Jewish Policemen, 1939
This is a picture of two Jewish policemen, Notrim, who worked as part of the British Mandate police force at the police station in the Arab village Saris near Jerusalem. The photograph shows one policeman sitting on a camel with the other holding its rein. Both policemen are dressed in official uniform and are armed with rifles. Camels were the preferred mode of transport since they were used to the climate and needed far less water and provisions than horses. The headwear worn by the policemen was also unique to the region.
The auxiliary police who operated in the British Mandate served to defend Jewish settlements and secure the train lines, the port of Haifa, the Northern border, the airport, and a number of factories.
This branch of the police was established by the British Mandate in June 1936. 25,000 guards were trained and equipped by the British (with around 14,000 officially attached to the police force), and they became an important asset for the Yishuv as their expertise grew.
Jewish History teachers can use this resource to discuss the period of the British Mandate, the origins of the Jewish police force in Palestine, and the development of the infrastructure in Israel towards the establishment of the State.
Science teachers can show this photograph when discussing uses of domestic animals and the adaptation of the camels to the Middle Eastern climate.
When was this photograph taken?
Who are the subjects of this photograph?
Which animal appears in the photograph?
Describe the clothes worn by the policemen.
What features were designed particularly for policemen serving in Palestine?
What weapons are the policemen carrying?
Reading Between the Lines
Why was the Jewish police force deemed necessary by the British?
Why were camels used as transport rather than horses?
Why would a member of the Yishuv have wanted to serve in the police force?
Why would the Yishuv have been keen to support a Jewish police force?
What became of the Jewish police force after the state was established?
What is the role of the police force in Israel today?
Has their role changed since the establishment of the state?
Would you have volunteered for this service?
Organise an interview with a member of your school or synagogue security team.
Why do they do this job?
Invite a former IDF soldier to your class to hear about their experiences.
Write in advance a series of interview questions to ask the visitor.