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
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
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
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 Mandate Palestine
was divided into three administrative units: the
The Zionist movement, meanwhile, was taking shape in Europe, particularly in Eastern Europe . Driven by the colonial expansion outside 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 fulfilment and salvation. Palestine seemed to them 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
At the same time, Arab and Palestinian nationalist sentiments were emerging in Palestine in conjunction with growing anti-Zionism. Palestinian-Zionist disputes occurred frequently over land ownership and tenancy. 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.
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, 2006.
Singer, Amy. Palestinian Peasants and Ottoman Officials: Rural Administration around Sixteenth-Century Jerusalem. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1994