“There were two reports written, one dealing with Jaffa on May 1-6, and the other dealing with the Arab attack on the Jewish colony of Khedera on May 5. On the 7th May a Commission was appointed by the High Commissioner for Palestine [Herbert Samuel] to inquire into the whole affair, and began its labors at Jaffa on the 12th May. The inquiry was held in public, but counsel were not invited to take part in the proceedings. The persons appointed as Commissioners were Sir Thomas Haycraft, Chief Justice of Palestine (Chairman), Mr. H.C. Luke, Assistant Governor of Jerusalem, and Mr. J.N. Stubbs, Assistant Controller of Land Registries. The Commissioners were assisted by three assessors representing the Moslems, Christians and Jews, Aref Pasha Dejani, Elias Effendi Mushabek, and Dr. M. Elias, gentlemen well acquainted with the conditions and sentiments of their respective communities. The assessors had no hand in drawing up this reports and are in no way responsible for the opinions therein expressed, but they helped the Commission in many ways, especially in the examination of witnesses, whose evidence they followed with close attention. Mr. E. Bryant, of the Financial Secretary’s Office, was appointed Secretary of the Commission…The two reports should be read together if it is desired to understand the whole aspect of the anti-Jewish movement which was responsible for these events, as it has appeared to the Commission. All totaled, 95 people died in a span of two months, with most of the deaths occurring during the first two weeks of May 1921. Among the dead, 48 were Arabs, 47 were Jews; 219 were wounded, 73 Arabs, 146 Jews.”
Dealing with the attack at Khedera—from the first part of the Haycraft Commission Reports, October 1921.Haycraft Commission Report pages 5 and 6
“Khedera is a Jewish agricultural colony with its village situated on a rising ground, isolated in a sandy but generally cultivated plain of Philistia, about 2.5 miles from the sea, between Jaffa and Caesarea; the village is well built with houses of European type and streets of soft sand, the whole girdled and interspersed with eucalyptus trees. It is a pleasant place, and the colonists give on the impression of being of a sturdy and healthy type. They look what they are, an agricultural community, and they have built up a prosperous little commonwealth by their own persistent industry. Their number is about 600 souls, and they employed, until the recent disturbance, about 400 to 500 Arab laborers, who belonged to the surrounding villages, and generally resided in the colony, except for periodical visits to their villages. The nearest administrative center is Tulkarm, about 12 miles distant, in the administrative district of Jaffa, while Khedera is in that of Haifa. There is a railway station on the Haifa-Ludd Line, about 1.5 miles from the village. Kakon is about seven and Tulkarm about twelve miles to the south-east. Kakon is just on the edge of the sandy plain, and is a link between that part of the plain and a number of villages to the east and north-east. Tulkarm is on the high road from Jaffa to Nablus, with Jaffa about 27 miles to the south-west, and Nablus about 18 miles to the east. You may call Tulkarm a large village or a small town. It is the administrative center for about 49 villages and is the seat of a Sub-District Governor. It is almost exclusively Moslem; there are a few Christians, but Jews are not tolerated. The same may be said of Nablus, the capital of the district of Samaria.
On the 6th of May, 1921, a raid was made from the neighboring villages upon Khedera. The lives of the colonists were saved by the arrival of an airplane, but two houses were burned and 14 houses were wholly or partially ransacked. Much cattle is said to have been stolen. The events which led up to this raid began with the Jaffa riots, which took placed on the 1st May. The consequent excitement spread through the country, especially to the north-east. No open hostility had existed in the past between Moslems and Jews, between Tulkarm and its neighborhood and Khedera, but here had been little intercourse and little opportunity for quarrel.”
The facts of the Jaffa riots were greatly exaggerated, and there were stories of Moslems men, women and children having been murdered by Jews. The Jews were supposed to be generally Bolshevik, and Bolsheviks were understood to be against property and Government, marriage and religion. There were rumors that rifles and ammunition had been sent from Khedera to Petach-Tikvah (Mulebbis) and Jaffa to arm the Jews, and that the Arab workmen of Khedera had been imprisoned in the colony. What happened in Jaffa on May 1 influenced the outbreak of the attack on the Jewish colony of Khedera on May 5/6, 1921.”
From the Haycraft Commission Report, October 1921, pages 14-16
“In this case it is clear that the colonists had done nothing whatsoever to provoke an attack. The armed crowd that proceeded to raid them intended to kill and loot, and it is a pity that they were not firmly handled before they had the opportunity of doing damage. The raiders cannot be excused because they believed a preposterous story without examination. There was nothing to prevent them from discovering the truth about the alleged detention of the laborers.
