In , Irgun's David Raziel was killed while fighting in the Kingdom of Iraq with the British against that country's pro-Axis regime. Irgun also provided the British with intelligence from Eastern Europe and North Africa, and allowed members to enlist in the British Army. However, in August , Irgun member Avraham Stern formed Lehi , a breakaway group which favored armed struggle against the British to force them out of Palestine and immediately establish a Jewish state.
Stern was unaware of the Nazis' intent to exterminate the Jews, and believed that Hitler wanted to make Germany judenrein through emigration. Stern proposed an alliance with Nazi Germany, offering the Germans help in conquering the Middle East and driving out the British in exchange for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, which would then take in European Jewry.
During the war, a special paratrooper unit in the British Army composed of Jewish men and women from Palestine was active. The unit's members were sent into occupied Europe, mainly by airdrop, to help organize and participate in local resistance activities on the ground. Some men and women volunteered, of whom underwent training and 37 were infiltrated. In December , when the mass murder of European Jewry became known to the Allies, the British continued to refuse to change their policy of limited immigration, or to admit Jews from Nazi controlled Europe in numbers outside the quota imposed by the White paper, and the Royal Navy prevented ships with Jewish refugees from reaching Palestine.
Some ships carrying Jewish refugees were turned back towards Europe, although in one instance, about 2, Jews who were fleeing Europe by sea were detained in a camp in Mauritius , and were given the option of emigrating to Palestine after the war. At the time that The Holocaust became known to the Allies, there were 34, Jewish immigration certificates for Palestine remaining. In , about half the remaining certificates were distributed, and by the end of the war, 3, certificates remained.
The brigade consisted of nearly 5, volunteers, including three former Palestine Regiment battalions, the th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery and several supporting units. The brigade was dispatched to participate in the Italian campaign in late and later took part in the Spring offensive in Italy against the German forces.
During the British election , Labour pledged that if they returned to power, they would revoke the White Paper of , permit free Jewish immigration to Palestine and even the transfer of Arabs, and turn Palestine into a Jewish national home that would gradually evolve into an independent state. Before the war, Bevin had been the head of Britain's largest trade-union, the TGWU and in this capacity had led a campaign to prevent German Jews being allowed to migrate to Britain. Bevin also believed that displaced Holocaust survivors should be resettled in Europe instead of Palestine.
Due to the British immigration restrictions, the Jewish Agency Executive turned to illegal immigration. Over the next few years tens of thousands of Jews sailed towards Palestine in overcrowded vessels in a program known as Aliyah Bet , despite the almost certain knowledge that it would lead to incarceration in a British prison camp most ships were intercepted. The overwhelming majority were European Jews, including many Holocaust survivors, although some North African Jews were also involved.
In Europe former Jewish partisans led by Abba Kovner began to organize escape routes taking Jews from Eastern Europe down to the Mediterranean where the Jewish Agency organized ships to illegally carry them to Palestine. The British government put diplomatic pressure on Poland , the source of a large number of the Jewish refugees, to clamp down on Jewish emigration, as Poland freely permitted Jews to leave without visas or exit permits, but their efforts proved futile.
From summer to early , five such attacks were carried out, destroying one ship and damaging two others. Two other British mines were discovered before they detonated. In the early stages of illegal immigration, small coastal craft were used to bring in Jewish refugees, but large vessels were soon used. In total, some 60 ships were employed, including 10 ships acquired as war surplus from US boneyards. Among the crews were Jewish American and Canadian volunteers. In order to prevent Jewish illegal migrants reaching Palestine a naval blockade was established to stop boats carrying illegal migrants, and there was extensive intelligence gathering and diplomatic pressure on countries through which the migrants were passing or from whose ports the ships were coming.
When an illegal immigrant ship was spotted, it would be approached by warships, and would often maneuver violently to avoid being boarded. British boarding parties consisting of Royal Marines and Paratroopers would then be sent to take control of the ship. On 27 ships, they were met with some level of resistance, including 13 cases of violent resistance, during which boarding parties were opposed by passengers armed with weapons such as clubs, iron bars, axes, firebombs, scalding steam hoses, and pistols. Royal Navy ships would ram transports, and boarding parties forced their way onto the ships and engaged in close-quarters hand-to-hand fighting to gain control.
In five instances, firearms were used. During these encounters, two Royal Navy warships were damaged in collisions with immigrant ships. Seven British soldiers were killed during battles to take control of immigrant ships — most of whom drowned after being pushed overboard by passengers.
Six passengers were also killed. About 49 illegal immigrant ships were captured and 66, people were detained. In , the Atlit detainee camp was reopened. The camp had been built in the s to hold illegal Jewish immigrants fleeing Europe, and during World War II it had been used to hold Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust, who were often held for an extended period of time before being released. As more and more illegals began arriving in Palestine, the camp was reopened.
