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Although Arabs were a majority in Palestine prior to the creation of the state of Israel, there had always been a Jewish population, as well. For the most part, Jewish Palestinians got along with their Arab neighbors. This began to change with the onset of the Zionist movement, because the Zionists rejected the right of the Palestinians to self-determination and wanted Palestine for their own, to create a “Jewish State” in a region where Arabs were the majority and owned most of the land.
For instance, after a series of riots in Jaffa in 1921 resulting in the deaths of 47 Jews and 48 Arabs, the occupying British held a commission of inquiry, which reported their finding that “there is no inherent anti-Semitism in the country, racial or religious.” Rather, Arab attacks on Jewish communities were the result of Arab fears about the stated goal of the Zionists to take over the land.
After major violence again erupted in 1929, the British Shaw Commission report noted that “In less than 10 years three serious attacks have been made by Arabs on Jews. For 80 years before the first of these attacks there is no recorded instance of any similar incidents.” Representatives from all sides of the emerging conflict testified to the commission that prior to the First World War, “the Jews and Arabs lived side by side if not in amity, at least with tolerance, a quality which today is almost unknown in Palestine.” The problem was that “The Arab people of Palestine are today united in their demand for representative government”, but were being denied that right by the Zionists and their British benefactors.
The British Hope-Simpson report of 1930 similarly noted that Jewish residents of non-Zionist communities in Palestine enjoyed friendship with their Arab neighbors. “It is quite a common sight to see an Arab sitting in the verandah of a Jewish house”, the report noted. “The position is entirely different in the Zionist colonies.”