§ LORD WEDGWOOD rose to call attention to the importance of arming the Jews; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, when last this matter was raised in this House the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, accused me of inciting to violence. In a sense, my whole life has been spent in inciting people to think, to see, and then to act. Every idea is an incitement, and, when urged and believed in, it is acted upon, unless other ideas are put against it, or unless lack of energy stifles the idea at birth. There is no difference between the inception of an idea and the incitement. I trust that the charge of inciting your Lordships to violence will not be taken too seriously, or as being too extraordinary; for, after all, I look round these Benches and I see the incitement to violence behind all of you. I see the House of Cecil, founded on incitement to violence upon Bosworth Field. I see the first House of Lords extorting Magna Charta from a King—inciting to violence ! I see the first House of Commons summoned in a rebellion, and maintained and sustained by successful incitements to violence throughout the ages. I only hope that we shall continue to live up to our traditions, and respond to incitements to violence.
§ But perhaps you will be thinking that I was inciting the Jews of Palestine to violence. No, no, my Lords. It might be a very good thing to incite them to violence; the shock is often salutary; but it is years since any word of mine has ever been reported in Palestine, and there is no chance of my incitements getting beyond the four walls of this Chamber. Indeed, 180 when this matter was before the House recently, when the official broadcast was made from Palestine to the Arabs, the speeches of Lord Davies and myself were referred to. I presume that the broadcast was "vetted" by the usual censors or officials of Palestine, and it was pointed out to the Arabs that both Lord Davies and myself were not really genuine Lords, but belonged to the lower orders and had been elevated above our station for political reasons. In those circumstances, I think it will be quite clear that no incitement to violence can come from us. As a matter of fact, Lord Davies is in the enjoyment of adequate means, and I myself, with a pleasantly resounding pedigree, can view with interest and indifference the Anti-Semitic underworld and their attempts to substantiate their position.
§ I should like to say in passing that it is, and I believe always has been, the custom for the Ministry of Information to give to members of the House of Commons, and I believe also to members of the House of Lords, particulars of everything Joyce or Goebbels has said about us in the German broadcasts which reflected upon us in any way. I think that that is a very good principle, and that it might be extended to the broadcasts made by the British Government as well, so that we should have a certain knowledge of what was being said, and possibly a check upon the people who said it. The difficulty there is that I do not want that censor rebuked; I consider his evidence invaluable, and I only want to know whether we sit here by permission of the Foreign Office or as Peers of the Realm.
§ I ask that because recently another of our servants—some official, I must suppose, of the Foreign Office—has followed suit with another impertinence. I was asked by the Zionist Agency to send a five minute talk to a New York banquet in connexion with the subject of to-day's debate. They assured me that the B.B.C. were mere transmitters, and that the censorship would apply only, as usual, to military information. For that my script was passed, and the banquet guests enlightened. Extracts from my speech appeared in the Daily Mail. Immediately, without request or apology to me, an official, whose name I wish to know, issued a communiqué to the Press to say that the B.B.C. did not approve of my speech 181 and that the censor had been punished for allowing it to go over their transmission. As a matter of fact, there were two censors, one a Protestant and the other a Catholic; I wonder which of them was punished. I also wonder whether I have a legal remedy—damages for libel. Perhaps some of our legal Lords would advise me on the subject. I make my living out of broadcasting for the B.B.C.—or I might—but they will never allow me to broadcast again. And then moral and intellectual damages. Think of the spate of anonymous letters and all the terms of abuse which I might expect to receive from the readers of the Daily Mail, directly they saw the communiqué, though as a matter of fact the letters I got were all the other way. I had twenty-nine letters: twenty-six approved of my broadcast and three did not. The three which did not of course were written by Fascists, as usual Anti-Semite Fascists, all of the same criminal type. I thought I would pass them over to the Government; they would be worth reading. The Daily Mail was wrong. Either it has got a very small circulation or its readers are not so Anti-Semite as you would expect. In fact, in spite of the newspapers and the black markets, Anti-Semitism declines as Hitler is better understood.
Fortunately, the speech I made was germane to this debate, for which indeed it was actually prepared. I propose to ask your Lordships to hear and determine between the alarmist official and myself. This is the speech I sent over the wireless to New York:
The chief merit of Dr. Weizmann is that he seeks to restore or create the self-respect of the Jewish people. I think the creation of self-respect should be the great aim of all statesmen—everywhere. … In Palestine the Jew-is on horseback, head up, free from the care of what others may think of him. At home! I used to think that the first step towards freedom was to get the land. Give me the land and I will produce the men. In 1942, in a worse world, I must reverse the order. Give me the men, and they can take the land—only the men must be armed. In 1942, men without arms don't count, and have no rights. Presently, they have no food and live no longer. That is why Victor Cazalet and I, and that handful of God's good Englishmen who still put duty and conscience above subservience to any Government have formed a committee to concentrate effective action on the arming of the Jews. The arguments are mostly obvious. The more people there are to help us destroy Hitlerism the better, None are more pledged to try to kill. Hitler than the Jews. Not to allow them to fight for their own land
and their skins by our side is inhuman and treachery to all that we fight for.
These reasons I have given are obvious. Yet why is it forbidden to arm? Let us be frank. We have nothing to conceal any longer. Our enemies know already why we want the Jews of Palestine armed—and why the British forbid it. We want the Jews of Palestine armed in the sure and certain conviction that, once armed, they will never surrender those arms, save with their lives, either to Hitler's Germans or the British Administration in Palestine. First arms, then land, then freedom ! Yoked for twenty-five years in double harness the end has come. Twenty-five years of what should have been co-operation have been twenty-five years of jealousy, malice and uncharitableness, ending in the mass massacre of the ' Struma.' The British Administration have been too strong for the British Parliament and conscience. The whole Administration, from the top to the Irish police who masquerade as British, arc against the half-million Jews of Palestine. They will never let them have arms, nor land, nor free immigration, nor a refuge, nor a home—never! They don't like Jews. And there are enough Anti-Semites and crypto-Fascists still in Great Britain to back up the Hitler policy and spirit.
Some think it will be all right at the end of the war, that the ' Struma ' and the ' Patria ' and the shootings and concentration camps are all forced upon the British Government to prevent the Arabs making trouble just now. Wishful thinking! The Arabs are an excuse, not a reason. Any change now must involve the whole Administration. They have all a vested interest in proving the Balfour Declaration unworkable, in proving themselves right. There is no longer any hope for any British Administration. The bombs that blew up the ' Struma ' blew too deep a gulf between. It was the logical and inevitable end of a policy. Therefore seek to get your America to act, to press for freedom and justice, to accept the Mandate, to build another free land, with open doors and open hearts. I am speaking to you Stephen Wise and to you Hillel Silver. I have tried to save for my own countrymen the glory of rebuilding Jerusalem, of doing justice, of creating freedom. It is no use; they won't do it. I cannot help it. You must turn to America and must take on the job yourselves. Ask no more from Britain. You make yourselves too cheap. You weary us. We prefer King Ibn Saud and King Farouk, and veils and fezzes and the Middle Ages.
