NEW YORK (Jun. 24)
Negotiations for creation of a Jewish army have been opened between the Zionists and the British Government and “definite progress” for arming Palestine’s Jews has been made, the Emergency Committee for Zionist Affairs declared in a statement today. The statement follows:
“Immediately prior to the outbreak of the war, Dr. Weizmann, in a letter to the British Prime Minister, expressed to the British Government the keen desire of Jews everywhere to play a full part in the impending struggle and to provide Jewish manpower, technical ability and resources to fight on the side of the democracies. This was followed by a specific offer to raise a Jewish army to be recruited in Palestine and elsewhere for service in the war. This offer met with a favorable reception in high military quarters in Great Britain, but was opposed by those elements in the Chamberlain Government, including in particular the Colonial Secretary, which had been responsible for the White Paper policy and favored appeasement of the Arabs.
“A change came about with the appointment of Mr. Winston Churchill as Prime Minister and negotiations for the establishment of a Jewish force were again undertaken and had reached an advance stage when the Nazi occupation of Yugoslavia and Greece created new political difficulties and brought about postponement in the final implementation of the plan.
“Today the war has come to the boundaries of Palestine, and it is a bitter reflection that had our offer of a Jewish force been accepted at the beginning of the war, there might today have been a strong additional bulwark in the defense of the national home. Be that as it may, the matter has again been reopened with the British Government and definite progress for arming the Jews in Palestine for self-defense has been made. Thus the number of Jewish supernumerary police, entitled to bear arms, in Palestine has been doubled and today totals nearly 30,000.
“Every effort is being made and will be made to see that the necessary equipment is provided for these forces and to promote the larger scheme for a Jewish army.
“At the same time, the Emergency Committee wishes to emphasize that action can be effective only if it is coordinated and directed by a single responsible body in possession of all the facts and recognized as representing the unified will of the Jewish people. Independent agitation, including the calling of mass meetings unauthorized by any representative Zionist body, such as is now being fostered by the pseudo-Revisionist group, Friends of a Jewish Palestine, which is neither in any sense representative nor conversant with all aspects of the situation, is useless and may be damaging to the development of any responsible effort.”