867N.01/1102: Telegram

The Consul General at Jerusalem (Wadsworth) to the Secretary of State

Department’s July 8, 5 p.m. Last fortnight’s developments occasion grave apprehension increasingly disturbed situation of recent months may further deteriorate into widespread civil strife characterized by serious interracial conflict.

While I write leaders are making every effort to hold community to policy of restraint, nonretaliation and full cooperation with Government; dangerous undertone of bitter discontent is increasingly evident. Feelings harrowed by 2 years Arab terror were brought to high emotional pitch by execution June 29th under depredation regulations of Revisionist youth Ben Yossef for attempted act of reprisal against Arab autobus.

That Revisionist and other Jewish youth thereupon determined upon campaign of direct action based upon principle [that] counterattack is best defense and involving extensive reprisals seems certain. Jews of all political color feel “let down by the British” and generally sympathetic with motives prompting if not actual relief of such acts [sic].

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On eve and day of execution spontaneous popular demonstrations occurred Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa necessitating extensive police dispersal action and imposition 2 days curfew Jerusalem, Jaffa, Tel Aviv boundary where Jewish precipitated incidents during preceding week had resulted in 8 Arab casualties, 2 fatal, and 10 Jewish casualties, 3 fatal.

After 3 days quiet four synchronized separated acts of Jewish retaliation occurred at Jerusalem July 4th killing four Arabs, wounding nine; and further Jewish precipitated trouble occurred on Jaffa-Tel Aviv boundary one Arab being killed and eight Arabs and three Jews wounded.

July 5th saw two Jews killed in old city Jerusalem, an act of Arab terrorism answered 2 days later by Jewish bomb throwing at same spot killing two Arabs, wounding five.

On evening of July 6 Haifa was scene most serious incident last 2 years two powerful Jewish bombs being thrown into central Arab vegetable market fierce riot following 21 Arabs killed from bombings and 6 Jews being killed 92 Arabs and 11 Jews wounded.

Wounded further Jewish bombing reprisal Jerusalem killed 4 Arabs, wounded 24 bringing total urban casualties reported this telegram and not including numerous others in provinces to 219; that is 34 Arabs and 11 Jews killed, 153 Arabs and 21 Jews wounded.

Authorities recognize gravity of the situation, curfews again imposed Jerusalem and Jaffa–Tel Aviv boundary July 4th and Haifa 6th will be continued indefinitely. British cruiser arrived Haifa 7th and troop reenforcements two rifle battalions ordered proceed from Egypt. From reliable British sources I gather rumors declaration martial law unfounded official position being would serve no useful purpose. Partition Commission is actively pursuing its inquiry.

Arab insurgent activity in provinces has also intensified during fortnight one large armed band having shifted operations to Ramallah District just north of Jerusalem. Early extensive counteraction to Jewish reprisals is anticipated.

To me one of the most disturbing elements of the situation is that as in 1936 Arabs finally lost all confidence in British bona fides so today after year of vacillating policy following Royal Commission report similar feeling is strongly crystalizing in Jewish community.

No American citizens reported injured. I am in close touch with the authorities. But Consulate General has neither made nor received any request for special protection except from Safed where special arrangements made last year are still effective.