Plaestine was part of Ottman Empire for several centuries. The province has a largely Arab population. Zionism was founded in Europe during the 19th century and promoted emmigration to Palestine with the purpose of founding a Jewish homeland. The Ottomons permited small-scale Jewish emmigration. The Ottomans joined the Central Powers in World War I seeking to regain lost territory in the Balkans. As part of the operations of the Arab Army and Col T.H. Lawrence and a 1917 Britih offensive under Allenby, Palestine fell. After the War, the British administered Palestine under a League of Nations trusteeship. The British saw Palestine as a potentially valuable assett in the defense of Suez. Yhis proved to be the case when war came. The Arab population was restive, but the British used Palestine as a staging area for operations against pro-MAZI elements in Iraq and Vichy authorities in Syria. Securing Iraq with its important oil resource was vital for the defense of Suez. The rise of Fascism in Europe encouraged many Jews to seek refugee and strengthened the Zionist movement. The British attempted to restrict Jewish immmigration. The expanding Jewish population also resulted in growing anti-Semitism among the Palestinians. This had opposition to British colonial rule caused many Palestinians to sympethize and seek support from the NAZIs.
Palestine in the mid-19th century when Jreish writers began conceiving pf returning was a province of the declining Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Turks conquered Palestine (1516). Local governors appointed by the Ottomans collected revenues which was forwarded to Constntinople. Thee Ottomans promoted important public works. Suleiman the Magnificent rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem (1537). The Druse attenpted to establish their own state in northern Palestine during the early Ottoman era. Napoleon conducted one of his earliest campaigns in the Middle East, seizing Cairo and areas in Palestine (1798). He took Jaffa, Ramle, Lydda, Nazareth and Tiberias, but wa unable to take Acre. A Royal Navy squadron under Nelson destoyed the French fleet and made Napoleon's position untenable. Mehemet Ali of Egypt seized Palestine from the Ottomans. His son Ibrahim Pasha leading Egyptian troops took Acre (1831). The local Palestinian population revolted (1834). After considerableturmoil, the Ottomans regained control of Palestine (1840). The Palestinian Arab population played a role in the political reforms seeking to modernize the Ottoman Empire (1876 and 1908). Ottoman Palestine consisted of two administrative areas. There was the autnomous Sanjak (district) of Jerusalem which was subject to the High Porte in Constantinople. The Sanjak included an area from Jaffa to the River Jordan in the East and from the Jordan south to the borders of Egypt. The other area was part of the Willayat (province) of Beirut. This part was composed of the Sanjak of Balka (Nablus) from Jaffa to Jenin, and the Sanjak of Acre, which extended from Jenin to Naqura. Palestiniaqn Arabs had many important political and military posts under Ottoman rule. The Ottoman Empire was evolving in the late 19th century abd the plitical reforms resulted in a constitution and parliment. There were Arab representatives in the Parliament. In the first Parliament, the President of the Council of the House of Representatives was a Jerusalem Deputy , Yusif Dia Pasha Al Khalidi. The administration of Arab territories was entrusted to elected Administrative Councils. Those Councils were elected and existed in the provinces, districts, and sub-districts. Those Councils were vested with extensive powers in administration, finance, education, and development. The Ottoman Empire was, however, by the 19th century politically unstable. While the Empire was controlled by Turks, they were a minority within the Empire which included large number of Balkan Christians, Armenians, and Arabs. The Young Turks that seized control of the Government were not about to relinquish control to non-Turkish groups. Palestine remained under Ottoman rule until World War I. It is difficut to know the political attitudes of Palestinians to Ottoman rule. It was from the desert tribes, supported by the British, however, that effective resistace to Ottoman rule came after the Ottomans entered the War on the side of the Central Powers.
The Koran and Jews
Zionism was founded in Europe during the 19th century and promoted emmigration to Palestine with the purpose of founding a Jewish homeland. It was both a political and cultural movement. At first it acquired few adhereents in Western European countries like England and France where Jews were able to assimilate and achieve civil and legal rights. Much of the emphasis for the movement came from Eastern Europe. The first World Zionist Congress was convened by Theodor Herzel (1897). The Ottomons permited small-scale Jewish emmigration. Many Zionists were socialists. Early Jewish immigrants founded kibbutzes or collective farms.
The Ottomans joined the Cetral Powers in World War I seeking to regain lost territory in the Balkans. The British were very concerne in 1917 as the Tsar's regime was about to fall freeing a huge German force to shift to the Western front. The British were desperate to bring America into the War. The Balfour Declaration (1917) was designed to appeal to American Jews. Lord Balfour was British Foreign Secretary and his declaration stated, "HM's Government views with favour the establishment in Palestne of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their bestendeavours to facilitate the achivement of this object." It was timed to support an offensive by General Allenby from Egypt whose forced included a Jewish contingent. [Porch, p. 21.] The groundwork for Allenvy's offensive was laid by the operations of the Arab Army and Col T.H. Lawrence. Allenby's offensive seized Palestine and eventually reavhed Damascus.
After World War I, Feisal who would become King of first Syria and then Iraq, proposed to the Zionist leader Chaim Weizman, a mutual partnership in developing a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Arabs leaders subsequently rejected this understanding, clasiming that the Allies had not met their commitment to the Feisal's father Sherif Hussein. Arabs mobs conducted the first major anti-Jewish riots in Palestine (1920). The British introduced Western legal concepts to Palestine. One of the actions taken was abolishing “dhimmitude”.Under this system, non-Muslim dhimmis lived in a system of institutionalised subgegation. Political rights were denied to all but Muslims. Changing this system was a major concern of Palestianiansand other Arabs. As the number of Zionist immigrants increased and the area of land expanded, conflicts began to develop with the Arabs. Here Haj Amin el-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, played a central role. Both sides blamed the other as scattered acts of viloence occurred. There were more Arabs attacks on Jewish settlements than Jewish attacks, but there were viloence perpetrated by both sides. The worst attack occurred at Hebron where Arabs massacred 69 Jews (1929). With Jews being murdered by Arabs, David Ben-Guruon organized the Hagana--the Jewish Defense Force. The Hagana began military training in secret. The British tried to defuse the situation, arresting both Arabbs and Jews and confiscating weapons. Jews claimed that because of the importance of the Arabs in British colonial policy, that the British generally favored the Arabs. Here we are not sure, but it is a topic we need to persue. Even a neutral polic, however, favored the Arabs. Palestine was suronded by Arab states or colonies to become Arab states. Thus if the Jews in Paestine had no weapons they would be defenless if the neighboring Arab states invaded. The "Arab Revolt" led by the Grand Mufti targetted both the British and the Jews (1936-39).
Jews organized the Jewish Agency to promote their interests in British Palestine.
Haj Amin el-Husseini had been an officer in the Ottoman Army. He turned to school teaching. The British sentenced him to 10 years of prison for fomenting anti-Jewish riots (1920). After his election to Grand Mufti of Jerulselum under suspicious circumstances he was bardoned by British High Commissioner Sir Herbert Sammuels. Until Husseini the Grand Mufti was a Koranic scholar, he turned the post into a political platform Husseini became a strident spokesmen against British rule and virulent anti-Semitism. He set up hit squads to attack both political opponents and isolated Jewish settlements. [Porch, p. 22.] The Palestinians Arabs have a notable record of choosing poor leaders and backing failed foreign groups (Hitler, the Soviets, and Saddam). This uneviable record began with Husseini. Reduced Jewish immigration in the 1920s, the rise of the National Party, and a new British administration caused a reversal of Husseini's fortunes. Renewed Jewish immigration because of the rise of Fascism in Europe resulted in renwed friction between the Arabs and Jews.
The Jerusalem Grand Mufti Haj Amin el-Husseini helped inspire riots and disorders throughout Palestine (April 1936). Six prominent Arab leaders formed the Arab High Command to to protest Zionist activities, especially land purchases and immigration. The Arab High Command organized a general strike of Arab workers and a boycott of Jewish products (April 1936). Soon the initial peaceful actions escalated into attacks on Jews as well as the British authorities. Riots occured in Jerusalem and other cities . These dusorders, seen as the first stage of the "Arab Revolt" continued until November, 1936. Another stage of disorders began in September, 1937. The cause was the Peel Commission which suggested the partition of Palestine. The second stahe was much more violent. There were more intense fifgting with British forces as well as attacks on more Jewish settlements. The British were hard pressed at the time and actually authorized the arming of the Haganah. The British and the Haganah worked togrther. Effecive operations were organized by Charles Orde Wingate who later became famous in Burma. Wingate established Special Night Squads of Jewish volunteers. The British sucessfully defeated the Arab Revolt. Husseini was able to find refuge in Iraq. The British government cocerned about the British position in the Arab world sought to apease Arab opinion with the 1939 White Paper.
