2. Palestine in the Ottoman Empire

After the Ottoman conquest in 1516 ‘Palestine’ disappeared as an official name of an administrative unit, since the Turks usually named their provinces after their capital cities. For the Jews it was important that these Turks were fairly tolerant. Many Jewish refugees from Spanish regions settled in Ottoman cities, including Safed and Jerusalem. After the reorganisation of 1873 the area north of the line Jaffa-Jericho became part of the province of Beirut. The area to the south became part of the special district of Jerusalem, whereas the Negev, Sinai and West Arabia became part of the province of Hijaz.

The old name of Palestine remained popular, however. In the nineteenth century the Ottoman government used ‘Ard-u Filistin’ (Land of Palestine) in its semi-official correspondence. This name was used to refer to the region to the west of the Jordan, which later became the western half of the British Mandate for Palestine. Educated Arabs also used the term Filastin for this area, or, more specifically, for the district of Jerusalem.

In 1880 Ottoman Palestine had 25,000 Jews. At the end of the nineteenth century the first wave of 30,000 Zionist immigrants arrived. These were Jews from eastern Europe and Yemen, who laid the foundations of agricultural co-operatives and built the first Hebrew primary schools. The second wave of 40,000 Jews arrived after the 1903-’07 pogroms in the Russian empire, which started in Kishinev. These Jews, mostly young socialists, dreamed of a strong workers’ movement in Eretz Israel. In 1910 Tel Aviv was founded.

Ottoman atlas of the world, map of Asia Minor, Syria and Palestine, Istanbul A.H. 1314 (1899)

Ottoman atlas of the world, map of Asia Minor, Syria and Palestine, Istanbul A.H. 1314 (1899)