During the turbulent years in Palestine in the 1930s and mid-1940s, Arab riots against Jews resulted in deaths for both populations. Jews retaliated against terrorist Arabs, incited and inspired by the British appointed Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Husseini.
In all of the tragedies, the British remained pro-Arab and rounded up who they believed to be Jewish perpetrators. The Jewish leadership, under the hand of David Ben-Gurion, urged Jewish militant groups to refrain from attacking British soldiers and police and to use restraint in dealing with the unloved and unwanted Mandatory authorities.
Members of two Jewish groups, the Irgun and the Lechi, both extremely militant forces seeking an end to the British Mandate of Palestine and accusing Whitehall of violating the 1917 terms of the Balfour Declaration, disagreed as to the means by which to send the British scurrying out of Palestine.
When a Jew was arrested and imprisoned in the Acre jail or was deported to Eritrea, the two groups responded while the Haganah continued to urge caution and restraint. When a Jew was hanged by the British, both groups responded in kind. The leaders of both groups, Menachem Begin in the Irgun and Avraham Stern in the Lechi, both great heroes in the legacy of the people of Israel, met together to plot out ways of ridding Jewish Palestine of the British Mandate.
The bombing of one wing of the famous King David Hotel in Jerusalem, headquarters of the British regime, caused the death of more than 90 persons, mostly British but also some Jews and Arabs who were working in the hotel. The main difference between that terrorist act and the acts of terrorists today is a humane one. Prior to the explosion, the Jewish group responsible gave advance warning to the British, informing them of the intention to bomb the King David. The British chose to ignore the warning.
In the years of the Mandate, the British resorted to methods which were largely effective in curbing Arab terrorist activities. The mukhtars (elected officials) in Arab villages were told in no uncertain terms that for every British soldier or policeman killed by an Arab from those villages, the British would retaliate by demolishing their homes. Indeed, after many Arab village homes were bulldozed by the British, Arab terrorist activity decreased greatly.
What our government in Israel today needs to do is to re-introduce the methods of the British Mandate. Bring back the Mandate. If not in the flesh at least in the actions. The rioting on the Temple Mount, the holiest sacred place to Jews as the site of the First and Second Temples and the third holiest site to Muslims known as the Haram al-Sharif, believed to be the place from which Mohammed ascended into heaven, will become the cause of a religious holy war pitting millions of Jews against billions of Muslims.
Water cannons, rubber bullets, tear gas have not proved effective in deterring the rioting. The Israeli government has now permitted the use of live fire if danger to human life is perceived. The rioting grows stronger each day. Arab leaders of the Jordanian-controlled Waqf accuse the Jews of wanting to destroy the Mosques of Omar and Al-Aqsa in order to rebuild a Jewish Holy Temple.
And there is a very small lunatic fringe of Jews, Orthodox extremists, who have publicly admitted that it is their wish and intention to do so. No one knows the exact number of these lunatics, but it is estimated at less than one hundred. Nevertheless, their intentions, which are rejected totally by all the official Jewish religious leadership, are propagandized by the Muslims and believed by the Arab man on the street.
Nothing that Israel can say will dissuade the Arabs from believing that the Jews intend to desecrate and destroy their holy places. Arresting stone-throwers and those who make and throw incendiary pipe bombs which kill, is honestly quite useless. In prison, they are given three wholesome meals daily, television, exercise activities, and even the opportunity to study university courses. It is amazing how many Arab prisoners in Israeli jails have earned Masters and even doctoral degrees from Israeli universities during the long periods of their incarceration.
But to curb the riots and to punish the young Arab terrorists it is necessary to punish their parents.
If parents controlled their wild children and prevented them from taking part in violent protests and activities, calm could quickly be restored.
The answer is to follow the actions of the former British Mandate. Demolish their homes and make the parents homeless. Only seeing this grief will pain rioters sufficiently. Only when they see what has happened to their homes, their parents and families as a result of their unlawful activities, will the aggressive rioting cease.
As much as we Israelis despised the days of the British Mandate, looking back now we can say “it wasn’t all that bad”.