Daniel Pipes: Palestinians Who Helped Create Israel

Roundup: Talking About History

Palestinians have so loudly and for so long (nearly a century) rejected Zionism that Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, Yasir Arafat, and Hamas may appear to command unanimous Palestinian support.

But no: polling research finds that a substantial minority of Palestinians, about 20 percent, is ready to live side-by-side with a sovereign Jewish state. Although this minority has never been in charge and its voice has always been buried under rejectionist bluster, Hillel Cohen of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has uncovered its surprisingly crucial role in history.

He explores this subject in the pre-state period in Army of Shadows: Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917–1948 (translated by Haim Watzman, University of California Press); then, the same author, translator, and press are currently preparing a sequel, Good Arabs: The Israeli Security Agencies and the Israeli Arabs, 1948–1967, for publication in 2010.

In Army of Shadows, Cohen demonstrates the many roles that accommodating Palestinians played for the Yishuv, the pre-state Jewish community in the Holy Land. They provided labor, engaged in commerce, sold land, sold arms, handed over state assets, provided intelligence about enemy forces, spread rumors and dissension, convinced fellow Palestinians to surrender, fought the Yishuv's enemies, and even operated behind enemy lines. So great was their cumulative assistance, one wonders if the State of Israel could have come into existence without their contribution.

The mufti's absolute rejection of Zionism was intended to solidify the Palestinian population but had the opposite effect. The Husseini clique's selfishness, extremism and brutality undermined solidarity: using venomous language and murderous tactics, declaring jihad against anyone who disobeyed the mufti, and deeming more than half the Palestinian population"traitors" pushed many fence-sitters and whole communities (notably the Druse) over to the Zionist side.

Consequently, Cohen writes,"As time passed, a growing number of Arabs were willing to turn their backs on the [rejectionists] and offer direct assistance to the British or Zionists." He calls collaboration with Zionism"not only common but a central feature of Palestinian society and politics." No one before Cohen has understood the historical record this way.

He discerns a wide range of motives on the part of the Yishuv's Palestinian allies: economic gain, class or tribal interests, nationalist ambitions, fear or hatred of the Husseini faction, personal ethics, neighborliness, or individual friendships. Against those who would call these individuals" collaborators" or even"traitors," he argues that they actually understood the situation more astutely than Husseini and the rejectionists: accommodationists presciently realized that the Zionist project was too strong to resist and that attempting to do so would lead to destruction and exile, so they made peace with it.

By 1941 the intelligence machinery had developed sophisticated methods that sought to utilize every contact with Palestinians for information gathering purposes. Army of Shadows highlights that the Yishuv's advanced social development; what Cohen terms the"deep intelligence penetration of Palestinian Arab society" was a one-way process – Palestinians lacked the means to reciprocate and penetrate Jewish life.

Along with the development of a military force (the Haganah), a modern economic infrastructure, and a democratic polity, this infiltration of Palestinian life ranks as one of Zionism's signal achievements. It meant that while the Zionists could unify and go on the offensive,"Palestinian society was preoccupied with internal battles and was unable to mobilize and unify behind a leadership."

Cohen is modest about the implications of his research, specifically arguing that Palestinian assistance was not"the main cause" of the Arab defeat in 1948-49. Fair enough, but the evidence he produces reveals the crucial role of this assistance to the success of the Zionist enterprise in the period of his first volume. Interestingly, while that assistance remains important to the Israel Defense Forces today (how else could the IDF foil so many West Bank terrorist attempts?), the State of Israel deploys far greater resources than the Yishuv, making Palestinian assistance much less central today.

Cohen also confirms the key fact that not all Palestinians are the enemies of Israel – something I have documented for more recent times. This offers cause for hope; indeed, were the 20 percent of Palestinians who accept Israel expanded to 60 percent, the Arab-Israeli conflict would close down. Such a Palestinian change of heart – and not more"painful concessions" by Israel – should be the goal of every would-be peacemaker.

Mar. 26, 2009 update: This article adds a historical dimension to a topic I have been following for the past fifteen years. For a listing of these, see"Bibliography – My Writings on Arabs Appreciating

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Thaddeus Brodrick Noble - 4/6/2009

The name Daniel Pipes will forever be synonymous with:

1. Zionist disinformation.
2. Intentional historical fabrication.
3. Academic "Bull S### !!

Your pathetic drivel is obviously a tortured outcry from a mentally challenged mind.

art eckstein - 4/4/2009

Another book Omar should read is Weldon C. Matthews, Confronting an Empire, Constructing a Nation: Arab Nationalism and Popular Politics in Mandate Palestine.

