Arab Christians in British Mandate Palestine: Communalism and Nationalism, 1917-1948

By Noah Haiduc-Dale | Go to book overview

5
1940–1948: National Strength through
Communal Unity
We are the army of the nation
Our course is straight Arab is in our core From ancient timesour symbol is unity brothers in the jihad our blood is for the country
The Sacrifice and the Cost
The Union Club For the success of the revolt For the progress of the nationsends us: Forward March! under the protection of unity it sends us in peace

From the Anthem of the Orthodox
Union Club, Jerusalem, 19421

In 1944, the Union of Arab Orthodox Clubs (UAOC) set out to adopt a logo for the club’s various publications. Nearly a dozen options were considered, all including a gold cross and a black, green, red and white Palestinian flag. The artist who drafted the samples must have been shocked by the ensuing debate in which the majority of Union committee members rejected the cross logo ‘under the pretext that [if] an emblem with a symbol of the cross is adopted…[their] Arab Muslims brothers [would] become angry’.2 Jiryis Hanna Butrus of Ramallah wrote to the Union headquarters sharing his concern over this development. Citing a local anecdote about a Christian who raised a cross during a public gathering, he concluded that the man ‘wasn’t paid any notice of disgust from our Muslim brother, rather the opposite: they gave him all respect’.3 The UAOC was, after all, an umbrella organisation representing Arab Orthodox clubs throughout Palestine and, as such, was a specifically communal group. Perhaps the Union abandoned the search for a logo due to the cross controversy. Throughout the decade, there is no logo on the club’s monthly newsletter, standard letterhead or literary journal. The majority opinion hints at the tensions present in the Orthodox Clubs’ efforts to identify as both a religious community and part of the national movement. Yet that is exactly the balance that a new generation of Arab Christians sought through communal organisations in the 1940s.

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