§ Mr. Hannah (Bilston)
Who can count the dust of Jacob, or the number of the fourth part of Israel? Three thousand four hundred years have rolled away since this question was first asked. I think its context in the Old Testament makes it fairly clear that at that time it was highly rhetorical. To us at the present time this question, in a rather different form perhaps, is most eminently practical. It was answered in this House just a few days ago—10,000 men. There were supplementaries, of course. What Minister of the Crown could ever get on without supplementaries? In this particular case the supplementaries were 23,000. Approximately the same number weekly would be forthcoming in this House but for your skill, Mr. Speaker, in stemming the tide. Those supplementaries are all right enough. The basic number of 10,000 is the same as was at the disposal of the grand old Duke of York in his not very obviously useful military operations. If I had to confine myself to my own poor vocabulary, I should describe it as woefully inadequate. If I were permitted to browse in the rich verbiage that grows in the Vale of Evesham, I should snap out that it was "most unsatisfactory." The question, 1235 again in a rather different form, was answered in another place on 16th April this year. The other place in this particular case was the floor of the Senate in Washington. The speaker was Senator Johnston, of Colorado, and his estimate was 200,000, half of them within 24 hours. Of course, the questions are not absolutely identical. The 10,000 were actually armed, the 200,000 had yet to come together. If the sum, however, be worked out, it will be discovered that the American estimate is exactly 20 times the British one. It may have been that the Senator was, to a certain extent, swayed by that spirit of buoyant optimism that we are all accustomed to associate with the American West. He is a very prominent representative of the American Committee for a Jewish Army. The object of this committee, as officially stated in its own paper, is this:To bring about, by legal means and in accordance with the laws and foreign policy of the United States, the formation of a Jewish Army, based on Palestine, to fight for the survival of the Jewish people and the preservation of democracy. This Army, composed primarily of Palestinian Jews and refugees, as well as volunteers from free nations, will fight on all required battlefields side by side with the United States, Great Britain and the other Allied Nations.I welcome this Jewish Army, and I have, with enthusiasm, joined the English Committee, because I believe from the very bottom of my heart that the future of the world is largely bound up with loyal Anglo-American co-operation, I think I realise the difficulties as well as anybody. I lived for a dozen years in the United States, and I have to a certain extent viewed this country from the other side of the Atlantic. There have been great misunderstandings in days gone by between the two countries. It was a terrible to-do between 1776 and 1783. The Americans complained that, although they were not represented in this House, they were taxed by it. To a very large extent I think we have put that right. America is represented in this House. I think we should all agree most admirably, and certainly very vocally, represented, and yet we make no claims whatever now to tax Americans.
If we can get any soldiers from Jewry, it is surely all to the good. We realise that we are making efforts far beyond the limit of our own population. I expect we have all had experiences, when going to and fro in our own constituencies, of the 1236 terrible hardships that conscription is bringing to so many of our people. I know a certain household, the head of which, already working in munitions and 42 years old, was forced to join the Army, although his wife is practically a nervous wreck, and there are six children, all boys, whom she is quite incapable of controlling. We know that there are tragedies of the same kind to be found throughout the length and breadth of this land. Jewry has no choice as between the Axis and the democratic Powers for other faiths are wooed by both sides. The Axis has declared irrevocable war upon Jewry in all portions of the world. I feel that we ought definitely to pledge the honour of Britain that we will find new homes for the Jews who are persecuted in all parts of Europe at the present time, if they will stand side by side with us in this terrible emergency.
I know that the position in Palestine is delicate, most delicate. This is a moral question, and if it were approached in a purely material way, I realise the tremendous embarrassment that might be caused to the Government, and I trust that I should be the very last person who would want to bring about anything of that kind. It might likewise do great harm throughout the world. The bulk of the population of Palestine consists of the people who are generally known as Arabs. They represent the relics of practically every race that has ever occupied that country, but the vast majority of them were converted to the faith of Islam during the seventh century. There is a small but most important Christian community, and there are various other small minorities of different kinds. I suppose that the little Samaritan community is probably the best-known. But still, broadly speaking, the question of the Arabs in Palestine brings up the problem of our relations with the faith of Islam, the great Mohammedan world, with which we are confronted in all lands, from Sierra Leone to Borneo, most of all in India itself. Nobody can believe that we have any quarrel with Islam. Are we not fighting to the very death to hold inviolate from inhuman foes that city which above all others at the present time is the capital of the Moslem faith—Cairo, the victorious town, with its great university of El-Azhar? Have we not heard only yesterday further details about the way in which the Moslem Government 1237 presented a site in Cairo for the building of a great Christian cathedral and our reciprocating by providing a site in the capital of this Empire for a Moslem mosque? Shades of Richard Coeur-de-Lion, King of England, and of Saladin, Sultan of the East! It surely is magnificent if at last we are getting together in such a way as that.
Our propaganda is the worst in all the world. It was well described by one of my colleagues at Oberlin College—not very felicitously perhaps, but not entirely untruthfully—as "proper goose." Japan tells the whole East of the recent building of a mosque in Tokyo. We are doing far too little to convince Moslems all over the world of the way in which we are holding out to them in every way we can the right hand of fellowship. If the Arabs fight side by side with us, I think they should definitely be promised that they will be allowed to remain a majority in the Holy Land. What could be a better title than the prescription of more than 14 centuries, in addition to the presence of the third most sacred city in all the Moslem world—for Jerusalem as a holy city is second only to Mecca and Medina—and the careers of two of the greatest and best men that Islam ever gave to the world, the Caliph Omar in the seventh century and the Sultan Saladin in the twelfth?
§ Mr. Hannah
Well, yes, it was. I am almost deluged with Jewish propaganda—I have a sample of it here—and, perhaps rather unwisely, I read it every week during the long railway journey between Bilston and this place. There are a great many things in it that impress one. The Jews themselves are very deeply divided. Those Jews who claim that the Holy Land is irrevocably and for ever theirs, I would, from the historical point of view, refer to certain events which happened in the reigns of Vespasian and Hadrian. I need not trouble the House with details. Perhaps I have wandered too much into history already. I would also say that it is impossible to pour a quart into a pint pot, and that, after all, it does seem to me quite possible that Jews can make themselves happy in other lands. I had the privilege of spending some time in the Henry Street Settlement on the East Side of New York, 1238 a Jewish welfare centre, in which I was very nearly the only non-Jew. At that time a certain amount of stir had been caused by some sort of Jewish Convention—I cannot give actual chapter and verse at this moment—voting that America was their promised land, and Washington their Zion. Of course, that naturally caused rather obvious retorts about right hands losing their cunning. But I maintain that anybody who has seen the Jews in New York will not for one moment believe that it is impossible for them to be happy in any other country than Palestine.
