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The Arab Revolt

palestine, 1936-1939


Angry and frustrated by increased Jewish immigration to Palestine, and the gradual development of a Jewish homeland there, the Arabs ignited a revolt in 1936 against both the British and the Jews. After his initial efforts at a general strike failed, Amin al-Husseini coordinated a violent uprising across the region, targeting Jewish communities in Jerusalem, Hebron, the Galilee, and everywhere else. al-Husseini also used the opportunity to declare war on his Arab political enemies, like the Nashashibi clan, engaging in a spree of murder that claimed thousands of Palestinian lives.

The Revolt sparked harsh reprisals from the British and Jews alike, as the Irgun developed its own terrorist attacks in response to Arab violence. The Irgun abandoned the policy of restraint in order to go on the offensive, which in several instances claimed innocent Arab lives and put them in conflict with British efforts to maintain order.

The British tried to end the fighting with the Peel Commission, which recommended partition. Accepted by the Jews but rejected by the British, the British finally issued the White Paper of 1939, which effectively ended open Jewish immigration to Palestine. Although the Arabs rejected this effort, too, it was enough to halt the revolt. The three years of violence claimed the lives of around 5,000 Arabs, 2,500 Jews, and 900 British. Its implications, and the lessons learned by all sides, set the stage for later conflicts and continue to resonate today.


Appears in

Episodes 42, 43, 44, 45

Mentioned in Episodes 47, 52, 58

Connected To

Amin al-Husseini

Vladimir Jabotinsky

The Nashashibi clan

The White Paper of 1939

The Haganah

The Irgun