Pioneers of the Renaissance in Palestine (Graduates of Russian Schools), 1862-1914
The book comes in the context of the growing interest in studying the various aspects of Arab Palestinian history, including the rebirth of cultural life since the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. The second half of the 19th century witnessed the efforts by a number of foreign powers, each for its own reasons, to establish schools in Greater Syria under the Ottoman rule. The Russian thrust in this field was distinguished by setting up a network of schools in Palestine and in many parts of Lebanon and Syria, whose number reached 114 schools by 1914. The graduates of these schools played an important role in the Arab Renaissance in general, but in Palestine they became the pioneers of renaissance after the declaration of the Ottoman Constitution in 1908. Most prominent among those are Mikhail Na’imeh, Elia Abu Madi, Nasib 'Aridah, Abdel Masih Haddad, Khalil Baydas, Iskandar al-Khuri al-Baytjali, Salim Qub'ain, and Shibly Rizeq, and others. The study includes an attempt to draw a full picture, based on the available details, of the contribution of the graduates of Russian Schools in the various realms of cultural renaissance, such as education, journalism, translation, original writing on the one hand, and an attempt to evaluate these contributions in an objective and contextual manner on the other. It also traces their impact on cultural life in Palestine and the interaction between the pioneers of cultural renaissance in Palestine and the general Arab cultural renaissance whose early signs appeared since mid 19th century in Lebanon and Egypt specifically.