Mose Apelblat

Britain’s iron fist

Re:”Britain’s not-so-iron fist” (Letter, INYT, June 25): Jay Stonehill claims that Britain, contrary to France, ruled its colonies in the Mid-East with silk gloves and preferred to allow local leaders to stay in place as long as they followed British dictates. This is not accurate.
When Britain suppressed the Arab revolt in 1936 – 1939 in mandatory Palestine, thousands of Palestinians were killed. Whole villages were targeted for collective punishments. Even the air force was used to bomb villages. Prisoners were tortured and hundreds were sentenced to death.
The Israeli author Tom Segev writes in “Palestine under the British” (1999), that the British military and police personnel in Palestine had served in Ireland, India and other colonies and used the same, if not worse, methods as applied there to suppress popular uprisings.
After the Second Word War, Britain continued to use brutal force to suppress uprising in its colonies. Britain wasn’t different from other European powers that after having gained their own liberation from Nazi occupation refused to respond to the demands for independence of their colonies in Asia and Africa.

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  1. I am not disagreeing with the main thrust of your article but you imply that the policy was unchanged post WW II. My reading implies that the post 1945 Labour Government was reluctant to use the same level of force and in Asia began negotiations for independence some years before the Dutch and the French.

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