Sunday, September 17, 2017

July 21, 1938: Five Dead by Arab Terror

During the "Disturbances" or the Great Arab Revolt of 1936-1939, the Mufti succeeded in causing the British to alter their concept of what was the purpose of the League of Nations Mandate - from reconstituting  the Jewish people's national home in Palestine in a territory from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River (taking into consideration that the territories lying between the Jordan and the eastern boundary of Palestine as ultimately determined, the Mandatory shall be entitled, with the consent of the Council of the League of Nations, to postpone or withhold application of such provisions of this mandate) and that stems from a recognition given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with that country, to a decision that "His Majesty's Government therefore now declare unequivocally that it is not part of their policy that Palestine should become a Jewish State" which members of the League of Nations Permanent Mandates Commission considered an illegal act, one that reneged on what had been decided 17 years earlier.

That move by the British, which was accompanied by a severe restriction of immigration certificates to 75,000 over the next five years, obliquely aided Hitler's mission to eradicate the Jews of Europe by keeping them within his grasp, as they had no where to go,

In addition, over 500 Jews who were in Palestine were killed by Arab terrorist gangs and untold Jewish property was burned, uprooted and destroyed.

The Yishuv , in general, maintained a policy a Havlaga, self-restraint, whereas the Irgun, from mid-1937 on, conducted counter-terrorist operations which included marketplace bombings, bus bombings, incursions into Arab villages and assassinations.  At times, the Hagana also engaged in such actions, especially in the Haifa district.

Whether or not these Havlaga-breaking actions more moral or not has been argued since that time, most recently in a new, rather tendentious and error-ridden book.

I picked one incident that, perhaps, provides an insight into the thinking of the Yishuv's defense forces at that time.

It is not mentioned in this Wikipedia entry.

In Parliament, on July 20, 1938, the Secretary of State for the Colonies Mr. M. MacDonald informed the members of the House that

"During the fortnight ended the 19th July, 77 persons were killed and 247 wounded, and there were 32 cases of bomb-throwing. Other terrorist acts included 52 cases of sniping, seven armed robberies and one kidnapping. There were two outbreaks of arson at Haifa, which were suppressed, and a number of acts of sabotage against Jewish, Arab and Government property; but I am unable to estimate the extent of the damage to property sustained during the period."

The very same night, at a location called Kiriat HaCharoshet (now within Kiryat Tivon) then populated by 60 families with a train station, marked in blue:

now an upscale area:

an attack by Arabs took place. Here's Davar of July 21:

In the upper left-hand corner is the short report.   This is the following day's item on the funerals:

Here is the Palestine Post report in English on another terror attack at a nearby location:

On that very same page, you can read about other events just to get an idea of what was happening:

This record informs the the five people murdered were Shmuel Gutterman, Leah (Lotte) Gutterman (34), Bilhah Gutterman, Rivka (Regina) Spiegler and Yaakov Spiegler. The Guttermans were three years in the country and Shmuel, 38, worked as a baker. That evening, the family was in the midst of sitting Shiva for their oldest boy who had died of cancer, it seems. Their daughter was less than two years old.  The Arabs who broke into their shack shot and stabbed them to death and then set the place alight.  They then broke into the nearby shack where the husband had not yet returned home.  The mohter and son were stabbed and burnt alive while a daughter, six-year old Ora, managed somehow to slip out and hide in the yard until rescued by defenders who, despite shooting and wounding several attackers, were outnumbered and had to withdraw to the center of the neighborhood.

The next day's Palestine Post:

Was this an isolated incident?

Here's more of page 2:

and from the previous day's paper:

And the following day's edition

Maybe now you have a better perspective on whether restraint or response was the policy to be adopted.


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