On the History of Palestinian collaborators with Zionists:

In his groundbreaking book Army of Shadows, Hillel Cohen,
a research fellow at Hebrew University's Truman Institute for the
Advancement of Peace, exposes this particularly nefarious side of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Cohen has spent years in numerous Israeli
and British archives gathering information that many would pre­fer
to forget, and in Army of Shadows he sum­mons his findings to
document the actions of a seemingly endless number of Palestinian
mukhtars (village leaders), land merchants, in­­formers,
weapons dealers, journalists, busi­nessmen, farmers and teachers who
collaborated with the Jews between 1917 and 1948. By focusing on them,
Army of Shadows chron­icles a tragic chapter in the people's
history of Palestine, one that many Arab scholars have refrained from
writing because it contradicts the dominant ethos of Palestinian
national unity. Zionists have ab­­stained from recording it as
well because it undermines their claim that the Palestinians were able
to unify and fight against the es­tablishment of a Jewish state
after the UN partition resolution of November 29, 1947. Cohen reveals
that many Palestinians signed pacts with the Zionists during the 1948
war and that some even fought with the Jews against the Arab armies.

Collaboration is a very thorny issue, primarily because of its
corrosive blend of betrayal, exploitation and deceit, so it's not
surprising that Army of Shadows created a stir when the Hebrew
edition was published in 2004. Both liberal Jews and Palestinians found
the book difficult to digest because each group found its side portrayed
in unflattering terms. Many Jewish readers were upset by Cohen's
revelation that the prestate Zionist intelligence agency, Shai, and the
Jewish Agency's Arab bureau exploited almost every honest Jewish and
Palestinian relationship to advance narrow Zionist interests. There
were, Cohen notes, many Jews who desired only friendship or good
business relations with Palestinians but were eventually identified by
the Shai, which used them to collect information and enlist Palestinian
collaborators. The Jewish Agency even helped establish and finance
Neighborly Relations Committees, which initiated mutual visits and
Jewish-Palestinian projects, ranging from pest control to the
sending of joint petitions to the Mandatory government. The rationale
for the creation of these committees was not only to enhance coexistence
but also to recruit informers.


Army of Shadows also disturbed Palestinian readers because
it reveals for the first time the extent of Palestinian collaboration
with the Jews during the Mandate period and the ensuing 1948 war. Some
Palestinians were opportunists who collaborated with the Zionists to
make money or advance their careers–these were primarily land brokers
and people seeking administrative jobs. Others were mukhtars who
wished to advance their regional or village interests or, in cases of
internal competition, to solidify their leadership with the Zionists.
Still others can be characterized as Palestinian patriots who simply
disagreed with the dominant national leadership. Finally, there were
those who had Jewish friends and did not view Zionist
immigration as a catastrophe. The problem, though, as Cohen
points out, is that regardless of the motivation, collaboration
contributed to the fragmentation of Palestinian society at a time when
its very fate was being determined.

Simultaneously, Cohen underscores the Palestinian leadership's
failure to cultivate a unified national ethos. While disunity among a
people is in no way unique, in this case, as Cohen shows, it was
aggravated in two ways. First, a totally different and competing
national movement was making claims on the same territory, and this
movement knew how to profit from splits within Palestinian society in
order to undermine national aspirations. Indeed, the Zionists exploited
the fissures to recruit and deploy collaborators, and this ultimately
served to deepen internal Palestinian discord and frustrate
Palestinian nation building.

Second, and more disturbing for a Palestinian readership, Cohen
stresses that instead of capitalizing on the fact that Palestinian Arabs
shared a national consciousness and were divided mostly on pragmatic
questions about how to achieve their goals, the dominant Palestinian
group, led by Hajj Amin al-Husseini and loosely organized under the
auspices of the Arab Party (established in 1935), defined all competing
nationalist views and actions as treasonous. Collaborators, accordingly,
were no longer just those who aided the Zionists' military efforts; they
were local and regional leaders, merchants who traded with Jews,
journalists who wrote in favor of the Zionist project and, most
important, land dealers who helped Jewish institutions locate and
purchase Palestinian land. 

