Abu Maher al Yamani and the unheralded Palestinian leadership in 1950s Lebanon
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Ahmad abu Maher al Yamani, born in 1924 in Suhmata, Palestine, was one of the foremost refugee leaders in 1950s and '60s Lebanon. A school principal by occupation, Yamani built and directed the leading civic associations in exile, including the UNRWA Teachers' Association, the popular committees of the camps, the al Shabab al 'Arabi al Filastini branch of the Arab Nationalist Movement, and the Union of Palestinian Workers. These associations asserted the interests of poor and formerly peasant refugees to UNRWA and Lebanese authorities, and they laid the foundations for the armed struggle. This biography describes the maturation of camp organization with more color. It also traces continuity between the social transformations of the Mandate era and camp society in the diaspora. The processes in Palestine that drew peasants to continuing education, and then to urban areas and to wage labor, and to mass politics and national identification -- these refined Yamani into a young leader. Most of all, this biography foregrounds grassroots civic leadership among Palestinians in exile.