Zionism or the Zionist Question: The First Academic Study on Zionism in Arabic


Muhammad Ruhi Khalidi was proud of his Arabism, Ottomanism and loyalty to the Islamic Caliphate. This book reflects the view of Khalidi as an Arab statesman on Zionism, prior to the outbreak of the First World War and its re-formation of the European international system that existed before. The study includes the emergence of the United States of America as a powerful player in the new global system as a result of World War I.

 Khalidi stressed the deep biblical and Talmudic religious roots of Zionism, and the dangers of its goals and ambitions in Palestine and the neighboring Arab countries. He considered the anti-Semitism that is rooted in Western Christianity another reason for the emergence of Zionism within the European Jewish communities. He examined the historical Islamic tolerance to the Jews over the centuries, and saw the greatest danger to Palestine and the Ottoman State as coming from mass Jewish immigration from Tsarist Russia due to the escalation of anti-Semitism in it.

 Khalidi realized the extent and diversity of Zionist activities in Palestine, and was the first to systematically monitor it. He realized the extent of corruption of the local executive bodies and their collusion with the Zionist brokers in circumventing the state's declared policy of limiting Jewish immigration and the transfer of Arab land to their hands.

 Khalidi saw in the restoration of the Ottoman constitution in 1908, the beginning of a new Ottoman era capable of addressing these challenges. He also considered that the United States' reception of millions of Jews from Tsarist Russia, and the latters’ collective preference for immigration to America over their emigration to Palestine as the biggest indication that Zionism could be managed in Palestine within limits that prevent its further consolidation.

 Khalidi did not think that Arabs would declare Jihad against their caliph, and that Britain, Russia and France would assail Arab and Anatolian lands, and that the United States of America would close the doors of mass immigration to its shores and would collude with the Anglo-Saxon Protestant to establish the Zionist presence in Palestine.

The publication of the book was made possible thanks to a grant by the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development managed by Welfare Association - Taawon.

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About the Author(s)

Muhammad Ruhi al-Khalidi was a Palestinian effendi, statesman and writer, and one of the prominent figures of the late-nineteenth century Arab Nahda (renaissance). He was born in 1864 into the notable Khalidi family of Jerusalem. He studied from a young age in modern schools in Lebanon and Palestine, and also attended courses at al-Aqsa Mosque in his birthplace Jerusalem before joining the Mekteb-e-Mulkiye, or civil administration school in Istanbul. After that, he continued his postgraduate studies at Sciences-Po and the Sorbonne in Paris. A loyal Ottoman subject, he held the position of Consul General of the Ottoman State in Bordeaux for eight years before being elected as a representative from Jerusalem in the Ottoman Chamber of Deputies (majlis al-mabʿuthan) after the proclamation of the Ottoman constitution in 1908 and 1912. He was a widely read intellectual, a man of the Nahda with an Islamic bent. He wrote on comparative literature, cultural history, and the pressing political issues of his day. He died in 1913 in Istanbul and was buried there.

Edited with introduction:Walid Khalidi

Walid Khalidi is a historian from Jerusalem. Born in 1925, he is a graduate of the University of London and the University of Oxford. He has worked as a professor at Oxford, the American University of Beirut, and Harvard University, and was a research fellow at Princeton University.

Khalidi is one of the co-founders of the Institute for Palestine Studies, the Royal Scientific Society in Amman, al-Taawon Palestinian Welfare Association, the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, and the Friends of the Khalidi Library based in Massachusetts. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has written several books in Arabic and English on the Palestinian issue and on international politics. He received honorary doctorates from AUB and from Birzeit University and he is the honorary chair of the Board of Trustees of IPS.


Institute for Palestine Studies and Khalidi Library
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