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The Hundred Years' War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917-2017

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The contradiction between the letter of the Covenant and the policy of the Allies is even more flagrant in the case of the “independent nation” of Palestine than in that of the “independent nation” of Syria. For in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country.… The four Great Powers are committed to Zionism. And Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land. After attending the ceremonial opening of a new rail line in 1929 that connected Tel Aviv to the Jewish settlements and Arab villages to the south, ‘Isa al-‘Isa wrote an ominous editorial in Filastin. All along the route, he wrote, Jewish settlers took advantage of the presence of British officials to make new demands of them, while Palestinians were nowhere to be seen. “There was only one tarbush,” he said, “among so many hats.” The message was clear: the wataniyin, “the people of the country,” were poorly organized, while al-qawm, “this nation,” exploited every opportunity offered them. The title of the editorial summed up the gravity of al-‘Isa’s warning: “Strangers in Our Own Land: Our Drowsiness and Their Alertness.”33 Another such window is provided by the growing number of published memoirs by Palestinians. Most of them are in Arabic and reflect the concerns of their upper-class and middle-class authors.34 To find the views of the less well-to-do segments of Palestinian society is more difficult. There is little oral history available from the early decades of British rule.35 Beyond making the Jewish Agency a partner to the mandatory government, this provision allowed it to acquire international diplomatic status and thereby formally represent Zionist interests before the League of Nations and elsewhere. Such representation was normally an attribute of sovereignty, and the Zionist movement took great advantage of it to bolster its international standing and act as a para-state. Again, no such powers were allowed to the Palestinian majority over the entire thirty years of the Mandate, in spite of repeated demands.

THE FRUSTRATION OF the Palestinian population at their leadership’s ineffective response over fifteen years of congresses, demonstrations, and futile meetings with obdurate British officials finally led to a massive grassroots uprising. This started with a six-month general strike, one of the longest in colonial history, launched spontaneously by groups of young, urban middle-class militants (many of them members of the Istiqlal Party) all over the country. The strike eventually developed into the great 1936–39 revolt, which was the crucial event of the interwar period in Palestine. a b c Anderson, Lisa (11 August 2020). "The Hundred Years' War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917–2017". ISSN 0015-7120 . Retrieved 12 October 2022.


Just before his arrest and exile, Husayn al-Khalidi, who served on the AHC and as Jerusalem’s elected mayor for three years before he was removed by the British, encountered Major General Sir John Dill, the officer in command of the British forces in Palestine. In his memoirs, my uncle recalls telling the general that the only way to end the violence was to meet some of the Palestinians’ demands, specifically stopping Jewish immigration. What would be the effect of arresting the Arab leadership? Dill wanted to know. A senior Arab figure had told him that such arrests would end the revolt in days or weeks. My uncle set him straight: the revolt would only accelerate and spread out of control. It was the Jewish Agency that wanted the arrests, and al-Khalidi knew that the Colonial Office was considering it, but solving the Palestine question would not be so simple.62 Perhaps the most detailed chapter in the book is what Khalidi calls the third declaration of war on Palestine, namely Ariel Sharon’s invasion of Lebanon and the siege of Beirut, followed by the departure of Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) fighters to Tunisia and the ensuing massacre at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in 1982 (for which U.S. guarantees to protect the safety of Palestinian civilians proved worthless). This chapter is the most personal, as the author lived in Beirut for 15 years with his family. [7] It also presents damning evidence, based on documents leaked from the Israel State Archives in 2012 as well as secret appendices from the Kahan Commission that weren't published in the original 1983 report, of the Israeli government's conscious decision to send Christian militias into the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps with the clear intention of instigating the Sabra and Shatila massacre. [7] "The Fifth Declaration of War, 1987–1995" [ edit ] Of all the services Britain provided to the Zionist movement before 1939, perhaps the most valuable was the armed suppression of Palestinian resistance in the form of the revolt. The bloody war waged against the country’s majority, which left 14 to 17 percent of the adult male Arab population killed, wounded, imprisoned, or exiled,55 was the best illustration of the unvarnished truths uttered by Jabotinsky about the necessity of the use of force for the Zionist project to succeed. To quash the uprising, the British Empire brought in two additional divisions of troops, squadrons of bombers, and all the paraphernalia of repression that it had perfected over many decades of colonial wars.56 BEYOND DEMOGRAPHIC AND other shifts, World War I and its aftermath accelerated the change in Palestinian national sentiment from a love of country and loyalties to family and locale to a thoroughly modern form of nationalism.30 In a world where nationalism had been gaining ground for many decades, the Great War provided a global boost to the idea. The tendency was compounded toward the end of the war by Woodrow Wilson in the United States and Vladimir Lenin in Soviet Russia, who both espoused the principle of national self-determination, albeit in different ways and with different aims.

