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Heroes and Martyrs of Palestine


  • Page extent: 274 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.57 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 956.9405
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: DS113.6 .K37 2007
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Palestinian Arabs--History--20th century
    • National liberation movements--Palestine
    • Refugees, Palestinian Arab--Lebanon
    • Arab-Israeli conflict

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521865128)

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Heroes and Martyrs of Palestine Cambridge University Press
978-0-521-86512-8 - HEROES AND MARTYRS OF PALESTINE - by Laleh Khalili

Heroes and Martyrs of Palestine

The history of the Palestinians over the last half century has been one of turmoil, a people living under occupation or exiled from their homeland. Theirs has been at times a tragic story, but also one of resistance, heroism, and nationalist aspiration. Laleh Khalili’s fascinating and unsettling book is based on her experiences in the Lebanese refugee camps, where ceremonies and commemorations of key moments in the history of the struggle are a significant part of their political life. It is these commemorations of the past, according to Dr Khalili, that have helped to forge a sense of nationhood and strategies of struggle amongst the disenfranchised Palestinian people, both in Lebanon and beyond. She also analyzes how, in recent years, as discourses of liberation and rights have changed in the international community, and as the character of local institutions has evolved, there has been a shift in the representation of Palestinian nationalism from the heroic to the tragic mode. This trend is exemplified through the commemoration of martyrs and their elevation to tragic yet iconic figures in the Palestinian collective memory.

LALEH KHALILI is Lecturer in Politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.

Cambridge Middle East Studies 27

Editorial Board
Charles Tripp (general editor)
Julia A. Clancy-Smith, F. Gregory Gause
Yezid Sayigh, Avi Shlaim, Judith E. Tucker

Cambridge Middle East Studies has been established to publish books on the nineteenth- and twentieth-century Middle East and North Africa. The aim of the series is to provide new and original interpretations of aspects of Middle Eastern societies and their histories. To achieve disciplinary diversity, books will be solicited from authors writing in a wide range of fields, including history, sociology, anthropology, political science, and political economy. The emphasis will be on producing books offering an original approach along theoretical and empirical lines. The series is intended for students and academics, but the more accessible and wide-ranging studies will also appeal to the interested general reader.

A list of books in the series can be found after the index.

Heroes and Martyrs of Palestine
The Politics of National Commemoration

Laleh Khalili
University of London

Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo

Cambridge University Press
The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 8RU, UK

Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York
Information on this title:

© Laleh Khalili 2007

This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception
and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements,
no reproduction of any part may take place without
the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published 2007

Printed in the United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge

A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library

Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication Data

Khalili, Laleh
 Heroes and martyrs of Palestine: the politics of national commemoration / Laleh Khalili.
  p. cm. - (Cambridge Middl East studies; 26)
 Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN-13 978-0-521-86512-8 (hardback : alk. paper)

ISBN-10 0-521-86512-3 (hardback : alk. paper)

 1. Palestinian Arabs – History – 20th century. 2. National liberation movements – Palestine. 3. Refugees, Palestinian Arab – Lebanon.
4. Arab-Israeli conflict. I. Title. II. Series.

DS113.6.K37 2007
956.9405–dc22    2006037412
ISBN-13 978-0-521-86512-8 hardback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

For John

He who writes his story
inherits the land of that story

Mahmud Darwish


Acknowledgmentspagepage ix
List of abbreviationsxi
2Transnational movements and discourses11
3Palestinian lives and local institutions in the camps of Lebanon41
4Forms of commemoration65
5Contents of commemoration: narratives of heroism, suffering, and sumud90
6Guerrillas and martyrs: the evolution of national “heroes”113
7Between battles and massacres: commemorating violent events150
8Commemoration in the Occupied Palestinian Territories187


This book began as my doctoral dissertation, and I am grateful to my supervisors and mentors – Lisa Anderson, Ira Katznelson, Rashid Khalidi, Anthony Marx, and Charles Tilly – for the inspiration and support they provided and the difficult questions they asked. I thank As’ad AbuKhalil, Lori Allen, Frances Hasso, Roger Heacock, Isabelle Humphries, Laura Junka, Omar El-Khairy, Muhmmad Ali Khalidi, Peter Lagerquist, Adrienne Le Bas, Abeer Najjar, Shira Robinson, Wadie Said, Rosemary Sayigh, Yezid Sayigh, Jihane Sfeir, Gershon Shafir, Tamir Sorek, Linda Tabar, and Jennifer Zakaria who have read all or portions of the manuscript, made brilliant suggestions, caught embarrassing errors, and tightened the argument therein. John Chalcraft has read more versions of this study than anyone should have to, and each time, his incisive critiques have been crucial in making the book better. At some essential level, this work has been inspired by my parents, Dr. Khadijeh Tamaddon and the late Dr. Hedi Khalili, whose sense of justice and humanity I hope to pass on to their granddaughter, May.

In Ramallah, without Annemarie Jacir I would not have been able to see and experience what I did, or understand what I saw and experienced. In Beirut, Olfat Mahmoud helped me secure lodging and research permissions in the Burj al-Barajna camp, for which I am deeply indebted to her. I thank Ralph Bodenstein, Ruth Campbell, Mo’taz Dajani, Roula Al-Haj, Nasri Hajjaj, Jens Hanssen, Mona Harb, Bernhard Hillenkamp, Kirsten and Samah Idriss, Muhammad Ali Khalidi, Souheil al-Natour, Jim Quilty, Salah Salah, Jihane Sfeir, and Mayssoun Sukkarieh for their support in various stages of research. At the Institute for Palestine Studies, the patience and friendly assistance of the librarians – Mona Nsouli, Jihane Salhab, and Yusif Na’na’ – allowed for a most pleasant and fruitful research experience. I am grateful to the Jafet Library Archives at the American University of Beirut and to Ambassador Afif Safieh for granting permission to use the poster that graces the cover of this book. My heartfelt thanks are also due to Marigold Acland at Cambridge University Press who has seen this book through various stages of publication. To all the Palestinian men, women, and children who contributed to this study and who cannot be named, I owe infinite gratitude. I would like to especially acknowledge my guide, comrade, and sister, Kholoud Hussein. Over the past five years, she has invited me to her house in Burj al-Barajna, helped me with my questionnaires, interviews, and interpretations, laughed and cried and gossiped with me, and become an aunt to my May. Kholoud, I am humbled by your strength, independence, intelligence, and good humor.

This book is dedicated to John for being the love of my life, the feminist father of our daughter, and my partner in intellectual debates, political activism, Mediterranean travels, and savouring silliness and laughter.

© Cambridge University Press
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