Espanol / English

Middle East Near You

Corbyn urges ‘increasing pressure’ on Israel in Balfour centenary statement

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn [Chatham House/Flickr]

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has urged “increasing international pressure” to be brought to bear to end Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in a statement released yesterday evening to mark the Balfour Declaration centenary.

The full statement by the Leader of the Opposition is as follows:

Today marks the centenary of the British government’s Balfour Declaration, which has shaped the modern history of the Middle East.

The fact that this promise by what was then colonial Britain is celebrated by one side and commemorated as a disaster by the other reflects the continuing tragedy at the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Balfour promised to help establish a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine while pledging that nothing would be done to prejudice the rights of its “existing non-Jewish communities”, a reference to the Palestinian Arabs who then made up 90% of the population.

A hundred years on, the second part of Britain’s pledge has still not been fulfilled, and Britain’s historic role means we have a special responsibility to the Palestinian people, who are still denied their basic rights.

So let us mark the Balfour anniversary by recognising Palestine as a step towards a genuine two state solution of the Israel-Palestine conflict, increasing international pressure for an end to the 50-year occupation of the Palestinian territories, illegal settlement expansion and the blockade of Gaza.

As many Israelis and Palestinians believe, there can only be a lasting peace in the Middle East on the basis of a negotiated settlement that delivers justice and security for both peoples and states.

Read: Britain must atone for the Balfour declaration – and 100 years of suffering

Categories
Europe & RussiaIsraelMiddle EastNewsPalestineUK
  • Johnson11b

    The day after the UN Partition Resolution in November 1947, some racist, xenophobic Palestinians started a genocidal war to exterminate the Jews. Haj Amin el-Husseini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem – “I declare a holy war, my Muslim brothers! Murder the Jews! Murder them all!”

    The war started with Palestinians attacking a Jewish bus driving on the Coastal Plain near Kfar Sirkin killing five and wounding others. Half an hour later they ambushed a second bus from Hadera, killing two more. Arab snipers attacked Jewish buses in Jerusalem and Haifa.

    Wars create refugees!

    • Fred Mace

      Naturally they would. Their land was stolen you div

      • charliematerne

        Not much on reading history are you?

      • SHELDON BUCHMAN

        Could you be a little more explicit or for a better word explain.

      • SHELDON BUCHMAN

        Enough is not said, 750,000 Jews were expelled from their homes in the M.E. And the attacks by the Jews was in retaliation
        to the murders and massacres of the Jews, it’s called an “eye for an eye” is it not. You kick me and I will kick you back.

    • hollywoodjeff

      Before the war started, my historically challenged friend, more than a month before Israel declared its statehood, the Jewish terrorist group, the Irgun led by prime minister to be, Menachem Begin, massacred more that 100 Palestinian civilians in the village of Deir Yassin on the outskirts of Jerusalem and dragged some of the survivors through the streets of Jerusalem’s Old City to serve as an example of what would happen to Palestinians if they did not flee their homes and villages and Begin later confirmed that in his memoir, “Revolt.” The Zionists went on to destroy more than 500 villages, all of which appear in maps before 1948, and ethnically cleanse over 750,000 Palestinians from their homeland,

      That this occurred within three years of the liberation of Europe’s Jewish survivors from the Nazi concentration camps is difficult to contemplate in retrospect nor can it be rationalized or justified by the statements of the Mufti who the Palestinian victims had no role in selecting.

      • si91

        You’re forgetting that Arabs were attacking Jews in Mandatory Palestine even before it declared independence, culminating in the 1948 War of Independence, in which many Arabs were evicted thanks to the war they started, though many fled at the behest of the invading Arab armies, who wanted to evacuate them – a fact confirmed by Mahmoud Abbas and other Arab leaders like Syrian PM Khalid al-Azm. The only ethnic cleansing that was going on at this time was that of the Jews of the Arab world, whose communities dating back thousands of years were destroyed, and their inhabitants forced to flee to Israel, while the Jordanian and Egyptian armies were kicking Jews out of Judea and Samaria, Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.

