145. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 1 February 2007. 146. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 1 February 2007. 147. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 4 June 2003. 148. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 1 February 2007. 149. Quoted in Sayigh, ‘Remembering mothers, forming daughters’, p. 69. 150. Umm Marwan, born in 1938 in a small village near Akka, quoted by Sayigh, ‘Remembering mothers, forming daughters’, p. 69. 151. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 10 July 2011. 152. Interview, Baddawi camp, Tripoli, 12 July 2011. 153. Interview, Kasmiyye camp, southern Lebanon, 31 January 2007. 154. Zaatari, Mohammed, ‘UN aims to raise living conditions in Ain al-Hilweh’, Daily Star, 4 May 2007. 155. UNRWA, ‘Camp Improvement Initiative for Palestine Refugees in Lebanon’, Press Conference, Grand Serail, Beirut, 1 November 2006. 156. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 3 June 2006. 157. Interview, Kasmiyye camp, near Tyre, 31 January 2007. 158. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 3 June 2006. 159. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 2 June 2006. 160. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 3 June 2006. 161. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 2 June 2006. 162. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 2 June 2006. 163. Khalili, ‘Grass-roots commemorations’, p. 14. 164. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 4 February 2007.

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165. Farah, Randa, ‘Out of the shadows: Listening to place-based narratives of Palestinian women’, in W. Harcourt, and A. Escobar (eds), Women and the Politics of Place (Bloomfield, CT, 2005), p. 210. 166. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 27 January 2007. 167. Quoted in Serhan, Bassem, and Tabari, Samia, ‘Palestinian refugee children and caregivers in Lebanon’, in D. Chatty and G. Lewando Hundt (eds), Children of Palestine: Experiencing Forced Migration in the Middle East (New York, NY, Oxford, 2005), p. 48. 168. Quoted in Serhan and Tabari, ‘Palestinian refugee children and caregivers in Lebanon’, p. 48. 169. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 1 February 2007. 170. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 2 June 2006. 171. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 2 June 2006. 172. Interview, Sidon, 7 June 2006. 173. Interview, Gaza Building, Sabra, Beirut, 25 January 2007. 174. Interview, Ain el-Hilwe camp, Sidon, 3 February 2007. 175. Quoted in Lancaster, Pat, ‘Picking up the pieces’, The Middle East CI (March 1983). 176. Interview, Beirut, 29 January 2007. 177. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 24 July 2007. 178. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 24 July 2007. 179. Fattah, Hassan M., and Bakri, Nada, ‘Dozens slain as Lebanese army fights Islamists’, New York Times, 21 May 2007. 180. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 24 July 2007. 181. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 24 July 2007. 182. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 24 July 2007. 183. Peteet, Landscape of Hope and Despair, p. 101. 184. Anderson, Brooke, ‘Syria’s Palestinians find haven in Lebanon’, Daily Star, 30 November 2012. 185. Quoted in Lancaster, ‘Picking up the pieces’. 186. Peteet, Landscape of Hope and Despair, p. 43. 187. Alexander, quoted in Eyerman, Ron, ‘The past in the present: Culture and the transmission of memory’, in J. K. Olick, V. Vinitzky-Seroussi and D. Levy (eds), The Collective Memory Reader (Oxford, 2011), p. 304. 188. Interview, Baddawi camp, Tripoli, 12 July 2011. 189. Khalili, ‘Grass-roots commemorations’, p. 18. 190. The film, Children of Shatila, was made by Palestinian – Lebanese film-maker Mai Masri in 1998. 191. Interview, Mar Elias camp, 30 January 2007. 192. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 4 February 2007. 193. Interview, Beirut, 29 January 2007.

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194. Qassem, Qassem, ‘Lebanon in the eyes of Palestinian refugees’, Al Akhbar English, http://english.al-akhbar.com, 24 November 2011. 195. Schulz, Helena Lindholm, with Hammer, Juliane, The Palestinian Diaspora: Formation of Identities and Politics of Homeland (London, 2003), p. 118. 196. Baskin, Gershon, ‘A new Palestinian narrative’, The Jerusalem Post, 21 February 2005.

Chapter 4 1. Fisk, Robert, Pity the Nation: Lebanon at War (Oxford, 1991), p. 20. 2. Dr Sareh Nasser, a lecturer at Amman University, recalling how his family left the village of Lifta near Jerusalem (quoted in McDowall, David, The Palestinians, London, 1987, p. 4). 3. The UN estimates that between 750,000 and 900,000 Palestinian Arabs fled or were expelled from their homeland to neighbouring areas; approximately 100,000 crossed the northern border into Lebanon. According to UNRWA (31 December 2007), there are now 413,962 Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA in Lebanon; of these, the majority reside in 12 camps scattered throughout the country. 4. Gilmour, David, Dispossessed: The Ordeal of the Palestinians (London, 1980), p. 19. 5. Palestinian Center for the Study of Nonviolence, Palestine Today (Washington, DC, 1990). 6. Khalidi, Rashid, The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood (Oxford, 2006), p. xxxi. 7. Ra’ad, Basem, Hidden Histories: Palestine and the Eastern Mediterranean (London, 2010), p. 8. 8. Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty, ‘Can the subaltern speak?’ in B. Ashcroft, G. Griffiths and H. Tiffin (eds), The Post-Colonial Studies Reader (London, New York, NY, 2006), p. 32. 9. Karmi, Ghada (1999), ‘After the Nakba: An experience of exile in England’, Journal of Palestine Studies XXVIII/3 (1999), p. 40. 10. Amit, Zalman, and Levit, Daphna, Israeli Rejectionism: A Hidden Agenda in the Middle East Peace Process (London, 2011), p. 25. 11. Ra’ad, Hidden Histories, p. 131. 12. Ra’ad, Hidden Histories, p. 124. 13. McDowall, The Palestinians, p. 9. 14. Under the United Nations Partition Plan, the Arabs were to be awarded 43 per cent of the land area of Palestine, despite the fact that the Jewish population at that time was less than one-third of the total and owned only 8 per cent of the land. 15. McDowall, The Palestinians, p. 10. 16. Amit and Levit, Israeli Rejectionism, p. 28.

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17. Massad, Joseph A., The Persistence of the Palestinian Question: Essays on Zionism and the Palestinians (London, 2006), p. 1; see also Ra’ad, Hidden Histories, and Pappe, Ilan, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Oxford, 2006). 18. Quoted in Gilmour, Dispossessed, p. 41. 19. Deutscher, Tamara, The Non-Jewish Jew and Other Essays (New York, NY, 1968), p. 118. 20. Shlaim, Avi, Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations (London, 2009), p. 56. 21. Amit and Levit, Israeli Rejectionism, p. 25. 22. Masalha, Nur, Expulsion of the Palestinians: The Concept of Transfer in Zionist Political Thought, 1882– 1948 (Washington DC, 1992), p. 19. 23. Quoted in Flapan, Simha, Zionism and the Palestinians (London, 1979), p. 131. 24. Philo, Greg, and Berry, Mike, More Bad News from Israel (London, 2011), p. 34. 25. Benvenisti, Meron, Sacred Landscape: The Buried History of the Holy Land Since 1948 (Berkeley, CA, 2000), p. 142. 26. Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. 27. Spivak, ‘Can the subaltern speak?’, p. 32. 28. Interview, Beirut, 25 February 2003. 29. Fleischmann, Ellen L., The Nation and its ‘New’ Women: The Palestinian Women’s Movement 1920 – 1948 (Berkeley, CA, 2003), p. 4. 30. Fleischmann, The Nation and its ‘New’ Women, p. 4. 31. Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Nadera, Militarization and Violence against Women in Conflict Zones in the Middle East: A Palestinian Case Study (Cambridge, 2009), p. 11. 32. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne, Beirut, 4 June 2003. 33. Interview, Kasmiye camp, near Tyre, 31 May 2003. 34. Interview, Kasmiye camp, near Tyre, 31 May 2003. 35. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 27 January 2007. 36. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 2 June 2006. 37. Interview, Sidon, 7 June 2006. 38. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 3 June 2006. 39. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 1 February 2007. 40. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 4 February 2007. 41. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 4 February 2007. 42. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 4 February 2007. 43. Quoted in Amit and Levit, Israeli Rejectionism, p. 29. 44. Interview, Baddawi camp, Tripoli, 12 July 2011. 45. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 27 January 2007. 46. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 7 February 2007. 47. Interview, Beirut, 6 June 2003. 48. Interview, Baddawi camp, Tripoli, 12 July 2011.

