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6. Conclusion

On Sunday afternoon, April 17, 1859, a tall black slave accompanied by six young boys burst into the residence of the British vice-consul in Haifa. They had traveled in great haste and secrecy from the fortified village of Arraba, and as soon as they were all safely inside they closed the door behind them with a sigh of relief. Mary Eliza Rogers, sister of the vice-consul, described the startling scene:

They looked frightened, fatigued and excited, as if they were seeking escape from some great danger. The boys caught hold of us, kissed our hands and our garments vehemently, and cried out: “Ya dakhaliek! Ya dakhaliek!” i.e. Oh, saviour!” or “Oh, protector!” I immediately perceived that the boys were the sons and nephews of Saleh Bek Abdul Hady. The slave who was with them explained, in a few hurried words, that Arrabeh was being besieged by Turkish troops, assisted by the Jerrar and Tokan factions, and that the Abdul Hady family had no hope of being able to defend the town, so Saleh Bek sent his young sons away, to seek an asylum in Haifa.…The slave concluded by saying: “Thank God, I have seen these children in safety under the roof of my lord, their protector!” Then he hastened away before we could answer him.[1]

Salih Abd al-Hadi’s decision to stretch the boundaries of bedouin customary law of protection into the domestic sphere of British subjects was neither arbitrary nor based on political sympathies for a foreign government.[2] As the former governor of Haifa he had, with great foresight, cultivated close relations with the Rogerses at a time when Jabal Nablus was caught in the grip of violent internal conflict that pitted his family against the Tuqans and their allies. He was a frequent chess partner of Mary Rogers, and she had visited his family both in Haifa and in Arraba on a number of occasions. In an intimate yet public diplomatic gesture, he even named his youngest daughter after her.[3] In the desperate heat of the moment, he took advantage of this long-standing personal connection and assumed, correctly as it turned out, that the Ottoman authorities would not harm his sons once they were safely inside the vice-consulate.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Ottoman soldiers, supported by two field cannons and armed peasants mobilized by the Tuqan and Jarrar families, broke through the defenses of Arraba after a short but bloody battle. The village was plundered, its ramparts destroyed, and the large, fortified residences of the Abd al-Hadi family were dismantled, one stone at a time, by masons brought in specifically for that purpose.[4]

With the fall of Arraba, the centuries-long period of autonomy enjoyed by Jabal Nablus under Ottoman rule came to a formal end, as the Ottoman government had finally achieved a monopoly of the means of coercion and was able to impose direct political control. The Tuqan-Jarrar faction might have been on the winning side, but their victory was pyrrhic. After that day, native sons could no longer aspire to hold the position of mutasallim, Jabal Nablus would no longer be an arena for violent power struggles, and competition between leading families would be limited to maneuvering among merchant-led factions within the city council.[5]

It is ironic that the Ottoman government singled out the Abd al-Hadis for an object lesson for the people of Jabal Nablus on the true source of political authority and power while the family’s distant relatives, the Jarrars, stood cheering outside the walls of Arraba. Of all the leading political families, both urban and rural, the Abd al-Hadis were the most aggressive in taking advantage of the winds of change and the Jarrars were the most stubborn in resisting them.

The Jarrar’s once-formidable fortress at Sanur had long symbolized their leadership role in limiting direct Ottoman control by keeping the governors of Damascus at bay, thwarting the centralizing ambitions of the rulers of Acre, and defeating Musa Beik Tuqan’s persistent attempts to singlehandedly rule all of Jabal Nablus. Yet, despite the opportunities that their military power and occasional victories created, they never made a concerted effort to establish a permanent base in the city, even though that was where the political and economic levers of power were located. Rather, they stuck to their rural roots until the last decades of Ottoman rule.