Matthews concentrates on the Istiqlal, an important secular resistance-organization in the 1920s and 1930s among Arabs in the Mandate.

Matthews argues that Istiqlal wasn't much concerned with the Zionists because it was primarily concerned instead with resisting the British, whom they saw as the main enemy to Arabs in the Mandate. In addition, Istiqlal were pan-Arab (not so much Palestinian) nationalists.

I guess we now have to add a bit to Cohen's 20%...
But I fear this may be too complex for Omar.

N. Friedman - 4/4/2009


How about reading the book. It would not hurt you. The author is rather sympathetic to Palestinian Arabs and their causes. Then, if you disagree, you can state that disagreement with some intelligence, pointing to reasons or facts that show his evidence and argument are wrong.

I say this because more and more evidence is being dug up. That evidence has to be considered.

omar ibrahim baker - 4/4/2009

A smoke screen to hide an improper comment

N. Friedman - 4/3/2009


The point here is that motives and politics and history can only be explored in earnest based on evidence. Cohen, unlike you, has produced evidence for what he opines. I, for one, think that his evidence shows even more than he opines. I think it shows that there was not, at the time, really a developed Palestinian Arab nationalism, which explains the large number of Palestine's Arabs who wanted - as in, they were volunteers - to help the Zionist cause.

You can say that Cohen's evidence shows less than he opines. But, your problem is that you adduce no evidence to refute Cohen's evidence and, on top of that, you have not even bothered to read his evidence, so you have no idea what to write. Hence, you spout ideologically driven, party line material.

In Cohen's case, he has uncovered what people wrote and said and did, etc., etc.. Your position cannot stand as sufficient in view of his evidence, no matter how many times you suggest otherwise. Unless, of course, you are calling him a liar.

omar ibrahim baker - 4/3/2009

Another edict in the offing from the multiawarded Professor.

Thus spake Professor Eckstein:
"Omar, you presented an alternative reconstruction of Palestinian motives ("they gave up the fight"), without having read the book, and its evidence."
(1): no point could be presented on a certain theme unless and until ALL points made on the same subject are refuted or at least reviewed; with particular emphasis on points made by Eckstein's favoured writer(s).

(2): No other "motives" could be discerned NOR could possibly exist, or co exist, for a certain episode/happening other than that noted by an Eckstein favoured author.

(3): It is inconceivable to Eckstein that a certain episode/happening could have been the outcome from several, even possibly divergent, motives, reasons, conditions etc.

It was, earlier, MUST and MUST NOT read; now it is MUST consider and accept Or refute and MUST NOT present any alternative argument/motive etc until.....

A new epistle in the offing from the major domo of learning and scholarship!
Seemingly a new insidious thought control process: WHAT subjects NOT to broach unless and until and HOW one can broach them ONLY AFTER………..

N. Friedman - 4/3/2009


Ridiculous or not, it is you who have criticized a book without reading it.

art eckstein - 4/3/2009

Omar, you denied the 20% figure, and declared it was more likely 1/10 of that figure (2%), without having read the book, and its evidence.

Omar, you presented an alternative reconstruction of Palestinian motives ("they gave up the fight"), without having read the book, and its evidence.

You substitute ideology for knowledge, as usual--and you insist on doing so.

omar ibrahim baker - 4/3/2009

You have failed to point out to any thing that is exclusively specific to that book to warrant your inane statement “ Again, you would do well to read before asserting nonsense” at #133239,and to bolster your shaky argument.

Your latest post is Ridiculous

Facts are available in many places and the book you refer to and seem to avidly favour is in no way the only source of facts NOR the only book that has dealt with the same subject.

Any book on the subject of Palestine has most of these and many other facts.

It would have been a critique of the book if any reference is made to anything specific in that book.

My post does NOT have a single reference to any part of the book, not even to its title.
I have noted in one past post that I will read it when I lay my hands on it and never pretended nor implied in my post to have read it..

What you and side kick are trying to do is to limit the discussion of any subject to what is in a certain preferred book of yours ...(Cf Professor Livingston's post) which is an absurd and childish attitude; to say the least .

