1913: Seeds of Conflict
Explore an overlooked moment in pre-WWI Palestine when people’s identities overlap and Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities intermingle freely, yet few can contemplate the conflict that would engulf their region for the next century.
Examine the seeds of today’s Middle East conflict, sown in pre-World War I Ottoman Palestine. By weaving Arab and Jewish histories, the film dispels old myths and provides fresh insights into dramatic events that presaged a century of unrest.
The Zionist movement worked to portray all that the Jewish settlers had achieved and all that was possible. They began to propagate the slogan “A land without a people for a people without a land,” with lasting implications.
In 1881, the assassination of Czar Alexander II leads to a wave of anti-Semitic violence resulting in the emigration of 2 million Ashkenazi Jews — a small portion of whom ended up in Palestine. The arriving immigrants name their settlements “First in Zion” or “Ray of Hope,” reflecting their sense of hope in their new home.
Arab complaints about Jewish settlers found a voice in the new constitutional parliament in Istanbul. Though Jerusalem’s representative Ruhi al-Khalidi suggested that Jews move to other parts of the Ottoman Empire, the dream of a Jewish state required a new infrastructure starting with the purchase of land in concentrated areas.
Arab protests against Zionism rose with the liberalization of the press and upsurge of Arab language newspapers. Amidst the dissent, Jewish settlers, many of whom were craftsmen and peddlers in Eastern Europe, had to adapt to the dominance of agriculture in the economy by reconnecting with the land.