Jews and World War II | Jewish immigration and the Partition of Palestine | War of Independence | Jews Driven from their Arabic Homelands
The Muslim Brotherhood against Nasser | Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United States in 1953 | Mawdudi and Qutb: two Anti-Western Intellectuals
Raids against Israelis and the Suez Crisis of 1957 | King Faisal of Saudi Arabia | The 1967 (Six-Day) War
In 1939, Huseini, Palestine's Grand Mufti in exile, fled to Germany, where he would spend most of World War II, broadcasting anti-British and anti-Jewish commentary for the Germans.
The British recruited 136,000 Jews from Palestine into their armed forces. Zionists and Jewish leaders in Palestine were upset over Britain's White Paper of 1939, but they put fighting Hitler first. In 1942, the British sent 1,500 specially trained Jewish Palestinian guerrillas against the Germans in Libya – training that would contribute to the creation of Haganah and the Israeli army.
Derelict ships were carrying Jews from German-controlled Europe, and the Haganah and other Palestinian Jews struggled to land the refugees while British and mostly Arab police worked to catch and deport the "illegals."
By May 1942, Hitler's death camps became common knowledge among the Zionists and Jews in Palestine. Zionists demanded that Britain's White Paper of 1939 be scrapped, that Palestine be opened to unlimited Jewish immigration and land purchase and that Palestine be divided into two separate states, one Jewish and one Arab.
In the late summer of 1943, Prime Minister Winston Churchill – who had been supporting the Jews against the advice of members of his cabinet – changed British policy, allowing several thousand Jewish refugees to enter Palestine. Anyone who could get to Turkey could proceed to Palestine, despite quotas. And, by 1944, Churchill was talking about a state in Palestine for the Jews, which added to hostility toward Churchill among Palestine's Arabs.
Among the Jews in Palestine was an underground army called the Irgun Zvai Leumi (IZL), or simply the Irgun. The Irgun wanted liberation from British rule and the establishment of a Jewish state, and they saw armed struggle as the only way to achieve these. The Irgun's leader, Menachem Begin, was a conservative from Poland who had been imprisoned in the Soviet Union. He arrived in Palestine in 1943, thanks to the British, for training with members of the Free Polish Army. He saw the Allied war against Germany as most important, and during that war he refrained from attacking British military installations, but he sent the Irgun against British police stations in search of weapons.
In September, 1944, Churchill announced the creation of a Jewish Brigade to be trained by the British, while Huseini was meeting with Himmler and advocating the creation of an Islamic army for Germany. Then, in November, two young extremist Jews from Palestine, reputed to be members of an organization that had broken from the Irgun, called the Stern Gang, assassinated Britain's minister-resident to Cairo, Lord Moyne. Churchill was outraged. So too were many Palestinian Jews. It was terror that accomplished nothing for the Jews.
Copyright © 1998-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.