I. Ottoman Rule

I. Ottoman Rule

Period
I. Ottoman Rule
1 January 1516 to 2 November 1917

In 1516, the Ottoman Empire—founded by Turkic tribesmen in Anatolia, who then established their capital on the ruins of the Byzantine Empire in Constantinople—moved against the Mamluk rule in the Levant. The Ottoman forces defeated the Mamluk armies and conquered Bilad al-Sham, including Palestine. This marked the beginning of four centuries of nearly uninterrupted Ottoman rule over Palestine. This rule was marked by the integration of local elites into networks of state power (particularly taxation) as well as the state’s establishment and support of religious and charitable institutions.

Sovereignty over Jerusalem held special significance for the Muslim empire, which early on embarked on projects to rebuild the city’s walls and to renovate the Dome of the Rock (1537-1540). At the same time, the Ottomans acknowledged Christian and Jewish rights to sites of religious significance, managing a complex arrangement of privileges and access rights to these sites through a system known as the status quo. These regulations and understandings were based on accumulated customary practice and included rights acknowledged by earlier Muslim rulers and the decisions of Muslim courts in support of these rights, as well as Christian and Jewish commitments to adhere to customary practice.

Yet despite relative calm in religious matters, Palestine was also periodically the site of local, regional, and global political struggles. In the early eighteenth century, for example, a local uprising against the Ottoman governor of Jerusalem—known as the naqib al-ashraf rebellion—was triggered by repressive policies and taxation. Later in the eighteenth century, local notable Zahir al-Umar al-Zaydani carved out a sphere of local autonomy in the Galilee. In 1799, French forces led by Napoleon Bonaparte, having recently invaded Egypt, stormed up the coast of Palestine, conquering Gaza, Jaffa, and Haifa before launching an unsuccessful siege of Acre. Another locally led uprising against taxation in 1825 was put down by the Ottomans shortly before Ibrahim Pasha, the son of Egypt’s ruler Muhammad Ali Pasha, launched another invasion of Palestine from the south in 1831. For the next ten years, Palestine (and the greater Levant) was the site of struggle between the Ottoman Empire, its rebellious Egyptian vassal, and local Palestinian factions before an alliance of empires—Ottoman, British, Russian, and Austrian—managed to expel the Egyptian army.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, a number of processes unfolding both regionally and globally shaped the development of events in Palestine. Three processes had particular impact: a series of Ottoman administrative reforms that sought to fundamentally reshape the relationship between the state and its subjects; global dynamics that gave European powers increasing influence over a weakening Ottoman state; and the rise of nationalist movements, including the development of Zionism in Europe and Arab and Palestinian nationalisms in the Ottoman Empire's Arab provinces.

The year 1876 marked the beginning of both the reign of Sultan Abd al-Hamid II and the First Constitutional Era, launched with the promulgation of the Ottoman Basic Law. The Basic Law sought to reconfigure the relationship between the Ottoman state and its subjects by crafting a single Ottoman political identity applied equally to all the empire's subjects. It also established an Ottoman parliament, in which Yusuf Diya-uddin Pasha al-Khalidi represented Jerusalem. After just two years, however, Sultan Abd al-Hamid II suspended the Basic Law, ending the First Constitutional Era. Over the next thirty years, Abd al-Hamid ruled as an absolute monarch, presiding over some successful projects of modernization (e.g., bureaucratic reforms, the establishment of a population registry, construction of the Hijaz railway) as the empire lost control over numerous territories (particularly in Europe) to a combination of local independence movements and foreign powers.

Beyond these losses, foreign powers exploited the Ottoman Empire's relative weakness to impose economic and political concessions upon it under the framework of capitulations, which gave foreign subjects in Ottoman lands privileged status—exempting them, for example, from taxation or local prosecution. Although capitulations had been in place since the Ottoman conquest of the Levant, European powers expanded their privileges as the empire faltered and extended them to local clients. The Zionist movement and its European supporters were no exception, exploiting this system to foster Jewish immigration to Palestine despite local opposition.

Although Palestine did not exist as an administrative unit in this period, the term was used to describe a geographic area. After administrative reorganizations in the 1870s and 1880s, the area that later became Mandatory Palestine was divided into three administrative units: the district of Jerusalem, governed directly by Istanbul, and the two northern districts of Nablus and Acre, attached to the province of Beirut. According to Ottoman records, the population of these three districts in 1878 was 462,465: 403,795 Muslims, 43,659 Christians, and 15,011 Jews. (This figure did not include some 10,000 Jews with foreign citizenship, several thousand Bedouin, and foreign Christian residents of Palestine.) Jaffa and Nablus were Palestine's largest and most economically vibrant cities, while most Jews in Palestine—observant orthodox communities minimally engaged with Zionism—lived in four cities of religious importance: Jerusalem, Hebron, Safad, and Tiberias. 

The Zionism movement, meanwhile, was taking shape in Europe, particularly in Eastern Europe. Motivated by ideological currents of nationalism and the oppressive conditions facing European Jewry, Zionist thinkers sought the acquisition of territory where a Jewish sovereign state could be established as the means of national fulfillment and salvation. Palestine seemed the logical and optimal place because it was the site of Jewish origin, though some early Zionists were willing to consider alternative sites.

