In his splendid military history of Britain's pacification of the Arab revolt in Palestine, Britain's Pacification of Palestine: The British Army, the Colonial State, and the Arab Revolt, 1936-1939
(Cambridge University Press, 2019), Professor Matthew Hughes
of Brunel University shows how the British Army was so devastatingly effective against colonial rebellion in the mid to late 1930s by the Palestinian Arabs. The Army had a long tradition of pacification to draw upon to support operations, underpinned by the creation of an emergency Mandate / colonial state in Palestine. After conquering Palestine in 1917, the British established a civil Government that ruled by proclamation and, without any local legislature, the colonial authorities codified in law norms of collective punishment that the Army used in 1936. The Army used 'lawfare', emergency legislation enabled by the colonial state, to grind out the rebellion. Soldiers with support from the RAF launched kinetic operations to search and destroy rebel bands, alongside which the villagers on whom the rebels depended were subjected to curfews, fines, detention, punitive searches, demolitions and reprisals. Rebels were disorganised and unable to withstand the power of such pacification measures. Professor Hughes opus is the definitive account of the British military suppression of the Arab Revolt. Based upon voluminous archival research, It is difficult to imagine that it will be superseded anytime soon. According to Chatham Houses’ International Affairs, Britain’s Pacification of Palestine
is “one of the most important and comprehensive accounts”, of this historical episode.
Charles Coutinho has a doctorate in history from New York University. Where he studied with Tony Judt, Stewart Stehlin and McGeorge Bundy. His Ph. D. dissertation was on Anglo-American relations in the run-up to the Suez Crisis of 1956. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written recently for the Journal of Intelligence History and Chatham House’s International Affairs. It you have a recent title to suggest for a podcast, please send an e-mail to Charlescoutinho@aol.com.