I speak also to you Senator Wagner. You are as devoted to your people as I am to mine. You are as proud of America as I am of England's past. Will you see where lies America's duty? Can you take on the job from our enfeebled hands? The responsibilities of the whole world have lain on our shoulders long enough. It's your turn now. The mantle of Elijah has fallen upon Elisha—not only in Palestine. It is your rendezvous with destiny. And, if it should occur to you to think poorly of the way in which we have acquitted ourselves, if you see too many black pages in our history, reflect that all nations that have ruled have such black pages, but see at the same time in our history, as in America's, that
at least there have always been men to denounce the crimes of their own Government, to seek to right the wrong. You and I, Senator Wagner or Senator Lodge, we may not succeed but we can keep our country's name clean by daring to be in the right with two or three. Then some day even Jews will find justice and respect, perhaps even gratitude. We may all look forward to the day when there will be no leaving it to England or leaving it to America, when, joined in a Federal Union of the Free, the Jews of Palestine may be partners. Then neither isolated America nor isolated England shall be any longer afraid to do its duty.
I have stated there my honest opinions, hoping your Lordships will prove me wrong. I think the Jews of Palestine will not be allowed arms nor to form Home Guards, to defend themselves, or to kill Nazis. You can prove me wrong. You dare not admit me right. I have stated the facts as to the attitude of the Administration towards the Jews. You have made these facts. They are ugly facts—"not a pretty piece of porcelain," as Lord Brabazon said in his speech. Did he expect me to make a pretty piece of porcelain? Politics in 1942 are not so pretty, and the return of the "Struma'' to Hitler's use was not pretty. Anti-Semitism is not pretty. Does Lord Brabazon want to make your Lordships' House a pretty place where, in decent twilight, those who have escaped from responsibility may exchange pretty compliments? A stanza from Mr. Swinburne's "Proserpine":
Here, where the world is quiet
From too much love of living,
From hope and fear set free,
We thank with brief thanksgiving
Whatever gods may be.
Pshaw, not while there is a drop of blood in our veins. Lord Brabazon is now free. He can freely state and adhere to arguments he believes to be sound. I do not think his arguments arc sound, but I am afraid your Lordships might, and therefore I shall not quote them. I can assure Lord Brabazon that the frankness and courage for which he was noted in the Commons will be equally highly appreciated in the Lords, and in any case, to come from the sublime to the homely, let me remind him that dog does not eat dog.
§ No, you do not want things to be pretty. You want them to be honest. Your grievance against me is not what I said, but that I said these things to America, and not here from my place in 184 Parliament. Let me explain. The barrier between us and Americans is that we do not speak of them or to them as though they were Englishmen or Scotsmen, but as though they were foreigners—not with perfect frankness, but with the language of diplomacy, as though we have to make a case, to justify our conduct and our past. If we are going to work with them—ultimately, as I hope, to unite with them—all this '' my country right or wrong stuff "simply exasperates, and I believe it is intended to do so. There are many pages in our history of which we are ashamed. So there are in America's. Decent people in Britain and America are not going to conceal them, slur them over, or defend them. What we can point to, in both countries, is that every crime of government has found men to denounce their own Government, and ultimately to convert public opinion. In that we are almost unique. It is our most glorious tradition. Chatham denouncing the war with the Thirteen Colonies; Burke denouncing the pillage of India; Wilberforce denouncing the slave trade; Ashley Cooper denouncing the factory system; Bright denouncing our support of the South in the Civil War; Mill denouncing the crimes of Governor Eyre—we owe something to these men, all Members of Parliament. We owe just what America owes to Lloyd Garrison, to Lowell, and to Lincoln, and those who in recent days defended, even with humour, as the Lord Chancellor will admit, Sacco and Vanzetti or the Scots-borough negro boys. It is these people who have made our joint united traditions.
I beg your Lordships to approve of one who has done his best to carry on those traditions. Our fame will stand higher in history because one voice was raised in Parliament to denounce and correct the Massacre of Jallianwallah Bagh, or the surrender of the Czechs at Munich, or the return of the "Struma" to Hitler's use, or the refusal of arms and safety to the Jews. The Prime Minister wrote of me:
The distressed of the whole world have learnt to look to him, and through him to Parliament, for a patient hearing and the redress of wrongs. There have been occasions when he and I have differed, but I have never doubted his single-minded pursuit of truth and justice
That is not merely an accolade, an answer to this Foreign Office servant; it
is an encouragement. Is it possible that if I did not exist you would positively have to invent me? I apologize if I am preaching. I only wish you would appoint for the work a suffragan from among the Lords Spiritual—only do not pay him lest he transfers his allegiance to the Foreign Office and the Vatican.
§ Why did I appeal directly to America? Because I am not playing a game, but trying to get arms for the Jews. Why did I tell the Americans the ugly truth? Because I wish to force the hands of the British Foreign Office. It is not enough for our good name to make empty protest. I want results, not the recitation of a litany. We followed up the massacre of Amritsar by the dismissal of General Dyer. We followed up the murder of the Czechs at Munich by hooting Chamberlain out of office. I hope yet to live to see those who sent the "Struma's" cargo back to the Nazis hanged as high as Haman, cheek by jowl with their prototype and Führer. Adolf Hitler. Do noble Lords think, even if it was the only way, it was wrong to tell America? Americans are with us now in the fight against Hitler. How much longer is the farce to continue of measuring out what it is wise to tell those who fight and die beside us? In the words of our Anglo-American Prime Minister, affairs between us are getting a bit mixed up, as the Mississippi, "just rolling along." May they get more mixed and more united, for we must tell each other the truth and learn to trust each other's background and principles.
§ When I spoke to America I did not do so with my tongue in my cheek, and I desire that the Foreign Office and the B.B.C. should also keep the tongue in its proper place. If we do not do our duty by the persecuted Jews in the world I hope that America will. I should prefer that we should make an armed, triumphant Palestine, but if the present aping of Hitler is the best we can do then let America say "Is not there a better way?" My demands are three—permission to the Palestinian Jews to raise and arm Home Guards; the raising of a definitely Jewish Force recruited from any Jews who have or can escape from Hitler; the arming and training to fight of all the Jews now ignominiously serving in the Pioneer Corps. I am told that both Lord Croft and Lord Cranborne are to reply 186 in this debate. Lord Croft was an Imperialist. I and the Jews will get as short shrift from him as did the Spanish Republic. However much we may both love our country the difference between us is profound. He would like to restore the power to dominate; I only want to restore to England the right to hold up her head. Give us a chance to restore our self-respect, to wipe out the black pages of the last twenty-four years, to establish our place in history as fighting for justice even for the despised Jews, which is refused. I beg to move.