The Abd al-Hadis, in contrast, used Arraba as a springboard to penetrate the urban sphere. Immediately after they cemented their alliance with the new Egyptian rulers in the early 1830s, they purchased large residential compounds and a soap factory in the city. Over the next decade they consolidated their political and economic base by purchasing more soap factories as well as warehouses, shops, grain mills, oil presses, and orchards. At the same time, they invested heavily in the commercialization of agriculture, especially the export of grains to Europe, pioneered the concentration of landholding, and established wide-ranging moneylending networks. Throughout, they worked diligently to expand their business interests by cultivating close relations with the urban merchant community, the European consuls, and, of course, the Ottoman officials. It was precisely their economic success and growing political power that precipitated their violent bid for control of Jabal Nablus and consequently made them vulnerable to a crackdown by the central government.[6]

The divergent careers of these two families hint at who benefited and who lost during Jabal Nablus’s long and labyrinthine journey from a politically fragmented and semiautonomous region to one that became more integrated and centralized on a number of levels: locally, as the hinterland was subordinated and absorbed into the city’s political, economic, and legal orbits; regionally, as administrators and businessmen based in Beirut and Damascus began to wield real influence on the economic and political life of the Palestinian interior and as a centralizing Ottoman government consolidated its control by dispatching armed forces into the region and by coopting its leaders into new political and information-gathering institutions, such as the Advisory Council; and internationally, as Palestine as a whole was integrated into the European-dominated world economic system. These developments made Jabal Nablus ripe for the imposition of direct Ottoman rule in 1860: how else can we explain the ease of the Ottoman victory and the stability of the new political arrangement it augured?

The divergent careers of the Abd al-Hadi and Jarrar families also reveal the range of choices that the inhabitants of Jabal Nablus had in determining which paths they could choose along this journey. Options, of course, were limited, for both the pace and the trajectory of change were strongly influenced by the opportunities (or lack thereof) created by forces beyond local control. These forces, however, were sometimes taken advantage of, were at others times resisted, and were, in all cases, translated into the language of everyday life.

The socioeconomic transformation of Jabal Nablus, like that of many other interior regions in the Ottoman Empire during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was, therefore, neither a linear march into the modern period nor predicated on a sharp break with the past, the two points of departure for prevalent scholarship on Ottoman Palestine. Rather, many of the features associated with capitalist transformation had indigenous roots that were clearly evident before they were supposedly initiated by outside forces, and ingrained modes of social organization and cultural life, far from being shattered, proved highly resilient and adaptable. The meanings of modernity were redefined here, as they were everywhere, in uneven, contradictory, and internally differentiated ways, depending on the region, social group, period, and sectors of the economy in question.

The Labyrinthine Journey

During the seventeenth, eighteenth, and early nineteenth centuries the social space of Jabal Nablus grew geographically, demographically, and economically. In fits and starts its merchants and artisans benefited from the opportunities created by the imposition of Ottoman rule in terms of expanded regional trade and from the government’s consistent efforts to safeguard and finance the annual pilgrimage caravans from Damascus to the Hijaz. The local political and religious leadership that emerged in the late seventeenth century proved to be stable, strong, and durable: Jabal Nablus was not caught in an unbreakable cycle of violent internal conflict, it shook off all attempts by the rulers of Acre and other regional powers to dominate it, and many of the leading political and religious families continued to exercise a significant degree of influence until virtually the end of the Ottoman period.

Over the course of the eighteenth century Nablus emerged as the trading and manufacturing center of Palestine, and its hinterland became the largest producer in all of Greater Syria of the single most important commodity exported to Europe: cotton. The expansion of commercial agriculture empowered Nablus’s already strong merchant community by providing ample opportunities for investment in the production, trade, and processing of agricultural commodities. Neither the decentralized political structure in Jabal Nablus nor the weakness of the Ottoman government during this period proved to be serious obstacles to the accumulation of capital. On the contrary, merchants adapted to these circumstances by constructing resilient, flexible, and culturally rooted trade networks, which they successfully used to control the movement of commodities and to undermine the attempts by the rulers of Acre to monopolize the trade in cotton. These networks, for example, made Nablus the center of cotton processing and trade in Palestine, even though many of the cotton-producing villages were located closer to the port cities.