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49. Quoted in Matar, Dina, What it Means to be Palestinian: Stories of Palestinian Peoplehood (London, 2011), pp. 96– 97. 50. Hammami, Rema, ‘Gender, nakbe and nation: Palestinian women’s presence and absence in the narration of 1948 memories’, Review of Women’s Studies II (2004), p. 30. 51. Said, Edward, ‘Reflections on exile’, in R. Ferguson, M. Gever, T. T. Minh-ha and C. West (eds), Out There: Marginalization and Contemporary Cultures (New York, NY, Cambridge, MA, 1990), p. 362. 52. Colla, Elliott, ‘Sentimentality and redemption: The rhetoric of Egyptian pop culture intifada solidarity’, in R. L. Stein and T. Swedenburg (eds), Palestine, Israel, and the Politics of Popular Culture (Durham, NC, London, 2005), p. 352. 53. Bhabha, Homi K., ‘Introduction: Narrating the nation’, in H. K. Bhabha (ed.), Nation and Narration (London, 1990), p. 1. 54. Sa’di, Ahmed, ‘Reflections on representation, history, and moral accountability’, in A. Sa’di and L. Abu-Lughod (eds), Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory (New York, NY, 2007), p. 298. 55. Ben-Gurion, quoted in Morris, Benny, Righteous Victims: A History of the ZionistArab Conflict, 1881 – 1999 (New York, 2001), p. 186. 56. Khalidi, The Iron Cage, p. xxxiii. 57. Quandt, William B., ‘Israeli – Palestinian peace talks: From Oslo to Camp David II’, in T. Cofman Wittes (ed.), How Israelis and Palestinians Negotiate: A CrossCultural Analysis of the Oslo Peace Process (Washington DC, 2005), p. 15. 58. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 1 February 2007. 59. Interview, Beirut, 6 June 2003. 60. Quoted by Fisk, Pity the Nation, p. 38. 61. Interview, Rashidiyya camp, Tyre, 31 January 2007. 62. Interview, Sidon, 7 June 2006. 63. According to Palestinian academic Salman Abu-Sitta (1998), massacres took place al-Abbasiyya (4 May 1948), Abu Shusha (14 May 1948), Ayn az Zaytun (2 May 1948), Balad ash Sheikh (25 April 1948), Bayt Daras (21 May 1948), Beer Sheba (21 October 1948), Burayr (12 May 1948), al Dawayima (29 October 1948), Eilaboun (29 October 1948), Haifa (21 April 1948), Hawwassa (25 April 1948), Husayniyya (21 April 1948), Ijzim (24 July 1948), Isdud (28 October 1948), Jish (29 October 1948), al Kabri (21 May 1948), al Khisas (18 December 1947), Khubbayza (12 May 1948), Lydda (10 July 1948), Majd al Kurum (29 October 1948), Mansura al Khayt (18 January 1948), Nasir ad Din, Khirbet (12 April 1948), Qazaza (9 July 1948), Qisarya (15 February 1948), Sa’sa (30 October 1948), Safsaf (29 October 1948), Saliha (30 October 1948), Arab al Samniyya (30 October 1948), al Tantoura (21 May 1948), al Tira (Haifa) (16 July 1948), al Wa’ra al-Sawda (18 April 1948), Wadi Ara (27 February 1948). 64. Shaaban, Bouthaina, Both Right and Left Handed: Arab Women Talk About Their Lives (London, 1988), p. 133. 65. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 2 June 2006.

Notes 66. 67. 68. 69. 70. 71. 72. 73. 74. 75. 76. 77. 78. 79.

80. 81. 82. 83. 84. 85.

86.

87. 88. 89. 90.

91.

247

Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 3 June 2006. Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, p. 90. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 1 February 2007. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 7 February 2007. Morris, Benny, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947 – 1949 (Cambridge, 1987), pp. 113 – 14. Quoted in Alternative Tourism Group, Palestine and the Palestinians: A Guidebook (Beit Sahour, 2003), p. 147. Benvenisti, Sacred Landscape, p. 114. Palumbo, Michael, The Palestinian Catastrophe: The 1948 Expulsion of a People from their Homeland (London, New York, NY, 1987), p. 48. Kanaana, Sharif, Still On Vacation! The Eviction of the Palestinians in 1948 (Jerusalem, 2000), p. 146 – 7. Benvenisti, Sacred Landscape, p. 248. Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, p. 90. Palumbo, The Palestinian Catastrophe, p. 54. Slyomovics, Susan, ‘The rape of Qula, a destroyed Palestinian village’, in A. Sa’di and L. Abu-Lughod (eds), Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory (New York, NY 2007), p. 35. Shavit, Ari, ‘Survival of the fittest’, Ha’aretz, 9 January 2004. Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, p. 211. Warnock, Kitty, Land before Honour: Palestinian Women in the Occupied Territories (Basingstoke, 1990), p. 23. Whitehead, Anne, ‘Trauma: Introduction’, in M. Rossington and A. Whitehead (eds), Theories of Memory: A Reader (Edinburgh, 2007), p. 188. Palumbo, The Palestinian Catastrophe, p. 54. Humphries, Isabelle, and Khalili, Laleh, ‘Gender and nakba memory’, in A. Sa’di and L. Abu-Lughod (eds), Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory (New York, NY, 2007), p. 213. Abdo, Nahla, ‘Nationalism and feminism: Palestinian women and the intifada – no going back?’ in V. M. Moghadam (ed.), Gender and National Identity: Women and Politics in Muslim Societies (London, 1994), p. 54. Interview, Ramallah, West Bank, 18 June 2007. Interview, Sidon, 7 June 2006. Peteet, Julie, Gender in Crisis: Women and the Palestinian Resistance Movement (New York, NY, 1991), p. 37. Epstein, Yitzhak, quoted in Dowty, Alan, ‘A question that outweighs all others: Yitzhak Epstein and Zionist recognition of the Arab issue’, Israel Studies VI/1 (2001), p. 41. Interview, Beirut, 25 February 2003.

248 92. 93. 94. 95. 96. 97. 98. 99. 100. 101. 102. 103. 104.

105. 106. 107. 108. 109. 110. 111. 112.

113. 114. 115. 116. 117. 118. 119. 120. 121.

Women and Conflict in the Middle East Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 3 June 2003. Interview, Bourj el-Shemali camp, Tyre, 14 July 2011. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 3 June 2006. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 27 January 2007. Interview, Ain el-Hilwe camp, Sidon, 3 February 2007. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 1 February 2007. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 1 February 2007. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 7 February 2007. Interview, Ain el-Hilwe camp, Sidon, 3 February 2007. Interview, Ain el-Hilwe camp, Sidon, 7 June 2006. Humphries and Khalili, ‘Gender and nakba memory’, p. 208. Khalaf, Samir, Beirut Reclaimed: Reflections on Urban Design and the Restoration of Civility (Beirut, 1993), p. 96. Sayigh, Rosemary, and Peteet, Julie, ‘Between two fires: Palestinian women in Lebanon’, in R. Ridd, and H. Callaway, Caught up in Conflict: Women’s Responses to Political Strife (Basingstoke, 1986), pp. 108 – 9. Turki, Fawaz, The Disinherited (New York, NY, 1972), p. 40. Interview, Beirut, 6 June 2003. Peteet, Gender in Crisis, p. 24. Mikdadi, Lina, Surviving the Siege of Beirut: A Personal Account (London, 1983), p. 139. Khaled, Leila, edited by George Hajjar, My People Shall Live: The Autobiography of a Revolution (London, 1973), p. 28. Slackman, Michael, and Bronner, Ethan, ‘Trapped by Gaza Blockade, locked in despair’, New York Times, 13 July 2010. McDowall, The Palestinians, p. 11. Korac, Maja, ‘War, flight, and exile: Gendered violence among refugee women from post-Yugoslav States’, in W. Giles and J. Hyndman (eds), Sites of Violence: Gender and Conflict Zones (Berkeley, Los Angeles, CA, 2004), p. 271. Kassem, Fatma, Palestinian Women: Narrative Histories and Gendered Memory (London, 2011), p. 198. Interview, Beirut, 3 June 2003. Interview, Kasmiye camp, near Tyre, 31 May 2003. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 4 February 2007. Interview, Ain el-Hilwe camp, Sidon, 3 February 2007. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut 1 February 2007. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut 1 February 2007. Peteet, Julie, Landscape of Hope and Despair: Palestinian Refugee Camps (Philadelphia, 2005), p. 111. Peteet, Gender in Crisis, p. 27.

Notes

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122. Peteet, Gender in Crisis, p. 35. 123. Davis, Rochelle, ‘Mapping the past, re-creating the homeland: Memories of village places in pre-1948 Palestine’, in A. Sa’di and L. Abu-Lughod (eds), Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory (New York, NY, 2007), p. 54. 124. Davis, ‘Mapping the past, re-creating the homeland’, p. 54. 125. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 3 June 2006. 126. Sayigh, Rosemary, ‘Remembering mothers, forming daughters: Palestinian women’s narratives in refugee camps in Lebanon’, in N. Abdo and R. Lentin (eds), Women and the Politics of Military Confrontation (New York, NY, Oxford, 2002), p. 60. 127. Sayigh, ‘Remembering mothers, forming daughters’, p. 61. 128. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 2 June 2006. 129. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 27 January 2007. 130. Interview, Baddawi camp, Tripoli, 12 July 2011. 131. Sayigh and Peteet, ‘Between two fires’, p. 110. 132. Interview, Rashidiyya camp, Tyre, 14 July 2011. 133. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 4 June 2003. 134. Philo and Berry, More Bad News from Israel, 5.9. 135. Milton-Edwards, Beverley, The Israeli– Palestinian Conflict: A People’s War (London, 2009), p. 132. 136. Shiblak, Abbas, ‘Palestinians in Lebanon and the PLO’, Journal of Refugee Studies X/3 (September 1997), p. 267. 137. Kadi, Leila S., Basic Political Documents of the Armed Palestinian Resistance Movement (Beirut, 1969), pp. 137 – 42. 138. Milton-Edwards, The Israeli– Palestinian Conflict, p. 134. 139. Sayigh, Yezid, Armed Struggle and the Search for State: The Palestinian National Movement, 1949 –1993 (Oxford, 1997), p. 183 –4. 140. Peteet, Landscape of Hope and Despair, pp. 6– 7. 141. Cobban, Helena, The Palestinian Liberation Organisation: People, Power and Politics (Cambridge, 1984), pp. 47– 8. 142. Peteet, Julie, ‘Icons and militants: Mothering in the danger zone’, in T. Saliba, C. Allen and J. A. Howard (eds), Gender, Politics and Islam (Chicago, IL, London, 2002), p. 139. 143. Matar, What it Means to be Palestinian, p. 94. 144. El Khazen, Farid, The Breakdown of the State in Lebanon 1967 –1976 (London, 2000), p. 140. 145. Philo and Berry, More Bad News from Israel, pp. 64 – 5. 146. Khalidi, The Iron Cage, p. 176. 147. Khalili, Laleh, Heroes and Martyrs of Palestine: The Politics of National Commemoration (Cambridge, 2007), p. 50. 148. Peteet, Landscape of Hope and Despair, p. 8.

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149. Sayigh, Rosemary, Too Many Enemies: The Palestinian Experience in Lebanon (London & New Jersey, 1994), p. 19. 150. Matar, What it Means to be Palestinian, p. 94. 151. Peteet, Gender in Crisis, p. 102. 152. Peteet, Gender in Crisis, p. 36. 153. Sayigh, Too Many Enemies, p. 108. 154. Peteet, Gender in Crisis, p. 117. 155. Interview with Afaf Younis, Chief Education Officer, UNRWA, Beirut, 8 February 2007. 156. Cockburn, Cynthia, The Space Between Us: Negotiating Gender and National Identities in Conflict (London, 1998), p. 8. 157. Fleischmann, The Nation and its ‘New’ Women, p. 11. 158. Abu-Lughod, Lila (ed.), Remaking Women: Feminism and Modernity in the Middle East (Princeton, NJ, 1998), p. viii.

Chapter 5 1. Mikdadi Tabbara, Lina, Survival in Beirut: A Diary of Civil War (1979). 2. Although the Israelis withdrew from southern Lebanon in May 2000, they remain in the Shaaba Farms (Shebaa Farms) area, which the Lebanese claim is part of Lebanon and the Israelis claim is part of the Syrian Golan Heights, occupied by Israel since 1967. Lebanese resistance activities are continuing in this area. 3. The National Pact of 1943 ‘sought to define the balance between Christian and Muslim concerns [ . . . ]. It stipulated that Lebanon should remain independent and bound neither by its European nor its Arab ties, with Christian Lebanese respecting Lebanon’s Arab character and refraining from any alliance or protection from a Western power, whilst Muslims in return would agree to accept Lebanese sovereignty and refrain from any attempt to integrate Lebanon into a wider Arab or Islamic state’ (McDowall, David, The Palestinians (London, 1987), p. 11). 4. Hudson, Michael C., Arab Politics: The Search for Legitimacy (New Haven, 1977), p. 286. 5. Salame, Ghassan, ‘“Strong” and “weak” states: A qualified return to the Muqaddimah’, in G. Luciani (ed.), The Arab State (London, 1990), p. 47. 6. Salame, ‘“Strong” and “weak” states’, p. 48. 7. Khalaf, Samir, Beirut Reclaimed: Reflections on Urban Design and the Restoration of Civility (Beirut, 1993), p. 79. 8. Salibi, Kamal, A House of Many Mansions: The History of Lebanon Reconsidered (London: I.B.Tauris, 1988), p. 180. 9. Khalaf, Beirut Reclaimed, p. 87. 10. Cooke, Miriam, Women Write War: The Centring of the Beirut Decentrists, Papers on Lebanon, Volume 6 (Oxford, 1987), p. 3.

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11. Ghoussoub, Mai, Leaving Beirut: Women and the Wars Within (London, 1998), p. 19. 12. Khalaf, Samir, Lebanon Adrift: From Battleground to Playground (London, 2012), p. 80. 13. Cooke, Women Write War, p. 3. 14. Khalaf, Samir, Civil and Uncivil Violence in Lebanon: A History of the Internationalization of Communal Conflict (New York, NY, 2002), p. xi. 15. Ghoussoub, Leaving Beirut, p. 19. 16. Cooke, Miriam, War’s Other Voices: Women Writers on the Lebanese Civil War (Cambridge, 1988), p. 123. 17. Kaldor, Mary, ‘Armageddon myths’, New Statesman, 26 May 2003. 18. Steans, Jill, Gender and International Relations: An Introduction (Cambridge, 1998), p. 99. 19. Morgan, David H. J., ‘Masculinity and violence’, in J. Hanmer and M. Maynard (eds), Women, Violence and Social Control (Basingstoke, 1987), p. 181. 20. Callaway, Helen, ‘Survival and support: Women’s forms of political action’, in R. Ridd and H. Callaway (eds), Caught Up in Conflict: Women’s Responses to Political Strife (Basingstoke, London, 1986), p. 216. 21. Callaway, ‘Survival and support’. 22. Morgan, Robin, The Demon Lover: The Roots of Terrorism (New York, NY, 1989). 23. Peteet, Julie, ‘Icons and militants: Mothering in the danger zone’, in T. Saliba, C. Allen and J. A. Howard (eds), Gender, Politics and Islam (Chicago, IL, London, 2002), p. 137. 24. Sayigh, Rosemary, ‘Greater insecurity for refugees in Lebanon’, Middle East Report Online, 1 March 2000, p. 216. 25. Mayer, Tamar, ‘Heightening Palestinian nationalism: Military occupation, repression, difference and gender’, in T. Mayer, Women and the Israeli Occupation: The Politics of Change (London, New York, NY, 1994), p. 63. 26. Jefferson, LaShawn R., ‘In war as in peace: Sexual violence and women’s status’, in Human Rights Watch (New York, NY, 2004), p. 2. 27. Vickers, Jeanne, Women and War (London, 1993), p. 106. 28. Peteet, ‘Icons and militants’, p. 147. 29. Interview, Ain el-Hilwe camp, Sidon, 7 June 2003. 30. Interview, Rashidiyya camp, Tyre, 5 June 2003. 31. Interview, Rashidiyya camp, Tyre, 5 June 2003. 32. Peteet, ‘Icons and militants’, p. 144. 33. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 10 July 2011. 34. Vickers, Women and War, p. 106. 35. Steans, Gender and International Relations, p. 99. 36. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 10 July 2011. 37. McDowall, The Palestinians, p. 14.