NAZI diplomacy with its anti-British and anti-Semitic approached appealed to the Arabs. Here they met considerable sympathy both because of rising anti-Semitism and opposition to British colonialism. The British attempted to counter this by issuing a White Paper before the War began withdrrawing their support for a Jewish homeland. Palestine's location closed to the Suez Canal made it a possession of some strategic importance. As Europe moved toward war, the British Governent organized a conference of Arabs and Jews to discuss the future of Palestine and difuse the disorders that broke out with the Arab revolt. The meeting became known as the St. James or Round Table Conference of 1939. The British attempted to bring together Arab and Jewish representatives. The Jews were represented by the Jewish Agency (Zionist and non-Zionist groups) led by Chaim Weizmann. The Arabs delegation was led by the Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, but the delegation included the more moderate party of the well-known al-Nashashibi family. The Arab delegation included non-Palestinian Aranbs (Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Transjordan, and Yemen). The Conference did not go well. Al-Husseini refused to even meet with the Jewish representatives. The resulting British White Paper was crafted to help reverse increasing Arab sympathy with the NAZIs (1939). The Jewish Agency in Palestine rejected the White Paper and charged that it was a deninal of the Balfour Declaration as well as Britain's responsibilities under the League of Nations Mandate. The Jews were especially concerned about the British decession to permanently restrict Jewish immigration, at a time when Jews were being brutalized by the NAZIs and Fasist forces in other European countries.
The NAZI's and Soviets invaded Poland launching World War II (September 1939). David Ben-Gurion acting as chairman of the Jewish Agency which objected strnously to the British White paper announced, "We shall fight the war against Hitler as if there were no White Paper, and we shall fight the White Paper as if there were no war." Many Jews in Palestine had relations in Poland and other Eastern European countries and with the NAZI and Soviet occupation of Poland, great concern understandablhy developed for their relatives. The War at first, however, seemed remote from Palestine. Both the British and French fleets stood between Palestine and the NAZIs. The fall of France and Italy's entrance in the War radically changed the strategic balance. And Palestine located just east of Suez and Egypt (a major Axis target) and south of Syria and Lebanon (Vichy colonies) found itself propelled from a backater to the front lines of the War.
Winston Churchill became Prime Minister (May 1940). Churchill had been sympathetic to the Zionist cause. The Jewish Agency hoped that the limits on immigration based on the White Paper to curry Arab favor would be reversed. The Arab Revolt (1936-39) posed a threat to Suez and the British wanted to preventb a reoccurance. At this time some military cooperation ocurred between the British and the Jewish Agency. The Jewish Agency hoped that the British might equip a Jewish Division to fight with the British Army. While this did not occur, the British trained Jewish commando units which became the nuculeus for the Palmach. The British also trained Jewish volunteers in sabotage, demolition, and partisan warfare. This was the first intensive military training given to Jews in Palesine. There was no British efforts to establish an Arab miltia. This is the best tetimony to the Arab political orientation at the time. And there proved to be considerable Arab cooperation with Germans during the War.The British decided that the immigration restrictions detailed in the white Paper had to be maintained to prevent the Arabs from turning even more strongly to the Axis. This meant that at a time when the NAZIs were rounding up Jews for the Holocaust, the Royal Navy would be used to prevent Jews from escaping the Holocaust. The British policy in Palestine is not one of their finest moments. In fairness to the British, however, it has to be understood that after the fall of France (June 1940) they stood alone against the NAZIs. The British defiance of the NAZIs was a key factor in the eventual Allied victory. In the end it was that Allied victory which prevented the NAZIs from killing the half the Jewish population of Europe which survived the Holocaust.