It was this set of circumstances that allowed Nablus to play a leading role in the capitalist transformation of Palestine during the eighteenth century and that set the stage for the accelerated pace of centralization during the nineteenth century. The spread of a money economy, greater urban control of peasant production, and the growing influence of a middle peasantry all eroded the material underpinnings of the vertical patronage networks that provided the hinterland with a critical degree of autonomy from the city for generations. Merchant networks, in other words, seriously undermined the power of subdistrict chiefs in the hinterland long before these chiefs were dealt severe political blows by the Egyptian invasion and the implementation of Ottoman reforms. By the mid-nineteenth century, both individual peasants and entire villages were inextricably enmeshed in commercial networks emanating both from the city and from the large central villages: moneylending became far more pervasive, taxes were more efficiently collected, and debt contracts were more strictly enforced. Well-to-do peasants began to enter into business partnerships with long-time ruling clans and learned how to take advantage of the latter’s social and political connections for the purposes of speculation and investment. Eventually, the reproduction of urban business practices and legal norms on the village level fully exposed most peasants to the volatility of market forces, exacerbated social tensions within and between villages, increased disparities in landholdings, and undermined traditional loyalties.

These social and economic developments both precipitated and were driven by escalating political upheaval, as symbolized by the power struggles over the post of mutasallim. The Tuqan family’s bid for control of the subdistrict of Bani Sa‘ab in the 1760s marked the opening round of a process of political centralization in much the same pattern as seen elsewhere in the Ottoman domains. The pace of socioeconomic change, however, was slow and uneven enough to preclude resolution of these power struggles. This can be seen by contrasting the political economy of silk in Mount Lebanon with that of cotton in Jabal Nablus. In the former, silk production for French merchants transformed the mountain villages of the interior, because that was where mulberry trees flourished. In contrast, cotton production in the latter, also for French merchants, skirted the core concentration of highland villages, which remained olive based. This is one reason why Amir Bashir succeeded in subordinating the other ruling families of Mount Lebanon, whereas Musa Beik Tuqan, after two decades of aggressive and bloody maneuvers, failed to militarily overcome the subdistrict chiefs in Jabal Nablus.

The political vacuum created by the sudden demise of Musa Beik Tuqan in 1823 only quickened the process of urban domination of the hinterland as the merchant community, the only cohesive internal force, again took advantage of the stalemated political situation. The capital that accumulated during the prosperous eighteenth century (but that had been held in reserve during the upheavals of the preceding two decades) was now released. The 1820s, in effect, signaled the beginning of a vigorous investment campaign in agricultural production, urban real estate, regional trade, and, most important, the soap industry. The Egyptian occupation energized these trends. The primacy of the city, for example, was assured after Ibrahim Pasha, the Egyptian military commander, crushed the 1834 rebellion led largely by the subdistrict chiefs of Jabal Nablus. His economic and administrative policies—central control, encouragement of commercial agriculture, and establishment of advisory councils, to name but a few—also opened additional vistas for leading members of the merchant community and helped thrust them into positions of political authority.

The importance of local investment strategies in precipitating changes in the political economy of Jabal Nablus during the nineteenth century can be seen by contrasting the careers of two commodities: textiles and soap. Both had long been central to the urban economy of Nablus; both relied on home-grown cash crops (cotton and olive oil); and both were integrated into the same circuits of local and regional trade, with Cairo and Damascus as the nodal points. Yet by the early nineteenth century the textile sector had begun to stagnate, while the soap-manufacturing industry underwent a rapid and steady expansion. Why did the careers of these two commodities bifurcate?

