Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Arab Revolt in Palestine 1936 - 1939
and the Brutal British Response

Two destroyed cars owned by Jews, 1936
 The Arab revolt in Palestine (1936-1939) was a frequent subject for the American Colony photographers.  They recorded on film the Arab attacks on Jews, British soldiers, and strategic targets such as the railroad network in Palestine.  They also photographed the sometimes draconian British response.
Jews evacuating Jaffa, 1936. Click here
to see Jews evacuating Jerusalem's
Old City

Fawzi al-Kauwakji salutes his volunteers
 as they cross into Palestine. (Listen
 The Arab general strike in April 1936 was called by the Arab Higher Committee, headed by the Mufti Haj Amin al Husseini. The strike escalated into widespread attacks by gangs and militias. 

By August, "volunteer" Arab guerrilla forces from Syria had invaded.  The annual British Mandate report for 1936 revealed that one of the guerrilla leaders "was Fawzi ed Din el Kauwakji, a Syrian who had achieved notoriety in Syria in the Druze revolt of 1925-26. This person subsequently proclaimed himself generalissimo of the rebel forces, and 'communiqués' and 'proclamations' purporting to have emanated from him were circulated in the country." [The photo of Kauwakji is the only photo not from the Library of Congress collection.]
Derailed train, 1936. Click here to
see more pictures of the Arab war
against the rail system

The consequences of the Arab revolt, labor strikes and attacks
were numerous: 
  • The British instituted the White Paper in 1939 limiting Jewish immigration into Palestine -- precisely when hundreds of thousands of Jews were trying to flee Nazi Europe.
  • It forced the Jews of Palestine to establish their own militias, the precursors of the Israel Defense Forces. 
  • The revolt actually fractured Palestine's Arab society, and many of the Arab casualties were caused by competing Arab gangs and clans.
Jewish lumberyard in Jaffa burned down
  • With strategic facilities subject to the Arab strike, the Jews of Palestine established their own port, key industries, and airfields.
    "Palestinian disturbances 1936, Fire in
    the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem"
  • The British struck back against the Arab militias and gangs with force and sometimes brutality.  Aircraft were used to bomb and strafe Arab forces.

Today's feature shows examples of the Arab attacks in 1936

Tomorrow's posting will include the British response, including widescale destruction of Arab homes. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this wonderful blog. My Grandparents were in Palestine around this time, though separate. My grandmother was searching for my grandfather, they came from Prague, she never told me the details but it seemed a very bad time for them.