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (VISCOUNT CRANBORNE) (Lord Cecil)
My Lords, I should not normally have intervened in this debate at all. For, after all, the question of the arming of the Jews in Palestine, to which the noble Lord's Motion refers, is essentially a military question and it will, as Lord Wedgwood has already said, be replied to at the end of the debate by the noble Lord, Lord Croft. But Lord Wedgwood, both in his speech to-day and in a broadcast which he made last week to America, and from which he has quoted large sections to your Lordships this afternoon, has introduced very much wider issues, and I think about these I must say something. I intend to deal mainly with the broadcast aspect, because it seems to me, if he will forgive my saying so, that was far more reprehensible owing to the fact that it was made to an audience which does not know the noble Lord as well as we do here.
The noble Lord's broadcast to America on this particular question will, I think, be regretted by all his friends. For in it he made a number of charges, entirely unjustifiable in character and unsupported by a shred of evidence, both against His Majesty's Government and against the Colonial Office and against the Palestine Administration and in fact against the country as a whole. I am responsible both for the Colonial Office and for the Palestine Administration, and I cannot allow such charges to go by default. The noble Lord in his broadcast said—he has already quoted the words, but perhaps the House will allow me to quote them again:The British Administration have been too strong for the British Parliament and conscience. The whole Administration, from the top to the Irish Police who masquerade as 187 British, are against the half million Jews of Palestine. They will never let them have arms, nor land, nor free immigration, nor a refuge, nor a home—never ! They do not like Jews, and there are enough Anti-Semites and Crypto-Fascists still in Great Britain to back up the Hitler policy and spirit.That is what the noble Lord said. What is the suggestion behind it? It is somewhat difficult to find out, for, if he will forgive me saying so, anyone who reads it will find the argument rather muddled. But so far as it means anything it means that the British Parliament has approved one policy and the Palestine Administration and Colonial Office have frustrated it—and have frustrated it because—I quote again—there are enough Anti-Semites and Crypto-Fascists still in Great Britain to back up the Hitler policy and spirit.Does the noble Lord really believe that nonsense—does he really believe it?
Does the noble Lord really believe that the devoted civil servants of the Colonial Office and of the Palestine Administration are a sinister gang of Anti-Semite Fascists engaged in carrying out the policy of Hitler? Does he really believe that? Because, if he does harbour such fantastic ideas, I hope he will come and visit me at the Colonial Office and I will introduce him to some of the people there and he will realize how fantastic such an idea is. But not only is it fantastic; it is also wicked to make such statements. If it was merely nonsense of which the noble Lord was guilty it would not really much matter. But in the present situation it is mischievous nonsense and even dangerous nonsense.
The noble Lord was saying this afternoon in his speech that we should all be honest. Is he really himself honest in his own mind about this matter? He tells the American people that I and some of my officials are Fascists, backing up the policy of the enemy. That is the meaning of what he has said if it means anything at all. That is not true and he knows it is not true. Then he goes on to tell them that we are not carrying out the policy approved by Parliament. That also is not true. It is exactly what we are doing, carrying out the policy 188 approved by Parliament. What we are not doing is to carry out the policy approved by the noble Lord himself. If that constitutes Crypto-Fascism, all I can say is the definition would be one very astonishing to both Hitler and Mussolini, as I am sure it is to noble Lords here this afternoon.
Finally—and this is far the worst—he went on deliberately to incite the Jews at a difficult time—and this is a very difficult moment in the history of this country—to put themselves in opposition by armed force to the legally constituted authority in Palestine. I will quote his words. He said:We want the Jews of Palestine armed in the sure and certain conviction that once armed they will never surrender those arms save with their lives either to Hitler's Germany or to the British Administration in Palestine.The noble Lord said this afternoon, or practically said, that it was always right to incite to violence. He took the House a slightly biased gallop over English history and showed how resort to violence always worked and always had been right. That is of course a matter of opinion on which people will take different views. But I really hardly think that anyone would argue that a civil war between Jews and Arabs would be likely to lead to a satisfactory solution of the Palestine problem. In any case, as I understand it, his main complaint against His Majesty's Government is that they have not provided the necessary arms to allow this civil war to take place. That is, he thinks, profoundly unreasonable. Apart from the fact that the premises on which the argument is based have no relation to reality, as I think my noble friend Lord Croft will show, it is surely the oddest argument ever produced in your Lordships' House in any period in its history. Nor can I believe it would appeal to the responsible leaders of Zionism.
At any rate, I understand the noble Lord has now given the English up as a bad job and has turned to the United States. He said in his broadcast, using a Biblical analogy, "The mantle of Elijah has fallen upon Elisha." That in a way is very flattering to this country. For, as the noble Lord knows, Elijah, after a long and very meritorious life, was carried up to Heaven in a chariot of fire. But I do not think anyone would suggest that that 189 great man, during the time he was on earth, ever ran away from his duty; and we do not intend to run away from our duty with regard to Palestine. The noble Lord referred to Palestine as a mantle, sometimes I feel that the Palestine problem is most like a hair shirt, not easy to wear, always uncomfortable and frequently intensely irritating. But we have worn it for a number of years, and we do not intend now to leave it to others. The noble Lord said also in his broadcast, of himself and a number of his friends—I do not know who they are—We can keep our country's name clean by daring to be in the right with two or three.Many of us in this House and outside have long been admirers of the noble Lord's courage and independence. They are splendid qualities. But I do appeal to him, at this very difficult time, not to prostitute them by such reckless statements as he has made on this question. To-day we are fighting for freedom just as much as he is. We are, just as he, champions of the tortured and enslaved people of Europe. To us, as much as to him, the gratitude of Jews, throughout the world should—and no doubt will—be due when the day of victory dawns.
My Lords, I hope that I may be allowed very briefly to answer the noble Viscount in view of the attack made on my noble friend. The noble Viscount admonished my noble friend for what he called his incitements to violence, although my noble friend had very carefully explained that his incitements to violence were incitements to men to think for themselves, to think wisely, and to endeavour to improve their conditions. I hope he will long continue to do so.
If I may be allowed, I will read another extract from the noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood's, broadcast. He said:Give me the men and they can take the land—only the men must be armed.Was that merely an incitement to think wisely and so on?
I was referring to my noble friend's explanation at the beginning of his speech, which I believe Lord Cranborne missed in part The noble Viscount says that if this demand is met to allow the Jews to have their own Home Guard battalions, for example, for 190 the defence of their homes, their lives and their honour, that would lead to civil war between the Jews and the Arabs. That, my Lords, might be taken as a direct incitement to the Arabs to engage in civil war against the Jews, for it is the Arabs who have arms to-day, smuggled in over the frontier, as the noble Viscount knows, and the Jews, who have arms in sealed boxes which they are not allowed to use, nor can they open the boxes without the leave of a superior officer. That is an incitement to violence by the Arabs.
