JERUSALEM (Sep. 20)
Palestine will be able to make a substantial contribution to Great Britain’s fighting forces in a general mobilization. From among the 460,000 Jews in the Holy Land, it is estimated that 50,000 men could be put under arms, all of whom have military experience and would require a minimum of training.
The British authorities in Jerusalem and London are fully aware of this possibility and are reportedly giving it earnest consideration. Jewish troops could relieve British forces of the job of guarding Palestine itself, probably in collaboration with locally raised Arab fighting corps. They could also provide a reserve from which reinforcements could be quickly drawn for the British armies guarding the borders of Egypt and the Sudan if the occasion arose.
There is, therefore, a high probability that war in the east would bring into action a Jewish army on a very much larger scale than the Jewish Legion which fought effectively in the ranks of General Allenby’s army in the World War. The backbone of such an army would consist of the present Jewish security forces in Palestine. Including all categories on active duty and in reserve, these number at present nearly 20,000 men. All are trained and most have been on active duty here and in Europe, having received during their period of service intensive training from British military men.
There is an additional reservoir of more than 80,000 Jewish men between the ages of 18 and 40, of whom a large proportion, perhaps 30,000, have performed service in European armies. Given instructors and equipment, the Jews could therefore quickly get into the field a force whose morale would be raised to the highest pitch by the knowledge that they were fighting for their national home and against Nazism.
There would be no lack of good officers for such a force. Among the refugees arriving in Palestine during the past year and more, and notably among the illegal immigrants, have been hundreds of former officers in the erstwhile Czechoslovakian and Austrian armies, some of high rank and many experts in special fields, such as army fliers, military engineers, chemical warfare experts and technicians of various types.
The army with which General Allenby conquered Palestine and Syria numbers at its greatest strength a little more than 100,000, and during most. of the campaign between 60,000 and 700,000, while the combined Turkish and German troops opposing him hardly exceeded 50,000 at any one time.
The military potentialities of the Palestine Arabs cannot be accurately estimated. They would probably not supply much material for the regular fighting services, but in their own special field of desert raiding, they would undoubtedly furnish England with valuable auxiliaries as they did in the last war under the leadership of Colonel Lawrence. Despite the rebelliousness of the Arab populace in the past, a swing of sentiment toward Britain is seen, particularly if the war should extend to the east.
Proposal for a joint Arab-Jewish force for the defense of Palestine, which has been semi-officially put forward in London, has been received sympathetically in Jewish quarters. There is no question of conscription in Palestine, which is a mandated territory. On the Jewish side, however, a call for volunteers, backed by the Jewish Agency for Palestine and other Jewish institutions, would bring an immediate mass response.