A British historian presents a pointedly argued account of the relentless violence by both British and Jewish groups that brought about the end of British rule in Palestine.
Using the example of the abduction and murder of 16-year-old activist Alexander Rubowitz on May 6, 1947, Cesarani (History/Royal Holloway, Univ. of London; Becoming Eichmann, 2006, etc.) shows how British counterinsurgency measures not only failed to gain control of Jewish terrorist groups in Palestine in the mid-1940s, but essentially provoked such a violent backlash that the British recognized the game was up. Rubowitz, who was hanging posters in a neighborhood of Jerusalem for the terrorist group LEHI (aka the Stern Gang), was bundled into a car by men in civilian clothes, one of whom dropped a hat. When Rubowitz did not return home, the family broadcast his disappearance, and the hat was traced to former World War II war hero, now deputy superintendent of police, Major Roy Farran. There ensued feeble attempts at obfuscation and cover-up on the part of the British Army, who were apprised by Farran’s account and others involved that Rubowitz had been tortured to death and his body vanished. Although Farran was clearly implicated, he was allowed to elude justice even after his court martial, and he was later celebrated in England. Cesarani combs through the bloody history of the British in the region, the early Zionist movement and push for Jewish migration and the Jewish retaliation against British resistance to increased migration after WWII. In this dense but cogent work, the author demonstrates how the British “special squads” descended into criminality—and were matched in their militancy by Jewish groups such as the Irgun.
Sound, sober historical documentation.