Women in Israeli-Palestinian Families – Amalia Sa’ar

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  1. Lonely in your Firm grip: Women in Israeli-Palestinian Families – Amalia Sa’ar


  • Thesis – Women to gain family support, they need to maintain balance between power and weakness
  • Women entitlement to protection in the family is limited
  • Differentiation between family as an ideology and family as an experience – what is the difference?
  • Importance of loneliness, its definition, difference between voluntary loneliness and “real loneliness” – mental health and suffering
  • Difference in men and women support – how? The familial fidelity
  • Women are expected to stay loyal to family while not the opposite to men in return. Why? How this is connected to patriarchy?  What are the resemblance between this patriarchal form and the one described by Kandiyotiin classic patriarchy of the ME?
  • Why are men often more supported than women in family?
  • Gender is a position, an identity and it affects the being – role, position, bargain in society and in life.
  • Not all Israeli-Palestinian women suffer from failed family fidelity? Note the differences she addresses.


The Four examples and their ethnographies:

  1. Ina’m – 40 years old, married, Christian, high school grader, self-employed fashion designer – she supports the family (two daughters with disabilities). Husband abuser. Other family members and behavior of bro and other family members.
  2. Nabiha – 40 years unmarried Muslim woman. Lost her mother, abused by family members, and is unable to speak and lots of psychological problem. Though still the main supporter and in lots of pain.
  3. Na’ila – 35 years old Muslim woman, went to University and get married to stay away from abusing family. Husband abuse, she went to court, with a son of 2 years, and divorced.
  4. Dina 30 yrs old Christian, part time employed hair dresser and cleaner. Husband fisherman, irregularly employed. She gets ill often, the husband leaves home, and mother in law doesn’t support though lives close by, and they have good relationship. Issues with gifts and presents from family.


Analysis –


Code of familial commitment – what does she mean?

She asks the Q – why women are lonely and isolated in their own family?

She looks at the dynamics of gender and power


Her thesis (argument)– For women’s chance to receive support and protection from family, they need to maintain a balance between power and weakness.

  • She shows that Palestinian women in Israel do have resources, but do not always benefit from family support – why?
  • She uses Kandiyoti “classic patriarchy in ME” (what is Kandiyoti’s concept?
  • Why she argues that males still have moral and practical superiority over females?

What is the relational definition of patriarchy she adopts from Suad Joseph?

How using the “relational family definition of patriarchy” helps her in her analysis?


  • Note- Commitment to family relationship in Palestinian – Israeli families are guided by:
  1. Solidarity to hierarchy
  2. Egalitarianism and competition
  • Males embody the identity of the group- as they are potential patriarch – their connectivity to group, out of their ego-power
  • Women connectivity to groups (family) to get support, to be included, to feel safe, to build her protection.
  • Women lose the support of their family members – if they act strong, too powerful – or if they are too weak (taken advantage of as much as possible)


From the positionality perspective of gender as she describes-

  • Positionality of male (power)
  • Positionality of female (subordination)


How she analysis the cases of the four women? And showing how when women act very strong and capable, they lose the support of their family. Also, the case of Nabiha, too weak to get and gather the support – easily exploited by all.


Role of women in the family, standing against the example of strong women- even mothers at times.  What do you personally think?  How do you see the different treatment across gender and power? Family reaction to women, and their behavior?


What is the patriarchal bargain in this article? How she explains it?




  • Women susceptible to becoming isolated and lonely
  • Women place and bargain in the family is rooted in “the Code of familial commitment” – women give back to their family, to secure their support and to be included
  • Men consider themselves in, support and are supported as they are viewed as to potential patriarch.
  • Women are supported if they observe the kinship code –
  • Gender is strong protected under kinship code

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