The Myth of Palestinian NationalismOver the decades, as the nineteenth-century Palestinian Jews were reinforced by successive waves of Jewish refugees, anti-Jewish violence erupted spasmodically in the Holy Land. Observers labeled these outbreaks as "European anti-Semitism," "Ottomanism," and later, "anti-Zionism."
British officials attributed the violence-so-called "disturbances" -- to the manifestation of "Arab nationalism." The British, however, were never able to discover any manifestation of such nationalism on the part of the Arabs in Palestine. They did not try to set up a government or any other nationalistic institutions. Even when the notorious Nazi, the Grand Mufti returned from Berlin after WWII in 1948 to briefly set up a "Palestine Government" in Gaza, it was ignored.* The only mode of expression of nationialism before 1948 was the oppression and intolerance shown toward Jews.
This narrowly based "nationalism" of violence continued to grow as the Jews continued to struggle out of dhimmi(subservient) status toward freedom and equality. British investigators were eventually forced to concede, and officially to note, that "Arab nationalism in Palestine has been artificially puffed up.... Only a little firmness is needed to deflate it."1Unlike the "insurgent nationalip elsewhere,"
in Palestine Arab nationalism is inextricably interwovern with antagonism to the Jews.2Yet by so perverse a rationale was a movement of enmity dignified and the legend of Palestinian nationalism initiated.
For example, in 1848 about four thousand armed peasants and "numerous Bedouin allies acted as gangs for "two great chiefs," and lawlessness spread. Hebron's local governor was overthrown by an oppressive chief whose brutal tactics earned him the admiration of Jerusalem Is Pasha and the award of the "robe of honour." In Hebron, one of the holy Jewish cities, Jews were still "helpless" and "plundered" and the new ruler managed to confiscate booty of those trying to flee by sending agents to rob travellers on the road."3
In the following few decades (1848-1878) scores of incidents involving anti-Jewish violence, persecution, and extortions filled page after page of documented reports from the British Consulate in Jerusalem. A chronology would be over-whelming, but perhaps a few extracts from those complaints will show the pattern of terror that continued right into the period of the major Jewish immigration beginning about 1878.
May, 1848. I have the honor to report that after the disturbance in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre Easter Eve, in beating the Jew who had imprudently entered there -- The Prussian Acting Consul here, informed me that he had been told by the Pasha, and also by the Greek Patriarch, that a Firman exists, which allows Christians to beat Jews if found within that Church, or even if passing along the street in front of it -- and which declares that in case of a Jew being killed under such an infliction, the price of blood should be rated at only ten paras -- value about three farthings.4March, 1849: Reporting the complaint of a Jew ... of being assaulted and stabbed by a soldier, while his house was searched and his females beaten .... 5The tradition of contemptuous "fraternity" continued -- a tradition that illuminates what measure of credibility may be gifen to modern promises concerning a "Palestinian Arab state," which would "value people, independent of race and religion."20
September, 1850. Last month I visited Hebron to do what I could for the protection of the Jews.... Abderahhman [a "brigand chief"] vexes them with irregular extortions, but in return he keeps them in security from other oppressors, however He has had himself enrolled on the books of the Jewish Treasury, as a pensioner for 100 piastres a month, and always sends for his pension two days before the day of due.
During my last visit there I had a Moslem summarily bastinadoed in the open street, for pulling a Jew's beard -- the Mutesellim in his eagerness to satisfy me, inflicted the punishment with his own hands, to my great astonishment. Abderrahhman was absent at Dura but one of his sons was present at the scene. This. forms a strange contrast to the fact of the Austrian Jewish Agent being frequently beaten in the streets there... 6
July, 1851: It is my duty to report to Your Excellency that the Jews in Hebron have been greatly alarmed by threats of the Moslems there at the commencement of Ramadan -- For several days my Cancelliere staid there with two Kawasses and obtained from the Governor Abderrahhman the punishment of some offenders: but others were released from prison on the self-same night of their condemnation.
The Cancelliere reports that the old feuds between the partisans of Abderrahhman and his brothers still exist -- that the partisans of the latter steal cattle by force of arms during the night from Hebron itself, and that they did so close to his tent -- also that in one day the vines were cut down from twenty feddans of vineyard -- but that such proceedings are sure to cease instantly on every approach of Abderrahhman himself, which however is not frequent.
The Jews having complained that a freed slave named Saad Allah was more obnoxious to them than any other person in Hebron, -- and that Abderrahhman had released him almost immediately after sentencing him to imprisonment....
... the enormous avarice of Abderrahhman is peculiarly oppressive to them."7
December, 1851: ... the murder of a Jew named Gershon ben Abraham, under English Protection, in Jerusalem....
... the victim was extricated from the well ... he was found to be stabbed in the throat, heart and ribs, besides injured in a horrible manner for the mere purpose of torture....
A Moslem (he whose house I had examined in the morning) named Mohammed Damiatti, was immediately arrested on suspicion of having perpetrated the murder....
The distress of the bereaved family is very great -- it is not too much to expect that Moslems will prefer claims and swear falsely in matters of debt and credit, as the poor man carried his ledger about with him, and this has not been found -- and it is remarkable that his father was some years ago murdered in a Moslem house in Saloniki, and his only brother killed in Jerusalem two years ago by a fall from a scaffold.8
December, 1851: the Samaritans of Nablus ... consist of about thirty-five taxable men, with a synagogue and sacred books ....
They have probably for many generations, and especially within the last century, been exposed to cruel persecutions from the dominant Moslems-and Nablus is always noted as an especially fanatic town....
They generally contrive to have the cleverest man belonging to them employed as government Secretary for the district, by which means they have warded off much of fiscal oppression, just as Jews do in other countries, and Copts in Egypt -- but even this has not been able to protect them from violence, murder and spoliation in their houses or streets in past times....
I am informed by a Christian in Nablus that there is too much reason to fear evil consequences from the loss of their Secretary, as the Moslems are reviling them in the streets with menaces for the future.9
May, 1852. I proceeded to Hebron and lodged there in a Jewish house. The Jews were all so alarmed ... that they would tell me nothing of news: they protested that Abderrahhman had done no harm to any one, no houses had been rifled &c. and one of the leading Rabbis implored me not to inform Abderrahhman if he should visit me, that I had come to protect the Jews, as he would inevitably punish them the more for it after my departure....
