Dear Palestine
A Social History of the 1948 War
Shay Hazkani




IN 1948 VOLUNTEERS FROM ACROSS THE ARAB WORLD ASSEMBLED into a five-thousand-strong fighting force called the Arab Liberation Army (ALA), intent on joining with Palestinians to prevent the partition of Palestine and the establishment of the Jewish state. As one newspaper described:

You find among them Saudis who jump fences like tigers, Yemenis who race with the gazelles, and robust Iraqis who are resolved and brave. You also find Syrians, Lebanese, Kuwaitis, Transjordanians, and fourteen-year-olds who left their school benches in Damascus and Baghdad and volunteered for the Arab Liberation Army.1

One of the “robust Iraqis” was Abdullah Dawud and he was Jewish. Born in ʿAnah along the Euphrates river, Dawud served in the Iraqi brigade of the volunteer army and actually fought against fellow Jews in the ALA’s attack on Kibbutz Mishmar ha-ʿEmek, south of Nazareth, on April 4, 1948.2 In 1950 Dawud immigrated to Israel as part of the large wave of immigrants from Iraq that put an end to over two thousand years of Jewish civilization in Mesopotamia. For decades he kept his past in the ALA a secret, but shortly before his death, he decided it was time to come clean. A journalist, looking for a sensationalist story about Iraqi Jews in 1990—only months before the US-led military campaign to drive the Iraqis out of Kuwait—heard the rumor and tracked him down.3

At first Dawud insisted that he was forced to enlist, and that he feared for his life. But as the interview went on, it became clear that he was rather proud of his time with the ALA and especially of his talent as a sniper. “I was such a great soldier,” he boasted, “that my officer, Husayn, who was a real bastard, told me: Abduallah, too bad you are Jewish.” But the journalist interviewing him was not amused. She was baffled by Dawud’s willingness to fight his coreligionists. “Didn’t you think of escaping to the kibbutz and joining the fighters there?” she pressed. Dawud explained that it was not an option: “I shot in the direction I was told to. I’m telling the truth. I’m not hiding anything. I knew I was shooting at Jews like me, but what could I have done? If I [acted] funny they would have killed me.” But the journalist was not convinced, commenting that it appeared Dawud did not agonize about shooting Jews, not then and not now. To her, he appeared indifferent.4

The reason the reporter was irked with Dawud’s response was that his story undermined the conventional narrative of the 1948 war, as one characterized predominantly by the dichotomy of Arab versus Jew. After all, hundreds, if not thousands, of books and articles have told this story. They point to clearly drawn battle lines with an age-old history, and an intractable present and future.

Abdullah Dawud’s case was certainly exceptional—a “man bites dog” kind of story—but like the other stories told in this book, it complicates 1948, and suggests far messier battle lines than previously considered. Indeed, many Jews and Arabs were pitted against one another in 1948, but so were numerous other ethnic and class-based subgroups within those two categories: Ashkenazi Jews, who came from Europe, saw Mizrahi Jews, who immigrated from Arab lands, as inferior, prompting the latter to reconsider their relationship to Zionism; American Jews saw Sabra Jews (who were born in Palestine) as violent, chauvinist nationalists, while the Sabras saw American Jews as soft-hearted and effeminate; Palestinians demanded that Arab leaders make good on their promise to save Palestine, while Arab leaders demanded that Palestinians stay put and not flee even in the face of the deadliest attacks against them; Arab volunteers became enraged with their leaders after discovering the ineffectiveness of the Arab League’s volunteer army, while Arab leaders, in turn, were fearful the volunteers would try to force them out of office. And on both sides, elites had very different aspirations and concerns than nonelites. However, it is not only the Arab/Jew binary that this book seeks to destabilize. Some of the seemingly opposing subgroups cited above actually had similar experiences in 1948, like young Arabs and Jews from the middle classes who were attracted to militarism, or Palestinians and Mizrahi Jews who both wished to return to their former homelands—Palestinians to Palestine and Moroccan Jews to Morocco. But 1948 not only occasioned conflicts and parallels between preformed groups who had made their way to Palestine. The war also rendered these categories meaningful in the first place, as its participants discovered what it meant to have their identity reduced to “Jew” or “Arab,” in some cases for the first time.

FIGURE 1. An Israeli soldier writing a letter during the 1948 war. Source: The Israel Defense Forces and Defense Establishment Archives (IDFA).

These divisions and fractures, uncomfortable truths and surreal alliances have been downplayed and subordinated to a dominant ethnonational division between Jews and Arabs in the scholarship of the last several decades. This book seeks to bring these interactions to light through an examination of previously unseen personal letters of Jews and Arabs from the war, most of whom fought in the ranks of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) or the Arab League’s volunteer army, the ALA. The stories told by ordinary people about the war in these letters are far more diverse and complex than the nationalist fervor and unquestioning loyalty usually imputed to them.

Understanding what ordinary people said to one another in private letters, however, is impossible without also taking into account the efforts of elites (be they military, state, party, or tribal) to inculcate certain ideologies in them. To do so, this book also examines battle orders, pamphlets, army magazines, and radio broadcasts used to mobilize young men and women and to educate and indoctrinate them in their respective armies. Reading indoctrination materials alongside soldiers’ letters reveals important and enduring fissures in the ideological edifices of Middle Eastern nationalisms precisely at the moment when, by most accounts, these conceptions of nationalism crystallized.5 For example, the IDF command tried to teach Ashkenazi Jews that organized violence was in line with Jewish tradition. It tried to convince Mizrahi Jews that killing the Arab enemy in Palestine would be payback for their parents’ suffering under Arab rule in the purported diaspora. But Ashkenazi soldiers were not easily convinced of the univocal view of violence in Judaism, and many Mizrahi soldiers did not feel that the Arabs were necessarily the enemy. This tension between the official narrative and lived experience also surfaced in the ALA. The army’s propagandists aimed to restrict Arab volunteers’ revolutionary zeal to fighting Jews by implanting the view that Jews transgressed the boundaries of their traditional place in Islamic society, only to discover that some volunteers and their families were not willing to separate the fight in Palestine from their struggle against their own corrupt governments.


