III. Second Mandate Period

III. Second Mandate Period

Period
III. Second Mandate Period
15 April 1936 to 2 April 1947

The decade or so of British Mandate rule in Palestine that began in 1936 and ended in early 1947 was pivotal in Palestine’s modern history, setting the stage for the loss of Palestine in 1948. This crucial decade opened with a widespread Palestinian uprising against the British Mandate and the Zionist project in Palestine. Following the brutal suppression of this revolt, Palestine was caught up in the global upheavals of World War II; it experienced an economic boom as the site of British military mobilization, while dissension between Zionists and the British intensified over the question of the illegal immigration to Palestine of European Jews forced out of Europe or fleeing the atrocities of the Holocaust. By the end of the war, the Zionist movement’s search for sponsorship had been redirected from Britain to the United States, and the Yishuv (the Jewish community in Palestine) stood positioned to launch political and military campaigns to force Britain out of Palestine and to establish the State of Israel in defiance of Palestinian will.

In 1936, widespread Palestinian dissatisfaction with Britain’s governance erupted into open rebellion. The Great Arab Revolt, as this uprising came to be known, lasted for three years and can be generally divided into three phases. The first phase lasted from the spring of 1936 to July 1937 and was characterized by the formation of National Committees in major Palestinian cities and the Arab Higher Committee (AHC) as an organizing political body; a general strike throughout Arab Palestine; armed insurrection in rural areas; and the introduction of Arab volunteers from outside Palestine to join in the revolt. Such activities were met by British counterinsurgency—which employed repressive measures including imprisonment, torture, collective fines, and the demolition of parts of Jaffa’s Old City, among other forms of violence—and a diplomatic effort that took the form of a commission of inquiry led by Lord Peel. The weariness of the Palestinian population after six months of general strike, the promise of some political progress through the Peel Commission, and pressure from some Arab heads of state led the AHC to call off the strike in October 1936. From November 1936 to January 1937, the Peel Commission toured Palestine to ascertain the causes of the rebellion, and during this period there was an overall reduction of violence throughout the country. Tensions began to mount in the spring of 1937, however, and when the Peel Commission published its report in July 1937, proposing that Palestine be partitioned into Jewish and Arab states, Palestine exploded anew.

This marked the beginning of the second phase of the revolt, which lasted until the fall of 1938. In the face of renewed Palestinian resistance, the British government outlawed the AHC and all Palestinian political parties and organizations. Individual Palestinian political leaders and activists were arrested and the most prominent were exiled. Collective punishment was imposed in the form of mass detentions, the destruction of residential quarters, and the levying of collective fines, among other methods. Although martial law was not officially declared, military tribunals issued summary executions solely for arms possession. British military reinforcements were called in and aircraft, tanks, and heavy artillery were deployed against the rebels. The AHC, reconstituted in Damascus, was effectively marginalized and initiative increasingly passed to the field commanders. (Though there had always been a significant rural component, the revolt was increasingly peasant-oriented.) The Palestinian rebels made considerable gains on the ground, even extending their control to Jerusalem’s Old City for some time. Meanwhile, British-Zionist cooperation against the rebels meant the subsidization and entrenchment of Zionist military structures on the ground.

In the third phase, from the fall of 1938 to the summer of 1939, the British launched a full-scale military offensive against the insurgency even as they backed away from partition and expressed a willingness to concede to some of the rebels’ demands. However, the pressure under which the rebels found themselves exposed various fractures in Palestinian society, and the British took advantage of this to turn some Palestinians against the rebels. Palestinian society was exhausted and depleted from three years of revolt: some 5,000 Palestinians were killed and nearly 15,000 wounded (in a population that did not exceed one million) and the political leadership had been exiled, killed, or set against one another. In this context, the British published the MacDonald White Paper in May 1939, which proposed limitations on Jewish immigration and land purchases and promised an independent unitary state after ten years, conditioned on favorable Palestinian-Jewish relations. Despite its limitations, it seemed to offer an escape from the crushing weight of Britain’s military counterinsurgency, and the revolt drew to a close over the summer of 1939.

The policies outlined in the White Paper were soon overtaken by the exigencies of a much larger geopolitical crisis within which Britain was engaged: World War II. During the war years, the AHC and other Palestinian political activity remained illegal, and much of the Palestinian political leadership thus remained in exile. Haj Amin al-Husseini, Mufti of Jerusalem and head of the AHC, fled in 1941 to the Axis countries, where he spent the war years—a fact later exploited by Zionists to allege widespread Palestinian collaboration with Nazism. In fact, some 23,000 Palestinians volunteered for service with British forces in North Africa and the Arab Legion. Many others worked in the various jobs that served British military forces stationed in Palestine during the war, and the economy in Palestine enjoyed a boom. Despite continued disillusionment with certain British policies, Palestinian sympathy for the Axis powers was a marginal phenomenon.