As for the accusations preferred by Abderrahhman against the Effendis here - I cannot tell how true they are - but I know that these personages are constantly taking bribes in other cases, the sums however which are laid against each seem incredibly large. I should rather imagine that much of the bribery money was spent in Damascus and Beyroot.10
November, 1852. - Having learned that the peasantry levy of 4000 men from the Nablus district had committed excesses in the houses of British protected Jews in Tiberias I repaired thither, to induce the commander to keep better order.
... Remonstrance was made against petty thefts "and of their having brought their horses and asses during the rain into the Jewish Synagogues."11
July, 1853. . . . The Christians and Jews of Jerusalem were in a state of absolute terror, and especially on the preceeding day had been announcing to each other house to house that the Moslems were to massacre them after the prayers at noon. Persons shut themselves up in their houses, and shops were closed, and some persons are still ill in bed from the effect of that day's fear.12
October, 1853. The Jews in their Quarter of the city have had to suffer many insults of late from town's people of which I only hear some time after their occurence, as the subjects of the violence are afraid to acquaint me with the circumstances, lest they should draw upon themselves greater injuries by way of revenge after the Consul has obtained redress.13
December, 1853: [Regarding] the Algerine Jews of Caiffa [Haifa] ... I beg to represent to Your Lordship that the blessing of British Protection is a boon of inestimable valul, -- to these people. It would be a blessing to be exempted from Turkish oppression at any time, and peculiarly so at the present period, when fanaticism is liable at any minute to break out into violence and when the local governors are endevouring to extort money by every possible means. And these people fear that if left to Turkish rule they will be required to pay arrears of taxes for all the past years of their residence in this country....
A similar renunciation of Algerine Jews has been made in Safed, Tiberias and Shefa Amer as shown in Enclosure No. 2....
A peculiarity of the French Consulates as far as they have come within my observation, is that they always show a strong desire to get rid of Jewish Subjects. I have had frequent evidences of this in Jerusalem, where that desire has been often expressed to me -- and in Caiffa I regret to add that the Jews have complained of direct persecution from the French and Turkish authorities combined.14
July, 1858: I have the honour to report that in consequence of a series of disgusting insults offered to Jews and Jewesses in Hebron, I obtained such Orders as I could from the Pasha's Agent in this city, during His Excellency's absence -- which I sent by my Dragoman Rosenthal and a Kawass....
The streets of the town were paraded by fanatic Durweeshes -- and during my stay there a Jewish house was forcibly entered by night, iron bars of the window broken, and heavy stones thrown from invisible hands at every person approaching the place to afford help.
One of the Members of the Council affirmed that they were not obliged to obey Orders from the Pasha's Deputy -- and another declared his right derived from time immemorial in hisfamily, to enterJewish houses, and take toll or contributions at any time without giving account.
When others present in the Council exclaimed against this he said -- "Well then I will forbear from taking it myself, but things will happen which will compel the Jews to come and kiss my feet to induce me to take their money."15
November, 1858: . . . although the thief had previously confessed to the robbery in presence of Jews, the Kadi would not proceed without the testimony of two Moslems -- when the Jewish witnesses were offered, he refused to accept their testimony -- and the offensive term adopted towards Jews in former times (more offensive than Giaour for Christians) was used by the Kadi's servants.
I have no doubt of being able to set all this to rights (except perhaps the matter of Jewish testimony in that Court) but such circumstances exhibit the working of the present Turkish government in Jerusalem.16
May, 1863: . .. Galilee, comprising the modern towns of Nazareth, Safed and Tiberias, in which two latter places there are living upwards of 600 Jews in the enjoyment of British protection. The existence of so many protected subjects in these retired spots, residing as they do in the midst of a Moslem population, naturally gives rise to numerous questions with the local Governors who are prone tooppress them unless their interests are constantly cared for. My predecessor was required to make an Annual tour to those towns, in order that his appearance from time to time amongst our protected subjects there might keep within proper bounds the ill-concealed aversion which their presence never fails to excite amongst their Moslem neighbors...17
March, 1864: . . . the circumstances attending the death of the British subject Peter Meshullam, and to try Abdalla Abu Kakoora, the individual charged with his murder.... they declare, as the result of their enquiry, that P. Meshullam died in consequence of the fall from his mare, and, consequently that Abdalla is innocent of charges preferred against him.
I confess I was hardly prepared for such a finding and verdict.... I addressed to His Excellency a reply conveying my entire dissent from the decision of the Commission ... 18
June, 1864: . .. Her Majesty's Gobernment have little doubt that Mr. MashulIan's death was caused by violence and not by a fall from his horse... 19
* During the years that Jordan occupied the West Bank, from 1948-1967, the cause of "Palestinian Nationalism" was unheralded. Until 1970s, the PLO only focused on Pan-Arab issues.
1. Palestine Royal Commission Report, p. 144.
2. Ibid., p. 131.
3. Ma'oz, Ottoman Reform, p. 120, quoting Consul James Finn; F.O. 78/705, Finn to Palmerston, No. 7, Jerusalem, 5 February 1847; F.O. 78/755, Finn to Palmerston, No. 22, Jerusalem, 17 July 1848.
4. James Finn to Viscount Palmerston, Jerusalem, 2 May 1848, F.O. 78/755 (No. 19), Consulate, 1, p. 106.
5. James Finn to Sir Stratford Canning, Jerusalem, I March 1849, F.O. 78/803 (No. 8), abstract, ibid., 1, p. 110.
6. James Finn to Viscount Palmerston, Jerusalem, 27 September 1850, F.O. 78/839 (No. 20), abstract, ibid., 1, 168-169. Hyamson adds: "Abdeffahhman el Amer, a chief of the neighbouring village of Dura, for many years terrorized the inhabitants of Hebron, Jews as well as others, of which town he was for periods de facto ruler at times, despite the Government. He first appeared there on the expulsion of the Egyptians in 1840 when, murdering the local Egyptian governor in the street, he proclaimed the Sultan of Turkey, and appointed himself governor of the town." Also see James Finn, Stirring Times, 1, pp. 236 et seq., 250 et seq., and 392 et seq.; and Vol. 2, pp. 33 et seq.
7. James Finn to Sir Stratford Canning, Jerusalem, 15 July 185 1, F.O. 78/874 (No. 10), ibid., 1, pp. 171-172.
8. James Finn to Viscount Palmerston, Jerusalem, 29 December 1851, F.O. 78/874 (Consular No. 21), ibid., 1, pp. 183-184.
9. James Finn to Viscount Palmerston, Jerusalem, 29 December 1851, F.O. 78/874 (Political No. 10), ibid., 1, p. 185.
10. James Finn to the Earl of Malmesbury, Jerusalem, 29 May 1852, F.O. 195/369 (Political No. 2), ibid., 1, p. 198-202.
11. James Finn to the Earl of Malmesbury, Jerusalem, 18 November 1852, F.O. 78/913 Political No. 13), abstract, ibid., 1, p. 211.
12. James Finn to the Earl of Clarendon, Jerusalem, 19 July 1853, F.O. 78/962 (No. 9), ibid., 1, p. 215.
13. James Finn to Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, Jerusalem, 13 October 1853, F.O. 195/369 (No. 32), ibid., 1, p. 216.
14. James Finn to the Earl of Clarendon, 28 December 1853, F.O. 78/963 (Political No. 33), ibid., 1, pp. 218-219.
15. James Finn to the Earl of Malmesbury, Jerusalem, 8 July 1858, F.O. 78/1383 (Political No. 12), ibid., 1, p. 260.
16. James Finn to the Earl of Malmesbury, Jerusalem, I I November 1858, F.O. 78/1393 (Political No. 34), ibid., 1, p. 261.
17. Thomas B. Sandwith, Vice Consul, Caiffa, to Noel Temple Moore, Caiffa, 20 May 1863, F.O. 78/1775 (No. 18), ibid., 2, pp. 311-312.
18. Noel Temple Moore to the Honorable E.M. Erskine, Jerusalem, 3 March 1864, F.O. 195/808 (No. 6), ibid., 2, pp. 330-331.
19. Earl Russell to Noel Temple Moore, Foreign Office, I I June 1864, F.O. 78/1816 (No. 1), ibid., 2, p. 332.
20. Ibrahim Abu Lughod, address at Palestine Human Rights Committee Meeting, November 1980, Chicago.
How Feudal Arab Landowners who exploited their peasantry became Nationalist LeadersWhen Jewish economic success threatened to liberate their peasantry.
The same Arab politicians who protested that
they cared nothing for the money the Jews
brought into the country.... showed no such
contempt for money when it came to the
treatment of their own peasantry.
-The Reverend James Parkes, Whose Land?The Palestinians who are today's refugees in
the neighboring countries ... know all this ...
that their present nationalist exploiters are the
worthy sons of their feudal exploiters of
yesterday, and that the thorns of their life are of
Arab, not Jewish origin.
- Abdel Razak Kader, 1969
they cared nothing for the money the Jews
brought into the country.... showed no such
contempt for money when it came to the
treatment of their own peasantry.
-The Reverend James Parkes, Whose Land?The Palestinians who are today's refugees in
the neighboring countries ... know all this ...
that their present nationalist exploiters are the
worthy sons of their feudal exploiters of
yesterday, and that the thorns of their life are of
Arab, not Jewish origin.
- Abdel Razak Kader, 1969
We have seen strong evidence that the Holy Land was inhabited only sparsely in the nineteenth century. For centuries the non-Jewish, particularly the Muslim, peoples who did inhabit the land had been largely composed of a revolving immigrant population of diverse ethnic origins who could not possibly have constituted a substantial indigenous "Palestinian" population, much less a nation of inhabitants for "a thousand" or "two thousand years." Rather, the majority of those inhabitants were migrants and peasants originating from other lands, many of whom had been unscrupuluously exploited by feudal or absentee landlords, moneylenders, and corrupt officials of the Turkish government. They in turn traditionally exploited and preyed upon the oppressed dhimmiJewish population.
How does the history of those relationships mesh with the Arab claim that "displacement" and "landlessness" of Arab "natives" was caused by the Jews? If that claim is false, it is long-perpetuated. As such, it must be traced to its beginnings, in the Palestine of Turkish rule, when the Arab notables' charge of "Jews displacing Arabs" was devised.
It was 1878. Harsh conditions prevailed. Into Palestine came groups of Circassians, Algerians, Egyptians, Druses, Turks, Kurds, Bosnians, and others. One historian deduced that of 141,000 settled Muslims living in all of Palestine (all areas) in 1882, "at least 25% of those 141,000 . . . were newcomers or descendants of those who arrived after 1831 (Egyptian conquest)."
A prominent British official had observed as early as 1840 that the barren Palestinian land needed the collective political return of the Jews:
If we consider their return in the light of a new establishment or colonization of Palestine, we shall find it to be the cheapest and the safest mode of supplying the wastes of these depopulated Regions.... Throughout the nineteenth century Palestine's occupying government had officially settled many foreigners. The "Egyptian" conqueror Ibrahim Pasha, son of the Turkish-speaking Albanian Muhammad Ali, had "left behind him permanent colonies of Egyptians at Beisan, Nablus, Irbid, Acre and Jaffa. . ." In Jaffa, some five hundred Egyptian soldiers' families established a new quarter. Into Jaffa alone, then, "at least two thousand people" had been imported. In 1844, "the American expedition under Lynch" recorded fewer than 8,000 "Turks" in Jaffa in a population of 13,000. In 1857, Elizabeth Finn, the wife of James Finn, British Consul in Jerusalem, reported that "Greek and Latin foreigners hostile to Turkish power are endeavoring to grasp piecemeal and occupy the Holy Land so valuable to them both. The corrupt Pashas and Effendis [notables] allow them for [sic] money to do so as they list." In 1858 Consul Finn reported the "Mohammedans of Jerusalem" were "scarcely exceeding one-quarter of the whole population."
In 1860 Algerian tribes moved from Damascus en masse to Safed, and the Muslims there were "mostly descended from these Moorish settlers and from Kurds who came earlier to the city."
