Family, Social, and Professional Networks in Mount Hebron Before and After 1948

By Alex Winder
Submitted to Session P4735 (Hebron in the Modern Period: Social, Political, and Economic Dynamics in Southern Palestine, 2017 Annual Meeting
19th-21st Centuries;
LCD Projector with Audio Patch or Speakers;
This paper traces the impact of the 1948 War and the loss of Palestine through the recently-published diaries of Muhammad ‘Abd al-Hadi al-Shrouf, a Palestinian from Nuba, a village located about 11 kilometers northwest of Hebron. Nuba was, post-1948, a “front-line” village, along the cease-fire lines and de facto border with the newly declared state of Israel, with much of its agricultural lands falling on the opposite side. These new boundaries severed social and economic networks connecting Nuba—and the Hebron region—with villages, cities, and regions to the west, while the British withdrawal disrupted professional networks developed around government service. The disruption of some kinship, social, and professional networks within Palestinian society led others to be reconfigured or activated in reaction to the catastrophe of 1948. Centering Shrouf’s diaries, while drawing on historical and personal accounts of Hebron and its surroundings during this period, this paper illuminates the socio-economic infrastructure that filled the immediate post-Mandate political vacuum and shaped the Jordanian administration that followed.
Shrouf kept his diary for nearly 20 years, from 1943 to 1962, with entries from 1944 to 1955 comprising an almost daily account of his movements and interactions. They follow Shrouf from his days as a shopkeeper in Jerusalem to his service as a policeman in Jaffa under British Mandate rule and then to his return to the Hebron area as war loomed in anticipation of the Mandate’s end. Following the war, Shrouf records Hebron’s passage from Egyptian to Jordanian administration and the efforts of the Jordanian government, international organizations, and the local population to recover from the disastrous loss of 1948. Pre-existing networks, albeit constrained and reconfigured by circumstances, remained vital in shaping these efforts. Clan and family networks proved the most resilient in the aftermath of the Nakba, and were vital in mediating the humanitarian, educational, economic, political, and security interventions by the Jordanian state as well as international organizations like the Red Cross. Links among neighboring villages were also crucial to the organization of education, medical care, and security. Finally, socio-economic ties continued to link the city of Hebron to its surrounding villages. Tracing these networks’ configurations and reconfigurations around 1948 thus sheds light on the social and economic history of the greater Hebron region, the impact of the Nakba on the everyday lives of villagers around Hebron, and governmentality in the Jordanian-administered West Bank.