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38. Khalaf, Civil and Uncivil Violence in Lebanon. 39. Genet, Jean, ‘Four hours in Shatila’, in J. Murphy (ed.), For Palestine (New York, NY, 1993), p. 26. 40. Interview, Beirut, 29 May 2003. 41. Interview, Kasmiyya camp, southern Lebanon, 31 May 2003. 42. Ajami, Fouad, The Arab Predicament: Arab Political Thought and Practice Since 1967 (Cambridge, 1981), p. 142. 43. Ajami, The Arab Predicament, p. 146. 44. Khalaf, Civil and Uncivil Violence in Lebanon, p. xii. 45. Khalaf, Civil and Uncivil Violence in Lebanon, p. xvi. 46. Khalaf, Civil and Uncivil Violence in Lebanon, p. 18; El Khazen, Farid, The Breakdown of the State in Lebanon 1967 –1976 (London, 2000). 47. Peteet, Julie, ‘Socio-political integration and conflict resolution in the Palestinian camps of Lebanon’, Journal of Palestine Studies XVI/2 (Winter 1987), pp. 34 –5. 48. Sayigh, Rosemary, ‘Remembering mothers, forming daughters: Palestinian women’s narratives in refugee camps in Lebanon’, in N. Abdo and R. Lentin (eds), Women and the Politics of Military Confrontation (New York, NY, Oxford, 2002), p. 64. 49. Cockburn, Cynthia, ‘Militarism and war’, in L. J. Shepherd (ed.), Gender Matters in Global Politics: A Feminist Introduction to International Relations (London, 2010), p. 108. 50. Cockburn, ‘Militarism and war’, p. 210. 51. Interview, Sidon, 7 June 2006. 52. The Kata’ib militia are a Maronite Phalange group, associated with the Gemayel family. 53. McDowall, The Palestinians, p. 15. 54. Peteet, ‘Icons and militants’, p. 143 – 4. 55. Nabatieh camp in southern Lebanon was bombed and destroyed by the Israelis between 1971 and 1973; between 1975 and 1976, Tal el-Zaatar and Jisr el-Basha camps were destroyed as a result of the civil war. 56. Interview, Gaza Building, Sabra, Beirut, 27 January 2007. 57. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 7 February 2007. 58. Mouna, working with the Palestine Women’s Union in southern Lebanon, quoted by Bendt, Ingela, and Downing, James, translated from Swedish by Ann Henning, We Shall Return: Women of Palestine (London, 1982), p. 108. 59. Interview, Bourj el-Shemali camp, Tyre, 14 July 2011. 60. Peteet, Julie, Gender in Crisis: Women and the Palestinian Resistance Movement (New York, NY, 1991), p. 28. 61. Interview, Beirut, 6 June 2006. 62. Translated from recordings of mourning women made by ABC News in the wake of the Sabra and Shatila massacre, September 1982.

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63. Israeli army lieutenant Baabda, Lebanon, 16 June 1982, quoted by Fisk, Robert, Pity the Nation: Lebanon at War (Oxford, 1991), p. 199. 64. Interview, Ain el-Hilwe camp, Sidon, 7 June 2003. 65. Interview, Kasmiye camp, near Tyre, 31 May 2003. 66. Interview, Ain el-Hilwe camp, Sidon, 7 June 2003. 67. In a short film, The Story of Sara made in 2003 about the Al-Aqsa intifada in the West Bank and Gaza Strip seen through the eyes of a young girl, a constant motif running through the film is of women and girls hanging washing up to dry, as if the timeless activity of pegging clothes on a line might provide reassurance. 68. Al-Ansar prison camp was a detention centre in southern Lebanon. It was set up by the Israeli Defence Forces during their 1982 invasion of Lebanon. It was believed that the camp housed anywhere from 6,000 to 9,000 Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners in mid-July 1982. Although 212 children were released to the International Committee of the Red Cross on 18 July, new detainees continued to arrive at the camp throughout July and into August (Tucker, Judith, ‘The prisoners of Israel’, Middle East Report (MERIP) CVIII (September 1982), pp. 55 – 7). 69. Interview, Ain el-Hilwe camp, Sidon, 7 June 2003. 70. Interview, Baddawi camp, Tripoli, 12 July 2011. 71. Interview, Rashidiyya camp, Tyre, 14 July 2011. 72. Interview, Rashidiyya camp, Tyre, 5 June 2003. 73. Interview, Rashidiyya camp, Tyre, 5 June 2003. 74. Interview, Ain el-Hilwe camp, Sidon, 3 February 2007. 75. Interview, Ain el-Hilwe camp, Sidon, 7 June 2003. 76. Interview, Ain el-Hilwe camp, Sidon, 7 June 2003. 77. Sayigh, Rosemary, Too Many Enemies: The Palestinian Experience in Lebanon (London, New Jersey, NJ, 1994), p. 203. 78. Interview, Ain el-Hilwe camp, Sidon, 7 June 2003. 79. Sayigh, ‘Remembering mothers, forming daughters’, p. 61. 80. Peteet, Julie, ‘Male gender and rituals of resistance in the Palestinian “intifada”: A cultural politics of violence’, American Ethnologist XXI (1994), p. 42. 81. Interview, Ain el-Hilwe camp, Sidon, 7 June 2003. 82. Peteet, ‘Male gender and rituals of resistance in the Palestinian “intifada”’, p. 41. 83. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 4 June 2003. 84. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 4 June 2003. 85. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 4 June 2003. 86. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 3 June 2003. 87. Quoted in Chomsky, Noam, The Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel and the Palestinians (London, 1999), p. 229. 88. Interview, Beirut, 6 June 2003.

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89. Dr Amal Shamma, who worked at the Barbir Hospital in Beirut and tried to provide basic treatment for the wounded during the siege of Beirut, quoted in Mikdadi, Lina, Surviving the Siege of Beirut: A Personal Account (London, 1983), p. 62. 90. Genet, ‘Four hours in Shatila’, p. 31. 91. Gandhi, Mahatma, Speech at Delhi Provincial Political Conference, 2 July 1947. Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, vol. 88, p. 263. 92. There have been various estimates of the number of dead, from a few hundred to over four thousand. On the basis of careful research, Bayan Nuwayhed alHout (Sabra and Shatila: September 1982, London: Pluto Press, 2004) estimates the final death toll 3,500. 93. Al-Shaikh, Zakaria, ‘Sabra and Shatila 1982: Resisting the massacre’, Journal of Palestine Studies XIV/1, p. 73. 94. Quoted in al-Hout, Sabra and Shatila, p. 107. 95. Interview, Beirut, 1 February 2007. 96. The Women’s Court: The Permanent Arab Court to Resist Violence Against Women, Testimonies from Public Hearings held on 29 – 30 June 1995. 97. Interview, Gaza Building, Sabra, Beirut, 25 January 2007. 98. Saad Haddad was commander of the South Lebanon Army, a force created and financed by Israel and much feared by the Palestinians. The South Lebanon Army was disbanded after the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000. 99. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 27 January 2007. 100. Interview, Ain el-Hilwe camp, Sidon, 3 February 2007. 101. Ariel Sharon was the Israeli minister of defence at the time of the massacres. In a report issued on 8 February 1983, the Kahan Commission, set up by the government of Israel to investigate the killings at Sabra and Shatila, ruled that Israel bore ‘indirect responsibility’ for the massacre. Sharon was found to be responsible for ignoring the danger of bloodshed and revenge when he approved the entry of the ‘Phalangists’ into the camps and it was recommended that he should resign. 102. Abu Roudeina, Shahira, The Sabra and Shatila Massacres: Testimonies and Eyewitness Accounts, from a complaint lodged in Belgium against Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Amos Yaron and other Israelis and Lebanese responsible for the massacre. 103. Khalife, Jamila Mohammed, The Sabra and Shatila Massacres: Testimonies and Eyewitness Accounts. 104. al-Jamal, Nazek Abdel Rahman, The Sabra and Shatila Massacres: Testimonies and Eyewitness Accounts. 105. Nasser, Nadima Yousef Said, The Sabra & Shatila Massacres: Testimonies and Eyewitness Accounts. 106. Asser, Martin, ‘Sabra and Shatila 20 years on’, BBC News, 14 September 2002. 107. Anonymous, ‘The fight for survival in Chatila’, Middle East International, 16 September 1983.

