A British Officer Saved Dozens of Jews During the Jaffa Riots. He Was Labeled a Traitor

A British officer who saved the lives of some 100 Jews during the 1921 Arab riots in Jaffa was finally honored this week. As tension simmers in the still-volatile mixed city a century later, a historian whose uncle was saved by Major Lionel Mansell Jeune is delving into his story

Maj. Jeune, third from left. Chaim Weizmann wrote to him that, “[None of us can] ever forget how much we owe to you for your gallant and courageous conduct at Jaffa.”
Maj. Jeune, third from left. Chaim Weizmann wrote to him that, “[None of us can] ever forget how much we owe to you for your gallant and courageous conduct at Jaffa.”Credit:
Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet

In mid-April, the British Embassy in Israel posted an unusual item on its Facebook page. Its “public appeal” recounted the story of Maj. Lionel Mansell Jeune, who in the early years of the British Mandate in Palestine served as the commander of Jaffa port, and is “credited with courageously saving at least 100 Jews... during the May 1 riots in Jaffa in 1921.” On the centennial of those disturbances – which broke out in Jaffa and cost the lives of scores of Jews who were murdered by Arabs, and of a similar number of Arabs who were killed either by British forces or in retaliatory acts by Jews – the embassy is now trying to “track down friends and family” of the late officer.