There is a TREMENDOUS difference between reviewing/critiquing a book , which stipulates to have read it, and writing on a subject dealt with in that same book since that same SUBJECT is liable, as is patently the case here, to have been dealt with in MANY other books; inter alia .
That is A, B and C that you should, and probably, know that a certain bias and many prejudices blinded you to!

Friedman you have made a childish mistake and are trying to wiggle your way out.

Under other conditions I would request an apology but with you it is neither asked for nor expected nor will be considered and appreciated should it, by a hugely remote chance, ever come.
Although an apology to the other readers will be in order.

N. Friedman - 4/2/2009


Your post that can be found by clicking here consists, in substantial portion, of facts allegedly wrong, the complained of facts coming from the book.

omar ibrahim baker - 4/1/2009

Mr Friedman
You claim:"You criticized the book - "
Where did I do that??

Kindly demonstrate!

N. Friedman - 4/1/2009


But, you did more than comment on the general topic. You criticized the book - a book that you did not read.

omar ibrahim baker - 4/1/2009

Mr Friedman
How childish is a presumably mature person liable to be.
Astounding !
"That (Not reading a book) would certainly preclude commenting on the BOOK before reading it but certainly does NOT preclude commenting on the general SUBJECT of the book"

I can NOT make it simpler!

N. Friedman - 4/1/2009


In other words, you have not read the book.

omar ibrahim baker - 4/1/2009

Mr Friedman
Your comment is only made to afford you the opportunity to declaim:

"Again, you would do well to read before asserting nonsense."

Which is an in character irrelevant comment denoting a spurious mentality, and a cheap aside, since I in no way claimed to be reviewing the book nor did I refer to anything specific in it.
That would certainly preclude commenting on the BOOK before reading it but certainly does NOT preclude commenting on the general SUBJECT of the book.

N. Friedman - 4/1/2009


Have you read the book?

omar ibrahim baker - 4/1/2009

The Abbott and Costello show is back stressing their innate inability to comprehend that which displease them , demonsrating their ability to extrapolate baselessly and fabricate endlessly in their never ending effort to deceive others.

N. Friedman - 3/31/2009

Hi Art,

I think you are right that Omar is commenting on a book he has not read. Caught in the act!!! How about that.

We can add this to his "erudition" about Judaism and Maimonides.

art eckstein - 3/31/2009

I think that Omar at 1:34 p.m. above has just admitted he hasn't read the book he has attacked.

N. Friedman - 3/31/2009


But, your comment does not address the general topic. It, instead, addresses your views of which side of the dispute Arabs ought to take, which is something other than history.

omar ibrahim baker - 3/31/2009

Your comment is only made to afford you the opportunity to declaim:

"Again, you would do well to read before asserting nonsense."

Which is an in character irrelevant comment denoting a spurious mentality, and a cheap aside, since I in no way claimed to be reviewing the book nor did I refer to anything specific in it.
That would certainly preclude commenting on the BOOK before reading it but certainly does NOT preclude commenting on the general SUBJECT of the book.

N. Friedman - 3/31/2009


I read your comment.

The topic of this page is Cohen's book and your comment was read in light of the pertinent topic.

I reiterate that your comment makes no sense in light of Cohen's book, which explores what people thought and did - i.e., it is historical -, not whether their thoughts matched your particular view of what they ought to have thought and done. And, if you had read the book, you would realize how silly your comment was.

omar ibrahim baker - 3/31/2009

Mr Friedman
Your repost in no way addresses what I wrote.

Nor did my post refer to, or contradict, anything specific in the book for you to assert that I should read it before commenting; which I hope to the minute I can lay my hands on it.

My post was about our perception of the whole question of the tiny minority of Palestinians who failed to perceive Zionism for what it truly is : a racist colonialist doctrine.
Your comment is only made to afford you the opportunity to declaim:

"Again, you would do well to read before asserting nonsense."

Which is an in character irrelevant comment denoting a spurious mentality, and a cheap aside, since I in no way claimed to be reviewing the book nor did I refer to anything specific in it.
That would certainly preclude commenting on the BOOK before reading it but certainly does NOT preclude commenting on the general SUBJECT of the book.

N. Friedman - 3/31/2009


Have you read Cohen's interesting book? I doubt it.

He goes into great detail as to why a great many Arabs did not side with the "nationalist" leaders. Among the reasons were the desire to make money, the belief that the nationalists were vile, violent lunatics with a hateful agenda, the friendships made with Jews and, in a great many cases, the belief that Zionism would be a good thing for the country and the belief that Zionism and Arab nationalism could be reconciled.