        • hollywoodjeff

          Like their attack on the Jews in Deir Yassin on April 8, five weeks before statehood was declared where over a hundred civilians were killed and the survivors dragged through the Old City (which was Jerusalem until the greedy Zionists gobbled it up and expanded it to three times its size in 1967)? Oh, did I say “attack on the Jews?” No, you hasbara troll, it was the Jews of the Irgun led by Begin who proudly claimed to be a terrorist.

          As for the flight of the Jews from Arab states, that was part of Israel’s plan because they needed the Mizrahim and Sephardim for cheap labor and, as it turned out, for scientific experiments, a la the Nazis. Most of them would have been all too happy to have remained in their home countries but the racist Ashkenazis who held them in contempt didn’t bother to consult them. The well off Iraqi Jews had to be encouraged to come by a Mossad placed bomb as you might recall and the Yemenis received free flights, the first refugees ever granted such service. It was all downhill for them of course, once they arrived.

      • Misterioso

        For the record:

        Palestinians rejected the Partition Plan (UNGA Res. 181, Nov. 29/47) for entirely justified reasons based on international law. While Jews made up just 31% of the population (90% of foreign origin, only 30% had become citizens, thousands were illegal immigrants) and privately owned only between 6% and 7% of the land, the Partition Plan (recommendatory only, no legal foundation, contrary to the British Class A Mandate and the Atlantic Charter, never adopted by the UNSC) outrageously recommended they receive 56% of Palestine (including its most fertile areas) in which Palestinians made up 45% of the population. (10% of Palestine’s Jewish population consisted of native Palestinian/Arab Jews who were anti-Zionist.)

        48% of the total land area of mandated Palestine was privately owned (‘mulk khaas’) by Palestinian Arabs. As noted, total Jewish privately owned land was only between 6% and 7%. About 45% of the total land area was state owned, i.e. by citizens of Palestine, and it was comprised of Communal Property (‘mashaa’), Endowment Property, (‘waqf’), and Government Property, (‘miri’.) (The British Mandate kept an extensive land registry and the UN used the registry during its early deliberations. It has in its archives 453,000 records of individual Palestinian owners defined by name, location & area.)

        Although Palestinian Arab citizens made up at least 69% of the population and to repeat, privately owned 48% of the land, the Partition Plan recommended they receive only 42% as a state. (The 2% of Palestine comprised of Jerusalem and Bethlehem was to be placed under international control, a corpus separatum.)

        Land ownership by Sub-district in all of mandated Palestine, 1947:
        Acre: 87% Palestinian Arab owned, 3% Jewish owned, 10% state owned; Safed: 68% Palestinian Arab owned, 18% Jewish owned, 14% state owned; Haifa: 42% Palestinian Arab owned, 35% Jewish owned, 23% state owned; Nazareth: 52% Palestinian Arab owned, 28% Jewish owned, 20% state owned; Tiberias: 51% Palestinian Arab owned, 38% Jewish owned, 11% state owned; Jenin: 84% Palestinian Arab owned, less than 1% Jewish owned, 16% state owned; Beisan: 44% Palestinian Arab owned, 34% Jewish owned, 22% state owned; Tulkarm: 78% Palestinan Arab owned; 17% Jewish owned, 5% state owned; Nablus: 87% Palestinian Arab owned, less than 1% Jewish owned, 13% state owned; Jaffa: 47% Palestinian Arab owned, 39% Jewish owned, 14% state owned; Ramleh: 77% Palestinian Arab owned, 14% Jewish owned, 9% state owned; Ramallah: 99% Palestinian Arab owned, less than 1% Jewish owned, less than 1% state owned; Jerusalem (West and East): 84% Palestinian Arab owned, 2% Jewish owned, 14% state owned; Gaza: 75% Palestinian Arab owned, 4% Jewish owned, 21% state owned; Hebron: 96% Palestinian Arab owned, less than 1% Jewish owned, 4% state owned; Bersheeba (Negev): 15% Palestinian Arab owned, less than 1% Jewish owned, 85% state owned. (Village Statistics, Jerusalem: Palestine Government, 1945; subsequently published as United Nations Map no. 94b, August, 1950)

        Population of and land ownership in West and East Jerusalem in 1947:
        The total population of West Jerusalem (the New City) and East Jerusalem (the Old City) and their environs was about 200,000 with a slight Arab majority. (Professor Walid Khalidi, Harvard, “Plan Dalet,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Autumn, 1988, p. 17)

        The total land area of West Jerusalem (the New City) in 1947 was 19,331 dunams (about 4,833 acres) of which 40 per cent was owned by Palestinian Muslims and Christians, 26.12 per cent by Jews and 13.86 per cent by others, including Christian communities. Government and municipal land made up 2.90 per cent and roads and railways 17.12 per cent.

        East Jerusalem (the Old City) consisted of 800 dunams (about 240 acres) of which five dunams (just over one acre) were Jewish owned and the remaining 795 dunams were owned by Palestinian Muslims and Christians. (“Assessing Palestinian Property in the City,” by Dalia Habash and Terry Rempel, Jerusalem 1948: The Arab Neighbourhoods and their Fate in the War, edited by Salim Tamari, The Institute of Jerusalem Studies, 1999, map, pp. 184-85)

        In short, Palestinians were entirely justified and in full accordance with international law when they rejected the Partition Plan.

        Rubbing salt into the wound, the United States quashed a proposal based on international law put forth by Arab delegates at the UN that a referendum be conducted in Palestine to determine the wishes of the majority regarding the Partition Plan. The United States also thwarted their request to have the matter referred to the International Court of Justice.

        In response to Palestinians’ angry response to the Partition Plan, on 5 December 1947, Ben-Gurion, leader of the Yishuv (the Jewish community in Palestine), ordered “immediate action to expand Jewish settlement in three areas assigned to the Arab state: the South West (Negev), the South-East (Etzion bloc) and Western Galilee.” (Political and Diplomatic Documents of the Jewish Agency, 1947- 48, no. 12). Thus, Ben-Gurion revealed that the Jewish Agency had no intention of abiding by the terms of the Partition Plan.

        In his December 13/47 dispatch to London, Sir Alan Cunningham, the British High Commissioner to Palestine blamed the Yishuv for the deteriorating situation and loss of life: “The initial Arab outbreaks were spontaneous and unorganized and were more demonstrations of displeasures at the UN decision than determined attacks on Jews. The weapons initially employed [by Palestinians] were sticks and stones and had it not been for Jewish resource to firearms, it is not impossible that the excitement would have subsided and little loss of life caused…. [T]here is reliable evidence that the Arab Higher Committee as a whole and the Mufti in particular, were not in favour of serious outbreaks.” (MEC: Cunningham Papers, box 2, file 3)

        Ben-Gurion agreed with Cunningham. In a letter dated 15 December 1947 to Moshe Sharett, head of the political department of the Jewish Agency, he stated: “The [Palestinian] peasant masses are not taking part in the riots.” (Three months later in a letter to Sharett and Golda Meir he observed: “The [Palestinian] Arabs in their great majority are not seeking war with us.”)

        Shortly after Britain’s announcement that it intended to withdraw from Palestine beginning 15 May 1948, Ben-Gurion directed the Irgunists, Sternists and Palmach to increase the ferocity of their strikes against Palestinian Arabs. He ordered that “in each attack, a decisive blow should be struck, resulting in the destruction of homes and the expulsion of the population.” (Ben-Gurion’s Diary-in Hebrew, vol. 1, 19 December 1947) The Zionists were implementing what they called Plans A, B and C or Tochnit May (Plan May), more commonly known as Plan Gimmel. Its objectives were to buy time for the mobilization of Jewish forces by seizing strategic points the British vacated and to terrorize the Palestinian population into submission. (Harvard Professor Walid Khalidi, Haven to Conquest, p.lxxix)