The history of Mohammedanism is very largely connected with the history of Jewry. I would especially remind the House of those glorious days when, under the black flag of Abbas, in the Caliphate of Bagdad, Moslem and Jew worked together magnificently to promote one of the highest cultures which the world has ever seen. They gave us algebra, among other things. Then take the case of Moslem Spain. It was there in fact that Moses Maimonides, perhaps the greatest ornament in philosophy that Jewry ever knew, lived and taught under Moslem rule. Later on, when unfortunately for themselves—materially at least—the Spaniards expelled the Jews from their soil, they found new homes in Moslem lands in the neighbourhood of Salonika. Why cannot that come again? There, I think, is the whole crux of the problem. Have we done our obvious duty? Have we impressed upon the leaders of Palestinian Mohammedanism and of Jewry the need for reviving those glorious days when they worked together so splendidly for the culture and learning of the world? Have we taught it to their children? Have we done our best to produce an atmosphere in the Holy Land that would make for real co-operation?
Some of my Jewish friends a few years ago took me to see a Jewish film in this city. I was much impressed with the undoubtedly splendid material results that the Jews had brought about in Palestine. They are marvellous. But I was not entirely satisfied. One of the pictures represented mixed bathing in the Mediterranean, off the shore of Tel-Aviv, and I could not help feeling that the Jewish ladies shown there had somehow or other been raiding the laundry bags of the Garden of Eden. I cannot profess to be a great authority on the 1239 fashions of girls' dresses, but it was fairly obvious, even to myself, that the difference between the modes of the Garden of Eden and of Tel-Aviv were not very great. One can easily realise how terribly that would shock the Moslem community. I am told that it also shocks, to a very large extent, some of the older communities of Jews in the Holy Land.
This question of a Jewish Army brings up in a very acute form the whole position of our Empire in the world. It is nearly 2,000 years since the greatest of all the poets of Rome, in words that are still alive, tried to set forth the destiny of that great Empire:Others, I grant you indeed, may more gracefully model their bronzes, or better draw out fair forms from the snow-white marble, argue their cases in courts, or tell of the stars in their courses. Thine be the part, Oh Rome, to govern with mandate imperial, Proudly to conquer the proud, showing mercy unto the humbled.I do not stop to inquire what Virgil would write about the sawdust Caesar, who struts about the streets of Rome to-day. I would rather suggest what is to be our place in the world.Let others, by blitzing, build empires on blood,And laugh at free peoples' tears.Be thine, O Britain, to stem this flood,And soothe the discords of years.I was very much impressed by a recent address in the Jerusalem Chamber by the Bishop of Chichester, in which he told us, talking about his recent visit to Sweden, that Scandinavian opinion was practically unanimous as to the deep concern the Germans feel at the present time over their tremendous unpopularity almost everywhere to-day. Germany has encountered the hatred of all the lands she has overrun. How many millions of troops would it be worth to Hitler to have the good-will of those subject nations?
Jewry is deeply divided. If, in her agony, she can give us nothing nobler than a stale rehash of that appalling vindictiveness that runs through the old Testament, then I fear that she will add new fuel to the flames of anti-Semitism that are blazing through half the world. But there is another Jewry. I look into the face of One who bade us love our enemies, and meant it: a man of Jewish race, a practical Man of affairs. We must 1240 never forget that, in the permanent history of the world, moral forces are far stronger than any material ones. China has outlasted the companions of her youth because she has always relied on moral, rather than on material, forces. The Roman Empire continued to exist centuries after any victories had been won by her legions. This is the day of battle, man against man, tank against tank, ship against ship, plane against plane. No one counsels peace to-day. I should be the last to want in any way to hold back any sanction of power from the international authority that we hope will give permanent peace to the world in the happier days to come; nor would I, for one moment, advocate putting any confidence or trust whatever in what is obviously utterly unreliable. But I want to impress, especially in connection with this Jewish Army for which we hope, the absolute necessity of heeding chiefly moral forces, and of considering the position of Jewry in relation to all the other races concerned. Some people are inclined to tell us that the British Empire is nearing its end, that our story is as a tale that is nearly told. I do not for one moment believe it. Our great career may be only just beginning, because the world needs us so tremendously. Sometimes I wish that this House always remembered that strong sense of mission for which it is so famous through all the centuries. Only the other day I was reading an account of the staid, dignified, courtly proceedings of this House by a rather flippant poet. He put it this way: he wrote these disgraceful lines:Thy senate is a scene of civil jar,Chaos of contrarieties at warWhere sharp and solid, phlegmatic and light,Discordant atoms meet, ferment and fight,Where Obstinacy takes his sturdy stand,To disconcert what Policy has planned;Where Policy is busied all night longIn setting right what Faction has set wrong,Where flails of oratory thresh the floorWhich yields them chaff and dust and nothing more.Surely, Mr. Speaker, that is a breach of Privilege! What a blessed word that is! Yet I am afraid we cannot very well proceed against the poet because he has been in his grave for 150 years. Those lines are from the "Expostulation" of a famous English poet whose name, I believe, should be pronounced Cooper, but, if you want anyone to know whom you mean, it is rather better to call him Cowper, as it is spelled. With all 1241 the earnestness that I can possibly command, I do want to impress upon the Government that there is a very broad feeling, both in the United States and in this country, that we are not making the most of the man-power and the reservoir of good will that exists in Palestine. This American Committee for a Jewish Army includes a very large number of prominent Americans in all walks of life. It has, I understand, received the blessing of the Secretaries of State for both Army and Navy, and of Mrs. Roosevelt herself. Those Members of this House who have American wives will realise what that means. I ask the Government very sympathetically indeed to consider the possibility of bringing some Jewish Army into actual being. If I have said a single word that is likely to embarrass them or to worsen the serious international relations that exist at the present time, I desire most unhesitatingly to retract it. I should like to apologise for breaking the record which I had only an hour ago of never having addressed this House for more than 13 minutes at a time. But let us all remember that we are on trial as we never were before. The world depends to a very large extent on what we can do. We must never lose sight of the undoubted fact that moral forces are eternal and that mere physical power falls by its own weight. If we fail now, our children will arise up and call us accursed.
§ Colonel Cazalet (Chippenham)
Anyone who follows the hon. Member for Bilston (Mr. Hannah) will indeed find it hard to maintain the high standard of eloquence and humour we always come to associate with his speeches. I cannot pretend to cover the same ground. He has taken us from New York to Mecca; he has dealt with subjects as varied as algebra and mixed bathing. I wish to address myself to a much more limited subject. I hope that nothing I say will in any way offend those Arab people with whom we are fighting to-day. I have no desire to raise, either by imputation or otherwise, the question of the whole future of Palestine. It is sufficient to say that unless victory crowns our efforts in the Middle East and elsewhere, neither Jew, Arab nor Christian will have much to say about the future of the Middle East. The war is approaching Palestine for the third time. Yesterday in the columns of "The Times" we read a report of how the Germans are 1242 accumulating supplies with perhaps the intention of attacking Cyprus, or, it may be, Syria. The war may come to Palestine from the north or the south or from the west, and all that I ask the Government is that, if it does come, they should endeavour, within the limits of human possibility, to do everything that is possible to see that every man and woman can play his or her part in helping to defend the Holy Land, not simply because it is their homeland that they are defending but in the much wider interests of the Allied victory.