The war years are characterized by the increasing friction between Britain and the Zionist movement. Already strained by Zionist dissatisfaction with the 1939 White Paper, relations deteriorated further as Zionist organizations pressured Britain to raise limits on Jewish immigration to Palestine in light of the ongoing Holocaust in Europe. Illegal immigration continued and British attempts to stop it resulted in the sinking of ships carrying Jewish refugees in 1940 and 1942. Although some 27,000 Jews from Palestine enlisted in the British armed forces, the Zionist Right (Irgun and the Stern Gang) launched violent attacks against British officials, and the Zionist movement more broadly began to seek out alternative sponsorship.

In May 1942, a conference at the Biltmore Hotel in New York, attended by leading American Zionists and David Ben-Gurion representing the Jewish Agency, concluded with a call for the establishment of a “Jewish commonwealth” in all of Palestine and the organization of a Jewish army. In August 1945, U.S. President Harry S. Truman requested that the British admit 100,000 Jewish Holocaust survivors into Palestine and in December the U.S. Congress requested unlimited Jewish immigration into Palestine. American pressure on the British continued into 1946. With the support of a new Great Power sponsor thus secured and with their own position toward the Palestinians strengthened, the Zionists in Palestine would embark upon a concerted campaign—political and military—to push Britain out of Palestine and impose a Jewish state on the Palestinian population.

AW

 

Selected Bibliography

 ‘Amr, Sami. A Young Palestinian’s Diary, 1941–1945, trans. and introduced by Kimberly Katz, foreword by Salim Tamari. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2009.

Hughes, Matthew. “From Law and Order to Pacification: Britain’s Suppression of the 1936–1939 Arab Revolt in Palestine.Journal of Palestine Studies 39, no.2 (Winter 2010): 6–22.

Kanafani, Ghassan. The 1936–39 Revolt in Palestine. New York: Committee for a Democratic Palestine, 1972.

Swedenburg, Ted. Memories of Revolt: The 1936–1939 Rebellion and the Palestinian National Past. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2003.

III. Second Mandate Period
E.g., 2018/08/20
E.g., 2018/08/20

Second Mandate Period

1936

1937

1938

1939

1940

1941

1942

1943

1944

1945

1946

The Palestine War And The Nakba

1947

Popular action

First Phase of the Great Palestinian Rebellion
15 April 1936 - 23 July 1937

Popular action Institutional

Launch of the Rebellion
15 April 1936 - 7 May 1936

Legal Sanctions

Enactment of Emergency Regulations
19 April 1936

Popular action Violence

Rebels Launch Armed Resistance
May 1936

Sanctions

British Violent Repression
May 1936 - June 1936

Violence

British Secure Military Reinforcements
May 1936 - September 1936

Policy/program Violence

Appointment of the Peel Commission
18 May 1936

Popular action Policy/program

Memorandum of Arab Senior Government Officials to the High Commissioner
30 June 1936

Legal Sanctions

British Authorities' Collective Punishment
4 August 1936

Violence

Fawzi al-Qawuqji Aids the Great Palestine Rebellion
25 August 1936

Popular action Diplomatic

General Strike Called Off
11 October 1936

Policy/program Violence

Peel Commission Investigates the Cause of the Great Palestinian Rebellion
11 November 1936 - 7 July 1937

Popular action Violence

Second Phase of the Great Palestinian Rebellion
July 1937 - September 1938

Policy/program

Palestinians Reject Peel Commission Report
23 July 1937

Institutional Policy/program

20th Zionist Congress Meets in Zürich
3 August 1937 - 16 August 1937

Popular action Policy/program

Arab National Congress Convenes in Bludan
8 September 1937 - 9 September 1937

Violence

British Commissioner Is Assassinated
26 September 1937

Sanctions

Arab Higher Committee Is Banned
October 1937 - November 1937

Violence

Irgun Attacks on Palestinians
11 November 1937 - 14 November 1937

Sanctions Violence

Charles Tegart's Means of Control
3 December 1937

Policy/program

Palestine Partition (Woodhead) Commission
4 January 1938

Violence

Irgun Attacks Against Palestinians Intensify
July 1938 - August 1938

Popular action Violence

Third Phase of the Great Arab Revolt
September 1938 - July 1939

Violence Sanctions

Anti-British Operation and British Retaliation in al-Bassa
6 September 1938 - 10 September 1938

Institutional Violence

British Military Officers Replace Civilian Commissioners
October 1938

Popular action Policy/program

The "International Parliamentarian Congress of Arab and Islamic Countries in Support of Palestine" Is Held in Cairo
7 October 1938 - 11 October 1938