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108. al-Hout, Sabra and Shatila, p. 228. 109. Ussama Makdisi and Paul A. Silverstein (eds), Memory and Violence in the Middle East and North Africa (Bloomington, Indianapolis, IN, 2006), p. 16. 110. Peteet, Julie, Landscape of Hope and Despair: Palestinian Refugee Camps (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005), p. 203. 111. Interview, Beirut, June 2006. 112. Interview, Shatila camp, Beirut, February 2007. 113. Interview with Sigvardsson, n/d. 114. Cobban, Helena, The Palestinian Liberation Organisation: People, Power and Politics (Cambridge, 1984), p. 125. 115. Interview, Beirut, February 2003. 116. Mikdadi, Surviving the Siege of Beirut, p. 138. 117. Makdisi and Silverstein, Memory and Violence in the Middle East and North Africa, p. 15. 118. Hudson, Michael C., ‘Palestinians and Lebanon: The common story’, Journal of Refugee Studies X/3 (September 1997), p. 256. 119. Sayigh, Too Many Enemies, p. 1. 120. Abu Khalil, Asad, ‘The Palestinian-Shi’ite war in Lebanon: An examination of its origins’, in Third World Affairs (London, 1988), p. 77. 121. Khalaf, Civil and Uncivil Violence in Lebanon; El Khazen, The Breakdown of the State in Lebanon 1967 – 1976. 122. Badr, Liana, translated from Arabic by Samira Kawar, The Eye of the Mirror (Reading, 1991), pp. 108 – 9. 123. Peteet, 1995: 176. 124. Quoted by Serhan, Bassem, and Tabari, Samia, ‘Palestinian refugee children and caregivers in Lebanon’, in D. Chatty and G. Lewando Hundt (eds), Children of Palestine: Experiencing Forced Migration in the Middle East (New York, NY, Oxford, 2005), p. 39. 125. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 26 February 2003. This interview took place in the woman’s home. A number of other people were present, including one man, and it became a communal recollection. The narrator managed to inject a note of humour into her account. 126. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 24 February 2003. 127. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 2 June 2003. 128. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 24 February 2003. 129. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 1 February 2007. 130. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 4 February 2007. 131. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 7 February 2007. 132. Interview Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 3 June 2006. 133. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 9 June 2003. 134. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 1 February 2007.

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135. 136. 137. 138. 139. 140. 141. 142. 143. 144. 145. 146. 147.

Interview, Kasmiye camp, near Tyre, 31 May 2003. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 3 June 2003. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 10 July 2011. Interviews, Ain el-Hilwe camp, Sidon, 7 June 2003. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 4 June 2003. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 9 June 2003. Interview, Mar Elias camp, Beirut, 30 January 2007. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 4 June 2003. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 3 June 2003. Interview, Beirut, 3 June 2003. Cobban, The Palestinian Liberation Organisation, p. 124. Abou Fadi Hammad, a camp leader in Mar Elias camp, Beirut. Quoted in Khouri, Rami, ‘Foreword’, in D. E. Arzt, Refugees into Citizens: Palestinians and the End of the Arab-Israeli Conflict (New York, NY, 1997), p. 28. 148. The speaker of these words, Munir Muhammad, is the brother of the young boy who managed to get to the hospital, only to be murdered later by Lebanese militia members (al-Hout, Sabra and Shatila, p. 228). 149. Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Nadera, ‘My Voice . . . and the Deaf/D Zone’, in Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies, Of War, Siege, and Lebanon: Women’s Voices from the Middle East and South Asia, September 2006, p. 13. 150. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 2 June 2006.

Chapter 6 1. Abbas, Mahmoud, Speech to Parliament, November 2004. 2. Bush, President George W., H.Con.Res.460 (108th): ‘Regarding the security of Israel and the principles of peace in the Middle East’, 108th Congress, 2003 – 2004. 3. Interview, Rashidiyya camp, Tyre, 31 January 2007. 4. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 27 January 2007. 5. Sayigh, Rosemary, ‘Gender, sexuality and class in national narrations: Palestinian camp women tell their lives’, in S. H. Armitage (ed.), with Patricia Hart and Karen Weathermon, Women’s Oral History (Lincoln, NA, and London, 2002), p. 318. 6. Silverstein, Paul A., and Makdisi, Ussama, ‘Introduction’, in U. Makdisi and P. A. Silverstein (eds), Memory and Violence in the Middle East and North Africa (Bloomington, Indianapolis, IN, 2006), p. 15. 7. Weighill, Marie-Louise, ‘Palestinians in Lebanon: The politics of assistance’, Journal of Refugee Studies X/3 (1997), p. 302.

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8. The Declaration of Principles (also known as the ‘Gaza/Jericho First’ proposals), signed in Washington by the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the government of Israel on 13 September 1993. 9. al-Hout, Shafiq, ‘A declaration of principles with absence of principles: Initial observations on “The Israeli-Palestinian Declaration of Principles”’, unpublished paper, October 1993. 10. Schulz, Helena Lindholm, with Hammer, Juliane, The Palestinian Diaspora: Formation of Identities and Politics of Homeland (London, 2003), p. 148. 11. al-Hout, Shafiq, ‘A declaration of principles with absence of principles’. 12. Interview, Mar Elias camp, Beirut, 5 June 2006. 13. Interview with Shafiq al-Hout, Beirut, 27 April 1994. 14. Amit, Zalman, and Levit, Daphna, Israeli Rejectionism: A Hidden Agenda in the Middle East Peace Process (London, 2011), p. 165. 15. Farah, Randa, ‘Palestinian refugee camps: Reinscribing and contesting memories of space’, in C. Strange and A. Bashford (eds), Isolation Places and Practices of Exclusion (London, 2003), p. 205. 16. Quoted in McCarthy, Rory, ‘Israeli troops fire on women in mosque siege’, Guardian, 4 November 2006. 17. Interview with a group of refugee women, Sidon, 7 June 2006. 18. Eid, Haidar, ‘Gaza 2009: Culture of resistance vs. defeat’, The Electronic Intifada, 11 February 2009. 19. Balousha, Hazem, and McGreal, Chris, ‘“There were shells, rockets everywhere”’, Guardian, 5 January 2009. Available at www.guardian.co.uk/ world/2009/jan/04/israelandthepalestinians-middleeast (accessed 17 July 2013). 20. Amnesty International, ‘Impunity for war crimes in Gaza and southern Israel a recipe for further civilian suffering’, 2 July 2009. 21. Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Annual Report, 2009. 22. Quoted in McCarthy, ‘Israeli troops fire on women in mosque siege’. 23. Interview, Kasmiyye camp, near Tyre, 31 January 2007. 24. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 27 January 2007. 25. Massad, Joseph, ‘Israel’s right to defend itself ’, The Electronic Intifada, 20 January 2009. 26. Quoted by Steele, Jonathan, ‘Refugees shelter among victims of earlier conflict’, Guardian, 26 July 2006. 27. Mahmoud, Olfat, Director of Women’s Humanitarian Organization, ‘Thousands isolated in a sea of destruction’, letter from Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 18 July 2006 (unpublished). 28. Interview, Beirut, 1 February 2007. 29. Ilkkaracan, Pinar, ‘Is there anybody out there? Our account of the war in the Middle East’, in Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies, Of War, Siege, and Lebanon: Women’s Voices from the Middle East and South Asia (September 2006), p. 8.

