Pangs of the Messiah: The Troubled Birth of the Jewish State

By Martin Sicker | Go to book overview
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The feasibility of the plan became a matter of contention within the Irgun. Notwithstanding the objections of some of the commanders on a number of grounds, the overwhelming majority of them were prepared to implement it. However, one highly influential dissenter was Abraham Stern, who had long harbored a fundamental antipathy to Jabotinsky. Because of his objections, the matter was submitted for adjudication to the commander of the Irgun, David Raziel, who was being held by the British at that time in the detention camp at Sarafend. However, before the dispute could be resolved, World War II broke out, bringing about a dramatic change in the general situation.

The outbreak of hostilities had immediate repercussions in Palestine. As the threat of Italian intervention in the Middle East increased, the country was placed on a war footing and measures were taken, in conjunction with the French authorities, for the defense of Egypt, Palestine, and Syria. Arab terrorism and Jewish counterterrorism soon came to an end. There was little incentive for the Arabs to do anything further to weaken the British regime since they had little to gain from an Axis victory. The Libyan Arab experience with the Italians, who had just invaded Muslim Albania, had left a negative impression on the Arabs of Palestine, who were already weary of the long and only moderately successful struggle against Britain and the Jews. As for the Jews, as the British understood very well, they had little alternative but to throw their weight behind the British struggle against the hated Nazis. Finally, the new concentration of British forces in Palestine, coupled with the placement of the country on a war footing, simply made continued terrorism extremely difficult and dangerous for the perpetrators.

The Arab rebellion that began in 1936 had come to an end. During its course nearly 10,000 incidents of violence had taken place, including 1,325 attacks on British troops and police, 1,400 acts of sabotage against rail and telegraph lines, 153 acts of sabotage against pipelines, and 930 attacks on the Jewish population and settlements. The cost of the rebellion to the Arabs included some 2,850 dead, many thousands wounded, and more than 9,000 interned. It also resulted in nearly 1,200 Jewish and 700 British dead and wounded.


NOTES
1.
Nevill Barbour, Nisi Dominus, p. 168.
2.
William B. Ziff, The Rape of Palestine, p. 415.
3.
Joseph B. Schechtman, Fighter and Prophet. The Last Years, p. 447.
4.
New York Evening Post, August 28, 1936.

-149-

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