The outbreak of the 1936 riots immediately motivated the Jews of Jaffa to sever their ties with that city in favour of annexation to Tel Aviv. This demand became one of the thorniest and most sensitive problems on the local level, and engaged the British authorities right up to the end of the Mandate. It also became a concern of the highest order for the institutions of the yishuv, bound up with the Zionist struggle as a whole. This article focuses on the origin of the problem and its treatment from 1936 to 1939. The activity of the Jewish side is studied as being in conflict with that of the British and Arab side. From the outset, a solution hardly seemed likely. As long as the authorities preferred a policy of non-involvement, the issue remained a quarrel between the Jews and the Arabs. Although this period ended without any progress towards a settlement, it produced several notable gains for the Jewish side that formed a basis for continued action towards annexation in the years to come.
This article concerning the Great Revolt of 1936–39 is based on archival research conducted in England and Israel in 2011–12. It argues that British resort to harsh repressive measures during the 1936 phase of the revolt began earlier, endured longer, and occurred more frequently than scholars have hitherto recognized. It contends further that this oversight is an instance of a broader trend in the scholarship: namely, the internalization of the pervasive tendency in British and Zionist archival materials to characterize the rebellion as a crime wave, to which the Mandate merely responded, rather than provoked.
The World Islamic Conference, held in Jerusalem in 1931 under the auspices of Hajj Amin al-Husayni and the Supreme Muslim Council, marked a turning point in the Palestinian nationalist struggle as well as in the struggle between the two main factions—the more extremist one led by Hajj Amin and the more moderate Opposition—for control of the Palestinian leadership. The Conference, though co-sponsored by Shawkat `Ali and the Muslim Indian Congress, and ostensibly representative of the worldwide community of Muslims, was effectively dominated by Hajj Amin and his Palestinian supporters. Through his control of its proceedings, Hajj Amin was able to redefine the Palestinian nationalist cause as essentially a pan-Islamic one, in connection with the perceived need to defend the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem against Zionist encroachment. Contrasted here with the World Islamic Conference (and held concurrently with it) is the Second Arab Orthodox Congress. Whereas the World Islamic Conference sought to redefine an issue arguably specific to Palestine as pan-Islamic, the local Christian Orthodox community, in keeping with its desire to Arabise Palestine’s Greek Orthodox Church (hence their self-designation as the Arab Orthodox Church in Palestine), sought to redefine what was essentially a religious matter—concerning the succession of the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem—in nationalist terms. It was not simply a matter of differing ideological perspectives; defining the cause of the Haram al-Sharif as a pan-Islamic one also served a political objective, namely the enhancement of Hajj Amin’s position vis-à-vis his political rivals. Nonetheless, whatever the motivations involved, this development was a factor in the marginalisation of the Christian Arab component of the Palestinian nationalist movement. Whereas at the start of the British Mandate they had played a role disproportionately large relative to their actual numbers, by its end, their role in the nationalist movement had diminished almost to the point of near inconsequence, as evidenced, for instance, by their marginal involvement in the Arab Revolt (1936-1939).
In response to the outbreak of the Arab Revolt of 1936, a coterie of five prominent entrepreneurs and intellectuals in the Mandatory Jewish community formulated a capitalist binationalist resolution of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. This paper examines the genesis of and debate over the little-known Concord they proposed and compares it with better-known liberal and socialist binationalist plans. “The Five,” as they came to be known, were the only binationalists seeking to base political parity on economic integration. The occasion of their blueprint allows further exploration of the preconditions for an effective binationalist program, among them the structure of labor markets, political preferences of minorities and majorities in regard to sovereignty, and levels of mutual trust. Ultimately, binationalist resolutions of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict were precluded by the Labor Settlement Movement’s separatist state-building strategy.
The concept of the first Hebrew city has shaped the identity of Tel Aviv as it progressed from a garden suburb to a metropolis. Nevertheless, this concept was contested by Zionist leaders, who were inclined to consider the rural settlement venture as the harbinger of the national endeavour and the city as the depiction of diaspora lifestyles. The events of the 1936-1939 Arab Revolt and the refugee problem it created subjected the identity of Tel Aviv as a model urban Zionist entity to a critical test. The city had to confront the exposure of its poorer sections whose population bore the burden of the Arab attacks. The sudden arrival in the streets of central and northern Tel Aviv of poor refugees fleeing the southern sector of its urban area strikingly revealed the chasm between the concept of the first Hebrew city and the urban reality. Therefore, care for the refugees also involved the preservation of the identity of Tel Aviv as the first Hebrew city and its place as a major spatial constituent of the national revival project.