The first joint Palestinian action to protest the Zionist-British designs in Palestine is non-violent. Employing means of civil disobedience, the 1936 uprising aims to send a stern message to the British government that Palestinians are nationally unified and capable of acting as an assertive, self-assured society.
The British administration in Palestine has thus far discounted the Palestinian demand for independence and pays little attention to their incessant complaints about the rising menace of Zionism and its colonial project.
Palestinian fury turns violent when the British government resorts to mass repression. It wanted to send a message to Palestinians that her Majesty’s Government would not be intimidated by what it saw as insignificant fellahin, or peasants.
The first six months of the uprising, which lasts under different manifestations and phases for three years, is characterized at the outset by a widely observed general strike which lasts from May to October 1936. Palestine is simply shut down in response to the call of the National Committees and al-Husseini.
This irks the British, who see the “non-Jewish residents of Palestine” as deplorable, troublesome peasants with untamed leadership.
Within a few years, Palestinians manage to challenge the conventional wisdom of the British, whose narrow Orientalist grasp on the Arabs as lesser beings with fewer or no rights – a model to be borrowed later on by the Zionists and Israeli officials – leaves them unqualified to ponder any other response to a legitimate uprising than coercive measures.