Deniz Kandiyoti 1996
Gendering the Middle East,
Syracuse Univ. Pr. , Syracuse, NY.
NOTE: This extract is included as an essential reading for transforming the world. You are requested to purchase the book yourself as it is, without question, essential reading material.
5 Adam and Adama, 'Ird and Ard: Engendering Political Conflict and Identity in Early Jewish and Palestinian Nationalisms
Sheila Hannah Katz
It ought to be possible for historians ... to 'make visible the assignment of subject-positions' [Gayatri Spivak] not in the sense of capturing the reality of objects seen, but of trying to understand the operations of the complex and changing discursive process by which identities are ascribed, resisted, or embraced, and which processes themselves are unremarked and indeed achieve their effect because they are unnoticed.'
In turn-of-the-century Palestine, there occurred a re-imagination of identities. Older loyalties to village, religion and empire both contended and colluded with a growing secular nationalism. 2 As the Ottoman Empire collapsed, Palestinians who had been lawabiding subjects were compelled to shift allegiances. Jews in Europe, who had long been legally released from high-walled ghettos, grappled with broken promises and violent threats. 3
I will argue in this chapter that gender issues were central to the formation of nationalist responses to these challenges. The changing roles of women and men in Jewish and Arab society played an important, though hidden, role in the formation of national identities and new national identities, in turn, influenced evolving gender roles. Changing images of women, men and community contributed to shaping specific power relations between and among Jews and Arabs. This chapter examines different ways in which gendered processes were central to the formation of two competing nationalisms in Palestine before 195o. It draws upon materials published inside and outside Palestine which reflected and directed efforts byjews and Arabs to redefine 'peoplehood' before 1950-' Kimmerling and Migdal refer to these published writings as 'furnishing a shared aesthetic and intellectual material ... of the new Palestinism-a cultural glue." Political tracts,' revisionist histories,' newspaper and magazine articles,' biographies," autobiographies," memoirs," novels, 12 poetry," and films," gave expression to these nascent nationalisms. These writings were not limited to Arabs and Jews who lived in Palestine. Egyptians, Lebanese, Syrians and many others who never went there also participated in the imagining of a new national community and in discussing the nature of gender relations within it. Jews from the diaspore, who visited or merely fantasized about Palestine, also contributed to constructions of manhood, womanhood and peoplehood there. A few of the sources self-consciously and even vociferously addressed 'the woman question', while most others offered iniplicit, unspoken assumptions about the place of gender in nationalism." Almost all shared the conscious sense that women and gender issues were irrelevant, or at best marginal, to the national project. Yet taken in their entirety, these writings expose the centrality of women and gender in the construction of political identities. Two scholarly breakthroughs in the ig8os provided a theoretical and methodological framework for the interrogation of gendernation relations. In i983, Benedict Anderson, in Imagined Communiti.es, talked about nationalism as a set of cultural constructions."3 In i988,joan Wallach Scott elaborated on the significance of reading for silences about women in historical texts, and the importance of constructions of gender for an understanding of power in high politics. In Gender and the Politics of Histog, Scott asserted that 'those absent from official accounts partook nonetheless in the making of history; those who are silent speak eloquently about the meaning of power and uses of political authority."' Reading nationalist texts is a lesson in the power of silence. Nowhere do women and issues of gender seem more remote than in the narratives of political history, where women are absent and men ubiquitous. Volumes of Palestinian and Israeli analyses hardly yield a word about national actors as gendered beings and generate an overwhelming impression that gender is irrelevant to politics. Yet it is upon this seeming irrelevance that particular political arrangements depend which bolster hierarchies of difference based on gender, class, race and ethnicity.
National narratives are, in fact, gendered texts at a number of different levels: (1) in the centrality of notions of manhood and masculinity to nationalism, (2) in the feminization of the land as the central symbol of survival, (3) in the ways nationalists imagined women, (4) in the ways modernization co-opted gender to shape nationalism, and (5) in the ways women colluded with or contested these constructions.
Nationalism and Manhood
While women and men both actively participated in what they understood to be a movement for liberation, it was men as leaders and propagandists who defined both problems and solutions in ways that linked nationalism to the achievement of manhood. The Arab Palestinian martyr Abd al-Rahim Mahmud proclaimed in a poem: 'I will guard my land with my sword so that all will know that I am a man!"' Benjamin, a fictional Jewish teenage Holocaust survivor, proclaimed in a film that 'God needed earth to make a man, and I need earth to become a man!"" The proof or achievement of manhood was thus a persistent subtext of nationalist narratives. The bronzed, muscular farmer/soldier 'New Man' was the Zionist alternative to his stooped, intellectual and victimized diaspora predecessor. Jews associated the galut with characteristics deemed negatively feminine such as being passive or vulnerable victims. In a sense men felt relegated to being symbolic women, that is, subject to degradation and abuse by other men of dominant cultures. The 'New Man' of Zionism was supposed to throw off the powerlessness of two thousand years. As architect of this myth, Berdichevsky interpreted exile as both an external and internal condition. Deep within the soul, beneath the dust of Rabbinic Judaism, there lay a primordial element which needed to be set free." This meant taking a stand to physically defend oneself as well as one's women and children.' The Palestinian Arab patriarch, whether peasant or poet, was supposed to defend his ard and his 'ird, his land and his women's sexual integrity. As an antidote to centuries of foreign rule, Palestinian men expressed rage at dispossession which could result in exile. At the very point in history when they could begin to imagine power residing in the hands of a new class of Palestinian men, they perceived betrayal and abandonment by other men be theyjewish, British, Arab or, most bitterly, Palestinian. Possession and defence of the land and women were at the centre not only of emerging national consciousness but of individual men's selfrespect. As Fawaz Turki asserted, 'to Palestinians, no phrase is more familiar-perhaps one should call it a metaphrase-than ardi-'irdi.' Translated literally it means 'my land is my womenfolk.' As understood by Palestinians, the phrase reads, 'my land is my nobility ... my being what I am.'22
The prominent Palestinian writer, Muhammad Izzat Darwazah, wrote the novel al-Malak wal-simsar (The Angel and the Land Broker) representing a typical Palestinian Arab family of the mid-1920s. The protagonist was an illiterate but nevertheless dignified head of household. A Jewish land broker, representing Zionists' deceptions and the temptations of modernity, enticed the father to go to the city to enjoy himself. There the man spent all his money and was forced to mortgage his house to the broker for an amount in excess of its value. He then spent all this money in the city and was ultimately shamed into deserting his family, becoming a beggar, finally ending up in an insane [email protected] Jews and the modern development they hastened were depicted as responsible for the moral and ruaterial downfall of innocent Arab men. The importance of the defence of land and the political conditions which made this goal ultimately impossible to achieve fostered a culture of martyrdom. Abd al-Rahim Mahmud, poet and martyr, reasoned that real men had two choices: to live with honour or to die fighting for it." lbrahim Tuqan, the prominent Palestinian poet from Nablus wrote al-Shahid (The Martyr), in which he described the full honour accorded a man who was strong and unafraid of danger, pain or death. Tuqan wrote that even if no one knew about the way he died, nobody cried at his death, or no one knew the location of his grave, the matter of his body was unimportant because his name would be everywhere: 'O how joyous was his face when he was passing to death; singing to the whole world: could I but sacrifice myself for God and my country.' 25
Feminization of the Land
Beyond preoccupations with the preservation or recuperation of manhood, the symbols of the nation were saturated with gendered meaning. Land became a central symbol of both national and personal redemption. Jewish men called themselves 'Zionists' because the rebirth of their peoplehood and manhood depended on their claim to Eretz Tzion, the Land of Zion. Arab men began to think of themselves as 'Filastini' to distinguish themselves from other Arabs who were not directly attached to the land of Palestine and its distinctive colonial conundrum. Imagining Zion or Palestine as female turned its defenders into real men. Outside the Land of Zion, Zionists referred to thejewish people not merely as female, but as the quintessential downtrodden girl. Pinsker claimed: 'He [the Jew] is treated as a Cinderella; in the most favorable cases he is regarded as an adopted child whose rights may be questioned, never is he considered a legitimate child of the fatherland. 12' But in Palestine these weak, feminized people were transformed into powerful males wooing a female land. The desire of men to possess this land made them imbue it with feminine characteristics. Sometimes the land was depicted as the lover to be conquered and fertilized; at other times it became the mother giving birth to a new 'masculine' people. In igog, on the commune of Bittania, for example, the charismatic leader, Meir Yaari, equated the land with both a bride and a fertile mother. This transformed the Jewish people into both sons and the
... bridegroom who abandons himself in his bride's bosom... thus we abandon ourselves to the motherly womb of sanctifying earth... In this last hour before our wedding night, we bring as holy sacrifice to you, earth of our fulfilment, these our very lives, our daily lives in the land of Israel; our parents, children, brothers, our poverty and wealth."'
A.D. Gordon articulated an ideology of redemption through physical labour on the land. He portrayed Jewish men willing to leave materially comfortable lives in the galut for the physical hardships of life in Palestine comparing Jews to a man burning for his lover: 'The lover prefers a dry morsel of bread in a poor cottage in the company of his beloved to a life of luxury without her. Whoever separates him from his beloved deprives him of life. "" With a Hebrew play on words, Buber elaborated on the marriage analogy. In Hebrew, adam is the name for the first male human in the Bible. Ben adama, son of Adam, becomes 'human' or 'man'. Adama, the female form of the word, is not the word for woman, but the word for 'land'. So, Buber articulated his belief in 'the great marriage between adam and adama'.21 Feminizing and eroticizing the land as passive object of men's active love and sacrifice transformed the Palestinian people into men. The poet Iskandar al-Khuri al-Baytjali, for example, lamented over Palestine as an emaciated female weakened by foreign rule. The possession and care of this land by Palestinian men would infuse her with strength and health:
Strength has spread through her body and penetrated deeply into her bosom. She was petrified after being weak and thin. This is Palestine, who until recently was at a loss and humiliated by the Turks. She has become languid, while she was bright at the time of the Arabs."
In the 1930s, Ajaj' Nuwiyhid portrayed Palestine as the bride of Arab men, a bride which had to be won at the highest cost, with the blood of the groom. Dying for the beloved proved men's unquestionable love:
We have asked to become engaged to a girl Her bride price is @ery expensive But she deserves it Here is our answer: We will fight for the sake of your eyes. Death is our aim and we have many men."
Men's love for the land was sometimes opposed to the love of actual women. The words under the Rashadiyya school club map of Palestine read: 'Palestine, the blessed land ... best land of all! Do not despair. You are the only love we have.112 Real women were left behind, widowed or turned into reasons for fighting.
If nationalists feminized the central symbol of their desire, the land, and derided feminine traits as characterizing their worst perceptions of themselves, how then did they imagine women? We return to the young hero, Benjamin, conscious of needing land to become a man, but totally unaware of his need for a woman to help him get there." It is Miriam's love for Benjamin which enables him to shed an impenetrable shell acquired from living half a young life in death camps. As another Holocaust orphan at this camp in Palestine, Miriam offers an intelligent love, which breaks down Benjamin's resistance to grasping the hoe and marching out of isolation to work with other barefooted young men on a land representing new possibilities of manhood. As for Miriam, what she needs most to become a woman is a man. Basically, women were imagined as good or bad according to how much they helped or hindered men in achieving their goals. Herzl praised women when their 'enthusiasm lent wings to the men's courage."' Arab men paid tribute to wives for sacrificing their own money and labour to the cause of the homeland. In the midst of a detailed account of Palestinian military battles, Arif al-Arif interrupted his narrative to praise the wife of the hero, Abd al-Qadir. Remaining nameless in the text, the wife was praised for helping fighters by cooking for them and washing their clothes, thereby elevating wifely chores to national service." Motherhood, however, was presented as the highest form of national service. Muhammad Bindari wrote:
A woman must first prove her success inside the house by raising her children to love their country. She must strengthen their national feeling and nurse (hem with the milk of nationalism."
As 'patriotic' wombs, it was not enough for women merely to marry and have children. They also played a central role as boundary markers of national identities. One study of Palestine was critical of the dearth of intermarriage across class lines during the Mandate period, resulting from townspeople's disdain for peasants, as something that weakened national bonds." Forjews, class was also an issue but not one as threatening as inter-faith marriages. In Europe, intermarriage with non-Jews was tantamount to cultural genocide. In the national context of Palestine it was treason because it blurred distinctions between the categories of Jew and Arab." 'Nationalization' of sexuality meant that women were restricted to sexual relations with 'their own kind'. Yet amongjews in Palestine, it also meant that intermarriage between European and Palestinian or Arab Jews was approved as promoting progress. A biographer of Golda Meir, towards the end of a long account of her political accomplishments, capped her achievements with a description of her grandchildren:
Youth filled the room ... blond, blue-eyed Sabras of European and American origin; dusky Yemenites whose presence testified to the ming ling of East and West in the authentic melting pot of Israel... Golda's own grandchildren highlighted the contrasts: the blond, blue-eyed babies of Menachem and the dark beauty of the children of Sarale."
