Aug. 28, 2019
In 1929, Arab clerics and politicians provoked riots across Palestine by accusing Jews of plotting to take control of Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque. This month marks the 90th anniversary of those riots and Palestinian Authority and Hamas leaders incite violence today using similar falsehoods and ideology.
The 1929 riots destroyed the Jewish community in Hebron. They persuaded Labor Zionist leader David Ben-Gurion that socialist fraternity among Jewish and Arab workers and peasants would not ensure peace. They impelled Palestine’s Jews to bolster the Haganah, their underground self-defense group. And they vindicated Zionist warnings against relying on foreigners for security.
Today’s conventional wisdom holds that Palestinian-Israeli peace will result from resolving the “final-status issues.” This is to assume away profound Muslim religious and Arab national objections to Israel’s very existence.
To commemorate the 1929 riots is to refute the common error that the conflict is about the “occupation” that began in 1967. Arab anti-Zionist violence predates not only 1967 but Israel’s birth in 1948. It started even before the 1929 Hebron massacre.
Arab rejection of Israel and Zionism emerges from an all-or-nothing view of justice and honor. It has never brooked compromise or moderation. It has justified, indeed demanded, murder of the enemy and destructive sacrifice of Palestinian lives.
Until the Palestinians have a leadership willing to set aside the ideology and cool rather than inflame the passions that spawned the Hebron massacre, the conflict will not be resolved through diplomacy.
Douglas J. Feith, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, served as undersecretary of defense for policy in the George W. Bush administration. Sean Durns is a senior research analyst for the Committee for Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA).