Al-Karmil (newspaper)

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For the West Bank town of the same name, see Al-Karmil.
Al-Karmil
Type Weekly newspaper
Owner(s) Najib Nassar
Founded 1908
Political alignment anti-Zionist
Ceased publication approx. 1944
Headquarters Haifa

Al-Karmil (Arabic: الكرمل‎) was a weekly Arabic-language newspaper founded toward the end of Ottoman imperial rule in Palestine.[1][2] Named for Mount Carmel in the Haifa district, the first issue was published in December 1908,[1] with the stated purpose of "opposing Zionist colonization".[3]

The owner, editor and key writer for the newspaper was Najib Nassar,[4] a Palestinian Christian and staunch anti-Zionist, whose editorials warning of the dangers posed by Zionism to the Palestinian people were often reprinted in other Syrian newspapers.[5][6] Beginning in the 1920s, Najib's wife, Sadhij Nassar (c.1900 - c.1970), a granddaughter of the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, was also a key editor, administrator and journalist for the newspaper. Besides writing, she also translated articles from the foreign press, and was editor from 1941 to 1944, when the British Mandate authorities refused to grant her a permit.

After the demise of the Ottoman empire in the wake of World War I, Al-Karmil continued to be published during British Mandatory rule in Palestine well into the 1940s.[7]

Editorial policies[edit]

Anti-Zionism[edit]

Writing of Al-Karmil and another early Palestinian newspaper, Filastin, Rashid Khalidi characterizes them as "instrumental in shaping early Palestinian national consciousness and in stirring opposition to Zionism."[8] Khalidi contends that almost immediately after the publication of its first issue in December 1908, al-Karmil "became the primary vehicle of an extensive campaign against Zionist settlement in Palestine."[1]

Najib Nassar, owner, editor and journalist for the paper, not only printed news items and editorials concerning Zionism and its aims, but also re-published articles on Zionism from other Arabic newspapers based in Cairo, Beirut and Damascus, such as al-Muqattam, al-Ahram, al-Mufid, al-Ittihad al-'Uthmani, snf al-Muqtabas, as well as from Istanbul-based al-Hadara and Jaffa-based Filastin.[5] Further, Nassar devoted detailed coverage to the activities and aims of Zionist organizations in Palestine and abroad. Between March and June 1911, al-Karmil published a sixteen-part series on "Zionism: Its history, objective, and importance" that was later released as a 65-page booklet. The material included condensed translations on Zionism from the Encyclopedia Judaica, and the booklet concluded by describing the efforts of Theodor Herzl on behalf of Zionism, calling for men like Herzl, "...who will forget their private interests in favor of the public good," to step forth from among the Palestinian population to oppose Zionism.[5] Nassar's purpose was to incite public opinion against Zionism, whose aims and activities he viewed as a threat to the Arab character of Palestine, but he also focused on alerting the public to instances in which the ruling Ottoman and later British authorities were colluding with Zionists to facilitate Jewish land purchases.[9]

At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 Najib Nassar spoke out against Turkish entry into the conflict and was put on a wanted list. Accused of spying for the British against Ottoman Turkey and its German allies, he fled from his home in Haifa to Nazareth, and from there, wandered over the Galilee and the eastern bank of the River Jordan. He went on the run for three years, living with Bedouin goat herders in the hills of what is now the Israeli Galilee, West Bank and northern Jordan, narrowly escaping capture.[10]

Women's rights[edit]

In 1926, al-Karmil began publishing a "women's page" (Safhat al-nisa) that was edited by Sadhij Nassar, Najib Nassar's wife, who also served as an editor and director of administration for the newspaper as a whole.[4] Her journalistic contributions between 1926 and 1933 have been characterized as a kind of "one-woman press", wherein she commented on a wide range topics, including women's activities locally, regionally, and internationally.[11] Encouraging women to raise their male and female children equally and to take up work to facilitate their economic independence, Sadhij Nassar also urged women to get involved in politics, while avoiding factionalism in favor of unity.[11] For example, in the late 1920s, Nassar wrote, "You are responsible. Yes, you Palestinian Arab ladies, Muslim and Christian, you are responsible for the integrity of the nation [watan] and keeping Palestine Arab as it was until now. Every woman will spread the spirit of cooperation among the sons of the Arabs in the souls of her children."[12] In 1930 Sadhij Nassar was a founding member and secretary of the Arab Women's Union in Haifa, which was one of the more militant branches of the women's movement during the British Mandate period.

Relationship with the ruling authorities in Palestine[edit]

Ottoman rule[edit]

In its early years, al-Karmil′s editorial line reflected a positive approach toward the ruling imperial authorities, the Turkish Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), but by 1911, like most other pan-Arabist thinkers, it switched to opposing the CUP because of its perceived bias in favor of Zionism.[13] Among the contributing writers to al-Karmil were many who had participated in the Arab revolt of 1916, such as Druze intellectual Ali Nasir al-Din and educator and journalist Hamdi al-Husayni.[14][15]

British Mandate rule[edit]

In the late 1930s, Sadhij Nassar was described by the British authorities as "a menace to public security" and a "prominent agitator". Arrested in March 1939 by British police and held in administrative detention under the Defense Emergency Regulations in a women's prison in Bethlehem until February 1940, when she was detained because "she was actively engaged in subversive propaganda."[16] After her release, she returned to editing al-Karmil, serving as the editor between 1941 and 1944, when the newspaper was operating without a permit after the British authorities had refused to issue one.[16] She continued her activities in the women's movement until 1948, when she became a refugee and wrote for various publications in London and in Damascus, where she tried to open a branch of the Arab Women's Union. She is believed to have died in Damascus during the 1970s.[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Khalidi, 1997, p. 124.
  2. ^ Muslih, 1989, p. 80.
  3. ^ Cubert, 1997, p. 26.
  4. ^ a b Fleischmann, 2003, p. 273, note 107.
  5. ^ a b c Khalidi, 1997, p. 125.
  6. ^ Khalidi, 1997, p. 136.
  7. ^ Fawaz et al., 2002, p. 107.
  8. ^ Khalidi, 1997, p. 217, n. 31.
  9. ^ Seikaly, 2002, p. 38.
  10. ^ SHEHADEH, Raja. A rift in time: travels with my Ottoman uncle. Profile Books, 256 pages, ISBN 978-1-84668-330-5
  11. ^ a b Fleischmann, 2003, p. 72.
  12. ^ Fleischmann, 2003, p. 81.
  13. ^ Khalidi, 1997, p. 126.
  14. ^ Firro, 2003, p. 236, n. 15.
  15. ^ Matthews, 2006, p. 268.
  16. ^ a b Fleischmann, 2003, p. 132.
  17. ^ A Lifetime With 'Abdu'l-Bahá p. 105 apud Fleischmann, Ellen L. The Nation and Its "New" Women: The Palestinian Women's Movement, 1920 - 1948. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.

Bibliography[edit]