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By Weldon Matthews

This groundbreaking booklet re-examines the increase of nationalism in Palestinian politics, utilizing quite a lot of resources. Matthews argues that the advocacy of nationalist id was once inextricably interlinked with resistance to British imperialism. He probes early self-perceptions of Palestinian nationalism and its altering courting with Islamic and pan-Arab identities.

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Extra info for Confronting an Empire, Constructing a Nation: Arab Nationalists and Popular Politics in Mandate Palestine

Sample text

The civilian government in Palestine later elaborated on these practices, adding a British military 98 band to the procession. As was the case with the Indian durbars, the message sent by so public an endorsement of local practice was that British policy was one that protected tradition rather than threatened it. No less importantly, the intent of the government was to add to the honour and status of the local leadership in the eyes of all classes of Palestinian Muslims, and thus to strengthen traditional elites through whom the British intended to rule.

Contemptuously referred to by Lord Cromer as ‘mock parliaments’, they were intended to allow a highly restricted participation in governance to the educated local elites in return for their acquies122 cence in British authority. In the case of Palestine, the price of participating in the council was recognition of the mandate and its Jewish national home provisions. This was not a price the Palestinian Arab leadership could politically afford to pay and Palestinian Arabs widely boycotted the govern123 ment’s attempt to hold elections for a legislative council in 1923.

In the hills around Jerusalem during the violent and unstable first half of the nineteenth century, Christians and Muslims allied in the same factions and Christian Qaysis fought Christian Yamanis, as was the case with Muslims in each faction. Rural notables still preserved the memories of these identities in the early 1970s when Miriam Hoexter conducted 157 research on the topic. Although such expressions of identity could in other contexts be reinterpreted as ‘national’, they did not at the beginning of the twentieth century constitute modern nationalism.

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