This study reassesses several accepted truths about Arab village society. It shows first that one cant speak about the position of women in general, because there is a great difference among women depending on the structure of their households and relationships. Women whose work contributes to the family's income, who have been able to acquire property, who exert control over their sons, and who have the quickness of mind to exploit suitable opportunities, often have their way in the ecomic and political affairs of their households and beyond. Ginat's analysis of marriage patterns dispels the common tion that men customarily seek the hand of their father's brother's daughter, and that this type of marriage illustrates a principle of endogamy in Arab village society. After carefully examining the numerous reasons for each marriage, he concludes that a combination of material and political considerations of the families involved, and t stated rms, determines the choice of spouses. The author clarifies the tion of hor, which hitherto has been used to explain so many things in Arab society. In Arab societies a man's hor often seems to depend on the reputation of his women. Now it appears that his hor is gauged t by the actual sexual comportment of women for whom he is morally responsible, but by public attitudes towards that sexuality. Ginat's analysis adds to our understanding of some central themes in Arab society. He provides valuable and complete information about aspects of family life that have rarely been covered in such detail.
Joseph Ginat was professor in the department of land of Israel studies at Haifa University, Israel. Previously he served as deputy adviser on Arab affairs to the prime minister. Some of his writings include Blood Disputes among Bedouin and Rural Arabs in Israel and Blood Revenge .