The Great Arab Revolt (1908-1917)

The era of the Great Arab Revolt constituted a very sharp turn in the history of the Middle East. After World War I, the west managed to fragment the Ottoman Empire and to divide and colonize Syria. This created the perfect breeding ground for the dream of Arab nationalism to take hold, and as a result, the Great Arab Revolt began. But, by the end of this era, Palestine was to be occupied by the British and the Balfour Declaration was issued promising the Jews a homeland in Palestine.

Al Husseini Family

The Ottoman Empire had weakened and the Turkification movement had begun to take root throughout its states, particularly in Syria and Palestine; as a result, conspiracies and disturbances started to spread. The Turkish National Movement, represented by the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), succeeded in removing Sultan Abdul-Hamid from power and nominating his brother as a formal Sultan, and the new Turkish government began its domination of Syria and Palestine. The system under which Palestine was subjugated went from Ottoman to Turkish, and injustice and poverty spread.

Mousa Kathem Pasha Al Husseini

Al Husseini Family, who had been supporters of Sultan Abdul-Hamid’s regime, realized the dangers of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the western influence on the Turks. They, therefore, tried to push the new Turkish Administration to maintain the unity of the Ottoman Empire and keep Palestine and Jerusalem under the Caliphate system with autonomy rule of the states. The family also tried to stay on good terms with the new regime through Shukri Beik and his brother Aref Beik; Shukri established the Association Of The Arab-Ottoman Brotherhood In Istanbul and requested his brother Ismail to open a branch for his association in Jerusalem. However, their efforts went in vain and Shukri and his son soon became part of opposition against the Turkification movement.

Back in Jerusalem, Al Husseini family members continued to build relationships with local Turkish officials. At the same time, Mousa Kathem Pasha Al Husseini began to coordinate with the Arab National Forces to find an alternate plan in case the Ottoman Empire collapsed. The family would go on to support Sharif Hussein Bin Ali (Sharif of Mecca) to lead the independence project in the Arab Levant. Good relations were maintained in Istanbul during Abdul-Hamid’s time, and Fayez Hasan Al Husseini was sent to join the army of the Arab Revolt in the Levant under the command of Prince Faisal Bin Al Hussein.

Ismail Al Husseini’s house continued to be a platform for political, social, and economical discussion but throughout this period, it became the site of debates, hosting parties of contradicting interests and purposes. Parties and social meetings were being held for the people of Jerusalem to discuss ideas and clarify their positions on the dramatic changes happening in Palestine and the region. As a ferocious campaign by Jamal Pasha, known as “the butcher” spread across Syria and Palestine, major Turkish officials and officers were invited for banquets attended by Jerusalem’s dignitaries to honor Nuri Beik, the new police general in Jerusalem. This stream of events and activities undoubtedly helped decrease the pressure Palestinians were facing in a tumultuous time. Upon the sudden withdrawal of the Turkish army, a meeting was held in the Orient House, where a delegation was assembled to handle the surrendering of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem Surrender