Monday, January 06, 2014

Be Careful of the Promises of Declared Allies

In response to a  letter to the Commander-in-Chief Allenby sent by Colonel JH Patterson, Commander of the Jewish Legion on 5th March, 1918, Patterson got a reply from Major-General Louis Jean Bols, the Chief of Staff, asking him to come to G.H.Q. in Cairo, but at the same time was informed that General Allenby was not in favour of my suggestions.

He writes in his book (at [54]),

This was somewhat of a surprise to me, for at a time when men were so badly needed, I thought that a Jewish legion, of say 25,000 men, would have been most acceptable on the Palestine front, and, had General Allenby shown himself at all favourable to the idea of a Jewish legion, it would at that time have been an easy task to have obtained any number of men, from America and elsewhere, to fight in Palestine.  
Nothing daunted, however, I proceeded to G.H.Q., where I had an interview with the Commander-in-Chief, who told me quite frankly that he was not in sympathy[57] with the War Office policy in sending this Jewish Battalion to Palestine, and that he did not want any further addition such as I suggested to his Forces.
At a subsequent interview which I had with his Chief of Staff, I gathered that I need expect but little sympathy for my battalion, as Major-General Louis Jean Bols told me quite plainly that he was not favourably disposed towards Jewish aspirations.
This anti-Jewish policy of General Allenby and his Chief of Staff came as a shock to me, for I knew that it was the settled intention of His Majesty's Government to support these Jewish Battalions, and the Jewish claim to Palestine, and I had been expecting quite a different reception for my proposals from the E.E.F. authorities to that which they received. I found, to my amazement, that the policy adopted by the Staff towards this Jewish Battalion, and the Jewish problem generally, ran counter to the declared policy of the Home Government. Alas! it seemed that another Pharaoh had arisen who knew not Joseph; and once again we would be expected to make bricks without straw, and become hewers of wood and drawers of water. Instead of this new unit being helped and encouraged, we were, on the contrary, throughout our service in the E.E.F., made to feel that we were merely Ishmaelites, with every hand uplifted against us.

And you think that was bad?  read on:

Soon after the 38th Battalion left Jerusalem, Colonel Margolin also received orders to proceed to Ludd, although it was well known that hundreds of sick were[169] in the camp. What would have happened to these unfortunate sufferers if he had obeyed orders and marched away leaving them to their fate, sick and helpless as they were, I shall leave the reader to imagine. Luckily for these poor fellows Colonel Margolin refused to leave until such time as they could be accommodated in Hospital.Eventually he succeeded in getting his men into medical wards, and then he and what was left of his battalion came and camped within a mile of us at Surafend, a village between Ludd and Jaffa.On the evening of the 22nd October Colonel Margolin and Captain Salaman rode into my camp and complained to me of the discrimination and unfair treatment to which the Jewish soldiers were being subjected in the Hospitals—giving me various instances to illustrate certain of their statements.As the Senior Officer of the Jewish Battalions, not being myself a Jew, I was deeply hurt at the un-English methods adopted towards men who had done so well in the field in England's cause, and felt that I would not be doing my duty to those under my command, and to Jewry generally, unless I protested against this unfair discrimination.I considered that the best way of bringing matters to a head was by requesting to be relieved of my command as a protest against the anti-Jewish policy which prevailed. I accordingly sent forward my resignation. This found its way to G.H.Q., but as certain individuals there had no desire to see me land unmuzzled in England, my resignation was not accepted. Some of the Staff knew[170] only too well that if I were free to return to England I would at once let the authorities there know that their representatives in Palestine were not carrying out the declared policy of the Imperial Government, but, on the contrary, were doing their best to make of the Balfour Declaration a mere "scrap of paper."As G.H.Q. was then only some two miles from my Camp I thought it might help matters if I could see Major-General Louis Jean Bols, the Chief-of-Staff, and get him to put a stop to the persecution that was going on, and see that his underlings "played the game." I therefore called on this gentleman, but he, for reasons best known to himself, refused to see me.I told his A.D.C. that I was camped close by and would be glad to see the General any time that was convenient to him, but I left his office feeling there never would be a convenient time, and so, in fact, it turned out.When my resignation was refused and my request for an interview treated in the same manner, I made a vigorous protest against the anti-Jewish policy which prevailed, and stated that if it was not altered I would have the matter placed before the Secretary of State for War in Parliament.As a result of this I got a letter from G.H.Q. requesting me to furnish a list of the complaints I wished to make, and also asking me to forward recommendations for the improvement and comfort of the Jewish Battalion.

On second thought, since someone has raised the possibility of US troops "on the ground" here, or in the Jordan Valley, not that my opinion of Debkafile is high, what is the thinking among American military people?

“When you look at it from a military perspective, I don’t see any good that would come of it,” says David Maxwell, associate director of the Center for Security Studies (CSS) at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service in Washington....“I look at this and I say, ‘Gosh, we don’t have a good track record in the Middle East,' ” he says. “I can just see US forces becoming a lightning rod, a target.” 
...A force based in the Jordan Valley and dedicated to securing borders would also mean that US troops would have to man checkpoints and prevent possible insurgent infiltration through Palestinian territory into Israel.  “That’s a huge security operation, and we’d be talking thousands of US troops if they were going to be effective," says Mr. Maxwell.
Retired Col. Robert Killebrew, a nonresident fellow at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, recalls working as a military planner when President Jimmy Carter announced – in the wake of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan – that he would oppose Soviet expansionism “by any means possible.”
In Pentagon parlance, this means military force, and so then Mr. Killebrew and fellow military colleagues began writing plans to bring US troops to the Middle East, to be deployed in the event that the Soviets pushed from Afghanistan into Iran in an effort to gain access to the Persian Gulf...Still, in the Middle East at the time, “There was an unspoken rule that we didn’t want US troops to be hostages to fortune in a region so volatile,” Killebrew says. 
And that should continue to be the case, he adds. “We would be nuts to put troops into a peacekeeping operation in the Middle East,” he argues. “The problem for peacekeeping troops – and US forces would be no exception – is if there isn’t a peace to keep, then what?”
It is also not clear that the Israelis would go for any such plan. “I wouldn’t rely on foreign forces,” Maj. Gen. Avi Mizrahi, former commander of the Israeli Defense Force, told the Times of Israel.  Palestinians, on the other hand, may support the plan. “They may look at it as if US forces would be restraining on the Israeli forces,” says Maxwell at CSS. To others, however, it could “send such a visual signal of occupation.”  
Another challenge would be figuring out an exit strategy. “How do you determine there’s sufficient security for troops to leave?” he adds. “We’re talking years and years.”

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