Sephardi Identity in Greater Syria in the Late Ottoman Period
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Identity is fluid for any individual or group of people, and depends on changing cultural, political, social, and economic environments as well as histories. Tensions between Sephardim and the Ottoman Empire, Ashkenazim, Arab world, and Europe shaped changes in an already multi-faceted Sephardi identity, as Sephardi communities in Palestine and Syria tried to find their place in the changing world of the dying Ottoman Empire and the onslaught of modernity. Amidst this turmoil, Jewish identity served as the constant background on which Sephardim shaped their shifting and conflicting identities throughout this period. Sephardim in the late Ottoman period tended to try on different identities depending on internal and external circumstances, so that there was no overarching trend toward Zionism, Ottomanism, or any other singular identity that a majority of Sephardim embraced, but rather tendencies for certain communities to lean further toward one or the other at different points in time depending on circumstances from within and from outside the community.