Ottoman Broth­ers: Mus­lims, Chris­tians and Jews in Ear­ly Twen­ti­eth-Cen­tu­ry Palestine

Michelle U. Campos
  • Review
By – August 29, 2011
This wide rang­ing and eru­dite dis­cus­sion of polit­i­cal and reli­gious iden­ti­ties of Ottoman sub­jects in Pales­tine dur­ing the peri­od after the 1908 rev­o­lu­tion seeks to exam­ine the mean­ing of lib­er­ty, cit­i­zen­ship and pub­lic life in the last Islam­ic empire…[in an] inno­v­a­tive study of the strug­gles over the con­tent and con­tours of impe­r­i­al cit­i­zen­ship and nation­hood on the eve of the end of the empire.”

Ottoman Broth­ers begins with a dis­cus­sion of how the var­i­ous Mus­lim, Jew­ish, and Chris­t­ian com­mu­ni­ties inter­pret­ed the new free­doms that the Com­mit­tee of Union and Progress (CUP), the new lead­ers in Istan­bul, had promised. The Mus­lim intel­lec­tu­als, such as Jerusalemite Is’af Nashashibi, saw in the rev­o­lu­tion a return to the ideals of the ear­ly Islam­ic peri­od. Sephardic Jews took the oppor­tu­ni­ty to seek reform in their com­mu­ni­ty. Arab Ortho­dox Chris­tians framed the lib­er­ty in terms of their own strug­gle against the Greek lead­er­ship of their church.

In sub­se­quent chap­ters Cam­pos sheds light on oth­er aspects of this new peri­od that promised a dif­fer­ent under­stand­ing of cit­i­zen­ship. An elec­tion to the par­lia­ment in 1908 was sup­posed to enfran­chise land own­ing males, but in doing so it pushed aside the rur­al poor and many Jews who did not have Ottoman cit­i­zen­ship. How­ev­er, the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty, par­tic­u­lar­ly intel­lec­tu­als and news­pa­per pub­lish­ers such as well known Zion­ists Shlo­mo Yellin and Eliez­er Ben-Yehu­da, embraced the new ideas and the con­cept of an Ottoman cit­i­zen­ship. Of great inter­est is the author’s dis­cus­sion of the role of Freema­sons in Jaf­fa and Jerusalem. These inter-com­mu­nal lodges includ­ed nota­bles from all the com­mu­ni­ties and their sec­u­lar­iz­ing, for­ward-look­ing mem­bers were a van­guard that embraced the post– 1908 reforms. Campos’s high­ly read­able work is an impor­tant schol­ar­ly con­tri­bu­tion to stud­ies on Pales­tine in the peri­od. Bib­li­og­ra­phy, index, notes.
Seth J. Frantz­man received his Ph.D. from the Hebrew Uni­ver­si­ty of Jerusalem where he cur­rent­ly holds a Post-Doc­tor­al Fel­low­ship. He is a colum­nist for the Jerusalem Post and Fel­low at the Jerusalem Insti­tute of Mar­ket Studies.

Discussion Questions