Post boxes and Power in Jerusalem

Post boxes and Power in Jerusalem

It may be somewhat ludicrous that the most powerful countries in the nineteenth century competed for influence in Jerusalem through the colour and size of their post box. Nevertheless postal services offered the opportunity to make revenue in a land lacking in natural resources. The Ottoman postal service had barely existed for inland cities like Jerusalem, before its reform in 1840, and the first European postal services obtained permits to trade in the empire in 1837. 

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The Ottomans in Jerusalem

The Ottomans in Jerusalem

“As a child I remember the city gates being closed at sunset every evening by city officials—mainly because there was fear of night raids by Bedouins. Whenever I would forget myself playing with my mates outside the walls, coming back we would find the gates closed. We would re-enter through a broken alcove located by Damascus gate and keep climbing until we reached the ramparts…”

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The British in Jerusalem

The British in Jerusalem

“The fanatical Mufti of Nablus is not a learned man, and is considered a plebeian parvenu among the old Arab families of that town; at the same time a really learned man is living there whose ancestors for several generations have been muftis of Nablus, and he is a good friend of the Protestants. I intend to recommend him to that office instead of the present man.”

James Finn’s private note about the Mufti of Nablus is a splendid specimen of 19th century Britain imperial hubris…

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The Status Quo

The Status Quo

‘I shall never concede any road improvements to these crazy Christians as they would then transform Jerusalem into a Christian madhouse.’ The Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire, Faud Pasha, was not straightforwardly calling for discrimination against a minority religion. The great European Christian powers, Britain, Austria, France, Russia, had suddenly decided that Jerusalem was a good location to outsource their rivalries.

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