The history of Palestine from the late nineteenth century until 1948 encapsulates more than the plight of Jews in Europe, their colonization of Palestine, and the resistance of Palestine’s indigenous Arab population to that colonization. It also demonstrates how younger generations of European Jews and the Arabs that came of age in the shadow of the Ottoman Empire’s dissolution internalized the racist European gaze and envisioned similar solutions to combat it. The adoption of aspects of the antisemitic discourse about the “degenerate” Jew had brought some European Jews to embrace a masculine militarist culture in the hope of regenerating the “Jewish race.” Meanwhile, European colonialism in Arab lands—and the Orientalist stereotyping associated with it—engendered a similar attraction to scouting and militarism among some Arabs. The adoption of a masculine militarist culture on both sides helps explain why thousands, Jews as well as Arabs, came to fight in Palestine in 1948. This is not to say that both sides bear equal blame for 1948, that there were no power imbalances that fundamentally shaped this history, or, indeed, that militarism is the underlying reason for the war. Rather, I wish to weave together the various strands of modern Jewish and Middle Eastern history to illuminate a salient parallelism in the response to European racist stereotyping, and to show the role of that thinking all the way up to and through 1948.

Zionism emerged in late nineteenth-century Europe, founded upon the conviction that Jews should be allowed to live as a “normal” people under their own sovereignty. The movement’s emergence was closely related to the creation a few decades earlier of a “Jewish international.” Like other forms of religious internationalism in the modern period, the “Jewish international” was characterized by the active participation of Jews in a newly created public sphere, mostly through the press.6 Early espousers of Zionism, as nonobservant Jews, were on the fringes of the “Jewish international.”7 They were influenced by the Jewish Enlightenment (haskala)—an intellectual movement from the late eighteenth century inspired by its European predecessor—which weakened the traditional rabbinical leadership in Europe. Within this cultural revival, ideas like nationalism became popular among European Jews, as they did among non-Jews. When it became apparent that many European nation-states were not genuinely willing to integrate their Jewish populations on an equal basis, a minority of Jews turned to Zionism as a solution to European antisemitism. Some Zionists initially considered places outside of Palestine to establish Jewish sovereignty, but that idea was abandoned by 1905, and Palestine emerged in the movement as the sole destination for Jewish migration. This also allowed a small group of Orthodox Jews to become active participants in Zionism and see immigration to Palestine as part of the messianic process (they would come to be known as “religious Zionists”). Against those comparatively few, the majority of observant Jews in Europe opposed Zionism as a form of “false messianism.” This was not the case among the Jews of Arab lands. Zionism was not seen as infringing on Jewish tenets, but neither did it generate much interest until the late 1940s.8

For many early Zionists, including the founding father of political Zionism, Theodor Herzl, European settler colonialism—especially the German experience before the First World War—was a model. In the German case, the Colonization Commission (Ansiedlungskommission), set up in 1886 by Otto von Bismarck, worked to transfer lands from Polish to German ownership in Poznan and West Prussia in order to transform the demographic balance there and reduce the Slavs to a minority population, subdued and depoliticized. The commission bought large farms from Poles, divided them into small parcels, and settled German farmers on them. Arthur Ruppin, who headed the Palestine office of the Zionist Organization (ZO), was born in Poznan and explicitly sought to replicate this model to transform the demographic balance in Palestine in favor of the Jews. To centralize the purchase of Arab lands and prevent the resale of Jewish-owned land to Arabs, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) was established in 1901. By 1907 Ruppin helped set up the Palestine Land Development Company (PLDC) along the lines of the German Colonization Commission, and even hired a former official from the German commission as a special advisor. The PLDC aimed to create homogeneous groups of Jewish farmers and support new agricultural settlements. Many of those farmers were Jews from eastern Europe, where antisemitic violence intensified in the late nineteenth century.9

In the Arab world, European expansion into the Ottoman Empire was a malady of similar magnitude. France sponsored autonomous Christian rule in Mount Lebanon in 1861; Algeria and Tunisia were occupied by the French in 1831 and 1881, respectively, and Libya by Italy in 1911. Most egregious in the eyes of many was Britain’s occupation of Egypt in 1882. These crises spurred Arab intellectuals, religious scholars, and others to debate how to reverse what they saw as a long “decline” in Arab civilization, which had allowed its colonization. Many of the responses to this perceived decline were not in the realm of politics. In fact, much like the Jewish Enlightenment, the Arab renaissance, known as the nahda, was first and foremost an intellectual movement. However, like elsewhere in the non-Western world, the envisioned political solutions to the crisis included westernization, newly imagined forms of nationalism, religious reform, and ideologies like socialism, communism, and fascism, each incorporating varying degrees of anticolonialism. Many young men and women who espoused these ideologies belonged to a new urban middle class that was the product of several decades of Ottoman reforms. Some hailed from urban families; others were the first to be born in the big cities after their parents migrated there from the countryside for economic reasons. Many began their education in Ottoman institutions or mission schools, later to continue in state-sponsored schools of the colonial governments.10

For some early Zionists, projecting strength was appealing, as it became a few decades later for Arab nationalists. These early Zionists internalized certain aspects of European antisemitism, including the supposed emasculation, sickliness, and submissiveness of the Ostjuden (eastern European Jew)—and sought to reverse the decline.11 Unlike European antisemites, however, prominent Zionist thinkers from the late nineteenth century maintained that the Jewish race could regenerate and restore its glory from biblical times, especially its military might.12

One can trace this Zionist aspiration to be “a nation like all other nations” (ke-khol ha-goyim) to Herzl himself. But the first Jewish thinkers to associate “normalcy” with the use of force were Micha Berdichevsky and (later) Shaul Tchernichovsky, who were active at the turn of the nineteenth century.13 Both attempted, in their writings, to “rediscover” legends from the Jewish past that emphasized heroism, sacrifice, and militarism over “Jewish wisdom.”14 Berdichevsky’s writings vilified rabbinic Judaism in particular because, in his view, it intentionally suppressed the Bible’s militancy and replaced it with cowardice and weakness, which defined generations of Jews.15 Adopting some of these views, Max Nordau, a Hungarian Zionist and a close confidant of Herzl, wanted to create a new “muscular Judaism” (Muskeljudentum), transforming the artisan and petty merchant into a soldier or a farmer.16 “Let us take up our oldest traditions; let us once more become deep-chested, sturdy, sharp-eyed men,” he wrote in a famous 1903 essay calling for the introduction of gymnastics into the Jewish education system.17 Capitalizing on these ideas, European Zionist organizations (among others) began to offer physical education, bodybuilding, and eventually military training to young middle-class Jewish men. Although women were not initially envisioned as part of the Jewish “regeneration,” many female Zionist settlers saw themselves as integral to the project early on.18

The idea of being “a nation like all other nations” was closely related to what many Zionists saw as the “negation of exile” (shlilat ha-galut). Berdichevsky, for example, maintained that Jewish life in the diaspora held no value and that the ultimate solution for antisemitism was immigration to Palestine.19 Only modern Jewish nationalism—later equated with the struggle for political sovereignty in Palestine—could allow Jews to transcend two millennia of supposed passivity and “return to history” (ha-shivah la-historiyah).20 Agency, among other things, was to be attained through the creation of a sovereign Jewish army.21 Personal letters, showcased in this book, show that fifty years after these ideas were first introduced by the Zionist movement—and just as militarism ebbed elsewhere in the aftermath of the Second World War—most Jews in Palestine embraced them, with a few notable dissenters.

Like those who adopted militarism, the dissenters could also trace their views back to an ideological current from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This ideology rejected force as a means of advancing Zionist goals, emphasizing the moral aspects of Judaism and what its adherents saw as Judaism’s nonviolent nature. Such school of thought was primarily associated with Asher Ginsberg, known by his pen name Ahad Haʿam (“one of the people”).22 Ahad Haʿam believed that what made the Jewish people distinct was their spiritual power, going back as far as the biblical prophets. To him, the Jews had a redemptive role to play, not just for their own sake but for humanity as a whole. Zion must become a “light unto nations” (or la-goyim, Isaiah 42:6) and serve as a spiritual center for the entire human race. It was only natural, in this view, that Zionists reject the gentile way of war.23

It took several decades of Zionist immigration to Palestine for these theoretical discussions to reemerge as policy. For the first thirty years of Zionist colonization, despite verbal protest, the Ottoman Empire generally tolerated the immigration of European Jews to Palestine as long as they did not call for secession. (A relatively small community of Ashkenazi and Mizrahi Jews had lived in Palestine continuously from ancient times, but they were not Zionist, and usually sought to live in the four cities most religiously significant for Jews.) The Ottomans also tolerated extensive land purchases by Zionist organizations in Palestine, even when it meant the dispossession of Palestine’s indigenous Arab peasants, who worked the overwhelming majority of the land (this dispossession troubled Ahad Haʿam among others).24 In fact, it was a new Ottoman land code in the mid-nineteenth century that, contrary to its intention, led many Arab peasants to lose the usufruct and other rights to their land in Palestine, thus putting that land on the market for Zionist organizations to buy.25 Compounding the Arab landlessness crisis was a “conquest of labor” (kibbush ha-ʿavoda) policy adopted by Jewish settlers in the second wave of immigration to Palestine (the Second Aliyah, which extended from 1904 to 1914). Born of the realization that Jewish men and women could not effectively compete in the predominantly Arab labor market, the policy specified that only Jews could work in Zionist agricultural settlements, thereby eliminating the competition with Arab labor.26 By the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, Zionist colonization and the ejection of Arab peasants had provoked armed clashes between individual Jews and Arabs on several occasions. Such clashes intensified with the lifting of Ottoman censorship and the development of the Arabic-language press in Palestine after the constitutional revolution of 1908. With a relatively free press, a far greater number of Arabs throughout the Ottoman Empire learned of the European Jewish settler project and its consequences.27 This new Arab press was also instrumental in mobilizing volunteers to fight in 1948.

The 1908 Ottoman constitutional revolution—launched by reform-minded bureaucrats in Istanbul—inspired more than a free press. The reestablishment of the Ottoman parliament and the promise of citizenship, equality, and freedom attracted many middle-class Arabs (including some Jews) in Palestine to Ottomanism (Osmanlılık), a late nineteenth-century identification with the Ottoman state, inspired by European nationalism. But by the time the First World War was under way, the support for Ottomanism had faded, largely because of the brutality of the Ottoman military in Greater Syria (which included parts of modern-day Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine/Israel). A British-sponsored revolt in the name of Arab nationalism against the Ottoman Empire in 1916 may have also played a role in the evolution of new identities in the region. In fact, the British had made wartime promises to leave the Arab domains united under the leadership of the Hashemites, the Hijazi family of notables that led the revolt. These promises for a pan-Arab kingdom were not kept. The dismantling of the empire at the end of the war delivered a last blow to the fledgling Ottoman identity in Greater Syria, and by 1919 Syrian nationalism became popular, especially among urban elites.28

Arab nationalism in Greater Syria received a major boost in 1917 when the British announced they would sponsor Zionism. Herzl had already envisioned sponsorship by a Great Power, but he failed to convince any world power to embrace Zionism.29 The 1917 Balfour Declaration, thirteen years after Herzl’s death, was the realization of his dream. According to the British cabinet, “His Majesty’s Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”30 Although Jews (Zionist and non-Zionist) were only 9 percent of Palestine’s population (numbering 60,000), the declaration did not explicitly mention the Arab majority (numbering 640,000), but only referred to them as “non-Jewish communities.” This was purposeful, since—in the words of Foreign Secretary Balfour—“in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country.”31

In the aftermath of the World War, Britain and France divided the Arab domains of the Ottoman Empire between them. Under the auspices of the League of Nations (the predecessor to the United Nations), the Great Powers imposed an arrangement known as the “mandates system.” While promising “administrative advice and assistance” to prepare nations for self-rule, in practice the mandates were a thinly veiled form of colonialism.32 In Palestine the British mandate charter of 1922 included the Balfour Declaration, which the majority of the region’s Arab inhabitants vehemently opposed. Some continued to regard Palestine as “southern Syria,” an indivisible part of Greater Syria, but the breakup of the region into different mandates made a Palestine-centric national identity popular among Palestine’s Arab inhabitants.33

Nearby, former Arab officers in the Ottoman army led revolts in the mandated territories of Iraq and Syria in 1919 and 1925, respectively. (Local notables in Egypt also led a revolt in 1919.) These revolts brought together grassroots agendas and the political ambition of the former Ottoman officers. A source of inspiration was also the success of an Ottoman officer, Mustafa Kemal, in the Turkish war of independence. Kemal’s army forced militarily superior European empires to abandon their plans to colonize parts of Anatolia following the Ottoman defeat in the First World War. Many of the Arab officers who led the revolts, dubbed by one scholar as “the last Ottoman generation,” knew each other, and Kemal, personally from their time at the Ottoman military academies. They demanded Arab unity and attracted a considerable following, even if those whom they led did not all agree on the precise borders, economic schemes, and system of governance for the Arab domains.34 Ultimately, the revolts were crushed by Britain’s and France’s superior military power, but the insurgents did manage to extract concessions, including border corrections and constitutions. Subsequently, most of the revolts’ leaders joined the postrevolutionary dual-government system, where national elites worked alongside colonial officials to govern the mandates. Still, many middle-class young people saw “the last Ottoman generation” as heroes who dared to confront colonialism, and some former Ottoman officers continued to harbor desires to overthrow the colonial administrations and unify the Arab world.35

