The Old Yishuv … the Palestinian problem ……… 9

Jews_in_Jerusalem_1895

The Old Yishuv is a term used to refer to the Jewish communities, with specific economic and social structure, which had lived in southern Syrian provinces(Palestine) throughout the Ottoman period, up to the onset of Zionist aliyah and the consolidation of the New Yishuv by the end of World War I.
As opposed to the later Zionist aliyah and the New Yishuv, which came into being with the First Aliyah (of 1882) and was more based on a socialist and/or secular ideology emphasizing labor and self-sufficiency, the Old Yishuv, whose members had continuously resided in or had come to Eretz Yisrael in the earlier centuries, were largely ultra-orthodox Jews dependent on external donations (Halukka) for living.

The Old Yishuv developed after a period of severe decline in Jewish communities of the Southern Levant during the early Middle Ages, and was composed of three clusters.
The oldest group consisted of Jews, the Sephardic Jewish communities in Galilee and the Musta’arabim, for example, of the early Ottoman and late Mamluk periods, who had deep ancestral roots in Palestine.
A second group was composed of Ashkenazi and Hassidic Jews who had emigrated from Europe in the 18th and early 19th centuries.
A third wave was constituted by Yishuv members who arrived in the late 19th century.
The Old Yishuv was thus generally divided into two independent communities – the Sephardim (including Musta’arabim), mainly constituting the remains of Jewish communities of Galilee and the four Jewish holy cities, which had flourished in the 16th and 17th centuries; and the Ashkenazim, who began making their return primarily since the 18th century.

The ‘Old Yishuv’ term was coined by members of the ‘New Yishuv’ in the late 19th century to distinguish themselves from the economically dependent and generally earlier Jewish communities, who mainly resided in the four holy cities of Judaism, and unlike the New Yishuv, had not embraced land ownership and agriculture.
Apart from the Old Yishuv centres in the four holy cities of Judaism, namely Jerusalem, Hebron, Tiberias and Safed, smaller communities also existed in Jaffa, Haifa, Peki’in, Acre, Nablus and Shfaram.
Petah Tikva, although established in 1878 by the Old Yishuv, nevertheless was also supported by the arriving Zionists.
Rishon LeZion, the first settlement founded by the Hovevei Zion in 1882, could be considered the true beginning of the New Yishuv.

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