Latifa Dirbas carries a jug of water on her head from the village of Bal’a, weaving from one mountain to the other while keeping track of the revolutionaries. Meanwhile, Umm Wedad Arouri leaves her village of Arura to Saffa, then to
Latifa and Umm Wedad were not alone in their actions. Women played a key role in supplying, informing, and financing the Palestinian Revolution. Women from villages sold their jewelry, while women in cities used their inheritance money to pay for the Revolt. 1
- 1. Abdul Hadi, Fayha’. “Adwar al-mar’a al-filastiniyya fi al-thalathinat 1930 – al-musahama al-siyasiyya lil mar’a al-Filastiniyya [The role of the Palestinian Woman in the Thirties, the Political Participation of the Palestinian Woman]. Al- Bira: Markaz al-Mar’a al-Filastiniyya lil-Abhath wa al-Tawthiq, 2005, p. 46.
Women were trained in handling and firing weapons. Zakia Huleileh recounts how she was taught in operating the Sten and Tommy Guns, two English-manufactured machine guns. She found them hard to carry, but her brother would encourage and teach her: “he would place a rock as a target and tell me: shoot!”1
- 1. Ibid, p. 88.
The women played an important role in concealing weapons within their loose clothing, becoming a means of transport which fueled the logistics of the revolution. Fatima al-Khatib from Ain Bait al-Ma’ recalled how she would hide weapons in her “bosom,” or in the fireplace, where she would “pile manure over it”.1
- 1. Abdul Hadi, Palestinian Women, pp. 83-85.
Women and the High Commissioner
Tarab Abdul-Hadi, one of the pioneers of the Palestinian national movement, lived in a small house East of
- 1. Alqam, Nabil. Tarikh al-Haraka al-Wataniyya al-Filastiniyya wa Dawr al-Mar’a Fiha [History of the Palestinian National Movement and the role of women in it]. Al-Bira: Markaz Dirasat al-Turath wa al-Mujtama’, 2005, p. 86.
In the cities, women’s associations were founded not only for charitable and women’s issues, but for effective ways of resisting colonialism. Jerusalem was considered a civilian center, and acted as an incubator for these associations. Fayez Bey Haddad established the first Arab Women’s Union in Jerusalem in 1919. The first Palestinian Women’s Union was founded in 1921 under the leadership of Zuliekha Shehabi and Emilia Sakakini1, followed by the Women’s Union in
In the countryside, rural women played their own political role. When the British Mandate applied detention systems which left detainees naked without any regard for heat and extreme cold, rural women went to visit European consuls in Jerusalem, and managed to convince some of them to send a European doctor to examine the prisoners. This managed to save some of the prisoners from death.3
Popular action Policy/Program
There are two stories surrounding the meeting of these women activists with the wife of the High Commissioner to submit to her a list of demands. This was rejected on the grounds that the matter was a political one, and that the wife of the High Commissioner has nothing to do with politics.
According to the prevalent story, the High Commissioner expressed his pleasure at meeting the women and welcomed women’s participation in politics. He stressed that he would make efforts to achieve peace and prosperity, but at the same time declared that he is not competent in dealing with some of the shortcomings of peace and prosperity. Rather, he pointed that the Ministry of Colonies is more proficient on this subject matter. History books typically relay what the English writer Miss Andrews wrote at the time:
When Palestinian leader