In October , a raid by the Palmach freed inmates. One week after the King David hotel bombing in July , four ships carrying 6, illegal immigrants arrived in Haifa , completely overflowing the Atlit camp. About 53, Jews, mostly Holocaust survivors, passed through these holding facilities. British officials in the liberated zones tried to halt Jewish immigration, and did not recognize the Jews as a national group, demanding that they return to their places of origin.
Jewish concentration camp survivors displaced persons or DPs were forced to share accommodation with non-Jewish DPs some of whom were former Nazi collaborators , now seeking asylum. In some cases former Nazis were given positions of authority in the camps, which they used to abuse the Jewish survivors. In the British zone they were refused support on the grounds that they were not displaced by the war.
Troops in the U. President Harry S. Truman sent a personal representative, Earl G. Harrison , to investigate the situation of the Jewish survivors in Europe. Harrison reported,. It cannot be overemphasized that many of these people are now desperate, that they have become accustomed under German rule to employ every possible means to reach their end, and that the fear of death does not restrain them. The Harrison report changed U. Jews escaping post-war anti-Semitic attacks in Eastern Europe learned to avoid the British zone and generally moved through American zones.
In April , the Anglo-American Committee of Enquiry reported that given a chance, half a million Jews would immigrate to Palestine:. In Poland, Hungary and Rumania, the chief desire is to get out The vast majority of the Jewish displaced persons and migrants, however, believe that the only place which offers a prospect is Palestine. A survey of Jewish DPs found President Truman pressured the British to accede to this demand. Despite British government promises to abide by the committee's decision, the British decided to persist with restrictions on Jewish migration.
Foreign Secretary Bevin remarked that the American pressure to admit , Jews into Palestine was because "they do not want too many of them in New York". Prime Minister Clement Attlee announced that , Jews would not be permitted into Palestine long as the "illegal armies" of Palestine meaning the Jewish militias were not disbanded. In October , in fulfillment of the recommendation of the Anglo-American Committee, Britain decided to allow a further 96, Jews into Palestine at a rate of 1, a month.
Half this monthly quota was allocated to Jews in the prisons on Cyprus, due to fears that if the number of Jewish prisoners in the Cyprus camps kept growing, it would eventually lead to an uprising there. On July 18, , the Royal Navy intercepted the Exodus a ship laden with 4, refugees en route to Palestine. The passengers resisted violently, and the boarding ended with two passengers and one crewman dead. Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin decided that rather than being sent to Cyprus, the immigrants on board the Exodus would be returned to the ship's port of origin in France.
Bevin believed that sending illegal immigrants to Cyprus, where they then qualified for inclusion into legal immigration quotas to Palestine, only encouraged more illegal immigration. By forcing them to return to their port of origin, Bevin hoped to deter future illegal immigrants. However, the French government announced that it would not permit the disembarkation of passengers unless it was voluntary on their part.
The passengers refused to disembark, spending weeks in difficult conditions. The ship was then taken to Germany , where the passengers were forcibly removed at Hamburg and returned to DP camps. The event became a major media event , influencing UN deliberations, damaging Britain's international image and prestige, and exacerbating the already poor relationship between Britain and the Jews. There is a general agreement among historians that the Jewish underground in Palestine refrained from an opened struggle against Britain, as long as the joint enemy of Germany was still at large.
This approach changed towards the beginning of , with withdrawal of Axis forces from the Mediterranean and the advances of the Red Army in Eastern Front.
With the general feeling that the Axis forces in Europe were nearing their defeat, the Irgun decided to shift its policy from cease-fire to an active campaign of violence, as long as it would not be hurting the war effort against the Nazi Germany. In the autumn of , the Irgun approached Lehi and proposed jointly carrying out an insurrection. The Irgun was now led by Menachem Begin , who had headed Betar in Poland before arriving in Palestine with the Polish forces in exile and going underground.
Begin believed that the only way to save European Jewry was to compel the British to leave Palestine as fast as possible and open the country to unrestricted Jewish immigration. He devised a new strategy designed to pressure the British, proposing a series of spectacular underground operations that would humiliate the British and cause them to respond with repressive measures that would antagonize the Yishuv, alienate Britain's allies, and cause controversy among the British public.
Begin believed that the insurgency would turn Palestine into a "glass house" with the world's attention focused on it, and that the British, faced with a choice between continued repression or withdrawal, would in the end choose to withdraw. So as not to harm the continuing war effort against Nazi Germany, Begin decided to hold off on attacking British military targets until Germany was defeated. On 1 February , the Irgun declared a revolt against British rule, declaring that "there is no longer any armistice between the Jewish people and the British Administration in Eretz Israel which hands our brothers over to Hitler", and demanding the immediate transfer of power to a provisional Jewish government.
Two days later, two British constables were shot dead by Lehi members after stumbling on them pasting up posters and attempting to arrest them. Six days later, a Lehi member was shot and killed by police. With Lehi squads sent out to kill police in retribution, the British security forces remained in their stations.
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On March 23, Lehi members shot and killed two British constables and wounded a third in Jaffa. Three days later, the British reacted by imposing curfews on Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa, and ran identity parades. On April 1, another Jewish constable was killed and a British constable wounded in a Lehi shooting attack. On April 5, Lehi commander Mattityahu Shmulevitz was arrested, but managed to shoot and wound one of the arresting officers.
The rebellion caused growing alarm within the Jewish Agency, which saw the revolt as a challenge to its own authority as the legitimate democratic leadership of the Yishuv, and as a gamble with the future of the Yishuv. On April 2, , the Jewish Agency approved a program of opposition under which efforts would be made to stop "extortion and terror", anti-dissident propaganda would be increased, and attempts would be made to isolate the Irgun and Lehi. In practice, propaganda was increased and assistance was offered to Jews whose contributions had been extorted, but the Jewish Agency failed to take serious measures.
However,it did share intelligence with the authorities. On April 6, police acting on intelligence provided by the Jewish Agency surrounded a Lehi safehouse in Yavne'el and raked it with machine gun fire, mortally wounding one Lehi member while the remaining two shot themselves rather than surrender. Haganah intelligence had operated against the Irgun and Lehi since February but had so far failed to stop their activities. On May 17, the Irgun raided and successfully occupied the central broadcasting station in Ramallah , but the plan to transmit an Irgun broadcast from the station failed after the radioman could not work the equipment.
The British responded to the attacks by instituting searches and snap roadblocks, which became routine in Palestine. Between April 1 and May 6, the security forces arrested 81 suspects, including Aryeh Ben-Eliezer , a member of the Irgun high command, who was arrested on April In spite of this, the underground organizations continued their operations.
On July 14, the Irgun bombed the Land Registry Office in Jerusalem, killing two Arab constables, and the following day an explosives truck was seized and a British constable killed in another Irgun attack.
Although two others in the car were wounded, MacMichael escaped serious injury. The British Army mounted its first cordon and search operation in Palestine on September 5 in Petah Tikva , which was known as an insurgent hotbed. The British arrested 46 people in the operation but failed to find Menachem Begin, who was hiding in Petah Tikva under an assumed name, after failing to search the area where he was hiding.
Begin subsequently moved to Tel Aviv. In response to a British ban on the blowing of the Shofar at the Western Wall that had been imposed in for public security reasons to avoid a violent Arab reaction, the Irgun devised an operation designed to force the British to back down. The Irgun publicly threatened a violent reaction if on September 27, the Yom Kippur holiday, the police attempted to stop the blowing of the shofar. The Irgun in fact had no intention of shooting in the midst of a large Jewish crowd at the Western Wall, but planned a series of attacks on four police Tegart fortresses.
If the British would withdraw in the face of the Irgun threat, the attacks would seem unconnected to the threats of violence at the Western Wall, and if they defied the Irgun and attempted to stop the blowing of the shofar, the attacks on the fortresses would be the Irgun's response. On September 27, the authorities allowed the shofar to be blown at the Western Wall. This represented a major psychological victory for the Irgun, which had successfully coerced a major concession from the British authorities which damaged their credibility. On the same night, the Irgun attacked the fortresses. The attacks on the fortresses at Haifa, Beit Dagon, and Qalqilya failed after collapsing into firefights with the security forces.
One Irgun fighter was wounded in the attack in Haifa and another four in the raid in Qalqilya. The raid on the fortress at Katra was successful. The Irgun attackers broke into the station and killed two British soldiers and two police constables, then made off with the arms and ammunition. In October , the Jewish Agency decided to take action to suppress the insurrection, and the Haganah opened a training course for men to wage an anti-Irgun campaign which would come to be known as the Saison , or "Hunting Season", on October Meanwhile, the British continued to make arrests, with Irgun suspects detained in the previous two months.
On October 21, the British deported Irgun and Lehi suspects in custody to internment camps in Africa , a practice which was to continue up to Although the Jewish Agency publicly protested, it continued to plan the Saison. His British Army chauffeur was also killed in the incident.
The two Lehi gunmen responsible were subsequently arrested, tried, and executed by the Egyptian authorities. The Jewish authorities sharply condemned the assassination. Jewish Agency and Lehi leaders met in secret before the Saison began. While the exact contents of the meeting were disputed by both sides, it is known that Lehi suspended its activities for six months, and the Saison was not extended to Lehi.
In two secret Haganah-Irgun meetings, the Irgun refused Haganah demands to suspend activities against the British, and Begin was unconvinced by the Haganah's insistence that Britain would take action to form a Jewish state after the war. In November , the Haganah launched the Saison.
The Haganah and Jewish Agency also passed extensive intelligence on the Irgun to the British authorities, who were able to make numerous arrests and discover Irgun safehouses and arms caches. More than 1, Irgun members were handed over to the British by the Haganah during the Saison. The Haganah established secret prisons in kibbutzim where it held and interrogated Irgun men it had captured. The Haganah tortured Irgun men in its captivity to gain information. The Saison effectively suspended the Irgun's activities.
However, the Jewish Agency was suspected by the British authorities of using the Saison for political reasons, often handing in information on people it found politically objectionable but who were unconnected with the Irgun. This caused difficulty for the police, which had to find the actual insurgents among those detained.
While there was a strong desire within the Irgun to retaliate, Begin ordered a policy of restraint, insisting that the Jewish Agency would realize with time that the Saison was against the Yishuv's interests. As a result, the Irgun took no retaliatory actions and chose to wait it out. Its ability to act under coercion improved, and new members unknown to the Haganah were brought in.
Over time, the enthusiasm within the Haganah for carrying out the Saison began to decline, especially due to the reports of torture and the necessity of acting as informants for the British. There were a growing number of defections from the Saison campaign. In March , at a meeting of Haganah leaders in charge of the Saison at kibbutz Yagur , it was decided to stop the Saison.
As the Saison wound down, the Irgun was able to resume attacks against the British in May, and successfully carried out widespread telegraph sabotage, blowing up hundreds of telegraph poles. However, attempts to bomb oil pipelines was foiled by the Haganah and an attempt to bomb government targets with clockwork mortars failed after they were discovered by the British, most having already been disabled by heavy rain.
The Haganah ended the Saison in June However, the Irgun was still recovering from the devastating effects of the Saison, and could not yet mount major operations. As a result of the victory of the Labour Party , which was seen as being even more pro-Zionist than the Conservative Party, in the British general election which was held on July 5, the Irgun announced a grace period of a few weeks to allow for a satisfactory British initiative. In October , the Haganah entered into an alliance with the Irgun and ceased cooperation with the British.
In November , units from the Palmach , the Haganah's elite fighting force, as well as Lehi, carried out the Night of the Trains , sabotaging railway networks across Palestine, and blowing up British guard boats in Jaffa and Haifa. The operation symbolized the founding of the Jewish Resistance Movement. In , attacks against the British intensified, and now included military targets. On June 16, , Haganah forces carried out attacks against bridges linking Palestine to the neighboring Arab countries, hoping to stop the transfer of weapons to the Palestinian Arabs. British military and police forces imposed curfews around the country and conducted searches for arms caches and militants in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, and in several dozen Jewish settlements.
The British raided the Jewish Agency headquarters in Jerusalem , confiscating large amounts of paperwork, and arrested Jews suspected of being involved with "terrorism", including leading members of the Jewish Agency, holding them without trial. The Haganah stopped carrying out anti-British operations, officially withdrawing from the Jewish Resistance Movement on July 1, From then on, the Haganah would focus mainly on organizing illegal Jewish immigration to Palestine through its Mossad LeAliyah Bet branch.
However, Irgun and Lehi reacted by intensifying their attacks. As a response to Operation Agatha, Irgun carried out the King David Hotel bombing , an attack on the building where the central branches of the civil and military administration of Palestine were based, killing 91 people. The approval had also been based on the attack being carried out in the evening, whereas it was carried out at the height of the working day when the hotel was most busy. The Irgun blamed the British for not evacuating the hotel, in spite of a warning sent by telephone.
The British government stated that no warning had been received by anyone in a position to act on it. Rather than contacting the British authorities, the warning had been sent to the hotel's own switchboard, where it was ignored, perhaps because hoax warnings were rife at the time. Due to the Irgun not understanding how temperature affected the fuses, the bomb exploded early. Pedestrians outside the hotel were killed as well as people inside it.
No British soldier is to have social intercourse with any Jew I appreciate that these measures will inflict some hardship on the troops, yet I am certain that if my reasons are fully explained to them they will understand their propriety and will be punishing the Jews in a way the race dislikes as much as any, by striking at their pockets and showing our contempt of them " . Barker, whose forces participated in the capture of the Bergen Belsen concentration camp, made many antisemitic comments in his letters to Katy Antonius  and was relieved of his post a few weeks after issuing the statement.
A few months after his return to England, Barker was sent a letter bomb by the Irgun, but detected it before it exploded. The Jewish Agency was issuing constant complaints to the British administration about antisemitic remarks by British soldiers:. Churchill wrote that most British military officers in Palestine were strongly pro-Arab.
A major insurgency erupted, and the Jewish underground was engaged in constant attacks against British military and police forces. The Jewish Agency Executive, led by David Ben-Gurion , the leading authority of the Jews in Palestine, stayed out of the campaign, but mostly refused to cooperate with the British authorities. The main perpetrators of these attacks were the militant groups Lehi also known as the Stern Gang and Irgun. The two groups, which financed their campaigns through bank robberies, extortions, and private donations, attacked British military and police installations, government offices, and ships being used to deport illegal migrants, often with bombs.
