The Centennial of the Deadly Riots That Shook Mandatory Palestine

One hundred years ago Saturday, a fistfight between two rival Labor Zionist groups gave way to fighting between Jews and Arabs in the Jaffa neighborhood of Manshiya. Oren Kessler describes what followed:

There were now several thousand people in Manshiya, where according to a subsequent commission of inquiry, “a general hunting of the Jews began.” Jews were assaulted—some fatally—in their homes and shops with blunt instruments, and afterward women, children and even the elderly came to loot. Three high-ranking Arab effendis, including the mayor, arrived to calm tempers but found Manshiya’s main street entirely pillaged.

It was nearly a week before order was restored. At least 100 people were dead, almost equally split between Jews and Arabs, with some 150 Jews and 75 Arabs wounded. As far as could be discerned, the fallen Jews were all killed by Arabs. Of the Arabs killed, the majority succumbed to the bullets and bombs of British troops and police. How many, innocent or complicit, were slain by Jews will likely never be determined.

Among those dead was the writer Yosef Ḥayyim Brenner, who not long before had warned of the dangers posed by Arab hostility toward Zionism. The Jaffa riots were not the first such outburst—the Nebi Musa pogrom preceded them by about a year—but they occurred on a greater scale, and presaged not just the Arab revolt of the 1930s, but also the disturbances in Jerusalem last week. To Kessler, the motivation for the violence can be found in a memorandum Arab leaders presented to Winston Churchill, then the British colonial secretary, in March 1921:

Jews, it said, were “clannish and unneighborly,” active across the globe as “advocates of destruction” who amassed wealth while impoverishing their countries of residence. It recommended he read The Jewish Peril, better known as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The memo’s tone was threatening to the extent of self-sabotage. Yet viewed in hindsight, it was also prophetic. “The Arab is noble and large-hearted, he is also vengeful and never forgets an ill deed. If England does not take up the cause of the Arabs, other powers will,” it said.

Kessler also notes that many Jaffa Arabs “had come under the impression that most Jews were Bolsheviks, and that Bolsheviks opposed property, marriage, and religion itself.”

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Mandate Palestine, Winston Churchill, Yosef Hayyim Brenner

Saudi Arabia Should Open Its Doors to Israeli—and Palestinian—Pilgrims

On the evening of June 26 the annual period of the Hajj begins, during which Muslims from all over the world visit Mecca and perform prescribed religious rituals. Because of the de-jure state of war between Saudi Arabia and the Jewish state, Israeli Muslim pilgrims—who usually number about 6,000—must take a circuitous (and often costly) route via a third country. The same is true for Palestinians. Mark Dubowitz and Tzvi Kahn, writing in the Saudi paper Arab News, urge Riyadh to reconsider its policy:

[I]f the kingdom now withholds consent for direct flights from Israel to Saudi Arabia, it would be a setback for those normalization efforts, not merely a continuation of the status quo. It is hard to see what the Saudis would gain from that.

One way to support the arrangement would be to include Palestinians in the deal. Israel might also consider earmarking its southern Ramon Airport for the flights. After all, Ramon is significantly closer to the kingdom than Ben-Gurion Airport, making for cheaper routes. Its seclusion from Israeli population centers would also help Israeli efforts to monitor outgoing passengers and incoming flights for security purposes.

A pilot program that ran between August and October proved promising, with dozens of Palestinians from the West Bank traveling back and forth from Ramon to Cyprus and Turkey. This program proceeded over the objections of the Palestinian Authority, which fears being sidelined by such accommodations. Jordan, too, has reason to be concerned about the loss of Palestinian passenger dinars at Amman’s airports.

But Palestinians deserve easier travel. Since Israel is willing to be magnanimous in this regard, Saudi Arabia can certainly follow suit by allowing Ramon to be the springboard for direct Hajj flights for Palestinian and Israeli Muslims alike. And that would be a net positive for efforts to normalize ties between [Jerusalem] and Riyadh.

Read more at Arab News

More about: Israel-Arab relations, Israeli Arabs, Palestinians, Saudi Arabia