Hierarchies of power and prestige are absent from this cheerful description which levels difference to attractive physical traits. The blending of races, or the protection of distinctions between them, was lauded or condemned depending on evolving political identities. Meir's granddaughter, Naomi, born of an Ashkenazi mother and Palestinianjewish father, represented the union of what was hoped to be the best of Western and Easternjewry. Naomi was consi 'dered to have an unselfconscious 'authenticity' of national identity, for she was 'at last free of the idea of Zion; she was part of its hills, its sun, and sand."' While men were expected to give their lives for the new nation, women were to give birth to new fighters, sacrifice sons and husbands for the cause and bear their grief as a badge of honour. When one Jewish mother in South Africa received news that her young son had died fighting the British in Palestine,
her first reaction to 'the news of his death was to say quietly that if her son had to die in war, she was glad he had not given up his precious young life for others, but had died fighting for his own people ... A year later her broken heart gave up its struggle with sorrow and quietly ceased beating."
Yet not all women married and conceived children. Apparently there was a substantial enough number of women who for one reason or another did not marry for Herzl, in his novel about a utopianjewish society, to plan an entire branch of government to be run by them. 12 In Altneuland, Herzl envisioned a society in which women who were cast off as 'old maids' in Europe would not have to live what were assumed to be 'wasteful' lives. He imagined single women taking charge of the 'philanthropic' or 'welfare' arm of the state. They would provide care for the sick, poor, orphaned and needy, running hospitals, orphanages, vacation camps and public kitchens, becoming mothers of the nation where they had failed to become mothers of families.
Women and Modernization
The discourse of modernization underpinned many of the constructions of gender and nation. Whether waxing eloquent on the future of 'barren wastelands' or in volatile debates about women's rights, nationalists, as self-appointed modernizers imagined women as both the vehicles and the objects of civilization. They were a measure of the advancement or backwardness of a culture. Muhammad Bahim, for example, asserted thdt:
The development of women is more important for measuring the development of a country than its construction of sky-high buildings and wide boulevards .43
Kumari jayawardena noted in her analysis of women's roles in nationalist movements throughout the Third World that 'the status of women in society was the popular barometer of "civilization". "' Education, freedom of movement and monogamy became hallmarks of 'civilized' modernity. The 'New Man' needed a 'New Woman' to be presentable in colonialist circles, rather than secluded, veiled or illiterate. Modernization would tolerate no more bound feet or bound minds. British, Arab and Zionist leaders all gave their attention to the process of 'modernizing' women as a measure of the legitimacy of their power in Palestine. The primary focus of much of this attention was on education for girls. Girls' education was a basic element of both colonialist and nationalist policy. British interest in female education remained fraught with contradictions. On the one hand, it was to their advantage to appear to encourage girls' schooling. The ideals of the Mandate dictated that British presence should promote a new level of civilization with education as its primary vehicle. British policy identified girls' instruction as one of its three most important goals, along with agricultural and technical education. The post of Education Inspectorate was thus immediately created and filled with Englishwomen, who opened a teacher training college for women." When girls were actually permitted to attend school, the policy was to teach them 'to understand the value of a good home where cleanliness, sanitation, and above all care of children are to be regarded as the aim of every woman."" Within the framework of modernization, this was labelled the study of 'domestic science .41 Yet British policies to maintain the status quo, especially in the villages, inevitably impeded change for women. The administrators never failed, however, to blame this failure on 'Islam'. Arab educators, for their part, attributed the shortcomings of the system, not to Islam, but to British policies. A.L. Tibawi, for example, pointed out that Islam did not oppose girls' education but that British planning and budgeting bolstered a defective and inadequate system. Drawing upon a combination of religious scriptures and social sciences, Tibawi argued for educational reform that would modernize and strengthen his community. He pointed out that the Prophet declared 'the quest for learning is a sacred duty of every Muslim, male and female.' He also argued that social prejudice and inequality between men and women was a result of low education levels for men, so that increasing the levels of men's education would lead to an improvement for women."' Cooking, childbirth and child care, health and hygiene, sewing and embroidery which had until then been learned within the family became legitimate material for school curricula. But the process of attending school was more radical than curriculum content. Removing girls from their homes, bringing them together with others outside their extended family network, and teaching them to read dramatically changed women's lives on a variety of levels. These changes for women came to symbolize progress for modernizing nationalists. Others, however, argued that progress could only come through resisting changes for women in order to preserve imagined values of the past. Women were seen as the repository of a way of life or guardians of threatened 'authentic' values that offered viable alternatives to Western secular ones. Lamya Baha al-Din of Gaza voiced this position in a letter published on the pages of the Jerusalem daily, al-Di a, saying that:
these women will forget their roles in the homes and seek modern ization. A good woman must not covet modernization but be proud of the chains that the community puts on her. She must be satisfied with her traditions without complaining."
