Conflicting Loyalties and Local Politics in Nazareth

By Emmett, Chad F. | The Middle East Journal, Autumn 1997 | Go to article overview

Conflicting Loyalties and Local Politics in Nazareth

Emmett, Chad F., The Middle East Journal

Local politics in Nazareth has been influenced by a variety of factors. Originally, parties were centered on family, religion and quarter, or were linked to Communist ideology, which offered the only venue for Arab nationalist claims. Arabs also voted for Zionist parties in order to survive politically in a Jewish state. Recent changes in the region and throughout the world have brought additional parties to Nazareth, including Islamic and Arab nationalist parties.

Nazareth is in many ways a unique place. Its location within the state of Israel with a population comprised of Palestinian Arabs who adhere to either Islam or a variety of Christian sects means that there are, often times, competing loyalties within the political arena based on both nationalist identities and religious affiliation. Additional loyalties are based on either ties to an extended family or to specific quarters, most of which are communal or hamula (clan) based. Several areas on the periphery of Nazareth are inhabited primarily by refugees who claim allegiance to a common place of origin.

While many of the political parties operating at the municipal level have family, religious and quarter ties, they also have important external links to Russia, the Israeli Communist party, the Islamic world and Islamic parties, Palestinian and other Arab nationalist parties, and to Israeli Zionist parties. So important are these external ties that few if any of Nazareth's parties have emerged as purely Nazarene, they all have ties to larger geographical areas.

An analysis of the influence of location on Nazareth's municipal politics is based on current theories in the study of electoral geography which state that place matters. John Agnew, for example, writes: "All places have their own history, 'external' links and peculiar traditions. Consequently, places are the social contexts in which political expression is determined."' David Reynolds also recognizes the important ties between place and politics. He advocates an electoral geography that has more of a "place-based contextual approach" that includes a "deeper historical analysis of the exercise of power and social struggles against it in particular places during periods of significant social change."2 Agnew suggests that "political behavior is intrinsically geographical . . . [and that] social contexts provided by local territorial-cultural settings (neighborhoods, towns, cities, small rural areas) are viewed as crucial in defining distinctive political identities and subsequent political activities."3 Included within these local settings are the influences of what has been called the neighborhood effect, which suggests that voting behavior is often directed towards candidates from a voter's own neighborhood.

Social context is not just limited to local characteristics. External forces are also an important influence on political activities. Agnew identifies the modern territorial state as "one of the most important `outside forces'."4 In the case of Nazareth, outside influences include the state of Israel as well as the non-state Palestinians. Influences even extend beyond the state level to include other states, nations and religions.

Present day Nazareth is a crowded city of about 65,000 Arab inhabitants.5 In 1946, Nazareth's population was only 15,000-hardly more than a village.6 This number increased to over 20,000 as refugees, primarily Muslims from the 1948 war, fled to the city for protection. Since its inclusion in Israel in 1948, Nazareth has been the largest Arab community within the state. Since the return of Christians almost four centuries ago, Nazareth has been a mixed city of Muslim and Christian inhabitants (currently it is over 60 percent Muslim).7 Because of its sanctity as the site of the Annunciation, Nazareth has attracted a variety of Christians including Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholics, Roman Catholics, Maronites, Copts and Protestants. This mixed communal composition has had a significant impact on municipal politics that can be divided into two distinct phases: an early phase in which the majority of the parties were Christian and Muslim, and a later phase in which Islam became a more forceful contender with stronger ties to the larger political movements of Islam.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)


1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited article

Conflicting Loyalties and Local Politics in Nazareth


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.