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Haycraft Commission (1921)


A British commission that investigated Palestinian anti-Zionist violence in May 1921.

Palestinians attacked the Jewish inhabitants of Jaffa and five Jewish colonies on 1 May 1921, resulting in 47 Jewish deaths and 146 injured, mostly by Palestinians, and 48 Palestinian deaths and 73 wounded, mostly by the military and police. The British high commissioner for Palestine, Sir Herbert Samuel, appointed a commission, headed by the chief justice of Palestine, Sir Thomas Haycraft, to determine the causes of the Arab violence. The commission reported in October 1921 that what triggered the violence was a May Day clash between rival Jewish Communists and Jewish Socialists in nearby Tel Aviv. The fundamental cause, however, was Palestinian "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 report stated that the Palestinians feared that Jewish immigration would lead to unemployment in the short run and to political and economic subjugation in the long run.

After the report was issued, the British took some steps to meet Palestinian demands. In December, Samuel established the Supreme Muslim Council to administer the awqaf (religious endowments) and to appoint and dismiss officials and judges of the shariʿa courts. In January 1922, he allowed the election of Muhammad Amin alHusayni, a popular Palestinian nationalist, as president of the council. In June 1922, Sir Winston Churchill, secretary of state for the colonies, issued a white paper which, while reconfirming continued British support for the Zionists, reassured the Palestinians that they need not fear the "imposition of Jewish nationality" on them, rejected the idea that Palestine would become "as Jewish as England is English," limited Jewish immigration to the "economic capacity of the country," and proposed a legislative council with limited powers. The Palestinians rejected the new policy because it was based on the Balfour Declaration. The Zionists accepted it but criticized the British for backing away from the Balfour Declaration.

See also balfour declaration (1917); churchill white paper (1922); churchill, winston s.; husayni, muhammad amin al-; samuel, herbert louis; supreme muslim council.


Caplan, Neil. Palestine Jewry and the Arab Question, 19171925. London: Frank Cass, 1978.

A Survey of Palestine, 3 vols. Jerusalem: Government Printer, 19461947; Washington DC: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1991.

philip mattar

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