In the Yishuv, the terms of discourse were different, although similarly determined by concerns about progress. Education was made compulsory for all girls and boys. Funding from abroad enabled thejewish settlers to overcome the limits set on education by the British administration, and organizations placed top priority on the creation of educational opportunities for alljewish children. The budget for Hebrew language schools alone exceeded the budget of British government schools for Arabs." Jewish nationalists were acutely aware of the potency of education in furthering national goals. Noah Nardi complained that Arab education was becoming a 'negative' force in Palestine for 'the Arab school system maintained by the government has constantly inculcated in Arab children a hostile attitude tojewish aspirations in Palestine."' Yet when education served the interests of Jewish national feeling, Nardi naturally interpreted its effects as constructive'. Nationalist objectives forjewish education in Palestine reflected wi 'despread assumptions about the importance of public education for the production of a loyal citizenry. Nardi wrote: The cliild must be imbued with a love for Palestine and a desire to live iii it and be satisfied with whatever it can offer him ... He must acquire a strong nationalist consciousness and loyalty ... He must learn to understand and co-operate with his Arab neighbors. 12 For the first time injewish history girls received up to secondary level education in unprecedented numbers. But their education did not stop there. They also participated in after-school youth activities. Hanoar Haoved (the Organization of Working Youth) was an organ of the Histadrut which sought to improve working conditions for young, people through the creation of evening schools, clubs and study groups. During World War 11 girls who attended secondary schools also had to do a year of national service harvesting crops on farms. They also attended schools for agricultural, vocational and teacher training. These opportunities, however, did not reach all Jewish girls. Those girls who emigrated from Arab countries had a more difficult time realizing them. They were forced to work unlimited hours, receive the lowest pay, and take apprenticeships without any opportunity for mastery. Illiteracy and early marriages persisted during these years. Many girls did not go to work or school but performed traditional domestic duties in their own homes." Education for girls was not the only road to 'modernization'. Proof of women's equality to men in other fields also served as a yardstick for progressiveness. Most importantly, progressiveness was seen as a measure of the legitimacy of one's claim to Palestine. In Jewish national texts, often the only time women were mentioned was in attempts to describe how progressive Jewish Palestinian society was by lauding women's equal status. The British Zionist, Norman Bentwich, observed in the 1920S that 'the equal part of men and women in all vocations and professions is one of the outstanding features of Jewish social life in Palestine."' This statement was made at a time when a few jewish women in Palestine struggled with some remarkable successes against unremitting opposition from well-meaning comrades when they attempted to undertake non-traditional jobs." Herzl's novel, Altneuland, epitomized some of the ambivalence men felt about equal rights for women. The novel conveys the sense that every modern nation has the collective right to exist in part because of the individual rights it confers upon its citizens, regardless of gender or ethnicity. Here, however, is a passage that trivializes the concept of equality. One of the protagonists explains to a visitor that both Arabs and women have full rights in the New Society, but he qualifies its implications regarding his wife:
'Don't imagine that our women are not devoted to their homes. My wife, for instance, never goes to meetings.'
Sarah smiled, 'But that's only because of [the baby] Fritzchen.'
'Yes,' continued David, 'she nursed our little boy, and so forgot a bit about her inalienable rights. She used to belong to the radical opposi tion. This how I met her, as an opponent. Now she opposes me only at home, as loyally as you can imagine, however.'
[The visitor replied] 'That's a damned good way of overcoming an opposition."'
