What Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed – about his plan to manage the Gaza Strip after the war based on the tribes in Gaza – is not considered new to the Zionist mind in dealing with the Palestinians. Although it goes without saying to Netanyahu that you should not promise to skin a bear before hunting it.
The General Authority of Palestinian Tribes did well to take the initiative to emphasize the rejection of Zionist plans, and that all its members stand behind the resistance and that it is the popular incubator for it. But this attempt was not the first and may not be the last. The Zionist mind began trying to use the clan card since the increase in Jewish settlement activity in Palestine during the British Mandate in attempts to win over tribal leaders and establish relationships with them as one of the tools of control and penetration. This is considered an extension of the colonial mind throughout history. In its tools for penetrating societies, as clan leaders in colonial societies have always been part of the tools of communication, control, and buying loyalties.
What is being said today by the Israeli leaders – regarding the plans to manage the Gaza Strip after the war and the division of the Strip into areas controlled by tribes and families that will be in charge of communicating with the Israelis in distributing aid and managing the lives of the population according to their plans – is the same language that the Israeli system repeated in advance planning for the management of what they call: “Palestinian population” after the 1967 occupation.
According to the Israeli archives before the setback, several scenarios emerged in the Israeli deliberations regarding the most prominent challenge they will face after controlling the West Bank, and administration through clans was one of the best of these scenarios.
Feudal families that were spread across Palestine at the time controlled most of the agricultural lands in the plain areas. These families owned vast areas, controlled entire villages, and employed people in agriculture
After the setback, the occupation authorities actually intended to implement this model, which later failed. They officially relied on the “mukhtars,” representatives of families and clans, in order to communicate with them on public matters. If they wanted to arrest someone, they came to the mukhtar’s house and asked him to guide them, as well as in Updating civil records, following up on humanitarian conditions, life communication, etc. They were not agents, but they were mediators between society and the civil administration supervised by the occupation army in the West Bank.
This behavior was not limited to the Israelis, as the British before them took the same approach in playing this card, and giving priority to families and clans at the expense of others. In order to control society.
The colonialist approach of playing the clan card in Palestine greatly harmed the Palestinian national movement. What the British did in supporting families against others can be traced back to the period of the British Mandate. In order to curb the national movement at that time, one of the prominent examples was what was done by a major family that was competing with the Al-Husseini family in controlling the leadership of Palestinian decision-making in that period, as it allied with the British and formed what was known as the peace gangs that confronted the national movement and the revolutionaries at that time, and contributed to thwarting the resistance. Armed forces against the British in 1937.
The Al-Husseini family emerged at the forefront of the national movement during that period. However, despite all the positions that were historically credited to it, establishing and building the national movement according to tribal foundations had its drawbacks, especially since the real revolutionaries on the ground were simple people in the villages and countryside who were not connected to the elite conflicts between Large families, and they are not represented in their poles.
The revolution of the martyr Ezz al-Din al-Qassam at that time embodied a different example of a leader who worked secretly to form resistance cells, and at the same time he was completely ascetic in any political position related to the relationship and conflicts with these poles, so that there was a great distinction and gap between the popular resistance Qassam leaders and the leading tribal elite political leaders.
The crisis of the relationship between the resistance to colonialism and the clans in Palestine goes back even further, and was represented in its worst forms and repercussions on the Palestinian national movement during the period of feudalism, which took root in the late Ottoman rule, and was exploited by British colonialism during the Mandate period.
Feudal families that were spread across Palestine at the time controlled most of the agricultural lands in the plain areas. These families owned vast areas, controlled entire villages, and employed people in agriculture.
There were many cruel families that exploited small farmers, and used indescribable torture and abuse. The farmer worked for them all day in exchange for a meal that did not protect him from hunger. The feudal lord used to inspect the farmers while on horseback, with the whip in his hand that always fell on the backs of the workers.
Feudal families owned prisons and places for physical executions, so that people’s honor was open to the feudal lord, and their palaces still bear witness to that dark era of family rule.
Ironically, during the British Mandate period, some poor peasants were forced to sell their lands to these feudal lords from large families in order to buy weapons to defend the homeland!
Returning to the Israeli occupation after the setback of 1967, it worked to increase the role of the tribes, leading to the formation of what it called “village associations,” as Israel sought to replace the civil role of the tribes with a political role at the expense of the Palestinian National Movement, but this project failed in the municipal elections of 1976. The National Movement and its representatives took control of the municipalities, and this was considered a major setback for the tribal project, while the first Palestinian Intifada in 1987 destroyed this project forever.
The clan is considered a societal body that is the opposite of civil society, as any role for one of them is at the expense of the other. If the clan becomes stronger, the parties become weaker, but it seems that everyone who rules is playing this card.
After its establishment, the Palestinian Authority sought to strengthen the role of the tribes once again, and weakened the role of political parties and movements. It granted the tribes their own privileges, influence, and law, while restricting parties and civil society institutions, fighting them with strict laws, and establishing the Tribal Affairs Authority. This negatively affected the revival of tribal strife, fueling societal conflicts, and family collections spread, and were institutionalized and supported financially by the Palestinian Authority.
The Palestinian Authority used families and clans at the expense of parties, political movements, and civil society as one of the tools for tightening control, and the role of the tribes was exaggerated in response to the deterioration of the national movement, to the point that the tribes now controlled universities and institutions. Examples of this are that one family controls Hebron Polytechnic University, and another It controls Hebron University, and when Polytechnic University extracted a decision from the government to establish a college of medicine years ago, Hebron University protested due to the tribal dimensions, so the government’s settlement of the issue was to divide the college of medicine between the two universities, so that the student would obtain his medical degree in the name of the two universities!! It is not the example that is important, but the political mentality that fueled, fostered, and provided an incubator for these tendencies.
The occupation authorities returned to using the same card again, when they took a decision in recent years to weaken the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank as part of the project to annex Area C in the West Bank, and a plan emerged to divide the West Bank into seven emirates according to the vision of the orientalist Mordechai Kedar, who claims that the strongest group In the Middle East it is “the family, followed by the extended family, then the family, and the tribe.” He calls for dealing with the Palestinians according to “the successful model in the Gulf, which is based on local families.”
He concludes that Gaza must be recognized as a state, Israeli sovereignty should be established over all of the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority should be dismantled, and seven emirates should be established in Hebron, Jericho, Ramallah, Qalqilya, Tulkarm, Nablus, and Jenin, which will be independent emirates based on local families, and the population will be citizens of these emirates: Citizens of the Emirate of Hebron. , or citizens of the Emirate of Nablus, and there will be border crossings between these emirates and Israel, and the security arrangements will be in the hands of Israel.
The occupation government – in the absence of plans and alternatives to answer the urgent question about the post-war period in Gaza – is trying to hide behind its old and new plans by highlighting the card of the tribes as an intermediary between it and society. This is considered dangerous and ridiculous at the same time, as it is dangerous due to the existence of plans that have historical roots. And suspicious practices, and ridiculous because the Palestinian people, after all these sacrifices, will not allow the stage that follows these sacrifices to be similar to the stage after the 1936 revolution, or the 1948 catastrophe, or the 1967 setback, or a new Oslo.
In short, it requires; Dealing with a decisive rejection of any role for the tribes in taking the lead on the national scene. Because the history of the Palestinian people is full of bitter experiences, although all of that does not negate the wonderful roles and heroic chronicles of families and clans in Palestine in resisting colonialism, but they are the families of the simple and poor, not the families of the elites who were often the most capable of building settlements with the colonizers that guaranteed their influence and interests.