Policy/program Popular action

The Eastern Women's Congress in Defense of Palestine Is Held in Cairo
15 October 1938 - 18 October 1938

Policy/program Violence

British "Divide-and-Rule" Policy
November 1938 - May 1939

Policy/program Diplomatic

Partition (Woodhead) Commission Report Is Published
9 November 1938

Violence

Jewish-Arab Attacks Resume
30 January 1939 - 26 February 1939

Diplomatic

London Round Table Conference Convenes
7 February 1939 - 27 March 1939

Violence

Killing of Abd al-Rahim al-Hajj Muhammad
27 March 1939

Policy/program

MacDonald White Paper of 1939 Is Published
17 May 1939 - 23 May 1939

Violence

Wave of Irgun Attacks
2 June 1939 - 1 August 1939

Institutional Diplomatic

21st Zionist Congress Meets in Geneva
16 August 1939 - 25 August 1939

Institutional Violence

Military Recruitment in Palestine
3 September 1939

Policy/program Diplomatic

Stern Gang Calls for Alliance with Axis
October 1939

Legal Colonization

Land Transfer Regulations
20 February 1940

Policy/program

Blowing up of SS Patria
November 1940

Institutional Violence

Palmach Underground Is Established
14 May 1941

Violence

Killing of Avraham Stern
February 1942

Policy/program

Zionist Biltmore Conference Is Held in New York
6 May 1942 - 11 May 1942

Diplomatic Policy/program

Support in the United States for a Jewish Army
November 1942

Violence

Haganah Stockpiles Weapons
March 1943

Institutional Socio-Economic

Arab National Fund Reestablished
August 1943

Policy/program

Five-year Limit on Jewish Immigration Extended
November 1943

Policy/program

British Recommend Partition
December 1943

Policy/program Diplomatic

The US Congress Endorses the Biltmore Program in Joint Resolution
January 1944

Violence

Stern Gang and Irgun Start Operations Against British
January 1944 - March 1944

Policy/program Colonization

British Labour Party Favors Transfer of Palestinians
May 1944

Contextual Institutional

Alexandria Protocol and the League of Arab States
7 October 1944 - 22 March 1945

Violence

Stern Gang Assassinates Lord Moyne in Cairo
6 November 1944

Policy/program Diplomatic

US House of Representatives Supports Jewish Immigration to Palestine
January 1945

Diplomatic

Roosevelt and Ibn Saud Meet
14 February 1945

Contextual Violence

End of World War II
8 May 1945 - 15 August 1945

Violence

Pledge to Buy US Armament for the Haganah
July 1945

Institutional Policy/program

Labor Victory in Great Britain
26 July 1945

Diplomatic Colonization

Truman and Jewish Immigration to Palestine
31 August 1945

Violence Colonization

Coordinated Zionist Anti-British Activism
1 October 1945 - 31 October 1945

Policy/program

Bevin's Statement on Palestine
13 November 1945

Institutional

Attempt to Reconstitute the Arab Higher Committee for Palestine
22 November 1945 - 29 May 1946

Violence

Organized Irgun and Lehi Anti-British Attacks
24 November 1945 - 19 January 1946

Popular action

Palestinians Declare Strike to Protest Bevin's Policy Statement of November 1945
February 1946

Policy/program Diplomatic

Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry
6 March 1946 - 30 April 1946

Violence

An Irgun Attack on British
25 April 1946

Policy/program Violence

Haganah's Plan Gimmel
May 1946

Contextual

Independence of the Emirate of Transjordan and Establishment of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
25 May 1946

Diplomatic Policy/program

Arab League Holds First Summit on Palestine
28 May 1946 - 29 May 1946

Policy/program Colonization

President Truman Supports Jewish Immigration to Palestine
6 June 1946

Diplomatic

Arab League Meets in Bludan and Supervises the Establishment of a Unified Palestinian Arab Higher Committee
8 June 1946 - 12 June 1946

Violence

Series of Zionist Anti-British Attacks
17 June 1946 - 22 July 1946

Diplomatic Policy/program

Round Table Conference on Palestine Held in London
25 July 1946 - 11 September 1946

Policy/program Diplomatic

Anglo-American Conference Meets in London
31 July 1946

Policy/program Diplomatic

Jewish Agency Partition Plan Secures US Endorsement
5 August 1946 - 14 August 1946

Violence

New Wave of Zionist Anti-British Attacks
9 September 1946 - 2 December 1946

Institutional Policy/program

22nd Zionist Congress Is Held in Basel
9 December 1946 - 24 December 1946

Violence

Irgun Operations Against British Resume
29 December 1946 - 28 January 1947

Diplomatic Policy/program

London Round Table Conference Reopens and Fails
27 January 1947 - 18 February 1947

Violence

Deadly Zionist Anti-British Attacks
28 February 1947 - 1 March 1947