A numerous records and a vibrant future
- PALAESTINE ARUM
exhibit toxicity consequently a ways constrained to most cancers cells. Future segment 1 and section two scientific trials are crucial to totally recognize
pharmacokinetics in human beings and to doubtlessly display scientific efficacy in human populations
Arum palaestinum Boiss is a widely used botanical in Traditional Arabic Palestinian natural medicine, the place it has been used to give a boost to bones and deal with cancer, parasites, infections, and many different maladies. Recent work demonstrates anticarcinogenic motion each in vitro and in vivo, and that work is coupled with a proof-of-principle mechanism of motion statistics displaying induction of the pro-apoptotic protein, caspase-6. The information to date is strongest for an Arum palaestinum extract that has been fortified with isovanillin, linolenic acid, and β-sitosterol, parts that are endemic to a crude water extract of Arum palaestinum. Safety records concerning toxicity are encouraging. Acute dosing animal research and in vitro studies, which evaluate results on cancerous and wholesome cell lines,
Physical traits and taxonomy
Arum Palaestinum Boiss. is a flowering perennial species inside the household Araceae, additionally recognised by means of its frequent identify as Solomon’s lily,1 and frequently referred to in literature as black calla lily.2 Arum Palaestinum’s membership in the large botanical household of Araceae is sizable from an ethnobotanical perspective, as this household is coming to be considered as a in particular prosperous supply of medicinal botanicals.3
Arum palaestinum is protected in the genus Arum L, alongside with Arum italicam Mill. (commonly acknowledged as Italian lords and ladies), and Arum maculatum L (known as cuckoo pint).4 Species of Arum have been in the Mediterranean place for millennia, and are represented in engraved drawings in the temple of Thutmose III in Karnak as flowers that have been added to Egypt from Canaan in 1447 BCE.5
Arum Palaestinum is recognizable by using its red-brown/purple spadix and spathe of darkish crimson. The association of its leaf blades speaks to a typically used, aptly descriptive title in Arabic that interprets to “elephant ear” ,5 whilst its seeds are identifiable by means of their shiny pink shade.
Arum palaestinum as a food-medicine
Arum palaestinum has an eclectic history as both a food and a medicine. As is often the case, its use does not fit neatly into one or either category exclusively, but rather reflects its wide use as a food-medicine. According to Yaniv,5 the de-stemmed leaves, cooked with lemon or sorrel, are considered a delicacy by Arabs, who also traditionally esteem the plant as a medicine for the treatment of cancer, for the killing of worms in animals and humans, as a means to strengthen bones, as a treatment for infections in open wounds, and as a treatment for kidney stones. Additional sources confirm its use as a traditional Arabic medicine in the treatment of cancer, internal bacterial infections, poisoning, and disorders of the circulatory system, and refer to Arum palaestinum as a botanical used in Traditional Arabic Palestinian herbal medicine.6,7, Arum palaestinum is revered as a treatment for skin sores, syphilis, rheumatism, tuberculosis, diarrhea, and stomach worms.5
The measurable anticarcinogenic effects of the fortified extract of Arum palaestinum are accompanied by an understood mechanism of action that could apply across multiple types of solid tumors.
According to a 2008 ethnobotanical study of edible plants within 5 rural districts of the Palestinian Authority, where preservation of the traditional knowledge of wild edible plants would be expected to be best maintained, Arum palaestinum was identified as one of the species rated highest for its cultural importance, a reflection of the diversity of ways in which an item is used as a food (eg, a vegetable, an herbal tea), and was cited by over half of those surveyed as a wild plant used for a food purpose.8 Consistent with a combined food-medicine use, Arum palaestinum is described in this survey as a food that is prepared by the leaves boiled in water, fried in olive oil, garnished with lemon, and consumed because of the belief that the plant helps prevent colon cancer. Also, in terms of contemporary use as a Complementary/Alternative Medicine (CAM), a 2011 questionnaire administered to a Palestinian cohort of 372 patients with cancer found that 43.5% of the cohort reported use of Arum palaestinum, making the plant the most commonly used CAM therapy among the cohort.9
Materials and Methods
To identify phytochemicals in Arum palaestinum reported to exert anticarcinogenic action, the author conducted a review of the peer-reviewed literature, using PubMed Central (PMC) and PubMed and the following search terms: Arum palaestinum, black calla lily, cancer, ethnobotany, and Traditional Arabic Palestinian herbal medicine. The author also reviewed the recently published in vitro and in vivo literature related to the anticarcinogenic activity of an extract of Arum palaestinum fortified with isovanillin, linolenic acid, and β-sitosterol, constituents that are endemic to a crude water extract of Arum palaestinum. Finally, the author reviewed mechanism of action and safety data published to date.
As reviewed above, Arum palaestinum has extensive historical use as a food-medicine, with one of the most extensive traditional uses being as an herbal medicine used to treat cancer. When individual chemical constituents from the major chemical categories of Arum palaestinum are surveyed and connected to published literature, it is seen that a substantial number of the phytochemicals in Arum palaestinum show anticarcinogenic activity in their own right. Moreover, an extract of Arum palaestinum fortified with isovanillin, linolenic acid, and β-sitosterol shows very promising action against prostate cancer cells in vitro and in a mouse model. The anticancer potential of Arum palaestinum, combined with other emerging areas of therapeutic interest, such as preliminary evidence suggesting potential antinociceptive properties,47 portends an exciting future in the research of this botanical with an already rich ethnobotanical past.
- Arum palaestinum TSN 811045. Integrated Taxonomic System Information System Online Database. www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=811045#null. Accessed August 14, 2018.
- El-Desouky SK, Kim KH, Ryu SY, et al. A new pyrrole alkaloid isolated from Arum palaestinum Boiss. and its biological activities. Arch Pharm Res. 2007;30(8):927-931.
- Chen J, Henny RJ, Liao F. Aroids are important medicinal plants. Acta Hortic. 2007; 756:347-354.
- Arum TSN 42543. Integrated Taxonomic System Information System Online Database. www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=42543#null. Accessed August 14, 2018.
- Yaniv Z, Dudai N, eds. Medicinal and Aromatic Plants of the Middle-East. New York, London: Springer Dordecht Heidelberg; 2014.
- Bashar S, Omar S. Greco-Arab and Islamic Herbal Medicine: Traditional System, Ethics, Safety, Efficacy, and Regulatory Issues. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons; 2001:56,305,331.
- Husein AI, Ali-Shtayeh MS, Jondi WJ, et al. In vitro antioxidant and antitumor activities of six selected plants used in the Traditional Arabic Palestinian herbal medicine. Pharm Biol. 2014;52(10):1249-1255.
- Ali-Shtayeh MS, Jamous RM, Al-Shafie’ JH, et al. Traditional knowledge of wild edible plants used in Palestine (Northern West Bank): a comparative study. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2008;4:13.
- Ali-Shtayeh MS, Jamous RM, Salameh NM, et al. Complementary and alternative medicine use among cancer patients in Palestine with special reference to safety-related concerns. J Ethnopharmacol. 2016;187:104-122.
- Abu-Reidah IM, Ali-Shtayeh MS, Jamous RM, et al. Comprehensive metabolite profiling of Arum palaestinum (Araceae) leaves by using liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry. Food Res Int. 2015;70:74-86.
- Jaradat N, Abualhasan M. Comparison of phytoconstituents, total phenol contents and free radical scavenging capacities between four Arum species from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Pharmacol Sci. 2016;22 (2):120-125.
- El-Desouky SK, Kim KH, Ryu SY, et al. A new pyrrole alkaloid isolated from Arum palaestinum Boiss. and its biological activities. Arch Pharm Res. 2007;30(8):927-931.
- Afifi FU, Khalil E, Abdalla S. Effect of isoorientin isolated from Arum palaestinum on uterine smooth muscle of rats and guinea pigs. J Ethnopharmacol. 1999;65(2):173-177.
- Cole C, Burgoyne T, Lee A, et al. Arum Palaestinum with isovanillin, linolenic acid and β-sitosterol inhibits prostate cancer spheroids and reduces the growth rate of prostate tumors in mice. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2015;15:264.
