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Issue . 59
P. 16
Issa al Issa’s Unorthodox Orthodoxy: Banned in Jerusalem, Permitted in Jaffa

‘Isa al-‘Isa’s (1878–1950) memoirs provide an opportunity to re-examine the role of the Orthodox Christian intelligentsia in turnof- the-century debates about Ottomanism and Arab (Syrian) nationalism. They also shed new light on the political environment prevailing in pre–World War I Jaffa that allowed for the creation of a combative press, exemplified by ‘Isa’s Falastin (1911–1948), and contributed significantly to the forging of a new identity for readers in southern Syria and beyond.1 Extensive writings on Falastin during that period have focused on its leading role in the forging of a separatist Palestinian identity,2 its anti-Zionism,3 and its social agenda in defending the fallah and the land question.4 In this essay, I examine the early biography of ‘Isa al-‘Isa, derived from his yet unpublished memoirs, to seek a better understanding of the tensions within the Arab Orthodox Renaissance (al-nahda al- Urthudhuksiyya al-‘Arabiyya) between the ideology of Osmanlilik (Ottoman imperial identity) and the emergent movement for Arab independence.