It is worth mentioning that during that period of the nineteenth century, there appeared in Bilad Al-Sham, including Palestine, what is known as national awareness with its modern concept, whose pillars were crystallized in Europe in parallel with the development of capitalism. Owing to the crystallization of this national awareness, in addition to the intellectual and cultural alertness in the Arabic nation that strived for unity, independence, and control of its economic resources, a general sentiment of defiance emanated against all forces that were foreign and occidental to this unified Arabic nation. Thus there was a patriotic alertness to stand up to the Zionist settlement and resist it in Palestine since its start. Nevertheless, such efforts were not translated into an organizational framework, which would be based on methodical foundations following a certain program. Contrary to the Zionist movement, which no sooner after holding a Zionist conference at Basel in Switzerland in 1897, they formed their organizations, in such a way that fulfills their goals.
It is noted that during the Ottoman rule, the government did not object to the dwelling of the Jews in its territories, but they objected to their migration from other countries to their regions, and heading specifically to Palestine. Ever since the beginning, the “Sublime Porte” issued instructions to its consuls to inform the Jews, desiring to migrate to Palestine, that they were not allowed to settle in Palestine as foreigners, and that they should acquire the Ottoman nationality, and abide by the enforced regulations in the provinces, where they wanted to reside. But despite the official stance of the Ottoman government, there was a noticeable increase in the Zionist settlement activity in Palestine, which occurred through twisted means, and through the support of the foreign consuls to them, and by giving bribes to the Ottoman government employees, who succumbed in some cases to the continuous pressure and insistence. In addition to this, the Jews’ endeavors in buying lands, and establishing settlements, did not wane for a day. History mentions that with the increase of the Zionist settlement movement, and the attempts to take over lands by all means, whether legitimate or not, the Arabic resistance movement started to grow, especially among the peasant and Bedouin, who fought against such settlements arising over their land, and forcing them out of it. Such resistance intensified till it pervaded most of the villages and cities, and the objection of people to this activity was conveyed to the Turkish Parliament through the Palestinian leaders, moreover, there was an intense attack on part of the opposition party for not putting an end to such practices. Nevertheless, the Zionist political power continued to augment, and the Zionist settling was further reinforced during the “Second Migration” in 1904-1914. All this can be traced to the corruption of the Ottoman administration during that time, and the connivance of some of the Masonic Ottomans and the Jews of Donma with the Zionist targets, in addition to the support of the consuls of the foreign countries to such acts.
The Zionist movement that prevailed among the European Jews arose in the late nineteenth century, the word Zionism is derived from the Hebrew word “ציון, Tziyyon”, which is the name of a mount situated at the southern west of Jerusalem, which the Jews call “Zion”. The Jews go on pilgrimage to this place, as they believe that King David (peace be upon him) is buried there. It is known that the Jews during that period and before it were no more than groups scattered all over the world, sharing no political, economic, social, or patrimonial ties, only the religious link is what binds them together, and this is owing to the melting away of these groups in the societies they lived in. Moreover, the Zionist claim of the presence of a “Jewish nationality” is no more than a fabrication, because such groupings lacked the factors of nationality that form it, which are the existence of a unified nation, one territory over which they reside, common language, habits, and conventions that they all share. The notion of Zionism had grown within the European civilized climate since the sixteenth century, and it flourished under the political atmosphere that was prevalent in Europe in the Nineteenth century (the Empirical atmosphere), and specifically in the year 1870. the Zionist notion was founded on the basis of establishing a national home to the Jews in Palestine following the bargain that was concluded between the Zionist movement and the British colonization on the basis of Balfour declaration in the year 1917.
When the British troops succeeded in entering the countries by means of deception, they were received warmly as being liberating rather than occupying troops, but then after the arrival of the Zionist Committee, the Arab discerned the danger lurking to them, where the British government consented on sending such committee to Palestine so that “it accomplishes any steps that are exigent for the execution of the government‘s declaration concerning the establishment of a national home to the Jewish people in Palestine under the authority of the British General, and at the same time quieting the doubts of the Arab concerning the real Zionist intentions.”
In addition to this, the occupying military administration worked on preparing Palestine gradually to become a national home to the Zionists with all possible means and ways. What has occurred following the arrival of the Zionist Committee is considered a matter hard to believe, which was the establishment of a national country to the Jews in a country with more than 92% of its population from the Palestinian Arab.