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30. Khalili, Laleh, ‘The refugees who give refuge’, The MIT Electronic Journal of Middle East Studies VI (Summer 2006), p. 63. 31. Meeting with members of the ‘Future Mothers’ project, Rashidiyya camp, Tyre, 5 June 2003. 32. Zakharia, Leila F., and Tabari, Samia, ‘Health, work opportunities and attitudes: A review of Palestinian women’s situation in Lebanon’, Journal of Refugee Studies X/3 (1997). 33. Zakharia and Tabari, ‘Health, work opportunities and attitudes’, p. 412. 34. Interview, Rashidiyya camp, Tyre, 31 January 2007. 35. Interview with a Palestinian Human Rights Organization representative, Beirut, 4 June 2003. 36. Interview, Rashidiyya camp, Tyre, 31 January 2007. 37. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 10 July 2011. 38. Interview with group of girls aged 13 –18 years, Kasmiyye camp, southern Lebanon, 31 January 2007. 39. Quoted in Mattar, Dina, What it Means to be Palestinian: Stories of Palestinian Peoplehood (London, 2011), p. 104. 40. Association Najdeh, n/d. 41. Sayigh, Rosemary, ‘Remembering mothers, forming daughters: Palestinian women’s narratives in refugee camps in Lebanon’, in N. Abdo and R. Lentin (eds), Women and the Politics of Military Confrontation (New York, NY, Oxford, 2002), p. 62. 42. Gluck, Sherna Berger, ‘Palestinian women: Gender politics and nationalism’, Journal of Palestine Studies XXIV/3 (Spring 1995), p. 7. 43. Interview, Rashidiyya camp, Tyre, 31 May 2003. 44. Interview, Kasmiyye camp, southern Lebanon, 31 January 2007. 45. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 1 February 2007. 46. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 2 June 2003. 47. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 4 June 2003. 48. Soueif, Ahdaf, ‘A project of dispossession can never be a noble cause’, Guardian, 17 November 2006. 49. Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Nadera (2011), ‘Counter-narratives of Palestinian women: The construction of her-story and the politics of fear’, in M. Ennaji and F. Sadiqi (eds), Gender and Violence in the Middle East (London, 2011), p. 42. 50. Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty, ‘Can the subaltern speak?’ in B. Ashcroft, G. Griffiths and H. Tiffin (eds), The Post-Colonial Studies Reader (London, New York, NY, 2006), p. 32. 51. Foucault, Michel, The History of Sexuality, Volume I: An Introduction (Paris, 1976). 52. Gluck, ‘Palestinian women’, p. 7. 53. Meeting with representative of Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 9 June 2003.

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54. Peteet, Julie, ‘Icons and militants: Mothering in the danger zone’, in T. Saliba, C. Allen and J. A. Howard (eds), Gender, Politics and Islam (Chicago, IL, London, 2002), p. 147. 55. Peteet, ‘Icons and militants’, p. 148. 56. According to Peteet, Umm Ali’s husband and five sons were shot by the Phalangists in the 1982 massacre, while she was forced to watch (Peteet, ‘Icons and militants’, p. 148). 57. Quoted in Peteet, ‘Icons and militants’, p. 148 – 9. 58. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 9 June 2003. 59. Fayyad, Ali, ‘Hizbullah Party in Lebanon and the Palestinian issue’, presentation at The Islamists of the Arab World and the Palestinian Issue in Light of the Arab Uprisings, organized by Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations, Beirut, 29 November 2012. 60. Anonymous, ‘Global actions mark Palestine’s Land Day’, Electronic Intifada, 1 April 2011. 61. BBC News, ‘Israeli forces open fire at Palestinian protesters’, BBC News, 16 May 2011. 62. Levy, Daniel, ‘Israel-Palestine: New pressures for peace’, in The Arab Spring: Implications for British Policy (London, October 2011). 63. McGreal, Chris, ‘Palestinian statehood: Plan emerges to avoid UN shutdown’, Guardian, 21 September 2011. 64. Karmi, Ghada, ‘A token state of Palestine’, Guardian, 24 September 2011. 65. Abdel-Shafi, Haidar, opening remarks, Madrid Peace Conference, October 1991. 66. Interview, Baddawi camp, Tripoli, 12 July 2011. 67. Interview, Hawwara, West Bank, 19 June 2007. 68. Sayigh, ‘Remembering mothers, forming daughters’, p. 57. 69. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 9 June 2003. 70. Allan, Diana, ‘Mythologising al-Nakba: Narratives, collective identity and cultural practice among Palestinian refugees in Lebanon’, Oral History XXXIII/1, p. 47.

Chapter 7 1. Quoted in Sayigh, Rosemary, Too Many Enemies: The Palestinian Experience in Lebanon (London, New Jersey, NJ, 1994), p. 3. 2. Hirst, David, The Gun and the Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East (London, 1977). 3. Crooke, Alastair, Resistance: The Essence of the Islamist Revolution (London, 2009), p. 2. 4. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 10 July 2011. 5. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 2 June 2006.

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6. Interview, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 3 June 2006. 7. Sayigh, Rosemary, ‘Palestinians in Lebanon: Harsh present, uncertain future’, Journal of Palestine Studies XXV/1 (Autumn 1995), p. 40. 8. Meeting with Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine representative, Bourj el-Barajne camp, Beirut, 9 June 2003. 9. Interview with Ali Barakeh, Hamas representative in Lebanon, Beirut, 29 November 2012. 10. Interview, Ali Barakeh, Beirut, 29 November 2012. 11. Umm Hasan, now in her late 80s, living in Rafah, Gaza Strip. Quoted in Almeghari, Rami ‘“Every day I dream of returning home”: A Nakba survivor speaks’, Electronic Intifada, 24 May 2012. 12. ‘Palestinian Refugee Surveys’ (2003), carried out by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, Ramallah, among refugees in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Lebanon and Jordan. 13. Interview, Rashidiyya Camp, Tyre, 5 June 2003. 14. Soueif, Ahdaf, ‘Mina’s banner: Edward Said and the Egyptian Revolution’, London Review of Books, 5 February 2012.

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Index Abbas, Mahmoud, 189, 194, 206, 207, 220 active silencing, 85, 86 activism, 3, 9, 11, 20, 23, 60, 70, 73, 104, 120, 127, 161, 187, 204, 208, 210, 216 agency, 8, 14, 22, 42, 43, 63, 70, 71, 73, 101, 119, 127, 128, 159, 188, 197, 204, 211, 214, 216, 217 Ain el-Hilwe camp, Sidon, 1, 2, 28, 39, 47 – 50, 57, 78 – 81, 115, 120, 130, 138, 143, 165, 168 – 170, 177, 184, 192, 194 – 196 Amal militia, 109, 215 camp sieges, 12, 30, 31, 57, 167, 180 – 185, 213 Amnesty International, 44, 194 Ansar prison, 32, 160, 169 Arab-Islamic society, 53 Arab-Muslim practices, 4 Arab-Muslim women, 8, 14, 70 Arab Peace Initiative (2002), 26 Arab revolutions (2011), 205 – 207, 220 Arafat, Yasser, 103, 147, 148, 180, 191 Association Najdeh, 20, 66, 67, 201 aydun (‘those who would return’), 6, 213 Ayn az-Zaytun massacre (1948), 194 Baddawi refugee camp, Tripoli, 1, 15, 27, 48, 69, 71, 72, 77, 86, 106, 111, 116 – 118, 130, 146, 169, 209 Badil, 17 Beit Hanoun (Gaza Strip), 194, 195 belonging/non-belonging, 2, 6, 7, 11, 12, 34, 45, 47, 83, 84, 86, 89, 90, 102, 107, 112–114, 117, 120, 142, 154,

national, 212 Ben-Gurion, David, 125, 126 Black September, 148 borders, 5, 9, 53, 97, 137, 200, 224n31 boundaries, 5, 6, 94, 187 biblical, 125 of female behaviour, 60 gender, 60 moral, 53 Bourj el-Barajne refugee camp (Beirut), 5, 27, 28, 30, 31, 37, 38, 46, 47, 53, 54, 61, 71, 74, 76, 80, 85, 87, 88, 90, 91, 93, 106, 108, 110–112, 114–116, 130, 133, 138, 143, 144, 161, 172, 176, 181–183, 186, 188, 189, 196, 202, 211, 216, 217 Bourj el-Shemali refugee camp (Tyre), 84, 87, 92, 114, 129, 136, 138, 165, 167, 194 Britain, 97, 125, 186 British, 127, 135, 138, 139, 144 army, 128 – 130 brutality, 151 colonial administration, 127 colonization, 129 government, 123, 124 Mandate, 90, 126 occupation of Palestine, 41, 151 parliamentary enquiry, 93 soldiers, 133, 136 Brown, Gordon, 97 Cairo Agreement, 148, 163 camp life, 22, 76, 84, 110, 114 checkpoints, 49, 84