- Nagaprashantha LD, Vatsyayan R, Singhal J, et al. Anti-cancer effects of novel flavonoid vicenin-2 as a single agent and in synergistic combination with docetaxel in prostate cancer. Biochem Pharmacol. 2011;82(9):1100-1109.
- Knobloch TJ, Uhrig LK, Pearl DK, et al. Suppression of pro-inflammatory and pro-survival biomarkers in oral cancer patients consuming a black raspberry phytochemical-rich troche. Cancer Prev Res. 2016;9(2):159-171.
- Shay J, Elbaz HA, Lee I, Zielske SP. Molecular mechanisms and therapeutic effects of (−)-epicatechin and other polyphenols in cancer, inflammation, diabetes, and neurodegeneration. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2015;2015:181260.
- Ye T, Su J, Huang C, et al. Isoorientin induces apoptosis, decreases invasiveness, and downregulates VEGF secretion by activating AMPK signaling in pancreatic cancer cells. OncoTargets Ther. 2016;9:7481-7492.
- An F, Wang S, Tian Q, et al. Effects of orientin and vitexin from Trollius chinensis on the growth and apoptosis of esophageal cancer EC-109 cells. Oncol Lett. 2015; 10(4):2627-2633.
- Czemplik M, Mierziak J, Szopa J, et al. Flavonoid C-glucosides derived from flax straw extracts reduce human breast cancer cell growth in vitro and induce apoptosis. Front Pharmacol. 2016;7:282.
- Liu K, Cho YY, Yao K, et al. Eriodictyol inhibits RSK2-ATF1 signaling and suppresses EGF-induced neoplastic cell transformation. J Biol Chem. 2011;286(3):2057-2066.
- Ma L, Peng H, Li K, et al. Luteolin exerts an anticancer effect on NCI-H460 human non-small cell lung cancer cells through the induction of Sirt1-mediated apoptosis. Mol Med Rep. 2015;12(3):4196-4202.
- Yang G, Wang Z, Wang W, et al. Anticancer activity of Luteolin and its synergism effect with BCG on human bladder cancer cell line BIU-87 [in Chinese]. Zhong nan da xue xue bao Yi xue ban. 2014;39(4):371-378.
- Yang Y, Wolfram J, Boom K, et al. Hesperetin impairs glucose uptake and inhibits proliferation of breast cancer cells. Cell Biochem Funct. 2013;31(5):10.1002/cbf.2905.
- Tanagornmeatar K, Chaotham C, Sritularak B, et al. Cytotoxic and anti-metastatic activities of phenolic compounds from Dendrobium ellipsophyllum. Anticancer Res. 2014;34(11):6573-6579.
- Moore J, Yousef M, Tsiani E. Anticancer effects of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) extract and rosemary extract polyphenols. Nutrients. 2016;8(11):731.
- Reis M, Ferreira RJ, Serly J, et al. Colon adenocarcinoma multidrug resistance reverted by Euphorbia diterpenes: structure-activity relationships and pharmacophore modeling. Anticancer Agents Med Chem. 2012;12(9):1015-1024.
- Reyes-Zurita FJ, Rufino-Palomares EE, García-Salguero L, et al. Maslinic acid, a natural triterpene, induces a death receptor-mediated apoptotic mechanism in caco-2 p53-deficient colon adenocarcinoma cells. PLoS ONE. 2016;11(1):e0146178.
- Ku CY, Wang YR, Lin HY, et al. corosolic acid inhibits hepatocellular carcinoma cell migration by targeting the VEGFR2/Src/FAK pathway. PLoS ONE. 2015;10(5):e0126725.
- Musa MA, Cooperwood JS, Khan MOF. A review of coumarin derivatives in pharmacotherapy of breast cancer. Curr Med Chem. 2008;15(26):2664-2679.
- Ali I, Wani WA, Haque A, et al. Glutamic acid and its derivatives: candidates for rational design of anticancer drugs. Future Med Chem. 2013;5(8):961-978.
- Rosenfeld CS. Antileukemic activity of phenylalanine methyl ester (PME): a lysosomotropic peptide methyl ester. Stem Cells. 1994;12(2):198-204.
- Wattenberg LW. Inhibition of neoplasia by minor dietary constituents. Cancer Res. 1983;43(5 Suppl):2448s-2453s.
- Narisawa T, Fukaura Y, Yazawa K, et al. Colon cancer prevention with a small amount of dietary perilla oil high in alpha-linolenic acid in an animal model. Cancer. 1994; 73(8):2069-2075.
- Roy S, Rawat AK, Sammi SR, et al. Alpha-linolenic acid stabilizes HIF-1 α and downregulates FASN to promote mitochondrial apoptosis for mammary gland chemoprevention. Oncotarget. 2017;8(41):70049-70071.
- Kim MO, Lee MH, Oi N, et al. -shogaol inhibits growth and induces apoptosis of non-small cell lung cancer cells by directly regulating Akt1/2. Carcinogenesis. 2014; 35(3):683-691.
- Pyun BJ, Choi S, Lee Y, et al. Capsiate, a nonpungent capsaicin-like compound, inhibits angiogenesis and vascular permeability via a direct inhibition of Src kinase activity. Cancer Res. 2008;68(1):227-235.
- Rosendahl AH, Perks CM, Zeng L, et al. Caffeine and caffeic acid inhibit growth and modify estrogen receptor and insulin-like growth factor I receptor levels in human breast cancer. Clin Cancer Res. 2015;21(8):1877-1887.
- Yuan L, Wei S, Wang J, et al. Isoorientin induces apoptosis and autophagy simultaneously by reactive oxygen species (ROS)-related p53, PI3K/Akt, JNK, and p38 signaling pathways in HepG2 cancer cells. J Agric Food Chem. 2014; 62(23):5390-5400.
- Yuan L, Wang J, Xiao H, et al. MAPK signaling pathways regulate mitochondrial-mediated apoptosis induced by isoorientin in human hepatoblastoma cancer cells. Food Chem Toxicol. 2013;53:62-68.
- Bhardwaj M, Cho HJ, Paul S, et al. Vitexin induces apoptosis by suppressing autophagy in multi-drug resistant colorectal cancer cells. Oncotarget. 2017;9(3):3278-3291.
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Hawthorn berries are tiny fruits that develop on bushes and shrubs belonging to the Crataegus genus.
One of the most widespread wild trees in Palestine, especially in the mountains extending from Hebron to Galilee.
Their berries are packed with diet and have a tart, tangy style and slight sweetness, ranging in colour from yellow to deep pink to black (1Trusted Source).
For centuries, hawthorn berry has been used as an natural treatment for digestive problems, coronary heart failure, and excessive blood pressure. In fact, it’s a key section of regular Chinese medicine.
Here are nine superb health advantages of hawthorn berry
1. Loaded with antioxidants
Hawthorn berry is a prosperous supply of polyphenols, which are effective antioxidant compounds discovered in plant life (2Trusted Source).
Antioxidants assist neutralize unstable molecules referred to as free radicals that can damage your physique when they are existing at excessive levels. These molecules can come from negative diet, as properly as environmental toxins like air air pollution and cigarette smoke (3Trusted Source)
Due to their antioxidant activity, polyphenols have been related with severe fitness benefits, such as a decrease chance of the following (4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source):
- some cancers
- type two diabetes
- some infections
- heart problems
- premature pores and skin aging
2. May have anti-inflammatory properties
Hawthorn berry may also have anti-inflammatory residences that may want to enhance your health.
Chronic irritation has been linked to many diseases, which includes kind two diabetes, asthma, and positive cancers (8Trusted Source).
- SUMMARY In test-tube and animal studies, hawthorn berry extract has shown anti-inflammatory potential. Still, more research in humans is needed.
In usual Chinese medicine, hawthorn berry is one of the most oftentimes advocated meals to assist deal with excessive blood stress (11Trusted Source).
Several animal research exhibit that hawthorn can act as a vasodilator, that means it can relax constricted blood vessels, eventually reducing blood strain (12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).
In a 10-week find out about in 36 human beings with mildly accelerated blood pressure, these taking five hundred mg of hawthorn extract each day skilled no large decreases in blood pressure, even (16Trusted Source).
