(1891-1973) was an Arab
journalist, historian and politician who served as mayor of East Jerusalem
Aref al-Aref was born in Jerusalem
in 1891. He studied in Istanbul
and served as an officer in the Ottoman
army in World War I
. He was captured on the Caucasus front and spent three years in a prisoner of war
camp in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia
. After the Russian Revolution
he escaped and returned to Palestine
. In Krasnoyarsk, he put out a prison camp newspaper in Arabic called Nakatullah
[Camel of God] and translated Ernst Haeckel’s Das Welträetsel
Aref al-Aref edited the first Arab nationalist newspaper in Palestine after World War I, Southern Syria Suriyya al-Janubiyya, published in Jerusalem from 1919. Aref al-Aref advocated a policy of militant but non-violent opposition to Zionism and a mixture of Pan-Arabist and Arab nationalist politics.
In 1918, as the Arab National Movement gained strength in Jerusalem, Jaffa, Haifa, Acre and Nablus, Aref Al-Aref joined Haj Amin Al-Husseini, his brother Fakhri Al Husseini, Ishaaq Darweesh, Ibrahim Daeweesh, Jameel Al-Husseini, Kamel Al Budeiri , and Sheikh Hassan Abu Al-So’oud in establishing the Arab Club.
Aref al-Aref was arrested by British authorities following the Nebi Musa riots in April 1920. He escaped with fellow-accused Haj Amin al-Husseini to Syria. He was sentenced to ten years in prison in absentia on charges of fomenting the riots, in which 46 Jews were killed. Suriyya al-Janubbiyya was closed down by the British in 1920. Al-Aref returned to Palestine in 1929.
In 1936, he was a District Administrative Officer in Beersheba
, where he built his family home. He worked as a civil servant under the British Mandate
from 1933 to 1948. From 1950-1955, Aref al-Aref served as mayor of East Jerusalem. In 1963, he was appointed director of the Rockefeller Museum
in East Jerusalem.
His published work includes: Bedouin Love
, Law and Legend
, History of Beersheba and Its Tribes
, History of Gaza
, Al-Nakba wa al-Firdaous al-Mafqoud
(Nakba and the Lost Paradise
), and History of Jerusalem
Aref al-Aref died on July 30