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Review Of Army Of Shadows

1267 words - 5 pages

In Army of Shadows (2008), Hillel Cohen reexamines the typical historical narratives about Palestinian perspectives prior to the Nakba. Much of the discussion pertains to the changes that took place within the mindsets of numerous groups of Palestinians during the British Mandate. It could be beneficial to compare the approach and methodologies of Hillel Cohen's book to Ilan Pappe's The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006) and his reassessment of Israel's historical memory. Pappe focuses on the planning and actions that were taken to ensure an ethnically cleansed Israel and places this in direct contrast with current perspectives of historical rhetoric. Both authors draw from a variety of sources in order to adequately examine the realities of Palestinian societies that often retract previously accepted historical memories.
Cohen analyzes what he terms “Palestinian collaboration” and how collaborators were seen from the nationalist leadership to be “traitors.” This has been less considered by historians from both Palestinian and Israeli narratives. Much of Cohen's discussion begins with the rise of nationalism in the early 1920s among Palestinian elites and how this movement was interpreted differently by different groups and ignored altogether by others. In the early days of Palestinian nationalism, Hajj Amin al-Husseini made “efficient use of his power to brand people as traitors in his struggle for leadership” (51). His attempts to Islamicize nationalist movements led to stigmatization of opposing groups. This can be seen in his vying for mufti of Jerusalem and for the head of the Supreme Muslim Council. Early on he was charging his opponents with collaborating with Jews and Zionists. During his campaigns against the Nashashibis, he was already accusing them of being “traitors.”
Throughout the 1920s, the nationalist rhetoric against collaborators and traitors took hold among all aspects of society, especially in Jerusalem. One of the more important aspects of nationalism in the 1920s was how Arabic newspapers were used to “define” notions of treason. Cohen assesses how one is determined to be a traitor, whether through absentee land sales or contributions to Zionist intelligence organizations, and how this leads to violent repression of all varieties of treason. It is interesting to note that although nationalism was becoming “rooted” within Palestinian society, the notion of treason was not wholly accepted. Widespread concepts of nationalism did not become “the principal component in the basket of identities of each individual and the one for which he is willing to kill and be killed” but instead, in the 1920s, setup the mechanisms that helped to achieve this goal: establishment of nationalist “norms,” coercion, and reward. “The press, the religious system..., and the educational system served as central tools” to setup the negative and positive influences into the norms of nationalism. This in turn led to the concepts of who is a...

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