Monday, March 10, 2008

Notes on Historical Conceptions

I've been meaning to blog about Imshin's post on her mother-in-law's memory of growing up in Palestine under the British Mandate. One thing it brings home is the problems with treating Israel strictly as a colonial project. In many ways, it was, but in important ways, it wasn't. The fact Israel's claims to legitimacy usually cite the Balfour Declaration has, I think, obscured the fact that the years leading up to the British withdrawal involved a Jewish uprising against the British, who were seen as the real colonial power. Here in Israel, memories of a national history based in this land rather than negotiated in European capitals should not be underestimated.

Also, in the last paragraph of her post, Imshin says the Ottomans never called this land "Palestine." It's true that Palestine was never a separate administrative unit under the Ottomans, but that obscures that fact that the people living here still used the term. "Filastin" is the Arabic for "Palestine," and was an administrative category under the early caliphate. In later centuries, including under the Ottomans, it's still used in informal contexts, perhaps like people today use terms like "New England" and "French Riviera" even though they don't have any formal administrative definition. In fact, at the very end of the Ottoman period, there was a leading Arabic newspaper called Filastin.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home