It is not within the scope of our enquiry to fix a legal liability on any individual or community, nor have we any judicial duty or function to perform, but we have throughout been anxious to arrive at a conclusion as to what individuals or villages should be regarded as responsible for the raid. As to the individuals who actually took part, a few names were mentioned in the evidence but it was not for us to call these men before us in order to invite admissions. Their names appear in the types copies of the depositions, and they can be prosecuted if that course is thought desirable. We did, however, call the Mukhtars of those villages, against whom there was the least specific evidence, such as a statement that one of the villagers had been seen among the raiders. All of them in our opinion committed perjury with dignity and deliberation. They disclaimed all knowledge of the facts, except that in a few instances a Mukhtar would admit the he had been informed that laborers had been imprisoned at Khedera, and that their anxious relatives had proceeded there to make enquiry. One of these witnesses professed to have heard of other aid for the first time from the Chairman of the Commission. From the Mayor of Tulkarm to the Mukhtar of the smallest village in the list they were all resolute in their determination to admit any knowledge of any fact which could fix liability on any individual or village. It was evident form the tone and substance of what the Mayor of Tulkarm said to us, that he considered the raid as an act of war against the Jews, if not justifiable, at any rate excusable. He had done his best to keep his people quiet, but after the raid was over he was clear in his determination not to allow any person or village to suffer for it through his instrumentality. So unanimously is public opinion on one side of this controversy that evidence to responsibility is practically unobtainable, the more so as the colonists saw little or nothing of the raid.
Nevertheless it is obvious that responsibility must be fixed for the wicked and unprovoked damage to property suffered by the Colony. We express no opinion as to the amount of the damage. It has been put to us at about 27,000 pounds. In view of the general unreliability of the statements we need not assume that anything like that amount for the Government to collect damages; but it is the duty of the Government to preserve the peace and prevent disorder, and if the law and custom recognize collective liability, two villages are, in our opinion, to deeply implicated to go free. These are Tulkarm and Kakon.
Both were used by the villagers as places where they concentrated and form which they advanced. The headmen are fully aware of the whole circumstances. They must know what villages and what Bedouin are implicated. There is a prima facei case against Tulkarm and Kakon because armed mobs proceeded from those places to attack the Colony. If the inhabitants consider that by being thus singled out they are unjustly victimized the remedy lies with them; they have only to show what other persons or communities are involved in the same crime and ought to share the same responsibility. In a different degree responsibility lies upon the camp of the Wadi Hawareth Bedouin. Not only was loot found in that camp, but there is other evidence which associates them with the raid.
We also had evidence to the effect that villagers of Kalkilieh, Zet, El-Lar, Baka, At-til, Der-Gushun, Beit-Lids, Safiarin, Aenbta, and the Bedouin encampment of Damaria were among the raiders. While, however, it is probable that several of the above villages, possibly all, were implicated in the attack, the evidence at our disposal is not conclusive as to their guilt.
It has been established that of the Arabs employed as laborers at the colony, among whom a number of this surrounding villages were represented, many lived habitually within the colony limits, and only returned to their villages at intervals of one, two and three weeks, one month, and even six months. Thus there may have been amongst the attackers Arabs who had not been to their villages for a considerable period. In conclusion we would observe that the evidence and the probabilities are alike against the allegation advanced by the colonists that the attack was premeditated or prearranged. Their further assertion contained in their statement to the High Commissioner that the organizers were the Government employees of Tulkarm and Nablus is too preposterous to merit serious attention. The attack was in all its elements an improvised affair; very little reflection will serve to suggest how very different would have been its results had it been the outcome of a deliberate plan. In this report we have so far as possible avoided an incursion.”
Haycaft Commission (second) Report, 1921, pages 18 and 19
“The disturbances dealt with in this report began with a riot in Jaffa on Sunday, the 1st May, 1921, followed by serious acts of violence in the same town on the two succeeding days, and local attacks on Jewish agricultural colonies on the Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of that week. To the same group of events belong sporadic anti-Jewish manifestations which occurred in Jaffa during June and as late as July.
The “old” Jews of Palestine have always led more or less of a separate life, faithful to their race and religion, patient under adversity, treated with something less than social equality, but living on friendly terms with their neighbors. The Jewish agricultural colonists of European descent have founded prosperous communities, aided by the liberality of European co-religionists, and by their own intelligence and industry. They also have lived a separate life, but have given a good example to their neighbors as peaceful and industrious cultivators.
The “new” Jews associated with Zionist immigration have brought with them European habits of thought, are politically minded, and are apt to be advanced in their views on industrial matters. They have set up labor organizations with the usual public demonstrations and strikes characteristic of European labor activity. Before the 1st May, 1921, such activities were closely observed by the Arabs, but were treated as domestic affairs peculiar to the Jews, and created no general disturbances.
