1936-1939 Arab Revolt | Just Vision Skip to main content

The glossary is comprised of nearly 250 terms related to the Israeli-Palestinian context. Given the rapidly shifting landscape, these terms cannot capture the full range of nuances, narratives and historical events. This tool is meant as a starting point and we encourage you to continue your exploration of this topic through further research. Last update and review: September 2015.

1936-1939 Arab Revolt

This was the longest sustained nationalist rebellion to British mandatory control of Palestine. The Arab Revolt was instigated by a massive influx of Jewish immigration, partly due to the rise of Nazism in pre-war Germany. Following increased tensions and a number of violent incidents perpetrated by both Palestinians and Jews, Palestinian rioting erupted on April 19, 1936 in Jaffa and Tel Aviv, quickly spreading throughout Palestine, resulting in the killing of 16 Jews and five Palestinians. An extensive general strike was declared and other forms of political protest (such as non-payment of taxes), led by an Arab Higher Committee, presided over by Jerusalem mufti Hajj Amin al-Hussein. In addition to the political protest, Jewish-farmed orchards were destroyed, and Jewish civilians murdered. The goals of the revolt were to shift British policy by limiting or ending large-scale Jewish immigration, to ban further land sales to Jews, and to enable Palestinians to establish their own national government. Britain established the Peel Commission to investigate the rebellion, which recommended the partition of Palestine into two states (one Arab and one Jewish) with a retained British mandate in Bethlehem, Nazareth and Jerusalem, and a corridor from Jerusalem to the sea. The Commission's recommendation of partition (though not the boundaries proposed) was accepted at the 20th Zionist Congress (in part because it called for population transfer of Palestinians from the designated Jewish state to the designated Arab state, which many leading Zionists advocated) but it was rejected by the Arab Higher Committee, leading to a resumption of the revolt, which now targeted British forces militarily. The riots were ultimately suppressed by harsh British measures, including the exiling of many Palestinian leaders, disbanding the Arab Higher Committee, and the establishment of military courts. See U.S. Library of Congress Country Study. See also Yale Law School's Avalon Project: Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy and "From Law and Order to Pacification: Britain's Suppression of the Arab Revolt in Palestine, 1936-39," Matthew Hughes, Journal of Palestine Studies/University of California Press, 2010.