Article 7 provided for a nationality law to facilitate the acquisition of Palestinian citizenship by Jews. This same law was used to deny nationality to Palestinians who had emigrated to the Americas during the Ottoman era and now desired to return to their homeland.42 Thus Jewish immigrants, irrespective of their origins, could acquire Palestinian nationality, while native Palestinian Arabs who happened to be abroad when the British took over were denied it. Finally, other articles allowed the Jewish Agency to take over or establish public works, allowed each community to maintain schools in its own language—which meant Jewish Agency control over much of the yishuv’s school system—and made Hebrew an official language of the country. They were among the thousands of men still absent from their homes at war’s end. Some had emigrated to the Americas to escape conscription while many, the writer ‘Aref Shehadeh (later known as ‘Arif al-‘Arif) among them, were being held in Allied prisoner of war camps.19 Others were in the hills, dodging the draft, like Najib Nassar, editor of the outspokenly anti-Zionist Haifa newspaper al-Karmil.20 Meanwhile, there were Arab soldiers who had deserted the Ottoman army and crossed the lines, or who were serving in the forces of the Arab Revolt led by Sharif Husayn and allied with Britain. Still others—such as ‘Isa al-‘Isa, the editor of Filastin, who had been exiled by the Ottoman authorities for his fierce independence with its strong echoes of Arab nationalism—were forced from the relatively cosmopolitan confines of Jaffa to various small towns in the heart of rural Anatolia.21 a b c d e f g h i j k l m Rubner, Michael (June 2020). "The Hundred Years' War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917–2017". Middle East Policy. 27 (2): 173–177. doi: 10.1111/mepo.12504. ISSN 1061-1924. S2CID 225827969. Full Book Name: The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917-2017a b c Hughes, Matthew (7 May 2020). "The Hundred Years' War on Palestine by Rashid Khalidi review – conquest and resistance". the Guardian . Retrieved 13 October 2022. Perfect for a trivia night or a long trip, #TrainTeasers will both test your knowledge of this country`s rail system and enlighten you on the most colourful aspects of its long history. Meet trunk murderers, trainspotters, haters of railways, railway writers, Ministers for Transport good and bad, railway cats, dogs and a railway penguin. This is NOT a book for number-crunching nerds. Many of the answers are guessable by the intelligent reader. It is a quiz, yes, but also a cavalcade of historical incident and colour relating to a system that was the making of modern Britain. The disappointing outcome of this intervention came in July 1937, when a Royal Commission under Lord Peel charged with investigating the unrest in Palestine proposed to partition the country, creating a small Jewish state in about 17 percent of the territory, from which over two hundred thousand Arabs would be expelled (expulsion was euphemized as “transfer”). Under this scheme, the rest of the country was to remain under British control or be handed over to Britain’s client, Amir ‘Abdullah of Transjordan, which from a Palestinian perspective amounted to much the same thing. Once again, the Palestinians had been treated as if they had no national existence and no collective rights.

My uncle had been right. In the months after his exile and the mass arrests of others, the revolt entered its most intense phase, and British forces lost control of several urban areas and much of the countryside, which were taken over and governed by the rebels.63 In the words of Dill’s successor, Lieutenant General Robert Haining, in August 1938, “The situation was such that civil administration of the country was, to all practical purposes, non-existent.”64 In December, Haining reported to the War Office that “practically every village in the country harbours and supports the rebels and will assist in concealing their identity from the Government Forces.”65 It took the full might of the British Empire, which could only be unleashed when more troops became available after the Munich Agreement in September 1938, and nearly a year more of fierce fighting, to extinguish the Palestinian uprising.In this first decade of the twentieth century, a large proportion of the Jews living in Palestine were still culturally quite similar to and lived reasonably comfortably alongside city-dwelling Muslims and Christians. They were mostly ultra-Orthodox and non-Zionist, mizrahi (eastern) or Sephardic (descendants of Jews expelled from Spain), urbanites of Middle Eastern or Mediterranean origin who often spoke Arabic or Turkish, even if only as a second or third language. In spite of marked religious distinctions between them and their neighbors, they were not foreigners, nor were they Europeans or settlers: they were, saw themselves, and were seen as Jews who were part of the indigenous Muslim-majority society.6 Moreover, some young European Ashkenazi Jews who settled in Palestine at this time, including such ardent Zionists as David Ben-Gurion and Yitzhak Ben-Zvi (one became prime minister and the other the president of Israel), initially sought a measure of integration into the local society. Ben-Gurion and Ben-Zvi even took Ottoman nationality, studied in Istanbul, and learned Arabic and Turkish. The al-Khalidi family, Tal al-Rish, circa 1930: Top row from left: Ismail (the author’s father), Ya‘coub, Hasan (holding Samira), Husayn (holding Leila), Ghalib. Middle row: ‘Anbara, Walid, Um Hasan (the author’s grandmother), Sulafa, Hajj Raghib (his grandfather), Nash’at, Ikram. Bottom row: ‘Adel, Hatim, Raghib, Amira, Khalid, and Mu‘awiya. In a confidential September 1919 memo (not publicly known until its publication over three decades later in a collection of documents on the interwar period45), Balfour set out for the cabinet his analysis of the complications Britain had created for itself in the Middle East as a result of its conflicting pledges. On the multiple contradictory commitments of the Allies—including those embodied in the Husayn-McMahon correspondence, the Sykes-Picot Agreement, and the Covenant of the League of Nations—Balfour was scathing. After summarizing the incoherence of British policy in Syria and Mesopotamia, he bluntly assessed the situation in Palestine:

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