In that same year, the British Consul wrote:
From Caiffa [Haifa] I learn the arrival of about 6,000 of the Beni Sukhr Arabs at Tiberias (who are very seldom seen on this side of the Jordan) .... ... I have omitted to mention the increase of Mahometan agriculturalists and pastoral Arabs from countries of Barbary, forming a small colony in the district north of Lake Tiberias. A report on "Disturbances" noted that "The Plain of Esdraelon is full of Turkoman Bedouins.. . ." The restored Turkish government was continuously adding its own numbers in order to replenish and guard its administration, as had the Egyptians before them, as had dozens of conquerors over the centuries."
I have the honour to report to your Lordship that the excess of the Druses in the Lebanon remaining unchecked by The Turkish Government, the same practices are being extended southwards, among the Metawalis.These are a sect of Mahometans differing from the orthodoxy of the Turks, inhabiting a hilly district south of the Lebanon; their creed is the same as that of the Persians, and called the Sheah.Landlords imported workers to keep up their great areas, but the peasants and former nomads who came were subjected to the robbery of the usurers, until they ran off, to be replaced by new immigrants.
... but now they are acting on their own account. They have plundered the large village of Bassa on the verge of the plain of Acre, and plundered the village of Kefir Beraan near Safed .... 
Despite the constant immigration into Palestine, the land remained largely depopulated. However observers, travelers, and field workers may have differed in their observations -- one found "fertility" and "the flush of green on the desert," while another found Sharon and the Upper Galilee barren - records descriptive of Palestine concur on the state of depopulation and of the official wholesale importing of newly arrived emigres who continued to constitute a great part of the populace that did exist there.
As historians have noted, "The real source of the interest in the problem was the condition of Palestine": "empty"  -- "silent"  -- "waste" -- "ruin." Between 1840 and 1880 "writing travellers learnt on the spot ... to mistrust and hate the Turk and despise the Muslim population."
The village lands belonged in reality to the crown ... if uncultivated. The population was hopelessly incompetent and lethargic, owing to the taxation... In Jerusalem, 1859, the British consul identified part of the "thinly scattered population":
The Mohammedans of Jerusalem are less fanatical than in many other places, owing to the circumstances of their numbers scarcely exceeding one quarter of the whole population -- and of their being surpassed in wealth (except among the Effendi class) in trade and manufactures by both Jews and Christians.At the same time, an official report on "Disturbances" affirmed that "the Mahometan population is dying out, I can scarcely say slowly," and that the government had to supply a populace to "places formerly unknown." (Note below the reference to"not sufficient" numbers of "Mohametans" -- Muslims --immigrating at the same time as the "large numbers" of Jews):
Hence, for the present we are supplied with low-bred ignorant Turks, reigning in small towns or rural districts, and farming taxes.... While the Jews from Russia come also in large numbers and settle in Jerusalem and Safed ... I cannot tell whether the recent immigration of Algerine Mohametans in the North is invited or fostered by Turkish Governors. These bring fanaticism with them, but their numbers are not sufficient as yet.However distasteful he found the impoverished Arab immigrants who were "supplied," the British Consul complained that there were too few inhabitants of any sort in Palestine. "Palestine," he reported, was almost "empty of inhabitants," and urgently needed a "body of population irrespective of religious considerations." In fact, another official British report-contradicting the alleged grounds for its own future policy [See Chapters 14 and 15] -- attested to the abandonment of the land when renewed Jewish development began. In one area, for example:
In 1878 Commission of Enquiry visited Beisan, as did another Commission 50 years later, to report on land situated there. The commission appeared to have reported that they found the lands in disorder, exposed to raids by marauding Bedouin from across the Jordan, abandoned by the cultivators and only scantily cultivated.There is, then, evidence for assuming that it is doubtful that any of the present-day cultivators can prove their occupation before 1870.Meanwhile, the Jewish population had been growing. They were the majority in Safed and Tiberias by 1851, and by the late 1850s Jews formed at least half of the population of Jerusalem. Most of them were the "class called sephardem," and the Jews "greatly exceed the Moslems in number."
The Turkish Sultan had enacted laws that promised "every encouragement to the cultivation of the land." In 1856, Sir Moses Montefiore was granted an edict by the Sultan permitting Jews to buy land in Palestine. At mid-nineteenth century, a "considerable number" of Jewish immigrants had come and settled in the four holy cities of Jerusalem, Safed, Hebron, and Tiberias, largely -- but also on the land. (They were not the first European, or Ashkenazi, Jews to join the native Sephardim; following the 1769 earthquake at Safed, "a new influx" of Russian Jews had refounded the town, about 1776.)
In 1860 Sir George Gawler, a non-Jewish "Zionist," one of a group in England who had been staunchly advocating Jewish nationalism for decades, wrote:
I should be truly rejoiced to see in Palestine a strong guard of Jews established in flourishing agricultural settlements and ready to hold their own upon the mountains of Israel against all aggressors.I can wish for nothing more glorious in this life than to have my share in helping them to do so.By the 1870s, despite the traditional attacks -- "sometimes to death" -- on Palestinian Jews by "their Muslim neighbors," the situation was reportedly more secure. Jews had "more redress." And foreign-born Jewish pioneers were coming to join the Jewish fellahin who had clung to Palestine's soil.
The Jewish fellaheen -- those who have worked the land for centuries ... are not differentiated in their external appearance, their dress, their language or their daily life, from their non-Jewish neighbors.Contrary to other parts of the Ottoman Empire of the nineteenth century, in Judah-cum-Palestine Jews had remained on the Holy Land.
A significant characteristic of theirs [Jews] is that,except in Palestine, they are almost all city dwellers.Together they were beginning the Jewish development of depopulated land, decades before Theodor Herzl's "Zionism" was implemented in 1901. The newcomers' settlement of newly purchased areas would enable many native Palestinian Jews to shed the historically persecuted, poverty-strickendhimmi existence.
