Reconsidering the role of a Maghrebi family in the Yishuv in late Ottoman Palestine: the case of the Moyal family

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It is estimated that a few hundred Maghrebi Jews settled in the port city of Jaffa in central Ottoman Palestine from the mid- to the late 19th century. Taking advantage of their foreign protection–often by France–and the ties they developed with the Ottoman authorities, some quickly rose to power and became wealthy businessmen and entrepreneurs, go-getters, vice-consuls, and communal leaders of the yishuv in Jaffa. Despite the crucial role played by certain Maghrebi Jews in the development of Jaffa and later Tel Aviv, the settlement of the First Aliyah settlers and the growth of the New Yishuv in general, their activity has largely been either ignored or overlooked in the historiography of the yishuv. Based on archival material from the Ottoman archive in Istanbul complemented by a range of Hebrew sources, this article takes the Moyal family, in particular Yosef Moyal Bey (1843–1914) as a case study to provide a glimpse into the mechanisms that enabled this family to acquire tremendous wealth and wield considerable influence. Among other things it discusses the family’s delicate ties with the Ottoman authorities, which it used to both promote its own interests and well as those of the Jewish population of Jaffa and the yishuv in general.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)490-508
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Modern Jewish Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • First Aliyah
  • Jaffa
  • Maghrebi Jews
  • Ottoman Palestine
  • Yosef Moyal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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