Monday, July 30, 2018

A Secret: Twenty-Three Out of Five Hundred

Pierre Van Paassen, who was born in the Netherlands and grew up in Canada, was a journalist.

In 1933 he visited the Temple Mount with a British Intelligence officer, both incognito. They sought an inside look at the radical Islamic movement by listening to the various sermons being preached in regards to the political turmoil that was taking place in then British controlled Palestine.

One of his books lists Jabotinsky as a co-author and he assisted Jabotinsky's movements' spin-off actions.

In another of his books, he writes of a "best-kept secret" by which he meant the Jewish people's, and specifically, Jews of Eretz-Yisrael, participation in World War II.

One of the elements of this secret concerns the saga of an engineers company of 500 Jews in the King's West African Rifles at Mechili, Libya:-

The men of the company, led by Major Felix Liebman of Tel Aviv, were laying down a 12-square-mile minefield against Rommel's advance when they were spotted by German scout planes. To make a long and gripping story short, for several weeks they were strafed and bombed from the air and bombarded by German and Italian tanks. They, in turn, knocked out several score tanks and repulsed wave after wave of German and Italian foot soldiers.

At one point, the Germans sent a soldier with a white flag to offer the company the opportunity to surrender. Liebman rejected the offer, and, pointing to the blue-and- white flag mounted on a makeshift base, told the German: 'We have no white flag; we have only this blue flag of Zion.' The German said with astonishment: 'You are Jews?!’ and left. The siege continued, and by July 2, when the Jews repulsed the last assault, only 23 men were still alive.

That day, a column of trucks came along bearing the remnants of a Free French unit that had held the line against the Germans in a bitter month-long battle at Bir Hakheim and was now retiring to the rear. The French commander was General Marie-Pierre Koenig, who embraced Liebman and emotionally congratulated him and his men for having held out at Mechili. As the exhausted Jews mounted the trucks while the French loaded the remaining equipment, one of the Jews took down the 'Jewish flag' and started to fold it.

Koenig asked why he was folding it. Liebman told him that the British did not permit the Jews to fly it. Koenig retorted: 'I am in command here! I don't give a damn about those regulations! That flag goes on my car in front, next to the [French] Tricolor. That is where it belongs. We have come through victoriously, the two of us.' He then turned to his men and called: 'Legionnaires! The Jewish flag! Salute!' 


From "De Gaulle, Israel, and the Jews" by Raymond Aron


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