But Jews had lived principally in urban areas of the Holy Land -- their "sacred" Jewish cities. However "preferable" it might have been to hire Jews for land development, Jewish agricultural labor was scarce. Furthermore, most who were available were totally inexperienced and nearly useless. For generations in many countries Jews had not been permitted to own land, and most Jews in the Holy Land had been relegated to accepting religious charity as a means to survive. By 1859, however, the British Consul could observe that
The Jews are increasing in numbers, and the Rabbis tightening the ecclesiastical control; yet the mechanical class among them are learning, though slowly, to work for their own living, instead of depending solely for subsistence upon alms from Europe, distributed by the Rabbis.The "principle of using exclusively Jewish labor" would take longer to introduce to some areas. One pioneer supposedly commented,
The transformation of a "tribe of schnorrers" [beggars, Yiddish] ... into a new breed of Spartan, self-reliant, technically accomplished tillers and reapers could not be accomplished overnight.In 1878, Petach Tikvah, the first modem Jewish colony, was founded, principally by native Palestinian Jews from Jerusalem. Jews such as Edmond Rothschild believed projects should be "carried out with Jewish rather than Arab labour," even though "relatively few Jewish manual labourers could be found in Jaffa or Petach Tikva," and those were "at least twice as expensive as their Arab counterparts." As a consequence, on the new settlement non-Jews were hired to assist for a time with the reclamation work by which the Jews would transform the country.
Many of the Arab laborers hired were new immigrants themselves. "After 1870," for instance, the Turks' "forward policy . . . included the planting of Circassian colonies" in the country. Circassians "surrounded" the Jewish settlement of Sedjera, which had been purchased from an "absentee Arab landlord" in the late 1890s.
At Hadera, founded in 1891, Egyptian workers were contracted because there was not enough local Arab labor, and those few locals available were not willing to run the "risk of malaria and yellow fever." At Zikhron Yaacov, founded in 1882, there were twenty-one Jewish workers to six Arab workers in 1893; five years later, in 1898, there were twenty-seven Jews to twenty-one Arabs.
And in 1889, the forty Jewish families in the Jewish settlement Rishon I'Tsion (founded in 1882) had been followed by more than ten times as many Arab families from Egypt and elsewhere. The following letter from a pioneer provides a vivid illustration:
In Rishon L'tzion, there are now forty Jewish families, and most of them are financially supported by the noble.... Besides this forty, more than four hundred families are settled in the areas surrounding the moshava. The Arab village of Sarafand that stood ruined to the south of the moshava (Rishon L'tzion) is now called Srefand Harib, and is a large, spreadout village; many Bedouin and Egyptian families have settled within it. Those who left their villages to come here all find work. They, along with their wives, daughters and sons have split up into a wide variety of trades and vocations. Dozens of families have gathered in Bet Dagon (Badazshak), in Yadzor, in Safria, in Srafand Amar, in Agar and elsewhere (a few thousand dunam that was, and until today is, desolate and empty and used for putting sheep and bulls out to graze). Those who have come to the area are wretchedly poverty-stricken and destitute, and came with nothing to plant. Grains (income) were taken by the government, and they were left lacking of all. About one thousand Arabs work on occasion and (during the winter in Rishon), and how many in the villages? We ourselves are giving them plough blades that are sharpened -- into the hand of those who someday may stand as enemies against us.By 1897, at Petach Tikvah, one of the largest Jewish settlements, Jews were in a "rotating work force of some thirty-two hands" in an attempt to "avoid the need for Arab labour," and strengthen the spirit of the settlers. Still, in 1914, Petach Tikvah's population would number 2,600 Jewish settlers, 600 resident Arab workers, and 1,100 "floating" Arabs.
One condition was unique to Palestine, however: it was solely in Judah-cum-Palestine that the traditional Jewish dhimmi not only would be equal, but he or she would
1) help wrench the effendis' historical hold over the peasant-migrants and
2) create independence for the Jews.
As a counter, the effendis would set about inflaming the entrenched Jew-hatred of the Muslim masses by instilling fear in the only way the masses understood: by ominous warnings that Jews might begin to oppress Muslims as the Muslims had for so long oppressed the Palestinian Jews. According to one account,
In all eyes the Jew is becoming ... the traitor prepared to plunder his neighbor to take possession of his goods.It was in 1909, at the time when leading effendis felt their grip over the lives and fortunes of their erstwhile prey was getting too loose, that effendi Ruhi Bey al-Khalidi warned that the Jews would "displace the Arab farmers from their land and their fathers' heritage.... The Jews were not here when we conquered the country."  It mattered little that theeffendi's argument was false. It served his group's long-range economic interests, and at least some of his misstatements would be swallowed whole by a surprisingly large part of the world for the better part of a century.
In 1911, an Arab land official from a notable family based in Damascus charged that the Jewish settlers in Palestine wanted "solely to expel the poor Arab peasants from their land," while "treacherous Arab landowners" sold lands to the Jews.  In case some among the impoverished masses might question the sincerity of sudden concern shown by the Arab absentee landlord in question- whose wealth and holdings came from precisely the activities he was attributing to the Jews -- a more emotional and basic appeal was added to ensure the desired mass reaction: the Damascus landlord warned that the Jews were "disloyal" Ottoman soldiers and would "later shoot the Arabs." 
As Jew had been plundered by Arab, so now would Arab be plundered, the leaders alleged. As Arab had been stripped of land and money by Arab, so now the Jews would be blamed. Most important, as Jew was displaced by Arab in Palestine -- with each restriction on Jewish immigration, Arabs were coming into the Jewish-settled areas to take places and employment that the Jews were creating for other Jews -- so Arab would charge Jew with the Arab's action. The implanted fear that the new, bolder Jews would turn the tables on the Muslims fomented the desired violent reaction. It was the same tactic that would later throw fuel on the "Palestinian refugees" flight in 1948.
The effendis' somewhat disingenuous tactic in 1909 may have been the first specious charge of Jews specifically "displacing" Arabs. But the same effendi tactic had succeeded in pressuring the Turks to halt Jewish immigration to the Holy Land nearly thirty years before that. And the same tool would be cynically employed later by the Arabs with British support: later, "Arabs" in "Palestine" would be seen by the world as having been "displaced" and "excluded" from "their homeland" in 1948.
Despite the anti-Jewish solicitation inherent in his positions, as early as 1911 Ruhi Bey al-Khalidi proclaimed he was not an "anti-Semite, but an anti-Zionist." It was perhaps the premiere performance of that protest of qualification that is prevalent today. One benefit accruing from prominent effendi al-Khalidi's pronouncement could have been that Jews might be more likely to continue to buy land surreptitiously from one who disclaimed any support of "anti-Semitism."
