Colonialism and Christianity in Mandate Palestine

Colonialism and Christianity in Mandate Palestine

LAURA ROBSON
Copyright Date: 2011
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7560/726536
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    Colonialism and Christianity in Mandate Palestine
    Book Description:

    Drawing on a rich base of British archival materials, Arabic periodicals, and secondary sources, Colonialism and Christianity in Mandate Palestine brings to light the ways in which the British colonial state in Palestine exacerbated sectarianism. By transforming Muslim, Christian, and Jewish religious identities into legal categories, Laura Robson argues, the British ultimately marginalized Christian communities in Palestine. Robson explores the turning points that developed as a result of such policies, many of which led to permanent changes in the region's political landscapes. Cases include the British refusal to support Arab Christian leadership within Greek-controlled Orthodox churches, attempts to avert involvement from French or Vatican-related groups by sidelining Latin and Eastern Rite Catholics, and interfering with Arab Christians' efforts to cooperate with Muslims in objecting to Zionist expansion. Challenging the widespread but mistaken notion that violent sectarianism was endemic to Palestine, Colonialism and Christianity in Mandate Palestine shows that it was intentionally stoked in the wake of British rule beginning in 1917, with catastrophic effects well into the twenty-first century.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-73548-4
    Subjects: History, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. NOTE on TRANSLITERATION
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-15)

    To contemporary global audiences, Palestine often seems an ancient bastion of violent sectarianism. Frequently described as a “crossroads” of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, it is understood as a place where religious identifications trump all other loyalties, where ancient communal hostilities can flare up at any moment, and where a primitive, tribal religiosity has always held sway. Jerusalem, in particular, has become the modern era’s most recognized symbol of sectarian strife—a status made visible in tourist maps of its Old City that depict a walled enclosure strictly divided by religion. The Muslim, Christian, and Jewish quarters appear on such literature...

  6. CHAPTER 1 PALESTINIAN CHRISTIAN ELITES from the LATE OTTOMAN ERA to the BRITISH MANDATE
    (pp. 16-43)

    In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, increasing European penetration and major Ottoman reform efforts began to transform the political meaning of religious affiliation in the eastern Mediterranean and especially in Palestine. A sudden and dramatic increase in the presence of European institutions, combined with major empire-wide reforms from Istanbul, created new kinds of separations between Palestine’s Muslims and Christians. As Palestinian Arab Christians became more closely associated with foreign powers and institutions and their position within the empire became an issue of ever more interest to Europe, their communal identity took on a political aspect it had never...

  7. CHAPTER 2 REINVENTING the MILLET SYSTEM: BRITISH IMPERIAL POLICY and the MAKING of COMMUNAL POLITICS
    (pp. 44-74)

    For most of the nineteenth century, Britain had shaped the Ottoman Empire’s policy toward its non-Muslim communities by casting itself as an external “protector” of the sultan’s Christian subjects, particularly those living among the contested sites of the “Holy Land.” With the assumption of the mandate for Palestine, the British had the opportunity to remake the system entirely. During the early years of the British presence the mandate government decided not only to maintain the millet system but actually to extend its scope by redefining the Muslim community as a “millet” and inventing various communal institutions that would function as...

  8. CHAPTER 3 THE ARAB ORTHODOX MOVEMENT
    (pp. 75-100)

    By the mid-1920s, sectarian political institutions had become a primary venue for political action in Palestine. Arab Christians had been excluded from the main association for Arab political contact with the mandate state, the newly established Supreme Muslim Council. Hajj Amin al-Husayni had emerged as the most prominent Palestinian nationalist leader, based primarily on British interpretations of his credentials as a Muslim religious leader. Responding to these developments, leaders in the Arab Orthodox community now began to recast an internal church movement as a political cause tied to the organization, rhetoric, and goals of Palestinian nationalism. Through this redefinition of...

  9. CHAPTER 4 APPROPRIATING SECTARIANISM: THE BRIEF EMERGENCE of PAN-CHRISTIAN COMMUNALISM, 1929–1936
    (pp. 101-126)

    In the mid-1930s the mandate government began to entertain the idea of creating a national legislative council in which Palestinian Arabs would take part.¹ This was the mandate government’s second attempt at constructing a legislative council; the first had failed in 1923 after the Arabs organized a successful boycott of the elections. During the course of the revived public debate over the form and nature of Palestine’s legislative structures, Arab Christians across the political spectrum came to support the idea of Christian communal representation in municipal and national legislatures. This new sense of Arab pan-Christian solidarity culminated in 1936 with...

  10. CHAPTER 5 PALESTINIAN ARAB EPISCOPALIANS under MANDATE
    (pp. 127-157)

    The Arab Episcopalian community to which ʿIzzat Tannus and Shibli Jamal belonged faced particularly difficult challenges in Palestine’s newly sectarian political system.¹ It was a small but highly influential group whose long ties to mission institutions conferred substantial educational and professional benefits in the British-run mandate state. As converts to a European faith, however, Arab Episcopalians began during the mandate to face accusations of collusion and collaboration with the British occupying power and, by extension, with the Zionist movement. During the course of the mandate, like other Palestinian Christians, Arab Episcopalians had to try to carve out a space for...

  11. EPILOGUE: THE CONSEQUENCES of SECTARIANISM
    (pp. 158-164)

    In 1917, just before Edmund Allenby entered Jerusalem and claimed Palestine for the British, Arab Christians seemed poised to take a central role in the construction of a post-Ottoman political order. By the time the mandate ended in 1948, they had nearly disappeared from Palestinian political life. At the same time, they also vanished from much of the historiography of modern Palestine. The colonial conflict that began with the 1917 British declaration of support for a Jewish National Home in Palestine was, by 1948, already being portrayed as partly a religious contest between Muslims and Jews for their shared “Holy...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 165-204)
  13. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 205-220)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 221-227)