This article originally appeared in the June 3, 1936, issue.
Jerusalem, April 20
All the Hebrew papers came out today with wide black margins. “Tel Aviv Mourns Its Dead” is the headline of one. “Bloody Day in Jaffa” reads the large black streamer of another. The Palestine Post, the moderate, unofficial English organ of the Zionist Exexcutive [sic], carries a double head, “Nine Jews Dead, Scores Hurt in Arab Attacks,” and goes on to say:
…Loosed passions of Jaffa’s underworld…. In two or three hours nine defenseless Jews were done to death and at least two score injured, some very seriously…. Jaffa’s main roads…were turned…into lanes running w ~ t h blood and strewn with glass of smashed windshields from motor cars. Blood-covered stones were about everywhere…. Every half-hour vehicles from Jaffa turned up . . . with their load of dead and wounded….
An Arab was seen raising a bleeding hand…. From this point on, the life of every Jewish man or woman in Jaffa was in danger…. All Jewish traffic in the Jerusalem direction was suspended…. Roads became unsafe as crowds of villagers had collected menacingly…. Meetings were held in Nablus last night at which…boycott of the Jews was demanded and the proposal made to call a general strike throughout Palestine.
And so on. But this is a news report, and as everybody knows, news is not always synonymous with information. To understand what happened yesterday, to evaluate this incident correctly, reading a news story, however true, is not sufficient. We must study the forces which led to yesterday’s bloody massacre.
Revolutionary changes are taking place in the whole Arab world. A movement which gripped most of Europe during the last century has arrived in Arabia and is bringing no less momentous changes. The old adage, “There is no nationality in Islam,” is no longer true. Here, too, the old social force, religion, is beginning to give way to the new social force, nationalism. Not that religion is not still a powerful force in Arabia, but it is on the defensive and daily losing ground to the encroaching nationalism. This change has gone farther in Palestine than in Hejaz, farther in Syria than in Palestine, and farther in Egypt than in any other Arab state. But one can see it even in Trans-Jordan, where Emir Abdullah’s car was pelted with onions when the news spread that he had sold land to the Jews. One can see it plainly in Jerusalem, where a general strike against the British recently took place although the Grand Mufti, Haj Amin al-Housseini, was strongly opposed to it, and where the number of Moslem religious pilgrims is perceptibly falling off while the membership of nationalistic clubs and societies is rapidly increasing. Many Arabs have warned me not to explain the widespread anti-Jewish feeling on religious or racial grounds. Racially, they point out, they belong to the same stock as the Jews, and their preoccupation with religion is far too mild to make them hate anybody because of it. Their bitter animosity is purely nationalistic-they see in the Jews the agents of British imperialism coming to take away their country.