Under Ottoman Rule - 1882-1917   Under British Mandatory Rule 1918-1948

Under Ottoman Rule 1882 - 1917

From the beginning Jewish settlement met with opposition from the local Arabs. While at most times this opposition was dormant, there were many instances when it was expressed publicly, taking the form of sporadic attacks, usurpation of lands and the like. It is doubtful whether this opposition had any political connotations. In 1891, however, nine years after the beginning of the first aliyah, the first sign of political opposition to Zionism made its appearance. Arab notables from Jerusalem called upon the Ottoman administration to prohibit the immigration of and the sale of land to Jews. This request was repeated time and again.

One of the most important results of the Young Turks revolt in 1908, which brought to the fore new rulers, was the rise of Arab nationalism. The Arab national movement developed mostly in Syria, Lebanon and the Land of Israel, where Arab newspapers were founded and engaged in systematic incitement against Jewish immigration and settlement. In Constantinople, the Arab members of parliament denounced Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel and described the Zionist Movement as a danger to the Ottoman Empire. In 1912, attempts were made by Zionist groups to establish contact with the Arab nationalist. A meeting took place between Nahum Sokolov of the Zionist Executive and Arab leaders. The outbreak of World War I, ended all sorts of dialogue between the Arab leaders and the leaders of the Zionist movement..


Under British Mandatory Rule 1918 - 1948

Weizmann Faisal Agreement

The end of World War I was followed by great agitation among the Arab nationalists, who declared the Land of Israel to be "Southern Syria" and demanded its incorporation into a large Arab state with its center in Damascus. Chaim Weizmann, head of the Zionist Commission succeeded, however, in reaching some measure of understanding with the Emir Faisal, son of the Sharif Hussein of Mecca, and leader of Arab Nationalism at the time. On Jan. 3, 1919, the two men signed an agreement that spoke of “the closest possible collaboration in the development of the Arab state and Palestine” and of measures "to encourage and facilitate the immigration of Jews into Palestine on a large scale". The agreement, however, was repudiated by the Arab nationalists.

Anti-Jewish riots in 1920 and in 1921

In March 1920 anti-Jewish riots broke out in Jerusalem ("Bloody Passover"). The British military authorities gave the Arabs a free hand, while arresting the Jewish defenders, led by Vladimir Jabotinsky, who were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. In April 1920, the Jewish settlements in Upper Galilee were attacked by Arabs. Tel Hai and other places were destroyed after a heroic defense in which Joseph Trumpeldor and others were killed. In May 1921 an outbreak of violence in Jaffa was followed by large scale attacks on Rehovot, Petah Tikva, and other places. 47 Jews were killed and 140 wounded. Arab casualties were 48 dead and 73 wounded, mostly due to action by British troops. The disturbances demonstrated the ability of the Arab masses and revealed the relative weakness of the yishuv. The High Commissioner, Sir Herbert Samuel, began to backtrack: he ordered a temporary halt to immigration and entered into negotiations with the Arab Executive Committee. The outcome of these negotiations was the White Paper issued by Churchill on June 1922.

The 1929 Disturbances

The relatively peaceful and constructive atmosphere of the years 1922-1928 was shattered by an outbreak of Arab violence in August 1929. During the preceding ten months there had been minor disputes between Jews and Arabs about the former's right to pray at the Western ("Wailing") Wall of the Temple Court in Jerusalem. These arguments were exploited by the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, to foment religious hatred by accusing the Jews of designs upon the Muslim Holy Places in the city. On August 23, an Arab mob tried to attack the Jews in Jerusalem. The attacks were repeated on the following days, but were repulsed by the Haganah.

The violence spread to other parts of the country. On the Sabbath, August 24, 70 men and women of the Jewish community in Hebron were slaughtered. Attacks on Tel Aviv and the Jewish neighborhoods of Haifa were repulsed, but on the fifth day of the riots, an Arab mob killed 18 Jews and wounded many more in Safed. Several villages were plundered and destroyed by an Arab mob. Order was restored by British troops. The 1929 violence and riots resulted in a parliamentary Commission of Inquiry (see Shaw Commission of Inquiry) and a report of a British expert (see Hope - Simpson Report), the outcome of which was the the 1930 White Paper, issued by the Colonial Secretary, Lord Passfield.

The Arab Revolt 1936 - 1939

The three-year period of disorder and violence, known as the Arab Revolt, began on April 1936, when riots broke out in Jaffa. 16 Jews were killed and many more wounded. The Arabs proclaimed a general strike. The Arab Higher Commission, headed by the Mufti, announced that the strike would go on until the British government fulfilled three demands:

  • The stoppage of Jewish immigration,
  • The prohibition of the transfer of land to Jewish ownership
  • The establishment of a "general representative government".

Shortly after the outbreak of the strike, a campaign of terror was initiated. Jewish property was burnt, Jewish passersby were murdered, and Jewish settlements were attacked. In the hill regions armed bands of terrorists tried to attack Jewish settlements and convoys as well as British police and army detachments. By August 1936, the British had launched a large-scale attack upon the terrorists.

After the end of the general strike in October 1936, an uneasy calm prevailed. In September 1937, two months after the Peel Commission's report, the disturbances were renewed. The armed bands operated on a large scale; their leaders instituted a regime of terror against their Arab opponents; attacks upon the Jews were also stepped up. By the end of 1938, the Revolt began to decline, and by the spring of 1939, it came to an end. 80 Jews fell victim to acts of terror in the period of the strike, while 415 were killed by the terrorists over the entire period 1937-1939. Militarily the Arab Revolt of 1936 - 1939 ended in defeat, but it brought the Palestinian Arabs a political reward - the 1939 White Paper.





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31 May 2005 / 22 Iyar 5765 0