I do not know Oren Kessler. I regret that I have never had the privilege of meeting him. He is the Deputy Director for research and research fellow at Foundation for Defense of Democracies located in Washington, DC, USA.
On May 1, 2021 his magnificent historical article appeared in our TIMES OF ISRAEL entitled “1921 Jaffa riots 100 years on: Mandatory Palestine’s 1st ‘mass casualty’ event”.
To me, hypnotized by each word, I hoped that it was only the beginning of a book that he would write dealing with the events in Palestine and Jewish history prior to the 1921 pogrom, the beginning of more to follow in Arab Palestine.
I forwarded his article to 31 of my colleagues and friends around the world, recommending that they do likewise after reading it.
Kessler’s brilliant history recalls the first pogrom in Palestine by Arabs in the city of Jaffa abutting Tel-Aviv. It followed as a result of the 1917 British Balfour Declaration which promised a Jewish homeland in Palestine and by the 1921 League of Nations declaration upholding the Balfour Declaration giving Palestine as a Mandate of the British government and requiring the Mandate to fulfill all the precepts and details in the written Declaration.
Unfortunately, the British Mandate did not keep an open mind and did not follow all the principles contained in Balfour’s historic document, thereby defying the opinions of the League of Nations by favoring the Arabs of Palestine over the Jewish Zionists.
As a result, the Jaffa pogrom of 1921 against Jewish immigrants who arrived and settled in Jaffa, a dreadful riot begun by the effendis and upper class of Arab notables, spread throughout the city and made its way of death and destruction to other towns, cities and settlements which Jews had built.
Kessler correctly laid the blame on the British Mandatory authorities, most of who closed their eyes to the turmoil, deaths and destruction. But the 1921 riots gave rise to the Haganah,the Jewish defense organization, which through its efforts succeeded in the 1948 creation of the independent State of Israel and which later became the birth of the Israel Defense Forces, our military pride and joy.
At the end of 1921, it was the Haganah who were the victors to the pride of Jews worldwide. Palestine ceased to be a formal existing country and was replaced by the two thousand-year-old Jewish homeland.
In defense of his article, Oren Kessler lists in full the details, dates, results and policies which came into effect at the end of the first pogrom which began in Jaffa.
He explained the leadership of corrupt Arabs, in particular the Mandate-appointed Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini who met with Adolf Hitler in Berlin in 1941 seeking Nazi efforts in the destruction of the Jews in Palestine. Husseini was declared a war criminal by the British Government.
The leadership of the Zionists was, on the other hand, less hateful toward the Arabs and who urged friendship and cooperation between the two peoples residing together in Palestine.
Chaim Weizman, who became Israel’s first President, and David Ben-Gurion who became the first Prime Minister, frequently preached tolerance and understanding between Jews and Arabs.
And when Israel became an independent nation in 1948 the Arabs who did not flee from Palestine during the War of Independence were granted full and equal citizenship in the Jewish State.
Oren Kessler’s history of events is brilliantly written and I commend it to all readers who are interested in the events which led to the Jewish return to their two thousand-year-old homeland.
It is a fascinating article and Oren Kessler is to be commended. I look forward to his book if and when published.
And I am grateful that it first appeared published in our TIMES OF ISRAEL. Well done by Kessler and TOI.