Jews (Fighting Services).

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

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Photo of Major Sir Derrick Gunston Major Sir Derrick Gunston , Thornbury

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 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.