In the era of rising nationalisms, nation state, and increased global communication, ethnic politics in the Empire intensified after the revolution and became one of the major catalysts in the precipitation of inter-ethnic tensions and its culmination in the dissolution of the Empire. Despite the fact that the revolution opened new horizons and new opportunities for the ethnic groups, it also created serious challenges both for the authors of the revolution and the ethnic groups. The post-revolutionary period became the litmus test for the endurance/sustainability of the main principle of the revolution: the creation of an Ottoman identity based on equality, fraternity, and liberty whose allegiance would be to the Empire. The realization of this goal was extremely difficult in a period when all ethnic groups in the Empire began projecting their own perception of what it meant to be an Ottoman citizen. Many of these ethnic groups viewed the revolution as the beginning of a new era in which the emphasis was going to be more on national identity a byproduct of modernity. In this equation of modernity ethnic groups were going to be represented based on their universal/national identity rather than on their ethno-religious basis. Ottomanism was going to be the title of their book while their particular identities were going to be the subtitle. However, as this essay demonstrated the outcomes of the revolution were contradictory in that it was not able to get rid of religious representation. On the contrary, the open support of the government to all the religious leaders demonstrates the reluctance of the government to emphasize the national character of these communities.
The contested city of Jerusalem provides a good case study of the struggles and complexities of the post-revolutionary period. In the confines of the old city walls the echoes of the revolution brought hope to the dissatisfied elements of these communities. In all the three cases discussed in this essay the revolution caused serious changes in the dynamics of power within these communities. The waves of micro-revolutions taking place within these communities in Istanbul echoed in Jerusalem. What followed was an internal struggle between the different elements of these communities. A struggle that can be best understood as one taking place between secularism/religion on the one hand and between localism/nationalism on the other hand. In the Armenian case when the National Assembly decided to take the matter into its hands and when the Jerusalem Patriarchate with its brotherhood felt that their autonomous status was endangered they immediately resolved their differences and opposed any such encroachments by the Armenian National Assembly of Istanbul. In the Jewish case the struggle between the pro-Panigel and anti-Panigel factions became a microcosm of struggle between the different political and ecclesiastic trends emerging in the Empire. The case of the Greeks was unique in that community was ethnically different from that of the religious hierarchy unlike the Jewish and the Armenian case. The revolution proved to be a defining moment for the Arab-Orthodox communities in Palestine to achieve what they have always wanted to achieve, namely to get rid of Hellenism that ruled the Patriarchate for centuries and to take a dominant role in the affairs of the Patriarchate. The reluctance of the Ottoman government to support the Arab Orthodox Laity and their open support of the religious hierarchy demonstrates the contradictory dimension of the revolution which sought to undermine religious representations and create a secular Ottoman citizen. One explanation to this behavior is that the central government did not want to encourage the Arab-Orthodox community which living in the height of its Nahdah al-Urthuduxiyyah (The Orthodox Revival) because of their complicity with the Arab National movement. It is members of this community who in the later years were going to play an important role in Arab nationalism in general and Palestinian one in particular. The rising national sentiments among the Arabs as well as other ethnic groups were considered by the Young Turks as a threat to the integrity of the Ottoman Empire that they envisioned.
In order to undermine the development of these identities the Young Turks were ready to go against the major ideals of the revolution even if that meant the initiation of Turkification policies.
1 A longer version of this article will appear in the in the proceedings of “Hundred Years of the Young Turk Revolution and its Impact on Eretz Israel/Palestine,” a conference in honor of Prof. Haim Gerber, Organized by the Institute of Asian and African Studies, Forum of Turkish Studies, Hebrew University, The Department of Middle East History, Haifa University, and Yad Itzkhak Ben Zvi Institute Jerusalem, 2-3 July, 2008.
2 The Armenian National Assembly was the ultimate outcome of the Armenian constitutional movement in the Ottoman Empire which culminated in the promulgation of the Armenian National Constitution in 1863. During the Hamidian Period (18781908) the ANA ceased to function and was reinstated after the Young Turk revolution. The reinstatement of the Armenian National Constitution and the Armenian National Assembly, which became the center of Armenian national policy-making in the empire, are important political processes in the post-revolutionary period which have been under emphasized in the historiography of the Ottoman Empire. The Armenian National Assembly contained most of the prominent Armenian political, clerical, and intellectual figures in the Empire.
3 This is part of Patriarch Madteos II Izmiriliyan’s Farwell speech to the Armenian National Assembly before traveling to Etchmiadzin to take up his new post as the Catholics of all Armenians. See Azgayin Endhanur Zhoghov, Nist IA[Session XXI], May 22, 1909, p.346.
4 The Brotherhood is a monastic order of the Armenian Church in Jerusalem.
5 This included the steward of the Patriarchate, Father Ghevont, who had appropriated huge sums of money and the servant of the Patriarch, a layman called Avedis Tashjian.
6 A synod is a council of a church convened to decide on issues pertaining to doctrine,
administration or application.
7 The twenty-three members of the Synod to Patriarch Haroutiun Vehabedian, August 28, 1908. A copy of the letter appears in the daily Arevelk, October 3, 1908, #6903, p.3.
8 Members of the Synod to Patriarch Haroutiun Vehabedian, October 14, 1908. A copy of the letter appears in M.D.S, Erusaghemi verjin depk‘ere, pp.12-14.
9 The Young Turk revolution also reinstated the Armenian National Assembly which was non-existent during the Hamidian period. The reinstatement of the Armenian National Constitution and the Armenian National Assembly, which became the center of Armenian national policy-making in the empire, are important political processes in the post-revolutionary period which have been under emphasized in the historiography of the Ottoman Empire. The Armenian National Assembly contained most of the prominent Armenian political, clerical, and intellectual figures in the Empire.
10 “Al-quds al-Sharif,” [Holy Jerusalem] Al-Muqattam, October 29, 1908, #5955, p.4.
11 Locum tenens is a Latin phrase which means place-holder. In the Church system the Locum tenens is a person who temporarily fulfills the duties of the Patriarch until the election of a new Patriarch.
12 “Spasavor Avedis Erusaghemi Vank‘en Vedarwats,” [Servant Avedis Expelled from the Monastery] Jamanag, November 11, 1908, # 13, p.2. “Be-mahane ha-armeni,” [in the Armenian Camp] Hazevi, November 23, 1908, #38, p.2.
13 Father Vertanes and Father Karekin to the Chairman of the ANA Torkomian Effendi, November 7, 1908, a copy of the letter appears in the minutes of the ANA. See Azgayin Endhanur Zhoghov, Nist E [Session VII], November 7, 1908, p.79.
14 See Azgayin Endhanur Zhoghov, Nist E [Session VII], November 7, 1908, p.80.
15 See Azgayin Endhanur Zhoghov, Nist T‘ [Session IX], November 21, 1908, pp.121-127.
16 See Azgayin Endhanur Zhoghov, Nist Zh [Session X], December 5, 1908.
17 From Patriarch Haroutiune to Madteos II Izmiriliyan Patriarch of Istanbul, 1 December 1908, # 157. A copy of the letter appears in Azgayin Endhanur Zhoghov, Nist ZhG [Session XIII], 26 of December, 1908, p.183. This caused confusion in the meeting because, in his previous letters, Patriarch Haroutiun had expressed apprehension about Archbihsop Kevork Yeritzian, but was now advocating his return. See also his additional telegram to the Assembly in which he asking to the rapid return of Archbishop Kevork and Father Ghevont. See Patrik Artin to Milleti Meclis Umumiyesi Reisi Minas Ceraz (1 Kanun Sani, 1324) [14 January 1909] A copy of the Telegraph appears in Azgayin Endhanur Zhoghov, Nist ZhD [Session XVI], 16 of January, 1909, p.201.
18 On the letters see Azgayin Endhanur Zhoghov, Nist ZhZ [Session XVI], 13 February, 1909, pp.230-31.
19 Ibid., p.231.
20 For the report see Teghekagir Erusaghemi Hashuots‘ K‘nnich‘ Khorhrdaranakan Handznazhoghovoy, matuts‘uats Azgayin Eresp‘. Zhoghovin :1909 Mayis 22i IA nistin (K. Polis : Tpagr. H. Asaturean ew Ordik‘, 1909).
21 Before the report came out, Father Ghevont sent a series of letters to the Assembly asking them for a copy of the report before it was published in order to make the necessary comments. The ANA refused to give him a copy. Father Ghevont in December 1908 published a booklet in which he refuted the accustations made by the ANA against his conduct in Jerusalem. Father Ghevont Maksoudian, Erusaghemi Khndire [The Problem of Jerusalem], Vol. I (Istanbul: Z.N.Berberian Press, 1908).
22 Azgayin Endhanur Zhoghov, Nist IB [Session XXII], June 5, 1909, p.361.
23 See “Teghekagir Erusaghemi S. Patriark‘in dem Eghadz Ambastanut‘iants‘ K‘nnich‘ Khorhrdaranakan Hants‘nazhoghowoy” in Azgayin Endhanur Zhoghov, Nist IZ [Session XXVI], July 17, 1909, pp.434-437.
24 For a complete biography of Patriarch Turian see Arch.Torkom Koushagian, Eghishe Patriark` Durean [Patriarch Yeghishe Turian] (Jerusalem: St. James Press, 1932)
25 In the Ottoman Empire it was the Sultan who confirmed the elections of the heads of the millets.
26 “Palestine,” The Jewish Chronicle, October 16,1908, #2063, p.10.
27 For the letters sent to the Hahambashi see HM2 8639; HM2 8640; HM2 8641in The Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People Jerusalem (CAHJP).
28 “Turkey: The Chief Rabbinates in the Empire,” The Jewish Chronicle, 4 September, 1908, # 2057, p.9.
29 Nahum to J. Bigart, (Constantinople, 6 September 1908) AAIU, Turkey, XXX E in Esther Benbassa (ed.) Haim Nahum: A Sephardic Chief Rabbi in Politics, 1892-1923. Translated from French by Miriam Kochan (Tuscaloosa and London: The University of Alabama Press, 1995), p.146.
30 On the struggles in Damasacus before and after the revolution see Yaron Harel, Ben tekhakhim le-mahapekhah : minui rabanim rashiyim ve-hadahatam bi-kehilot Bagdad, Damesek ve-Haleb, 1744-1914, (Between Intrigues and Revolution: The Appointment and Dismissal of Chief Rabbis in Baghdad, Damascus, and Aleppo 1744-1914) (Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi Institute for the Study of Jewish Communities in the East, 2007), pp.231-35. On the situation of the Jews in Baghdad after the revolution see Ibid., pp.306327.
31 Rabbi Panigel was appointed provisionally and charged with convening an assembly of the heads of the community to plan elections in Rishon Le Zion within three month.
32 “Las Komonidhadhis Israelitas de la Provinsiya: Yerusalaym, Damasko y Sayda” El-Tiempo, September 4, 1908, # 104, p.1194.
33 On Rabbi Elyashar see Moshe David Gaon, Yehudei ha-Mizra? be-Erets Yisra’el [The Oriental Jews in Eretz Israel] (Jerusalem: Azriel Press, 1935), pp.61-68. On the struggles over the Jerusalem Rabbinate in general see Rakhel Shar’avi, “Ha-ma’vakim ’al ha-rabbanut ha-sefaradit ve-nose hamishra, 1906-1914,”[The struggles over the Sephardic Rabbinate and the subject of the position, 1906-1914] Katedra, 37, 1985, pp.106-112; Avraham Haim, “Ha-hakham bashi shel Kushta ve milhemet ha-rabanut’ beyerushalayim,” [The Chief Rabbi of Istanbul and the ‘Rabbinical Warfare’ in Jerusalem] Pe‘amim, 12:1982, pp. 105-113.