Another 16-week find out about in seventy nine human beings with kind two diabetes and excessive blood strain located that these who took 1,200 mg of hawthorn extract every day had increased upgrades in blood pressure, in contrast with these in the placebo team (17Trusted Source).
Nonetheless, a comparable find out about in 21 human beings with mildly expanded blood strain referred to no variations between the hawthorn-extract and placebo businesses (18Trusted Source).
4. May decrease blood fats
Some research point out that hawthorn extract may also enhance blood fats levels.
Cholesterol and triglycerides are two sorts of fatcontinuall existing in your blood.
At everyday levels, they’re flawlessly wholesome and play very vital roles in hormone manufacturing and nutrient transport at some stage in your body.
However, imbalanced blood fats levels, specifically excessive triglycerides and low HDL (good) cholesterol, play a position in atherosclerosis, or plaque buildup in your blood vessels (19Trusted Source).
If plaque continues to accumulate, it could completely block a blood vessel, leading to heart attack or stroke.
If plaque continues to accumulate, it ought to absolutely block a blood vessel, main to coronary heartassault or stroke.
In one study, mice given two distinct doses of hawthorn extract had decrease whole and LDL (bad) cholesterol, as nicely as 28–47% decrease liver triglyceride levels, in contrast with mice that did no longer get hold of the extract
Similarly, in a learn about in mice on a high-cholesterol diet, each hawthorn extract and the cholesterol-lowering drug simvastatin decreased complete ldl cholesterol and triglycerides about equally, however the extract additionally diminished LDL (bad) ldl cholesterol (21Trusted Source).
Though this research is promising, more human studies are needed to assess the effect of hawthorn extract on blood fats.
5. Used to aid digestion
Hawthorn berries and hawthorn extract have been used for centuries to deal with digestive issues, especially indigestion and belly pain.
The berries incorporate fiber, which has been demonstrated to useful resource digestion vialowering constipation and appearing as a prebiotic.
Prebiotics feed your wholesomeintestinemicro organism and are imperative to preservinghealthful digestio (22Trusted Source).
One observational find out about in human beings with sluggish digestion located that every extra gram of dietary fiber fed on diminished the time between bowel moves via about 30 minutes (23Trusted Source).
Additionally, a rat find out about located that hawthorn extract dramatically decreased the transit time of meals in the digestive machine (24Trusted Source).
This potential that meals strikes extra shortly thru your digestive system, which may additionally alleviate indigestion.
Furthermore, in a learn about in rats with belly ulcers, hawthorn extract exhibited the identical defensive impact on the stomach as an anti-ulcer medicinal drug
6. Helps prevent hair loss
Hawthorn berry may additionally even forestall hair loss and is a frequent ingredient in business hair increase products.
One find out about in rats observed that mountain hawthorn extract prompted hair boom and multiplied the quantity and dimension of hair follicles, advertising more healthy hair
It’s believed that the polyphenol content in hawthorn berry causes this beneficial effect. Nevertheless, research in this area is limited, and human studies are needed.
7. May reduce anxiety
Hawthorn has a very mild sedative effect, which may help decrease anxiety symptoms (26Trusted Source).
In a study on hawthorn’s effect on blood pressure, while people taking hawthorn extract didn’t report significantly lower levels of anxiety, there was a trend towards reduced anxiety (16Trusted Source).
In another study in 264 people with anxiety, a combination of hawthorn, magnesium, and California poppy flower significantly reduced anxiety levels, compared to a placebo. Still, it’s unclear what role hawthorn played, specifically (27Trusted Source).
Given that it has few side effects compared to traditional anti-anxiety medications, hawthorn continues to be researched as a potential treatment for disorders of the central nervous system, such as anxiety and depression (1Trusted Source).
However, more research is needed. If you want to try a hawthorn supplement to manage your anxiety, don’t discontinue any of your current medications and be sure to discuss it with your healthcare provider.
8. Used to treat heart failure
Hawthorn berry is best known for its use alongside traditional medications in the treatment of heart failure.
A review of 14 randomized studies in more than 850 people concluded that those who took hawthorn extract along with their heart failure medications experienced improved heart function and exercise tolerance.
They also experienced less shortness of breath and fatigue (28Trusted Source).
What’s more, a 2-year observational study in 952 people with heart failure found that those supplementing with hawthorn berry extract had less fatigue, shortness of breath, and heart palpitations than people who did not supplement with it.
The group taking hawthorn berry also required fewer medications to manage their heart failure (29Trusted Source).
Finally, another large study in over 2,600 people with heart failure suggested that supplementing with hawthorn berry may reduce the risk of sudden heart-related death (30Trusted Source).
People with heart failure are often encouraged to take hawthorn berry in addition to their current medications, as the supplement is considered safe with few side effects (28Trusted Source).
9. Easy to add to your diet
Hawthorn berry may be difficult to find at your local grocery store. However, you should be able to find it at farmers’ markets, specialty health food stores, and online.
You can add hawthorn to your diet in many ways:
- Raw. Raw hawthorn berries have a tart, slightly sweet taste and make a great on-the-go snack.
- Tea. You can buy premade hawthorn tea or make your own using the dried berries, flowers, and leaves of the plant.
- Jams and desserts. In the Southeastern United States, hawthorn berries are commonly made into jam, pie filling, and syrup.
- Wine and vinegar. Hawthorn berries can be fermented into a tasty adult beverage or a flavorful vinegar that can be used to make salad dressing.
- Supplements. You can take hawthorn berry supplements in a convenient powder, pill, or liquid form.
Hawthorn berry supplements usually contain the berry along with the leaves and flowers. Although, some include only the leaves and flowers, as they’re a more concentrated source of antioxidants than the berry itself.
Different brands and forms of hawthorn supplements have varying dosage recommendations.
According to one report, the minimum effective dose of hawthorn extract for heart failure is 300 mg daily (31Trusted Source).
Typical doses are 250–500 mg, taken three times daily.
Keep in mind that supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or any other governing body.
Therefore, it’s nearly impossible to know the true effectiveness or safety of a supplement. Always purchase them from reputable sources.
Look for products that have received a seal of approval from independent organizations that assess supplement effectiveness and quality, such as United States Pharmacopeia (USP), NSF International, or ConsumerLab.
Side effects and precautions
Very few side effects have been reported from taking hawthorn berry.
However, some people have complained of mild nausea or dizziness (28Trusted Source).
Due to its potent effect on the heart, it can affect certain medications. If you’re taking drugs for your heart, blood pressure, or cholesterol, speak with your healthcare provider before using hawthorn berry supplements.
The bottom line
Primarily due to its antioxidant content, hawthorn berry has sever fitness effects, specifically for your heart.
Studies point out that it can also enhance blood strain and blood fats levels, as nicely as deal with coronary heart failure when mixed with general medications.
In addition, it may additionally decrease inflammation, promote hair growth, and useful resource digestion.
If you favor to supply this effective berry a try, be certain to talk with your healthcare company before taking it as a supplement.
Latifa Dirbas carries a jug of water on her head from the village of Bal’a, weaving from one mountain to the other while keeping track of the revolutionaries. Meanwhile, Umm Wedad Arouri leaves her village of Arura to Saffa, then to Birzeit, then to Ramallah, where she delivers an oral message to the rebels there. She answers their questions, describes the means of transport, and gives them supplies, telling them where the weapons are located. British soldiers stop Latifa on her way, but she tells them she’s only going to fetch some coal.
Latifa and Umm Wedad were not alone in their actions. Women played a key role in supplying, informing, and financing the Palestinian Revolution. Women from villages sold their jewelry, while women in cities used their inheritance money to pay for the Revolt.
In the 1920s and 1930s, the entire Palestinian family was affected by colonial policies. But if only historical documents are observed, one will note the marked absence of women in this period, whether it be socially, economically, or in struggle. Even so, the Palestinian narrative before the Nakba will remain incomplete without examining and understanding the role of women in the struggle against colonialism.
Although colonial regimes have often claimed to champion women’s liberation, supposedly aiming to spread “freedom and justice” to marginalized groups, even cursory scrutiny will reveal the spuriousness of such claims. Often, colonialism limited the parameters for women’s emancipation, under the pretext of respecting local society, customs, and traditions..