But the distinction was aimed only at influencing the Jews. As other non-Jews pointed out, the "masses were incapable of making the distinction" between one Jew and another.  One influential Arab writer candidly observed that there should be no distinction between "Zionists" and "non-Zionists," since all shared common goals.
Anti-Jewish attitudes were the "daily bread in Palestine. Sheikh Sulayman al-Taji, an "Ottomanist" patriot and landlord who, paradoxically, himself sold land to Jews, wrote a poem called "The Zionist Danger" about "Jews, the weakest of all peoples and the least of them ... sons of clinking gold, stop your deceit . . ." The "poem" was published in November 1913, and that same month, murders were committed in Jewish kibbutzes (kibbutzim) of the Jewish-settled area of the country.
By the time of World War I, the active Arab anti-Semitism, whether called "Ottomanism," "anti-Zionism," or "Arab nationalism," had evolved into a kind of Muftism after Haj Amin al-Husseini, Grand Mufti and scion of the al-Husseini notables.
As Britain's Commander in Chief and Palestine's High Commissioner would conclude a generation later, in 1938, Arab "terrorism was not a national movement but bands of banditti of no genuine political significance [or] Arab peasants who are restless and anti-Jew, and who are not averse to joining violent action" for a fee. But, said the Commissioner, the "moderate" Arabs in Palestine who opposed terror feared they would become the victims if they took "a lead against the terrorists." "Other political leaders might arise," if Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini weren't "sitting just across the border." But the terrorist leader and his effendi colleagues in Palestine had been "sitting" in control of the country's security for decades. As an anti-Jewish movement, Muftism would not only cooperate with the Nazis, but would actually succeed in efforts to cause the deaths of additional hundreds of thousands of European Jews whom the Nazis had earmarked for Palestine, as is documented later.
The 1938 & 2001 proposed partitions of Western Palestine & Policy of AppeasementQuote from Text
Winston Churchill cautioned in 1939, the acts that we engage in for appeasement today we will have to remedy at far greater cost and remorse tomorrow.Former President Clinton's talk of the "Partition of Israel & Jerusalem" harkens back to the last time it was proposed in 1938, the Palestinians rejected it then too.
Palestine Royal Commission Report had called "toleration by the [British] Government of subversive [terrorist] activities, more especially those of the Mufti of Jerusalem,"1 not only Jews but moderate Arabs and those effendis engaged in a power struggle with the Mufti were murdered. As the Palestine Royal Commission Report had observed, with uncharacteristic indignation,
... intimidation at the point of a revolver has become a not infrequent feature of Arab politics. Attacks by Arabs on Jews, unhappily, are no new thing. The novelty in the present situation is attacks by Arabs-on Arabs. For an Arab to be suspected of a lukewarm adherence to the nationalist cause is to invite a visit from a body of "gunmen." Such a visit was paid to the editor of one of the Arabic newspapers last August shortly after he had published articles in favour of calling off the strïke." Similar visits were paid during our stay in Palestine to wealthy Arab landowners or businessmen who were believed to have made inadequate contributions to the fund which the Arab Higher Committee were raising to compensate Arabs for damage suffered during the "disturbances." Nor do the "gunmen" stop at intimidation. It is not known who murdered the Arab Acting Mayor of Hebron last August, but no one doubts that he lost his life because he had dared to differ from the "extremist" policy of the Higher Committee. The attempt to murder the Arab Mayor of Haifa, which took place a few days after we left Palestine, is also, we are told, regarded as political. It is not surprising that a number of Arabs have asked for Government protection.2Many Christian Arabs, as well as the Muslims, opposed the Jews -- now predominantly Zionists -- and this common hostility toward Jews served to cool down the Muslim-versus-Christian resentments. As an example of the contributions to terror and violence directed by some among the Christian Arabs, Professor S. F. Albright cited an instance during one anti-Jewish onslaught, in which a prominent Christian Arab editor
called his little boy of five into the room and told him what he must do to a Jewish boy if he should get a chance. He even put cruel words into the little chap's mouth: "I will take a knife and stab him; I will take a pistol and shoot him."3But the Christian Arabs were not exempt from Arab terrorism. The Christians were compelled at gunpoint to abandon their traditional head covering, the tarbush, and adopt the Muslimkeffiyah instead. The compulsory Muslim veil was forced upon Christian women. Christian Arab shopkeepers were forced to close on the Muslims' Friday sabbath as weêl as on Sundays, thus losing a day's revenue.4
As in the past, the Arab masses responded only to "the appeal of religious fanaticism and ... their tradition of violence which a single generation of British rule had. not eradicated."5 The ruling families had never pretended to any sort of reform: thefellahin were, in the 1930s, still plagued by "indebtedness and ruinous charges exacted from them by the Arab landowners and moneylenders."6
The effendi -- led attacks upon Jews and their supporters still were designed 1) to keep the "sweets" of feudalism and 2) to prevent the traditional dhimmi Jew from an "inconceivable" elevation to equality with Muslims.7 As one British eyewitness press report described the situation, 8
... For the most part the villagers are decent law abiding folk who have no great sympathy with the Arab rebels who are fighting to stem the tide of Jewish immigration and demanding an Arab Government for Palestine.They merely want to be left alone to sow and harvest; to marry and find the wherewithal in these troubled times to bring up their families.Hospitals were not exempted from the wanton violence. On June 24, 1938,
Then one night a rebel band descends on the village. The rebel chief goes straight to the house of the village headman and orders him to produce 50 young men to come out on the hills to snipe at the British, and for another 100 men to tear up Government roads.