The Zionist Aliyah movement throughout World War II did what it could with limited resources to rescue Jews from the NAZIs. A small number of Jews were able to entered Palestine with visas issued under the White Paper quota. Most of the Jews who managed to reach Palestine did so illegally. Thes immigrants were known as the Aliyah Bet. They managed to reach Palestine with great difficulty. It was extrodinarily difficult to escape from NAZI-controlled Europe as well as the Mediterranean patroled by the Italian fleet. The few Jews that managed to do this then had to elude the Royal Navy. The British turned several boatloads of Jrewish immigrants back. Almost all of the Jews aboared were then killed by the NAZIs. One disaster was the Haganah's effort to rescue the Jewish refugees on the SS Patria who the British were deporting (1940). The attempt in Haifa harbor resulted in the death of 267 refugees. Some Jews were brought in overland from neigboring Arab populations. The greatest success was getting 1,350 Syrian Jews to Palestine escaping the Vichy anti-Semetic program.
The British saw Palestine as a potentially valuable assett in the defense of Suez. Yhis proved to be the case when war came. The Arab population was restive, but the British used Palestine as a staging area for operations against pro-MAZI elements in Iraq and Vichy authorities in Syria. Securing Iraq with its important oil resource was vital for the defense of Suez.
where a colaborator, Rashid Ali, led a pro-Nazi coup in Iraq. Saddam's uncle was also involved. It failed. Iraq was a backwater of the war, but a very important backwater. Iraq was an important in maintaining comminication lines between India and the British position in Egypt protecting the Suez Canal. Even more importantly, Iraq was the principle source of oil for the Desert Army and the Royal Navy Eastern Mediterranean Squadron. Iraq had been a Turkish Province until seized by the British during World war I. The Anglo-Iraqi Treaty of 1930 provided for a major British stake in Iraq. The British obtained a stake in the developing Mosul and Kirkuk oil fields and air bases near Baghdad in central Iraq and Basra in the south. To help protect the bases the British had a mixed force which included Iraqis recruited for this purpose. The British were also given transit rights. Britain with these guarantees granted independence to Iraq (1932). Nationalists criticized the treaty, but the Nuri es-Sa'id Governent was pro-British. The royal governent created a small army consisting of of five divisions, a navy consisting of river patrol craft, and a small airforce with obsolete aircraft. When war broke out in Europe (September 1939) Sa'id wanted to support Britain and declare war on Germany, but Iraqi nationalists oppsosed this. The Sa'id Government did break off relations with Germany. The Grand Mufti fleeing arest in Palestine sought refuge in Iraqi and helped to stir up anti-British sentiment. A new Government led by Rashid Ali took power (March 1940). Ali was backed by the pro-Axis Golden Square. The fall of France (June 1940) dramatically changed the military ballance in the Mediterranean and thus the Middle East. Ali initiated various intrigues against Britain. British military successes in the Western Desert caused Ali to resign. The next primeminister acted to breakup the e Golden Square. A military coup placed Ali back in power (April 3, 1941). At the same time, spectacular German successes in Yugoslavia, Greece, and Crete convinced the Iraqi nationalists that the Germans would quickly defeat the British. Ali tore up the 1930 Treaty and struck at the British air base at Habbaniya. The French Vichy authorities controlling Syria assisted Ali by allowing the German and Italians to deliver some assistance. General Wavell, the British Middle East commander was hard pressed at the time. He had to contend with Rommel in the Wester Dessert and the disaterous intervention in Greece. He was reluctant to commit forces to Iraq, but Churchill insisted. An Indian division struck from the south landing at Basara. The Habforce (a British brigade and the Arab Legion) struck west from Jordan. After the British seized control, the Grand Mufti fledd to Iran.
Reza Shah's Government declared Iran neutral with the outbreak of World War II in Europe. The British suspected that the Shah was sympathetic with the NAZIs who were active diplomatically in Iran.
