Jews (Fighting Services).

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 6th August 1942.

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Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

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 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.