In fact, quite a number of Arabs wrote tracts, articles and propaganda in favor of Zionism. And, such were often written out of conviction, as Cohen shows. In many cases, such people were given nothing in return for their work and were not even promised anything.

Again, you would do well to read before asserting nonsense.

omar ibrahim baker - 3/31/2009

The figure of 20% is highly suspect but the assertion that NOT all Palestinians unanimously and assertively resisted Zionist influx into Palestine is substantially correct though, percentage wise, it is more likely to be 2% (?) than 20%.

Nor did ALL Palestinians in the 1920-1948 era unanimously partake in the majority historically unchallengeable perception that the post WWI Jewish/Zionist influx into Palestine was the prelude to a British assisted Zionist/Jewish colonialist conquest and embrace armed resistance to thwart it.
A tiny minority believed that the issue could be resolved politically.

Some Palestinians were then deluded into accepting international but mainly British assurances, others were both naïve and ignorant enough to accept and believe in Jewish/ Zionist exclamations and declarations of Zionist good will and reassurances others, worried about their material interests or social standing , simply gave up the fight before it started hoping for the best through a last minute pan Arab and/or international intervention..

All of this minority group(s) were for appeasement; none were for an outright acceptance of a Jewish state in Palestine in lieu of an Arab Palestinian state (except , of course, the subhuman category of paid collaborators, spies, war profiteers and quislings who had put their fate into Zionist hands and servilely served the Zionists as all traitors do for material or other personal gain.)

All of these turned out to be gravely mistaken and were proved to be horrendously misguided about Zionist intentions by unmistakable colonialist Israeli policies immediately post 1948!

Israeli war time and soon after policies of ethnic cleansing via mass massacres of civilians (Deir Yassin and Tantoura etc ) and mass civilian deportation (Lod and Ramlla etc) and destruction of hundreds of villages and hamlets , its refusal to withdraw from lands NOT allocated to the Jews in the Partition of Palestine resolution coupled with its rejection to implement the Right of Return of Palestinian refugees proved beyond any shadow of doubt to this same minority that they were, at best, gravelly mistaken and/or were hoodwinked but that, in essence, they, ALL, had grievously misread Zionism and Zionist intentions as then unfolding and latter developments unequivocally

Peter Kovachev - 3/31/2009

About the only point of interest in your comment, Mr Besch, is your reference to "kur dogs." Perhaps you may be so kind as to update me on what might be a new fad expression ofd the "anti-zionist" camp. I've heard of the term "cur," synonymous with "dog." Otherwise, your false analysis and stale "solutions" are just more of the same.

You might ask yourself just how the various "Palestinian" authorities, governments and factions have been treating their own people. Try Google. That might hint at why so many Yesha and Israeli Arabs "collaborate" with Israel.

That ordinary Arabs have been abandoned by their leaders is bad enough, that they are being tortured, terrorized, murdered and systematically robbed by Hamas, the PA and a plethora of factions may not of interest to the hate-Israel and hate-Jews crowds, but is becoming a point of urgency to those Arabs who care about peace and coexistence, and who dream of a real future for their children, one other than the openly advertised careers as sandbags for Hamas terrorists or self-propelled human bombs.

Peter Kovachev - 3/31/2009

Your well thought-out analysis of Prof Pipe's article and brilliant commentary deserves a response of similar value and dignity, Mr Noble. Trouble is, I don't know how to textually indicate a sloppy, spittle-flying raspberry.

Randll Reese Besch - 3/30/2009

Then a certain faction of Palestinians have supported their oppressors with the help of the Mufti pushing them there. Though the Mufti is long gone so I wonder. What motivates them now? Even when Hamas and the others before them wish to parley and seek peace they are rebuffed by the stronger force. Zionist Israel sees no need to deal with their lessers in any way but as kur dogs to be kicked and starved into submission or driven off. A sad state of affairs they need to change. That and Hamas needs to stop the home made rockets, not just because of the killing involved and terrorism each does to the other, but it will work better for both if they stop that. Israel has the ear of the a USA which protects it in the greater area of nations and the UN does not bother them. Israel has no need to stop what it is doing in its slow push to a greater Israel.

Edmond Dantes - 3/30/2009

What? No comments? I expected Ms. Paul to start screaming "traitors!" from the start.

I bet Palestinian assistance still plays an important role in today's struggles.