Army of Shadows: Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917-1948

Army of Shadows: Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917-1948

Army of Shadows: Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917-1948

Army of Shadows: Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917-1948

Synopsis

Inspired by stories he heard in the West Bank as a child, Hillel Cohen uncovers a hidden history in this extraordinary and beautifully written book--a history central to the narrative of the Israel-Palestine conflict but for the most part willfully ignored until now. In Army of Shadows, initially published in Israel to high acclaim and intense controversy, he tells the story of Arabs who, from the very beginning of the Arab-Israeli encounter, sided with the Zionists and aided them politically, economically, and in security matters. Based on newly declassified documents and research in Zionist, Arab, and British sources, Army of Shadows follows Bedouins who hosted Jewish neighbors, weapons dealers, pro-Zionist propagandists, and informers and local leaders who cooperated with the Zionists, and others to reveal an alternate history of the mandate period with repercussions extending to this day. The book illuminates the Palestinian nationalist movement, which branded these "collaborators" as traitors and persecuted them; the Zionist movement, which used them to undermine Palestinian society from within and betrayed them; and the collaborators themselves, who held an alternate view of Palestinian nationalism. Army of Shadows offers a crucial new view of history from below and raises profound questions about the roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Excerpt

The large pine tree in Abu-‘Atiyyah’s vineyard, not far from ‘Ayn Yalu in southern Jerusalem, was in the mid-1970s a meeting place for Palestinian fellahin from the surrounding area. Some of them, like Abu-‘Atiyyah, were refugees from the former village of al-Maliha. the tree also attracted roaming boys, like me, from nearby Jerusalem neighborhoods and passersby on their way to or from one of the local springs or the Palestinian villages of Beit Safafa, Walaja, and Battir. There was always a jerry can of drinking water waiting in the shade, embers were always glowing and ready for brewing a pot of tea, and the visitors conducted lively conversations about any and every subject. But the fellahin were especially fixated on telling stories from the period of the British Mandate. They analyzed the Arab defeat by Israel in 1948 and how they were uprooted from al-Maliha. Time after time, they spoke of Sheikh ‘Abd al-Fattah Darwish.

In the 1940s, Darwish was the chief of a nahiya, a cluster of villages southwest of Jerusalem. in the stories told by the men under the tree, he appeared as a hugely powerful man who lorded over the region’s villages and became a prominent figure in Jerusalem as well. They told of his American automobile, the first car in al-Maliha, and pointed out his home-cum-castle, which still stood, occupied by Jewish families. From time to time they retold the story of how Arab rebels besieged the house in 1938, and how the sheikh repelled the attackers. They also told of his son Mustafa, an officer in the British Mandate’s police force, who was . . .

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