The promulgation of the new Ottoman Constitution in 1876 enabled the first elections to be held to the Ottoman Parliament, in which many delegates from the Arab provinces, including Palestinians from Jerusalem, took their seats. (It is ironic that Palestinians were sitting in the Parliament in Constantinople twenty years before the Zionists held their first congress in Basel in 1897.) Arabs, including Palestinians, were appointed to high office not only in the civil service, the diplomatic corps, the judiciary, and the army, but also as ministers in the Ottoman cabinet. The “Young Turks” Revolution in 1908, which brought reformists to power, further raised Arab and Palestinian expectations. But Ottoman reforms could not keep abreast of deteriorating Turkish-Arab relations. Many Arabs wanted a greater share in government. Some advocated decentralization; others spoke of Arab unity, revolt, and independence.
* * *
For our March Special Focus - Ottoman Palestine, we are highlighting a series of articles from the Journal of Palestine Studies as well as from the Jerusalem Quarterly. Selected are contributions from, inter alia, Raja Shehadeh, Beshara B. Doumani, Salim Tamari, and Walid Khalidi on Palestine's centuries-old Ottoman past.