34 On Rabbi Elyashar see Moshe David Gaon, Yehudei ha-Mizra? be-Erets Yisra’el [The Oriental Jews in Eretz Israel] (Jerusalem: Azriel Press,1935), pp.61-68. On the struggles in general see Shar’avi, “Ha-ma’vakim ’al ha-rabanut ha-sefaradit venose ha-mishra, 1906-1914,” pp.106-112; Haim, “Ha-hakham bashi shel Kushta ve milhemet ha-rabanut’ beyerushalayim,” pp. 105-113.
35 On Haim Moshe Alisher See, Gaon, Yehudei ha-Mizra? be-Erets Yisra’el, pp.59-60.
36 On Yaacov Meir see Gaon, Yehudei ha-Mizra? be-Erets Yisra’el, pp.361-371; idem, “Rabbi Jacob Meir,” Le Judaisme Sepharadi, VIII (June, 1939), pp.81-83.
37 On Antebi and the role of the Alliance Israélite Universelle in Palestine during that period see Lucien Lazare, “L’Alliance Israélite Universelle en Palestine à l’époque de la révolution des “Jeunes Turcs” et sa Mission en Orient du 29 October 1908 au 19 Janvier 1909,” in Revue des Etudes Juives, CXXXVIII (3-4), juill.-déc. 1979, pp.307-335.
38 Alimelekh was the editor of the Ladino newspaper El-Liberal, published in Palestine which had an anti-Panigel policy. See for example, “E‘t le-davar: La Kestyon del Gran Rabino de Yerusalayim,” El-Liberal, March 19, 1908,#14, pp.1-3.
39 On Elyahu Panigel see Gaon, Yehudei haMizra? be-Erets Yisra’el, pp.527-30.
40 See Isaiah Friedman, “Hivrat “Ezra”, Mesrad ha-huts ha-germani ve-ha-pulmus ‘im ha-tzionim 1901-1918,” [Ezra Society, the Foreign Ministry of Germany and the Polemics with the Zionists] Katedra, 20, July 1981, pp.97-122.
41 There is some debate over why the Ashkenazi community did not participate. Some argue that Albert Antebi had influence over the Pasa and prevented them from participating.
42 On the 10th of July 1907 Ekrem Bey the governor of Jerusalem sent a letter to the Grand Vezir in Istanbul expressing the opinion that Yaacov Meir “is not worthy to be appointed as Rabbi through general elections and with the aid of seditious activities of the mentioned Antebi.” Ekrem Bey to the Grand Vezir, July 13, 1907 document #13 in David Kushner, Moshel hayiti be-Yerushalayim: ha‘ir v?eha-ma?oz be-‘enav? shel ‘Ali Ekrem Bai : 1906-1908 [A governor in Jerusalem: The City and Province in the eyes of Ali Ekrem Bey1906-1908] (Jerusalem: Yad Itzhak Ben Zvi, 1995), p.97. On Ekrem’s point of view about the elections of 1907 see in the same document #14, pp.98-100.
43 Shar’avi, “Ha-ma’vakim ’al ha-rabbanut ha-sefaradit venose ha-mishra, 1906-1914,” p.109.
44 On the relationship of Rabbi Panigel with Ezra see “Le-she’elat bekhirat hahambashi leyerushalayim,” [on the question of electing a Chief Rabbi for Jerusalem] Havazelet, December 28, 1908, #36, p.1.
45 See “La Kestyon Rabinika en Yerushalayim,”El-Tiempo, November 11, 1908, #16, pp.148-149.
46 “Hezkiya Shabatai,” Hazevi, December 13, 1908, #51, p.2. “Yeushalayim,” Havazelet, December 9, 1908, #28, p.1.
