JERUSALEM (Jun. 24)
The Jewish Agency for Palestine today issued a forthright statement disputing the claims of the various Allied national armies based in Palestine – such as the Poles, Czechs and Greeks – that Jewish refugees here who are citizens of those countries should join their respective armies.
This controversy, which has been brewing for some months, came to a head today when Moshe Shertok, chief of the political department of the Agency, speaking at a press conference here stated definitely that “the Jewish Agency considers every Jewish immigrant an integral part of the Jewish national body engaged in establishing a national home in Palestine. The Jewish Agency believes that those nations who in the past demanded and assisted Jewish immigration to Palestine must share the view that their respective citizens in Palestine are new integrated in the Jewish national community, and participation by these Jews, organized in purely Jewish units, in the common struggle should be considered by the Allied nations as directly assisting their own efforts.”
Although Shertok did not specifically mention the armies of the Poles, Czechs and Greeks, which already include a large number of Jews, it was obvious that it was these groups to which he referred. He revealed that the number of Palestinians in the British forces has reached a new high. There are now 13,500 Palestine Jewish men and women serving with the British in the Middle East, he said. This is far from sufficient, however, Shertok pointed out, especially in view of the threatening situation in Libya and other sections of the Middle East.
Stressing the need for unlimited manpower, Shertok reported that negotiations are now being conducted with the Colonial Office in London looking towards enlarging the scope of the activities of the supernumeraries and their utilization for active defense of vital strategic points.