Women could thus be cast as symbols of immutable or essential qualities of nationhood. The status of women could become proof of the admirable advancement or the dreaded degeneracy of Western ways. Women could be bastions of secular nationalist values or fortresses of traditionalism. They were either exemplary citizens without ever achieving full rights or subversives when they attempted to achieve those rights.
Collusion and Contestation
Despite men's limiting vision of the good 'nationalist' woman and despite the obstacles placed before them, some Palestinian Arab and Jewish women fought for the fruits of equality and even contested national boundaries. Jewish women picked up hoes, pickaxes, and attended policy-planning forums on farming, broke stones for road-building, and raised their voices in political meetings despite fierce opposition from egalitarian-minded comrades. Palestinian women as wives, sisters or daughters of the upper-class male elite founded charitable organizations which became public arenas for their leadership or wrote books, articles, poetry and letters to editors. Some Palestinian women who entered the public arena did so because they believed that the success of their nation depended upon raising the status of women. In I937, Matiel Mogannam wrote The Arab Woman and the Palestine Proble?n which detailed the organizational efforts by middle and upper-class Muslim and Christian Arab women to uplift their less advantaged sisters as a way of promoting progress in their country.11 In 1947, Salwa Sardah urged men to support women's rights in a poem in Sawt al-mar'a al-hur (The Free Voice of Woman) published in Aleppo.
To those in high positions, To the masters of all time, To those who are the hope of their country during war, and the reason for happiness, To all of you, I want to ask a question and I need an answer. Who delivered you men and trained you to be so strong and brave as lions? Who taught you to,be honest and who helped you reach high? This is woman, don't forget her goodness. If you forget, we are lost. Help her when she begs you for education and is willing to pay the price with her spirit and money. Eastern men, listen to her and give her what she asks, Because stie brings you happiness and honour."'
Jewish women in Palestine became notorious for trespassing the boundaries of conventional gender roles. Recently, many scholars have debunked myths of gun-toting, sexy, female farmer/ soldiers but this does not detract from the remarkable achievements of some. Manya Shohat, for instance, initiated the idea and first attempt at collective agriculture which later evolved into the kibbutz. Women organized all-female agricultural collectives when they were excluded from or subordinated in men's settlements. They founded women's agricultural and vocational training schools and became farmers, teachers, construction workers and doctors. Yet the highly publicized gains of Jewish women in Palestine obscured the ongoing failure of that society as a whole to deal with women as equals. Obstacles to equality and women's responses to these obstacles changed from one period to another. Some of the settlers of the first aliya, for example, still adhered to religious authority. So these women employed religious arguments and precedents to argue that they should take part in decision making." Women of the second [email protected] who internalized the ideals of transformation of self through labour on land, were compelled to fight for the right to plant trees and clean chicken coops." Two significant features limited the gains of Jewish and Palestinian women of this period. Alniost all Palestinian and Jewish women who transgressed the boundaries of gender convention did so only for the sake of their nation. This meant that as national goals were realized, women retreated into older roles. The second limitation had to do with power imbalances within and between the two peoples. Women played undeclared roles in the construction of hierarchies of difference and inequality within their communities in contradictory ways. As women became nationalists, they accepted their role in the civilizing mission. They were thus enlisted in the enforcement of divisions between women along lines of class and race, as some women dedicated themselves to help, uplift or emancipate their.more 'backward' sisters. As upper-class women assumed their roles as reformers of their people, they formed charitable organizations which made significant contributions to other women's lives. But the elitist context of modernization often imbued these efforts with a patronizing attitude that inhibited potentially powerful alliances. One Arab Christian woman, for example, complained that she had worked hard with Muslim women to 'raise them a bit' but that it was difficult to change the Muslim character." A European Jewish woman watched herjewish neighbours from Turkey and Morocco 'languish' in what appeared to her to be listless apathy at their 'appalling standards of sanitation'.12 Each day she went to their homes to teach them modern hygiene and housekeeping but seemed oblivious to what she could learn from them. Yet women on all sides of these lines contested divisions and occasionally crossed boundaries of class, nation and race. A Palestinian Christian woman, for example, who was hired to work on ajewish settlement was treated and paid with respect and equality. It made such an impact on her life that one of her sons spent his lifetime attempting to implement her vision by defending Arab rights in the context of respect for Israelis." There were always significant outcomes of contacts between Arab or Arab-jewish and