The Grand Mufti tied to foment anti-British actions in Iran, but was forced to again flee with the Soviets and British intervened. The Iranians rejected British demands to expel Axis agents. After the NAZI invasion of the Soviet Union it became vital to open supply lines to the Soviets. The British and Soviets thus launched a coordinated invasion (August 26, 1941). The Soviets invaded from the north. The British from Iraq where they had defeated a pro-Axis rebellion and by troops landed along the Persian Gulf. There was only limitedd resistance. Reza Shah abdicated (September 16). His son ascended the throne as Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. At the time of the War, Iran had just begun to develop its petroleum indutry. It did not play an important factor in the War. Britain fought the War largely with American oil, although the 8th Army fought the War in the Western Desert largely with Iraqi oil. Iran's importance in the War was largely as a conduit for American Lend Lease shipments to the Soviets.
After the fall of France. French authorities in Syria, recognized the authority of Vichy Government. This included a military force totling about 40,000 Legioneers and Muslim soldiers backed by 90 tanks and prepared fortifications. Admiral Darlan provided logistical support to the Germans and Italians in efforts to support the Rashid Ali revolt in Iraq. This was a clear violation of Vichy's neutrality. Syria located in the Eastern Mediterranean was of some strastegic importance. The British feared that Vichy would allow the Luftwaffe to establish air bases in the country. This would have threatened the British position in Egypt as well as provided a jumping off point to seize the oil fields in Iraq. Churchill thus ordered Wavell after putting down the Iraqii Revolt to seize Syria (June 1941). Degualle assured Wavell that the Vichy garison would come over to the Free French with little resistance. They did not. The British and Free French forces entered Syria from Palestine. There was tough fighting, but the Allies reached Damascus (June 17).
The NAZIs never reached Palestine. With the German invasion of Poland, terrible rumors began to reach Palestine about NAZI attrocities. After the fall of France and the withdrawl of the French fleet, Palestine itself became threatened by the Axis. The British 8th Army stopped and subsequently defeated the Afrika Korps at El Alemain (July-October 1942). The NAZIs, however, had an ally in the Grand Mufti of Jurelselum. The Arabs both in Palestine and most other areas supported the NAZIs. There was only the open revolt in Iraq (1941), but most Arabs supported the NAZIs. This was for the most part because the British were the colonial power and the Germans had no Arab colonies. Anti-Semitism was a further factor in Palestine, but much less so among other Arabs. Outside of Iraq, the Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini issued a formal fatwa-- "a holy war against Britain" (May 1941). The Mufti's announced the fatwa in Iraq and helped to launch "the pro-Nazi" Iraqi uprising. At the time the NAZIs had just seized Greece and Crete, convincing the Iraqis that with Axis aid they could drive out the British. The uprising suprized the NAZIs who were not prepared for it. The NAZI Arab policy was in some way constrained because of Hitler's focus on Russia and his willingness to give deference to Musollini when dealing with the Arabs. The Arab revolt in Iraq was of considerable significance. Iraqwas the source of the oil used by the British Mediterranean Fleet and the 8th Army fishing the Afrika Korps in the Western Desert. The British supressed the Iraqi Revolt (March 1941) with a pick up force from Palestine and then an Indian Division rushed to Iraq. Husseini escaped first to Tehran and then to Italy, finally reaching Berlin. He was enthusiastic received by the "Islamische Zentralinstitut" and the small Islamic community of Germany which due deference to the NAZIs pronounced him the "Führer of the Arabic world." Husseini's first speech in Berlin denounced the Jews as the "most fierce enemies of the Muslims" and an "ever corruptive element" in the world. Arab supporters of the NAZIs seemed to have blithy assumed that they would be liberated by the Axis and thus achieve independence. It is difficult to see how any minimally educated observer in 1940-41 could have reached that conclusion, especially given Italian conduct in Libya and German conduct in the Occupied East. Another largely ignored question is the fact that the Arabs are also semmites. NAZI racist science claimed that the Jews had genitically carried diseases. One wonders why the Arabs did not carry these diseases. Of course the NAZIracist science was a pseudo science so they could invent an Arab people free of such contamination. Husseini was an honored guest of the NAZI's in Berlin. He was received by Hitler twice. He pressed Hitler on the last group of Jews left in NAZI hands--the Hungarian Jews. He did not want them to be allowed to escape, fearing they would come to Palestine. Adolf Eichman at the time was attempting to negotiate with the British to exchange 5,000 Hungarian children for German POWs. Husseini's point of view prevalied. The SS were dispatched the children to the NAZI death camps in Poland. Husseini is reported to have visited Auschwitz and encouraged the SS staff operating the gas chambers to work harder. Husseini was exploited by Goebbels' propaganda machine and made numerous broadcasts in Arabic to the Middle East promoting the NAZIs and giving virulently anti-Semitic sermons.
