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Army of Shadows

Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917–1948

Hillel Cohen

Publication Year: 2008

Inspired by stories he heard in the West Bank as a child, Hillel Cohen uncovers a hidden history in this extraordinary and beautifully written book—a history central to the narrative of the Israel-Palestine conflict but for the most part willfully ignored until now. In Army of Shadows, initially published in Israel to high acclaim and intense controversy, he tells the story of Arabs who, from the very beginning of the Arab-Israeli encounter, sided with the Zionists and aided them politically, economically, and in security matters. Based on newly declassified documents and research in Zionist, Arab, and British sources, Army of Shadows follows Bedouins who hosted Jewish neighbors, weapons dealers, pro-Zionist propagandists, and informers and local leaders who cooperated with the Zionists, and others to reveal an alternate history of the mandate period with repercussions extending to this day. The book illuminates the Palestinian nationalist movement, which branded these "collaborators" as traitors and persecuted them; the Zionist movement, which used them to undermine Palestinian society from within and betrayed them; and the collaborators themselves, who held an alternate view of Palestinian nationalism. Army of Shadows offers a crucial new view of history from below and raises profound questions about the roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Published by: University of California Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

First, I wish to thank Abu-‘Atiyyah and his friends for inviting me, as a boy, to listen to their conversations, and the many Palestinian nationalists, “collaborators,” and Islamists who shared their views and experiences with me. ...

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pp. 1-12

The large pine tree in Abu-‘Atiyyah’s vineyard, not far from ‘Ayn Yalu in southern Jerusalem, was in the mid-1970s a meeting place for Palestinian fellahin from the surrounding area. Some of them, like Abu-‘Atiyyah, were refugees from the former village of al-Maliha. ...

Part One - Two Nationalisms Meet, 1917 – 1935

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1. Utopia and Its Collapse

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pp. 15-42

In July 1921 a formal delegation representing Palestinian Arab national institutions set out for London in a desperate, last-minute attempt to persuade Britain to back away from the Balfour Declaration and its commitment to allow Jewish immigration into Palestine. ...

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2. Who Is a Traitor?

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pp. 43-65

The collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the British conquest of Palestine not only brought about a change in Zionist policy; it also brought Palestine and the rest of the Middle East into the age of nationalism. That required, and led to, a profound change in the self-perception of the Palestinian population. ...

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3. We, the Collaborators

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pp. 66-92

This is how ideal collaborators describe themselves. They agree with everything the government says; they sell land to Jews; they claim that Arabs also benefit from Jewish immigration; they are satisfied with things as they are. Zionists could endorse the letter, and it is indeed possible that Kalvarisky and his associates had a hand in drafting it. ...

Part Two - Rebels and Traitors, 1936 – 1939

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4. Old Collaborators, New Traitors

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pp. 95-120

On 15 April 1936, armed Arabs, apparently acolytes of Sheikh Izz al-Din al-Qassam of Haifa, murdered two Jews on a road near Tulkarem. In response, members of Haganah Bet, a militant Jewish group that had broken from the Haganah, murdered two Arab workers near Petah Tikva. ...

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5. Unity Ends

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pp. 121-144

The Peel Commission commenced its work in November 1936. Its members traveled through the country, heard testimony from both sides, and could see that the British administration had reasserted control. Yet the most prominent Arab collaborators were still being pursued. A Haifa police officer, Halim Basta, was murdered. ...

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6. The “Traitors” Counterattack

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pp. 145-168

On a dark and rainy night in winter 1938, three men set out for Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood: the Haganah’s commander in Jerusalem, Ya‘akov Pat; Eliahu Sasson of the Jewish Agency’s Arab department; and Eliahu Elyashar of Jerusalem’s Jewish Committee. They bore crates of weapons for the antirebel force led by Fakhri Nashashibi. ...

Part Three - War in Europe, War at Home

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7. World War, Local Calm

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pp. 171-201

The great Arab revolt disintegrated late in 1939. The rebel leadership tried to cope with its military and political failure by initiating a new round of attacks on “traitors.” In June an intelligence source reported that the mufti had ordered the liquidation of all suspects, even those in his own family. ...

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8. Prelude to War

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pp. 202-229

Early in the evening of 9 November 1941, Fakhri Nashashibi left a meeting at a Baghdad residence and headed for his nearby hotel. The distance was short, so he told his bodyguards that he would walk alone. A young man named Ahmad Nusseibah, whom Nashashibi had first met a few days earlier, awaited him at the hotel entrance. ...

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9. Treason and Defeat: The 1948 War

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pp. 230-258

The war of 1948 ended with the severe defeat of the Arabs of Palestine and the Arab countries that came to their aid. Palestinian Arab political institutions collapsed. Hundreds of thousands of Arabs were uprooted from their homes. Hundreds of Arab settlements were laid waste. The Palestinian Arab state envisioned by the partition plan was aborted. ...

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pp. 259-268

The study of Palestinian history during the British Mandate generally focuses on the national movement led by the mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini. Arabs who opposed al-Husseini or collaborated with the Zionists are treated as marginal. This is a prejudiced view. ...


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pp. 269-316


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pp. 317-326


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pp. 327-344

E-ISBN-13: 9780520933989
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520252219

Page Count: 352
Publication Year: 2008