The British Symbol Changes as Bevins
Policy Displaces the Balfour Promise
An official spokesman of the Foreign Office said a few days
ago that Great Britain must support the Arabs in their war against the
Jews because of the great alliance with the Arabs during World War II
and their contribution to the Allied victory. This announcement is not
overburdened with truth. But at the same time Ernst Bevin pretends to
be impartial. On May 25 Churchill asked in Parliament whether Bevin will
bear in mind the great importance of our pursuing an evenhanded course
of strict impartiality at a time when we are resigning our responsibilities
in Palestine? Mr. Bevin replied: I have done that. I have
quite a clear conscience on that. At the time he spoke, British
officers were directing fire at the Jewish sections of Jerusalem.
When, in 1942, the onslaught of the Axis armies reached
their greatest proportions, and they descended on the Middle East from
the Caucasus in the north, from Libya in the south, and from Burma in
the east, and when the Sunday editions of newspapers carried large maps
showing three converging black arrows, Churchill made a most desperate
speech, in which he conceded the great peril that threatens the
At that time the only people in the area between the converging
arrows that came to help, voluntarily mobilizing itself and rushing to
el-Alamein in invaded Egypt, and that built up an efficient part of the
Eighth Army under Montgomery, were the Jewish people of Palestine.
* * *
Out of a Jewish population of half a million, 137,000
registered for service the moment war broke out, writes Pierre van
Paassen in his book, The Forgotten Ally. All of them were
volunteers, since Palestine, as a mandated territory, had no conscription.
This would be equivalent to 45 million volunteers in the United States.
At the time when Montgomery took over from Auchenleck the command in Africa,
a quarter of the troops on the African front, according to van Paassen,
were Jews. The more than 30 thousand combat soldiersthe defenders
of Tobruck, the sappers of the desert, the parachutists who descended
behind Rommels armywere Jews.
Palestine furnished to the British armies in Libya,
Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somaliland, thousands of doctors, nurses, and dentists.
Thousands of truck drivers with their trucks, medical supplies and food
for the Eighth Army. In the fateful hour when Britains fate
hung in the balance, and when Rommel boasted that as far as he was concerned
it was all over but the shouting, the little land of Palestine placed
at the disposal of the British Empire and its armies in the Near East
an industrial apparatus of 7,000 factories, large and small.
* * *
The Jewish Palestine was one of the imponderables
that turned the tide against Hitler at the moment when he and almost the
whole world least expected it.
For four years the Mediterranean route was impassableItaly
ruled at its center. Supplies from England, and also from America, had
to be shipped around the continent of Africa, a route longer than the
equatorial circumference of the globe, over submarine-infested waters.
But for Palestine, its production and its volunteers, the army of Montgomery
would have been beaten.
At the time of this great emergency, Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia
supplied the army of Montgomery with not even a single donkey.
The Egyptian royal family and the Ministers of Egypt were in direct contact
with Rommel; the Egyptian military staff spied for Rommel; and all was
prepared for the triumphant entry of Mussolini and Rommel into Egypt.
Iraq had already perpetrated its stab in the back, having declared war
against the British on May 2, 1941. Syria and Lebanon were under Vichy
rule. But the Jews of Palestine helped to quell the rebellion of Iraq,
and guarded the pipelines from there to Haifa in Palestine. Besides, almost
a million Jews served in the Allied armies all around the world.
* * *
In the fable, a wolf had a bone stuck in his throat and
was choking. In his distress he begged help of a crane, promising eternal
friendship and every favor. The crane put his head into the wolfs
mouth and removed the bone with his beak. When he asked the promised reward,
the wolf replied: Is it not enough that I did not bite off your
head when it was in my mouth?
But the British Lion actually tried, and still tries, to
bite off the head of the Jewish crane.
* * *
As late as 1944, when refugees from Hungary and Romania
could have been saved from Hitlers death camps, Great Britain slammed
the doors of Palestine in their faces. When the war was over Britain hunted
down Jewish survivors of the death camps with the Royal Navy, killing
some, imprisoning all the others.
A fortnight ago the British murdered, with the hands of
the Arab Legion, 300 men, women, and children of Kfar Etzion. Today British
officers direct the shelling of Jewish Jerusalem, its University, its
synagogues, its hospitals.
The greatest retribution that could be inflicted on the
British for all this is the transformation of the Lion into a cowardly
and ungrateful creature, the degeneration of a once noble nation into
the spiritual heirs of Hitler.