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2 World War II & the Desire for a Jewish fighting force

(left) A Jewish Soldier in the British Army, Middle East, 1942, prior to the Brigade's formation. The Hebrew writing on the shell reads: "Greetings to Hitler".

(right) The flag mutiny of 1943, Benghazi, Egypt, in which a battlion of the Palestine Regiment (which later became the Jewish Brigade) disobeyed British army regulations and flew the Jewish Flag.


"What were we doing? Guarding and training. Training and guarding, you know? And in those days we started to fight to establish a real fighting force. So we put our flag up on the roof of the barracks. Our British Colonel said to put it down. We put up a guard around the flag but nobody would take it off--and that's mutiny."

For the Jewish community in Palestine, World War II put everything on hold. The hopes for a homeland--and a willingness to fight for it--quickly gave way to an intense desire to fight Hitler.

While many Jews in Palestine joined the British army, others held out. Led by Zionist leader Chaim Weizman in London and Jewish Agency leader David Ben-Gurion in Palestine, they pressed for an all-Jewish fighting force that would carry its own flag into battle against the Germans.

For reasons both political and military, and fueled by anti-Semitism in the British War Office, the British refused. Not until late 1944 did Winston Churchhill override the objections of his War Office and Colonial Office to allow the formation of His Majesty's Jewish Brigade.

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