It was only when Arab discontent with Zionist manifestations and resentment against the new immigrants reached its climax that a demonstration of Bolshevik Jews became the occasion for a popular explosion. The appeal of a pamphlet circulated in Jaffa by the Bolsheviks, inciting the working class to civil war, was by a cruel coincidence of causes accepted, and the co-religionists of its authors supplied the majority of the victims.
Haycraft Commission Report, 1921, pages 22-23
On Saturday night May 1, 1921, the [British Palestine] police caught four men and a boy [in the port city of Jaffa], Jews, disturbing g proclamations printed, some in Hebrew and Yiddish, others in Arabic. The documents are similar in tenor, and both are signed by the Executive Committee of the Palestine Communist Party. They call in violent language upon proletarians of all nations to unite in the fight for the Social Revolution, and upon Jewish and Arab laborers to join in overthrowing their oppressors and in “beating down your torturers and the tyrants among you.”
The Hebrew and Yiddish appeal ends as follows:
Long live the first of May!
Down with the dictatorship of the Bourgeoisie!
Down with the Palestine rule of Force!
Long live the international solidarity of the Jewish and Arab proletariat!
Long live the Socialist World-Revolution!
Long live the dictatorship of the Proletariat!
All power to the Workmen’s and Peasants’ Council of Palestine!
Long live the Civil War!
Long live Soviet Russia!
Long live the Third Communistic International!
Long live the Palestine Communist Party!
The Arab version ends with the words;
Down with the British and French bayonets!
Down with Arab and foreign capitalists!
Long live the Third Communistic International!
Long live the Socialist World-Revolution!
Long live the dictatorship of the Proletariat!
Long live Soviet Palestine!
Distinction between Arabs and Jews in Palestine, Haycraft Commission Report, October 1921, page 24.
“The Arab population is ordinarily very obedient to authority, and it is only when some religious or racial emotion is aroused that it becomes difficult to manage. The Jews are less obedient to authority and more difficult to control; on the other hand, they are less prone to sudden access of violence which characterizes the Arab when aroused to anger by some actual or supposed wrong or provocation.”
Haycraft Commission Report, 1921, pages 43-48
“From May 1-6, and sporadically through June, communal or civilian unrest occurred in Jaffa, Petah Tikvah, Khedera, Kfar Saba, Rehovoth, in south Tel Aviv and other places where Jews either lived or had congregated. These attacks were clearly aimed at Jews; Arabs did not attack other Arabs, unlike the riots that occurred in Palestine from 1936-1939. The Commission looked at each of half a dozen or more incidents were Arabs and Jews struggled , trees uprooted, cattle stolen, and people were killed (including the popular young Jewish writer Hayim Yosef Brenner), including the mutilation of Jewish corpses, and looting as part of each attack. The British used force to end the violence, to quiet crowds, and to prevent further incitement, but the British could not squelch rumor that the Jews were out to kill or harm Arabs, were gaining access to British arms, and were Britain’s favorite in the quest to sustain HMG’s presence in Palestine. The Commission did not whitewash the behavior of British military or police officials, praising and criticizing when appropriate.”
What follows are the Commission’s conclusions.
“Part II. Conclusions
When we come to consider the causes of these disturbances we find an immediate cause, which of itself could not have been sufficient to give rise to more than a street riot of the ordinary kind, confined to a comparatively small body of persons, restricted to a limited area, and within the power of the Jaffa police to control. That cause was the M.P.S. (a small Jewish Bolshevist group’s) demonstration, and its clash with the procession of the Jewish Labor Party.
But this was no ordinary riot. The disturbance raged for several days with intensity wherever Arabs came into contact with Jews, and spread into surrounding country, where Jewish colonies, having nothing whatever to do with Bolshevism, were attacked with ferocity. The Bolshevik demonstration was the spark that set alight the explosive discontent of the Arabs, and precipitated an outbreak which developed into an Arab-Jewish feud.
It has been said to us by Jewish witnesses that there was no essentially anti-Jewish question at that time, but that a movement against the Jews was engineered by persons who, anxious to discredit the British Government, promoted discontent and disturbance of the peace by stirring up the common people against the Jews. It is argued by them that all the trouble is due to the propaganda of a small class whose members regret the departure of the old regime, because British administration has put an end to privileges and opportunities of profit formerly enjoyed by them; that in co-operation with them are certain foreigners, principally French agents, who are ready to make mischief for political reasons, and to encourage any sort of disturbance calculated to embarrass the British Government. These witnesses asseverate that Zionism has nothing to do with the anti-Jewish feeling manifested in the Jaffa disturbances. They declare that the Arabs are only anti-Zionist or anti-Jewish because they are primarily anti-British, and that they are merely making use of the anti-Zionist cry in order to wreck the British mandate…
We are satisfied that this is not the case. Although an inclination to take advantage of any trouble in the country may have been present in the minds of a very few for this and that reason, yet the feeling against the Jews was too genuine, too widespread and too intense to be accounted for in the above superficial manner. That there is discontent with the Government has appeared during this inquiry, but we are persuaded that it is due partly to the Government policy with regard to a Jewish National Home in Palestine, partly to Arab misunderstandings of that policy, and partly to the manner in which that policy is interpreted and sought to be applied by some of its advocates outside the Government. It culminates in a suspicion that the Government is under Zionist influence, and is therefore led to favor a minority to the prejudice of the vast majority of the population. We have been assured, and we believe, that had there been no Jewish question, the Government would have had no political difficulty of any importance to deal with so far as its domestic affairs are concerned. We consider that, taking into consideration the strained condition of Arab feeling, it was unwise to risk trouble by allowing a generally detested, although numerically small body of Communists to carry on any sort of propaganda among this already uneasy population. No one wanted them, and now that the danger has been realized the most notorious have been deported.
Had there been nothing more than some rough handling of the demonstrators by the Arabs, there would be little for us to say. It would have been the usual row to which we are accustomed from time to time in all countries. But we have no doubt that het Arabs were the first to turn this quarrel into a race conflict, and, when once this issue was joined, they behaved with a savagery which cannot be condoned.
We are convinced that the charge constantly brought by Jews against the Arabs, that this outbreak had been planned by then, or by their leaders, and was pre-arranged for the 1st May, is unfounded. It appears in evidence that on more than one occasion Arabs in European dress incited the crowd; but the notables on both sides, whatever their feelings may have been, were always ready to help the authorities in the restoration of order, and we think that without their assistance the outbreak would have resulted in even worse excesses. A good deal has been alleged by Jewish witnesses about the instigation of the Arab mob to violence by their leaders. If this means no more than that while educated people talk and write, the mob acts, then there is truth in the allegation. But if it means that had it not been for the incitement by the notables, effendis and sheiks, there would have been no riots, the allegation cannot be substantiated. To some extent the motives that influenced differed sections of the Arab population were not the same but the general belief that the aims of the Zionists and Jewish immigration are a danger to the national and material interests of Arabs in Palestine is well-nigh universal amongst the Arabs, and is not confined to any particular class. All that can truly be said in favor of the Jewish view is that leaders of Arab opinion not only make no secret of what they think, but carry on a political campaign.
In this campaign, however, the people participate with the leaders, because they feel that their political and material interests are identical. There is no evidence worth considering, to show that the outbreak was planned and organized. Had that been the case, we hesitate to conjecture what the consequences would have been.
It may also be recalled that the 1st May was the Orthodox Easter Day, and that on that morning Orthodox Christians were in their churches, and afterwards received the customary visits of ceremony of their Moslem friends. It was therefore an unlikely day for Moslems and Christians to have chosen for a popular rising.
When we come to consider the raids on the agricultural colonies we find the immediate cause to be the reports of Jews having killed Arabs in the Jaffa riots. They were all the outcome of the general rage against the Jews aroused by these reports. In some cases there were local causes which stimulated this feeling. The Khedera raid was immediately prompted by a false report of the imprisonment of Arab laborers. The raid on Rehoboth was the immediate result of a story about the Jews of that colony having attacked a neighboring Arab village. There is no evidence to show the responsibility of any particular village for the raid on Rehoboth, but Mr. Miller and Mr. Wainwright think that the false report was concocted on that day by persons at Ramleh who wished to promote an attack on the Jews.
It is, however, only fair to add that two notables who were tried in this connection, were acquitted. In the Petach Tikvah case only the Abu Kishk tribe can clearly be saddled with responsibility. The Yahoudieh men never actually raided the colony. They would have done so had they not been caught in time by the military, but they were stopped and soundly punished. There is no evidence to show by whom Kfar Sba and Ain Hai were raided. The raiders found nobody to kill, but looted and destroyed. Most of the colonists had lived for years on quite friendly terms with their Arab neighbors, and had in many cases given them regular employment on a large scale. The bloodthirsty attacks on these peaceful settlements had been guilty of no provocation.
Haycraft Commission Report, 1921, pages 55-58
Causes of Arab Hostility to Jews
So long as the Jews remained an unobtrusive minority, as they did under the Ottoman Government, they were not molested or disliked. It was only when it came to be belated by the Arabs and the Jews were exercising a preponderating influence over the Government that a state of feeling arose which required but a minor provocation on the part of a small number of undesirable Jews to ignite an explosion of popular anger against Jews in general. This manifested itself in serious outrages, of which some of the best sort of Jews have been the victims.