In at least one case, a police station was attacked with a large truck bomb. They also sabotaged infrastructure such as railroads, bridges, and oil installations. Jewish insurgents regularly staged killings of British soldiers and police officers throughout Palestine, employing booby traps, ambushes, snipers, vehicle bombings, and shooting attacks.
British armored vehicles faced attacks by remotely detonated IEDs disguised as milestones which blew vehicles off the road and killed or injured occupants. They were seen by the insurgents as their most cost-effective weapon. The Jewish civilian population of Palestine, encouraged by Zionist groups, engaged in riots, strikes, and demonstrations against the British authorities.
The British Army, which eventually had one soldier for every five Jews in Palestine, responded with extensive search operations and raids to arrest militants and uncover illegal arms caches. They regularly imposed curfews, cordons, and collective punishments, and enacted a series of draconian emergency regulations which allowed for arbitrary arrests, to the point that some observers called Palestine a police state. They supplemented their large operations with smaller ones that had the advantage of surprise, including surprise searches of houses and apartments, random identity and baggage checks on public transportation, mobile checkpoints established quickly following attacks, night patrols, and small-scale raids mounted immediately on new intelligence.
The British even deployed special forces in the conflict. Although these operations never managed to quell the insurgency, they did succeed in keeping the insurgents off-balance. In , the British withdrew their personnel into barbed-wire enclosures known as "Bevingrads" for their own security. Even then, Irgun managed to penetrate one such security zone in March and stage a bombing attack on the British Officers' Club in Jerusalem, in the heart of a security zone.
Despite extensive efforts, the British were never able to stop the insurgency. Furthermore, the extreme loyalty of the operatives of these groups made it almost impossible for British intelligence to infiltrate them, and made it difficult for British interrogators to extract information from captured members.
In addition to the militant campaign in Palestine, Irgun and Lehi attacked British targets in Europe and launched bombing attacks Britain itself. In late and early , Irgun carried out a series of sabotage attacks on British Army transportation routes in occupied Germany. At around the same time, an attempt was made by Lehi to drop a bomb on the House of Commons from a chartered plane flown from France ; this attempt was stopped just before it was to be carried out, when French police discovered Lehi members preparing to cross the English Channel in a plane that was found to be carrying a large bomb.
A number of bombs exploded in London, including one at London's Colonial Club, an establishment catering to soldiers and students from British colonies in Africa and the West Indies. The bombing caused no fatalities but injured some servicemen. An attempt was also made to destroy the Colonial Office in London with a large bomb, which malfunctioned after its timer broke. According to a senior police official, it would have caused a death rate similar to that of the King David Hotel bombing had it gone off. Many were intercepted, while others reached their targets but were discovered before they could go off.
The British arrested thousands during their counterinsurgency campaign, often imposing severe prison terms, including for weapons-related offenses. They also began using flogging as a judicial punishment. However, in late December , after an Irgun member was flogged, the group, delivering on a previous threat,  abducted and flogged several British soldiers in return, an event that became known as the Night of the Beatings.
While this caused the British to end the use of flogging, they then began to apply the death penalty against convicted insurgents. Within months, four imprisoned Jewish fighters, including three Irgun men that had been arrested during the Night of the Beatings, were hanged. In some instances, Irgun abducted British soldiers and police officers, and in one instance a judge, and threatened to kill them if executions took place. This tactic succeeded in stopping a few executions. In May , a large prison break was staged when Irgun fighters, in a coordinated attack, blasted a large hole the prison wall, and Jewish prisoners blasted their way out through the doors with smuggled explosives.
Some 28 Jewish prisoners and Arab prisoners escaped. During the operation, nine fighters and escapees were killed, most of them when a getaway truck ran into a British roadblock, and five Irgun fighters and eight escapees were captured. Three out of the five fighters captured were sentenced to death in June; Irgun responded by kidnapping two British sergeants from the Intelligence Corps and threatening to kill them should the sentences be carried out. The British Army carried out extensive search operations.
The Haganah cooperated with the British search effort. The British authorities decided to carry out the executions despite the danger to the hostages. On July 29, , the three were executed , and the next day the two British sergeants were killed in response. Their bodies were then hanged from trees in an orange grove near Netanya , and were booby-trapped with a bomb, which later injured a British officer attempting to cut one of the bodies down. Following this incident, British soldiers and police officers attacked civilians in Tel Aviv, killing five people, and a wave of anti-Semitic rioting swept Britain over the course of several days; the rioting began in Liverpool and spread to other major British cities, including London , Manchester , Cardiff , Derby and Glasgow , causing widespread damage to Jewish property.
The insurgency was coupled with a local and international propaganda campaign to gain sympathy abroad. The Yishuv authorities publicized the plight of Holocaust survivors and British attempts to stop them from migrating to Palestine, hoping to generate negative publicity against Britain around the world. Ben-Gurion publicly stated that the Jewish insurgency was "nourished by despair", that Britain had "proclaimed war against Zionism", and that British policy was "to liquidate the Jews as a people. Its apparatus had completely supplanted the traditional Yishuv the Jewish millet.
It was prepared to take any measures to enlarge its territory and to eliminate its ethnic antagonists. One of its Haganah commanders, Yigael Yadin, had presented the notorious "Plan Dalet" as early as March , which proposed the mass expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and the destruction of their villages to clear the land for Zionist endeavors. Subsequently the Zionists publicized the atrocity and promised more; the Palestinians began to flee their homes en masse.
War broke out on May 14, , one day before the date on which the British planned to end their Mandate. The Israeli Haganah had about the same number of troops as did its Arab opponents taken together, but by all accounts Haganah had superior firepower, and its efforts were better coordinated. By June 11, , the first phase of the war had ended in a UN-sponsored truce. The Israeli cabinet of David Ben-Gurion agreed on June 16 to prevent the return to their homes of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians who had by then been displaced by the war.
The war then resumed; the Palestinians were further displaced. Indeed, according to the UN Relief and Works Agency and others, more than seven hundred thousand Palestinians were displaced as a result of the War. The War is called al-Nakbah the Catastrophe by the Palestinians, an apt characterization. Their community was shattered, the people who fled the Zionist terror were consigned to refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan, and Gaza, hundreds of Palestinian villages were obliterated -- razed to the ground -- and those Palestinians who were permitted to remain within Israel after were subjected to military occupation until The majority of these lived in some one hundred villages and towns in northern Israel, in the region around Nazareth, almost completely separated from the Zionist settlers.
For those inside Israel, there were two main tendencies -- a declining one, which was associated with the traditional political culture of the elites and which gave support to the Mapai the Labor Party ; and a developing one, which was associated with Maki the reconstituted Communist Party. The traditional tendency continued its decline, and even more rapidly than before al-Nakbah, because the elites had been thoroughly discredited by the war, and their base had been largely dissolved by the proletarianization of the Palestinian masses.
The progressive tendency, by contrast, sought to represent the interests of the oppressed Palestinians in Israel while avoiding the pitfalls of what it viewed as the narrow nationalism which supported Gamal Abdel Nasser's Pan-Arabism. This included an ambivalent relationship to al-Ard the Land , a Palestinian nationalist movement which had emerged in the s. Of course this nationalism had progressive aspects the anti-imperialism on the part of the Nasserites and the struggle for democratic rights on the part of al-Ard and regressive aspects the suppression of the communists and other opposition movements by the Nasserites and the romantic isolationist tendencies of al-Ard.
Among the Palestinians in the Diaspora the same ambiguities manifested themselves as the political culture was reestablished. Its political organ was al-Hurriyyah Freedom. The ANM sought to extirpate imperialism and Zionism from the Arab world from Morocco to the Gulf emirates and to create in its place a united Arab state; this would solve the Palestinian problem at the same time. This movement found its greatest support among the Palestinian and wider Arab middle class, a literate class no longer submerged by the effendi and not beholden to any foreign power.
Its magazine was Filastinuna Our Palestine. Of course, pragmatism is itself an ideology. In part this bifurcation reflected the fundamental problem noted earlier of the depth and extent of the domestic market. A solid domestic market is a precondition for a nation- state, and the Palestinians did not have one.
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The question was what to do about that. For these people some form of Pan-Arabism would seem necessary to achieve Palestinian self-determination, either to enlarge the salient territory or to transcend the society which moves in its antagonisms. Others believed that the territory was large enough, but that the people were not strong enough to attain autonomy on their own. At the same time, and not to be outflanked by Kassem, the Summit called for organizing the Palestinians to achieve self-determination.
At its founding conference, it endorsed the Palestinian National Charter. The first Fatah military operation was conducted by al-Asifa the Storm on January 1, , and was directed against the Israeli National Water Project. Thus as tensions between the Arab countries and Israel rose during the mid-sixties, the liberation movement of the Palestinians in the diaspora reflected ambiguities which would only be resolved after the War, called al-Naksah the Setback.
What was clearly a strategic setback for the liberation movement was also an occasion for the deepening and unifying it. As Israeli general Ezer Weisman put it, this war was "a direct continuation" of the War. Without air cover, the Arab armies were left in an impossible situation. The war ended within a week, and represented a shattering defeat for the Arab states, especially for the Nasserites. This number amounted to about one-third of the more than 1. To put it another way, about three-fourths of all Palestinians in the world had become displaced by the cumulative effects of Zionist policies during the two decades following In addition, it is worth mentioning that some one hundred thousand Syrian civilians were displaced from the Golan Heights after the June War.
