Alami, Musa Al- (1897–1984)

views updated

ALAMI, MUSA AL- (1897–1984)

Palestinian administrator and diplomat. Born in Jerusalem in 1897 into a prominent, wealthy landowning family, Musa al-Alami came into contact with Palestinian nationalists in Damascus, where he was evading the Ottoman draft in 1917–1918. He studied law at Cambridge and in 1925 began working as a legal officer for the British administration in Mandatory Palestine. In 1932 he became private secretary to the high commissioner, whom he lobbied for the political rights and economic interests of the Arab population. He was among a number of prominent Palestinians who met with the Zionist leadership in 1934 and 1936, seeking to find grounds for a compromise; the Palestinian group concluded that no voluntary compromise was possible. Al-Alami was subsequently removed from his job and demoted, following pressure from the World Zionist Organization. In 1936 he publicly supported the General Strike, circulating a petition among Palestinian officials of the Mandatory government that called for limiting Jewish immigration and Zionist land purchases. In 1937 he was fired from the government and went into exile in Beirut, but he was forced by the French to leave for Baghdad in 1939. During this time he was a member of the Palestinian delegation to the London Conference, whose convening he had urged. He was allowed to return to Palestine in 1942.

Al-Alami was the Palestinian delegate to the Alexandria conference at which the creation of the Arab League was agreed upon, and he became the Palestinian representative in the League when it was established in 1945. He headed the League's Information Office in London from 1945 to 1949, and was also responsible for setting up the League's Constructive Scheme, administered by the Arab Higher Committee, a fund that bought land to keep it from being sold to the Zionists and worked to improve conditions in Palestinian villages. After the 1948–1949 War al-Alami returned from London, having lost his home and most of his property. He renamed the Constructive Scheme the Arab Development Society and used it to start a large farm near Jericho in the West Bank with an orphanage and vocational school for refugee children, which he continued to operate until his death in 1984.

SEE ALSO Arab Higher Committee;League of Arab States.