JEWISH LEGION, military formation of Jewish volunteers in World War I who fought in the British army for the liberation of Ereẓ Israel from Turkish rule. When Turkey entered the war on the side of the Central Powers (Oct. 30, 1914), two different concepts of the Jewish role in the world conflict emerged among Zionists. In November David *Ben-Gurion and Yiẓḥak *Ben-Zvi submitted to the Turkish commander in Jerusalem a proposal to raise a Jewish Legion attached to the Turkish army. The project was approved by the Turkish military council in Jerusalem, and the first 40 Jewish volunteers began their training. Authorization, however, was soon canceled by Jamal Pasha, the supreme commander of the Turkish army in Palestine and Syria, who instigated severe persecutions of Zionists. Many were imprisoned; others, among them Ben-Zvi and Ben-Gurion, were deported. Of the 18,000 Jewish deportees and refugees, some 12,000 landed in Alexandria, Egypt.
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