The story of the Jewish desire to play their part in the war is a long one. I have no intention of going into it to-day. Suffice it to say that it is now over three years since they made an offer of their services unconditionally, For various reasons the Government of the day thought it unwise to capitalise this effort into concrete form. A few thousands out of tens of thousands were allowed to join up and then only under various conditions. A year later, two years ago, they were offered an independent Jewish force. After waiting for another year this offer was withdrawn. I have no desire to question reasons and argue about the decisions of the past, or the lost opportunities and the mistakes that may have been made. All I am concerned with are the present and the immediate future. What are the pertinent facts? I would like to bring them to the notice of the Secretary of State for War, who, I believe, is going to reply, and I should like to have his attention, as I desire to be accurate in the statement of these facts.
At the present moment, excluding, I believe, 2,000 recruits who joined up in the month of July, there are some 14,000 Jews serving in various units of the Armed Forces—the Army, the Air Force, and a small contingent with the Navy. They are scattered all over the Middle East, and they are doing for the most part static jobs. None of them are in fighting units. Those in the six companies of the Buffs are all engaged in static jobs. There is another point that I would like the Secretary of State to consider sympathetically. These men, in various capacities, have fought alongside fighting units, in ancillary services, in Greece, Crete, Libya and Syria. Their work and conduct have been praised by their leaders and generals. But to-day they are receiving only two-thirds of the pay and 1243 allowances which British troops, alongside them, are receiving. I always thought it was a cardinal principle of the authorities in this country that men who fought side by side against the same foe should receive equal pay.
§ Major-General Sir Alfred Knox (Wycombe)
What about Indian troops? They do not receive the same pay.
§ Colonel Cazalet
I think my hon. and gallant Friend will admit that the cost of living in India is not comparable with that in Palestine, The cost of living in Palestine is comparable with the cost of living in this country. I am not saying that Indian troops should not receive more pay; I am only saying that these Jewish troops are receiving two-thirds of the pay and allowances of British soldiers in a place where the cost of living is comparable with our own. This has meant that private charities have had to supplement to a great degree the allowances paid to the dependants of serving soldiers. In this country provision is made for the parents of serving soldiers, but for Jews who are serving there is no provision of that kind whatsoever, and this is particularly hard on Jewish troops, because a large proportion of them, since they arrived in Palestine, arranged for their parents to go there and are supporting out of their limited resources. I feel that the Secretary of State for War might in this matter go some way to meet what is a real need of the Jewish soldier. Apart from these 14,000, there are some 6,000 to 7,000 men of the 23,000 Home Guards, who have been sworn in, who are whole-time in their job, paid, armed and partially trained, together with some 1,500 A.T.S. This is the whole effective contribution which the Jews so far have been allowed to make.
§ Mr. Lipson (Cheltenham)
Will my hon. and gallant Friend make it perfectly clear that he is speaking of the Jews in Palestine? Jews throughout the world are serving in the British Army
§ Colonel Cazalet
I am glad my hon. Friend has given me the opportunity of making it clear that I am referring solely to the Jews in Palestine. The whole of my remarks to-day are concerned merely with how we can, in the most effective and efficient way possible, make the best use of man- and woman-power in Palestine, and Palestine alone. What can be 1244 done and what should be done in the near future? The Jewish Agency, apparently, is the only body which can speak with authority with regard to Jews in Palestine and which alone can "deliver the goods." They are confident that if certain steps were taken another 20,000 Jewish fighting soldiers could be raised immediately and that in addition the Home Guard figure could be raised to something like 40,000 or 50,000—all this without disturbing the essential war industry or agriculture of the country. I do not want to go into the figures of how these particular numbers are arrived at, although I have them here as regards the number of men between the ages of 18 and 20 and 20 and 65. These numbers are the considered opinion of the Jewish Agency, and I have every confidence that under certain conditions these numbers could be achieved within a relatively short time.
§ Major Sir Derrick Gunston (Thornbury)
My hon. and gallant Friend says that 20,000 more could be recruited in Palestine, not including the Home Guard. Can he say how the other 200,000 are to be raised?
§ Colonel Cazalet
I dissociate myself altogether from the idea of raising a Jewish Army of 200,000. I am not asking for that to-day. The 200,000 referred to by my hon. Friend who preceded me refers to a Jewish Army which could be raised in the United States and elsewhere. I take no responsibility for that figure of 200,000. I have said that the only body which can speak with authority is the Jewish Agency, and they agree that the figure I have given—20,000—is the effective number that could be raised in a short time. I have no desire to give any support to a figure greater than that. What are the conditions under which these additional recruits could be raised? We are not asking to-day for any separate Jewish Army; all we are asking is that these men might serve together as an integral part of the British Army, commanded by the British. We would very much like them to have a badge, like almost every other unit of the British Army. They should be known not as a Jewish Army but as a Palestine Jewish Force. You have the nucleus already with the police and companies of the Buffs. What they are asking for is to be made fighting units. At present they 1245 drive lorries, wash pots, guard bridges and so on. What they are asking for is to be allowed to fight with rifles and, if necessary, die in the defence of their homeland in order to make their contribution towards an Allied victory.
What are the objections? I am only too glad to face them. The first is that the Arabs will object, but I am sure that the majority of Arabs—I am not talking about the discontented minority who are the followers of the Mufti—are as desirous as the Jews of defeating the common enemy. I do not believe that the Arabs as a whole will oppose something which is in the common interest, namely, the defence of their own homeland. Besides, the case has already been admitted. A Jewish force has already been raised, and in these days, when war is so near to the boundaries of Palestine, no political considerations should be allowed to stand in the way of giving these Jews the unalienable right of self-defence of their own homeland. The second objection is that the Jews might make political use of this armed force when the war is over. Surely the answer to that is this: This force is an integral part of the British Army. If it is considered right, they will have to hand in their arms, like the rest, when the war is over. After all, this small force of 20,000 can be in no position to stand up against the united force of ourselves and the United States. They know well enough that the Jewish Home in Palestine could not exist for 24 hours unless they had the support of both this country and the United States.
The other argument is lack of arms. I believe there is some substance in that argument, but I should like to say that the Jews have been standing in the queue, asking for arms, for nearly three years. I read an article to-day which said there were 30,000 or 40,000 Poles in Palestine, with the possibility of the number being increased to 100,000, and it went on to say that equipment and arms were slowly but definitely coming forward. Yet there is never anything for the Jews. When the Iraqi army wants arming something is provided, but if it is for the Jews the answer is that there are none available. Surely it is possible out of the total rationed strength of the Army in the Middle East of over 1,000,000 for enough rifles to be found for 20,000 men. Surely, if there are sympathy at home and goodwill in the Administration in Palestine, 1246 this is not something that is beyond the powers of achievement of the British Forces in the Middle East. Moreover, I believe that a good many of the things which a Home Guard wants, bombs and so on, could be manufactured in Palestine. There are some 400 of the best engineers and scientists in the world domiciled in Palestine at the present time. There is another aspect. The Jews know every inch of the country, and if war should come to Palestine, their services would be invaluable. I believe that purely on military grounds we cannot afford to dispense with the specialised knowledge which the Jews could contribute if war should ever come to that area.
The material is good. I have already said, but I want to repeat, that wherever the Jews have played their part already, in Syria, Greece, Crete and Libya, they have won golden opinions from their generals, who have publicly given expression to their views. Is not this an opportunity when Jew and Arab might well unite in a cause which is common to both of them? Is it not possible that out of the sacrifices and services which they will both have to make, and are making to-day, for the defence of their homeland, a new understanding may arise and emerge between these two races, which must forever dwell together in that part of the world, which will be to the eternal advantage of both? The Jews have been fighting this war, our war, against Hitler for ten long years. What is happening to the Jews in Europe to-day is beyond the imagination of ordinary tolerant, decent, Christian English men and women. Tens of thousands are being starved to death, shot or massacred. Poland is becoming one vast mass execution yard for the Jews from the whole of Europe. I plead with the Government to give that comparatively small Jewish community in Palestine a chance of fighting, a chance of defending their own homes, a chance of showing the Jews in Europe that somewhere in some part of the world the Jews are not utterly defeated and overwhelmed. I believe it would give to those poor masses in Europe a wonderful moral sense of comfort in this terrible hour through which they are passing. I believe also it would be looked upon with great favour in the United States of America. Pray God the war may never come to the Holy Land, but if it does, let it never be said that while we ourselves were unable 1247 to defend the Holy Land at the same time we deprived those who could do so, who wanted to do so, of the necessary arms, thereby inflicting upon them annihilation and upon ourselves eternal shame and disgrace.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
I wish to say a few words on this very important and vital matter on behalf of the Executive of the Labour Party and the National Council of the Labour Party, which have given it very careful consideration. We in the Trade Union and Labour movement are fully aware of the fact that for very many years before we felt the force of the Nazi terror, the Jewish people on the Continent bore the first brunt of that brutal attack. Our sympathy and our good will go out to them because the first fury of this Nazi terror fell upon them. As the hon. and gallant Member for Chippenham (Colonel Cazalet) said, none of us can read about events in the part of Europe occupied by Hitler without feeling a sense of horror and shame at the terrible things that are happening in this century. It is really one of the worst episodes in the history of the world. Our sympathy, our whole hearts, go out to the Jewish people in the ordeal through which they are passing at this time. The bodies with which I am associated understand and fully appreciate how the Jewish people must feel in these days when the war gets daily and hourly nearer to Palestine. As the hon. and gallant Member for Chippenham said, there is the danger of an attack upon Palestine from more than one direction. They are naturally concerned—and I hope the Government fully realise that concern—by the possibility of a sudden attack upon them, and particularly they are concerned about the possibility of an attack being made upon them when they are not as well prepared to meet it as they would desire to be.
I understand it is for those reasons that the most recent proposals have been put forward. I think it is desirable to bring the House back to what I understand are the immediate proposals. There is a proposal which, although it would be possible to discuss it on the Adjournment, I think it would be better at this moment not to discuss; I refer to the proposal to create a Jewish Army including Jews from all over the world. That matter has been discussed in the House and it has been dis- 1248 cussed in another place; there is a good deal of controversy about it and it excites considerable attention on the other side of the Atlantic. But when the bodies with which I am associated considered this matter recently, their consideration was of proposals which I want to repeat to the House, although they were referred to by the hon. and gallant Member for Chippenham. There are two proposals having the sanction of the Jewish Agency, which speaks for responsible bodies of Jews. The first proposal is that the British Government should be asked to unify the existing Jewish units into battalions, to create, to train, and to equip the maximum number of new Jewish companies, and to mould the whole of these into a Jewish fighting force within the British Army; and for this purpose we gather that at least another 20,000 men could be enlisted immediately in Palestine. The second proposal is to recruit, to train, and to equip forthwith all the available 40,000 or 50,000 additional Jewish men for Home Guard duties, and it is stated that that is possible without taking them away from agriculture and industry until the emergency requires that that shall be done. It seemed to us, therefore, that these two proposals, which I hope the House will discuss for the moment outside the larger proposal for a Jewish Army including Jews from all over the world, are put forward because of the fact that daily and hourly the danger approaches Palestine, and that they are born of a desire to create in Palestine a force, both in the Army and in the Home Guard, that will be able to defend their own country against a possible attack.
I am sure that all of us appreciate and realise that this desire on the part of the Jewish people in Palestine to defend their ancient land, a part of which they are now recreating, is a very natural one and one that calls for the sympathy of every one of us. Those of us who have read about what the Jews have done in Palestine in the last 20 years, their creative and reconstruction work, and the new land they are building, cannot have failed to be impressed. Therefore, we all realise their anxieties about the possibility of attack, and I am sure, if an attack comes, they will defend Palestine with very great valour and courage, and with the added sense that they are now defending the new home which they have built up. It is a natural anxiety and 1249 desire in war for people who feel together and form part of the same community to fight together. The Secretary of State for War is a Member for a Welsh division, and he will know, because he is not entirely new to the War Office, that the War Office on matters of this kind have not shown much imagination. They have often been dull to the fact that people will fight better, particularly in moments of great emergency, if they have around them people who are like them and have roots like them. Many times we have made representations about this to the War Office, without very much success. We believe, and the Secretary of State for War must know that his constituents believe it too, that our own people would be a very much more effective force in the British Army, if more imagination were shown in recruiting them, and bringing them together. It is a natural desire, and we have tried to impress it upon previous Ministers. We have had promises, but very little has been done. I mention it to show that I enter into the desire of people who wish to fight together.
I share very fully this desire of the Jewish people, and we want the Government and the Secretary of State for War to give their fullest consideration to the problem. Objections have been raised, which I do not wish to refer to in detail. One of the main objections is the fear of the Government that if they conceded even this modified form of a Jewish fighting force, there would be very serious political repercussions. It is very difficult for Members of Parliament and outside bodies, like the body with which I am associated, to make a definite pronouncement upon a matter of that kind. We have not the requisite knowledge to enable us to arrive at a decision as to whether the Government's fears about possible political repercussions are well grounded. We are, however, mindful of the fact that in days gone by this fear of political repercussions has been used as a cloak to cover up certain policies, and as a buttress to support a policy of appeasement not merely in the Middle East but everywhere. It is for this reason that, when we hear it now, we question the Government whether this is the real reason. On a matter of this kind the final decision must obviously rest with the Government, and we fully appreciate that they have to take into account possible political repercussions. We hope, how- 1250 ever, that they will judge this matter objectively, and that there will be no hangover in other Departments, such as the War Office or the Foreign Office, of the old appeasement days. We desire that everything which can be done should be done to enable the Jewish people to defend their home if the attack comes.
We desire the Government to mobilise on our side, not merely the forces in Palestine, but the forces all over the world. We believe that some statement on this problem would do a good deal to damp down something which, I am afraid, is growing in our country, namely, anti-Semitic feeling. I know something of the attempts to fan this feeling among working-class circles. Anti-Semitism has been used on the Continent to destroy every section of the Labour movement, and I should like to give this warning and let it go out to the people with whom I am associated. Let them beware of it. There are two problems which confront us: Firstly, the possibility of attack upon Palestine, and enabling the Jewish people to be reasonably well prepared to meet that attack if it comes, and, secondly, the satisfying of Jewish sentiment. From our point of view we wish the proposals to be judged by the Government upon their merits, and I hope the Minister will give an undertaking that they will be so considered, and that, if not all, some of the points will be conceded.
§ Captain De Chair (Norfolk, South Western)
I was particularly interested in the speech of the hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), because he showed a disarming candour when he referred to the difficulty which he and the members of his party found in reaching a decision upon this subject. He recognises that it is difficult for people in this country to know the significance of the possible reactions to a proposal of this kind. As one who has recently returned to this country from Palestine, I will try to give the House some idea of the relative forces involved in these proposals. The hon. Member for Bilston (Mr. Hannah), in an enchanting speech, referred to long train journeys between Bilston and the House of Commons. While he was on those long journeys, I was tramping the tracks in Palestine, and during that time I had a real opportunity to get to know the people of Palestine. I mean both Arabs and Jews. We saw in our daily contacts a tremendous number of Arabs and Jews. 1251 The soldiers there really came to love Palestine. They saw no prospect of getting back to this country for many years and, when they were campaigning in Iraq or Syria, if they spoke of home it was usually of Palestine that they were thinking. When I first went there I camped in the Jordan Valley and visited many Jewish agricultural settlements and was tremendously impressed. I took an archeological society into one, and we were stopped at the gate and asked to remove our boots. We were accustomed to taking them off when we entered mosques, and we thought that this was some religious custom with which we ought to comply, but it was merely because there was an epidemic of swine fever in the neighbourhood and they did not want us to bring it into the settlement.
The Arab is tremendously susceptible to Axis propaganda. He is very impressed by propaganda of any kind, and we know how in the Middle East the barometer of Arab, opinion would go up and down according to our successes in the Western Desert or military developments in any other part of the world. You cannot visit Arab villages, often perched up on crags which are quite inaccessible to any wheeled vehicle, and sit down with the Muktahr and his male relatives in a circle in his house, drinking coffee, without soon getting to know how these people feel about things. At the same time we became very much aware of the burning love of the Holy Land which the Jews who have settled there feel and their determination to be allowed to play a part in the defence of the country.
But if the hon. Member asks me what will be the reaction upon the Arab communities in the Middle East if the proposal to set up a purely Jewish Army in Palestine were adopted, under British administration, I can say that in my opinion it would be disastrous. I am reluctantly driven to the conclusion that in the highly excitable state of Arab opinion it would be extremely dangerous. I do not say that we should rule out the possibility of any alternative constructive proposal, but we have to watch the whole of this question of Arab reaction very closely. We must bear in mind that some very important Arab personalities are in Axis countries, under the protection of the Axis Powers, and it is easy to see, from the 1252 drift of Axis broadcasts, that Herr Hitler is throwing out the suggestion of a free Arab Government. He already has with him the ex-Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin Husseini, and Raschid Ali al Gailani, who led the Iraq revolt and was the former Prime Minister, and he has an extremely capable general in Fawzi Kuwuckji who led the Palestine rebels in 1936 and who was a continual thorn in our flesh during both the Iraq and Syrian campaigns. It is easy to see how, playing upon Arab susceptibilities, and building up in their minds the prospect of a future German victory, he could promise them an Arab Government on quite spectacular lines. Set off against this is a very considerable Jewish unrest. People in this country are inclined to think that the main unrest is usually Arab, but there is also a considerable amount of Jewish unrest at different times, which flared up, for example, at the time of the "Patria" disaster. I remember, when that ship carrying refugees from Rumania was blown up in Haifa harbour and rolled over on her side, the feeling among the Jews was intense. It is impossible to ask them to see in an impartial light the difficulties in which the British Government found themselves. It is impossible to argue with them that these were illegal immigrants in excess of the quota to which the Government had agreed. It is simply a matter of passionate conviction that Palestine ought to accept Jewish refugees whenever they come from Europe, and one can readily understand their point of view.
§ Mr. Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
I recognise that the hon. and gallant Gentleman wants to be absolutely fair, but is it quite correct to say that the immigrants in the "Patria" would have been in excess of the quota? Is it not the case that the offer made to the Government was that these people should have been allowed in as part of the quota, and not in excess of it?
§ Captain De Chair
I quite see the hon. Member's point, and it was a point made at the time, but the difficulty, as I understand it, was that these people had sailed outside the quota, as illegal immigrants, and the question was whether they should be accepted as legal immigrants. These are difficulties which are continually cropping up, and it is impossible to maintain a balance without offending one party or the other over such vital matters. 1253 The defence of Palestine is a matter of great concern not only to the Jews but to the Arabs as well. There are many Arabs in Palestine who are pro-Mufti, and in some villages they will tell you that they are all members of the Husseini party, which is the Mufti's party. But the majority of the Arabs, who are admittedly at times liable to have their imagination stirred and to become excitable, would like to remain at peace under British administration and certainly not be overrun by the Germans. We always have to face up to the difficulty of their susceptibility to German propaganda, which has been extremely successful. How can we stimulate and canalise the local patriotism Which is there without creating a Jewish army which in my opinion would arouse the susceptibilities of the Arabs or, if you raised both an Arab and a Jewish Army, would inevitably lead to a clash between them.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Chippenham (Colonel Cazalet) laid particular stress on the American point of view, and I think that is a matter to which attention should be given: He would perhaps be interested in a very remarkable leading article in the New York "Times" on 22nd January, because he would recognise that its opinion on the subject is extremely significant.
§ Colonel Cazalet
I was arguing in favour of an independent Palestine force as an integral part of the British Army under British administration.
