'The British wanted us to kill each other'
Throughout the course of this past week, there have been many virulently anti-Israel articles throughout the mainstream media in connection with Israel's 60th Independence Day, which I have largely ignored. But one thing I know that most of you overseas don't appreciate is the role the British played in Israel's formation, so I thought it would be appropriate to give you some background on that issue. Simply put, if it had been up to the British, the Arabs would have really succeeded in throwing the Jews into the sea. This
ought to give you some idea.
The old British Army base, a small sandstone fort, stands abandoned on a hill in Abu Ghosh, an Arab village just southwest of Jerusalem. Said Jabr was 14 when the British pulled out.
“It was on the 14th or 15th of May. I remember exactly that the British commander came to Ali Saleh, the village mukhtar (elder), and said they were going to leave and warned us to be ready,” he recalled from his family home in Abu Ghosh. “Thirty-five armed villagers walked into the base to take command. But the British commander went at the same time to the kibbutz and told them the same thing.
“The British left one tank in front of the army base. Then a few tanks driven by the Haganah (the fledgling Jewish army) drove up and surrounded the army base. But we had great relations with the local kibbutzim – we believe in friendship and protecting a neighbour’s property, no matter who they are – and the leaders of the kibbutzim. . . came to the village. They met the mukhtar, drank coffee and reached an agreement that the villagers would leave the base and the Haganah would take over. The British commander was waiting in the remaining tank to see what would happen. He saw the Abu Ghosh villagers leaving the base and shaking hands with the Haganah members, and he said, ‘F****** Arabs’. Our impression was that he wanted us to kill each other. Thank God the people from both sides resolved the issue peacefully.”
Mr Jabr proudly displays the Hebrew shield he was awarded by the kibbutz. It shows two hands shaking – a token of thanks and friendship.
Abu Ghosh is on the road between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The village generally co-exists peacefully with its Israeli neighbors. Salim Jaber is the village's Mayor
(pictured at the top of this post with former President Moshe Katsav).