". . . Two Arabs working in a Jewish-owned stone quarry near Haifa were wounded by Arab raiders. The wounded men were taken to hospital, but two of the raiders entered the hospital in search of them, killing by mistake another Arab, a patient from Nablus."9The "collection" of contributions to fund the terrorists was equally effective, following the same traditional methods that the Arabs had applied to extract funds for "protection" against raiding. According to the Chief of Staff under Lieutenant General Dill's command in 1936,
The collection of funds for "distressed Palestine" was carried out by methods similar to those employed by the racketeer. Large sums were collected under pressure from firms as well as from individuals. There was always the threat of the gun. At the same time pressure was exerted on individuals, and sometimes there was the use of the gun.10Even though the Mufti had fled to Syria upon the "resurgence of violence"11 that he had instigated, Jews, British, and rival or moderate Arabs alike became the objects of his continued wrath. As the Times of London observed a year after the Mufti's flight,
... Many of the leaders of the National Defence Party [opposition to Mufti] have been murdered; others have been compelled by threats to leave the country.From April 1936, the Mufti's "systematic extermination" caused the murder or flight from the country of any Arab suspected of less than total loyalty to the rebels: mayor, affiliated official, sheikh, village mukhtar (headman), rival Arab notable, and even prominent Muslim religious figures-all were victims.
... It is certainly true that during the last four months far more Arabs than Jews or British soldiers have been killed by Arab terrorists.12
The mayor of Hebron, Nasr el Din Nasr, murdered August 4, 1936, was a close ally of the Mufti's chief opponent, Ragheb Bey Nashashibi; the wife and daughter of the mayor of Bethlehem were wounded July 1937; the mayor Nablus, Suleiman Bey Toukan, who publicly warned the government of chaos if terrorism was not squelched, fled after attempted assassination in December of 1937. No fewer than eleven mukhtars were slain, along with family members, between February of 1937 and November of 1938.*13
[*A similar list of "moderate" Arabs who have been exterminated recently by the PLO-the modem "Muftism"--could be compiled today.]
Muslim religious leaders murdered or wounded included the following:
|March 1938||Sheikh Yunis el Husseini, head of El Aqsa Mosque administration, was wounded.|
|July 1938||Sheikh Ali Nur el Khatib, of El Aqsa Mosque, was murdered.|
|Dec. 1938||Sheikh Dauoud Ansari, Imam of El Aqsa Mosque, was killed (after fourth attempt).|
|July 1938||Sheikh Nusbi Abdul Rahim, Counsel to the Moslem Religious Court, murdered at Acre.|
|July 1938||Sheikh Abdul el Badawi, murdered at Acre.|
|Nov. 1938||Sheikh El Namouri, murdered at Hebron.14|
There were, however, those who resisted appeasement of the terrorist tactics for a time. One communication with a British "correspondent in Palestine," transmitted to the former Palestine High Commissioner Chancellor, expressed outrage at the reports in the London Times early in 1937:
. . . Who is "the Times" correspondent out here? This is obvious Arab propaganda. The Mufti has gone to Mecca with the avowed intention of getting help to continue the contest and as to objecting to violence, it is absolutely false; "Courage to disavow his own tactics"! It is their usual method always to disavow anything when convenient, and unless he wished it, it would not appear in any Arab newspaper. They are openly saying that the lawlessness will soon begin again, but if the "disavowal" is in the Arab newspapers ... the Arabs would merely laugh knowing quite well it was said just to deceive the foolish English. It is pure bluff. The correspondent is obviously pro-Arab and against his own country and ought to be shown up. It is disgraceful. The murders continue, as you will see in the paper I am sending you.... The Arabs hate civilisation and would like to keep the country in its present backward state but it is horrible to see it being spoilt. The goats are allowed to eat off all the young plants and the women take what is left for fuel. Fortunately, the Jews are enclosing their land and they are the one hope for the prosperity of the land. The Arabs don't care for taking any trouble. They talk big about their country but what have they ever done for it? They tread down the poor and take bakshish and that is all they care for.Just before the Mufti fled to Syria, the British Commander of the Arab Legion was convinced that
You know all this as well as I do, but I can't help repeating it.15
the Arabs ... are still out of hand, and in my opinion we shall have in the end to teach them a lesson. Besides the Mufti's party which is bad enough we have all the young Effendi class, products of our education, and beyond them and probably most dangerous and well-organized are the Communists. That, a few weeks ago a police officer could be murdered in the middle of Haifa, and the assailants get clear away is an eye-opener; and now the same thing happens in Jerusalem. I am quite sure that lots of people knew all about those crimes, and probably many Arab members of the police do also, but they would be murdered if they came forward with their evidence.16Upon the Mufti's arrival in Syria, a local British officer wired the Foreign Office that "Surveillance exercised over Mufti appears to be little short of a farce ... Mufti ... thanking French and Lebanese for their warm welcome here."17
Perhaps it was Ormsby-Gore's apparent outrage at the newest "reign of terror" that reversed his previous attitude toward offending the Arab world. Whatever the reason, in his capacity as Colonial Secretary, Ormsby-Gore wrote in a "secret Cabinet memorandum"18 that although the Jewish "mini" state "may temporarily accentuate Arab hostility in the countries surrounding Palestine," the Jewish state must be supported.
The "increase" of "Arab intransigence" would be caused more by the continuation of the "present uncertainty" of the British, he asserted, than by a firm position supporting the Jewish state.
It was Ormsby-Gore who had clung to the proposed "partition" by sending forth the Woodhead Commission, which, it was rumored, in the end "would decide against partition."
In August 1938, British Secretary of State Malcolm MacDonald communicated a "secret note" to friends in the Cabinet, confiding that
Great harm had already been done in Palestine by rumours that the wisdom of Partition had been questioned in the Cabinet, which have encouraged the Arab terrorists and those behind them to believe that if only they persist in their campaign they will force us to abandon this policy.MacDonald noted that the terrorist leaders "virtually dictate Arab Policy."19
MacDonald had resisted pleas by influential Arabs, ranging from the Egyptian Prime Minister to the head of London's Arab Centre, to "recall" the Mufti and his supporters "from their exile ... to negotiate with them"; MacDonald insisted then that "the Mufti and his colleagues" were "in general" behind the "campaign of violence in Palestine." There was "plenty of information on that point." The terrorism was "being encouraged from a source outside Palestine. Terrorism could not continue without that encouragement.... I would not," MacDonald vowed, "trust the word of the leaders who had been exiled," nor would he allow them to come back.20
The Woodhead Commission, as the Arabs had anticipated, recommended against partition, after which the British government abandoned the proposal.21 The fact that "Arab opposition was a decisive factor in" the retraction of Government's partition plan was "generally understood," although the Woodhead Commission claimed its "rejection" to be "based ... on practical grounds."22 Malcolm MacDonald expressed the fear that if partition were implemented, "We should forfeit the friendship of the Arab world."23
The Permanent Mandates Commission complained of the British "policy of appeasement."
Mr. Van Asbeck ... reverting ... to the seeming leniency shown by the Palestine Government to the Arab population in suppressing the revolt, asked whether that leniency did not place other elements of the population in a very serious situation -- the Jews in their agricultural settlements were particularly exposed to raids and attacks by the Arab gangsters. Further, had it not the serious effect of weakening the authority of, and lessening the respect of, the Arab population for the Government? Had it not engendered the feeling that they could be as lawless as they like without feeling the strong hand of the Government on their neck?24PMC member Rappard in particular deplored the "Policy of appeasement" (in 1937) and "felt obliged to confess that he was himself troubled on that point; he could not help feeling that the reputation of undue leniency ... was well established."25
Underscoring that observation, a British colonel explained to the president of the Jewish ex-officers association in Tel Aviv, "I am afraid that merely asking for justice ... is useless. In my experience, especially in times of difficulty, governments give way only to action. . . ."26
Within the Woodhead Palestine Partition Commission Report, however, was the clearly marked Jewish-settled area of Western Palestine, differentiated from the rest of the country and divided according to population of Arabs and Jews. As the Report stated unequivocally,
... no impartial person would think the Arabs justified in claiming sovereign rights over persons and property of Jews who have settled in other parts of Palestine on the faith of the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate.27Throughout the Mandate, the British attempted to gain peace by appeasing intimidation and terror. It was a self-imposed intimidation to a perception of oil-power and force that the Western powers by themselves in fact evoked. Yet, others are considering a similar course. But the lesson ought to be clear by now that the West's continuation of the protracted British policy of submission has not brought a peaceful life. As Winston Churchill cautioned in 1939, the acts that we engage in for appeasement today we will have to remedy at far greater cost and remorse tomorrow.
1. Palestine Royal Commission Report, p. 366.
2. Ibid., p. 135.
3. "Japheth in the Tents of Shem," Asia and the Americans, December 1942, pp. 692-694.
4. Arab vs. Arab, pamphlet (Wadsworth and Co., Rydal Press, Keighley, England, 1939), p. 3. Rhodes House Doc. 905 17.75 (22).
5. James Parkes, A History of Palestinefrom 135 A.D. to Modern Times (N.Y: Oxford University Press, 1949), pp. 321-322.
6. Ibid., p. 321.
7. Ernest Main, Palestine at the Crossroads (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1937), p. 107,.
8. Stuart Emeny, News Chronicle, London, December 10, 1938.
9. Martin Gilbert, Exile and Return, The Struggle for a Jewish Homeland (Philadelphia, 1978), p. 204.
10. Lieutenant Colonel H.J. Simson, British Rule and Rebellion (London: Blackwood, 1937), p. 315. Simson pointed out that "The label on the money box had been altered from 'strike fund' to 'distressed Palestine,' but otherwise there was no change," p. 290.
11. On October 15, 1937, Esco Foundation for Palestine, Palestine, A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, vol. II, p. 879; the Mufti's "figurehead," Jamal Husseini, President of the Arab Party, had escaped earlier.
12. November 21, 1938; also see Esco, ibid., p. 878 ff.
13. "The murdered were as follows-
Feb. 1937 Mukhtar of Arab Birket Caesarea
Sept. 1937 Balad Esh Sheikh
Dec. 1937 Shahmata
April 1938 Migdal. He was a Christian Arab. His wife was also murdered.
April 1938 Mafaleen
Aug. 1938 Ejn Razal
Aug. 1938 -Beth Mahsir
Sept. 1938 Wife and three sons of the Mukhtar of Deir Es Sheikh. Mukhtar was
absent at the time.
Oct. 1938 Mukhtar of Ard-el-Yehud, near Haifa. He was a Christian Arab.
Oct. 1938 Beth Hema
Nov. 1938 Akaba Quarter, Nablus
"During the same period, attempts were made on the life of the Mukhtar of Lifta
village (July 1937), and the Mukhtar of Seir (October, 1938)"; cited in Arab v. Arab, pamphlet, Wadsworth and Co., Rydal Press, Keighley, England, 1939, p. 13; also see Palestine, October 6, 1937, vol. XII, no. 40, for list of Arab "notables" "murdered between April and September, 1937."
15. Letter to James Malcolm, February 22, 1937, transmitted to Former High Commissioner of Palestine, John Chancellor, RH File 7/Box 15. From "an English correspondent in Palestine whose name for obvious reasons it is undesirable to disclose but for whose impartiality and veracity I can thoroughly vouch." J. Malcolm.
16. RH File No. 7 of Box 15, letter to John Chancellor from Peake, June 20, 1937,
extract, p. 3.
17. PRO FO 371/20817, Havard to Foreign Office, No. 15, "important, repeated to Jerusalem, Paris, Baghdad, and Damascus saving."
18. Ormsby-Gore Cabinet Papers 24/272, November 9, 1937; cited in Gilbert, Exile, p. 191.
19. August 21, 1938, Cabinet Papers, 24/278, cited in Gilbert, ibid., p. 206.
20. August 12, conversation with Dr. Izzet Tannous, Arab Christian head of the Arab Centre, London; cited in Gilbert, ibid., p. 206.
21. Palestine Partition Commission Report, 1938, Command #5458, p, 246; Esco Foundation for Palestine, Palestine, A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, pp. 874-875, 1146, 1156ff.
22. Esco Foundation for Palestine, ibid., p. 1156.
23. October 24, 1938, Cabinet Committee Minutes: Cabinet Papers 27/651, cited in Gilbert, Exile and Return, p. 210.
24. League of Nations Permanent Mandates Commission, 1937, Minutes of the 32nd Session, pp. 73-74.
26. Colonel Wedgewood, June 1938, Survey of International Affairs, 1938, vol. I, p. 417, n. 1.
27. Palestine Partition (Woodhead) Commission Report, 1938, from Martin Gilbert, The Arab-Israeli Conflict, Its History in Maps (London: Weidenfield and Nicolson, 1974), p. 28