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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 and 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. Vladimir Jabotinsky advanced a diametrically opposite concept. In December 1914, while a roving correspondent of a Moscow daily, he arrived in Alexandria and expounded to the Palestine deportees the idea of raising a Jewish Legion to fight with the Allies in order to liberate Palestine from the Turks. , one of the deportees, fully embraced Jabotinsky's idea. It was also endorsed by the majority of the Palestine Refugees' Committee. On March 22, 1915, about half of the 200 people present signed a seven-line resolution in Hebrew "to form a Jewish Legion and propose to England its utilization in Palestine." Within a few days about 500 enlisted, and training started immediately. Nonetheless, General Maxwell, commander of the British force in Egypt, told a delegation of the volunteers that an offensive on the Palestine front was doubtful and that regulations prohibited the admission of foreign nationals into the British army. He suggested that the volunteers serve as a detachment for muletransport on some other sector of the Turkish front. His proposal was rejected by most members of the Legion Committee, including Jabotinsky, but Trumpeldor's position was that any anti-Turkish front would "lead to Zion." Together with Lieutenant Colonel , delegated by the British military authorities, Trumpeldor succeeded in forming the 650-strong Zion Mule Corps; 562 of its members were sent to the Gallipoli front under Patterson, with Trumpeldor as second in command. The Zion Mule Corps' services were highly appreciated by General Ian Hamilton, commander of the Gallipoli Expeditionary Force, who wrote to Jabotinsky on Nov. 17, 1915: "The men have done extremely well, working their mules calmly under heavy shell and rifle fire, and thus showing a more difficult type of bravery than the men in the front line who had the excitement of combat to keep them going." The unit, however, posed severe disciplinary problems, and punishments such as public flogging had to be meted out. In addition, the differences between the idealists and those who had joined only in order to escape from the misery of the refugee camps resulted in clashes between Trumpeldor, the "Russian", and the Sephardi Jews. It was...
Source Citation (MLA 8 th Edition)
Schechtman, Joseph B. "Jewish Legion." Encyclopaedia Judaica, edited by Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik, 2nd ed., vol. 11, Macmillan Reference USA, 2007, pp. 303-306. Academic OneFile, Accessed 19 Mar. 2019.
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