But Palestinian women did not need colonialism to justify their actions. They fought in their homes and in the streets. They resisted colonialism politically, economically, and ethically. And quite crucially, they played an instrumental role in guerilla warfare by supporting the male fighters—as carriers of information, keepers of secrets, and smugglers of weapons. Their role in uplifting morale only bolstered such tasks.
From mountain to mountain I will carry your weapons
After the First World War, the Palestinians suffered major economic setbacks. Palestine had served as a battleground, leading to the damage of infrastructure, the exacerbation of an already harsh famine resulting from a locust plague, and subsequently, a drop in population. The devaluation of the currency and the disruption of the economy all added to the worsening conditions.
In those circumstances, the British Mandate imposed employment laws that granted jobs to the petty bourgeois class at the expense of other classes. Education was neglected, garnering only 5% of budget allocations. At the end of 1927, the number of schools for boys was fifty-three, compared with only four schools for girls. This reflected the absence of women in colonial thinking, despite the slogans calling for their liberation. The colonial masters cynically blamed this absence on the attitudes of local society. This was the same justification the British used to grant women unspecialized jobs, claiming for instance that there were no qualified “Muslim female teachers” capable of working in rural areas. But the “efficiency” of rural women surpassed colonial expectations.
Rural women shared an intimate relationship with weapons. They would take care of weapons as if they were their own children—cleaning them, maintaining them, and hiding them in the fields. When the army attacked her village, Umm Ahmad hid the gun inside her dress before burying it in a potato field. After collecting some potatoes to cover up her act, one of the English soldiers mocked her and asked: “What are you doing?” Umm Ahmad replied: “I am taking these” – she held up the potatoes- “to feed him”- and pointed at her child. “Is that it?” the soldier asked. “That’s it,” she insisted.
Women were trained in handling and firing weapons. Zakia Huleileh recounts how she was taught in operating the Sten and Tommy Guns, two English-manufactured machine guns. She found them hard to carry, but her brother would encourage and teach her: “he would place a rock as a target and tell me: shoot!”
According to Hassna Masoud, the women of Tirat Haifa and Ramin were known for carrying weapons and fighting:
“When the guards of Abd al-Rahim al-Hajj Muhammad were captured, the women came out and fired at the English, to make them think that they had apprehended the wrong fighters.”
This was verified by Sabha Yacoub from Ramin.
The women played an important role in concealing weapons within their loose clothing, becoming a means of transport which fueled the logistics of the revolution. Fatima al-Khatib from Ain Bait al-Ma’ recalled how she would hide weapons in her “bosom,” or in the fireplace, where she would “pile manure over it”.
Women also played a coordinating role with the rebels to secure food supplies for besieged villages. When the British army besieged Baqa al-Gharbiyya, the soldiers rigged the bridges and roads leading to it with mines to cut supplies for villages and rebels. The women did not stand idly by when hunger threatened entire villages. They coordinated with the rebels, who raised white flags on the safe roads in order for women to reach the besieged villages safely.
Women and the High Commissioner
Tarab Abdul-Hadi, one of the pioneers of the Palestinian national movement, lived in a small house East of Jerusalem during the British Mandate. From this house began the movement of a silent convoy of cars, which passed through the city of Jerusalem, and ended with a speech in front of the High Commissioner’s headquarters. A list of demands from the demonstrators was presented to him. This took place immediately after the first women’s conference was held in October 1929, with the participation of 300 Palestinian women.
Abdul Hadi, Fayha’. “Adwar al-mar’a al-filastiniyya fi al-thalathinat 1930 – al-musahama al-siyasiyya lil mar’a al-Filastiniyya [The role of the Palestinian Woman in the Thirties, the Political Participation of the Palestinian Woman]. Al- Bira: Markaz al-Mar’a al-Filastiniyya lil-Abhath wa al-Tawthiq, 2005, p. 46.
Fleischmann, Ellen. Jerusalem Women’s Organizations During the British Mandate, 1920s-1930s. Jerusalem: Passia, 1994, p. 13.
Ibid, pp. 12-15.
Abdul Hadi, Palestinian Women, p. 84.
Ibid, p. 88.
Kabaha, Mustafa, and Nimer, Sarhan. Sijil al-Qada wa al-Thuwar wa al-Mutatau’een Lithawrat 1936-1939 [A Record of Leaders, Revolutionaries, and volunteers in the Revolution of 1936-1939]. Kufr Qare’: Dar al-Huda, 2009, p. 298.
Ibid, p. 925.
Abdul Hadi, Palestinian Women, pp. 83-85.
Khartabil, Wadi’a. “Dhikrayat wa Muthakarrat Qadura Khartabil, Bahthan ‘an al-amal wa al-Watan, Situn ‘Aman min Kifah Imra’a fi Sabil Qadiyyat Filastin [Memories and Memoirs of Qadura Khartabil, In Search of Hope and a Homeland, Sixty years of a woman’s struggle for Palestine].” Beirut: Bisan Publishing House, 1995, p. 76.
Alqam, Nabil. Tarikh al-Haraka al-Wataniyya al-Filastiniyya wa Dawr al-Mar’a Fiha [History of the Palestinian National Movement and the role of women in it]. Al-Bira: Markaz Dirasat al-Turath wa al-Mujtama’, 2005, p. 86.
- Birth1917, NABLUS, PALESTINE
- Death12 DECEMBER 2003, NABLUS, WEST BANK
Fadwa Tuqan was born in Nablus. Her father was Abd al-Fattah Tuqan and her mother was Fawziyya Amin Asqalan. She had five brothers—Yusuf, Ibrahim, Ahmad, Rahmi, and Nimr—and two sisters, Fataya and Adiba.
She attended elementary school in Nablus at the Fatimiyya school and later at the Aishiyya. She had barely completed five years of study when she was removed from school under pressure from her brother Yusuf for “social reasons” and forced to stay at home.
She was greatly influenced by her brother Ibrahim. After he graduated from the American University of Beirut and returned to Palestine, he was determined to help her continue her education and to act as her guardian. She was able to escape to some extent from the harsh conditions of her home life when she decided to move to Jerusalem to live with him. She had contemplated suicide more than once, and the move to Jerusalem might have removed that thought from her mind for good.
Thanks to Ibrahim, who taught her to write poetry, a new phase of her life began. She started to become aware of her individuality, humanity, and right to education, and she took private lessons in English. She sent her poems to literary magazines in Cairo and Beirut, using pseudonyms. When they were published, her confidence in herself and her literary abilities increased.
After the deaths of her brother Ibrahim (in 1941) and her father, and then the Nakba of 1948, she began to take part, though from the sidelines, in the political life of the fifties. In 1956, she travelled to Stockholm as part of a Jordanian delegation to a peace conference, a trip that also took her to Holland, the Soviet Union, and the People’s Republic of China.
In 1956, she joined the Cultural Club established in Nablus by Walid Qamhawi and was an active member of it. This marked the beginning of her career as a poet. Through the club she met Kamal Nasir, a poet and member of the Jordanian parliament, as well as the poet Abd al-Karim al-Karmi (Abu Salma). She also met some leaders of the nationalist movement in Jordan such as Abd al-Rahman Shuqair, whom she hid in her house when he was pursued by the Jordanian authorities and helped escape to Syria in 1957.
In the early sixties, Fadwa left for England and lived for two years in Oxford, where she studied English language and literature. That trip left a deep impact on the development of her poetry and her personality.
When she returned to Nablus, she decided to remove herself from family and people and so built a house of her own to the west of the city. However, the disaster of 1967 drove her to once again take part in the public life of Nablus, now under occupation, and to commence a series of poetic and journalistic disputes with the Zionist occupier and his culture. That disaster transformed her poetry, moving it from personal and social subjects to poetry of resistance. Eventually her poetry became more comprehensive and human in theme, treating subjects like life and death, love, nature, family, and societal repression.
Tuqan was uniquely open and bold in her confessions as shown in her two-volume autobiography, which dealt with her private life and the social and political life of Nablus and the customs of its residents. She voiced her rejection of many of these customs, which in her view stifled the pursuit of knowledge and enlightenment so important to her. In that same work she dealt with her political and cultural activity, her resistance to occupation, and her contacts with Palestinian poets living in areas occupied in 1948.