Some of the young sympathizers of the former Ottoman officers from Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and Iraq joined paramilitary youth organizations in the interwar years. Scouting troops had existed in the Middle East since at least 1912. They were based on principles embraced around the world, such as chivalrous masculinity and national service, introduced by a British general, Robert Baden-Powell, in his 1909 book Scouting for Boys. Scouting in the British Commonwealth also directed young men to remain loyal to God and king, a quality colonial officials sought to embed in Middle East scouting troops. Local elites, however, quickly appropriated scouting, like many other institutions, for a variety of reasons, including challenging colonialism.36 In fact, for some nationalists, the Baden-Powell model of masculinity was insufficient. Akram Zuʿaytir, a prominent Palestinian pan-Arabist, advocated in 1933 that the Arab scouts should “become a strong military organization—not boys like those of Baden-Powell, but young men who would save the country and enjoy the confidence of the people.”37

Several scholars have pointed out how the Axis powers—and especially Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany—inspired paramilitary groups in the Middle East, such as in the use of names, salutes, uniforms, and chants.38 Without downplaying these important crossovers, I argue these were not textbook Fascist movements as they neither advanced a radical agenda nor rejected liberal ideology nor even adhered to one strong leader.39 In fact, a close examination of paramilitary movements in the Arab world reveals striking similarities to Zionist militarism and its underlying anxieties regarding impaired masculinity. Not unlike European Jews, some Arab intellectuals internalized the European colonial gaze that saw them as emasculated and submissive. Racial decline, some believed, was the reason for their colonization by Europe.40 By focusing on bodybuilding, discipline, and military parades in the streets of Cairo, Baghdad, Damascus, Nablus, and Aleppo, young Arab men believed they could restore Arab masculinity, and by extension the Arab nation. Some reminisced about the glory days of the early Islamic conquests as an inspiration for true militancy.41 While not yet ready to take on colonialism, these paramilitary groups were preparing for such a day, or so many believed. National elites who worked inside the dual-government system and cooperated with the colonial administrations also supported this form of organizing because it allowed them to contain the activism of the middle classes who would otherwise turn their energy to revolting against the system.42 As we will see, fear that the younger generations would try to change the rules of the game and seize power continued to preoccupy Arab regimes even after independence and in the midst of trying to prevent the creation of a Jewish state.

Among Zionist leaders in the 1930s, growing Arab resistance to the British mandate and to continued Zionist land purchases reinvigorated earlier discussions about Judaism and violence. For the majority of Zionist leaders from the Second Aliyah, neither the pacifist nor the militaristic approach appeared to meet the needs of Jews on the ground. Prominent Zionist leaders on the left, like Yitzhak Tabenkin, a leader of the kibbutz movement, and David Ben-Gurion, head of Mapai, the largest Zionist party in Palestine, adopted a middle ground on the use of force. Chaim Weizmann, who headed the ZO from London and was instrumental in securing the Balfour Declaration, adopted a similar stance.43 Termed “the defensive ethos” by one prominent scholar, this philosophy saw the use of force as justified only in response to attacks, and that the amount of force used should be limited to fending off such attacks.44 The defensive ethos was justified as both practical (because the Zionist community in Palestine was still small and weak) and moral. In fact, the Zionist leadership encouraged the Jews in Palestine to invest their time in settlement and agriculture and not in military training.45

But a final ruling on the use of force was not yet necessary, as long as the British were willing to use their military might to support Zionism. With British protection, Zionist colonization achieved immense success. Within the mandate’s first decade, the Jewish community in Palestine (known as the Yishuv) not only nearly doubled in size (from 12 percent of the total population in 1922 to 20 percent in 1931) but also developed an array of institutions, including a school system, labor organizations, and healthcare infrastructure, all under the banner of socialism and Labor Zionism. Alongside them, a loosely organized paramilitary organization called the Haganah (“defense”) focused initially on defending Zionist settlements. Established in 1920 from a nucleus of settlement watchmen (which dated back to 1907), the Haganah gradually professionalized with each wave of Arab resistance and began to receive British assistance in the mid-1930s.46 The Arab population also grew in this period (from 680,000 in 1922 to 860,000 in 1931), but Palestinians did not build parallel institutions for reasons that are still debated among historians. In the initial years of Zionist colonization, it appears Palestinians did not feel a strong sense of urgency. When this changed, Palestinians discovered they were structurally excluded by the mandate state. In part due to this exclusion, the Arab economy lagged behind that of the Yishuv. Some prominent Palestinians were also reluctant to cooperate with the British for fear it would be constituted as legitimizing the mandate.47 In 1921 the British appointed Amin al-Husayni, a member of one of the most notable families in Palestine, as Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. Shortly thereafter, the British established the Supreme Muslim Council and installed al-Husayni as its head. The council replaced the previous Ottoman religious administration and oversaw an immense source of revenue: all Islamic endowments (awqaf) in Palestine. The British wanted to shed responsibility for Muslim religious affairs and hoped that al-Husayni (whom they had just pardoned for nationalist activities) would be easy to control.48

This assumption proved correct during violent conflagrations between Palestinians and Jews in 1920–21 and 1929, when al-Husayni worked with the British to contain violence. But by the mid-1930s, Zionist land purchases and the global Great Depression had brought massive dispossession among Arab peasants in Palestine. In 1936, following a large immigration wave of Jews from Germany after Hitler’s ascendance to power, Palestinians launched a general strike, followed by an armed insurrection against the British and the Yishuv alike. Initially reluctant to act against the British, al-Husayni eventually assumed a leading role in what became known as the “Great Arab Revolt.” Under pressure from other political stakeholders, he established the Arab Higher Committee (AHC) to represent Palestine’s Arabs (Muslim and Christian) and command the uprising. Nevertheless, the uprising was brutally crushed by the British army, with an estimated 3,800 Palestinians killed by 1939. Three hundred Jews were killed in the revolt. As factionalism intensified, the rebels themselves killed an additional 1,200 Palestinians.49 For Mizrahi Jews who were native to Palestine and often spoke Arabic—including many who were not Zionists—these violent conflagrations were a turning point. As early as 1929, the killing of Mizrahi Jews in attacks in the mixed towns disrupted the coexistence between native Jews and Arabs and made many Mizrahi Jews turn to Zionism.50

