Article in Ex Historia, Vol. 5

Group member Jacob Stoil has just published an article in the journal Ex Historia. Ex Historia is an online and freely available journal published by postgraduate history students at the University of Exeter and publishes original, refereed articles and book reviews by postgraduate students on any historical topic.

Jacob Stoil, ‘Structures of Cooperation & Conflict: Local Forces in Mandatory Palestine during the Second World War

From the recruitment of Roger’s Rangers in the Seven Years’ War to the Sunni Awakening, the employment of local forces is a persistent theme throughout the history of warfare. Although at times individual local forces have received narrative attention, there has as yet been no comprehensive study of the nature, structure, function, or experience of these forces. One way these forces differ from institutional forces is their temporary and sometimes ad hoc nature – they are recruited by metropolitan powers in response to a specific emergency, sometimes as a supplement to conventional forces or out of a desire to intervene militarily without committing to large deployments. These forces are by definition paramilitary in their nature, as, for the most part, are their activities. They are not regular police, gendarme, or military forces. Instead, they represent a subset of a broader category of force that includes paramilitaries, unconventional forces, guerrillas, some militias, and auxiliaries. In the last several decades, the establishment of, and cooperation with, such forces tends to belong neither to the main body of conventional forces nor to intelligence agencies, but to the specific sections responsible for special operations or paramilitary activities. Irregular local forces have formed part of crisis response in imperial security and proxy warfare the world over and have thus played a central role in conflicts. This is clearly shown in the case of the Palestine Mandate during the era of the Second World War.

This paper explores the structure of the relationship between the British imperial authorities in Palestine and the primary local force with whom they cooperated, the Haganah. In Mandatory Palestine, the relationship structures served both the long-term and immediate interests of the Haganah and the immediate interests of the imperial authorities, and maximized the ability of the local force to contribute to regional defence. Only by the objections of those imperial authorities concerned with the long-term status of governance in Palestine and the intermittent need to project an image of control over, or disassociation from, the local forces curbed this function.

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