This constituted over 90 percent of the population of that territory, which was thereafter annexed by Israel. The war had a number of results. The credibility of the Pan-Arabists within the Palestinian movement dropped drastically because of the set-back. The PFLP took a more sophisticated view of the liberation struggle: four forces opposed to Palestinian self-determination were now identified -- the state of Israel, the world Zionist movement, world imperialism led by the United States, and Arab reaction.
The other wing of the movement underwent a rapid transformation of another sort; the forces of Fatah conducted an important defense of the Karameh refugee camp in Jordan on March 22, , and its ability to confront the Israeli Defense Force IDF in open combat led to greatly increased support within the camps.
In addition, the earlier conception of the goal of the liberation movement -- the elimination of the Zionist presence from historic Palestine -- was refined in with the complementary concept of a "democratic secular state," which would replace the chauvinist Israeli institutions.
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By early , the PLO had become strong enough to give birth to an elaborate system of autonomous institutions in the refugee camps. This occasioned sharp conflict, especially in Jordan, where more than half of the Jordanian population was Palestinian and the Hashemite royal family was especially wary of Palestinian political expression. But conflict could not be avoided; the tensions led to "Black September" later in , when King Hussein's forces attacked Palestinian positions in Jordan.
When the October War demonstrated that Israeli military invincibility was a myth, some Arab leaders began to believe they might negotiate with Israel from a position of strength rather than weakness. This energized the elements within the PLO which also sought negotiations. But again events ran ahead of the leadership. The Lebanese right-wing Phalangists besieged the Tel al-Zaatar refugee camp in early Meanwhile the desire of some Arab leaders to enter negotiations with Israel came to a conclusion of sorts. Menachim Begin became Israeli Prime Minister on June 21, , and there was momentary doubt whether American Jewish circles would be able to support him.
On October 1, , after months of indecisive diplomatic wrangling, the United States and the Soviet Union issued a proposal to convene a Middle East peace conference in Geneva by that December, to include "representatives of the Palestinian people," a people who had "legitimate rights. Begin objected to the contents of the proposal.
Within a week, Zionist pressure had prevailed; the United States and Israel issued a new proposal, which deleted any reference to "legitimate rights" or "representatives" of the Palestinian people; indeed, it even deleted reference to the "Palestinian people. The outcome was predictable. A peace treaty was signed between Egypt and Israel on March 26, In an attempt to divert world attention from the mounting violence in the Occupied Territories and on the most transparent of pretexts, Begin and Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, with the complicity of U.
After one of the most remarkable displays of courage in face of the sophisticated IDF military juggernaut, after enduring relentless aerial bombardment for days without end, PLO fighters with their weapons in hand evacuated Beirut under UN auspices.
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Chairman Arafat was among the last to leave, on August 30, Two weeks later, despite United States security guarantees, thousands of Palestinian civilians were massacred by Phalangist irregulars, whose attack on the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps was coordinated by the IDF. Overall, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon served to underscore the lesson of the October War. The heroic resistance of the Lebanese people provided a beacon for the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories in their own search for liberation. The dialectics of the process are straightforward: the Palestinian struggles in the Occupied Territories during the early s led to the attack on Beirut; the Lebanese struggles against the Israelis in the mid-Eighties were reflected back into the Occupied Territories, leading to the Intifada at the end of the decade.
In the meantime, the solemn United States security guarantees were proven untrustworthy by the blood of Palestinian women, children, and old men, all dead in the camps around Beirut. During the twenty years that followed , the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza sought to subjugate the Palestinians through the official violence of the military and para-military apparatus and through the so-called structural violence of political, economic, legal, and social institutions.
Israel sought to recoup the costs of occupation by taxing its victims. The occupied people responded by deepening and maturing its nationalist movement. It is to that important event that we must now turn. The Intifada and the Prospects for Palestinian National Self-Determination The protests that marked the beginning of the Intifada broke out in the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza following an automobile collision on December 9, in which four Gazans were killed by an Israeli vehicle.
The protests spread to Nablus on the West Bank the next day, where the Israeli authorities shot and killed more Palestinians, including eighteen-year old Ibrahim Ekeik. Protests broke out in East Jerusalem on December 13, and by the end of the first week, a general strike had paralyzed the all of the Occupied Territories. There are certain analogies between the Intifada and the Great Palestinian Revolt, but the differences seem to be more important since the Palestinian political culture was just emerging in the s while in the s it had matured.
Let us consider some of those crucial particularities. Knowledge of several demographic factors is necessary for understanding the Intifada. Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas on earth. About 60 percent of the approximately , Palestinians who resided in Gaza in were under fifteen years of age. On the other hand, there are very few Zionist settlers in Gaza; yet they occupied one-third of the land and used one-third of the water. Finally, of the approximately , Palestinians in the Gaza labor force in , about half worked as day laborers in Israel. The labor force today was highly proletarianized, as well as being brutally oppressed.
Even though the two Occupied Territories are separated by Israel, the events of Gaza are almost instantly the news of the West Bank, and vice versa,. There is no way that the two regions can be isolated from each other. The Palestinian people under occupation, like their counterparts throughout the Middle East, are among the most highly educated people in the region.
Zionism and the Creation of Israel - Definition and History
In light of the limited occupational opportunities available to them in the ethnically chauvinistic labor market of Israeli society, the Palestinians in Gaza as well as the West Bank might even be considered to be over-educated. Often a Palestinian worker will be more educated than his or her Israeli boss. Israeli occupation policies have been designed to ensure that a generation of young Palestinians will be less educated.
With the downturn of world oil prices in the early s, however, this alternative began to close off. By , the emigration rate had fallen to one-third its level in the early s. The result was an increasing frustration of personal, let alone the national, aspirations among the Palestinian people under occupation, especially the youth. Several political factors must also be considered. The violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers against Palestinians had markedly escalated prior to the Intifada.
Since the settlers were heavily armed, this violence can only be described as terroristic. The escalating level of violent incidents made the unarmed Palestinian people increasingly desperate. In addition, the spring PLO meeting in Algeria brought a notable unity to the ranks and orientation of the liberation movement, one with a distinctly progressive direction. This raised the morale of all Palestinians, including of course those living under Israeli military occupation. That meeting virtually ignored the plight of the Palestinian people under occupation, thereby strengthening their resolve that they must act on their own behalf.
In response to all these considerations -- the increasingly severe population pressures, the frustrations of unfulfilled lives, and the growing militance of Palestinian national consciousness -- there was a rise in the number of Palestinian retaliations against Zionist settlers in the Occupied Territories. It has been estimated that there was a ten-fold increase in violent incidents during the s, all before the beginning of the Intifada. Several aspects of Intifada policy should be stressed. Most generally, the Intifada represents the coming to full maturity of Palestinian political culture.
The political mobilization of the Palestinian Diaspora in the s was reflected back into the Occupied Territories after , giving rise to the resistance which led in turn to the Israeli military debacle in Lebanon after -- all of which came together and found its dialectical expression in the Intifada. These give day by day accounts of life under Israeli occupation from the viewpoint of the oppressed.
By July 1, , the Israeli Central Command declared all these popular committees to be illegal. On August 18, Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin reiterated that they were "illegal organizations" and were the "moving force behind the uprising" and an "alternative to the military government. The Intifada has also pursued policies of nation-building -- that is of establishing an independent government and independent socioeconomic structures in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The goal of disengagement was to demark clearly the boundaries between Palestinian society and Israeli authority.
Territoriality and Nation‐State Formation: The Yishuv and the Making of the State of Israel
This has had several consequences for Palestinian political culture. These negotiations were terminated on a pretext by the State Department just before the outbreak of the Gulf Crisis in Then, after much posturing during the Gulf Crisis about the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, the United States pressured its Israeli client to enter peace negotiations in late , first in Madrid and then in Washington. The new relation between Palestinians of the Diaspora and the Occupied Territories was symbolized by the diplomatic role Professor Hanan Ashrawi of Bir Zeit University still closed by Israeli authorities played in those negotiations.
Over the course of the twentieth century, Palestinian aspirations for national self-determination developed to the point that they came to represent a coherent and realistic strategy and tactics for attaining Palestinian objectives. In strategic terms, the shift from seeking the overthrow of Zionism, to creating a democratic secular successor to the Zionist state, to creating a state that would be geographically contiguous to the Zionist state represent stages in a maturing understanding of what the objective of self-determination entails at different historical moments.
Likewise, in tactical terms the rise of armed resistance, the development of diplomatic alternatives to armed resistance, and the emergence of systematically organized and broadly based forms of civil disobedience, along with institution-building even under military occupation, represent an enhanced repertoire of responses for the Palestinian community in the face of continued oppression.
By contrast, their direct oppressor, Israel, seems to have failed in its nation-building efforts. The future of the Zionist project, sustained today by little more than manufactured fear in the hearts of the Israeli citizenry, is bleak. In the meantime, the short-term prospect for the Palestinians is not so bright, either. But history is the graveyard of empires, and will continue to be.
It took two hundred years for the last Crusader to be driven out of Palestine. Palestine will at last be free. The author alone is responsible for the interpretation and for any errors remaining. On the Ottomans, see S. Shaw and E. A left-wing faction espousing an increasingly anti-Zionist line split off at this time and began organizing among Palestinian workers and subsequently went on to become the Palestine Communist Party PCP. As Ben Gurion's right wing of Poale Zion became increasingly dominant, Ben-Zvi and the leader of another faction, Shochat, both former members of Jewish self-defense groups in Czarist Russia, formed vigilante gangs: Bar-Giora in and Hashomer in