§ Captain De Chair
I understand that my hon. and gallant Friend wants a single Jewish unit under British administration but that it should be a homogeneous Jewish unit. I think that he would be interested in this particular point raised in a leading article in the New York "Times":A resolution introduced in the House of Representatives recently by Mr. Somers of New York requests President Roosevelt to direct the State Department to petition Great Britain 'to take such action as may be necessary to permit the organisation of all-Jewish military units in Palestine'. There has been no action on this resolution; but the proposal which it advances has received the endorsement of some members of the Government and a number of deeply sincere and well-meaning people. … For two reasons we believe that these well-meaning people are mistaken and that it would be unwise for the United States to attempt to bring pressure to bear upon the British Government in this matter.1254 This is from a leading article in the New York "Times," and great signifiance should be attached to it when we are considering the reaction to these matters in the United States. The article goes on to give various reasons why they do not advocate pressing the British Government to adopt that policy.
§ Colonel Cazalet
I do not know whether my hon. and gallant Friend knows that the New York "Times" has long been owned and run by Jews who are anti-Zionist.
§ Captain De Chair
That is possible, and it is for that reason that they go on to argue against setting up a Jewish Army. I am talking about the reaction in America, and I think that my hon. and gallant Friend will agree that the New York "Times" is a considerable source of public opinion in America.
I would like to try and meet the argument of the hon. Member for Llanelly as to what constructive measures can be taken in view of existing conditions in Palestine in order to meet the situation. The present arrangements for recruiting out there seem to me to be a trifle archaic. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Chippenham (Colonel Cazalet) referred to the existing companies of the Palestine Buffs. There is something a little bizarre about Jews and Arabs in Palestine being recruited for the defence of the Holy Land and finding themselves joining companies of the Royal East Kent Regiment. It calls up a picture of a march down the Old Kent Road rather than the Seven Sisters approach to Jerusalem, or something of that kind. We are an incalculable people in the matter of our nomenclature. It was said long ago that the Lord Privy Seal was so called because he was neither a lord nor a privy nor a seal. I cannot see what inducement to recruitment in Palestine it would be for the Arabs and Jews to be members of the Royal East Kent Regiment. It is a fact that when Arabs and Jews are recruited they go to Sarafand, where they train together. I have seen Arabs and Jews drilling side by side on the square at Sarafand, and although they do not appear very military in their bearing when they first arrive, I can assure the House that after a few weeks' training these companies have a discipline which would be a credit to the Brigade of Guards.
1255 It seems to me that here is a framework within which the Government could consider some improvement in the present recruiting arrangements for Palestine. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Chippenham suggested that the companies of the Buffs should form the nucleus of a Jewish unit in Palestine, but that, I think, would immediately rouse the antagonism of the Arabs. These companies are already Jewish and Arab companies, and if we use the Palestine companies of the Buffs as a nucleus for some Palestine unit it would be essential to preserve the even balance of the companies between the Jewish and Arab recruits. I do not see any reason why this should not go a long way to meeting the demand for some unit in which local patriotism could share in the defence of the Holy Land without engendering hatred between Arabs and Jews. I remember a similar friendly rivalry between the two regiments which comprised my own regiment in Palestine. We had companies of the Blues and the Life Guards showing a stimulating rivalry in their activities which was wholly beneficial to the efficiency of the composite regiment. I think that we could get something of the same kind if we had Jewish and Arab companies in the same unit working side by side as we have already in the Buffs. A word of tribute ought to be paid to those in Palestine who have been carrying on the recruiting of Arabs and Jews, because they have managed to create at Sarafand an atmosphere of co-operation and good will which should form a nucleus, if such a proposal could be adopted, which would go a long way to making this unit an efficient force. I believe that by reorganising the Palestine Companies, the Arab and Jewish Companies of the Buffs into a Palestine Brigade or something of the kind, we would be able, without disturbing Arab sentiment in the Middle East, to create a force which would be a potent reinforcement to the defence of the Holy Land.
§ Mr. Lipson (Cheltenham)
I have one advantage over my hon. Friends who have addressed the House on the subject of a Jewish Army to-day in that they are not Jews and I am. I therefore hope to be able to put before the House this problem as I see it as a Jew and from the inside. I do not claim to speak on behalf 1256 of others although I believe that a large number of Jews will find considerable agreement with what I have to say. All Jews will, I think, agree with my first statement which is one of gratitude to the hon. Members who have spoken for the sympathy they have shown towards the Jews. I fear, however, that from some of the remarks that have been made there may be some misconception. My hon. Friend the Member for Bilston (Mr. Hannah) suggested a Jewish Army because apparently from the illustration that he gave it would then not be necessary for some of his constituents in Bilston to serve in the Armed Forces of the Crown. I would remind him, and the country ought to be reminded, that British Jews are liable to service and are playing their part, and that in all the countries in which they have the right to serve Jews, are serving. Indeed Jews above anybody else surely have a vital interest in this war. It is from that point of view alone that I approach the question of a Jewish Army. Will the establishment of a Jewish Army add to our war effort, will it make it easier or more difficult for us to win the war? Having answered that question I would add this: Is the proposal to establish a Jewish Army in the interests of Jews themselves?
With regard to the effect on the war effort, nobody is going to suggest that the British Government will not be willing to take soldiers from whatever source they can get them. British Jews, as I have said, are serving in the British Army. But nothing must be done by making proposals of the kind before us to embarrass in any way the British Government in any part of the world. We have before us today two different proposals. My hon. Friend the Member for Bilston seemed to advocate a Jewish Army to include Jews from all over the world. Other speakers were more limited in their proposals, which were for a Jewish Army for Palestine only. We are all agreed that Palestine must be adequately defended, but whether the best defence of Palestine is to establish a Jewish Army only the British Government, I submit, can decide, in the light of all the circumstances.
I want to draw attention to a point of view which has been expressed in the Debate to-day and which to my mind is harmful in its conception. Reference has been made continually to the Jewish people. I want to submit that the Jews 1257 are a religious community, and I think it is right that that view should be stressed. The anti-Semites argue that the Jews are a separate people, and that is how they justify the discrimination which is exercised against them in various parts of the world. That argument is also supported by the views put forward by the Jewish Nationalists, who also talk about a Jewish people. You cannot have the best of both worlds. You cannot at the same time say "There is a Jewish people and therefore I am a member of the Jewish people, and I want to get all the advantages and privileges that that carries with it" and also to say "I am a British subject"—or a Frenchman or an American—"with equal rights with other citizens." Therefore, I feel that the Nationalists in their arguments are playing with fire, because they are proving the anti-Semitic case that the Jew is an alien in every country where he is. It is not true. In this country, thank God, we Jews enjoy all the rights and privileges of citizens, and that is why we love this country, and we accept with the privileges of citizenship the responsibilities of citizenship. Jews here and, I would add, Jews everywhere want no additional argument about a Jewish Army to induce them to play their part in the fight against Hitler. They know that everything they stand for, the teaching of the Jewish prophets and everything they believe in, are threatened by the Nazi menace. If that is not a sufficient motive for them to put their all into the fight against Hitler no political argument of the advantage of a Jewish Army is likely to carry any weight.
