Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Arab Rebellion I.-part

On 19 April 1936 the Arab rebellion broke out in Palestine, by the murders of nine Jews in Jaffa. Soon the rebellion had spread across the country, openly and officially led by the Mufti and his Arab Higher Committee, founded a week after the rebellion had started. The Committee, presided by the Mufti, proclaimed a general Arab strike. Jewish colonies, kibbutzim and quarters in towns, became the targets for continuous Arab sniping, bombing and terrorist activities. The British played right into his hands by removing the leaders of his rivalling clan, the Nashashibis, from influental positions. The Mufti now reigned supreme in Palestine.

It did not take long until the Mufti had transformed small bands of thugs into a full-time and well-equipped guerrilla army. For months the Mufti ruled Palestine except for the Jewish colonies and the British patrol stations. No one was secure and

everyone was in the grip of the Mufti terror. The police were powerless. In the Arab villages, the police were Arabs. It was as much as their lives were worth taking action against the terrorists. And so the Mufti's
army was raised, equipped and maintained. Gunrunning across the Transjordan and Syrian frontiers kept the rebels supplied with the latest types of German and Italian weapons. When food was scarce, the rebels simply billeted themselves on a village, requisitioned food, cattle, grain, clothing... The Christian Arabs, a minority among the Arab population came in for a particularly bad time. In addition to having funds extorted from them at the pistol point...they... were forced to discard their traditional headgear, the tarbush, in favour of the
Kefieh... But tradition was so strong that they were somehow being forced to change their religion... The terror bands were also augmented by mercenaries from Syria.

The rebellion proved to be very expensive for Palestine and her inhabitants. In just a few months the cost amounted to several million pounds, plus a high number of casualties. Palestine was in chaos and only the Mufti knew what was happening. In 1936 only 5,000 of the Mufti's rebels were under arms. In 1938 the Mufti’s army had grown to 15,000, besides a large number of terrorists.
[2] The striking fact is that only half their number were Palestinians. The others came from Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Transjordan[3] and Egypt.[4]

Their victims were as much rivalling Arabs as Jews. In 1938, his bands killed 297 Jews and left 427 wounded. Still, the correspondent of the New York Times once noted that "more than 90 per cent of the total casualties in the past few days have been inflicted by Arab terrorists on Arabs."[5] This was the Mufti 's way of sending regards to all the opposition parties. The total number of casualties, 494 Arabs and 547 Jews killed by the hands of the Mufti's guerrillas are shocking and a clear evidence of the rebellion’s brutality.[6]


[1] Waters: Mufti Over the Middle East, 14-15. Schechtman: The Mufti, 47.
[2] Schechtman: The Mufti, 49-54.
[3] Bowden: The Politics, 157.
[4] Discussed frequently in Gershoni's article, see bibliography.
[5] Schechtman: The Mufti, 73-74.
[6] Bowden: The Politics, 147.