The easy answer is that textiles had to compete with European machine-made goods, whereas soap did not. But European competition with locally manufactured textiles was not of great significance until the mid-nineteenth century, because the textile industry in Nablus was specialized in low- to medium-grade goods designed for the mass market. Also, European competition was offset by the availability of both raw materials and plentiful labor at low cost. In addition, the local market was difficult to penetrate: textile-merchant families had built, over generations, a resilient network of social and economic relations with villagers, making it very difficult for outside merchants to compete. In short, the textile sector in Nablus was strongest in precisely those areas in which the European competitors were weakest.

At the same time, however, the historical dependence on and popularity of Egyptian and Damascene textiles, as well as the increased importation of machine-made textiles from overseas, put limits on the expansion of local manufacturing, making it a poor choice for large capital investments. The textile trade also represented a piecemeal pattern of capital accumulation that was becoming less popular: capital was dispersed in countless small loans to peasants who purchased their clothes on credit and who, all too often, did not or could not pay their bills.

But the above arguments only tell half the story. They cannot explain the growth of the soap industry. One must, therefore, search for additional answers, and these can be found in the dynamics of capitalist transformation as defined by the Nabulsi merchants themselves. The merchants’ focus on soap was partly due, first, to the fact that the commercialization of agriculture and the growing pervasiveness of moneylending had paved the way for greater merchant access to the surplus of the olive-based villages in the central highlands and, second, to their growing political power, which helped them acquire the means of production, soap factories, from the old ruling families.

The soap industry was tailor-made for the new circumstances: it was capital intensive and rewarded the concentration of wealth; it efficiently exploited the number one cash commodity of Jabal Nablus, olive oil; it consistently turned high profits and enjoyed a secure and expanding market share; it encouraged the accumulation of agricultural lands, especially olive groves; and its factories were akin to banks that anchored large moneylending networks. In addition, it endowed the owner with great prestige, for soap factories had long been symbols of power, wealth, and social status. In short, soap production combined manufacturing with the more popular strategies of capital accumulation in the Ottoman domains at that time: moneylending, landownership, urban real estate, and trade.

Unless investigated from below, the transformations in the political economy of Jabal Nablus would not be readily apparent. If one were to gaze at Nablus through the eyes of Western observers or the central Ottoman authorities, the most striking image, judging from their writings and reports, would be that of a city frozen in time, or at the very least of a population that stubbornly resisted any changes in its modes of economic, social, or cultural organization. Nor would this image be necessarily contradicted by the inhabitants themselves. Even today most Nabulsis, like their counterparts in other socially conservative regions of the interior, take great pride in clinging to customs and practices that reinforce their sense of local identification. But, as we have seen in any number of cases discussed in previous chapters, the meanings of tradition were being constantly redefined, and the apparent continuity masked very important transformations in the material foundations of daily life.

For example, the methods and technologies used in the production of soap have remained the same for centuries, albeit with minor changes such as the substitution of industrially produced caustic soda for qilw. Yet a process of capital accumulation during the nineteenth century changed the financial organization of soap production from one characterized by multiple partnerships and a division of labor between oil merchants and soap-factory owners to one characterized by concentration and vertical integration. Since World War II, one might also add, the olive oil used in soap production no longer comes from Palestinian villages: it is imported, mostly from Spain. This last fact alone has fundamentally changed the relationship between soap-factory owners and the peasants of Jabal Nablus. Similarly, the meanings of power and status were redefined along with the transformation in the social composition of soap-factory owners from old ruling political families to rich merchants.

Another example is the partial transformation of the salam moneylending contract from a time-honored mechanism for guaranteeing future supplies of raw materials to urban manufacturers and traders into one also used for the local organization of agricultural production for overseas exports. Similarly, regional textile-trade networks were reproduced, seemingly unchanged, for generations. Yet Nabulsi merchants shifted from being direct managers who pooled capital and opened offices abroad to middlemen for powerful trade houses in Beirut and Damascus, which used them as agents for infiltrating the interior. Finally, we have the example of the urban ruling families themselves. The Nimrs, for instance, played a leading role for most of the Ottoman period. But the defining core of their material base metamorphosed from timar land grants to tax-farms and, by the 1830s, to trade and urban real estate.

