Freas, Erik Eliav. “Christian versus Muslim Employment in Mandatory Palestine.” Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations (early view; online first).
During the British Mandate in Palestine, there existed among the majority Muslim Arab population a perception that the British favoured Christian Arabs for administrative positions. While such a preference was arguably justifiable during the early years of the Mandate, inasmuch as Christian Arabs were initially more qualified from an educational standpoint, over the ensuing years, the number of Muslim youths with a suitable, secular-based education very quickly increased. There nonetheless persisted a perception of Christian favouritism – that is, that Christians still enjoyed preferential treatment with respect to government employment – and this soon came to define a significant Muslim grievance, one that would periodically prove divisive between Muslim and Christian Arabs, not least within the context of the Palestinian nationalist movement. This article seeks to ascertain whether, on the basis of a statistical analysis of the actual numbers of Muslim and Christian Arabs employed by the British Mandatory government and their respective educational qualifications, Christian Arabs did in fact constitute a privileged group. Also considered (in light of certain sociological concepts regarding group and national identity) are the ramifications of such a perception – regardless of whether reflective of the actual reality – with respect to Muslim–Christian unity, the shaping of Palestinian Arab national identity and the relationship between Arab national identity and Islam.