The Samaritans

Authored by: Monika Schreiber

Routledge Handbook of Minorities in the Middle East

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138649040
eBook ISBN: 9781315626031
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315626031-17

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Abstract

The Samaritans, an ethno-religious group with roots in antiquity, represent the smallest religious minority in the modern Middle East, with overall population numbers ranging below 800 at the time of this writing. At present, they dwell exclusively in two demarcated residential centers: on their sanctuary Mount Gerizim right above the Palestinian town of Nablus, which has been their traditional hometown until the outbreak of the First Intifada in 1987, and in Holon, a former “development town” on the southern edge of the Tel Aviv area in Israel, where a separate Samaritan neighborhood was founded in the early 1950s. Regarding language and a wide array of social values, food preferences, and other everyday habits, the Nablus Samaritans are clearly an Arab society. The Holon Samaritans, on the other hand, speak Modern Israeli Hebrew and have absorbed much of the daily culture of Israel. Generally though, the linguistic-cultural distinction between the two halves of the community is not easy to draw. The Holonites have preserved a great deal of their Arab cultural legacy, while most Samaritans of Nablus, owing to the community’s close political ties with Israel, are well familiar with modern Israeli culture (Figure 17.1).

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