Tuqan was elected to the Board of Trustees of al-Najah University when it was founded in Nablus in 1977. She wrote the university anthem and was granted an honorary doctorate by the university.
Tuqan, known as the “Poetess of Palestine,” is considered one of the most prominent cultural figures of Palestine. Between 1952 and 2000, she published eight collections of poetry. Selections of her poetry have been translated into English, French, German, Italian, Persian, and Hebrew. She was awarded a number of prizes and medals, including the annual Sulayman Arar poetry prize; the prize of the Union of Jordanian Writers in 1983; the Sultan Uways prize of the United Arab Emirates in 1989; the Jerusalem medal of the PLO in 1990; the prize of the World Festival of Contemporary Writing, Salerno, Italy, in 1992; the Tunisian cultural medal of 1996; and the PLO prize for literature in 1997. Several books and university theses have appeared about her and her work in a number of Arab and foreign universities, in addition to many articles and studies in Arab and foreign journals. The Palestinian novelist Liana Badr produced a documentary film about her life and poetry entitled “Fadwa: A Poetess from Palestine.”
Fadwa Tuqan died on 12 December 2003. She was almost 85 years old. Four years before her death she had suffered from a brain clot, which severely impaired her vision and her reading and writing. She was buried in Nablus.
Her death was announced by the Palestinian Authority to the world and to all who are concerned with culture, literature, and thought. The announcement ran as follows: “We announce the death of the great poetess of Palestine, an innovative and original talent, a daughter of Nablus, the mountain of fire; daughter of Palestine, educator, fighter for justice, cultural icon, exceptional literary figure, winner of the Palestine medal: the poetess Fadwa Tuqan.”
صدر لها، ما بين سنتي 1952 و 2000، ثمانية دواوين شعرية. وجمعت أعمالها في: “الأعمال الشعرية الكاملة”. بيروت: دار العودة، 2004.
[The Collected Poetical Works]
Some of her poetry were translated into English, German, French, Italian, Persian and Hebrew.
“أخي ابراهيم”. يافا: المكتبة العصرية، 1946.
[My Brother Ibrahim]
“رحلة جبلية، رحلة صعبة: سيرة ذاتية”. عكا: دار الأسوار، 198.
[A Mountainous Journey, a Difficult Journey: An Autobiography]
“الرحلة الأصعب: سيرة ذاتية”. عمان: دار الشروق، 1993.
[The Most Difficult Journey: An Autobiography]
A Mountain’s Journey: An Autobiography, Translated by Olive Kenny and edited by Salma Khadra Jayyusi (London: Women’s Press, 1990).
Le Rocher et la peine: Mémoires 1, Traduit de l’arabe par Joséphine Lama et Benoît Tadié (Paris: l’Asiathèque Langues du monde, 1997).
Le Cri de la pierre: Mémoires 2, Traduit de l’arabe par Joséphine Lama et Benoît Tadié (Paris: l’Asiathèque Langues du monde, 1998).
بدر، ليانة. “ظلال الكلمات المحكية: حوار مع فدوى”. القاهرة: دار الفتى العربي، 1996.
ديكان- واصف، سارة. “معجم الكتّاب الفلسطينيين”. باريس: معهد العالم العربي، 1999.
شاهين، أحمد عمر. “موسوعة كتّاب فلسطين في القرن العشرين”. الجزء الأول. دمشق: المركز القومي للدراسات والتوثيق، 1992.
كامبل، روبرت. “أعلام الأدب العربي المعاصر: سير وسير ذاتية.” بيروت: المعهد الألماني للأبحاث الشرقية، 1996.
لوباني، حسين علي. “معجم أعلام فلسطين في العلوم والفنون والآداب”. بيروت: مكتبة لبنان ناشرون، 2012.
Abdul Hadi, Mahdi, ed. Palestinian Personalities: A Biographic Dictionary. 2nd ed., revised and updated. Jerusalem: Passia Publication, 2006.
Birth1903, JERUSALEM, PALESTINE
Death13 MAY 1992, JERUSALEM
Zulaykha al-Shihabi was born in Jerusalem. Her father was Ishaq Abd al-Qadir al-Shihabi, and her mother was Zainab al-Muhtadi. She had two brothers, Subhi and Jamil, and two sisters, Rasmiyya and Rifqa.
She was educated at the Notre Dame de Sion school. Her father (unlike most fathers at the turn of the century) insisted on sending his daughters to school to learn the sciences and languages, and Zulaykha was among the top students in her class.
From an early age she became conscious of the dangers of Zionism. She had been raised in a family with deep roots in Jerusalem, and she learned the history of her city since its earliest Arab Islamic days. She in turn conveyed to her classmates what she had heard from her parents.
She joined the nationalist struggle during the turmoil that followed the al-Buraq rebellion. She was present at the Palestine Arab Women Congress, which was held in Jerusalem in October 1929, was the first women’s political meeting at the national level, and was attended by some three hundred women, to discuss the political situation. The meeting then issued a memorandum setting out the reasons behind the rebellion and the demands of the people. She was elected as a member of the delegation that presented the memorandum to the High Commissioner. Matiel Mughannam gave a short speech in English; Tarab Abd al-Hadi gave a speech in Arabic. When the delegation returned to the meeting, a massive demonstration by women broke out, with some one hundred cars driving through the streets of Jerusalem and shouting thunderous slogans, amidst enormous popular enthusiasm.
She cofounded the Arab Women Society in Jerusalem as a follow-up to the resolutions of the 1929 meeting. Similar women societies were founded in most cities; some went by the name Arab Women’s Committees.
She worked with Milia al-Sakakini in a voluntary and free campaign to teach young girls basic reading and writing skills, and she founded al-Dawha School, which became well known for the education and health care it provided young girls.
Through the Arab Women’s Committees she played a prominent role during the General Strike and the Great Arab Revolt (1936–39). It was her idea to organize a large audience to attend the trials of rebels to raise their morale and to show the authorities that the people were behind their heroes.
She was a prominent member of the twenty-seven member delegation of Palestinian women that took part in the Eastern Women Congress in Cairo at the invitation of Huda Sha‘rawi, the Egyptian feminist leader, for the purpose of supporting the cause of Palestine. The conference convened in Cairo in October 1938 and included a very large number of Arab women who were pioneers in the social and national fields. Palestine was the focal point of that First inter-Arab women congress. Shihabi delivered her speech in the name of the Women Society of Jerusalem and spoke of the history of the problem and of British policy. When the congress came to elect deputies from each delegation, Shihabi and Wahida al-Khalidi were elected from the Palestinian delegation. At the end of the congress, she was invited to deliver a speech in the name of Palestine; she thanked everyone and ended with these words: “We return convinced that the people of Palestine are not alone as they wage their sacred struggle to save their homeland.”
Returning to Jerusalem she proceeded to implement Huda Sha‘rawi’s recommendation to unify Arab women’s activities under a single name, the Arab Women’s Union. So she announced the dissolution of the Arab Women’s Society in Jerusalem and the creation of the Palestinian Arab Women’s Union.
In heath and social welfare matters, her most notable achievement was to create, through the Women’s Union, a first-aid field committee charged with treating the wounded. She also created a clinic to treat the destitute, provide free inoculation against infectious diseases, and care for pregnant women and childcare; she also took part in securing shelters for orphans. The union defrayed the cost of educating tens of orphans in Dar al-aytam al-Islamiyya. In Jericho, she founded a winter resort for convalescence and a home for destitute women. People remember her as a woman who used to visit prisons and detention camps to encourage rather than console prisoners, carrying with her symbolic presents for political detainees to let them know that the people supported them.
She showed a special interest in sports. Under her supervision the union established a sports club with its own executive committee, its own sports program, and a large playing field. When the union held its conference on 16 July 1946, attended by a large number of Arab women from various Arab capitals, the flags of their countries were displayed on the sidelines of the playing field.
In the 1940s, she intensified the union’s activities in the cultural domain and sent out invitations to writers and artists to give lectures on scientific and national themes and to discuss cultural issues.
