Palestine (Terrorist Activities)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th November 1944.

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Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Epping 12:00 am, 17th November 1944

I have now to make a short statement about Palestine. On Thursday last, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary gave the House a full report of the assassination of Lord Moyne. This shameful crime has shocked the world. It has affected none more strongly than those, like myself, who, in the past, have been consistent friends of the Jews and constant architects of their future. If our dreams for Zionism are to end in the smoke of assassins' pistols and our labours for its future to produce only a new set of gangsters worthy of Nazi Germany, many like myself will have to reconsider the position we have maintained so consistently and so long in the past. If there is to be any hope of a peaceful and successful future for Zionism, these wicked activities must cease, and those responsible for them must be destroyed root and branch. The primary responsibility must, of course, rest with the Palestine authorities under His Majesty's Government. These authorities are already engaged in an active and thorough campaign against the Stern Gang and the larger, but hardly less dangerous, Irgun Zvai Leumi. In particular, the Palestine police have been loyally and effectively carrying out their duties in the midst of constant danger. A number of persons suspected of active complicity in terrorist activities have been arrested, and on 19th October, 251 were deported from the country, where their presence, with the possibility of a large-scale attempt at rescue, only led to increased insecurity. Since then, numerous further arrests have been made, including those of some wanted terrorists.

I am satisfied that the Palestine authorities have all the powers necessary to enable them to deal with the situation. They will, with the help of the military and the close co-operation of the general officer commanding in chief intensify their activities, but it will be realised that although the primary responsibility is that of the Government, full success depends on the wholehearted co-operation of the entire Jewish community. This, His Majesty's Government is entitled to demand and to receive. I have received a letter from Dr. Weizmann, President of the World Zionist Organisation—a very old friend of mine—who has arrived in Palestine, in which he assures me that Palestine Jewry will go to the utmost limit of its power to cut out this evil from its midst. In Palestine the executive of the Jewish Agency have called upon the Jewish community—and I quote their actual words: to cast out the members of this destructive band, deprive them of all refuge and shelter, to resist their threats, and to render all necessary assistance to the authorities in the prevention of terrorist acts, and in the eradication of the terrorist organisation. These are strong words, but we must wait for these words to be translated into deeds. We must wait to see that, not only the leaders, but every man, woman and child of the Jewish community does his or her best to bring this terrorism to a speedy end.

Photo of Mr William Thorne Mr William Thorne , West Ham Plaistow

May I ask whether the two men in question will be tried by a military court or a civil court? My right hon. Friend has, no doubt, read about the Spanish Inquisition. Could he put that into operation?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Epping

I would not like to answer off-hand. I have seen the statement that they are to be tried and, of course, they are under Egyptian authority. The crime was committed in Egypt, and I have no doubt that the judicial proceedings will be conducted with all despatch and correctness. The question has also arisen of whether they are not deserters from the Palestine Armed Forces, in which case they would pass into the hands of the British military authorities and their trial would be by court-martial.

Photo of Mr Daniel Lipson Mr Daniel Lipson , Cheltenham

Is my right hon. Friend aware that every Jew worthy of the name will wholeheartedly and worthily support the statement which he has just made, and will pray that the efforts to eradicate speedily and completely this murderous gang and their associates will be successful?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore Lieut-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore , Ayr District of Burghs

Will my right hon. Friend make it clear that the suggestion which has been made about the Spanish Inquisition does not represent the views of this House?

Photo of Mr William Thorne Mr William Thorne , West Ham Plaistow

I have no mercy for them.

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Epping

I did not take it as intended to be more tha an encouraging gesture on the part of my hon. Friend.