        On December 13, the Irgun carried out coordinated assaults in Jerusalem, Jaffa, and the village of Tireh near Haifa, killing 35 Palestinian civilians and wounding many more. The 14 December issue of the New York Times observed that “The hope for a decrease in tension, arising from Arab reaction to the United States decision on partition of Palestine, seemed destroyed by the Irgun Zvai Leumi terrorist bombings of Arabs yesterday.” (John Quigley, Palestine and Israel…, p. 41)

        On December 19, as ordered by the Jewish Agency, the Haganah’s Palmach killed ten Palestinian civilians (including five children) at the village of Khisas and “…this crime was in no sense the sudden deed of hotheads but part of a considered policy which had been preceded by debate, and was finally ordered by the highest authorities of the Jewish Agency and Haganah.” (Sykes, Crossroads to Israel, p. 337)

        The next day, the Palmach dynamited the home of one of the elders in the village of Qazaza in central Palestine, killing five children and on December 29, Irgunists murdered 17 Palestinian civilians by throwing grenades into a crowd at Herod’s Gate in Jerusalem.

        “On 30 December, a British intelligence observer reported that the Haganah was moving fast to exploit Palestinian weaknesses and disorganization, especially in Haifa and Jaffa, and to render them ‘completely powerless’ so as to force them into flight.” (A report by G.J. Jenkins, 30 Dec.,1947, British Embassy, Cairo, PRO,FO 371/68366,E458)

        December 30 was an especially bloody day for Arabs and Jews. It began with the deaths of six Palestinian workers and the wounding of 42 at the Haifa oil refinery as the result of a grenade attack by the Irgun. In reprisal, surviving Palestinians killed 41 Jewish workers and the Haganah retaliated by entering the village of Balad al-Sheikh, near Haifa, disguised as Arabs and murdering 60 Palestinians, including women and children. The Haganah’s motives were noted by a British officer: “On 30 December, a British intelligence observer reported that the Haganah was moving fast to exploit Palestinian weaknesses and disorganization, especially in Haifa and Jaffa, and to render them ‘completely powerless’ so as to force them into flight.” (A report by G.J. Jenkins, 30 Dec.,1947, British Embassy, Cairo, PRO,FO 371/68366,E458,

        On January 4/48, two members of the Stern Gang detonated a car bomb and blew up the Grand Serai in Jaffa which housed government offices, killing 26 Palestinian civilians, including several children; on January 5 the Palmach blew up the Semiramis Hotel in the Katamon District of West Jerusalem murdering the Spanish Consul and 20 Palestinians, including women and children. The Haganah claimed the hotel was” a base for marauding Arab gangs and headquarters of the Arab military youth organization,” The British, however, found the accusation “entirely without foundation” and called the bombing “wholesale murder of innocent people.” (Palumbo TPC, p. 98).

        Ben-Gurion knew what had to be done to drive out Palestine’s Arabs. At the beginning of 1948, he wrote in his diary: “During the assault we must be ready to strike a decisive blow; that is, either destroy the town or expel its inhabitants so our people can replace them.” (Yoram Nimrod, Meetings at the Crossroads: Jews and Arabs in Palestine During Recent Generations, in Hebrew, Haifa: University of Haifa, 1984)

        For the record: Ben-Gurion’s response to the 1937 Peel Report proved beyond any doubt that he was also a strong advocate of “transfer” and/or expulsion (without compensation). During the summer of 1937, he ordered Elimelech Slikowitz (aka “Avnir”), the Haganah commander of Tel Aviv to come up with a strategy for the military takeover of all of Palestine. What is known as the “Avnir plan” was the model for Plan Dalet, which became the master plan for the eventual dispossession and expulsion of Palestinians. I was implemented in early April, 1948.