The Aliyah managed to use the Romanian ship Struma to get 747 Jews out of Europe.
The ship reached neutral Turkish waters attempting to get permission to sail to Palestine.
The British were not only concerned about Arab opinion, but at the time were hopeful of convincing Turkey to enter the War. The British encouraged the Turks set the ship,which had almost exhausted it supplies, adrift in the Black Sea. Romanian at the time was at war with the Soviet Union and was eventually sunk by a Soviet submarine and 796 people were killed.
The Jewish Agency given the horific NAZI anti-Semitism had no choice to support the British war effort despite the British actions against Jewish refugees. The British policy does seemed to have pacified the Arabs, although British military power was probably more important. The Arabs generally supported the Axis (except in Libya where they experienced Fascist colonization). The failure of the anti-British rising in Iraq appears to have convinced most Arabs not to challenge the British openly. At any rate, there was no significant civil disorder in Palestine during the War. The success of the Afrika Corps in the western Desert caused concern that the Germans and Italians would break through to Suez in the summer of 1942 and then occupy Palestine. They would have been received as liberators by the Arabs in both Egypt and Palestine and the Jews would have disappeared into the NAZI Holocaust. The British victory at El Alamein (October 1942) secured Palestine.
After the German invasion of the Soviet Union (June 1941), British and Polish rekations with the Soviet Union changd dramatically. The British and Jews in Palestine began sending relief supplies to the Poles being held in the Soviet Union, often in terrible conditions and arrangements were made for Poles who desired to leave the Soviet Union. This only became possible after the Soviets and Britain intervened in Iran (August 1941). The Arabs in Palestine had no interest in assisting the Poles. The Jews did. This newspaper after an agreement was reached between the British and Soviet Governmebts February 1, 1942, describes the effort in Palestine. "The Soviet and the British governments have reached an agreement under which Palestine inhabitants will be able to send packages of food and clothing duty-free to the Polish citizens now stranded in Soviet Russia as refugees, it was learned here today. The packages will have to be transmitted through the Red Cross in Palestine and their weight is not to exceed five kilos, about twelve and a half pounds. It was also learned here today that the Soviet authorities have permitted the first group of 600 Polish and Jewish children from the parts of Poland formerly occupied by the Soviet armies to proceed to Palestine. The children have lost their parents or were separated from them during the war and were being cared for in Soviet child-welfare institutions. They are expected to reach Palestine within the coming fortnight. A report reaching Polish circles here today by cable from Moscow states that Mrs. Sommerstein, the wife of the leader of the Jewish fraction in the Polish, parliament, has been released from Soviet internment and is now in Bukhara. The whereabouts of her husband are still unknown. Similarly the whereabouts of the famous Bobover Rebbe who was interned by the Soviets as a Polish citizen, has not yet been ascertained." ['Soviet permits ...'] The article is notable for the obvious glossing over the fact that Poles were in the Soviet Union because Stalin invaded Poland as a NAZI ally and like the NAZIs brutally supressed the Polish people. While many Poles (mostly the women and girls) stayed in Iran for the duration.' Others were relocated in various British colonies (India, Palestine, New Zealand, and British Africa) as well as in Mexico. Many of the military age men and many boys wanted to join the fight against the Germans. This meant traveling from Iran to Egypt which was apparently done through Palestine. The first Polish refugees fromthe Soviet Union raeched Palestine (summer 1942). They were boys and some girls (aged 14 to 18 years) who were members of a scout organization formed by the Polish Army. This was in part a subterfuge so he children would qualigy for Soviet rations. The Scout transports reaching Palestine, were directed to Camp Bashit. They were divided into groups and began their education, including military training. The older boys could eventually transfer to Anders Army which became the reconstituted Polish Army. Two schools were established for them for instruction in Polih (August 1942). One school was for the younger children (aged 8 –15 years) and the other for the older children. Classes began (September 1, 1942). These Polish schools operated in Palestine until the British began to leave (1947). Some 1,632 students attended. Other Polish schools were opened in Egypt (Tall al Kabir and Heliopolis). There were 26 schools opened for Polish refugee children in the Near East during the War.
