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Lecture

ISLA 210 Lecture Notes - Arab Liberation Army, Arab League, Israeli Literature


Department
Islamic Studies
Course Code
ISLA 210
Professor
Laila Parsons

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MARCH 7, 2012:
Land of Sad Oranges is fiction: not subject to the normal procedures of history that
involve documentation and references. It is inherently subjective whereas history is
more objective.
Treating it historically is an issue because the way an author portrays something
could be very different from how others (or even the majority) felt at the time.
Through the freedom of the fictional form you can develop character and
perspective.
A novelist is setting out to write a piece of literary work, so it should be analyzed for
voice, structure, etc. It should not be treated as historical.
Leila’s research: very involved with the new historians and the “who-done-it”
debates over why Palestinians left and if there were expulsion policies.
Fawzi al-Qawuqji is blamed for some of the failures of 1948 from the Arab army
perspective and is demonized in Israeli literature. He led the Arab Liberation Army
(created and funded by the Arab league). It was a volunteer army sent in to Palestine
under his leadership in the civil war period, before the interstate war began on May
14th, 1948.
There are many small who-done-it debates about him: Was he secretly in collusion
with Israel? Was he working with King Abdullah with Jordan?
There isn’t much contemporaneous archival material in Arabic about 1948.
Leila got access to telegrams sent between the battalions in the ALA. She realized
that she knew little about his history, world, early life, or how he viewed the
Palestinian troops who worked with him, his wife and children, etc. (Became more
interested in his complexity, not his complicity).
There are almost no narrative histories of Arab soldier in 1948.
Politics of Witness: collective memories are guided and constructed by the more
elitist people of that society. She is an anthropologists and an advocate of the
Palestinians. She wanted to document the older generation who are starting to get
sick and die. She encounters people are being directed or are self-directed to tell the
story a certain way. There is an idea that there is an official Palestinian narrative
created mainly by men (activists, scholars, people in the PLO). These elites need the
Palestinians who lived through it and are in the camps to fit in with this narrative.
There is a sense that the narratives are being performed.
“Many foreigners like you come to the camp and do research, and ask us questions….
and it’s like a thrill for them. We cry and they profit from our tears […] We are dying
in this struggle simply to exist […] soon it will all be gone”
In a sense, these disempower communities are given the burden of having to be the
repository of memories and for the Palestinians living in the camps, they are still
living 1948 because they are still in the camps.
He makes a distinction between justice for the Palestinians and forcing them into an
imperative of remembering in a specific way. She pulls out “we are dying in this
struggle to exist” to explain this concept.
Mahum Abu Haija’s account
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