Regional Integration and Illicit Flows: The Rise of Levantine Drug Culture in the Interwar Era

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This short article demonstrates the extent to which Mandatory Palestine was inseparably linked to the interwar Levant region in terms of hashish smuggling and hashish leisure culture. Interwar international antidrug conventions and local decrees deprived Egypt of its main source of hashish supplies, Greece. To compensate for that loss, Egyptians turned to hashish supplies from Lebanon and Syria to satisfy their demand for the drug. Located between Lebanon-Syria and Egypt, Palestine became entangled in extensive hashish flows across its territory for the first time, which led to the territory becoming the largest way station for hashish in the region during the interwar period. At the same time, as hashish traffickers en route to Egypt sold some of their hashish supplies to the local market, there was a sharp increase in hashish use among Palestine’s urban working-class Arab population. By eschewing methodological nationalism, this article shows that the rise of a drug culture in Palestine was dependent on outside forces that were far beyond local control.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-159
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Levantine Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2020


  • DRUG traffic
  • HISTORY of crime
  • INTERNATIONAL economic integration
  • INTERWAR Period (1918-1939)


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