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Jumblatt family

JUMBLATT FAMILY

Prominent Druze family in Lebanon.

The Jumblatts are one of two rival Druze family confederations in Lebanon (the other being the Yazbaki). The family traces back to a Kurdish family from Janbulad, Syria, and to the chieftain Ali Janbulad, from Aleppo. They came to Lebanon in the seventeenth century after a failed rebellion against the Ottomans. With the support of Prince Fakhr al-Din II al-Maʿhi, the family was invited to settle in the Shuf, establishing itself in Mukhtara. After their conversion to the Druze religion, the extinction of the Maʿnid dynasty enabled them to become shaykhs of the Shuf. They extended their feudal domain south of the Shuf, coming to rival in power, and later forming the opposition to, the Chehab dynasty. In the nineteenth century, the Jumblatt family became one of the most prominent political (zuʾama) families in Lebanon. In the twentieth century, the history of the family is indistinguishable from the history of the Druze in Lebanon. In the 1920s, during the French mandate, the political leadership of the family was assumed by Nazira Jumblatt, who succeeded her husband Fuʾad after his assassination in 1921. She cooperated with the French authorities to prevent the Druze from defying the mandate government.

The political prominence of the family was boosted by the emergence of Kamal Jumblatt (Nazira's son), who until his death in 1977 dominated Lebanon's political life. The nature of the Jumblatt leadership changed when Kamal promoted progressive and socialist policies that extended his leadership beyond the confines of the Druze family confederation. He also succeeded in marginalizing, perhaps more than at any other time in the modern history of the Druze in Lebanon, the role of the Yazbaki Arslan family. This was especially true under the leadership of the highly ineffective Prince Majid, whose close association with Maronite Christian leader Camille Chamoun discredited him, particularly after the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War of 1975. Kamal emerged as the spokesperson of the leftist/Muslim coalition that he had helped found before the outbreak of civil war. The death of the Yazbaki shaykh al-aql (the highest religious authority among the Druze) also helped the Jumblatt family, whose shaykh al-aql became the Druze religious leader in Lebanon, thereby unifying, for the first time in modern times, the religious leadership of the community.

Upon Kamal's assasination, his son, Walid, assumed leadership of the family and of the Progressive Socialist Party it led. He played an important role in the Lebanese Civil War of 1975 through 1990 and in postwar Lebanese politics, continuing the family's significance in that country.

see also arslan family; chamoun, camille; druze; jumblatt, kamal; jumblatt, walid; lebanese civil war (19751990); progressive socialist party; shuf.


Bibliography


AbuKhalil, As'ad. Historical Dictionary of Lebanon. Lanham, MD: Rowan and Littlefield, 1998.

as'ad abukhalil
updated by michael r. fischbach

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