Jerusalem (Sep. 24)
The trial of two Palestine Jews on charges of smuggling guns and ammunition has been held in an atmosphere of prejudice marked by insinuations against Jewish institutions, it was charged yesterday by Dr. Philip Joseph, attorney for Leib Sirkin, one of the defendants, in summing up the case for his client.
During his all-day summation, Dr. Joseph was frequently interrupted by the president of the military court, which is hearing the charges, who counselled the attorney against injecting political issues into the trial. Replying to one protest, Dr. Joseph said that he was quite willing to dispense with political discussions, but pointed to the fact that political issues had first been injected by the prosecutor, Major Baxter, who had introduced the names of various Jewish organizations.
Dr. Joseph stated that the trial had been staged at an “unhappy hour,” since it had been immediately preceded by the conviction of Stoner and Harris, the two British soldiers from whom Sirkin and Abraham Rachlin, the other defendant, are alleged to have purchased arms. Challenging the testimony given in the present trial by Stoner and Harris, the defense attorney asked that the court refuse to credit it, since it had been filled with contradictions and neither of the soldiers had been able to positively identify Sirkin as the man with whom they dealt.
Referring to the Haganah organization, the Jewish self-defense group, whose name has figured prominently in the trial, Dr. Joseph admitted that it possessed arms, but denied that these had been stolen from the army. He stressed that the Haganah had been established to defend the lives of Jewish families and alleged that in places where the organization did not function, such as in the colony of Tiberias, the Jews had been mercilessly slaughtered.
Emphasizing that Sirkin was of good character and had never been in trouble before, the defense attorney declared that it was unthinkable that a Jew would steal arms from the fighting forces, since “from 1933 Jews throughout the world have been fighting the enemy of the United Nations.” The prosecutor will conclude his summation today, after which the court will adjourn to consider its decision.