The Discourses of Modernity

Over the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries a new ruling elite and a new type of notable emerged in Jabal Nablus, as did a new political discourse. This elite was composed of the beneficiaries of the changing political economy of Jabal Nablus: those who had access to capital and who were willing to invest, primarily through moneylending, in the production, trade, and processing of agricultural commodities for regional and international markets. Merchants were in the best position to take advantage of the new opportunities, as were those families and individuals of the old political and religious elite who were willing to subordinate their pride and devote most of their energies to playing an aggressive role in business matters. Over time, the boundaries separating these formerly disparate groups collapsed as survivors within each, despite political differences and varying perceptions of their identity, came to share a material base characterized by a diverse portfolio: moneylending, land ownership, urban real estate, trade, and soap manufacturing.

The Nablus Advisory Council became the forum of this new composite elite of urban notables. These notables used the council to bargain with the Ottoman government over the boundaries of political authority and tried to promote their own interpretations of the meanings of citizenship, identity, custom, and tradition. The central government had little choice but to cooperate. It could not even replace the tax-farmers with a salaried expatriate bureaucratic cadre of its own, much less abolish the tax-farms as the reforms publicly intended to do. As late as the mid-nineteenth century, the only resident non-Nabulsi official with any authority was the head of customs. Newly appointed along with an assistant, his correspondence was full of bitter complaints against the council, which, in his opinion, worked diligently to undermine his authority.

The central government’s attempt to play a much more direct and intrusive role in the affairs of Jabal Nablus through a local council that it did not fully control was bound to falter frequently. To complicate matters further, this new political discourse was conducted in the context of the fluid and transitional political atmosphere of the Tanzimat era, not to mention the dislocations caused by the Egyptian occupation. Thus the emergence of a new configuration of political reference points took place one crisis at a time: that is, through the accumulation of dozens of separate negotiated deals concerning specific issues, the outcomes of which spilled over into an ever-widening political and cultural space.

Most of these specific issues revolved around the struggle over access to and control of the rural surplus and its disposition and, consequently, over knowledge about the political economy of Jabal Nablus. Patiently and with remarkable persistence, the Ottoman government tried to gather information about a range of matters, from population figures to the bidding procedures for commodities collected as taxes-in-kind. Just as patiently and with great stubbornness, the Advisory Council members spoon-fed their insatiable superiors a constructed reality and often invoked a whole range of alleged traditions and customary practices (whether real or invented), which they insisted had to be respected. In each bargaining session, their responses to requests and admonitions from the central authorities were designed to facilitate their own objectives and, at the same time, to secure the state’s recognition of their legitimacy.

The Nablus Advisory Council records provide many fascinating accounts of these encounters and of the tense and complicated give-and-take that ensued: the disputes over the composition of the council’s membership, the monitoring of the movement of zakhayir (taxes collected in kind) into and out of storehouses, the bidding procedures for these taxes, the methods of storing olive oil, and the implementation of new customs regulations affecting the production and export of soap. In all of these disputes, two primary contradictions stood out. The first, faced by the central authorities, concerned the double role of new bureaucratic institutions such as the Advisory Council. On the one hand, these institutions were formed in order to implement the state’s reform policies, especially those concerning tax collection and conscription. On the other hand, they were manned by the very social elements that stood to lose from an uncensored implementation of these policies. Instead of faithfully carrying out government instructions, these local elements used their official positions to resist, alter, and only selectively execute those measures that best suited their own interests.

For example, the council admitted into its ranks certain individuals who were specifically excluded by the state and excluded others who were supposed to hold a position. In one instance they not only included the naqib al-ashraf despite repeated warnings to the contrary, they also made him head of the council.[7] They also tried to reduce the number of people registered as inhabitants of Jabal Nablus, even though they, along with the shaykhs of the city’s quarters and the subdistrict chiefs, put their signatures on the document containing the results of the population count immediately upon its completion.[8] The council members also politely but vigorously challenged the central government’s efforts to free the bidding process on taxes collected in kind by sabotaging bids made by outsiders and, in one case, by refusing to sell olive oil to merchants not from their city. Most important, they waged a protracted tax strike, involving hundreds of thousands of piasters, that lasted for more than two years.