Anticolonial resistance in Palestine was not only an internal Palestinian matter. Fawzi al-Qawuqji, a poster child for the “last Ottoman generation” who would lead the ALA volunteer army in 1948, provided outside help for the Palestinian revolt in 1936–39. Born in Tripoli, Lebanon, al-Qawuqji was trained in the Ottoman military school in Istanbul. He fought with the Ottoman army in the First World War, and then with King Faysal, of the Hashemite family, against the French in the short-lived Arab kingdom in Syria in 1920. Al-Qawuqji returned to fight the French in Syria in 1925.51 Following the suppression of that revolt, he settled temporarily in Iraq, biding his time until rebellion could be resumed and Greater Syria freed and reunited. He was planning a two-pronged revolt in Syria and Palestine in the mid-1930s when he learned from his Syrian allies that an independent Syria would likely emerge from direct negotiations with the French, following a long strike organized by the nationalist opposition.52 Reluctantly, he focused his efforts on the anti-British insurgency already under way in Palestine, but without giving up his pan-Arab rhetoric. He referred to himself as “Commander-in-Chief of the Arab Revolt in Southern Syria,” which possibly strained his relationship with Amin al-Husayni, who no longer espoused a unified Syria and Palestine.53 With the help of Yasin al-Hashimi, another ex-Ottoman officer who became the Iraqi army’s chief of staff, al-Qawuqji secured weapons and ammunition for the revolt. He then sought out his comrades from the 1925–27 Syrian revolt and brought them to fight in Palestine. He recruited three hundred men in Baghdad alone, and relied on two close confidants in Damascus and Amman to help recruit several more bands.54 Some of these people would also report for duty during later anticolonial revolts, including Palestine in 1948. As their personal letters suggest, they came to see the Arab anticolonial struggles as interconnected, whether in Baghdad, Damascus, Benghazi, or Haifa.

With the Palestinian anticolonial revolt under way, a more actively militaristic approach was also gaining momentum among Zionists, especially the so-called Sabras, the first generation of Zionist Jews born in Palestine. During the 1936–39 Arab Revolt, some of these young men and women began to publicly criticize the Yishuv leadership’s official policy of havlagah (“restraint”)—not targeting Arab civilians after the killing of Jews—which was seen as a natural extension of the defensive ethos.55 These youth found an unlikely leader in the image of Orde Wingate, a British officer, who recruited the Yishuv’s youth for a British-sponsored counterinsurgency unit known as the Special Night Squads. The unit staged raids on Palestinian villages from which attacks on Jews had been launched, but also on villages that did not participate in attacks; they killed Palestinian rebels but also civilians, including women and children. When Wingate was transferred from Palestine and his Special Night Squads disbanded, his work was continued by military leaders such as Yitzhak Sade and Yigal Allon, who would both later serve as commanders of the elite strike force of the Yishuv, the Palmach (established in 1941).56 Zemer ha-Plugot (“song of the platoons”), a 1938 hymn by Nathan Alterman, the foremost poet of Labor Zionism, marked this shift from farmer to fighter: “Your boys once brought you peace by the plow / Today they bring you peace by the rifle!”57

For most of the 1930s, only the Revisionists, the Yishuv’s organized right-wing opposition to Ben-Gurion’s leadership and the defensive ethos of the Labor Zionist majority, publicly articulated a “longing to shoot.”58 By the end of the Arab Revolt, however, a handful of Second Aliyah leaders from the Left changed orientation and publicly endorsed the use of force against Palestinians. The most prominent among them was Yitzhak Tabenkin of the kibbutz movement, who exerted influence on the youth of the Palmach throughout the 1940s. Taking the Soviet Union as a role model, Tabenkin explained that it was possible to marry socialism and militarism. He assured the Sabra youth that there was no conflict between helping Arab peasants and laborers in Palestine in their supposed class struggle,59 and at the same time establishing a Jewish armed force ready to fight these Palestinians and redeem Jewish honor.60 Still, on the discursive level, Labor Zionism remained committed to the defensive ethos. Some scholars have argued that it never wavered in this commitment.61 But as this book chronicles, 1948 saw a major realignment: Haganah (and later IDF) propaganda came to mimic that of the Revisionists, calling for what amounted to a celebration of violence.

On the eve of the Second World War, the British sought to reverse their pro-Zionist policy to placate Arab public opinion. Armed revolts of the kind they had encountered in Palestine from 1936 to 1939 were a major concern, and distancing themselves from Zionism presented itself as the best strategic move. The British policy paper of 1939 not only limited Jewish immigration and land purchases but also retracted a British proposal from 1937 to partition Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish state.62 This prompted the Yishuv to openly oppose British rule, sometimes by force. In 1942, under Ben-Gurion’s influence, the Zionist leadership officially declared its intentions to establish a “Jewish Commonwealth” at the end of the World War, with the understanding that such a move would inevitably mean war with the Arabs.63

In the aftermath of the Second World War, Palestinian nationalists moved to transform existing scouting troops into organized paramilitary youth movements.64 In 1945 a relatively unknown attorney from Nazareth named Muhammad Nimr al-Hawari formed al-Najjada (“bravery”) on the model of a similar Lebanese organization.65 Al-Hawari sought to create a counter to the Haganah, preparing Arab youth to take military action, if necessary. Unlike the Haganah, however, al-Najjada emphasized drilling, marching, and hierarchy more broadly. Many of its commanding officers were former Arab soldiers or officers in the British army during the World War. Recruits came almost exclusively from the urban centers, rather than the countryside, which had been the main source of mobilization in the 1936–39 revolt. Although al-Najjada was not explicitly affiliated with any political group, Amin al-Husayni and his supporters saw the movement as a rival force. To counter it, they created another paramilitary organization, al-Futuwwa (“chivalry”), in 1946.66 By late 1947 Amin al-Husayni sought to force the unification of the organizations under the leadership of one of his confidants. However, friction with al-Hawari—who may have harbored his own political ambitions—and British sabotage guaranteed that the merger never materialized.67