The secret of her success was that she did not rely solely on voluntary contributions but on productive work as well. Thus, the union from the very beginning bought several plots of land planted with vines or fruit trees and presented these plots to families of martyrs who would then care for the land and live off its produce. So too with women. The union taught them needlework and weaving in order to provide them with an income. The most notable decision was to teach young girls the art of flower making; they began to create artificial flowers. Shihabi herself would happily join them in their work and would join them also as they manufactured beauty creams. The union frequently organized charitable markets to sell its diverse products and spend the proceeds on charitable projects.
After the Nakba she redoubled her activities. Jerusalem remained her primary residence, but she frequently traveled to Amman. In 1959 she added to her other responsibilities the presidency of the Union of Charitable Societies in the Jerusalem District.
She travelled extensively, attending Arab and international women’s conferences, and visited both Britain and Russia in addition to many Arab capitals. She was an ideal representative of the Palestinian woman and the most eloquent in explaining the Palestine cause in public forums.
As an elected member of the executive of the General Union of Arab Women, she attended the meetings of the union as well as conferences devoted to women’s issues in Beirut, Cairo, and Jerusalem. She was a prominent female member of the First Palestine National Congress, from which emerged the PLO on 28 May 1964. As president of the Jerusalem women’s union she sought to popularize the idea of creating a general union of Palestinian women.
On 20 February 1965, she organized a general meeting in Jerusalem of representatives of women’s unions in Palestinian cities to prepare for a general conference to include Palestinian women both in Palestine and the diaspora and with the object of creating a broad framework to be called the General Union of Palestinian Women. As chairwoman of the preparatory committee, she oversaw the convening of the Palestinian Women’s Congress in July 1965 in Jerusalem. This was attended by 174 members, and the PLO Department of Popular Organizations contributed to the creation of the Union on the constitutional, organizational, and administrative levels. The union then came into existence.
After Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1967, Shihabi was one of the first figures it deported to Jordan. However, the intervention of several states and the United Nations forced Israel to allow her to return and resume her work as president of the union. She continued to work tirelessly until her death at age 89.
She died on 13 May 1992. Her funeral prayer was held at al-Aqsa Mosque and was attended by many prominent national figures.
“الحركة الوطنية الفلسطينية: 1935- 1939. يوميات أكرم زعيتر”. بيروت: مؤسسة الدراسات الفلسطينية، 1980.
خرطبيل، وديعة قدورة. “بحثاً عن الأمل والوطن: ستون عاماً من كفاح امرأة في سبيل قضية فلسطين”. بيروت: بيسان للنشر والتوزيع، 1995.
طوبي، أسمى. “عبير ومجد”. بيروت: مطبعة قلفاط، 1966.
Khalidi, Anbara Salam. Early Arab Feminism; The Life and Activism of Anbara Salam Khalidi. London: Pluto Press, 2013.
Birth15 APRIL 1923, GAZA CITY, PALESTINE
Death13 MAY 2009, GAZA CITY, GAZA STRIP
Yusra al-Barbari was born in the city of Gaza. Her father, Ibrahim al-Barbari, was a Gaza merchant and member of the city’s Municipal Council. Her mother was Labiba Mahmud Halawah. She had two brothers: Kamal, an attorney, and Sa‘id.
She attended the Gaza Girls Elementary School and completed her high school education at Schmidt College for Girls in Jerusalem.
She then travelled to Egypt where she enrolled in the Faculty of Arts and the Department of History of Fuad I University (later, Cairo University), where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history in 1949. She was the first female university graduate in the Gaza Strip. She began to work on an M.A. thesis about the struggle of the Palestinian people against British occupation and the Balfour Declaration, supervised by the well-known historian Ashraf Ghurbal, but she did not complete that thesis. She was fluent in Arabic, English, and French.
Her working life began in Gaza, then under Egyptian administration, as a teacher at the Bir al-Sabi‘ Girls Elementary School; she was later appointed teacher and supervisor at the Zahra School, the only secondary school for girls in the Gaza Strip. She became inspector of social studies in girls’ schools where she developed a curriculum for female teacher training, which eventually became the Women Teachers Institute in Gaza. Following the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip in 1967, she refused to work in any job under Israeli authority.
Ever since she was a young student, Yusra al-Barbari had taken part in demonstrations against the British Mandate, demanding the annulment of the Balfour Declaration and an end to Jewish immigration. During the years of her secondary school education in Jerusalem, she took part in numerous anti-Zionist and anti-Mandate activities. In Cairo, she participated in a massive demonstration organized by university students to protest the UN Partition Resolution of 1947. Along with other Gazan women she met the stream of Palestinian refugees coming from towns and villages occupied by Israeli forces during the 1948 war, provided them with basic services, taught refugee girls in tents, and took part in the national effort and in demonstrations protesting the scheme, advocated by Israel, to resettle the Palestinian refugees outside Palestine, in the Sinai. She participated in protests of the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip in 1956.
She was prominent in the field of sports, taking part in several Arab and international table-tennis tournaments, a sport she mastered. She worked as an administrative official in the Palestine girls’ table tennis team.
In the autumn of 1963 she joined Dr. Haydar Abd al-Shafi and Ibrahim Abu Sitta on the first Palestinian delegation to visit the United Nations and was chosen as a member of the First Palestine National Council, held in Jerusalem in May 1964, at which the Palestine Liberation Organization was established.
She played a prominent role in establishing the Women’s Union of Gaza in 1964 and was elected its president; she attached a workshop for weaving and embroidery. She led the Gaza women’s delegation to the conference which founded the General Union of Palestinian Women, held in Jerusalem in 1965.
When Israel occupied the Gaza Strip for the second time in June 1967, Yusra al-Barbari was the first person to arrive at the homes of political detainees and to offer aid to their families in the name of the Women’s Union. Because of her activities against the occupation, the Israeli authorities in 1974 prevented her from traveling for several years.
She became the executive secretary of the Gaza Red Crescent Society which was set up in 1969 and started its operations in 1972, and then a member of its board of directors. She was also a member of the Veterans’ Society and the Society for the Disabled in the Gaza Strip. In 2005, the Palestine Consultative Council of the Swiss group “League of 1000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize” (1000 Femmes pour le Prix Nobel de la Paix) nominated her as one of eight Palestinian women candidates for the award. The Swiss initiative aimed to draw attention to the role played by women in all spheres of life and in bolstering peace in their societies.
Yusra al-Barbari died in Gaza and was given a solemn funeral. She was buried in the Martyrs Cemetery east of Gaza City. Her death was officially announced by President Mahmoud Abbas and the Executive Committee of the PLO. A memorial service for her was held on 24 June 2009 at the Rashad al-Shawwa Cultural Center in Gaza city, attended by many prominent national figures. When pioneering Palestinian women were singled out to be honored at the opening of the fifth congress of the General Union of Palestinian Women on 21 May 2009, she was honored by receiving the Star of Jerusalem Medal, where the citation read: “In appreciation of her exceptional contributions and her early and distinctive participation in the national and educational struggle.”
دراغمة، عزت. “الحركة النسائية في فلسطين (1903-1990)”. القدس: مكتب ضياء للدراسات، 1991.
طوبي، أسمى. “عبير ومجد”. بيروت: مطبعة قلفاط، ط 1، 1966.
عبد الهادي، فيحاء. “يسرى إبراهيم البربري: باقية في ذاكرة الشعب الجماعية”. “الأيام” (رام الله)، 31 أيار/ مايو 2009:
الفراني، عبد الحميد جمال وعوني محمد العلوي. “أعلام النساء الفلسطينيات”. بيروت: دار العلوم العربية، 2013.
فيصل، نعمان. “أعلام من جيل الرواد من غزة هاشم منذ أواخر العهد العثماني وحتى القرن العشرين”. غزة: مكتبة اليازجي، 2010.
النحال زعرب، امتياز. “فلسطينيات: وجوه نسائية فلسطينية معاصرة”. غزة: دار المقداد للطباعة، ط1، 2013.
نصّار، إبراهيم (تحرير). “نساء من بلادي”. رام الله: طاقم شؤون المرأة، د. ت.
Abdul Hadi, Mahdi, ed. Palestinian Personalities: A Biographic Dictionary. 2nd ed., revised and updated. Jerusalem: Passia Publication, 2006.
