From the moment it was first introduced into the Arab community in the Holy Land, Communism had been associated with the Christian community, more specifically the Greek Orthodox (or Rum Orthodox) denomination. A large proportion of the Arab leadership of the Communist Party in Israel until the 1980s originated from this Orthodox background and the question discussed in this article is what links Communism, an ideology famous for its atheist tenet, with a particular Christian community? The discussion begins with the history of the Orthodox community during the Ottoman and British Mandate periods. It examines the historical, religious and political circumstances that first created the overlap between Orthodoxy and Communism. It then turns to examine the particular circumstances in the history of Israel that helped sustain and deepen this complex religious-political situation.
During the British Mandate in Palestine, there existed among the majority Muslim Arab population a perception that the British favoured Christian Arabs for administrative positions. While such a preference was arguably justifiable during the early years of the Mandate, inasmuch as Christian Arabs were initially more qualified from an educational standpoint, over the ensuing years, the number of Muslim youths with a suitable, secular-based education very quickly increased. There nonetheless persisted a perception of Christian favouritism – that is, that Christians still enjoyed preferential treatment with respect to government employment – and this soon came to define a significant Muslim grievance, one that would periodically prove divisive between Muslim and Christian Arabs, not least within the context of the Palestinian nationalist movement. This article seeks to ascertain whether, on the basis of a statistical analysis of the actual numbers of Muslim and Christian Arabs employed by the British Mandatory government and their respective educational qualifications, Christian Arabs did in fact constitute a privileged group. Also considered (in light of certain sociological concepts regarding group and national identity) are the ramifications of such a perception – regardless of whether reflective of the actual reality – with respect to Muslim–Christian unity, the shaping of Palestinian Arab national identity and the relationship between Arab national identity and Islam.
Dolbee, Samuel and Shay Hazkani. “‘Impossible is not Ottoman’: Menashe Meirovitch, ‘Isa al-‘Isa, and Imperial Citizenship in Palestine.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 47.2 (2015): 241-62.
This article explores a covert partnership between a prominent Zionist agronomist, Menashe Meirovitch, and the Christian Arab editor of the newspaper Filastin, ʿIsa al-ʿIsa, a founding father of Palestinian nationalism. Under the literary guise of an Arab Muslim peasant called Abu Ibrahim, the two men produced a series of Arabic-language columns in 1911–12 that exhibited imperial citizenship par excellence, demanding political and agrarian reforms in Palestine in the name of strengthening the Ottoman Empire. The article explores their short-lived political alliance to interrogate historiographical uses of the press as a source for social history. Moreover, it challenges the portrayal of cooperation between Jews and Arabs as “collaboration” in its pejorative sense. Far from a simple story of betrayal or corruption, the partnership between the two men demonstrates how a shared commitment to Ottoman modernism brought them together more than nationalism, language, or religion pulled them apart.