By that point the British had decided to leave Palestine. Imperial overstretch and immense financial debt after the Second World War motivated the decision, as did concerns over Arab public opinion and the inability to reach an agreement with the United States on Palestine’s future. Jewish guerrilla attacks against the British in Palestine may have also played a small role.68 In February 1947 Britain announced that it would relinquish its mandate and referred the matter to the newly formed United Nations (UN), which in turn established the UN Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) to examine the situation in the country and make recommendations about its future. While the Yishuv closely cooperated with UNSCOP, the AHC under al-Husayni’s influence was reluctant, holding that “Palestine Arabs’ natural rights are self-evident and cannot continue to be subject to investigation but deserve to be recognized on the basis of principles of United Nations charter ends.”69 On November 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly approved UNSCOP’s plan to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. Although Arabs constituted two-thirds of the population of Mandate Palestine, the Arab state was allocated only 43 percent of Palestine’s territory; meanwhile, the Jewish state was allocated 56 percent of Palestine’s territory, in which 45 percent of the population would be Arab. Not surprisingly, the plan was endorsed by the Yishuv but rejected by the Palestinian leadership and all Arab states.70 The day after the UN approved partition, fighting reignited between Jews and Arabs, with the understanding that British departure would inaugurate the ultimate battle for Palestine.


1. “The Battle over Malkiya” [Hebrew translation], July 1948, al-Jundi (Lebanon), in Kibbutz Meuhad Archives [KMA] 15/1/3.

2. A kibbutz is a form of communal settlement that was popular in the first decades of Zionist colonization. Most kibbutzim (pl. of kibbutz) professed a socialist ideology.

3. Sarah Leibovitz-Dar, “Ten Bullets and One in the Barrel,” ʿAl ha-Mishmar, 14 September 1990.

4. According to his son, Dawud regretted coming to Israel. After spending six years in a transit camp (maʿabara) in complete destitution, he longed to return to Iraq. When he, his wife, and their seven children were finally provided a small house in the city of ʿAfula, he refused to follow social norms and separate himself from his Arab past. Not only did he continue speaking Arabic almost exclusively, he mostly fraternized with Palestinians, leaving every Sunday on a donkey to visit nearby Palestinian villages, selling and shining copper. Phone interview with Shimshon B., 28 June 2017.

5. Frederick Cooper, Colonialism in Question: Theory, Knowledge, History) Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009), 99.

6. The term “religious internationalism” refers to an identity rooted in religious conviction that transcends the political boundaries of nation-states.

7. Abigail Green, “Nationalism and the ‘Jewish International’: Religious Internationalism in Europe and the Middle East c. 1840–c. 1880,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 50, no. 2 (2008): 535–58.

8. For a survey of Zionism, see David Engel, Zionism (Harlow: Pearson/Longman, 2009); Michael Brenner, In Search of Israel: The History of an Idea (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2018), 18–87.

9. Scott M. Eddie, “Ethno-nationality, Property Rights in Land and Territorial Sovereignty in Prussian Poland, 1886–1918: Buying the Land from under the Poles’ Feet?” in Land Rights, Ethno-Nationality, and Sovereignty in History, ed. Stanley L. Engerman and Jacob Metzer (London: Routledge, 2004), 56–86; Shalom Reichman and Shlomo Hasson, “A Cross-Cultural Diffusion of Colonization: From Posen to Palestine,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 74, no. 1 (March 1984): 57–70; Gershon Shafir, “Theorizing Zionist Settler Colonialism in Palestine,” in Routledge Handbook of the History of Settler Colonialism, ed. Edward Cavanah and Lorenzo Veracini (New York: Routledge, 2016), 339–51.

10. For the complex tapestry that makes up the Arab nahda, see Albert Hourani, Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age: 1798–1939 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1962); Ilham Khuri-Makdisi, The Eastern Mediterranean and the Making of Global Radicalism, 1860–1914 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013); Dyala Hamzah, ed., The Making of the Arab Intellectual (1880–1960): Empire, Public Sphere and the Colonial Coordinates of Selfhood (London: Routledge, 2013); Jens Hanssen and Max Weiss, Arabic Thought beyond the Liberal Age: Towards an Intellectual History of the Nahda (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016).

11. Ehud Luz, Wrestling with an Angel: Power, Morality, and Jewish Identity (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003), 44, 179; Anita Shapira, Land and Power: The Zionist Resort to Force, 1881–1948 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 11. For a different view, see Gideon Reuveni, “Sports and the Militarization of Jewish Society,” in Emancipation through Muscles: Jews and Sports in Europe, ed. Michael Brenner and Gideon Reuveni, 44–61 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2006).

12. Shapira, Land and Power, 21–29; George Lachmann Mosse, Confronting the Nation: Jewish and Western Nationalism (Hanover, MA: published for Brandeis University Press by University Press of New England, 1993), 1, 17, 26–27.

13. Robert Eisen, The Peace and Violence of Judaism: From the Bible to Modern Zionism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 198–99; Shapira, Land and Power, 10, 52; Daniel Boyarin, “The Colonial Drag: Zionism, Gender, and Mimicry,” in The Pre-Occupation of Postcolonial Studies, ed. Fawzia Afzal-Khan and Kalpana Seshadri-Crooks (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2000), 237.

14. Shapira, Land and Power, 14, 23, 30; Derek J. Penslar, Jews and the Military: A History (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013), 69, 78, 152, 203.

15. Eisen, Peace and Violence of Judaism, 173; Luz, Wrestling with an Angel, 25–26.

16. Mosse, Confronting the Nation, 163–67; Reuveni, “Sports and the Militarization,” 47–48.

17. Quoted in Paul Mendes-Flohr and Jehuda Reinharz, The Jew in the Modern World: A Documentary History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 547.

18. Deborah S. Bernstein, ed., Pioneers and Homemakers: Jewish Women in Pre-State Israel (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992); Reuveni, “Sports and the Militarization,” 46–53.

19. Luz, Wrestling with an Angel, 249–50.

20. Shmuel N. Eisenstadt, “Ha-Omnam Hehezirah ha-Tsiyonut et ha-Yehudim la-Historiyah?,” in Ha-Tsyonut ve-ha-Hazara la-Historiyah: Diyun me-Hadash, ed. Shmuel N. Eisenstadt and Moshe Lissak (Jerusalem: Yad Yizhak Ben-Zvi, 1999), 9.

