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Studies 09 March, 2014

Criminals or Martyrs? Let the Courts Decide!—British Colonial Legacy in Palestine and the Criminalization of Resistance

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Abstract

This article takes an example from the volatile history from the mandate period in Palestine (1919-1948) to show how the political legacy of the colonization of Palestine has formed the basis, in part, of “criminal law” and its use as a tool in this process of the construction of the matrix of colonial rule in Palestine. In the wake of the Buraq/Wailing Wall Revolt in 1929, the British introduced a new legal process in an effort to preserve their control of Palestine and put down Arab resistance to their rule. This article explains how the British constructed a system of laws and legal procedures during their colonial tenure under the Mandate of Palestine that were both reactionary and foundational in all that followed both within the context of British presence in Palestine and in how this relatively short colonial tenure resonated well beyond its historic tenure. By providing a close reading of the British methods and procedures that, at the time were part of a concerted effort to control a strategic colonial outpost, this article shows how the law was manipulated as a means of control and, subsequently contributed to the ultimate failure of their rule. In an effort to suppress a national movement, the British manipulated their own version of a localized judicial system, creating a criminalizing process that is still used as a major means of control over the indigenous Palestinian Arab population nearly a century later.

 

*This Article was originally published in the sixth issue of Omran (Autumn, 2013, 55-72), published by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS).

This article was translated from Arabic by the ACRPS Translation and English Editing Department. The original Arabic version can be found here.

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