The first Zionist colony in Palestine was founded in 1878, and the first wave of Zionist immigrants arrived in 1882. European Jewish millionaires Baron Edmond de Rothschild and Baron Maurice de Hirsch funded early colonization efforts, while Theodor Herzl, a Hungarian Jew, published Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State), a treatise integrating prevailing Zionist ideas and outlining a program of implementation. In 1897, Herzl convened the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, which established the Zionist Organization, the institutional framework of subsequent Zionist diplomacy and operations. In 1901, the Jewish National Fund was founded to acquire land in Palestine for further Jewish colonies. By 1914, some thirty Zionist colonies had been set up, and the total Jewish population in Palestine had reached about sixty thousand, more than half of them recent immigrants.

At the same time, Arab and Palestinian nationalist sentiments were emerging in Palestine in conjunction with growing anti-Zionism. In 1908, the Young Turk Revolution led to the restoration of the Ottoman constitution and ushered in an era of press freedoms. Delegates from Jerusalem, Jaffa, Nablus, Acre, and Gaza were elected to the reconstituted Ottoman Parliament in 1908 and 1912, and a Palestinian press blossomed, articulating growing concern about Zionist designs on Palestine and giving voice to various visions of Arab, Ottoman, Greater Syrian, and Palestinian nationalisms. The outbreak of World War I in 1914 and the occupation of Palestine by British forces in 1917 curtailed many of the possibilities envisioned by Palestinians, wrested from them any control of their political future, and, with the Balfour Declaration of 1917, ensured that the Zionist project would proceed against the will of the indigenous Palestinian population. 

AW

 

Selected Bibliography

Büssow, Johann. Hamidian Palestine: Politics and Society in the District of Jerusalem, 1872–1908. Leiden, the Netherlands: Brill, 2011.

Campos, Michelle. Ottoman Brothers: Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Early Twentieth-Century Palestine. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010.

Doumani, Beshara. Rediscovering Palestine: Merchants and Peasants in Jabal Nablus, 1700–1900. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

Schölch, Alexander. Palestine in Transformation, 1856–1882: Studies in Social, Economic, and Political Development. Washington, DC: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1993.

Singer, Amy. Palestinian Peasants and Ottoman Officials: Rural Administration around Sixteenth-Century Jerusalem. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1994

I. Ottoman Rule
E.g., 2018/11/13
E.g., 2018/11/13

Ottoman Rule

1500

1600

1700

1800

1810

1820

1830

1840

1850

1860

1870

1880

1890

1900

1901

1902

1903

1904

1905

1906

1907

1908

1909

1910

1911

1912

1913

1914

1915

1916

Early Mandate Period

1917

Contextual

Ottoman Conquest of Palestine
1516

Popular action

The Naqib al-Ashraf Rebellion
1703 - 1705

Institutional Socio-Economic

Acre Under Zahir al-Umar al-Zaydani
1746 - 1775

Institutional

Acre Under Ahmad Pasha al-Jazzar
1775 - 1804

Violence

Napoleon Bonaparte in Palestine
February 1799 - May 1799

Popular action Socio-Economic

Tax Revolt in Jerusalem
1825 - 1826

Violence Institutional

Ibrahim Pasha in Palestine
October 1831 - 1834

Popular action Violence

Uprising Against Egyptian Rule
April 1834 - August 1834

Diplomatic Sanctions

International Intervention against Egyptian Rule in Bilad al-Sham
1839 - 1841

Diplomatic Institutional

Establishment of European and American Consulates in Jerusalem
1839 - 1862

Legal Institutional

The Tanzimat Are Issued
18 February 1856

Institutional Legal

Ottoman Land Code, 7 Ramadan 1274
21 April 1858

Institutional Legal

Ottoman Law of the Provinces: Administrative Reorganization in Syria and Palestine
7 November 1864

Legal

Law Concerning Land Purchase by non-Ottoman Subjects, 7 Safar 1284
10 June 1867

Legal Cultural

Ottoman Education Law Is Passed
20 September 1869

Institutional

Jerusalem Area Designated as a Sanjaq
1872

Legal

Sultan Abd al-Hamid II and the Ottoman Constitution
31 August 1876 - 19 December 1876

