Due to the endeavours of Dahir al-'Umar in the second half of the eighteenth century, Haifa developed without interruption until it became the most important town in northern Palestine. When in 1905 the hijaz railway reached Haifa, the town became the main trade and export centre for northern Palestine, attracting growing numbers of immigrants, and continuously affecting the social fabric of the city. Haifa ranked high in British and Zionist plans during the Mandate rule. It became impossible for the Arab entrepreneurial class to compete in the new economic fields conquered by Zionist capital and protected by the Mandatory authorities bringing the Arab commerce and industry to a peripheral status. In contrast to rural areas that suffered from worsening hardships, Haifa was the scene of intense labour activity in the 1920s and 1930s, attracting a continuous flow of impoverished immigrants from the countryside. In 1946, there were more than 70,000 Arabs in Haifa. On 15 May 1948, when the Zionists proclaimed their state in those parts of Palestine of which their army had by then taken control, there were barely 2,000 Arabs left in Haifa. Copyright
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© 2003 Frank Cass & Co. Ltd.
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