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The Center for Palestine Studies (CPS) at Columbia is proud to launch, in conjunction with the Institute for Palestine Studies in Ramallah, the archives of this forgotten gem over a century after its birth in Jerusalem. Established in 1908 by Jurji Habib Hanania (1864-1920), al-Quds became the first privately owned public daily newspaper in Palestine. It was soon followed by al-Karmil in Haifa, launched in 1909 as an anti-Zionist organ by Najib Nassar, and by Falastin launched in 1911 in Jaffa by ‘Isa al-‘Isa. On the other side of the ideological divide Nissim and Shimon Moyal published Sawt al-Uthmaniyya (Jaffa, 1913) as a propagator of Zionism in Arabic. It was in response to this newspaper that Nassar turned his paper toward anti-Zionism.
The significance of Jurji Hanania’s al-Quds, aside from it being the first newspaper in Palestine, was its timing. It both celebrated and tested the new freedom of publication proclaimed by the Ottoman Constitutional Revolution of 1908, with its promises for freedom of the press and assembly, including the rights of citizens and the formation of political parties. Hanania established a press that became a beacon for an Arabic literary renaissance in that period. Paradoxically, the coming of World War I and the military regime of Ahmad Jamal Pasha ushered in a return to press censorship, and, ultimately the closure of the three pioneering papers–Falastin, al-Karmil, and al-Quds. Hanania went into exile in Egypt and was never able to resume publication. But his work laid the foundations for an independent and combative press that had to face the tribulations of the Mandate period.
Introducing al Quds and its publisher, we reprint in the attached article, a contribution by Hanania’s granddaughter from the Jerusalem Quarterly. It contains a personal history of the man, his press, and his newspaper, using unique and hitherto unpublished family papers.