Archive revelations: ‘Holy war’ fears after Jerusalem bombing

By Bernard Josephs, November 1, 2012
The aftermath of the King David Hotel bomb in July 1946

The aftermath of the King David Hotel bomb in July 1946

A British intelligence chief’s personal diary, just released by the National Archive, contains his assessment that the bombing of Jerusalem’s King David Hotel in 1946 persuaded the Arabs they could not take on the Jews in face-to-face battle. He also warns that the attack, on what had been British Mandate headquarters, could spark a wave of Arab terrorism and even lead to a “holy war.”

In his closely typed, post-war diary Guy Liddell, deputy director general of the Security Service, records that he had met Sir John Shaw, chief secretary to the High Commissioner in Palestine who told him it was his conviction that the Arabs would prove to be “entirely intransigent” and that the authorities had been “lucky to have got over the funerals of Arab victims without serious violence.”

The Arabs, noted the security chief, “know that in a street fight with the Jews they could not hope to win.” However, he warned: “They might at any moment commit some outrage that would cause things to flare up. It might even lead to a holy war.”

In another entry, shortly before Israel independence, Mr Liddell described the developing situation in Palestine as being in “a shocking state.”

Last updated: 1:55pm, November 1 2012