H/T: arabist 

0 comment on Shadowgames

  1. Max
    March 11, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    Few things are as disturbing as the truth.

  2. Roman Kalik
    March 11, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    Erm, so the vast majority of Palestinians who didn’t follow the pan-Arab nationalist ideal, and who just wanted to live by their new neighbors, were all evil collaborators of the brutal and power-hungry Zionists?

    Funny, but my take on the issue is quite different.

  3. Andrew Brehm
    March 11, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    The entire thing sounds very Nazi-ish.

    They are not simply people who didn’t want to kill Jews, they were “collaborators”, to make it sound as if being normal is equivalent to helping the Nazis. (Ironically, it was those “collaborators” who resisted actual German attempts to use Palestinian Arabs as real Nazi collaborators.)

    And when they defended their neighbours against vicious attacks, it was “betrayal, exploitation and deceit”.

    Their entire behaviour was of course, “nefarious”; or, as it is called when it doesn’t benefit Jews: friendly.

    Who is Hillel Cohen, anyway?

    “the dominant Palestinian group, led by Hajj Amin al-Husseini and loosely organized under the auspices of the Arab Party”

    Haha. Hitler’s friend and ally al-Husseini was involved. And his followers have the chutzpa to refer those who didn’t follow German ideas of what the world should like “collaborators”?


  4. Roman Kalik
    March 11, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    Mind, Cohen just wrote a book about the history of SHAI and the extent of Palestinian cooperation with it. It’s using it to address the “uncomfortable truth” of “traitors” (thus helping oneself to file anyone who didn’t openly object to Zionist Jews – and not just those who cooperated with SHAI – into the “traitor” bracket) that looks so pathetic to me.

  5. Leizerel
    March 11, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    [I] The Nation [/I] has been reliably anti-Israel for a long time. I’m not surprised that they’d present Zionist efforts to create peaceful relations between the Jewish and Arab communities as somehow “nefarious,” and the Arabs who responded with goodwill as “traitors.”

    It’s important to recall that although the Jewish Yishuv might have looked forward to an independent state, that outcome was by no means seen at the time as inevitable. I don’t understand what was so awful about Jews cultivating good relations with Arabs, which would have been necessary if the outcome had turned out to be a single bi-national state, which is what the folks at [I] The Nation [/I] are probably saying these days they would have preferred to see. So, let’s see, taking the steps that might have facilitated a bi-national state were “nefarious” and the Arabs who went along were “collaborators.”

  6. Lynne T
    March 12, 2008 at 1:45 am

    More shit from the groves of Israeli academe, where, most recently, a scholar’s doctoral thesis determined that the reason IDF soldiers don’t rape the women folk of the lands they patrol or occupy is because they are too racist to have sex with ’em.

  7. Suzanne
    March 12, 2008 at 9:31 am

    Funny that I thought this book to be really interesting. I did not read the word collaborator as a nazi-term.

    Working together with = to collaborate.

    Anyhow, one should not judge the write on a simple article, but on the book itself 😉

  8. Suzanne
    March 12, 2008 at 9:32 am

    And Lynne T, the piece you mentioned is crap from the start. I think she hates men and want to show how evil they are. Because,… if you do not rape you must be a racist (and evil). If you do rape, you are a man (but an evil one).

  9. Lynne T
    March 16, 2008 at 2:44 am


    “collaborator” in the context of an occupation, as in France during WW II meant someone who assisted the Nazi occupiers. After the war, women who consorted with the Nazi soldiers had their heads shaven to mark them for shame.

    I’m Jewish, but I’m not great on Israeli given names. Was the author of the “rape” piece an Israeli woman?


1Pingbacks & Trackbacks on Shadowgames

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *