Last updated on: 6/25/2008 2:14:00 PM PST

What Were the 1929 Arab Riots?



General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Baruch Kimmerling, PhD, Professor of Sciology at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Joel S. Migdal, PhD, Professor of International Studies at the University of Washington, in their 2003 book The Palestinian People: A History, wrote the following:

"The gathering storm of nationalist and communal conflict between the Zionists and the Palestinian Arabs burst over religious rites and symbols. It did so, after a summer of almost incessant wrangling, in August, 1929, as a religious melee between Jews and Muslims. Muslims called for a holy war against the Jews and eventually against the British colonial power. With rallying cries of protecting the al-Aqsa Mosque, Muslims battled Jews, and then British troops, in a number of places in the country. The riots left nearly 250 Arabs and Jews dead and more than 500 wounded -- the worst episode of bloodletting until that time in Jewish-Arab relations.

The peak of these events occurred on Friday, August 23. Following rumors that the Jews were planning an attack on Haram al-Sharif, Arabs attacked Jewish quarters in Jerusalem, Safad, Tiberias, and Hebron, cities mainly populated by Orthodox anti-Zionist Jews. The locus of the horror was in Hebron, where 64 Jews -- men, women, and children -- were massacred, and the core of the old Jewish community of Hebron ceased to exist. The massacre of Hebron was a traumatic event in Arab-Jewish relations that exacerbated suspicions, mutual anxieties, and stereotypes."

2003 - Joel S. Migdal, PhD 
Baruch Kimmerling, PhD 

Mark Tessler, PhD, Samuel J. Eldersveld Collegiate Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan, in his 1994 book titled A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, wrote:

"In the increasingly tense atmosphere that prevailed in Jerusalem, both sides found ample provocation in the actions of the other. The Supreme Muslim Council under al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni goaded the Jews by suggesting that it might use the stones of the Wailing Wall to construct a highway. Al-Hajj Amin also played on Arab sensitivities by accusing the Jews of a plan to seize the entire Temple Mount area. On the other hand, Muslim fears were fed by the militant tone of the Zionist press and by the actions of the Revisionist wing of the Zionist movement, led by Jabotinsky. On August 16, a group of Revisionists marched to the Wall, whereupon they held 'an anti-Arab demonstration, with loud demands for [Jewish] ownership of the wall and the taking of an oath to defend it at all costs...'

Although the conflict between Arabs and Jews was not of a religious nature, these events intensified the antagonism between the two peoples and offered each an opportunity to express its growing frustration and anger. In the days that followed, a young Jew was stabbed by an Arab, the Zionists used the occasion of the boy's funeral to stage a major demonstration, and then, on August 23, an Arab mob armed with clubs and knives moved throughout the city, attacking Jews at random. The rioting lasted for several days and quickly spread to many other cities, with Jews being attacked in Tel Aviv, Haifa, Safed, Hebron, and elsewhere. British security forces, whose numbers had been reduced by Lord Plumer shortly before the end of his tenure as high commissioner, were unable to keep order. The security situation was made worse by the fact that Arabs in the police often refused to act against fellow Palestinians.

The Hagana succeeded in defending Jews in Tel Aviv and Haifa, and in launching a counterattack on one occasion, but 70 defenseless Jewish men, women, and children were killed in Hebron on August 24. Most Jews of Hebron were pious and belonged to the old Yishuv, the community being an ancient one centered on a Talmudic college. Eighteen Jews also were killed in Safed a few days later. Many more were wounded, and the Jewish quarter of the town was sacked while its terrified inhabitants took refuge in the police compound. Some of the attacks were particularly brutal, and accounts of these events are grisly and depressing. Sykes, an observer known for his impartiality, states that 'the infection of murder spread so rapidly that it is difficult and even impossible to believe that this sudden outbreak of savagery was unplanned.' By the time order had finally been restored, 133 Jews had been killed and 339 wounded, almost all by Arabs. Casualties on the Arab side included 116 killed and 232 wounded, most by British security forces."

1994 - Mark Tessler, PhD