Available between 1911-1948

​​The newspaper Filastin is considered one of the most important Arabic newspapers during the British Mandate period. Publication of the paper began on 15 January 1911. At first the newspaper appeared in a weekly format, but quickly changed to a twice-weekly publication until its closure by the Ottoman authorities in November 1914. The newspaper resumed in 1921 and began to appear three times a week and then became a daily starting in September 1929. The newspaper took advantage of the latest technological innovations to improve the level of publication, presenting other newspapers with a high, professional journalistic standard. Filastin was the most widely distributed newspaper among Palestinian society until the emergence of the competing newspaper Al-Difa', which appeared in 1934 (for more on this, see the introduction). Since the newspaper routinely covered the general strike and called for its expansion, the paper was often closed by the authorities. During these periods, between 1936 and 1939, another newspaper titled Al-Akhbar was published in its place. Following the fighting in Jaffa in 1948, the newspaper moved its offices to Jerusalem, where it remained until its merging in 1967 with the newspaper Al-Manar.

The founder of Filastin was 'Isa Daud al-'Isa (Jaffa, 1878-Beirut, 1950), and he was later joined by his paternal cousin Yusuf Hana al-'Isa (Jaffa, 1870-1948). 'Isa al-'Isa was born in Jaffa and was a graduate of the American University of Beirut. Al-'Isa was active in the Palestinian struggle against the British Mandate regime and against the Zionist movement in Palestine. During the general strike in 1936, al-'Isa moved to Beirut where he remained until his death. His cousin, Yusuf al-'Isa, was born in Jaffa and also went to study in Beirut. With the closure of the newspaper in 1914, he was arrested and imprisoned in Damascus, where he then settled after his release and founded a newspaper called Alif Ba, which continued to be published until 1958.

'Isa and Yusuf al-'Isa were both Arab nationalists; they opposed the Ottoman and Mandatory rule, the Zionist movement, and the takeover by the Greek Orthodox clergy of the Orthodox Church in Jerusalem. In its first issues, the editors defined the paper as “a constitutional Ottoman newspaper serving the common good through its reporting.”2 Later the newspaper tended more toward Pan-Arabism. During the twenties, the paper came out against factionalism and party rivalry in Palestinian society in the following words: “The spirit of factionalism has penetrated most levels of society; one can see it among journalists, trainees, and the rank and file. If you ask anyone: who does he support? He will reply with pride, Husseini or Nashasibi, or. . . he will start to pour out his wrath against the opposing camp in a most repulsive manner.”3 In general, the paper was defined as a straightforward political current events newspaper with a clear tilt toward pan-Arabism and broad coverage of Christian sectarian matters.

 


1 In 1967 the newspaper merged with al-Manar, and they were published together under the name al-Dustur, which has been published in Jordan since 1967 and until today.
2 Quoted by Kabha, Journalism = כבהא, עיתונות בעין הסערה (ירושלים: יד בן צבי, 2004), עמ' 32
3 Ibid.