European Jewish women. All colonial ventures succeeded to some extent due to indigenous women's knowledge and skills which enabled colonists to survive in a strange land. In 1907, for example, when Sejera became the first Jewish settlement to admit women, women from Kurdistan taught the European women how to sift barley." In another settlement, an Arab woman taught ajewish woman how to wash the grain that came mixed with red earth so that three layers formed separating the earth from the wild grass and the clean wheat."i The Jewish woman went on to become the expert in grain washing on her settlement. Arab women taughtjewish women to make shelters out of mud, lime and straw. In one incident, an Arab woman saved Jewish lives by warning them of imminent attack. She had been selling eggs to the settlers and felt obliged to warn them even at the risk of her own life, because of kindness that settler women had shown her children." During the Arab attacks onjews injaffa in 1921, the only jews who were not massacred were those few who managed to flee or were concealed by their Arab neighbours.In one instance, because of the relationship that had evolved between neighbouring women whose children played together, the father of the Arab family withstood a beating by the attackers, telling his family that he was ready to give his own life rather than sacrifice his neighbours." As workers, Jewish women and Arab women organized and maintained strikes together against Arab and Jewish establishments." As mothers, they nursed each others' children." As prisoners of British jails, they helped each other survive or escape."' Jewish women set up organizations that recognized Arab rights to Palestine." However, for the most part women defined and solidified rather than contested and dissolved boundaries, colluding in the creation of new hier,archies of power between and amongst the two peoples. Genderjoined race, religion and class as a means of perpetuating conflict as well as legitimizing and transforming power arrangements that would determine who won and who lost Palestine. Threats emanating from the 'Other' were often sexualized. The rumours of the Jewish brutality towards Palestinian women and children at Deir Yassin, precipitated a crisis for men forced to choose between defence of their women's sexual honour, 'ird, or defence of land, ard. Fear of rape and murder of Jewish women by Arab men served as a rationalization to further militarize the Yishuv. Vladimirjabotinsky argued before the British Parliament:
A very important factor in implementing the Mandate is looking after security ... In Palestine, we were threatened with pogroms, we were telling so to the government for years and years, but they went on cutting down and cutting down on the number of troops in Palestine. We said, 'Remember that we have children and wives, legalize our self-defence! 112
Hatred of the enemy and necessity of self-defence was often measured by the level of perceived brutality to women. Somejews judged the British as 'just as bad as the Germans' because an officer dragged a pregnant woman by her hair when she did not carry out their curfew order quickly enough. In another instance, after an Arab siege of ajewish settlement, women who had taken up posts high on the top of a water tower saw themselves surrounded by Arabs without hope of reinforcements and jumped to their death rather than live through the sexual torture they feared would follow their capture. 73
The foregoing illustrates some of the ways in which national identities were formed and articulated against a field of gendered meanings. Through concerns about manhood or objectifications of mother earth and earthly mothers, nationalists privileged the status of women and the development of land as means to gauge progress and the legitimacy of claims to Palestine. Women's sexuality remained a site for conflict and contestation. Discourse on gender was as important to the 'imagining' of new national communities as were, in Benedict Anderson's view, mother tongue, the capitalist press and the invention of ancient histories." It served not only to establish the boundaries of national identity, but to define the 'Other' and to legitimize new forms of domination over the 'Other'. The subordination of women and privileging of cer tain men in nation-building were mediated by discourses on real' men, imagined women, ancient heroes, barren wastelands, debates on women's rights and girls' education, motherhood and definitions of national sacrifice. Exile and dispossession, anti-Semitism and foreign colonization were ultimate dangers to all but particularly destructive to men's ability to earn livelihoods or to defend 'ird and ard. In response, nationalists feminized a land imagined to redeem manhood and peoplehood in an eternal marriage of adam and adama. The use of gender as a tool of analysis makes it possible to write an integrative history of Palestine where there have been at least two antagonistic narratives. One can interrogate these histories and subject them to similar scrutiny, exposing the operations of power within each group as well as between them. It is in these two conflicting and seemingly contradictory movements in Palestine that one gets a vivid sense of consistency regarding the ways that gender permeated politics. Nationalists seized upon gender to formulate new political identities, as women and men seized upon nationalism to construct femininities and masculinities. The study of gender as product and signifier of 'modernity' and 'nation' in these literatures provides perspective on multiple relations of power which 'en-gendered' political conflict in Palestine.