Cite: Ben-Bassat, Rural Reactions to Zionist Activity in Palestine before and after the Young Turk Revolution

Ben-Bassat, Yuval. “Rural Reactions to Zionist Activity in Palestine before and after the Young Turk Revolution of 1908 as Reflected in Petitions to Istanbul.” Middle Eastern Studies 49.3 (2013): 349-63.




The central Ottoman archives in Istanbul provide a unique bottom-up
perspective on the early Zionist-Arab encounters in Palestine at the end
of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and the interactions
between the rural population and the first Zionist colonists. This
perspective is somewhat different from the customary outlook in the
literature on early Arab reactions to Zionist activity which has
primarily focused on the reactions of the educated urban elites in the
aftermath of the Young Turk revolution of 1908. This study discusses
five petitions sent by the rural population of Palestine, both villagers
and Bedouins, against Jewish activity and its impact on them. The
petitions by these understudied subaltern groups reveal the complexities
of the encounters between the two populations prior to the development
of the political struggle in Palestine, and add a new dimension to the
more familiar viewpoint provided by Zionist and European sources. This
article thus seeks to examine the extent to which the revolution, which
is commonly considered a watershed for the start of the Jewish-Arab
political struggle, is reflected in these petitions. It also inquires
whether there was a change of tone in the petitions following the
revolution and, if so, what can be learned from them regarding the
nature of Jewish-Arab relationships at the time.

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