At the outset of this period Britain had undertaken the mandate act over Palestine to govern the country according to the League of Nations’ Covenant, although Britain did not need to start executing the terms of the act, because it was already practicing its control over Palestine years before the issuing of this mandate, and that according to its Zionist colonizing policy, which was mainly based on subjugation and the power of the weapon till the year 1948. During that period the organizations in the country did not show any progress, thus the Palestinian Arabs had no other resort but to submit their complaints to the permanent Mandate committee in Geneva, but this Committee had no authorization to carry out inspections and follow-up in the mandated countries. Thus the Arab Citizens had no other resort all during the British mandate period but to protest, resist, and stage demonstrations, in addition to mutiny and civil disobedience, which resulted in severe clashes with the British troops and the Jewish settlers on one side and the Palestinians on the other. In the year 1924, the High Commissioner Herbert Samuel drafted a new Palestinian monetary project, and on February 1927 an act of the Palestinian currency was issued, But the people accused the government that it could not coin whatever it wanted without control because that would harm the Arab economy. In addition to this, the efforts of the High Commissioner was fruitful in issuing the Palestinian nationality act, according to it the settled Jews were granted the Palestinian nationality. During two consecutive rounds of the session of the League of Nations (1924-1925), the British government stated plainly that it did not consent to the establishment of a legislative council in Palestine that would be based on proportional representation, where the Palestinian Arab could have in it the sweeping majority, which in turn could obstruct the mission that the government had shouldered in securing a national home to the Jews. After the termination of the service of the High Commissioner Herbert Samuel, Lord Hebert Charles Blumer was appointed as High Commissioner on Palestine on August 1925, where he stayed in this post for three years.
· In March 1925, Balfour visited Jerusalem to participate in the inauguration of a Hebrew University, which was erected on the Arab land, over Al-Zytoun Mount that the British authorities had usurped from its owners by force, and gave to the Zionists in 1918. Upon such a visit, huge demonstration were staged and Palestine declared a general strike against Balfour’s visit and huge demonstrations were staged against him, which forced the British authorities to make Balfour depart to Beirut, where he embarked on a ship bound directly for his home country. It is recorded that during the first ten years of the British Mandate, around 76400 Jewish immigrants entered Palestine, most of them were from countries of eastern Europe. With the continuous increase in the emigration activity, the Arabs felt the necessity to resist the Zionist acts, and the bias of the authorities to it. Thus revolution erupted, which was triggered by Al-Buraq accident in September 1928, where the Jews attempted to lay hands on the western wall of Al-Aqsa Mosque, which belongs to the Muslims, such an act resulted in rallying Arabic support to the Palestinian issue in the Arabic regions, and was the beginning of what came to be known as the Buraq revolution that witnessed bloody incidents, where the Arabs started attacking the Jewish districts in Al-Khalil (Hebron), Nablus, Bysan, and Safad. Thereupon, the British troops rose to the defense of the Jews, using their air force, infantry forces, and armored-clad warships, inflicting the severest means of repression against the Arabic protesters, who turned to the Egyptian forces for help. They destroyed villages, like Deir Yassin, Lifta, and others. More than thousand persons were put on trial, most of whom were from the Arab, 26 persons were sentenced to death, among whom 25 Arab and only one Jew. In the year 1930, the number of Jewish immigrants reached 104.750, and in the next six years it reached 284.645, which meant an increase that amounted to 164%; although this number does not comprise those who entered the country through illegal ways. In the eve of the anniversary of Al-Isra’ (the Night Journey)1 and Al-Mi’raj (the Ascension to Heaven)2 in December 1931, an Islamic conference was held, which was attended by representatives from twenty-two Islamic countries, and a group of public figures in the Arabic world. During the opening of the conference the Mufti, Muhammad Amin Al-Hussainy, stressed on the importance of Palestine and Al-Aqsa to the Islamic world. In addition, the conference affirmed its denunciation of Zionism, the British policy adopted in Palestine, and the emigration of the Jews to it. The conference came out with a decision to establish an Islamic University in Jerusalem, boycotting all Jewish products in the Islamic regions, and establishing an agricultural company in Palestine to rescue the lands of the Muslims.
· In July 1931, a formal statement was issued, appointing General Arthur Grenfell Wauchope as High Commissioner in Palestine. Wauchope arrived at Palestine carrying with him instructions to reinforce the issue of establishing a national home to the Jews, employing stalling and delaying tactics against Arab demands, together with increasing the Jewish population to be the majority in Palestine, while proposing to the Arabs false projects to distract them.