21. Eisenstadt, “Ha-Omnam Hehezirah ha-Tsiyonut,” 11; Uri Ben-Eliezer, The Making of Israeli Militarism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998), 96–99.

22. Eisen, Peace and Violence of Judaism, 186–87.

23. Steven J. Zipperstein, Elusive Prophet: Ahad Haʿam and the Origins of Zionism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), 204–8, 319–21; Shapira, Land and Power, 17–29; Eisen, Peace and Violence of Judaism, 199; Luz, Wrestling with an Angel, 53, 199, 218–19. Ahad Haʿam did not oppose all forms of violence. He supported the formation of self-defense groups in Europe.

24. Alan Dowty, “Much Ado about Little: Ahad Haʿam, ‘Truth from Eretz Israel,’ Zionism and the Arabs,” Israel Studies 5, no. 2 (2000): 154–81. On rare occasions, local Ottoman officials who originated from Palestine tried to restrict Zionist land purchases. See Michelle Campos, Ottoman Brothers: Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Early Twentieth-Century Palestine (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010).

25. The commoditization of land in the Ottoman domains predated the 1858 Land Code. Moreover, the code was not only supposed to simplify tax collection but also protect small landownership. Yet the unwillingness of peasants to register land under their name, for fear of conscription, made it easier for urban notables to lay claim to those lands. See Beshara Doumani, Rediscovering Palestine: Merchants and Peasants in Jabal Nablus, 1700–1900 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), 159; Samuel Dolbee and Shay Hazkani, “‘Impossible Is Not Ottoman’: Menashe Meirovitch, ʿIsa al-ʿIsa, and Imperial Citizenship in Palestine,” International Journal of Middle East Studies [IJMES] 47, no. 2 (2015): 241–62.

26. Shafir, “Theorizing Zionist Settler Colonialism.”

27. Rashid Khalidi, Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997), 89–144.

28. Campos, Ottoman Brothers; Salim Tamari, Year of the Locust: A Soldier’s Diary and the Erasure of Palestine’s Ottoman Past (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011); Melanie S. Tanielian, The Charity of War: Famine, Humanitarian Aid, and World War I in the Middle East (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2017); Hasan Kayalı, Arabs and Young Turks: Ottomanism, Arabism, and Islamism in the Ottoman Empire, 1908–1918 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), 174–206.

29. Jacques Kornberg, Theodor Herzl: From Assimilation to Zionism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993), 159–89; Engel, Zionism, 53–76; Khalidi, Palestinian Identity.

30. Quoted in Engel, Zionism, 78.

31. Quoted in William R. Louis, Ends of British Imperialism: The Scramble for Empire, Suez and Decolonization: Collected Essays (London: I. B. Tauris, 2006), 269. For demographics, see Laura Robson, States of Separation: Transfer, Partition, and the Making of the Modern Middle East (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2018), 105–6.

32. Susan Pedersen, “The Meaning of the Mandates System: An Argument,” Geschichte und Gesellschaft 32, no. 4 (October–December 2006): 560–82.

33. Under the Ottoman system, Jerusalem and Mount Lebanon had a special administrative status. See Michael Provence, The Great Syrian Revolt and the Rise of Arab Nationalism (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005), 5, 22.

34. Michael Provence, The Last Ottoman Generation and the Making of the Modern Middle East (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 2018), xx–xxii, 112–46. During the 1925–27 Syrian revolt, Druze notables were prominent in leadership positions, as were former Ottoman officers. Some of these tribal leaders were educated in new Ottoman tribal schools and as such should also be seen as a product of Ottoman modernization. See Provence, Great Syrian Revolt, 40–42, 58.

35. Provence, Last Ottoman Generation, 147–226.

36. Jennifer M. Dueck, “A Muslim Jamboree: Scouting and Youth Culture in Lebanon under the French Mandate,” French Historical Studies 30, no. 3 (2007): 492–96; Arnon Degani, “They Were Prepared: The Palestinian Arab Scout Movement 1920–1948,” British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 41, no. 2 (2014): 202–11; Peter Wien, Arab Nationalism: The Politics of History and Culture in the Modern Middle East (New York: Routledge, 2017), 92–93.

37. Quoted in Wilson Chacko Jacob, Working Out Egypt: Effendi Masculinity and Subject Formation in Colonial Modernity, 1870–1940 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010), 122. Colonial officials often complained that Arab scouting organizations did not truly adhere to Baden-Powell’s principles. See Dueck, “Muslim Jamboree,” 496, 508–9; Degani, “They Were Prepared,” 202.

38. Dueck, “Muslim Jamboree,” 507–9; Jacobs, Working Out Egypt, 114; Keith D. Watenpaugh, Being Modern in the Middle East: Revolution, Nationalism, Colonialism, and the Arab Middle Class (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006), 256–78.

39. Wien, Arab Nationalism, 93, 113–14, 195–96. For a polemic counterview, see Barry M. Rubin and Wolfgang G. Schwanitz, Nazis, Islamists, and the Making of the Modern Middle East (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2014).

40. Jacob, Working Out Egypt, 3–4; Wien, Arab Nationalism, 92–93, 101.

41. Wien, Arab Nationalism, 79, 90.

42. Watenpaugh, Being Modern, 256.

43. Shapira, Land and Power, 129.

44. Shapira, Land and Power, 124; Meir Chazan, Metinut: Ha-Gishah ha-Metunah be-ha-Poʿel ha-Tsaʻir uve-Mapai, 1905–1945 (Tel Aviv: ʻAm ʻOved, 2009).

45. Anita Shapira, Herev ha-Yonah: Ha-Tsiyonut ve-ha-Koah, 1881–1948 (Tel Aviv: ʻAm ʻOved, 1992), 175, 320; Luz, Wrestling with an Angel, 202, 204. Shapira argued that the defensive ethos was crucial in veiling the national aspect of the struggle between the Zionist movement and Palestinians. One may go a step further to suggest that Zionism—hailing from European settler colonialism—was predisposed to violence. Actual military preparations did not begin in earnest until the 1930s, because up to that point Zionism could rely on the British. Nonetheless, the Sabra generation, as explored below, was crucial in tilting the balance from a British to a Zionist use of force.

46. Ben-Eliezer, Making of Israeli Militarism, 2–4; Joel Peters, The Routledge Handbook on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (New York: Routledge, 2015), 175.

