Britain Bars Formation of Jewish Legion Now; Talks in Progress with France

There is little likelihood of acceptance by the British Government in the near future of Jewish offers of a Jewish Legion or Jewish units to fight with the British forces in the war, the J.T.A. was authoritatively informed today.

There is subsequently little possibility that the authorities here will take any action with regard to Dr. Chaim Weizmann’s offer, on behalf of the Jewish Agency, of Jewish manpower for war. Jewish plans had envisaged Jewish units composed of refugees and others fighting on the western front, and also a legion in Palestine to help protect that country in the event the hostilities spread to the east Mediterranean area and generally to relieve the British of part of the Palestine military burden.

Official military circles told the J.T.A. that recruiting of foreign legions was contrary to British army policy, particularly at a time when great reserves of British manpower were volunteering and the army was unable to make use of their services.

The possibility is not excluded, however, that the British are prepared to consider the offer of a Jewish Legion at a later stage of the war, but the present policy excludes religious or racial units, or foreign legions. As a staff officer explained, it is not British policy to “fight to the last Frenchman or Jew.”

The position regarding Palestine is somewhat different. The view here is that it would not be advisable to turn over defence of the country to a body composed of Jews, since this would aggravate the Arabs and upset the local political position. The question of the use of Jewish volunteers in Palestine was described here as one for decision by the High Commissioner.

Military circles here spoke approvingly of a proposed Palestine militia composed both of Arabs and Jews and officered by Britons, provided it were possible to bring Arabs and Jews together in such a body.

It is anticipated here that the French authorities would be agreeable to the formation of a foreign Jewish Legion to fight with the French army. Dr. Nahum Goldmann, on behalf of the Jewish Agency, has been discussing this question with the French authorities.

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