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Army of Shadows

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

Hillel Cohen
Translated by Haim Watzman
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: 1
Pages: 352
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1pnb44
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  • Book Info
    Army of Shadows
    Book Description:

    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. InArmy 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 Shadowsfollows 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 Shadowsoffers a crucial new view of history from below and raises profound questions about the roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93398-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-12)

    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...

  5. PART ONE TWO NATIONALISMS MEET, 1917–1935

    • CHAPTER 1 UTOPIA AND ITS COLLAPSE
      (pp. 15-42)

      In July 1921 a formal delegation representing Palestinian Arab national institutions set out for London in a desperate, last-minute attempt to persuade Britain to back away from the Balfour Declaration and its commitment to allow Jewish immigration into Palestine. Hasan Shukri, mayor of Haifa and president of the Muslim National Associations, sent the following telegram to the British government:

      We strongly protest against the attitude of the said delegation concerning the Zionist question. We do not consider the Jewish people as an enemy whose wish is to crush us. On the contrary. We consider the Jews as a brotherly people...

    • CHAPTER 2 WHO IS A TRAITOR?
      (pp. 43-65)

      The collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the British conquest of Palestine not only brought about a change in Zionist policy; it also brought Palestine and the rest of the Middle East into the age of nationalism. That required, and led to, a profound change in the self-perception of the Palestinian population. Previously, core identities and the most important social divisions had been based on religion: Muslims, Christians, and Jews. After World War I the national divide—Jewish/Arab—came to the fore. Behavioral norms changed as a result. Actions that had been perceived as legitimate by most Arabs until late...

    • CHAPTER 3 WE, THE COLLABORATORS
      (pp. 66-92)

      In 1923 the Bedouin sheikhs of the Beit She’an Valley, members of the Muslim National Associations, invited British high commissioner Herbert Samuel to visit their camps. In their letter they told Samuel a little bit about themselves:

      We don’t meddle in politics, don’t attend rallies, and don’t send delegations. We are simple people who live in tents and deal with our own affairs only. We agree with everything the government does. . . . We have seen no evil from the Jews. We have sold the American Jewish Agency some of our lands, and with the help of the money...

  6. PART TWO REBELS AND TRAITORS, 1936–1939

    • CHAPTER 4 OLD COLLABORATORS, NEW TRAITORS
      (pp. 95-120)

      On 15 April 1936, armed Arabs, apparently acolytes of Sheikh Izz al-Din al-Qassam of Haifa, murdered two Jews on a road near Tulkarem. In response, members of Haganah Bet, a militant Jewish group that had broken from the Haganah, murdered two Arab workers near Petah Tikva. During the workers’ funeral, Arabs in Jaffa attacked Jews and murdered nine of them. So began the great Arab rebellion. For Palestine’s Arabs, the military option passed from theory into practice.¹

      On the day of the funeral, nationalist activists (most of them members of al-Istiqlal and supporters of the Husseinis) assembled in Nablus and...

    • CHAPTER 5 UNITY ENDS
      (pp. 121-144)

      The Peel Commission commenced its work in November 1936. Its members traveled through the country, heard testimony from both sides, and could see that the British administration had reasserted control. Yet the most prominent Arab collaborators were still being pursued. A Haifa police officer, Halim Basta, was murdered. He had contacts in the Yishuv and had trailed Sheikh al-Qassam’s followers. Bullets and explosives were aimed—yet again—at Haifa’s pro-Zionist mayor, Hasan Shukri, and at his son-in-law. A bomb was thrown at the house of the longtime informer “Na‘ aman” in Battir.¹ These were, however, exceptional cases. The hundreds of...

    • CHAPTER 6 THE “TRAITORS” COUNTERATTACK
      (pp. 145-168)

      On a dark and rainy night in winter 1938, three men set out for Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood: the Haganah’s commander in Jerusalem, Ya‘akov Pat; Eliahu Sasson of the Jewish Agency’s Arab department; and Eliahu Elyashar of Jerusalem’s Jewish Committee. They bore crates of weapons for the antirebel force led by Fakhri Nashashibi. After unloading their cargo and transferring it to a hiding place, the men proceeded to the Nashashibi residence for a toast. You will soon see that your confidence in us is not misplaced, their hosts promised.

      Elyashar was the broker of the alliance. He had known the...

  7. PART THREE WAR IN EUROPE, WAR AT HOME

    • CHAPTER 7 WORLD WAR, LOCAL CALM
      (pp. 171-201)

      The great Arab revolt disintegrated late in 1939. The rebel leadership tried to cope with its military and political failure by initiating a new round of attacks on “traitors.” In June an intelligence source reported that the mufti had ordered the liquidation of allsuspects,even those in his own family. This repealed his previous directive to murder only proven turncoats. A month later the rebel leadership in Beirut issued an updated list of head prices. Top rewards were for the murders of opposition leaders and commanders of the peace units, whose deaths would enrich their assailants by 100 Palestinian...

    • CHAPTER 8 PRELUDE TO WAR
      (pp. 202-229)

      Early in the evening of 9 November 1941, Fakhri Nashashibi left a meeting at a Baghdad residence and headed for his nearby hotel. The distance was short, so he told his bodyguards that he would walk alone. A young man named Ahmad Nusseibah, whom Nashashibi had first met a few days earlier, awaited him at the hotel entrance. When Nashashibi approached him, Nusseibah drew a pistol and fired several shots. So ended the life of the most prominent member of the Palestinian Arab opposition, the high-living libertine who had founded the peace units during the rebellion, maintained contacts with both...

    • CHAPTER 9 TREASON AND DEFEAT: THE 1948 WAR
      (pp. 230-258)

      The war of 1948 ended with the severe defeat of the Arabs of Palestine and the Arab countries that came to their aid. Palestinian Arab political institutions collapsed. Hundreds of thousands of Arabs were uprooted from their homes. Hundreds of Arab settlements were laid waste. The Palestinian Arab state envisioned by the partition plan was aborted. Instead, the greater part of Palestine became a Jewish state that encompassed a much larger territory than that decreed by the United Nations. Though the collaborators could not have predicted the outcome, they did slightly contribute to this crushing defeat, termed in Arabic the...

  8. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 259-268)

    The study of Palestinian history during the British Mandate generally focuses on the national movement led by the mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini. Arabs who opposed al-Husseini or collaborated with the Zionists are treated as marginal. This is a prejudiced view. It ignores the fact that cooperation and collaboration were prevalent, in a variety of forms, throughout the period and among all classes and sectors. Collaboration was not only common but a central feature of Palestinian society and politics. The actions of many so-called collaborators were not inconsistent with Arab nationalism, yet collaboration was regarded by the mainstream as...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 269-316)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 317-326)
  11. Index
    (pp. 327-344)