by Dr. Rafael Medoff
"Demolishing the homes of Arab civilians" "Shooting handcuffed prisoners" "Forcing local Arabs to test areas where mines may have been planted" These sound like the sort of accusations made by British and other European officials concerning Israel´s recent actions in Jenin. In fact, they are descriptions from official British documents concerning the methods used by the British authorities to combat Palestinian Arab terrorism in Jenin and elsewhere in 1938.
The documents were declassified by
Under Emergency Regulation 19b, the British Mandate government could demolish any house located in a village where terrorists resided, even if that particular house had no direct connection to terrorist activity. Mandate official Hugh Foot later recalled: "When we thought that a village was harbouring rebels, we'd go there and mark one of the large houses. Then, if an incident was traced to that village, we'd blow up the house we'd marked." The High Commissioner for
The declassified documents also record discussions among officials of the Colonial Office concerning the anti-terror methods used in
There were many differences between British policy in the 1930s and Israeli policy today, but two stand out. THE FIRST IS that the British, faced with a level of Palestinian Arab terrorism considerably less lethal than that which Israel faces today, nevertheless utilized anti-terror methods considerably harsher than those used by Israeli forces. THE SECOND IS that when the situation became unbearable, the British could go home; the Israelis, by contrast, have no other place to go.
Dr. Medoff is Visiting Scholar in the Jewish Studies Program at SUNY-Purchase. His most recent book is Baksheesh Diplomacy: Secret Negotiations Between American Jewish Leaders and Arab Officials on the Eve of World War II (
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.