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civil rights, 25, 28, 47, 64, 215, 219 contested spaces, 84, 118 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (1951), 26 coping mechanisms, 3, 8, 62, 120, 187, 216, 217 Corrie, Rachel, 15 cultural violence, 45, 214, 215 ‘days of revolution’, 150, 208 Deir Yassin massacre, 87, 133 –135 Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), 147, 184 deterritorialization, 99 diaspora, 97 –99, 106, 189, 208 Jewish, 125 dissent, 21, 53, 62 domestic violence, 23, 49, 62– 74, 145, 218 empowerment, 3, 85, 94, 159, 201, 205, 216, 220 erasure, 10, 85, 86, 109, 214 as violence, 107, 118 ethic of accountability, 17 ethnic cleansing, 127, 134, 135 ethnocentric universality, 16 exile, 2, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 20, 22, 32, 35, 37, 42, 70, 74, 75, 84, 86, 88, 89, 91– 93, 95, 97, 98, 100, 102, 103, 105, 108, 109, 119, 121, 124, 141, 144, 145, 148, 151, 178, 187, 190, 207, 213, 214, 217, 220 exiled mobility, 2 Fatah al-Islam, 1, 79, 116 Fateh party, 2, 80, 81, 147, 150, 170 fedayeen/fida’iyyin, 19, 59, 171, 180 feminism, 39, 151, 204, 205 feminist, 16, 17, 21, 44, 63, 127, 128, 150, 203 – 205 consciousness, 186 methodological approach, 19 Western, 41, 43, 52, 69, 100, 151 forced migration, 48, 85, 96, 97 Future Mothers project, 198, 199

Future TV, 67 Gaza Strip, 12, 19, 21, 34, 37, 39, 73, 75, 168, 186, 189, 191, 193, 194, 212, 219, 221 gender, 16, 17, 23, 33, 44, 45, 51, 60, 64, 107, 124, 142, 145, 147, 149, 157 –159, 162, 165, 170, 179, 184, 190, 204, 211, 214, 215 ‘everyday gender processes’, 46 gender-based violence, 9, 52, 68, 70 ‘gendered form of wounding’, 36 gendering of identity, 94 gendering of memory, 88 gendering of the nakba, 136 gendering of space, 84, 85, 100 – 102, 107, 118 gendering of violence, 43, 46, 164 gendering of war and peace, 42 hierarchy, 150 inequality, 60, 62 narratives, 104 regime, 151 system, 105 General Union of Palestinian Women (GUPW), 20, 47, 150, 165 Geneva Convention on Refugees (1951), 29 Haganah, 125, 135 Haifa, 118, 123, 131, 133, 135, 139, 141, 143 Haifa Hospital (Bourj el-Barajne camp), 31 Hamas party, 2, 4, 9, 74 – 81, 96, 194, 195, 200, 204, 219, 220 Hawwara village (West Bank), 210 heroism, 3, 7, 38, 49, 59, 119, 121, 132, 156, 159, 165, 171, 179, 194, 195, 208, 209 Hizbullah party, 25, 34, 76, 81, 172, 196, 205 home, 1, 2, 4, 11, 13, 23, 28, 34, 42, 51, 54, 55, 60, 65, 72, 73, 75–79, 83–86, 88, 89, 92, 94, 95, 97–100, 102–107, 109–114, 116–121, 123,

Index 130, 131, 137, 138, 140–142, 146, 150, 156, 158, 159, 170–172, 176– 179, 186, 187, 189, 190, 197, 199, 201–204, 212, 213, 216, 220, 222 home-making, 4, 84, 94, 142 homeland, 5, 6, 9, 12, 22, 26, 35, 37, 38, 42, 53, 60, 64, 80, 84–86, 88, 92, 93, 95–100, 102, 104–106, 108, 112– 114, 116, 118–120, 124, 128, 137, 145, 147, 167, 190, 192, 193, 200, 206–208, 212, 213, 217, 219, 220 homelessness, 2, 97, 114, 141 honour, 4, 33, 106, 128, 159, 160, 161, 171 behaviour, 54, 170 of community, 65 crimes of, 41, 145 family, 53, 54, 58, 136 ‘Honour before land’, 136, 137, 151 of nation, 3, 158 of women, 8 al-Hout, Shafiq, 191, 192 identity, 3, 6, 7, 9, 12, 22, 23, 34, 35, 38, 42, 46, 48, 53, 80, 84 –87, 89 – 96, 99 – 104, 117, 118, 137, 140, 142, 144, 157, 168, 178, 188, 190, 192, 200, 201, 211 – 216, 218, 219 battle for, 80 collective, 12, 46, 219 constructed out of violence, 35 damaged, 140 in exile, 178 Lebanese, 154, 155 legal, 211 margins, 7 Palestinian national, 10, 12, 35, 68, 88, 90, 91, 97, 106, 107, 147, 153, 167, 187, 208, 215 politics of, 89 – 96 religious, 3, 23 rooted in resistance, 212 shared, 216 of victims, 38, 192 women’s formation of, 48 Zionist identity, 108

279

imagination, 2, 84, 86, 90, 104, 113, 118, 121, 140, 144, 192, 221 International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights, 29 intifada (first), 75, 191 al-Aqsa, 34, 39, 75, 193, 210 rebellion of 1936– 39, 125 Iraq, 153 invasion of, 153 war against, 186 Irgun, 134 Islam, Islamic, 11, 15, 48, 64, 68, 70, 73 – 78, 146, 198, 201, 209, 210 Islamic cultural framework, 220 Islamic cultural traditions, 13 Islamic Jihad party, 4, 75, 79 Islamic Relief, 27 Islamic resistance, 76, 195, 200 Islamic society, 100, 101 Islamism, Islamists, 79, 80 Islamist groups, movements, 4, 20, 21, 67, 72, 74, 75, 79, 80, 81, 116, 146, 179, 196, 200, 204, 205, 212, 220 Islamist politics, 213 Islamist women, 21, 219 Israel, Israelis, 6, 10, 12, 15, 19, 20, 22, 24, 25, 28, 29, 32, 33, 34, 36, 38, 41, 42, 46, 47, 49, 50, 57, 58, 63, 74–76, 81, 84–86, 91, 96, 103, 107–109, 111, 112, 115, 120, 123–127, 129–135, 137, 144, 146, 148–150, 153–155, 158–161, 163–177, 179, 180, 182–186, 192–200, 203, 206, 208–214, 220, 221 invasion of Gaza (2008), 194 invasion of Gaza (2012), 195 invasion of Lebanon (1982), 167 – 180 siege of Beirut (1982), 186 Al-Jana active memory project (Beirut), 17 Jenin (West Bank), 108, 198 massacre (2002), 194 Jews, 107, 123, 125, 126, 128 –132, 135, 136, 139 Jordan, 19, 148

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Judaism, 125 July 2006 war, 172, 196, 197

mourning, 83, 95, 140, 144, 178, 179, 187, 196, 222

Kabri, 108, 118, 133, 138 Kasmiyye refugee camp (near Tyre), 183, 195, 200 Kata’ib militia, 57, 149, 165, 215