47. Rashid Khalidi, “The Palestinians and 1948: The Underlying Causes of Failure,” in The War for Palestine: Rewriting the History of 1948, ed. Eugene Rogan and Avi Shlaim, 17–21 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2nd ed., 2007); Sherene Seikaly, Men of Capital: Scarcity and Economy in Mandate Palestine (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2016); Jacob Norris, Land of Progress: Palestine in the Age of Colonial Development (>Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013); Fredrik Meiton, Electrical Palestine: Capital and Technology from Empire to Nation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2018).

48. Khalidi, “Palestinians and 1948,” 21–24; Weldon Matthews, Confronting an Empire, Constructing a Nation: Arab Nationalists and Popular Politics in Mandate Palestine (London: I. B. Tauris, 2014), 30–34.

49. Walid Khalidi, “Appendix IV: Note on Arab Casualties in the 1936–39 Rebellion,” in From Haven to Conquest: Readings in Zionism and the Palestine Problem until 1948, ed. Walid Khalidi, 846–49 (Beirut: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1971); Khalidi, “Palestinians and 1948,” 26; Matthews, Confronting an Empire, 25; Matthew Hughes, “From Law and Order to Pacification: Britain’s Suppression of the Arab Revolt in Palestine, 1936–39,” Journal of Palestine Studies 39, no. 2 (Winter 2010): 6–22.

50. Hillel Cohen, Year Zero of the Arab-Israeli Conflict 1929 (Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, 2015).

51. Laila Parsons, The Commander: Fawzi Al-Qawuqji and the Fight for Arab Independence 1914–1948 (New York: Hill & Wang, 2017), 3–106.

52. Parsons, The Commander, 111–12; Ghada H. Talhami, Syria and the Palestinians: The Clash of Nationalisms (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2001), 27.

53. Parsons, The Commander, 115–22.

54. Ibid. This word-of-mouth mobilization stood in stark contrast to the relatively organized manner in which Arab volunteers were mobilized in 1948, many of whom did not know al-Qawuqji at all.

55. Shapira, Land and Power, 234–35, 264–77; Ben-Eliezer, Making of Israeli Militarism, 8–9, 19–21. For a counterview—that militarism in Zionism was primarily the heritage of Polish Jews, not the Sabra—see Daniel K. Heller, Jabotinsky’s Children: Polish Jews and the Rise of Right-Wing Zionism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017).

56. Shapira, Herev ha-Yonah, 342–44; Ben-Eliezer, Making of Israeli Militarism, 21–28.

57. Shapira, Land and Power, 255; Ben-Eliezer, Making of Israeli Militarism, 24.

58. Luz, Wrestling with an Angel, 181; Shapira, Land and Power, 97; Heller, Jabotinsky’s Children. A small faction of the Revisionist movement espoused an explicit Fascist ideology. Led by such figures as Abraham Stern and Abba Ahimeir, the faction sought to align itself with Fascist Italy and even with Nazi Germany (before it made antisemitism its staple policy). Jabotinsky himself, according to one study, should not be seen as supporting Fascism. See Dan Tamir, Hebrew Fascism in Palestine, 1922–1942 (Cham, Switz.: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018).

59. For the argument that a class struggle and antagonism to elites was a major element in the 1936–39 Arab Revolt in Palestine, see Ted Swedenburg, Memories of Revolt: The 1936–1939 Rebellion and the Palestinian National Past (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1995). In any case, the Zionist Left in Palestine played little role in” helping” Palestinians in such a struggle.

60. Ben-Eliezer, Making of Israeli Militarism, 58–63; Shapira, Land and Power, 298–310.

61. Shapira, Land and Power, 352, 366.

62. Michael J. Cohen, Britain’s Moment in Palestine: Retrospect and Perspectives, 1917–48 (London: Routledge, 2015), 289–304.

63. Shapira, Land and Power, 283–86; Rashid Khalidi, The Iron Cage (Oneworld, 2015), 105–27. The use of “commonwealth” rather than “state” in the declaration published in New York’s Biltmore Hotel in 1942 was done primarily to appeal to American Jewish sentiment. However, at least some in the Yishuv’s leadership did not rule out the option of being incorporated into the British Commonwealth of Nations, as Canada and Australia had done. See Derek Penslar, “Declarations of (ln)Dependence: Tensions within Zionist Statecraft, 1896–1948,” Journal of Levantine Studies 8, no. 1 (Summer 2018): 24–26.

64. During the 1936–39 Arab Revolt, the British revoked the license of several scouting troops, and only reversed this decision after the end of the Second World War. See Dueck, “Muslim Jamboree,” 495–99, 504–6; Degani, “They Were Prepared,” 201.

65. Issa Khalaf, Politics in Palestine: Arab Factionalism and Social Disintegration, 1939–1948 (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991), 288; Haim Levenberg, Military Preparations of the Arab Community in Palestine, 1945–1948 (London: Frank Cass, 1993), 126–30.

66. Bayan N. al-Hut, Al-Qiyadat wa-al-Muʾassasat al-Siyasiya fi Filastin, 1917–1948 (Beirut: Muʾassasat al-Dirasat al-Filastiniya, 1981), 508–11; Levenberg, Military Preparations, 130–38; Khalaf, Politics in Palestine, 143–45; Eliezer Tauber,” The Army of Sacred Jihad: An Army or Bands?,” Israel Affairs 14, no. 3 (2008): 420–27.

67. Al-Hut, Al-Qiyadat wa-al-Muʾassasat, 511–14; Levenberg, Military Preparations, 139–53. The number of recruits in both organizations is a matter of debate. Based on British and Haganah intelligence, Levenberg estimated that al-Najjada had upward of 11,000–12,000 men in June 1947, and al-Futuwwa about 8,000 men. Khalaf, meanwhile, estimated the number of recruits in al-Najjada at 8,000 and those of al-Futuwwa at 5,000, but concluded that the number of fighters who belonged to both organizations during the 1948 war did not surpass “a few hundred.” See Levenberg, Military Preparations, 144, 148–49; Khalaf, Politics in Palestine, 143, 208.

68. Cohen, Britain’s Moment in Palestine, 442–58.

69. Cited in UN Document A/364 Add. 1, September 3, 1947, Annex 5, “Transmission by the Secretary-General of Cable Dated 13 June 1947 from the Arab Higher Committee,” accessed 16 May 2020, NSF/c17b3a9d4bfb04c985257b28006e4ea6/fb6dd3f0e9535815852572dd006cc607?Open-Document.

70. Robson, States of Separation, 132–35; Rabinovich and Reinharz, Israel in the Middle East, 571.