        On 6 February 1948, while addressing a meeting of the Mapai Party Council Ben-Gurion stressed the necessity of establishing Jewish settlements in the mountains around Jerusalem and the hills surrounding the coastal plains. When a member of the audience pointed out that the Partition Plan had not given those areas to the proposed Jewish state, he responded: “The war will give us the land. The concepts of ‘ours’ and ‘not ours’ are peace concepts, only, and in war they lose their whole meaning.” (Ben-Gurion, War Diary, Vol. l, entry dated 6 February 1948, pp. 210-11)

        Speaking to the same group the next day, Ben-Gurion expressed his pleasure at the fact the western parts of Jerusalem (Lifta and Romema) had been emptied of Arabs and replaced by Jews. He then speculated that “[w]hat had happened in Jerusalem…is likely to happen in many parts of the country…in the six, eight or ten months of the campaign there will certainly be great changes in the composition of the population in the country.” (Ben-Gurion, War Diary, Vol. l, entry dated 7 February 1948, pp. 210-11)

        In 1944 and 1947, the basis of Plan Dalet (Plan D) was formulated by Israeli staff officer Yigal Yadin. He described its top priorities as “the destruction of Arab villages near the Jewish settlements and the expulsion of the inhabitants [along with] the domination of the main arteries of transportation that are vital to the Jews and the destruction of Arab villages near them. [Plan D also called for the] siege of Arab towns that are located outside the [Jewish] state created by the UN resolution [Acre and Jaffa].” (Hadashot, 11 January, 1985; quoted by Michael Palumbo, The Palestinian Catastrophe, p. 40)

        In 1947, Plan D was finalized when Zionist military planners finished mapping and cataloguing every Arab town and village in Palestine, including its location, strategic nature and importance. (David Ben-Gurion, Rebirth and Destiny of Israel, Philosophical Library, 1954, p.239)

        According to The Official History of the Haganah, Plan D instructed the Haganah that “[Palestinian villages that resist] should be destroyed…and their inhabitants expelled beyond the borders of the Jewish state. [As well,] Palestinian residents of urban quarters which dominate access to or egress from the towns should be expelled beyond the borders of the Jewish state in the event of their resistance.” (Benzion Dinur, ed. Sefer Toldot Ha-Haganah, 8 volumes, Zionist Library-Marakot,1954-72, lll, pp. 1472-5, appendix 48, pp. 1955-60)

        Plan D called for those areas outside of the UN proposed Jewish state, including Jaffa and the towns and villages of Qalqilyah, Tulkarm, Acre, Nazareth, Lydda, Ramleh, Bethlehem, Beit Jala, and Hebron to be put under siege and occupied. Also, all of the villages between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and the Palestinian sections of the Holy City, including its environs were to be conquered. (Benzion Dinur, ed. Sefer Toldot Ha-Haganah (8 vols), Zionist Library-Marakot, 1954-72,vol. lll, pp. 1472-5, appendix 48, pp. 1955-60)

        When Plan D was put into effect the commanders in the field knew they were carrying out the wishes of Ben-Gurion and the Jewish Agency. According to Ben-Gurion’s biographer, Michael Bar-Zohar, “in internal discussions, in instructions to his men, the Old Man (Ben-Gurion) demonstrated a clear position: It would be better that as few a number as possible of Arabs would remain in the territory of the [Jewish] state.” (Bar-Zohar, Ben-Gurion, Vol.2, p. 703)

        While speaking to the Zionist Actions Committee on 6 April 1948, Ben-Gurion declared: “We will not be able to win the war if we do not, during the war, populate upper and lower, eastern and western Galilee, the Negev and Jerusalem area….I believe that war will also bring in its wake a great change in the distribution of the Arab population.” (Ben-Gurion, Behilahem Yisrael [As Israel fought], Tel Aviv: Mapai Press, 1952, pp. 86-87)

        Plan Dalet was to be launched once the Haganah had sufficient men under arms but not before British military strength had been reduced enough to enable it to operate with a minimum of interference. Success also required enough time before the end of the mandate to enable Zionist forces (under the umbrella of British troops) to expel as many Palestinians as possible from the Jewish state and make substantial inroads into what the U.N. had conceived as a Palestinian state. Plan Dalet consisted of thirteen specific full-scale operations of which eight were outside the area the United Nations had recommended comprise the proposed Jewish state and if each one had been successful the Zionists would have occupied all of Palestine in 1948. (Harvard Professor, Walid Khalidi, “Plan Dalet”)

        By the end of March, six weeks before the termination of the Mandate, everything was in place. “On April 2, 1948, General Israel Galili, head of the Haganah General Staff (later the Israeli Defence Force) announced a plan for a concentrated offensive involving ‘operations of conquest and occupation’ intended, among other things, to ‘cleanse’ the area of Arab inhabitants. Zionist forces would conduct a holding operation while they simultaneously ‘softened up’ the Palestinians and, through terror, undermined the morale of the civilian population.” (Maariv, May 6, 1973)

        On April 9, 1948, the massacre of about 120 Palestinian Arabs at Deir Yassin took place. It would prove to be only one of several massacres of Palestinians. Israeli history researcher, Uri Milstein, celebrated in Israel as the dispeller of myths, confirms the evaluation regarding the volume of massacres reported by another Israeli historian, Ariyeh Yitzhaki, and goes further: ” If Yitzhaki claims that there were murders in almost every [Palestinian] village, then I say up to the inception of Israel, every event of fighting ended in a massacre of Arabs. There were massacres of Arabs in all of Israel’s wars, but I have no doubt that the War of Independence was the dirtiest.” Dov Joseph, a later Minister of
        Justice of Israel called the Deir Yassin massacre a “deliberate and unprovoked attack”, while the noted British historian, Professor Arnold Toynbee described it as ‘” comparable to crimes committed against the Jews by the Nazis.”

        No wonder Palestinians rejected the Partition Plan. Indeed, it proved so unworkable that when Polish born David Ben-Gurion (nee, David Gruen) et al. declared the “Jewish State” of Israel effective 15 May 1948 (after Jewish forces had already dispossessed and expelled 400,000 Palestinians – e.g., 30,000 from West Jerusalem in March (and a further 30,000 in May), 60,000 from Haifa in April, 75,000 from Jaffa in late April and early May), the UNGA was in the process of shelving the Partition Plan in favor of a UN Trusteeship.

        When war erupted due to necessary intervention by reluctant outnumbered/outgunned Arab state armies to stem the accelerating expulsion of Palestinians, a US proposed cease-fire was accepted by the Arab League but rejected by Israel.

        During the war Israel seized 78% of Palestine (22% more than the Partition Plan recommended, including large portions of the proposed Palestinian state, e.g., Jaffa and Acre), expelled 400,000 more Palestinians for a total of about 800,000 (according to Walter Eytan, then Director General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry) and went on to destroy over 500 of their towns and villages, including churches, mosques and cemeteries. It was only the beginning of the Zionist’s conquest of Palestine and the expulsion of its indigenous Arab inhabitants.

        BTW, The repeated assertion by Israel’s leaders and other Zionists that Palestinians fled their homes and properties in 1948 because they were told to do so by Arab leaders to make way for incoming Arab armies has long-since been debunked. To quote John H. Davis, who served as Commission-General of UNRWA at the time: “An exhaustive examination of the minutes, resolutions, and press releases of the Arab League, of the files of leading Arabic newspapers, of day-to-day monitoring of broadcasts from Arab capitals and secret Arab radio stations, failed to reveal a single reference, direct or indirect, to an order given to the Arabs of Palestine to leave. All the evidence is to the contrary; that the Arab authorities continuously exhorted the Palestinian Arabs not to leave the country…. Panic and bewilderment played decisive parts in the flight. But the extent to which the refugees were savagely driven out by the Israelis as part of a deliberate master-plan has been insufficiently recognized.” (John H. Davis, The Evasive Peace, London: Murray, 1968)

        Just before and during their first invasion of Egypt in 1956 (in collusion with Britain and France), Israeli forces expelled about 25,000 more Palestinians and during and after the war it launched on 5 June 1967, Israel expelled an additional approximately 250,000.

        Enough said!!

