Jerusalem (Oct. 6)
The British and Palestine Governments were warned yesterday that disturbances may result from the tension engendered by the allegations against leading Jewish institutions voiced by military authorities at the recently concluded trials of two British soldiers and two Jews on charges of gun running. The warning was contained in a resolution adopted by the special session of the Assefath Hanivcharim, the Palestine Jewish National Assembly, called to voice the Yishuv’s reaction to the arms trials.
In the major address delivered at the session. David Ben-Gurion, chairman of the executive of the Jewish Agency, one of the institutions which it was insinuated were involved in gun smuggling, charged that the trials were a result of pre-war appeasement and the present White Paper policy. Referring to the Haganah, Jewish self-defense group, which the prosecutor in the trial of Leib Sirkin and Abraham Rachlin charged was one of the recipients of the stolen arms, Ben-Gurion recalled that it had been founded before British occupation of Palestine and disbanded when England assumed the mandate on the assumption that it would no longer be needed. The Haganah was revived, he said, when after the Arab pogroms against Jews the Yishuv decided “not to allow itself to be slaughtered.”
Other resolutions passed by the Assembly condemned the trials as being of a political nature, aimed at discrediting the Yishuv and its institutions; pledged that despite provocation the Jews would continue to develop the country, but would, if necessary, defend themselves; and, lastly, called on the Yishuv to restrain its bitterness and not accuse the whole British government and people, since the Zionist cause had friends in England. The meeting praised the contribution to the Allied war effort made by Jews and sent greetings to “the thousands of Jewish volunteers fighting for freedom and victory.”