The Lessons of the 1929 Hebron Massacre

Aug. 28 2019

On Friday August 23, 1929, Arabs armed with clubs and swords attacked Jews throughout Jerusalem. The next day, Arabs in Hebron rioted, killing some 67 Jews, injuring another 50, desecrating synagogues, and mutilating their victims. The British authorities convened a board of inquiry, which came to be known as the Shaw commission, to investigate. Douglas Feith and Sean Durns point to a familiar blind spot in the commission’s conclusions:

The commission noted that Arab objections to Zionism were ideological, comprehensive, intense, and inflexible. In its report, it nonetheless devoted thousands of words to minute details of specific Arab grievances. It plumbed complaints that Jews, on one occasion, brought a chair to Jerusalem’s Western Wall and, on another, set up a screen there to divide male and female worshipers.

All this brings to mind the story of a man who thoroughly detests his wife but makes his case for divorce on the grounds that she doesn’t put the cap back on the toothpaste tube. Obviously, what he gripes about is not what accounts for his detestation. Confusion on this score was characteristic of Middle East policy officials in 1929, and it still is.

Today’s conventional wisdom holds that Palestinian–Israeli peace will result from resolving the “final-status issues” (borders, water rights, security arrangements, settlements, etc.). This is to assume away profound Muslim religious and Arab national objections to Israel’s very existence. It is like believing that the man detests his wife because of the toothpaste cap. . . .

Similarly, today, enemies of the Jewish state blame anti-Israel terrorism less on the terrorists and jihadist ideology than on defensive actions by Israel—building security barriers and operating checkpoints in and around the West Bank and Gaza, for example—which are described as “provocations” that fuel Palestinian resentment. To commemorate the 1929 riots is to refute the common error that the conflict is about the “occupation” that began in 1967. Arab anti-Zionist violence predates not only 1967 but Israel’s birth in 1948. It started even before the Hebron massacre.

Read more at National Review

More about: Anti-Semitism, Hebron, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Mandate Palestine


Syria’s Druze Uprising, and What It Means for the Region

When the Arab Spring came to Syria in 2011, the Druze for the most part remained loyal to the regime—which has generally depended on the support of religious minorities such as the Druze and thus afforded them a modicum of protection. But in the past several weeks that has changed, with sustained anti-government protests in the Druze-dominated southwestern province of Suwayda. Ehud Yaari evaluates the implications of this shift:

The disillusionment of the Druze with Bashar al-Assad, their suspicion of militias backed by Iran and Hizballah on the outskirts of their region, and growing economic hardships are fanning the flames of revolt. In Syrian Druze circles, there is now open discussion of “self-rule,” for example replacing government offices and services with local Druze alternative bodies.

Is there a politically acceptable way to assist the Druze and prevent the regime from the violent reoccupation of Jebel al-Druze, [as they call the area in which they live]? The answer is yes. It would require Jordan to open a short humanitarian corridor through the village of al-Anat, the southernmost point of the Druze community, less than three kilometers from the Syrian-Jordanian border.

Setting up a corridor to the Druze would require a broad consensus among Western and Gulf Arab states, which have currently suspended the process of normalization with Assad. . . . The cost of such an operation would not be high compared to the humanitarian corridors currently operating in northern Syria. It could be developed in stages, and perhaps ultimately include, if necessary, providing the Druze with weapons to defend their territory. A quick reminder: during the Islamic State attack on Suwayda province in 2018, the Druze demonstrated an ability to assemble close to 50,000 militia men almost overnight.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Druze, Iran, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy