The 1911 Haram al-Sharif Incident: Palestinian Notables Versus the Ottoman Administration
This article details the unfolding of a crisis in late Ottoman Palestine where a countrywide mobilization, led by the notables, was triggered by the discovery of secret excavations directly under the Dome of the Rock by a British exploration team with the complicity of some Ottoman officials. All social classes, educated and non-educated, Christians and Muslims, were galvanized by the perceived violation of the Haram al-Sharif, a fact the author sees as indicative of the emergence of a distinct Palestinian (as opposed to Arab or Ottoman) identity. In addition to demonstrating the importance of the Haram and Jerusalem to Palestinians of all religions, the incident also highlights certain elements that are not absent from the present situation: the population's deep mistrust of the West and its fears of Zionist-Western collusion and threats to religious integrity.
Louis Fishman, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Chicago, is a lecturer in Middle Eastern history at Washington University in St. Louis. He thanks Nirit Shalev-Khalifa for giving him access to the documents she used for her article on the archeological expedition of Captain Montague Parker.