In 1930s Jerusalem, a young boy walks to school through the narrow, stone paved streets of the Old City. Every morning, as he reaches Damascus Gate, he passes a group of men gathered at a local coffee shop to listen to the latest news.
His name is Hazem Nusseibeh, and over eighty years later, he describes the scene to us from his home in Amman. “Big groups would come in from the villages near Jerusalem,” he says. “Their faces would be pink from all the walking and they would be carrying baskets of grapes and figs.”
He describes how men from the villages would bring their harvest into the Old City to sell it at market, then go to a coffee shop where a man would read the newspaper to them. During the 1930s, only around one in five Palestinian-Arabs could read and write, so it was common to read newspapers aloud and show the pictures and cartoons to those who were illiterate. Through these gatherings, illustrated newspapers spread their message to a wide audience, shaping the political awareness of both literate and illiterate Palestinian Arabs.
Drawing the Headlines
Gatherings like these were so widespread that after the 1929 Buraq Uprising, the British officials who had been sent to investigate the conflict reported back to His Majesty’s Government that “In almost every village there is someone who reads from the papers to the gatherings of those villagers who are illiterate. The Arab fallahin [smallholding farmers] and villagers are therefore probably more politically-minded than many of the people in Europe.”
Political cartoons always appeared on the front page of these newspapers, providing sharp critiques of political negotiations, tactics and economic developments.Yet the woman who drew the most widely read cartoons in 1930s Palestine remains shrouded in mystery. All we know is that she was a Christian from Eastern Europe, and that the owner of the newspaper Falastin, ‘Isa Daud al-‘Isa, would think up the ideas for the cartoons and ask her to draw them. Her story was told over sixty years later, in an email from ‘Isa’s son to the American academic, Sandy Sufian, just a few years before the son passed away. Had it not been for this email, this mysterious woman would have disappeared from history entirely.
Sneaking Past The Censors
At first glance, there is also something mysterious about the cartoons themselves: the way they suddenly became popular, then just as suddenly faded back into obscurity. Before and after the 1936 Great Arab Revolt, political cartoons rarely appeared in Palestinian newspapers and as the conﬂict intensiﬁed, they became more frequent.
It is no coincidence that as tensions in Palestine rose, British censorship of newspapers increased. Journalists were jailed, the publication of certain types of information was banned and daily newspapers were closed down for publishing “dangerous” articles. More than once, the British suspended all four Arabic dailies at the same time for what they considered to be provocative articles. During the early phase of the revolt, Arabic newspapers were suspended thirty-four times, while the Jewish press was suspended thirteen.
In this repressive atmosphere, political cartoons were useful because subversive messages could be shifted from the text to the image, where they were more likely to pass censorship regulations.
Though they may seem simple and direct, some of these cartoons contained multiple layers of symbolism.
The June 1936 Falastin cartoon titled The Zionist Crocodile to Palestine Arabs tells a multifaceted story about the colonization of Palestine.
The bug-eyed crocodile salivates as he prepares to devour Arab fallahin and their citrus groves, his tail emerging from the sea like a ship’s ramp. He embodies two key strategies of early Zionism: gaping jaws representing the colonization of indigenous land through Zionist land acquisition, and scaly tail alluding to the arrival of tens of thousands of European settler colonists to Palestine by ship.
In the 1930s, the displacement of fallahin through Zionist land purchases was a pressing economic issue. Fallahin debt and default on credit reached critical levels, made worse by the fact that British had started to tax many previously untaxed pieces of agricultural land. The fallahin resisted by joining trade unions and political organizations, and engaging in civil protest and cultivation disputes directed at the British, Zionists and the Palestinian upper class.
Worth A Thousand Words
At a library in Beirut, a middle-aged man puts on a set of rubber gloves, takes a small reel out of the archive and attaches it to the microfilm reader. The reader is a clunky grey machine that looks something like a PC from the 1980s. The Beirut-based library of the Institute of Palestinian Studies is one of the few places where these caricatures have been preserved, but sadly much else from this period has been lost forever.
Caught up in the fervor of revolt and faced with harsh British repression, it seems Palestinian revolutionaries and their supporters had little time to document their stories and preserve their history. Much of what had existed was lost a decade later in the Nakba, as Palestinians fled their homes in the face of danger from Zionist militias. In these rare drawings, we see some of the few remaining images that tell the story of an anti-colonial consciousness awakening in British Mandate Palestine.
- Nusseibeh, Hazem. Interview by Thoraya El Rayyes & Ibrahim Tarawneh, Amman (2015), sound recording.
- Khalidi, Rashid. The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood. Beacon Press, 2007.
- Shaw, Sir Walter Sidney. Report of the Commission on the Palestine Disturbances of August, 1929: Evidence Heard During the 1st [-47th] Sittings, HM Stationery Office, 1930.
- Sufian, Sandy. “Anatomy of the 1936–39 Revolt: Images of the Body in Political Cartoons of Mandatory Palestine”, Journal of Palestine Studies 37, No.2 (2008).
- Shaw. Report of the Commission on the Palestine Disturbances.
- Sufian, Sandy. “Anatomy of the 1936–39 Revolt: Images of the Body in Political Cartoons of Mandatory Palestine”, Journal of Palestine Studies 37, No.2 (2008), p. 25.
- Ibid, p. 27.
- Ibid, p. 30.
- Tamari, Salim, and Issam Nassar. The Storyteller of Jerusalem: the Life and Times Wasif Jawhariyyeh, 1904-1948, Olive Branch Press: 2013.
- Sufian. “Anatomy of the 1936–39 Revolt,” p. 30.
- Azoulay, Ariella. “Photographic Conditions: Looting, Archives, and the Figure of the” Infiltrator”, Jerusalem Quarterly, No. 61 (2015): 6
Birth9 APRIL 1944, HAIFA, PALESTINE
Leila Khaled was born in Haifa. Her father, Ali Khaled, and her mother, Jamila Lattuf, had seven girls and five boys. She and her husband, Fayiz Rashid, had two sons, Bader and Bashar.
Her family was forced to leave Haifa after the city fell to Zionist forces in April 1948, when she was barely four years old. The family settled in the Lebanese city of Tyre.
She studied at the Evangelical Union Schools in Tyre and completed her secondary education at the Sidon Girls School.
In 1959 she joined the Arab Nationalist Movement and in 1963 she enrolled at the American University of Beirut and was elected a member of the administrative committee of the General Union of Palestinian Students in Beirut. She had to leave the university after one year because her family could not afford to pay her university fees.
Between 1963 and 1969, she worked as an English teacher in government schools in Kuwait. She had joined the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) as soon as it was founded in December 1967.
From 1969 to 1972, Khaled took part in foreign military operations of the PFLP, which were organized by Dr. Wadi Haddad.
On 29 August 1969 she and her comrade Salim Isawi hijacked a TWA airliner; they were imprisoned in Syria for a month and a half and then released. On 6 September 1970, she was one of the hijackers of an Israeli El Al airliner and was detained for a month in Britain when the pilot landed in London. An Argentinian comrade, Patrick Arguello, was killed aboard the plane by Israeli security guards.
Between 1973 and 1977, Leila Khaled joined the Palestinian resistance in Lebanon, working either as an official of the PFLP or as a member of the Secretariat of the General Union of Palestinian Women. She was also actively involved in the assistance to the displaced and the wounded following Israeli attacks on the Palestinian refugee camps.
She had been elected a member of the Secretariat of the Women’s Union at the second conference of that union in 1974. As a union activist, she took part in several international, regional, and local conferences and in many workshops devoted to women’s affairs; she also helped to establish (in 1978) the House of the Children of Resilience to care for children of the martyrs of Tal al-Za‘atar refugee camp north of Beirut when it fell to right-wing forces during the Lebanese civil war. This facility exists to the present day.
Between 1978 and 1980, Leila Khaled studied at the universities of Moscow and Rostov but cut short her studies when the PLO summoned all university students studying abroad to help defend the Palestinian revolution. During the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the summer of 1982, she worked (through the General Union of Palestinian Women) to find shelter for the displaced and tend to the wounded in hospitals.
In 1979, she became a member of the Palestine National Council at its fourteenth session held in Damascus; she continues to be a member of the council. In that capacity, she has been part of many Palestinian parliamentary delegations and was a member of the Arab Women Committee of the Arab Parliamentary Union.
After the exodus from Lebanon in 1982, the PFLP was reorganized, and Khaled occupied various administrative and leadership positions.
In 1986 the Palestine Women Organization was established to serve as a general framework for the PFLP, and Leila Khaled was elected first secretary. The organization worked to mobilize women to defend their rights and the rights of the Palestinian people through specially prepared programs and plans, and came to have branches in a number of Arab countries and abroad. The organization published a magazine, The Woman’s Voice, which she edited.
In 1993, she was elected a member of the Central Committee of the PFLP during its fifth national conference. In 2005 she was elected a member of the PFLP’s Political Bureau, a post she retains to the present day.
In 1992, she and her family moved to Amman, where she currently resides.
Inspired by her personal experiences of forced exile from her hometown and the suffering of her kin and nation, Leila Khaled took the struggle of Palestinian women into new and unprecedented directions. She has made notable contributions in social, humanitarian, and political areas, in the service of her cause, and in defense of basic human rights.
Abdul Hadi, Mahdi, ed. Palestinian Personalities: A Biographic Dictionary. 2nd ed., revised and updated. Jerusalem: Passia Publication, 2006.
Dietl, Gulshan. “Portrait of a Revolutionary: Leila Khaled, 20 Years on.” The Middle East, no. 171 (January 1989): 59–60.
Irving, Sarah. Leila Khaled: Icon of Palestinian Liberation. London: Pluto Press, 2012 (translated into Arabic).
Khaled, Leila. Women’s Liberation. Beirut: Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Information Department, 1971.
Khaled, Leila and George Hajjar. My People Shall Live: Autobiography of a Revolutionary. Toronto: NC Press, 1975.
Khaled, Leila and Rogério Ferrari. Palestine: existences-résistances. Paris: Passager Clandestin, 2008.
Snow, Peter, and David Phillips. Leilaʽs Hijack War: The True Story of 25 Days in September, 1970. London: Pan Books, 1970.
The production of soap is a very old tradition in the Middle East: it is based primarily on the production of olive oil. At first a domestic production, the soap industry developed in urban centers: the most famous are Aleppo in Syria, Tripoli in Lebanon, and Nablus in Palestine. Throughout the Ottoman period, big families of the urban bourgeoisie acquired the main soap factories located in the city center of Nablus. In the nineteenth century, the soap industry became the dominant economic sector of the city: owning a soap factory became a symbol of wealth, prestige, and urban belonging.
Process of Making Soap
The few Nablus soap factories that have remained operational follow more or less the same manufacturing process (except for some minor changes) that was developed two centuries ago. It is a five-step process—cooking, laying, cutting, drying, and packaging—supported by four different teams of workers.
At the ground floor of the soap factory, olive oil (the main ingredient) mixed with caustic soda and water is placed in a large bowl (halla) and “cooked” for three days. (In the first half of the twentieth century, caustic soda, imported from Alexandria and Europe, replaced the qeli, a plant turned into ashes.) Under the tank, a boiler helps the process of saponification. Once the mixture is ready, the head of the team tastes the soap or crumbles it on his hand to check its texture. Then porters carry the mixture in buckets and pour it on a designated section of the first floor (mafrash), where it dries for a day before being shaped into small cubes, stamped with the brand of the soap factory, and cut by a team of three to four trained workers. A day later, the same workers pile the pieces of soap into pyramids (tananir). The soap then dries for two to three months. Another team packages the soap, wrapping it in a paper with the brand of the soap factory. These workers pack an average of 500 to 1,000 bars of soap per hour.
In the heyday of soap production in Nablus, factories were registered companies with brand names and a printed logo on the soap wrapping paper. These brands were often symbols or names of animals; examples include muftahein (the two keys), al-jamal (the camel), al-na‘ama (the ostrich), al-najma (the star), al-baqara (the cow), al-badr (the full moon), and al-assad (the lion). Slogans were added on the packaging such as al-sabun al-Nabulsi al-mumtaz (Nablus soap extra) or al-ma‘ruf (the well-known).
Decline of Soap Production in Nablus before 1948
By 1930, Nablus soap production had experienced its first important setback. Several reasons are usually given for this decline. Egypt and Syria, which were major markets for Nablus soap (especially Egypt), imposed taxes on imported soap. Nablus soap was competing with soap production in Egypt. The label “Nabulsi” attached to the soap was not protected, and as a result, counterfeiting took place. This, coupled with the rise in the price of pure olive oil after the Great Depression of 1929, contributed to raise the price of Nablus soap, making it difficult for Nablus producers to compete with other imported soaps. In addition, Jewish mechanized industry, which also succeeded to obtain customs benefits from the British Mandate, provided local competition.
This first soap crisis reveals the effects, though indirect, of Jewish immigration in the region of Nablus, hitherto relatively protected from the consequences of the Zionist colonization. In general, the absence of a sovereign state capable of controlling borders and taxes meant that Nablus soap was unprotected, while at the same time the British Mandate granted customs benefits to the Zionists traders, and Egypt and Syria were able to impose barriers to protect their local production.
After 1948, the market of historic Palestine closed; so too did the Egyptian market. The East Bank of the Jordan River (Jordan) became the main market for Nablus soap. Soap producers were gradually forced to import olive oil from Syria and Lebanon, and secondarily from Spain and Italy.
Transformation and Final Decline of the Soap Industry
In the 1950s Hamdi Kan‘an, brother-in-law of the soap producer and trader Ahmad Shaka‘a, introduced in Nablus what was called “green soap,” a soap made from jift (solid remains of first press olives, mainly kernels) oil: it was a lower quality soap used to wash the floor and do the laundry. This was a small revolution. Indeed, the exploitation of this new, much cheaper type of oil allowed less wealthy families to rent soap factories and mass-produce household soap. During the 1970s, production of this “second class” soap (which quickly took the generic name of “Kan‘an”), developed rapidly. But it also helped some soap factory workers to become small manufacturers; they rented soap factories in the old city and started to produce soap. At this time, some soap factories tried to mechanize and “develop” the Nablus soap in its form, packaging, and ingredients. Another change (a consequence of the Israeli occupation of 1967) is that all kinds of oils started to be used.
Despite the attempts by some in the soap industry to transform production and adapt to the changing circumstances, the soap industry experienced a steady regression during the second half of the twentieth century, and the first intifada marked the final decline. Small factories producing green soap were already being marginalized by the introduction of detergents and washing machines and cheaper foreign products (like Lux and Palmolive). They could not compete, nor could they afford the new taxes imposed on the soap: their lack of capital prevented them from maintaining their production. Moreover, since the first intifada, soap production became harder to maintain, because the old city was the target of Israeli attacks, and many soap factories thus closed in the 1990s.
In summary, cheaper foreign products as well as the introduction of new consumption patterns brought about the decline of the soap industry in Nablus. Of the more than thirty soap factories in the old city of Nablus, several were damaged by the Israeli invasion of 2002 and two of them completely destroyed; most of the rest have been abandoned or put to other uses. For example, the Arafat soap factory is being developed into a cultural center for children; some producers are using perfumes and mechanization to produce new soaps to keep the tradition of soap making in Nablus alive. Since 2007 only two soap factories have remained functional in Nablus, and they belong to the Tuqan and Shaka‘a families, who keep them as a heritage. These factories export the vast majority of their production to Jordan, taking advantage of long-standing relationships with the distributors on the East Bank of the river and the importance of the Palestinian population in Jordan. From there, a small part of the production is sent to Kuwait and the Gulf.
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Jaussen, Antonin. Naplouse et son district. Paris: Geuthner, 1927.
Sharif, Husam. Sina‘at al-sabun al-Nabulsi [The Nabulsi Soap Industry]. Nablus: Palestinian Authority: Municipality of Nablus, 1999.
Taher, Ali Nusuh. Shajarat al-zaytun. Tarikhuha, zira’atuha, amraduha, sina‘atuha [The Olive Tree: Its History, Culture, Diseases and Production]. Jaffa, 1947.