The tenth anniversary occurs to-morrow (May 1st.) of the Palestine pogrom which raged all through the first week of May 1921, many Jews being killed, among them the famous Hebrew author, Joseph Chaim Brenner.
Our hearts are heavy with grief for the victims of the excesses, the Zionist Executive said in a statement which it issued at the time, but this trial will only strengthen the resolve of the Jewish people to reconstruct Palestine as their national home land.
A Commission of Enquiry was set up by the Palestine High Commissioner, Sir Herbert Samuel, consisting of the then Chief Justice of Palestine, Sir Thomas Haycraft, the then Assistant Governor of Jerusalem, Mr. H.G. Luke, who was afterwards Acting High Commissioner at the time of the 1929 massacres, and Judge Stubbs, of the Palestine Land Court. The fundamental cause of the riots and the subsequent acts of violence, the Commission reported, was a feeling among the Arabs of discontent with and hostility to the Jews due to political and economic causes and connected with Jewish immigration and with their conception of Zionist policy as derived from Jewish exponents. The immediate cause of the Jaffa riots on May 1st; it went on, was an unauthorised demonstration of the Palestine Communists. The racial strife was begun by Arabs, and rapidly developed into a conflict of great violence between Arabs and Jews, in which the Arab majority, who were generally the aggressors, inflicted most of the casualties. A large part of the Moslem and Christian Communities condoned the anti-Jewish rioting, although they did not encourage violence, while certain of the educated Arabs appeared to have incited the mob. The police were, with few exceptions, half trained and inefficient, in many cases indifferent, and in some cases leaders of or participators in violations.
THE PART OF THE PALESTINE COMMUNISTS.
During October and the beginning of November 1920, it was further stated in the report; there were outbreaks of labour trouble among the Jews in Jaffa. There was at this time a considerable amount of unemployment among recently arrived immigrants and the Mopsi (the Palestine Communists), who were able to work upon the feelings of those dissatisfied men aggravated the trouble where they did not originate it.
On April 30th. The police caught four Jewish men and a boy distributing proclamations, in Hebrew, Yiddish and Arabic, signed by the Executive Committee of the Palestine Communist Party, and calling in violent language upon proletarians of all nations to unite in the fight for the social revolution and urging Jewish and Arab labourers to join in overthrowing their oppressors. The Hebrew-Yiddish appeal ended with “Long live the 1st. of May”; “Down with the Palestine rule of force”; “Long live the international solidarity of the Jewish and Arab proletariat”; “Long live the civil war”; “Long live Soviet Russia”, while the Arabic version ended with the words – “Down with the British and French bayonets”; “Long live Soviet Palestine”.
Sunday, May 1st, 1921, the report proceeded, was Easter Sunday, according to the reckoning of the Orthodox Church. It was also a day of public demonstration, according to the practice of European Labour. In Palestine nothing had previously happened to mark May Day as a day of trouble, and so optimistic were the local authorities in Jaffa that Mr. Wainwright, the District Commandant of Police, had been given leave of absence.
The Communists had been informed that they would not be allowed to demonstrate, but they managed to elude the police and reach the outskirts of Tel Aviv. The authorised demonstration of the Achduth Haavodah (the Palestine Labour Party) described in the report as constitutional in its methods, and including in its ranks the vast bulk of the Jewish organised labour in Palestine, marched down the main street of Tel Aviv and when it arrived at the end of the street the Communist procession appeared. To avoid it the Labour procession turned to the right, but the followers at the tail came into collision with the Mopsi (Communists) and a scuffle took place.
The Arabs of Menshieh, who had resented the Bolshevik demonstration, the report went on, became aware that a disturbance was taking place on the Tel Aviv side and came out of their houses to see what was happening. Many of them were armed with sticks. Had it not been for outstanding grievances felt by Arabs against the Jews, the report claimed, the police would have had little difficulty in keeping the peace. Suddenly the Arabs poured into the Menshieh quarter where a general hunting of the Jews began. On the first day 27 Jews and 3 Arabs were killed and 104 Jews and 34 Arabs were wounded. On the second day 13 Jews were killed and 26 wounded and 10 Arabs were killed and 11 wounded. On the third day three Jews and one Arab were killed and four Jews and four Arabs were wounded. On the fourth day 28 Arabs and 4 Jews were killed and 15 Arabs and 12 Jews were wounded.
The murder of Brenner was described by the Enquiry Commission as “a horrible murder. He had been living, it explained, “with five other Jews in an isolated housed house off the Ramleh Road. Five bodies, those of Brenner and four others were found lying in a footpath beaten or stabbed to death. The sixth body was found about 100 yards away, with the hands tied behind the back. When the searchers returned to remove the bodies the sixth was not discovered and has not been seen since”.
The Zionist Commission, the Palestine Rabbinate and the Vaad Leumi proclaimed June 2nd., the thirtieth day after the funeral of the pogrom victims as a Fast Day to be observed by Jews throughout the world.
One of the results of the pogrom was the suspension of immigration into Palestine. The Jews of Palestine, the Vaad Leumi declared in a resolution of protest it the time,### are astonished to receive such an answer to the pogroms, which were carried out by armed Arabs attacking Jews in the towns and colonies. Instead of punishing the rioters, the resolution went on; Sir Herbert Samuel has punished the Jews.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.