SUMMARY:This panel addresses the question of Zionism and Jewish communal politics in late-Ottoman Palestine - its potentialities, aftermath, legacy, and memory. It does so through four studies into material culture, diplomatic and social history, and historiography. The panel builds on the wealth of relational historiography of late Ottoman Palestine of the past two decades, as well as recent contributions on settler colonialism. It seeks to expand the discussion into new questions by looking at perspectives of groups, practices and moments that were so far little discussed in this manner.
The work on Ottoman Jewish identity in turn-of-the-century Palestine, has seen much interest in the last two decades. Key contributions investigated the Ottomanist identity of local Jewish communities, as opposed to European Zionists. The complicated relation of Sephardi Jews with Zionism has particularly interested scholars (e.g. Abigail Jacobson, Salim Tamari, Moshe Behar, Jonathan Griebetz, and others). In this panel we will look at Ottoman Jews and Zionists of various Jewish communities: Sephardim and Mizrahim, “First Aliya” colonies, and Palestine-born Ashkenazim, with their diversity of “Zionisms”. As several panelists show, late Ottoman rule accommodated some aspects of Zionist praxis and ideology, including national and settler-colonial dimensions; and yet these aspects stood at odds with hegemonic Zionism during the British Mandate. The Labour Zionist logic of separatist settler-colonialism led to the marginalisation of late Ottoman notions of Zionism, and in some cases, their erasure from the historiography and cultural memory.
The papers explore the following issues:
?1) The study of Yishuv Zionism from the perspective of the Palestinian majority.
2) The hierarchal “coexistence” praxis in early Zionist colonies, as the basis of future Likud rhetoric of paternalistic cohabitation.
3) A failed Ottoman attempt to broker the sale of the Western Wall - including parts of the nearby Moroccan quarter - to Jews, and the historiographic marginalisation of this episode.
4) Hebrew in the urban space of late-Ottoman Jerusalem; the transformation of the Hebrew language to a colonial tool; and what the early history of modern Hebrew in the streets of Jerusalem can tell us about possibilities for decolonisation of Hebrew and Israel/Palestine.