I said the noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood's argument was that he wanted these arms given to the Jews to enable them to take land and his complaint against the Government was that they were not providing the arms for that purpose. I was not going into the Government case. I was only stating the case which the noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood, put to us. As far as illegal arms are concerned, as the noble Lord knows well, there are masses of illegal arms on both sides at the present time.
When the noble Viscount talks of civil war, surely he remembers that we have a great force of troops in Palestine. Surely that argument is absurd and dangerous, which is worse. Unless there is some further explanation from the noble Lord, the Under-Secretary of State for War, when he replies, that argument by the noble Viscount will appear to the anti-British leaders amongst the Arabs as an incitement to them to attack the Jews.
I cannot allow the noble Lord to get away with that. This is what Lord Wedgwood said:Give me the men and they can take the land—only the men must be armed.What does that mean except that they are to take the land from the Arabs? I am only warning the House that, if such a policy were carried out, it would lead to civil war and must lead to civil war. To suggest that armed forces of Jews should take land from the Arabs and not provoke civil war seems perfectly fantastic.
That is not the policy asked for by my noble friend or any one else. What we are asking is that the Jews should have a chance to fight for their lives against Nazi murderers who may come into the country. My 191 noble friend does not accuse Viscount Cranborne of supporting Hitler's policy; there is no decent man of any nation who can do that.
Hitler's policy is one of extermination; ours is one of toleration. If you do not allow the Jews to fight for their country you cause great discouragement. The Arabs have the right to enlist in the British Forces but so far the greater number of those who have come forward in Palestine have been Jews. In proportion to population Jews have come forward far more freely, although many of them must remain to carry on agriculture. But they ought to be allowed to have arms as the Home Guards have in this country, and for the same reason to deal with parachutists or with invaders in case of emergency. This is a serious demand put forward to deal with the actual situation.
Just to give some idea of the strength of this movement in America—and my noble friend Lord Wedgwood was addressing himself to America and not to a British audience—1 would say that there is a very powerful body in America, the American Committee for a Jewish Army, and I would read out the names of a few of the people who support it. The object is to raise an Army of 200,000 Jews to fight on our side, 100,000 from the Middle East and the remainder from other parts of the world. That is apart from normal recruitment for the British or American Armies. I should have thought 200,000 men prepared to fight with courage and even fanaticism would be welcome. Who supports this Committee? Who are these two or three, who are the few fanatics, composing a little minority of people who must not be taken seriously? Let me read out to your Lordships some of the names of these people. There is Mr. William Green, President of the American Federation of Labour, General McGlachlin, General Haynes, a number of senators, including Senator Johnson, Senator Davis, Senator Gillette, Senator Murray, all very active politicians, Colonel Patterson, who commanded the Jewish Legion in the last war, General Hershey, National Director of Selective Service, Colonel Stimson, the American Secretary of War, Colonel Knox, Secretary of the Navy, and Mrs. Roosevelt. These are a few of the people in America who support this movement. These are 192 the two or three fanatics, these are the people who are not realists. I do warn my noble friend the Leader of the House that he must not under-estimate the strength of this movement in America and must give due consideration to it before this suggestion is turned down once more. This movement has spread right across America. It has become a kind of test of our sincerity—and I say this most deliberately—the support which we are prepared to give the Jews by allowing them to serve under arms. Are we going to allow the Jews to form their own legions, as they did in the last war, under their own flag and under their own badges, and fight together as comrades on our side?
This brings me to the purely military question. I will if I may put this suggestion to the Joint Under-Secretary of State for War, Lord Croft. So far, some 12,000 Jewish volunteers have enlisted in the various Services of the Army and the R.A.F. in the Middle East. About 15,000 to 20,000, I am advised by the Jewish authorities, responsible people in the Jewish agency, would probably come forward if the conditions they describe were altered. It will be said that recruitment is dying away, that the numbers of recruits forthcoming are not so great as it was before, that Jews can enter the Pioneer Corps and so on. Well, these are the reasons why more recruits are not immediately forthcoming. I know that this will interest the Under-Secretary of State for War, as he is anxious to get good fighting men. At present the Jewish volunteers serving are dispersed among the Buffs, the R.A.S.C., the R.A.O.C., the R.E. and the R.S.C., but they have no units of their own with Jewish names or any special flags or badges. The suggestion put forward is that the dispersed companies be properly organized into Jewish battalions. It was done in the last war; why not now? Then it is suggested that another 10,000 men be enlisted immediately and together with the 6,000 Jewish supernumerary police now on active service be trained and equipped for war; the whole to be formed into a Jewish fighting force to serve with the British Army in the Middle East. These are suggestions for the local Jews in Palestine. They are quite apart from the proposals of the American Committee to which I have referred, proposals for the raising of a Jewish Army in various parts of the world 193 as well as in Palestine which would, I hope, be equally acceptable.
Dependants' allowances are very unsatisfactory. Complaints about finance and other arrangements are as follows. Separation allowances for Palestinian soldiers are still below British rates, though Jewish standards of life in Palestine are certainly not below British and price levels in Palestine are about the same as in this country. I think that that is an injustice. If they are serving in our uniform and in our Forces, why should not they have the same separation allowances as our soldiers? Special allowances and pensions are not granted. Many of these Palestinian recruits are youngish men who escaped to Palestine with great difficulty and managed also with great difficulty to bring their aged parents out of the hell of Germany. It is unfair that they should not be allowed allowances for their aged and infirm parents. I hope that the noble Lord will look into this matter, and see if something cannot be done to remedy the grievance. My advice is that this is really a matter of great consequence and that if something is done to put it right this will be a great advance to the good. With regard to the Home Guard I have information that there are some 40,000 to 50,000 Jews engaged in agriculture or other vital services in Palestine who cannot be spared for the Regular Army but who could be used for the Home Guard. That is a very large force. They will be men who, if enlisted and called on to fight, will literally be fighting for their very lives, for their families and for everything else that matters to them. Upon this I do trust that we may have a more sympathetic reply from the War Office.
May I turn now to the matter raised by my noble friend Lord Wedgwood, for which he was admonished by the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House? My noble friend Lord Wedgwood attacked the Colonial Administration and he was taken to task for saying that it was too strong for Parliament. My Lords, in the case of Palestine, the bureacracy, as I choose to call it, has been too strong for Parliament. I have followed this matter very closely since 1919, and I say that again and again Parliament and responsible Ministers have found the bureaucracy too strong for them. I have only to quote the sad case of my noble friend the late Lord Passfield, Colonial Minister in a 194 Labour Government. He produced one of the worst schemes for by-passing the Balfour policy.
My Lords, I really cannot accept responsibility for what is done by Labour Governments. But I do say that both the Colonial Office and the Colonial Administration are carrying out the policy approved and passed through Parliament.
Passed through Parliament because the Government of the day put on the Whips, and because there were only a few members who were interested or who were knowledgeable about local conditions. For these reasons the bureaucracy managed to succeed in pushing through this policy which was against the Balfour Declaration, on which we fought the last part of the last war and got a great deal of support in consequence. The principle of the matter is this, and I speak with some knowledge, for I have been to Palestine three times since the last war, I was there before that war and I have kept as closely in touch with this matter as I can. I am proud to have many Jewish friends in whose good faith and in whose reputation I have every confidence. The difficulty is this. Most of your senior officials had their early train-ing in the Crown Colonies, in the Sudan, in West Africa or East Africa, where they dealt with very docile, easily-ruled and easily-led populations. Now the Jews have many qualities, but they are difficult people to handle. They are very argumentative, they ask questions and they have to be convinced that rules, ordinances or pronunciamentos can be justified and are right. Therefore, they try the patience of these officials who have had a much easier task in their younger days when their minds were being formed. They cannot deal with Jews arguing, questioning and raising difficulties, especially when those Jews are of the rather fanatical and vigorous type who have managed to get to Palestine—the pioneering type. People of that sort are not docile. Real pioneers seldom are. The result is that in dealing with them there is need for people who have had experience of the type.
Now in some quarters in the Colonial Service there is quite a tinge of Anti-Semitism. Officials in many cases have become definitely pro-Arab, and there is a coolness towards the Jews even in the 195 Colonial Office itself. The Arabs it is said are such good horsemen, so romantic, such good fighters, and so loyal. They do not want to introduce modern methods and modern machinery; they do not want modern education; they do not question orders and pronunciamentos, because they have had too many years under the Turkish heel to venture to argue and criticize. Anti-Semitic tinge, therefore, becomes only too apparent amongst the bureaucracy in Palestine. I have not said this before. I have taken part in many debates on Palestinian questions and on Zionism in both Houses of Parliament, and I have never before mentioned this fact; but I do it now because of the attack made upon my noble friend, and because I think that he was speaking the exact truth. These people, perhaps against their own will, become Anti-Semitic because of their dealings in Palestine with the Jewish settlers. I dare say that that applies to some of the Army officers as well, and I say that in the presence of the noble Lord, Lord Croft, and I invite him to deny it.
What is the remedy? The remedy is to send much younger men out there, and men with a better training and a better mental outlook, to deal with an admittedly most difficult problem. I hope that my noble friend Lord Wedgwood will stick to his guns on this question. I hope that he will be ready to broadcast again, and that if necessary he will go to America and say there some of the things which he has said here. I am proud to be associated with him on this question, and I support him through thick and thin.
§ LORD MOYNE
My Lords, the defence of the noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood, by the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, resolves itself into the excuse that Lord Wedgwood did not mean what he said. Anybody who heard the broadcast which Lord Wedgwood read out must attach the ordinary meaning to the language, and interpret it as a direct incitement to the Jews of Palestine to seize political domination and the land from the present inhabitants. I am always amazed at the attitude of Lord Wedgwood. He boasts of his patriotism and he parades his love of England, and I cannot see how he can reconcile himself to the role of abusing and libelling his own country and his own countrymen. The noble Lord is a peculiar type of Englishman who is at once the 196 delight of our enemies and the despair of his friends.
What has happened on this question? The noble Lord, Lord Melchett, had a Motion down for discussion in this House on the necessity of arming the Jews of Palestine; but as soon as the noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood, made his broadcast, Lord Melchett withdrew it. The Government have already explained what has been done to arm the Jews for the legitimate purpose of self-defence, and we shall no doubt hear from the noble Lord, Lord Croft, to-day how that process has continued in the last few weeks; but is it not clear that Lord Melchett and the responsible leaders of the Jews in this country generally seek to be saved from Lord Wedgwood in his attempt to make political capital out of the natural desire of the Jews to do their utmost to defend the cause of freedom against Nazi tyranny?
The noble Lord who defended Lord Wedgwood tried to twist Lord Cranborne's criticism of an incitement to violence in Palestine into a suggestion that the Government were opposed to the very influential movement in America for the organization of a great force of Jews to fight for freedom. The two subjects have really no connexion. There has been not a word of opposition voiced to this proposal from America. I want to come back, however, to Lord Wedgwood's incitement to Zionists to seize the land of Palestine. In considering this treasonable appeal to the Jews to levy war on their own legal Government it is, of course, reasonable to consider whether the Jews have, as the noble Lord suggested, any well-founded complaint against the administration of the Palestine Mandate. The Zionist claim has raised two burning issues: firstly, the demand for large-scale immigration into an already overcrowded country, and, secondly, racial domination by these newcomers over the original inhabitants.
In 1922, when the present Prime Minister was Colonial Secretary, he issued a statement on British policy in Palestine which is very much to the point in regard to the Jewish claim to political domination and the swamping of the Arab population by immigration to-day. Mr. Churchill stated that His Majesty's Government had not at any time contemplated the subordination of the Arabic population, language 197 or culture in Palestine. Attention was further drawn to the fact that the terms of the Balfour Declaration do not contemplate that Palestine as a whole should be converted into a Jewish National Home, but that such a Home should be founded in Palestine. It was also laid down that immigration cannot be so great in volume as to exceed whatever may be the economic capacity of the country at the time to absorb new arrivals. "It is essential," the statement went on, "to ensure that the immigration should not be a burden on the people of Palestine as a whole." It was stated that up to that time immigration had fulfilled these conditions, the number of immigrants since the British occupation having been about 25,000.
Your Lordships should bear in mind that figure of 25,000 immigrants, which Mr. Churchill considered reasonable for the four years after the end of the last war, and compare that with the demand, backed by the noble Lord, for bringing in 3,000,000 Jews immediately after this war to swamp the population of Palestine. The inhabitants of that small country—about the size of Wales, but much less fertile—are already threatened with conditions of grave congestion. At the present rate of increase, the Arab population will double within twenty-seven years. All the fertile soil is not only occupied but very closely cultivated. At the end of the last war, the Jewish community numbered 80,000. It now numbers about 450,000; and yet the Zionist Organization have indignantly refused the terms of the White Paper, under which further immigration should be allowed up to another 75,000 in five years. They have also rejected the proposal 1o co-operate in a Joint Government by taking over responsibility for certain departments in proportion to the respective populations, as they claim not merely equal citizenship but political ascendency.
There is certainly no basis for these demands under the Mandate. There is no question of this country having broken faith. The Mandate obliges the Mandatory to ensure that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced. Over and over again Commissions and White Papers have expressed the opinion that neither the Mandate nor the Balfour Declaration intended Palestine to be converted into a Jewish State against 198 the will of the Arab population. The tragedy of the Palestinian question is, as was said by the Royal Commission, that it is a conflict between two rights. When Jerusalem was destroyed and its site ploughed up in the year 135 A.D., the Jews had occupied the country for about 1,300 years. Since the Mahomedan invasion of 632 the Arabs have occupied Palestine for practically the same period. To these Arabs the Jews are not only alien in culture but also in blood. It is very often loosely said that Jews are Semites, but anthropologists tell us that, pure as they have kept their culture, the Jewish race has been much mixed with Gentiles since the beginning of the Diaspora. During the Babylonian captivity they acquired a strong Hittite admixture, and it is obvious that the Armenoid features which are still found among the Sephardim have been bred out of the Ashkenazim by an admixture of Slav blood.
The Zionist movement has its main spring among those Jews of Poland and Eastern Europe. Their leaders demand that an already overcrowded Palestine should be trebled in its population by the admixture of another three million Jews immediately after the war. Now it is not a matter of putting a quart into a pint pot, it is a matter of putting exactly three pints into a pint pot. Successive inquiries have shown that immigration on this scale would be a disastrous mistake, and is indeed an impracticable dream. A far smaller measure of immigration led to the Palestine disturbances which lasted from 1936 to 1939, and showed that the Arabs, who have lived and buried their dead for fifty generations in Palestine, will not willingly surrender their land and self-government to the Jews. We may deplore it, but there is the stark naked fact, and you cannot get away from it by sentimental appeals to the hardship on the Jews. This country is responsible for law and order in Palestine, and we cannot possibly wash our hands of the country and let Jews and Arabs wage a civil war, as suggested by Lord Wedgwood.
But Lord Wedgwood's effort has a far greater power of mischief in being addressed to America. It must surely have a deplorable effect upon our Allies to be told by an ex-Cabinet Minister that the Palestine Administration do not like Jews, and that there are enough Anti-Semites 199 in Great Britain to back up the Hitler policy and spirit. This suggestion is a complete reversal of the truth. If a comparison is to be made with the Nazis it is surely those who wish to force an imported régime upon the Arab population who are guilty of the spirit of aggression and domination. Lord Wedgwood's proposal that Arabs should be subjugated by force to a Jewish régime is inconsistent with the Atlantic Charter, and that ought to be told to America. The second principle of that Charter lays down that the United States and ourselves desire to see no territorial changes that do not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the peoples concerned; and the third principle lays down that they respect the right of all peoples to choose the form of Government under which they will live.
Surely it is time for the Zionists to abandon this appeal to force, and to seek a settlement with the Arabs by consent. The Zionist leaders expect about 7,000,000 Jews to be surviving in Eastern Europe at the end of the war, and they reject the policy of re-establishing Jewish communities under civilized conditions in Europe. They apparently expect the loss of half this number if the other half can get control of Palestine. The war will end with the heavy problem of trying to resettle these most pitiable victims of Nazi abominations. Millions of people cannot be left indefinitely the objects of charity in refugee camps. A merciful settlement must be a quick settlement. We ought, therefore, to look at once in all directions to find means to re-establish these martyrs to Nazi oppression in a new life. The Zionists look only to Palestine. On May 25, at the annual dinner of the Anglo-American Palestine Committee, Dr. Weizmann again declared that Palestine alone could absorb and provide for the homeless and Stateless Jews uprooted by the war. It is to canalize all the sympathy of the world for the martyrdom of the Jews that the Zionists reject all schemes to re-settle these victims elsewhere—in Germany, or Poland, or in sparsely populated regions such as Madagascar.
But even in their wish to occupy the pre-Christian home of the Jewish race, the Zionists are far too narrow in their outlook. Palestine itself is but a small fraction of the ancient land of Syria. I do not believe that the problem of overcrowding applies to Syria and the Lebanon and 200 Transjordan as it does to Palestine. It would be physically possible for those States, if they were willing, to absorb large numbers of Jews to mutual advantage, and without any threat to their own political independence. If the fear of Jewish domination could be removed they might indeed be glad to welcome the Jewish immigrants, with their well-known industry and intelligence and with their capital. So far as I know, no effort has been made to explore these possibilities, and we ought surely, without waiting for the peace, to see how far the regions to the north of Palestine can offer asylum for the Jewish immigration, within the old limits of historic Syria. I hope the Government will give serious consideration to the possibility of negotiations with the neighbouring States of the Levant to take part in re-settling the Jews. It is obvious that the fear of political domination by immigrant Jews will be decreased if they can be spread over a wider area and shared among different Administrations. A Federation of the Northern Arab States might well assist such a solution, but federation may be long in coming, and we ought at once to discuss with the Governments concerned to what extent and under what conditions they could admit Jewish immigration without swamping their own nationalities and independence.
I trust that the revelations in Lord Wedgwood's broadcast will have finished once and for all with the idea of arming the Jews in such a way as would encourage the attempt to seize the land of Palestine. This is quite a different matter from legitimate arming in their own defence, and I think it is hardly necessary for the Government to assure the Arabs that they would not be a party to such an assault upon their rights as has been suggested. But I hope there will be no mistake in America that Lord Wedgwood is speaking only for himself in the suggestion that we ought to give up the Palestine Mandate to the United States, in the hope and expectation that she would repudiate our binding obligations. It seems to me the broadcast of Lord Wedgwood is most of all deplorable because the salvation of civilization depends primarily upon a good understanding between us and the United States. All through his broadcast runs the suggestion that we are not only unjust but feeble and incompetent. I can imagine no greater disservice than to have planted such suspicions 201 in the minds of millions of American listeners. How are we to plan the peace if British spokesmen are to sow distrust and contempt in the minds of our Allies?
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I had not intended to intervene in this debate, but owing to the course that the debate has taken my colleagues have asked me to say a few words that will explain their position and the position of the second largest Party in the State which they represent. The issue that has been discussed to-day is one of very great public importance, and no doubt it will be widely reported in the Press of this country and probably also in the Press of the United States. We are always glad to hear the opinions of our colleagues freely expressed on any subject because that is one of the most essential traditions of your Lordships' House. At the same time it ought to be made perfectly clear that the Labour Party in no manner or degree support the views expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood, in his broadcast or in the remarks which he addressed to your Lordships this afternoon. The Labour Party cannot support any policy which would lead to the probability, as the noble Lord opposite has pointed out, of a civil war in any part of our Colonial Empire at a most critical moment in the struggle in which we are engaged.
§ THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (LORD CROFT)
My Lords, it will not be expected that I should follow along the very interesting lines developed in some of the speeches, especially from the point of view of the future settlement and administration of Palestine. The question which has been addressed to the Government by my noble friend Lord Wedgwood deals specifically with the arming of the Jews in Palestine. I shall shortly give him an answer on that point. I must, however, express my very sincere regret that in advancing his case he has used arguments which appear to me to be so harmful in their application to the very cause he has so much at heart. They are arguments which have caused a great deal of distress among all of us who desire, above even/thing else, to see that there should be not one shred of misunderstanding between the great Democracy across the Atlantic and ourselves, and 202 also arguments which must have caused distress to those who are really working for Jewish rights in Palestine because, from all I imagine in reading the noble Lord's broadcast and hearing his speech to-day, they must be saying, "Heaven save us from our friends." I am going to deal with the specific question, which refers to the organization of the Jews in Palestine in order to take part in the war. There was one point to which the noble Lord referred at the end of his speech on which I was not quite clear. He mentioned the case of the Pioneers.
§ LORD CROFT
I am grateful to the noble Lord. That is what was not clear. Very early in the war a considerable number of those unfortunate people who are nationals of enemy countries, and found themselves fleeing to the safety of this country, were very desirous of wearing uniform in the fight against the savage and evil men who are in temporary control of their Fatherlands. From a very early date we showed our readiness, and indeed keenness, to include all such within His Majesty's Forces—all who supported our cause, when that was proved beyond doubt, and who were physically fit to come within the machinery of the Army. They have been, and are in increasing measure, doing most valuable work in the Corps which is known as the Pioneers and which, for some extraordinary reason, the noble Lord appears to think is not worthy of an equal place alongside other regiments. When specially qualified they are transferred to other arms and fulfil vital roles in the general Army machine. I assure my noble friend that we have always considered what is the wisest and best policy. It must be remembered that we had to treat all these cases from the very start as nationals of enemy origin and not as Jews. It was not, as the noble Lord realizes, a Jewish question at all. He knows very well that every Jewish national in this country has the same rights and privileges, the same duties and responsibilities, and enters the Army on exactly the same terms as other citizens. He knows that there is no discrimination.
§ LORD WEDGWOOD
Surely if their parents were not British subjects, they have not got the same rights?
§ LORD CROFT
That has nothing to do with the fact that they are Jews. That applies to all citizens of enemy origin.
§ LORD WEDGWOOD
I am referring to cases where their fathers were born abroad—they have not got equal rights.
§ LORD CROFT
In the particular point the noble Lord is raising, he is referring to the case of all those who are of enemy origin and whose parents may be in this country. He knows that every single case can be examined on its merits, and steps are taken, wherever possible, to assimilate these unfortunate people in our war effort. I do not think your Lordships would want me to deal at any length with the various types of such nationals coming to this country. I can only assure the noble Lord that there is no prejudice whatever. If anybody suggests there has been any Anti-Semitic feeling in the Army, such as he did, and as the noble Lord behind him did——
§ LORD CROFT
Your Lordships will agree that it is deplorable to suggest such a thing in this country. It is the one country in the whole world which can, I think, look mankind in the face in regard to this matter, for we have opened our arms to them. I am not going to say anything further upon that except that we have wanted to give them all the consideration that we give to our own citizens. I want to come to the question of recruiting in Palestine. Recruiting of Palestinians was started at the very beginning of the war, and we brought them into arms other than infantry and Royal Artillery to complete establishment of units stationed in Palestine, and in addition to raise Palestinian Auxiliary Military Pioneer Companies. Experience proved that dilution was not a success, and those enlisted have been transferred into fully Palestinian units. We endeavoured to work at a Jewish and Arab co-operation in units, but since the middle of 1940 we have largely formed different units of Jews and Arabs, although we strictly keep to the term Palestinian. In addition to enlisting those with full Palestinian citizenship, which can be obtained after two years' residence in that country, we do now enlist refugees—that is, those who still retain their 204 original nationality, and among the Jews enlisted there is a very high proportion of Germans.
In a debate on May 20 Lord Wedgwood said in this House:Jews … are only allowed in Pioneer companies—a degrading form of service for people who wish to risk their lives.Further on he said:… but they are not allowed to have arms. Those who get arms are put in gaol.These really are outstanding misstatements. We have already formed Palestinian units of the following types: Infantry companies (of which there are sixteen all fully armed fighting soldiers), Pioneer companies (all in the process of being armed)——
§ LORD CROFT
They are all being armed and trained to fight as the weapons become available. In addition to those I have already named we have formed Light Anti-Aircraft batteries, Artizan Works Companies R.E., Port Operating Companies R.E., General Transport Companies R.A.S.C., Docks Stores Section R.E., Electrical and Mechanical Section R.E. Those are the facts. These Forces are open to all who desire to fight Hitler, but none of them, I must say, are yet completely full. We would welcome any recruits who wish to come forward. Originally we provided British officers and non-commissioned officers down to sergeants inclusive, but the present policy is to replace the British officers by Palestinians as and when suitable trained personnel becomes available. This process of replacement has already begun. These companies are used for aerodrome protection—a very vital task, as your Lordships have frequently reminded us—and other static defence duties, exceptions being the original Pioneer Company about 600 strong which went to France, and when Pioneers were much needed in Cyrenaica units were used there. Another unit was used in Greece and it suffered severe casualties. It was armed up to 25 per cent. of its personnel, as was the case with all the Pioneer units in the 205 whole of the British Army; at that time, owing to the shortage of rifles, they could not be more fully armed. We are now in process of arming all Pioneer companies 100 per cent., instead of 25 per cent., as heretofore.
§ LORD CROFT
Yes, everywhere. The units arc enlisted for the defence of Palestine, and as a general policy we deprecate their being used outside. With regard to future policy, owing to the great expansion of mechanical transport in the Middle East and shortage of drivers from the United Kingdom, we are speeding up our recruitment of Palestinian drivers. We have enlisted 1,000 who had civil driving knowledge, and we are now proceeding to train drivers and aim at enlisting 400 a month, but recruiting figures so far have fallen considerably short of this number. With regard to the suggestion of raising separate Jewish formations, even before Dunkirk there was no equipment available for any but existing formations, which were fully trained, and after Dunkirk the position was for a long time very much more serious.
Of course our production of equipment has since improved immeasurably, but if our supplies have increased so also have the demands upon them. Not only have India, the Dominions and our Allies been training and equipping an ever-growing number of troops, but with the extension of the war into the Far East demands for the completion of their equipment have increased greatly in urgency. At this stage in the war we should not be justified in diverting supplies of arms from bodies of troops all over the world that are already formed, and in large part trained, and only waiting to be equipped before taking the field against the enemy. If we were now to start forming and training independent Palestinian formations we could find weapons for them only at the expense of other already existing formations. The suggestion has also been made—I think it was mentioned again to-day—that Palestinian recruits should be brought from the United States of America; but I think your Lordships will agree that in view of our shipping difficulties, which have been so greatly aggravated by the war in the Far East, it would be uneconomic to take untrained men from the United States to Palestine 206 even if that policy were considered wholly advantageous at the present moment.
Would the noble Lord mind making it clear about the arms difficulties? I appreciate that there is a difficulty there, but if you take the Jewish soldiers from existing units and put them into a separate unit you do not increase the demand on the arms. You move men from a number of scattered units into one central unit. That is what was meant.
§ LORD CROFT
I quite agree that if you take men from one battalion under a certain name and transfer them to another similar organization it does not alter the arms position, but that is not the point with which I was dealing. The point with which I was dealing is that we have the greatest difficulty in providing all the arms and equipment we require. The position now is very much better in Palestine, but if you talk about big formations where you want large subsidiary armaments it is quite a different matter. But there is still a shortage. The point I want to put is that this Force—I never quite understand why they are belittled in the way they are—is really quite substantial even in numbers, and is doing very effective work in Palestine at the present time.