Legal Institutional

Jerusalem Representation in the Ottoman General Assembly
19 March 1877

Colonization

Establishment of the First Zionist Colony in Palestine
1878 - 1883

Violence Policy/program

Jewish Nationalism in Eastern Europe
1881 - 1884

Colonization Legal

Settlement of European Jews in the Ottoman Empire
November 1881

Contextual

Great Britain Invades and Occupies Egypt
1882

Colonization

First Wave of Jewish Immigration to Palestine
1882 - 1903

Violence Colonization

Palestinian-Zionist Dispute
1886

Diplomatic Colonization

European Powers Press the Ottomans on Jewish Immigration
1888

Institutional

Administrative Reorganization in Syria and Palestine
March 1888

Popular action Colonization

Jerusalem Notables Oppose Jewish Immigration
June 1891

Institutional Colonization

Establishment of the Jewish Colonization Association
September 1891

Socio-Economic

Building of the Jaffa-Jerusalem Railroad Line
1892

Legal Diplomatic

The Ottomans and Sale of Land to Jews in Palestine
November 1892 - 1893

Policy/program Colonization

Publication of The State of the Jews by Theodor Herzl
February 1896

Popular action Colonization

Local Control of Zionist Land Purchases
1897

Institutional Policy/program

1st Zionist Congress Is Held in Basel
29 August 1897 - 31 August 1897

Institutional Colonization

2nd Zionist Congress Is Held in Basel
28 August 1898 - 31 August 1898

Colonization

Herzl Correspondence with Jerusalem Mayor
19 March 1899

Institutional Colonization

3rd Zionist Congress Is Held in Basel
15 August 1899 - 18 August 1899

Institutional Colonization

4th Zionist Congress Is Held in London
13 August 1900 - 16 August 1900

Legal Colonization

New Ottoman Regulations on Jewish Land Purchase
9 January 1901

Popular action Colonization

Tiberias Palestinians Protest Jewish Land Acquisition
July 1901

Diplomatic Legal

France and the Ottoman Empire Sign the Mytilène Agreements
November 1901

Institutional Colonization

5th Zionist Congress Is Held in Basel
26 December 1901 - 30 December 1901

Institutional Colonization

Establishment of the Anglo-Palestine Company
1903

Institutional Diplomatic

6th Zionist Congress Is Held in Basel
23 August 1903 - 28 August 1903

Colonization

2nd Wave of Jewish Immigration
1904 - 1914

Biographical

Theodor Herzl Dies; Replaced by David Wolffsohn
3 July 1904

Violence

Tiberias Palestinians Protest Again
August 1904 - September 1904

Socio-Economic

Completion of the Hejaz Railway
1905

Policy/program

Publication of The Awakening of the Arab Nation in Asiatic Turkey by Najib Azoury
January 1905

Institutional Policy/program

7th Zionist Congress Is Held in Basel
27 July 1905 - 2 August 1905

Cultural

Establishment of the Rawdat al-Ma'arif al-Wataniyya al-'Uthmaniyya al-Islamiyya in Jerusalem
1906

Institutional Diplomatic

8th Zionist Congress Is Held in the Hague
14 July 1907 - 21 July 1907

Colonization

Zionist Evasion of Ottoman Regulations
August 1907

Violence

Zionist-Palestinian Violence Breaks out in Jaffa
March 1908

Contextual Institutional

Young Turk Revolution
July 1908 - December 1908

Popular action Institutional

Palestinians Participate in the Establishment of Arab Nationalist Societies
September 1908 - 1912

Cultural

Establishment of Palestinian Newspaper al-Karmel in Haifa
December 1908

Colonization

Foundation of Tel Aviv
1909

Colonization

Foundation of the Zionist Paramilitary Group HaShomer
1909

Cultural

Establishment of al-Madrasa al-Dusturiyya, Jerusalem
1909

Violence

Palestinian-Zionist Clashes Near Nazareth
February 1909 - April 1909

Diplomatic

Ottoman Parliamentarians Protest Zionist Objectives
July 1909

Institutional Policy/program

9th Zionist Congress Is Held in Hamburg
26 December 1909 - 30 December 1909

Popular action Colonization

Arab Ottoman Parliamentarians Address Minister of Interior
June 1910

Cultural Policy/program

Publication of Zionism by Najib Nassar
1911

Cultural

Establishment of Filastin Newspaper in Jaffa
January 1911

Institutional Colonization

First Major Debate on Zionism in Ottoman Parliament
March 1911 - May 1911

Institutional Policy/program

10th Zionist Congress Is Held in Basel
9 August 1911 - 15 August 1911

Diplomatic Colonization

European Powers Renew Pressure on the Ottomans to Ease Zionist Land Acquisition in Palestine
January 1912

Institutional

Ottoman Parliamentary Elections Are Held
April 1912 - August 1912

Legal

Provisional Law Concerning the Right of Certain Corporate Bodies to Own Immovable Property, 22 Rabi' al-awwal 1331
1 March 1913

Legal

Provisional Law of Disposal of Immovable Property, 5 Jumada al-ula 1331
12 April 1913

Institutional Colonization

11th Zionist Congress Meets in Vienna
2 September 1913 - 9 September 1913

Socio-Economic

Railway Lines in Palestine
1914

Contextual Violence

World War 1
1 August 1914 - February 1915

Diplomatic Policy/program

Hussein-McMahon Correspondence
14 July 1915 - 30 March 1916

Diplomatic Policy/program

Signing of the Sykes-Picot Agreement
16 May 1916

Popular action

Start of the Arab Revolt
June 1916

Colonization

British Palestine Campaign
March 1917 - September 1918

Contextual

Russian Revolution Brings the Bolsheviks to Power
8 March 1917 - 8 November 1917