· In August 1932, a declaration of establishing the Independence Party was issued, which pledged to strive against colonization, fight the Jewish emigration, and work on achieving Arab unity. The independents repeated their rejection of Balfour Declaration and the British Mandate, they disclosed the existing coalition between Zionism and the British colonization, in addition to this, they affirmed that one-third of the country‘s budget was designated to security and defense matters, because of the government‘s endeavors to build a foreign national home against the Palestinians will.
· At the beginning of the year 1932, a conference for the Palestinian youths was held in Yafah to discuss recruiting them in the service of the National Movement.
· By the end of the year 1934, according to Bill Committee, the number of Jewish immigrants reached around 42.359 compared to 30327 in the year 1933, and 9553 in the year 1932.
· And by the end of the year 1935 the number of Jewish immigrants reached 61854, who came to Palestine from all over Europe. Moreover, the official statistics indicated that by the advent of the year 1935, the number of Jews in Palestine became twice as much as it was in 1929, thus the Jews represented one-fourth of the total census of the country.
The British Mandate realized how critical the situation was in Palestine, when the country witnessed the revolution of Sheikh Eiz Al-Din Al-Qasam, who dedicated himself together with a group of mujahideen to defend the land of Palestine. He won martyrdom in Jenin, after a military combat with the British Mandate army. Directly after this incident, Britain commanded its High Commissioner Wauchope, after one month following the martyrdom of Al-Qasam, to put forward the project of the Legislative Council before the Arabs and the Jews, in response to the requests presented by the Palestinian political parties board in November, the project stated the following:
1. The offer made by the government in December 1935 concerning the draft of the new constitution represented a practical step towards democratic ruling, when it suggested a legislative council with an unofficial large majority.
2. Concerning the selling of lands, the government decided to pass a law that prohibited selling lands, except if the Arabic owner kept a piece of land that suffices him and his family.
3. The rate of Jewish emigration was calculated minutely according to the capacity of the country, a new statistical office was established to assess such rate.
In February 1936, revolution erupted following a small incident, which was the spark that flared the emotions of the Arabs of Palestine, where they expressed their inability to tolerate anything more. The revolution started when a Jewish contractor refused to hire any Arabic laborer in the construction of three schools in Yafah, which he agreed with the government to build. As a consequence, the Arabic laborers congregated at the school location, and prevented the Jewish laborers from reaching the working area. In 15 April, a Jew was killed and another was seriously injured, thereupon the Jews retaliated by slaughtering Arabic peasants inside their houses, which was the spark that set the fire, as violence escalated, and tension heightened all over Palestine, claiming many lives and causing lots of causalities in both sides. On the other hand, the interception of the British army to subdue the Arabic demonstrations, caused many causalities and death amongst Arabs. A general strike was declared all over Palestine, and the national resistance movement increased, where it became organized into groups, centrally fortified on mountains, then many volunteers joined them from east of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq. Thus the resisting groups turned into an armed national revolution backed up by all classes. The Revolution employed many ways of struggling like destroying bridges, exploding railways and oil pipes, in addition to attacking the military barracks, and bombarding locations for the British army. On the other side, the British troops used in many cases warplanes, armor, and artillery to quell and subdue this revolution, which only intensified people’s revolt.
Meanwhile, there were endeavors on the part of Arabic countries to mediate between the Supreme Arab Committee and the British government, where a joint call was issued on the part of king Bin Sa’aud, king Ghazi, and prince Abdullah on 10th of October to the head of the Arab Committee and to the Arabs of Palestine, where they stated the following:
“We were deeply hurt by the current status in Palestine, and we in agreement with the Kings of Arabs and Prince Abdullah, call you to resort to peacefulness to stop blood shedding, depending on the good intentions of our friend, the British government, and its declared desire to achieve justice, and having confidence that we will continue exerting efforts to help you.”
As a consequence, the Supreme Arab Committee declared ending the strike, and called people to perform prayer for the souls of the martyrs, who reached two thousand Arabs.
1 The miraculous night journey during which the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was taken from Al-Masjid Al-Harâm (at Mecca) to the farthest Masjid (in Jerusalem).
2 The miraculous ascension of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, from Jerusalem to the Heavens to meet his Lord.