It is not within our province to discuss Zionism but only such questions as are popularly supposed to be involved in Zionism, and have been put before us as causes of the discontent culminating in the riots. Whether the construction put by the Arabs or their leaders in opinion on certain statements of fact are reasonable, and whether the statements themselves are true or capable of explanation are questions not altogether relevant to this inquiry. What are relevant are the statements themselves, and the constructions put upon them, because they show how it comes about that the present state of public feeling is such that outrages committed by the more ignorant and passionate part of the population have been, if not justified, yet, to say the least, explained and condoned by those who are themselves who are themselves opposed to acts of violence. Persons apparently representing all sections of the non-Jewish community have voluntarily come before us to explain why public feeling became inflamed against the Jews. Moslems, Orthodox Christians, Catholics, Maronites, and other Uniates, Anglicans have been represented by witnesses, who included priests of the above Christian bodies; and it has been impossible to avoid the conclusion that practically the whole of the non-Jewish population was united in hostility to the Jews. During the riots all discrimination on the part of the Arabs between different categories of Jews was obliterated.
Old-established colonists and newly arrived immigrants, Chalukah Jews and Bolshevik Jews, Algerian Jews and Russian Jews, became merged in a single identity, and former friendships gave way before the enmity now felt towards all. On the 27th June, nearly two months after the first outbreak, two members of the Commission of Inquiry chanced to meet a band of decently dressed Arab children, whose average age could not have exceeded six or seven, marching in procession along the Ajami quarter, brandishing sticks and branches, and shouting the words, “We want to fight the Jews.” The incident was small, perhaps, but not without significance, and it was noted by members of the Commission who saw it that no attempt was made by several policemen present to interfere with it in any way. So long as the popular feeling described above continues it will not be possible to maintain law and justice effectively, because the mass of the people cannot be trusted to do justice where a Jew is concerned.
The grievances put before us by Arabs and others as having contributed materially to the state of exasperation which found its outlet in the disturbances are already known to the readers of the newspapers, but their repetition cannot be avoided in this report. We are satisfied that these grievances had the effect thus alleged, but this conclusion involves no pronouncement on our part upon their individual merits or demerits.
The principal ones are contained in the following allegations:
- That Great Britain, when she took over the administration of Palestine, was led by the Zionists to adopt a policy mainly directed towards the establishment of a National Home for the Jews, and not to the equal benefit of all Palestinians.
- That in pursuance of this policy the Government of Palestine has, as its official advisory body, a Zionist Commission, bound by its ideals and its conception of its role to regard Jewish interests before all others, and constituted by its singular prerogatives into an imperium in imperio.
- That there is an undue proportion of Jews in Government service.
- That a part of the program of the Zionists is the flooding of Palestine with a people which possesses greater commercial and organizing ability than the Arabs, and will eventually obtain the upper hand over the rest of the population.
- That the immigrants are an economic danger to the population because of their competition, and because they are favored in this competition.
- That immigrant Jews offend by their arrogance and by their contempt of Arab social prejudices.
- That owing to insufficient precautions immigrants of Bolshevik tendencies have been allowed to enter the country, and that these persons have endeavored to introduce social strife and economic unrest into Palestine and to propagate Bolshevik doctrines.
Laboring under these grievances the Arabs have regarded with suspicion measures taken by the Government with the best intentions. The Transfer of Land Ordinance, 1920, which requires that the consent of the Government must be obtained to all dispossessions of immovable property and forbids transfers to others than residents in Palestine, they regard as having been introduced to keep down the price of land, and to throw land which is in the market into the hands of the Jews at a low price. The temporary measure, now inoperative, which prohibited the export of cereals, was enacted, as they contend, to oppress the native landowners so as to compel them to sell their land, and at the same time to provide cheap food for the Jewish immigrants.
In connection with their grievance against the disproportionate number of Jews in the Government the Arabs urge that the Legal Secretary is a Jew well known as an ardent exponent of Zionism, and, while making no personal attack upon him, say that the control which he is able to exercise over the Courts of Law lessens their confidence in the administration of justice. They also point to the personnel of the Public Works Department. They assert that Jews are exclusive in business, that a Jewish tradesman will not buy from an Arab if the goods he wants can be obtained from a Jew, and they argue that a Jewish official who has the power to influence the granting of a Government contract will not let it go to anyone but a Jew if he can help it.
With regard to the workmen and laborers employed by the Public Works Department and on the railways, they complain that the employment of a large number of Jews out of all proportion to the Jewish population of the country has displaced Arab labor, and is a means of using public money for the support of the very immigrants whose introduction is viewed with alarm and hostility. They say that they are made to pay for the Jewish National Home.
This brings us to the question of Jewish immigration. The objections on the part of the artisans and laborers are mostly economic. If the new arrivals could have been taken at once into agricultural colonies their coming would have had little effect on the working people of Jaffa; but their employment on public works and railways, and their entry into competition with the town people as artisans, laborers and porters, particularly since they have come in relatively large numbers, has aroused the same feeling of hostility and alarm that alien immigration has excited in other communities with which we are familiar. It would be useless to argue with the Arab that they are not aliens because they are returning to their ancient home, since this is to him the aspect of the Zionists question with which we he will have nothing to do. He tells you that they are Russians and Poles, and sometimes adds that they are Bolsheviks. In any case he complains that they take the bread out of his mouth. The immigrant policy has been likened to the bounty-fed commerce of the Germans, because the immigrant is subsidized in one way or another and because, whereas the Arab has to starve when he is out of work the newcomer is to believed to be provided for by the Government or subsidized by his own organization. Arabs who are not artisans or laborers repeat the above objections and add that immigrants compete in clerical occupations, especially now that Hebrew has been made an official language. Their main objection has, however, been political, and this objection, although originating with the more educated Arabs, has filtered through the khans and coffee-shops into the streets and villages. It can be summed up in the fear that through extensive Jewish immigration Palestine will become a Jewish dominion. This fear is not lessened when they read in Zionist literature such passages as the following, taken from the “Keren Ha-Yesod Book,” which will referred to again later, “the object of the modern Jewish pioneer in Palestine is to prepare room and work for the thousands and millions that wait outside.”
A curious instance of the way in which men’s minds work in regard to this question and the readiness with which the villagers take alarm at any movement which appears to threaten the existing relations between the races, is a notion which Mr. Reading, Sub-District Governor of Tulkarm, found current among villagers. It was this: that the Jews when they had sufficiently increased in numbers would become so highly organized and so well armed as to be able to overcome the Arabs, and rule over and oppress them. There was probably a causal connection between this notion and a rumor current in the early days of May, that the Jews were being secretly armed by the Government.
This rumor caused considerable unrest, and the Arabs were clamoring for arms. The influence of these notions and rumors should not be underestimated, for it must be borne in mind that in this part of the world racial and religious prejudices are elemental. There is also a limited social objection to Jewish immigrants so far as Jaffa is concerned. Among the causes of the anti-Jewish irritation felt by the Arabs of Jaffa was a certain attitude of arrogance displayed in the streets and open places of the town “by younger Haluzim” of both sexes. Several witnesses have referred to the manner in which strings of these young men and women, in free and easy attire, would perambulate the streets arm in arm, signing songs, holding up traffic and generally conducting themselves in a manner at variance with the Arab ideas of decorum. It is not difficult to understand the feelings inspiring these young people on their arrival in Palestine. It is natural that the transition from the cramping conditions under which they had been living in the countries whence they came to the freedom of their “National Home,” the land of their dreams and hopes, should have stimulated an exuberance of spirit, probably combined with an exaggerated appreciation of what is implied by the term “National Home.” On the other hand it is natural that Arabs should be irritated by the self-assertion and aggressiveness of these new arrivals, and that his pouring of new wine into old bottles should not proceed altogether easily. Our task in this inquiry is to establish facts rather than to impute blame; but the circumstance to which we refer shows how necessary it is that those responsible for the oversight of the immigrants should impress upon the latter the importance of direction their natural and legitimate enthusiasm into channels where they cannot offend others, and how necessary it is that they should warn them of the need to study the susceptibilities of their Arab fellow citizens.
We have described the M.P.S demonstration on the 1st May as a “minor provocation,” and its relation to the disturbances as that of a spark igniting explosive material. Nevertheless, we feel that there may have been a tendency to underrate, perhaps on account of their small numbers and the fact that these numbers decreased after November, 1920, the danger to be apprehended from the Bolshevik Jews in Palestine, of whom most, but not all, were recent immigrants.
The Bolshevik element in the country produced an effect out of proportion with its numbers, not by the success of its propaganda but buy the genuine uneasiness it inspired in the Arabs, more particularly in those of the poorest classes in the country districts. Of this unfeigned uneasiness we had ample evidence in the course of the Khedera inquiry, and it was a serious matter. It was a circumstance which conferred upon this handful of agitators an importance that cannot be measured by their exiguous intrinsic numbers, or by their failure to capture the Jewish Labor movement in the country.
We consider that the Arabs had a real fear of the Bolshevik element and of its propaganda, a fear which became acute with the less enlightened. How far that fear was justified it is impossible to say; the extent of the danger to be apprehended from these people cannot in the nature of things be accurately assessed. The case is different from that of the villagers of the Tulkarm neighborhood, who were led to attack Khedera owing to their belief in a preposterous and baseless story of the detention of Arab laborers by the colonists. There was, as we pointed out in our report on the Khedera incident, no justification for believing, however genuinely, a rumor which could easily have been ascertained to be without foundation. With regard to the Bolsheviks, however, it was not possible for the Arabs positively to establish whether propaganda of the nature indulged in by the M.P.S was likely to result in serious danger to the country or not; but the indications were such to fill them with reasonable apprehensions on the subjects. They saw that M.P.S. activities were resulting the beginnings of industrial strife, previously unknown in the country; they saw strikes and labor demonstrations, which filled their conservative minds with alarm; they read leaflets distributed by the M.P.S., in which the people were invited to participate in class war, and to promote anarchy and social upheaval. Such phenomena were sufficient, in our opinion, to cause uneasiness in the minds of the Arabs, and did, in point of fact, cause such uneasiness among them. Non-Bolshevik Jewish Labor organizations also indulged in strikes and other similar activities familiar enough in Europe, but new to Jaffa; and thereby served to create in the minds of the Arabs a feeling of dislike and distrust of Jewish laborer immigrants generally.
