The Arab revolt of August 1929, a major turning point in the history of mandatory Palestine, is also of some interest for the appraisal of the Catholic attitude toward Zionism. In Italy, where the events were widely reported, there was an attempt to carve out a national presence in the region by exploiting the religious factor. Such ambitions, though backed by important Catholic circles and by the government itself, did not find any success in the Vatican, where altogether different were the concerns raised by the Arab revolt, on which the top Vatican emissaries in the region, Barlassina and Valeri, maintained somehow discordant stands. While Barlassina actually judged the revolt and the Hebron massacre to be an Arab reaction against Zionist arrogance, Valeri, though a fierce opponent of Zionism, believed that any revival of radical Arab nationalism was dangerous for the Catholic interests. The 1929 Palestinian revolt thus offers a crucial benchmark for measuring the divergences between the most nationalist fringes of Italian Catholicism and the policies of the Holy See; furthermore, it helps us distinguish the different positions existing within the Church hierarchy on the Palestinian issue.
Keywords: Mandatory Palestine, Arab revolt of 1929, Holy See, Zionism, Italian policy in the Middle East, Jerusalem