I want to say a word about the Jewish Army from the point of view of Jews themselves, Jews less fortunate than those in Britain and who do not enjoy full rights of citizenship. It seems to me that there is a great opportunity in this war, when Jews and non-Jews fight together and share a common danger in the same units, for them to learn to understand each other better and break down the existing barriers. The only hope for Jews all the world over is that the same sort of tolerance and understanding which happily exists in these islands should extend to all countries, and I believe that fighting together and sharing a common danger are likely to advance that object. It certainly will not be by isolation, by forming separate 1258 Jewish Armies. This is not a time when one wants to emphasise the difference between the Jew and the non-Jew. In this war we have a great common interest. It is for these reasons that, while I appreciate the generous motives which have prompted those who in this House to-day have advocated a Jewish Army, I, speaking as a Jew, cannot support the proposal. I believe that in the long view it will not help our war effort, and that must be the outstanding consideration, and I believe also in the long view it is not in the interests of Jews themselves.
§ Mr. Mander (Wolverhampton, East)
I was very much interested in the view put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson) with regard to the attitude of Jews, but I could not help feeling that it is one thing for Jews living in this country or in the United States or in some other civilised community to take up an attitude of that kind, and a very different one for the persecuted minorities in Germany and other European States, where they cannot have the same feelings towards the country in which they have been living as we have here.
§ Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge University)
Has the hon. Member read, or, if he has not read, will he permit me to read, two sentences from a letter from a Polish Jew in this week's "New Statesman"?
§ Mr. Mander
There is very little time, and I do not think my hon. Friend can interpolate a speech, however interesting, in the middle of my remarks. I was saying that while no one wants to interfere with the position of Jews in this country, let us always remember that it is totally different from their position in other countries. In a consideration of this question we must start with a realisation of the fact that the Jews have been fighting this war since 1933—they have been in longer than we have. This is not the occasion for it, and I have no intention of going into the general policy of the Government with regard to Palestine, but I want to make this comment. I should have thought there was very little foundation in international law for the present policy of the White Paper, which presumably is that of the Government. We remember that it was rejected by a majority of the Mandates Commission of the League of Nations just before the 1259 war, and a meeting of the Council was to be held at which it was the intention of the British Government to ask that that decision should be overridden. The war took place and that meeting was never held, and therefore we are in the position of the policy having been rejected by the only organ of the League that considered it at all, and I should have thought it was very arguable whether our policy has any foundation in international law.
Something has been said about the Arabs always remaining in a majority in Palestine. I only say that I would not for a moment accept the view that under no circumstances, some of them unforeseeable at present, would that position be altered. We have heard something about the susceptibilities of the Jews and the Arabs, and we know that in different ways they both have very strong feelings, but I suggest that during the last 20 years we have not been particularly careful to carry out the task that was committed to us in Palestine. We have not given that fair play to the Jews under the Mandate which we should have done, and we must always remember now, in the terrible hour of difficulty which we and the Jews throughout the world are suffering, that we must do everything we can to make good to them now. I believe it would be a sound proposition and contribution to winning the war to make the fullest possible use of the splendid fighting material available in Palestine among the Jews. I desire to join in the appeal that has been so eloquently made by the hon. and gallant Member for Chippenham (Colonel Cazalet) to the Secretary of State for War to do everything he feels he fairly and reasonably can, having regard to all the difficulties of the situation that we know exist out there, to make the Jews in Palestine feel that this time we do want their help and that we will give them all the arms that we can spare and thereby increase the power at our disposal in Palestine and the spiritual support of our cause in the United States and throughout the whole world.
§ Major Sir Derrick Gunston (Thornbury)
I would like to join with other Members in paying a tribute to the fighting qualities of the Jewish race. I was very impressed with the sincere and moving speech of the hon. Member for 1260 Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson) who told us how proud the Jews are to fight as British people. We ought to remember that. I should like to speak from the personal experience I had in the East End of London. The Jews behaved as well and as courageously as any other people and displayed a very amusing Cockney spirit in time of difficulty. I am connected with a charitable organisation which looks after some of the children who have been badly blitzed, getting them out of London and into homes in the country. We have many Jewish children and we have received generous contributions for their support from Jews in America.
Although I have prefaced my remarks with those words, I am not in favour of the creation of a Jewish Army, which I do not think would help to win the war. My main reason is that I think it would make settlement of the Jewish problem after the war much more difficult. I believe it would increase, especially in Palestine, the erroneous idea that Palestine alone can take the Jews who have been dispossessed in the war. I think there were 80,000 Jews in Palestine at the end of the last war, and that there are now 450,000. It has been calculated that after the war there will be 7,000,000 dispossessed Jews in Eastern Europe alone. It is obvious that those 7,000,000 cannot go to Palestine. The danger of creating a Jewish Army is also that it might support the idea in Palestine that the Jews there may become a separate State and would encourage many people in Eastern Europe to think that all their difficulties will be solved if they can go to Palestine. Palestine may not be able to take them.
We must settle the Jews properly after the war. They must be settled all over the world, as well as in Palestine. There is no doubt that Syria and other countries in that part of the world are not as thickly populated as Palestine, and probably many more Jews might be settled there, but if you create a Jewish Army you give rise to the fear among the Moslems that the Jews will he an armed and militant race among them, that we shall find it more difficult to get those countries to accept the Jews for settlement. For that reason, we must be very careful how we walk. I hope that the Secretary of State will tell us in detail the position of the Jews in Palestine.
§ Mr. Riley (Dewsbury)
Is not the hon. and gallant Member overlooking the fact that the case which was put up this morning was not so much for a separate Jewish Army but for the inclusion in the Allied Army of the Jews in Palestine?
§ Sir D. Gunston
The proposal is for the setting up of a Jewish Army and not for the right of people in Palestine to join, since they can do so at the present time. I understand that the Jews in Palestine have joined many British units. I would ask the Secretary of State to give us the latest figures. I am sure that the hon. and gallant Member for Chippenham (Colonel Cazalet) did not mean to convey the impression, which I think was very unfair, about Jews not volunteering in Palestine. I believe that when the figures are given my hon. Friend will find that the Jews in Palestine have volunteered very well.
In response to an interruption, the hon. and gallant Member for Chippenham gave an answer which will be very welcome when he said that he asked for a Jewish Army of about 20,000. That is a very different position altogether from the claim for a Jewish Army of 200,000. I think it would be possible to meet the natural feeling of the Jews—
§ Miss Rathbone (Combined English Universities)
Was not the claim of the hon. and gallant Member for another 20,000? I do not think he was ignoring the fact that 14,500 Jews are already enlisted.