But for the considerations set forth above we feel convinced that there would be no animosity towards the Jews as such; that there is no inherent anti-Semitism in the country, racial or religious. We are credibly assured by educated Arabs that they would welcome the arrival of well-to-do and able Jews who could help to develop the country to the advantage of all sections of the community. Zionists, for their part, dwell freely on the theme that the realization of the policy of the “National Home” will benefit Arabs as well as Jews; but we feel bound to express the opinion, arrived at in the course of the inquiry, that the Zionist Commission, which is the representative of the Zionist Organization in Palestine, has failed to carry conviction to the Arabs on this point. So far as we can judge, the only sentiment it has inspired in them is one of profound distrust. This distrust is not of recent growth, but appears first to have taken root in the early days of the Military Administration. At this time, according to evidence bought before us, Jews enjoyed greater facilities than Arabs in the matter of obtaining permits to travel and to import merchandise by military railways, owing to the fact that the Zionist Commission was accepted by the Administration as sponsor for the Jews, whereas the Arabs had no corresponding body to whom they could apply for guarantees for this purpose. Consequently the Jews were able to obtain their permits promptly, while the Arabs had to follow a cumbersome and lengthy procedure. This inequality of treatment was clearly not the fault of the Zionist Commission, and was probably inevitable at the time, but it created ill-will on the part of the Arabs towards the Commission. The subsequent activities and pretensions of the Commission do not seem to have dispelled or mitigated this ill-will, and if we refer to the topic here it is because the distrust inspired in the Arabs by the Zionist Commission has been, in our opinion, and appreciable factor in creating the feeling, but for which the Jaffa outrages would probably not have taken place. It seems to us that the Zionist Commission was in a better position than any other unofficial body or organization to fulfill the important function of conciliating the Arabs, and of render, or attempting to render, the policy embodied in the Balfour Declaration acceptable to them.
Such a function would require tact and powers of conciliation of high order, and we feel that a part of the energies of the Zionist Commission could have been devoted to no more appropriate, more valuable, and more vital purpose. We find, however, a belief among the Arabs that the Commission has either desired to ignore them as a factor to be taken into serious consideration, or else has combated their interests to the advantage of the Jews. An unfortunate impression was created in the country by the practice of the Zionist Commission, abandoned since April, 1920, of paying subsidies to Jewish policemen and Jewish Government clerks of junior grades in aid of their official salaries.
Again, we have had evidence to the effect that the Zionist Commission put strong pressure upon a large Jewish landowner of Rishon-Le-Zion to employ Jewish labor in place of the Arabs who had been employed on his farm since he was a boy. The farmer, we were told, yielded to this pressure with reluctance, firstly, because the substitution of Jewish for Arab labor would alienate the Arabs, secondly, because the pay demanded by the Jewish laborers, and the short hours during which they would consent to work, would make it impossible for him to run his farm at a profit.
Furthermore the influence exercised, or believed to be exercised, by the Commission over the framing of legislation, and in the selection of Government officials (also, occasionally, in the reinstatement of officials dismissed by the Government), has done nothing to lessen the distrust with which it is regarded by the Arabs, who have no similar body to exercise corresponding influence on their behalf. It is not for us to say that the actives, real or alleged, of the Zionist Commission were or are illegitimate; we can, however, say that in our opinion the Commission’s conception of its duties and functions has exercised an exacerbating rather than a conciliatory influence on the Arab population of Palestine, and has thus been a contributory cause of the disturbances which are the subject of our inquiry.
It is important that it should be realized that what is written on the subject of Zionism by Zionists and their sympathizers in Europe is read and discussed by Palestinian Arabs, not only in the towns but in country districts. Thus a witness from Tulkarm, who appeared before us in the course of the Khedera inquiry, quoted as an instance of provocative writing the following passage from a book entitled “England and Palestine,” by H. Sidebotham*:
“It is desired to encourage Jewish immigration by every means, and at the same time to discourage the immigration of Arabs…” The book from which this quotation was taken was published as far back as 1918; but our attention has been called to other not less provocative statements appearing in Zionist publications since the disturbances, whilst we were sitting. Thus the Jewish Chronicle, No. 2,720, of the 20th May, 1921, makes the following statement in the course of its leading article: “Hence the real key to the Palestine situation is to be found in giving to Jews as such, those rights and privileges in Palestine which shall enable Jews to make it as Jewish as England is English, or as Canada is Canadian. That is the only reasonable or, indeed, feasible meaning of a Jewish National Home, and it is impossible for Jews to construct it without being accorded a National status for Jews.”