The second contradiction was faced by the council members. On the one hand, they needed the political legitimacy, administrative power, and control over the local militia, all of which were offered by the state, in order to protect their privileges and to enforce the expropriation of the rural surplus from a disgruntled peasantry. On the other hand, they could not prevent the state from using its leverage to make inroads on their share of the rural surplus or to stop it from slowly chipping away at their long-standing tradition of self-rule. The unequal relationship was illustrated by the fact that they were forced, albeit after long delays, to submit to the central government’s selection procedures for membership in the council and to pay most of the taxes on soap exports that they had withheld.

Caught between the two were the peasants of Jabal Nablus. Disarmed, conscripted, indebted, and largely abandoned by their long-time subdistrict chiefs, peasants tried to capitalize on the ambiguous political boundaries and contradictions between the central government and the local elite. Through violent resistance and petitions, they tried to drag the state into arbitrating their disputes with the subdistrict chiefs and the notables of Jabal Nablus. Both of the petitions discussed in Chapter 4 called on the state to live up to two publicly held principles that, in their eyes, legitimated the state’s right to tax its subjects: protection of the peasant base of production and accountability of all citizens before the law. Both principles posed a challenge to the exploitative practices of the local ruling elite, and both put limits on this elite’s room for maneuvering.

In so doing, the peasants were signaling their openness to the possibility of transforming their loyalties or, more accurately, of extending their self-definition to include not only their village, clan, and district but also the state, in the sense of becoming citizens, not simply subjects. The Ottoman government constantly vacillated in its response to this open invitation, caught, as it were, between the need to centralize its control by coopting local notables and the need to maintain its political legitimacy in the eyes of the peasants. Judging from its actions in Jabal Nablus up to the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the Ottoman government, when forced to choose sides, usually backed the urban notables, albeit with occasional admonishments and slaps on the wrist. Nevertheless, the peasants often succeeded in effectively dragging in the state. From this perspective, one can see how the processes of Ottoman centralization and political recategorization of the population could be driven from below as much as from above.

Peasants, in short, were not simply the goose that laid the golden egg—that is, passive objects of competition for access and control between local merchant communities, ruling families, the Ottoman government, and foreign businessmen. Rather, they were an internally differentiated community whose members were fully capable of adjusting to new circumstances. The accelerated commercialization of agriculture, the further spread of a money economy, and the decline of the power of rural chiefs created numerous opportunities, not just difficulties. Speculation in rural production and trade in agricultural commodities, for example, were activities in which almost anyone with capital, no matter how small, engaged in because they offered the most promising avenues for upward mobility. The nineteenth century, in particular, witnessed the growing influence of a middle peasantry that occupied a crucial mediating position between urban merchants and the mass of poorer peasants. By reproducing urban business, legal, and social practices at the village level, they amassed lands, constructed their own moneylending and trade networks, and eventually established shops and residences in the city. Their movement in increasing numbers to Nablus and other urban centers, especially those along the coast, can be considered one of the central social and cultural dynamics of the modern period. Indeed, if the role of this group in Egypt and Syria during the same period is any indication, their story needs to be told in detail if we are to have a clear understanding of the history of Palestine during the late Ottoman and Mandate periods.

Writing the middle peasantry into history is only one of a myriad of research projects needed to excavate the wide-open field of the social, cultural, and economic history of Ottoman Palestine. The period from the late sixteenth to the early eighteenth centuries remains largely unexcavated, even though it was during this time that the institutional and cultural practices of Ottoman rule became rooted, with all the consequences that entailed for the next two centuries. Similarly, Hebron, Nazareth, Gaza, and their hinterlands, to mention but a few places, still await systematic study for almost the entire Ottoman period, as do artisans, ulama, women, bedouin, and other social groups.

