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Haycraft Commission of Inquiry into the 1920-21 Arab Riots

(August 10, 1921)

List of Documents Comprising the Original Report 

1. Terms of Reference

2. Interim Report by the Commission of Inquiry on the Khedera Raid on 6th May, 1921

3. Report by Commission of Inquiry into the Jaffa Riots

4. Dispatch from the High Commissioner for Palestine to the Secretary of State for the Colonies.

5. Dispatch from the Secretary of State for the Colonies to the High Commissioner for Palestine.


I APPOINT His Honour Sir Thomas Haycraft, Chief Justice of Palestine, Mr.. H.C. Luke, Assistant Governor of Jerusalem, and Mr.. Stubbs, of the Legal Department, to be a Commission to inquire into the recent disturbances in the town and neighborhood of Jaffa, and to report thereon.

And I appoint Sir Thomas Haycraft to be the Chairman, and Aref Pasha Dejani El Daoudi. Elias Eff. Mushabbeck and Dr. Eliash to be assessors to the Commission.

The Commission shall have all the powers specified in Article 2 of the Commission of Inquiries Ordinance, 1921.


High Commissioner for Palestine


7th May, 1921



The fundamental cause of the Jaffa riots and the subsequent acts of violence was a feeling among the Arabs of discontent with, and hostility to, the Jews, due to political and economic causes, and connected with Jewish immigration, and with their conception of Zionist policy as derived from Jewish exponents.

The immediate cause of the Jaffa riots on the 1st May was an unauthorized demonstration of Bolshevik Jews, followed by its clash with an authorized demonstration of the Jewish Labour Party.

The racial strife was begun by the Arabs, and rapidly developed into a conflict of great violence between Arabs and Jews, in which the Arab majority, who were generally the aggressors, inflicted most of the casualties.

The outbreak was not premeditated or expected, nor was either side prepared for it; but the state of popular feeling made a conflict likely to occur on any provocation by any Jews.

The general body of Jews is opposed to Bolshevism, and was not responsible for the Bolshevik demonstration.

When the disturbance had once begun an already acute anti-Jewish feeling extended it into an anti-Jewish riot. A large part of the Moslem and Christian communities condoned it, although they did not encourage violence. While certain of the educated Arabs appear to have incited the mob, the notables on both sides, whatever their feelings may have been, aided the authorities to allay the trouble.

The police were, with few exceptions, half-trained and inefficient, in many cases indifferent, and in some cases leaders or participators in violence.

The conduct of the military was admirable throughout.

The raids on five Jewish agricultural colonies arose from the excitement produced in the minds of the Arabs by reports of Arabs being killed by Jews in Jaffa. In two cases unfounded stories of provocation were believed and acted upon without any effort being made to verify them.

In these raids there were few Jewish and many Arab casualties, chiefly on account of the intervention of the military.

This résumé is necessarily too condensed to be regarded as the expression of the conclusions of the Commission, except when read in conjunction with the report.

Sources: George Antonius, The Arab Awakening, 1938, pp. 437-439.