ConclusionThe 1948-exodus of Palestinians from their homeland affected the traditional social organisation of Palestinian communities found in both urban and rural areas profoundly. The ongoing process of social organisation among the refugees, however, re-established old social ties, and resulted in the formation of new ties.
In this chapter, we have focused on the process whereby communities re-emerged. In some ways social organisation perpetuated the traditional social organisation of Palestinians, in other ways the reconstruction of communities established distinct forms of organisation based on new economic, political and social ties.
On the one hand, the pre-existing social organisation perpetuated and affected the construction of communities in the new setting on two levels. First, the urban-rural cleavage which existed before the exodus re-emerged clearly in the formation of new communities: Town-dwellers, sought primarily cities. They had either the experience of living in a town and were thereby able to exploit the possibilities available there, or they had the means of drawing advantage of their profession in the new setting. Dr Ja'far, for instance, was able to exercise his profession as a doctor regardless of his place of residence. Peasants, on the other hand, became either without land or they lost their means of livelihood. They sought work in the only sector they mastered, agriculture, and settled therefore in rural settings in the host-societies.
Second, kinship ties as well as geographical ties constituted the basis of network formation in the early years of resettlement: Rather than being placed randomly in different camps by external actors (such as UNRWA), many Palestinians effected personal preferences and regrouped together with their kin and other members of the same village as themselves. Today we still find neighbourhoods in different refugee camps named after the original village which Palestinians fled from.
On the other hand, the construction of communities in the host-countries resulted in the composition of new forms of social organisation as refugees responded and adapted to their new environments.
An example which illustrates the establishment of new social ties in the host-communities is the formation of "societies" in Amman based on the original villages of Palestinians. The geographical traditional Palestinian village re-emerged thus in totally new surroundings, and a characteristic socio-political organisation, namely the hamula-system, gained new legal importance in the new settings as authoritative conflict-management groupings recognised by the Jordanian judicial system.
The establishment of economic and social relations with inhabitants of the host-communities represent another example of formation of new forms of social ties in the host-communities. In some cases, economic ties which were created as a result of refugees and natives working together (as in the case of Omar in Askar) or as a result of long-term trade (as the case was for Sana's father in south Lebanon) were eventually bolstered through marriage ties. Intermarriage between Palestinians and the host-community thus introduces new forms of marriage patterns which diverge from the traditional endogamous marriage pattern found in Palestinian families.
Other Palestinians, however, did not integrate into their new neighbourhood. Maher and his wife had lived long enough in the refugee camp, which, despite being part of a Palestinian community, had become a separate refugee-neighbourhood within the larger Palestinian community in Nablus on the West Bank.