§ Sir D. Gunston
I thank the hon. Lady for that interruption. I meant to say another 20,000. The suggestion put forward in various quarters is that we could get together another 200,000, not only from Palestine but elsewhere.
§ Sir D. Gunston
What I was going to say to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State was this. Would it not be possible to raise separate battalions of Jews in Palestinian brigades? You could have a battalion of the Arabs and a battalion of the Jews in brigades, with the right, if they wished, to wear the Star of David. If he could do something on those lines I think it would very much help to meet Jewish national feeling.
I want to turn back for one moment to the idea of a great Jewish Army. As 1262 my hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham said, the Jews pride themselves on being full citizens of the country in which they live. To set up a great Jewish Army would run counter to the proudest boast of the Jewish race. I think there might have been a case for a Jewish Army before America came into the war. There might have been, and I believe there were, many American Jews willing to come over if a Jewish army could have been formed. But now that America is in the war, the American Jews will naturally fight as American citizens in the American Army, and so, from that point of view, I think the case for the formation of a Jewish Army has disappeared. There is also a very great administrative difficulty. Are the Jews to be taken out of their present units? It would mean an enormous amount of transport and an enormous amount of ships, and would be extremely difficult from the administrative point of view.
There is one final point, and that is the effect on Moslem opinion throughout the world. If only another 20,000 extra are to be got into the Army, as the hon. and gallant Member for Chippenham suggested, would it be worth while if, in doing so, the whole, of Moslem opinion throughout the world were adversely affected? We all know how difficult the situation is in India at the moment, and we all know how well the Mohammedans are behaving there. I think it would be absolutely fatal to upset them at this moment by setting up a Jewish Army which they might think might be used to attack their Arab friends in that part of the world. I therefore believe that from the Jewish point of view, and from the point of view of settling the Jews in proper homes in places where they could live a decent life after the war, it would be disastrous, and I believe it would make the eventual creation of a Palestinian State quite impossible. I believe it would react disastrously on Jewry, and would prevent the amalgamation and friendship we all want to see.
§ Commander Locker-Lampson (Birmingham, Handsworth)
I have always been an advocate of a Jewish Army. I served in Turkey both after and during the last war, and I remember realising the peril in which the Canal might stand in the event of an enemy attack in that direction. We succeeded in repulsing the 1263 enemy, and from that moment I saw how important it was to have a body of reliable soldiers somewhere in Palestine to protect the Canal. I foresaw that a military monster would spring up in Central Europe and might march down and attack the Canal, and I asked why we did not have on the spot half a million Jews to defend it. We went to Poland to try and raise an Army of 200,000 there, and other friends helped in America, and to cut a long story short, a few years ago it would have been possible to get 500,000 Jews, adequately armed, in Palestine. That was the position then. Why was an army agreed to by the Government and why was that privilege withdrawn? That is the most serious point because all the speeches we have heard against a Jewish Army would fall to the ground if it were publicly known that a Jewish Army was granted by the Government, and I would like to know who stopped it: We ought to know, for all the facts were published in America both as to the size of the army and the name of the officer who was to take command.
The Canal is in danger. Do you not want to defend it? What will the War Office, which is full of intellectual eunuchs, think if the day comes when the Canal is attacked and there are not half a million local levies to help defend it? I wish they could be asked their opinion. It is not too late to raise an army, even though it cannot be half a million. The Colonial Office is equally anti-Semitic in its outlook in this connection. What is to be our policy in the Far East? Is it to go on being a policy of so-called appeasement? We had enough appeasement, currying favour with crooks like Hitler in the past; why not stop appeasement and have courage to back our own considered opinions? The policy of appeasement has not gained at Munich or anywhere else, and I would ask the Government to stop taking their marching orders from Gandhi or the Mufti or anybody else, and to do their duty, and support the Jews in having an army of their own, even if that army does not serve in Palestine. I am in favour of a Jewish Army for these further reasons. The Jews in Palestine have never cut the pipe-line, they have never murdered an Englishman and they produced the greatest general in the last war, General Monash, and Cohen, the wounded M.P., 1264 and legless Bader The only Member of Parliament who won the V.C. in the last war was a Jew, and Disraeli, who sat on that Bench, Disraeli, that Hebrew dreamer, got us the Canal, and Cyprus to defend it. If he were inspiring us today, he would favour a Jewish Army.
§ Mr. Kirkwood (Dumbarton Burghs)
I do not want to interrupt the hon. and gallant Gentleman, but I think he is making a mistake there, and is giving Disraeli more credit than is his due. I give him all credit for the Suez Canal, but it was Gladstone who got us Cyprus and who sent soldiers there to defend it.
§ Commander Locker-Lampson
I gladly acknowledge the part played by Mr. Gladstone, but Disraeli was in favour of a Jewish Army. That is the point. I am also in favour of a Jewish Army for these reasons. Because the greatest men in the world want it. Our Prime Minister wants it, the President of the United States wants it, and lastly, the greatest man of action in the British Empire after the Prime Minister, Field-Marshal Smuts, wants it. Finally, I am in favour of a Jewish Army because Hitler does not want one. Arm your friends, because your friends are the friends of freedom.
§ Wing-Commander James (Wellingborough)
It will be conceded that the outstanding speech in this Debate so far has come from the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson). I think it will be generally agreed that if all Jewry had his standpoint and qualities there would be no such thing as anti-Semitism in the world. Unfortunately this issue is really promoted by the extreme Zionist organisations, and nobody can doubt that who has looked at the Jewish Press during the last few weeks. For example, take the "Jewish Standard," the issue of which of 17th July was sent to me a few days ago. I will quote only the headlines to the House. The main heading is, "Attempt to sabotage Jewish Army Plan," and "Ominous change of Committee's title." The cross-headlines in this extreme Zionist organ are "New names," "Political treachery," and "Enemies of unity." I am afraid that the hon. Member for Bilston (Mr. Hannah), who, with such complete sincerity and so amusingly, raised this issue, was unconscious that he was merely acting on the inspiration of these extreme Zionist organisations, and on the Zionist 1265 philosophy, which, in fact, has contributed so largely to creating anti-Semitism in the world to-day. Had this issue been argued logically—and I notice that both the hon. Member for Boston and the hon. and gallant Member for Chippenham (Colonel Cazalet) really spoke pretty far from the point—it would have been quite evident that this is really an attack on the foreign policy of His Majesty's Government. It is an attempt to force the hand of the Government and to secure a reversal of the policy of the White Paper adopted and decided by the overwhelming Vote of this House so shortly before the war. In short, the whole movement for a Jewish Army is really an attempt to stake an exclusive claim for Palestine.