47 “Yeushalayim,” Havazelet, January 20, 1909, #46, p.1; “Yeushalayim,” Havazelet, January 25 1909, #48, p.2.
48 “Yeushalayim,” Havazelet, February 17,1909, #58, p.1; “Yerushalayim,” El-Liberal, February 19, 1908, # 7, p.2. On his life see Yehudei ha-Mizra? be-Erets Yisra’el, pp.141142.
49 On Rabbi Franco see Gaon, Yehudei ha Mizra? be-Erets Yisra’el, pp.567-568.
50 See Sir Anton Bertram and Harry Charles, Report of the Commission Appointed by the Government of Palestine to Inquire into the Affairs of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem (Humphrey Milford: Oxford University Press, 1921) Derek Hopwood, Russian Presence in Syria and Palestine, 1843-1914; Church and Politics in the Near East (Oxford, Clarendon P., 1969); Itamar Katz and Ruth Kark, ‘The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem and its congregation: dissent over real estate’ in The International Journal of Middle East Studies, 37 (2005), pp. 509–534; Vatikiotis, P. J. (1994) ‘The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem between Hellenism and Arabism’, Middle Eastern Studies, 30:4, pp.916 – 929; Richard Clogg, “The Greek Millet in the Ottoman Empire,” in Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Empire: The Functioning of a Plural Society, 2 vols., ed. Benjamin Braude and Bernard Lewis (New York: Holmes and Meier, 1982), 1:185.
51 See Khalil al-Sakakini, Yawmiyyat Khalil al-Sakakini: Nuyork, Sultanah, al-Quds [The Diaries of Khalil Sakakini: Volume one: New York, Sultana, Jerusalem, 1907-1912] (Ramallah and Jerusalem: Khalil Sakakini Cultura Center and The Institute of Jerusalem Studies, 2003)
52 Ibid., p. 291.
53 Damianos was the 132nd Patriarch of Jerusalem. He was born and educated in the Island of Samos. He was elected as Patriarch by the Holy Synod in July 1897. Previously he had been the Titular Archbishop of Philadelphia (Rabbath Ammon). Archdeacon Dowling, The Patriarchate of Jerusalem (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. 1909), p.17.
54 al-Sakakini, Yawmiyyat Khalil al-Sakakini, p.298. On these demands see Meletios Metaxakis, Les Exigences des Orthodoxes Arabophones de Palestine (Constantinople, Impr. Aristovoulos, Anastassiadès, 1909)
55 al-Sakakini, Yawmiyyat Khalil al-Sakakini, p. 291.
56 Ibid., p. 304.
57 Sir Anton Bertram and Harry Charles Luke, Report of the Commission Appointed by the Government of Palestine to Inquire into the Affairs of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem (London: Oxford University Press, 1921), p.252; al-Sakakini, Yawmiyyat Khalil al-Sakakini, p. 320.
58 Bertram and Young, Report of the Commission Appointed by the Government of Palestine to Inquire into the Affairs of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, p.252.
59 al-Sakakini, Yawmiyyat Khalil al-Sakakini, p. 342.
60 Bertram and Young, Report of the Commission Appointed by the Government of Palestine to Inquire into the Affairs of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, p.253.
61 Ibid., p. 255.
62 Ibid. 63 Meletios Metaxakis was born in Crete in 1871 and went to Jerusalem in 1889. He was ordained as a deacon in 1892 under Patriarch Damianos and serves as under-secretary and chief secretary at the Holy Sepulchre.
64 Ibid., p.256.
65 Ibid., p.257.
66 Ibid., p. 258.
68 Ibid., pp.260-61.
69 Ibid., p.264.
70 For the full demands and the answer of the government as well as the also supplementary demands. See Ibid., pp. 265-69.