Nahr al-Barid refugee camp, Tripoli, 1, 22, 53, 79, 80, 83, 96, 116, 117, 138 nakba (‘catastrophe’), 11, 25, 35, 37, 88, 97, 107, 119, 121, 123, 124, 130 –137, 147, 155, 180, 211 pre-nakba Palestine, 94 as violence, 140 Nakba Day commemorations, 206 narratives, 5, 7, 11–13, 15, 18, 23, 30, 41, 42, 46, 49–51, 61, 73, 80, 85, 87, 89, 91, 106, 114, 120, 121, 126, 131, 132, 139–141, 151, 162, 170, 171, 181, 185, 186, 190, 199, 205, 211 autobiographical, 17 communal, 169 contested, 14 counter-narratives, 96, 213 entitlement, 104, 125 gendered, 104 grand, 88, 216 heroism, 119 home and homeland, 105 Israeli narrative of self-defense, 195 national, 16, 35, 47, 86, 95, 147, 149, 161, 197, 208 of 1948, 212 oral history, 22, 179 power of, 207 rape, 136 suffering, 188 violence, 36 –39, 94 Zionist, 10, 124 narrative construction, 209 Nasser (president of Egypt), 147 National Accord (Lebanon), 190 national dispossession, 46, 89 national struggle, 22, 74, 89, 94, 157, 159, 162, 204, 205, 211 national violence, 66, 217 nationalism, 39, 90, 123, 126 anti-colonial, 151 Palestinian, 91

landscape, 97, 103, 107, 108, 130, 144, 180 Lebanese army, 1, 79, 81, 84, 116, 117, 148, 149, 192 Lebanese government, 24, 25, 28, 29, 32– 34, 42, 71, 96, 112, 145, 148, 161, 166, 189, 192, 200, 215, 220 Department of Affairs of the Palestinian Refugees, 27 lived experiences, 4, 6, 14, 18 Madrid peace process, 191 male violence, 52, 56 Maronite Christians, 149, 163 martyrdom, 76, 167 Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), 20 Meir, Golda, 85 memorial books, 144 memory, 12, 17, 22, 23, 30, 36, 42, 69, 85, 86, 88, 90, 94, 95, 102, 103, 106, 109, 118 – 120, 140, 142, 166, 171, 174, 216 collective, 98, 179 gendered, 88 of home, 216 inherited, 86 national, 4 Palestinian, 108 proclaimed, 95 refugees as ‘memory-less objects’, 107 traumatic, 36 meta-narrative, 36, 38, 50 of entitlement (Israeli), 107 Mieh Mieh refugee camp (Sidon), 138, 139, 194 moral community, 8, 18, 96, 146, 147, 187, 216 moral violence, 10, 47

Index Norwegian People’s Aid, 27 nostalgia, 84, 85, 95, 105, 107, 109, 118, 144, 219, 221 al-Nur Mosque group, 81 occupied Palestinian territory, 4, 190 Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), 31, 32, 34, 71, 72, 75, 80, 115, 147 – 150, 153, 159, 160, 167, 168, 170, 174, 176, 179, 180, 191, 192, 196, 202 Palestinian Human Rights Organization (PHRO), 28 Palestinian – Israeli conflict, 4, 6, 36, 46, 88, 97, 108, 178, 190, 205 Palestinian–Israeli peace process, 189, 191 Palestinian Legislative Council, 76 Palestinian National Charter, 147 Palestinian National Council, 147 Palestinian-ness, 6, 84, 91, 193 Palestinian Red Crescent Society, 32 Palestinian revolution, 28, 148, 149, 163, 165, 167, 206 patriarchy, 22, 43, 51, 56, 60, 61, 65, 68, 69, 70, 73, 151, 158, 165, 213, 218 peacemaking, 6 personal status law (Lebanon), 65 physical violence, 65, 67, 71, 72, 158, 164 political violence, 10, 46, 65 Popular Aid for Relief and Development, 27 Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), 147 psychological violence, 71, 215 Al-Qa’ida, 75 Qur’an, 61, 73, 77, 78, 98 Ramallah (West Bank), 37 rape, sexual violence, 35, 45, 49, 51, 52, 55 – 58, 71, 159, 165, 174 – 176, 182, 211 in 1948, 135 – 137

281

Rashidiyya refugee camp (Tyre), 15, 30–32, 44, 68, 71, 72, 75, 87, 89, 93, 103, 108, 144, 146, 159, 160, 166, 169, 171, 183, 184, 189, 198, 202 rebelliousness, 53 refugee camps, 5, 10, 20, 21, 28, 65, 83, 100, 112, 120, 148, 149, 167, 173, 181 as sites of significance, 109 – 114 see also individual camp names relations of power, 17, 52 resistance, 4, 7, 8, 23, 35, 36, 47, 50, 55, 60, 63, 65, 69, 75, 77, 81, 86, 88, 91, 93, 104, 109, 120, 121, 124, 128, 131, 132, 138, 141, 154, 157, 163, 165, 167, 170, 174, 179, 188, 190, 192, 200, 202 – 205, 207, 208, 211 – 217, 219 growth of Palestinian resistance movement, 147 – 150 Islamic resistance, 76, 195 revolutionary violence, 73 right of return, 6, 17, 26, 29, 34, 93, 189, 191, 192, 200, 220 Sabra and Shatila massacre (1982), 12, 28, 49, 57, 111, 115 – 117, 137, 153, 161, 174 – 180, 186, 187 safety, 2, 4, 11, 19, 45, 48, 49, 65, 76, 83, 84, 87, 105, 110 – 112, 142, 154, 174, 178, 181 personal, 18 Salafist jihadism, 79, 80 Saudi Arabia, 37, 38, 175 shame/shameful, 7, 53, 56, 57, 62, 63, 67, 71, 75, 110, 136, 164, 209 of Britain, 97 shari’a (Islamic law), 79 Sharon, Ariel, 108, 111, 177, 178 Shatila refugee camp (Beirut), 8, 12, 28, 39, 66, 83, 109 – 112, 115, 117 – 120, 143, 144, 164, 178, 179, 181, 194, 201, 205, 213 Soueif, Ahdaf, 221 Al-Soumoud, 27 Stern Gang, 134

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Women and Conflict in the Middle East

structural violence, 51, 55 Syria, 34, 38, 58, 93, 117, 154, 206, 219 Tel al-Zaater (destroyed) refugee camp (Beirut), 57, 105, 109, 117, 165, 175, 176, 178 – 179, 181 terrorism, 50 rape as form of mass terrorism, 55 resistance as, 55 terrorist, 20, 34, 42, 50, 91, 96, 120, 160, 172, 186, 209 Islamic, 75 ‘terrorist Zionists’, 15 trauma, 3, 23, 36, 46, 57, 86, 87, 93, 95, 103, 117, 136, 140, 141, 172 of dispossession, 35, 85, 114, 188 Tulkarm (West Bank), 141, 200 United Nations, 125, 186, 197, 199, 206, 207 United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194, 26 United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), 26 United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNEWA), 20, 24, 26– 28, 30 – 32, 73, 85, 96, 112, 140, 143, 150, 166, 184, 194, 199, 200, 216 United States of America, 34, 173, 189 Usbat al-Ansar party, 80, 81 verbal violence, 71 victimization, 3, 7, 8, 44, 47, 60, 63, 70, 120, 124, 132, 133, 159, 173, 178, 187, 214 victimology, 63, 65 violence against women, 41 – 43, 45, 46, 51 – 56, 59 – 61, 63 – 72, 110, 142, 161, 199, 214, 217 of camps, 72 of homelessness, 114 – 118 of war/warfare, 23, 46, 62, 156, 214 vulnerability, 15, 62, 63, 80

war, 6, 10, 20, 22, 23, 25, 30, 31, 35, 41, 45, 46, 49, 51, 55, 56, 64 – 67, 71, 74, 82, 88, 96, 102, 109, 113 – 115, 117, 125, 129, 141, 151, 164, 165, 169, 172, 173, 176, 179, 180, 185, 187, 190, 191, 194, 197, 205, 209, 212, 214, 216, 222 Arab-Israeli war (1948), 133, 134 against Iraq, 186 camp wars, 180 – 184 civil war in Syria, 33 gendering of, 41 guerrilla, 149 Islam as weapon of, 216 Israel-Hizbullah war (2006), 34, 80 Lebanese civil war, 25, 27, 28, 33, 57, 86, 137, 149, 154 – 156, 165, 166, 198 and sexual violence, 56 warfare, 23, 56, 62, 127 women and violence of, 156–162 Welfare Association, 27 West Bank, 12, 17, 19, 21, 34, 37, 39, 73– 75, 84, 137, 143, 168, 186, 189 –191, 193, 200, 207, 209, 212, 219, 221 Western media, 221 Women’s Humanitarian Organization, 20 women’s subjectivity, 3, 18 Yarmouk refugee camp (Damascus), 117 Zionism, 73 as a liberation movement, 10 narratives of, 10, 107 political, 90 Zionist, 24, 86, 87, 108, 124, 125, 128, 130, 133, 141, 187, 198, 203 colonial settler project, 125, 126 groups, 134 identity, 108 leaders, 126, 127 movement, 123 narrative, 85 soldiers, 136 as terrorists, 15