      • SHELDON BUCHMAN

        My gullible challenged anti-Semite, let’s get something straight , WHO attacked who in 1948? Begin had enough when he
        went into Deir Yassin where there had been a 5 month blockade of food and water leading into several villages surrounding
        Jerusalem. He also was sick and tired of the killings, progroms and attacks from the 20’s by their Arab neighbors.
        It’s sad that some women and children died, but they were prewarned to get out by loadspeakers prior to the attack.
        Some left but the remainder stayed, and the rest is history. Are you also referring to the 750,000 Jews that were thrown
        out of their birth countries by their Arab neighbors?

      • SHELDON BUCHMAN

        This was also a warning to the rest of the Arab world, that what happened in Europe would never happen again.

  • Fred Mace

    Well done JC for standing with the oppressed.

  • Pepper Wingate

    It also promised to respect the rights of the Jews in other nations. So, when Jews were expelled from neighbouring states and dispossessed, it is only right that they should have gone to Israel.

  • Kaminoyona

    Yes, let your Jew hate flow….

  • Misterioso

    THE HEBRON RIOTS, 1929:
    In 1925, Vladimir Jabotinsky, a Zionist zealot from Poland, founded the fascistic Betar or Brown Shirts along with the Revisionist Party (origin of today’s Likud) which advocated “revision” of the British Mandate to include forcible Jewish colonization of then Transjordan in addition to Palestine. Such Jewish extremism, along with the racist rants of Rabbi Kook and threats against the Dome of the Rock by Revisionist demonstrators led to the terrible and bloody riots of 1929.

    Vincent Sheean, an eminent American journalist who arrived in Palestine as a pro-Zionist just days before the 1929 riots erupted, was shocked at what he saw: As he later wrote: “I was bitterly indignant with the Zionists for having, as I believed, brought on the disaster…. [W]hy couldn’t the Zionists leave it [Palestine] alone, it would never hold enough Jews to make even a beginning towards the solution of the Jewish problem; it would always be a prey to such ghastly horrors as those I saw everyday and every night….” (Vincent Sheean, Personal History, New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc. 1935)

    Hundreds of Hebron’s Jews were taken in and protected by Muslims. Tragically, 64 of Hebron’s Jews died, but 650 were saved by their Muslim neighbours and police. Throughout the country, total of 133 Jews were killed and 339 wounded while Palestinians suffered 116 dead and 232 wounded.

    Bitterly ironic is the fact that most Jews living in Hebron in 1929 were anti-Zionist. They were the descendants of the Sephardim who had founded the city’s Jewish Quarter near the tomb of the Patriarchs in the 1500s after Jews were expelled from Spain and then welcomed and given sanctuary in the Arab world. Their numbers increased somewhat during the early 1900’s with the arrival of Hasidim from Poland who came to study. Many Muslims who were driven out of Spain by the Christians also moved to Hebron. Prior to Zionism, Jews and Muslims lived together harmoniously in Hebron for 400 years with the Jews always forming a small minority. There were very few if any Christians in the city.

    In 1930, a report issued by a British commission of enquiry attributed the 1929 clashes to the fact that the Palestinians “have come to see in Jewish immigration not only a menace to their livelihood but a possible overlord of the future.” (Another 1930 British report, trying to find a way to reduce tension between Zionist alien Jews and native Palestinians, revealed that there was no additional land available for agricultural settlement by new Jewish immigrants.)

    The friendship that existed between Muslims and Jews in Hebron was attested to by Israeli journalist, Chaim Hanegbi, whose great grandfather was the city’s last Rabbi: “My grandfather lived very peacefully with his Arab neighbours…. His family joined the grape harvest every year, and the [Muslim] neighbours cooked kosher food so the Jews could share the feasts with them.” (Canada’s Globe and Mail, February 18, 1997)

    It should also be noted that in the spirit of reconciliation, Hebron’s mayor has stated publicly that he and his fellow Muslims would welcome the descendants of the city’s Jews if they choose to return and replace the Zionist fanatics who are now there.

    BTW, according to the Palestine government (British Mandate), Jerusalem, 1945, Jews privately owned a mere one per cent of sub-district Hebron’s land. Palestinians privately owned 96% and state land comprised four per cent.