The noble Lord has also complained of the absence of the Home Guard in Palestine. I want to assure him that here we really are greatly comforted by the existence of the Jewish Settlement Police, the Special Constabulary and Temporary Additional Police who, no one doubts who knows anything about their training, their character and record, would fight to the death in defence of their homes and families. These police fulfil a very similar function to the Home Guard in this country. There are over 16,000 of them in the Jewish Special Police and that is as high a proportion of the Jewish population as the Home Guard is compared to the population of this country. That is very remarkable and shows that it is a very substantial contribution.
§ LORD CROFT
I am glad to say that all the Settlement police are now armed and the other police are being trained from time to time as the number of instructors is increased and arms become available. The idea is that they should 207 be used in very much the same capacity as the Home Guard in this country.
There is one other thing I should like to say before I sit down, arising out of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi. There seems to be an idea that there is a very great field for recruitment in Palestine. We must not exaggerate that. The present Palestinian Force is quite considerable. I do not want to give exact numbers, but the figures I have given your Lordships show that Palestine is making a very substantial contribution. I do not know how many males there are between eighteen and fifty years of age in Palestine, but the contribution is very substantial when you take into account the very large proportion of the population engaged in vital agricultural work, in essential work at ports and docks and in military works throughout the country. Any attempt to bring in more men would have no great results. You could probably only do it by conscription. It must be realized that there are not a great many people still available who are not already doing essential work.
§ VISCOUNT SAMUEL
May I be allowed to interrupt for a moment? The noble Lord's use of the word "conscription" might be misunderstood. I take it that he did not mean to imply that conscription is contemplated by the Government. It is specifically prohibited by the terms of the Mandate.
§ LORD CROFT
I am well aware that that is so. I only intended to point out that even if you had powers of conscription it is doubtful whether you would get any large numbers in addition to those in the Forces I have enumerated and in the police forces. I think I have said enough to show that it is not the fact that we are preventing Jews in Palestine from joining the Forces. If they really want to fight Hitler, I say let them come along, because we have still vacancies. It is not correct to say that we are not arming them or that we are putting them in gaol if they have arms, because most of the units I have enumerated are either armed or in process of being armed. My belief is that this force is going to be very effective. I am proud to be co-operating with it, and I feel that it is an ill-service to the cause of our country and Palestine to suggest that we are not ready to co-operate.
§ LORD WEDGWOOD
My Lords, I should like to say a few words before withdrawing my Motion and to thank the noble Lord, Lord Croft, and Lord Moyne, and indeed the Leader of the House. They are on the opposite side to me—they always have been and probably always will be—but in this country we still preserve the right to reason and still allow both sides to be heard even in the hearing of America. Perhaps it may have a good effect in that country to know that in your Lordships' House we still preserve the right to tell the truth and to listen peaceably to arguments. Of course the noble Lord, Lord Moyne, has been Secretary of State for the Colonies, and the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, who is not here, Viscount Swinton and others who have been Secretaries for the Colonies, have always carried on the same policy. They are responsible for the facts I have given. They may not like them being given to America, but that does not affect the truth. I have learnt a certain amount from the noble Lord who has just spoken. Evidently there is a beginning in connexion with the Home Guard. I presume that none of these people are paid, that their service is voluntary just as in the case of the Home Guard here with possible payment for expenses. Perhaps that is a matter for the Colonial Office and not the War Office.
§ LORD WEDGWOOD
I shall be glad of the information. With regard to women, I understand that they have been recruited into the A.T.S. and are doing useful work. I mentioned that because here, while Jewish women are allowed in the A.T.S., they are not allowed in the W.A.A.F. or the W.R.N.S.
§ LORD WEDGWOOD
Yes, women are excluded but alien male Jews are also excluded from the Home Guard, although they are allowed to take part in the other voluntary services. The noble Lord will remember that the Prime Minister talked 209 about defending London street by street. The defence of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem is equally dear to the Jewish people as the defence of London is to the people of this country. I should like to know whether under the system we have been told about they arc in a position to take part in defending these towns. Such defence of towns is more obstructive to the invader than any other form of defence.
So far as this country is concerned, Jewish Pioneer Corps are not trained to use arms at present. I should like to know whether when they get arms they will, receive military training. If you arc going to say that the Pioneer Corps shall be used solely for making roads or demolition and work of that sort, it comes perilously near to Hitler's forced labour, the forced employment of French prisoners and others. It is obvious that these people who are spoiling to risk their lives ought to have just as good a chance to serve and ought to be trained to fight in the same way as any ordinary regiment. They should have the right to change from a Pioneer Corps to a regular regiment so that they may take a more active part. These people' have more reason to fight Hitler than anyone else. I do not think that we ought to continue the, exclusive privilege of the British to die in defence of liberty. I think that the more we allow the Jews or the coloured races to take part side by side with us, face the same risks and survive the same dangers, the more we shall create that brotherhood and commonwealth which will provide our only chance of securing a successful and enduring peace.
Before I sit down there is one other point which I would like to make clear. Lord Croft disagreed as to the vital interests that the Jews of the world have in getting a Jewish unit of their own. I see better why the Jews want such a Force. Other peoples have their own Free Forces. There is the Free French movement, the Free Danish movement, the Czech Army, the Poles and the Greeks. The Jews want in like manner their own units fighting in this war with us. A time will come when a peace conference will be held, at Washington presumably; then those who fought will have a voice, will be allowed a place at the table, and will ultimately secure their freedom. If it had not been for the formation of all those free and independent Forces, there would not have been such 210 a demand for the Jewish Force as there is universally to-day. It is because of these other Forces and because of their feeling of helplessness that they are saying: For God's sake give us our own Army, if only a few regiments or a brigade. Let us wear the badge of David on our shoulders and have some outward and visible sign that the Jews as a nation are interested in this war." I think that they will continue to make that demand. We might remember that in the last war there were three regiments (or was it a brigade?) purely Jewish, and they wore the shield of David on their shoulder. They fought in Palestine for their own land, and what they had in the last war they might surely, have in this war also.
Those arc the three things which I wished to get from the noble Lord, Lord Croft, as a result of this debate. I want information as to the formation of Home Guard units at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem so that those places will be resolutely defended whatever happens. I want to see that the Jewish Pioneers in this country are receiving their due quota of rifles and military training. I want to see that there is a Jewish Army, however small, on parallel lines to those of the other free countries that are fighting jointly with us for freedom. May I say in conclusion that I have not the slightest objection to the hard words that noble Lords opposite or the noble Lord beside me said about me? They have got to do it here. It is part of their unpleasant job in this life.
§ LORD WEDGWOOD
They have got their horrid pasts to defend, and I, am the natural rock upon which they fall. I know that they will go on doing their best to win the war. I too shall go on doing my best to win the war. Our ways do not always agree, but let us hope that they will eventually meet with united success. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.