Detailed knowledge about these places and groups can have significant implications for our conceptualization of the dynamics of Palestinian society during the British Mandate, as well for understanding the context in which the Zionist movement laid the foundations for a future state. For example, one could argue that the pattern of Jewish settlements and land purchases was determined largely by ongoing political, demographic, and economic changes, such as the process of commoditization of land, which began prior to the 1858 land code. By the same token, the pronounced social dimensions of the 1936–1939 revolt against British rule revolved around the issues of debt, loss of land, vulnerability to the machinations of urban elites, and internal power struggles, all of which also had their origins in the Ottoman period. Similarly, if we were to draw a line around the areas where the small landholding peasantry was rooted and where population settlements were the most stable historically, we would get the Galilee and what is known today as the West Bank. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Galilee remains the heartland of the Palestinian-Arab community in Israel, nor was it simply a coincidence of war that the West Bank has become the geographical center of a future Palestinian state.

Similar arguments could be made on the political and cultural levels. A cursory look at the surnames of leading members of the Palestinian national movement, as well as at those of the Palestinian members of Jordanian cabinets over the past two generations, shows that a preponderant number belong to families that constituted the core of the new composite elite which emerged during the nineteenth century. Their political discourse, from speeches to actions, has been encoded by the experiences they and their ancestors had under Ottoman rule. Finally, until we can chart the economic, social, and cultural relations between the inhabitants of the various regions of Palestine during the Ottoman period, we cannot have a clear understanding of the politics of identity, nor can we confidently answer the questions of when, how, why, and in what ways Palestine became a nation in the minds of the people who call themselves Palestinians today.


1. Rogers, Domestic Life, p. 389 (emphasis in original). [BACK]

2. By uttering these words, and later by refusing to eat or drink until they received a favorable answer to their request for asylum, the young boys correctly followed established customary procedures for protection. [BACK]

3. Rogers, Domestic Life, pp. 214–235, 351–359, 360, 361–370, 372–373, 389–394. [BACK]

4. NIMR, 1:380–383; Schölch, Palestine in Transformation, p. 225. [BACK]

5. The future exclusion of Nablus’s leading families from the post of mutasallim did not mean the complete imposition of central Ottoman control. Real influence over the daily affairs of the city would now be shared between the revolving door of annually appointed Ottoman governors, on the one hand, and by the city council, dominated by the wealthy merchant families, on the other. [BACK]

6. The difference between the two families did not fail to attract the attention of two keen contemporary observers: the British consul in Jerusalem, James Finn, and Mary Rogers herself. (The following observations must, of course, be treated cautiously, for they reduced a complicated reality into a simplistic Eurocentric vision of tradition versus modernity.) Finn, for example, claimed that the Abd al-Hadis were “cunning at keeping up with Constantinople progress, and bidding for popularity with the European Consuls. They were, however, not to be trusted” (Finn, Stirring Times, 2:239). Meanwhile, Ahmad Jarrar, immediately after Finn entered his house in the village of Jaba: “growled out, ‘so the Sultan is giving away all the land of Islam, bit by bit, to the Christians’ ” (ibid., 1:263). Mary Rogers, in a similar vein, was awed by what she perceived to be the manly beauty, courage, daring, strength, and straightforwardness of the Jarrar leaders. But after spending a day in their residence in the village of Sanur, she wrote: “I never heard of a Jerrar who could read or write, or even sign his name. On the other hand, many of the men of the Abdul Hady family are well educated, and set a high value on book learning: and the ladies of Arrabeh are somewhat polished, and look very different to the simple rustic women of Senur” (Rogers, Domestic Life, p. 239 [emphasis in original]). [BACK]

7. NMSR, pp. 19, 46, 126, 129, 249, 252. See Chapter 1 for details. [BACK]

8. Doumani, “The Political Economy of Population Counts,” pp. 5–9. [BACK]

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