Several thousand Jew from Palestine volunteered to served in the British army. At first they were dssperesed in scattered units. Finally the British organized the Jewish Brgade (September 14, 1944). The Brigade consisted of about 5,000 soldiers. This was the only Jewish military unit to serve in World War II. The British hesitated to commit the Brigade. It was deployed to Italy and finally committed in the closing monts of the War.
The Axis relations with the Arabs was somewhat muddled. Italian foreign policy under Musollini was focussed on a Mediterreranean empire--Mare Nosom. This began with the brutal colonization of Libya which included the use of poison gas. Musollini was intent on other Arab colonies , but was blocked by the British in Egypt to the east and the French in Tunisia to the west. With the rise of the NAZIs in Germany an anti-colonial approach to the Arabs could be launched to undermine the British and French. This had considerable appeal to the Palestinian Arabs as well as other Arabs in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt. The Axis achieved considerable success, Arab opposition to the British and French. For the most part ehe Arabs seemed to have ignored what the Italians did in Libya. The Arabs both in Palestine and most other areas supported the NAZIs. There was only the open revoly in Iraq (1941), but most Arabs supported the NAZIs. This was for the most part because the British were the colonial power and the Germans had no Arab colonies. Anti-Semitism was a further factor in Palestine, but much less so among other Arabs. Outside of Iraq, the Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini issued a formal fatwa-- "a holy war against Britain" (May 1941). The Mufti's announced the fatwa in Iraq and helped to launch "the pro-Nazi" Iraqi uprising. At the time the NAZIs had just seized Greece and Crete, convincing the Iraqis that with Axis aid they could drive out the British. The uprising suprized the NAZIs who were not prepared for it. The NAZI Arab policy was in some way constrained because of Hitler's focus on Russia and his willingness to give deference to Musollini when dealing with the Arabs. The Arab revolt in Iraq was of considerable significance. Iraqwas the source of the oil used by the British Mediterranean Fleet and the 8th Army fishing the Afrika Korps in the Western Desert. The British supressed the Iraqi Revolt (March 1941) with a pick up force from Palestine and then an Indian Division rushed to Iraq. Husseini escaped first to Tehran and then to Italy, finally reaching Berlin.
He was enthusiastic received by the "Islamische Zentralinstitut" and the small Islamic community of Germany which due deference to the NAZIs pronounced him the "Führer of the Arabic world." Husseini's first speech in Berlin denounced the Jews as the "most fierce enemies of the Muslims" and an "ever corruptive element" in the world. Arab supporters of the NAZIs seemed to have blithy assumed that they would be liberated by the Axis and thus achieve independence. It is difficult to see how any minimally educated observer in 1940-41 could have reached that conclusion, especially given Italian conduct in Libya and German conduct in the Occupied East. Another largely ignored question is the fact that the Arabs are also semmites. NAZI racist science claimed that the Jews had genitically carried diseases. One wonders why the Arabs did not carry these diseases. Of course the NAZIracist science was a pseudo science so they could invent an Arab people free of such contamination.
Husseini was an honored guest of the NAZI's in Berlin. He was received by Hitler twice.
He pressed Hitler on the last group of Jews left in NAZI hands--the Hungarian Jews. He did not want them to be allowed to escape, fearing they would come to Palestine. Adolf Eichman at the time was attempting to negotiate with the British to exchange 5,000 Hungarian children for German POWs. Husseini's point of view prevalied. The SS were dispatched the children to the NAZI death camps in Poland. Husseini is reported to have visited Auschwitz and encouraged the SS staff operating the gas chambers to work harder. Husseini was exploited by Goebbels' propaganda machine and made numerous broadcasts in Arabic to the Middle East promoting the NAZIs and giving virulently anti-Semitic sermons.
Porch, Douglas. The Path to Victory (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux: New York, 2004), 796p.
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