1929: Arab Revolt

Following illegal Jewish provocations at the Al Asqa Mosque/Western Wall, Palestinians in Jerusalem riot.

The 1929 Palestine riots, Buraq Uprising (Arabic: ثورة البراق, Thawrat al-Burāq), was a series of demonstrations and riots in late August 1929 in which a longstanding dispute between Muslims and Jews over access to the Western Wall in Jerusalem escalated into violence.

On August 15, 1929, group of 300 Revisionist Zionist youth, who were militant supremacist Zionists, marched to the Western Wall proclaiming “The Wall is ours”. The protesters raised the Zionist flag and sang the Hatikvah and were said to have insulted the Prophet, Islam, and the Muslim community at large, and also to have beaten up Muslim residents. The demonstration took place in the Muslim Maghribi district in front of the house of the Mufti.

Two days later, in raised tensions caused by a 2000-strong Muslim counter-demonstration after Friday prayers the day before, a Jewish youth, Avraham Mizrahi, was killed and an Arab youth picked at random was stabbed in retaliation. Subsequently, the violence escalated into the 1929 Palestine riots.

The riots mostly took the form of attacks by Arabs on Jews accompanied by destruction of Jewish property. During the week of riots, from 23 to 29 August, 133 Jews were killed by Arabs, and 339 Jews were injured, most of whom were unarmed. There were 116 Arabs killed and at least 232 wounded, mostly by the Mandate police suppressing the riots. Around 20 Arabs were killed by Jewish attackers and indiscriminate British gunfire.

After the riots, 174 Arabs and 109 Jews were charged with murder or attempted murder; around 40% of Arabs and 3% of Jews were subsequently convicted (not unlike the difference in conviction rates of Black and Brown defendants vs white defendants in the United States today).

The British Shaw commission determined that the specific catalyst was the Western Wall Demonstration by Revisionist Zionists.

Summarizing the Shaw Commissions findings, Naomi Cohen writes: “Delving beneath the immediate causes – i.e., the Western Wall dispute, inflammatory publications on both sides, the enlargement of the Jewish Agency, inadequate forces to maintain order, the report called attention to the underlying causes of friction in England’s wartime pledges and in the anti-Jewish hostility that had resulted from the political and economic frustrations of the Arabs. It went on to criticise the immigration and land-purchase policies that, it said, gave Jews unfair advantages. The commission also recommended that the British take greater care in protecting the rights and understanding the aspirations of the Arabs. The Shaw report was a blow to Zionists everywhere.”

In a broader sense, the revolt was fueled by deepening tensions and grievances stemming from the significant increase in Jewish immigration and land purchases, which were facilitated by the Zionist movement and viewed by many Arabs as a direct threat to their livelihoods and future political sovereignty. This influx, coupled with rising nationalist sentiments among both Jewish and Arab communities and disputes over holy sites in Jerusalem, exacerbated existing communal tensions, leading to a volatile atmosphere that ultimately erupted into violent conflict.

The Balfour Declaration proposed a Jewish state and an Arab state as equals and Britain treated both equally which disadvantaged Arabs as they were 80% of the population, leading to Arab discontent. Eventually Arabs acquiesced to Britain at which point the Zionists decide to no longer agree and want to be privileged over the Arabs, leading to the tensions that spilled over into the 1929 Arab revolt.


  1. 1929 Palestinian riots - wikipedia
  2. Pro Wailing Wall Committee - wikipedia
  3. Shaw Commission on Cause of Riots - wikipedia
  4. Revisionist Zionism
  5. Ilan Pappé, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2006), 44.
  6. Naomi Wiener Cohen, The year after the riots: American responses to the Palestine crisis of 1929-39, Wayne State University Press, 1988 p. 34