Again, Palestine, the official organ of the British Palestine Committee, in its issue of 4th June, 1921, in discussing the question of Jewish immigration, describes Palestine as a “deserted, derelict land.” This description hardly tells the fact that the density of the present population of Palestine, according to Zionist figures, is something like 75 to the square mile.* On 14th May there appeared in the The Times a letter from Mr. V. Jabotinsky, a member of the Executive of the Zionist Organizaiton, in which he urged that, in view of the Jaffa disturbances, Jews alone should have the privilege of military service in Palestine, Arabs being excluded from the right to bear arms. Generous allowance must be made for the natural and justifiable feeling of indignation aroused among Jews by the Arab aggression on their co-religionists in Jaffa, and in the colonies which were so wantonly attacked. On the other hand utterances such as those we have quoted have not made for a resumption of friendly relations between Jews and Arabs. About the same time there appeared the “Karen Ha-Yesod Book,” a volume issued by the promoters of the “Palestine Foundation Fund.” In the chapter of this book devoted to the political position, disappointment is expressed that “the most vital of all rights in similar cases the right of the Zionist Organization to exercise its influence, through legally secured channels, in the choice of suitable candidates for this all-important post” (sc. that of High Commissioner for Palestine) is not included in the draft mandate.
* England and Palestine: Essays towards the Restoration of the Jewish State,” by Herbert Sidebotham. London, 1918. Page 235. See page 24 of the “Keren Ha-Yesod Book.”
Until the Commission came to examine Dr. Eder, acting Chairman of the Zionist Commission, they were made aware to what extent such expressions of opinion as those we have quoted above were authorized by responsible Zionists. Dr. Eder was a most enlightening witness. He was quite unaggressive in manner and free from any desire to push forward opinions which might be offensive to the Arabs. But when questioned on certain vital matters he was perfectly frank in expressing his view of the Zionist ideal. He gave no quarter to the view of the National Home as put forward by the Secretary of State and the High Commissioner. In his opinion there can only be one National Home in Palestine, and that a Jewish one, and no equality in the partnership between Jews and Arabs, but a Jewish predominance as soon as the numbers of that race are sufficiently increased. He declined to admit the word “dominion,” but chose “predominance.” As acting Chairman of the Zionist Commission Dr. Eder presumably expresses in all points the official Zionist creed, if such there be, and his statements are, therefore, most important. There is no sophistry about Dr. Eder; he was quite clear that the Jews should, and the Arabs should not, have the right to bear arms, and he stated on his behalf that this discrimination would tend to improve Arab-Jewish relations. He considered that with regard to the appointment of the High Commissioner for Palestine the Zionist Organization should be allowed either to formulate objections to the selection of the British Government, or to submit a list of its own nominees for consideration. We do not comment upon his opinions because the discussion of the questions raised is not our concern, but it is relevant to our report to show that the acting Chairman of the Zionist Commission asserts on behalf of the Jews those claims which are at the root of the present unrest, and differ materially from the declared policy of the Secretary of State and the High Commissioner for Palestine. It is perhaps worth noting as an instance of the diversity of manner in which Jews and Arabs look upon the same questions, that, whereas Arab witnesses denounce the Government of Palestine as a Zionist Government, Dr. Eder stigmatizes it as an Arab demonstration.
The attitude of responsible Zionists as revealed above is not negligible, as it is one of the irritant causes of the present discontent. It arises perhaps from a habit of regarding Palestine as “a deserted, derelict land,” sparsely inhabited by a population without traditions of nationality, where political experiments may be launched without arousing local opposition. Such a conception is considerably at variance with the spirit of the authorized Zionist policy as defined in the declared intentions of the Secretary of State and the local Government.
Much, we feel, might be done to allay the existing hostility between the races if responsible persons on both sides could agree to discuss the questions arising between them in a reasonable spirit, on the basis that the Arabs should accept implicitly the declared policy of the Government on the subject of the Jewish National Home, and that the Zionist leaders should abandon and repudiate all pretensions that go beyond it. The immigrants should be made to understand that, whatever their historical and religious claim, they are after all seeking a home in a country at present overwhelmingly Arab, and that it behooves them to adopt a considerate attitude towards the people among whom they must wish to live in peace and friendship. The Arab notables, on the other hand, should make it clear to the Arabs that in no case can they expect murder, violence and pillage to be condoned.
THOS. W. HAYCRAFT, Chairman
10TH August, 1921”