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December 25, 1959 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1959-12-25

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS—Friday, Dece mber 25, 1959 - 2

Purely Commentary

Captivating Story of Orde Wingate,
Christian Zionist and Moulder of
Haganah, Told in Sykes' Biography

By Philip

Inspiring Book of Modern Heroism, Comparable to Hanukah Triumphs of the Maccabees

Major General Orde Wingate became world
famous as the heroic leader of the British troops
in the Japanese-occupied Burma campaign. It was
as leader of the Chindits in that drive against the
Japanese, his personal heroism and the manner in
which he inspired his troops, that he emerged as
one of the great military geniuses in the last
world war.
Yet his fame will in the long run primarily
rest in his interest in the establishment of a Jewish
State, in his devotion to the Zionist idea, in his
dedicated belief in the justice of the Jewish position
in Palestine.
Wingate's life story is brilliantly related in the
truly great biography, "Orde Wingate," by Christo-
pher Sykes, published by World Publishing Co. It
is a thorough review of Wingate's family back-
ground, of his military career, his activities in Pal-
estine, Ethiopia and Burma.
The reader will learn from this remarkable
book about Wingate's intense religious feelings,
his inheritance of a deep interest in military mat-
ters, his stubborn individuality, "through whose
whole nature there ran so much enigma," as
Sykes summarized it. There is the conviction,
after reading Sykes' "Orde Wingate" that the
able biographer correctly analyzed his hero when
he wrote: "He was unquestionably a man of
genius . . . There was in him an inner and
active impulse which gave him continual energy
with a sense of obeying unseen powers . . . The
deep-seated religious faith which told him to
give his powers to the service of God could only
increase his sense of mysterious influences shap-
ing the course of his life . . ."

Orde Wingate was the man who cooperated with
the Jews of Palestine in strengthening the Haganah.
Some even call him the father of the Haganah, a
title that can be questioned since the foundation
for a Jewish self-defense corps already existed. But
he certainly gave the encouragement that the de-
fenders of the Palestine settlements needed in
their fight for freedom and against the destructive
Arab raiders. He helped destroy the raiders' nests,
and by defying his own British superiors he showed
unparalleled courage that has earned for him an

indelible place among the ,Ogitici_itma.t h oiom —
the s: ...:;**Iietions of the world — in

71b. and Israeli history.
Wingate knew nothing about Zionism until some
me after he was assigned to a military intelligence
Bost in Palestine because of his knowledge of Arabic.
"During five years of service in the Islamic world,
(he) had never noticed the burning political issue
of Zionism in Palestine, even though he had visited
Jerusalem," and a Jewish sportsman first intro=
duced him to Zionism and "told him something
of what this most singular of all irredentist move-
ments meant to Jews . .. Wingate was interested
. . . but he admitted . . that at the time they
meant little to him. He could certainly not have
foretold then that one day he would be a Zionist
After three and a half months in Haifa, after his
arrival in Palestine in September of 106, Wingate
became a Zionist, the process of his transformation
having taken place "when his studies of the local
situation showed him that he had been seriously
misinformed about the Jews." He discovered "a
particularly noxious form of swindle" in relation
to the Arabs and their land dealings with Jews,
as well as the misinterpretations of the •situation
by the British. "When he found that his ideas
about Arab grievances were at fault, Wingate went
hungrily in search of other ideas and found them.
It would seem that he was a Zionist within a
"He was so very much of a Zionist, so extremist
even among extremists," that Jews themselves at
first did not 'trust him. They feared his position
in British intelligence and some thought he might
be infiltrating among them to spy upon them as a
• Britisher. But soon it became apparent that here
was a dedicated man who wanted to be a part of
the Jewish movement of liberation. He first be-
friended David Hacohen, who then already was
prominent as head of Histadrut's Solel Boneh. He
promptly convinced Emanuel Wilenski (Yolan) of
his sincerity.
When Wilenski pressed the friendship among
Jewish leaders, people said to him: "Oh, you and
your friend." Out of it came the nickname for
Wingate, "Hayedid Shelkha" — "Your Friend."
out of it emerged the greatest tribute always to
be linked with the name Wingate: "Hayedid."
Wingate began to amaze the Jews and at the
same time irritated his fellow-Britishers who could
not tolerate his friendship for Jews. But he insisted
on propagating methods of checking the raids that
were then conducted by Arab gangs upon Jewish
colonists. He urged the formation of the Special
Night Squads. He insisted upon using Jewish super-
numeraries as part of the SNS. Out of these oper-
ations, which brought an end to Arab attacks and
assisted in destroying many of the Arab gangs,
especially those led by Fawzi Kawakji who later
played an ignominious role during Israel's War


of Independence, emerged the enlarged Haganah.
It was a Wingate-trained force that learned the
methods of guerrilla warfare and utilized them to
the advantage of the newly-emerging Jewish State.
Befriending the Jewish settlers, Wingate felt
at home with them, visited the kibbutzim, recruited
his fighting forces from among them. He studied
Hebrew, read the Bible, propagated a redeemed
Zion, and became an impassioned defender of Zion-
ism, to the consternation of his British associates
who were determined to destroy Zionism.
Wingate appeared before the Woodhead Com-
mission which then was studying• conditions in
Palestine. He spoke on behalf of the Jewish cause.
He had no faith in the Woodhead decisions and
he warned Jews against it.
While on leave in London, Wingate, together
with David Ben-Gurion and Dr. Chaim Weizmann,
in the midst of an intense Arabophil feeling in
England, worked on a Palestinian partition scheme
according to which, Sykes reveals, "the Zionists
would surrender all Galilee and the port of Haifa
and in compensatiOn take full possession of the
sparsely inhabited south, down to the Gulf of
Aqaba, and a substantial share in the more fertile
center east of Tel Aviv."
These were trying times for Zionism. Wingate
advocated the formation of a Jewish army. He
pleaded the Jewish cause. His appeals fell on deaf
ears. The press became more antagonistic to Zion-
ism. But Wingate made some friends. He gained
the ear of Winston Churchill. He befriended Mrs.
Israel Sieff of London, he already had become
the friend and admirer of Chaim and Vera Weiz-
mann, and their friendship remained lifelong. But
there was a period of strain and conflict among
them, especially when Wingate advised Jewish lead-
ers that "the time for self-restraint, for cooperation
of Jews with the British government is past." The
foolhardy advice of Wingate was rejected, but it
was an indication of the man's sincerity of belief
that Jews must assert their rights.
Calling it "nonsense" to have considered. Win-
gate "a secret traitor" for having propagated
action by Jews against his government, Sykes
declares that "it must be stressed that for all
his temerity Wingate had proposed nothing which
was not within the rights of men as these are
normally understood, even though he may have
been tempted to take extreme and blameworthy
advantage of those rights."
There was an end to the SNS activities and Win-
gate soon was to be called away from Palestine by
his government. It was an era during which Jewish
immigrants were being turned away from Palestine,
and Wingate told the Jewish leaders that the fate
of the immigrants was a test of Jewish firmness,
that Jews must go to all lengths to stop the
British abominations.
Leaving Palestine, Wingate wrote lengthy reports
to his commanders, defending his position, declar-
ing: "My public and private support of the Jews
was obligatory. They had always been loyal to me
and to Great Britain . .. Is it 'emotional' to have
a sense of honor and to defend your men when
they are attacked?"
Thus continued his propagation of the Jewish
cause, his advocacy of the formation of a Jewish
army which he had hoped to lead to triumph in
Jewish liberation, and he did not hesitate to con=
demn his opponents and to challenge his adver-
saries,—so much so that Sykes states: "He had
been guilty of a lack of tact through inexperience
of political procedure, and it may be that his repu-
tation for political busybodying cost him his life's
ambition to lead a Jewish army."
Wingate demanded that the Jews should not
hesitate to press their demands. When Weizmann
asked him what action he proposed, Wingate
urged that he go to Churchill, bang the table,
DEMAND a Jewish army ! To which Weizmann
replied: "I could do as you say, and I might
even achieve something by doing it, but I could
only do it once, and I want to see Winston
Churchill many times." Wingate, "with his soldier-
ly impatience of the craft and delicacy and
tedium of political maneuver, could not see the
difference here between caution and timidity, and
they parted in anger."
Wingate did not want Zionists to "shrink from
harsh tactics." The Jewish leaders had a hard
time with him, since he wanted them to be less
gentlemanly in dealing with his British government.
He was advised to consult Ben-Gurion and he said:
"Ben-Gurion is not a leader." It is indicated by
Sykes that Wingate did not understand or know
Ben-Gurion well enough.
Then began his career in Ethiopia. He took
with him on his staff the Palestinian young friend,
Avram Akavia, who later wrote a book describing
the Ethiopian experiences. He became devoted to
Ethiopia's needs, fought for its freedom and once
said to Akavia: "Whoever is a friend of Abyssinia
is a friend of the Jews. If I succeed here, I can
be of greater help to the Jews later on. You are
here for the sake of Zion."
As the years rolled on, whenever he was in

London or in Cairo, he made certain that he met

with the Weizmanns and other Zionist leaders and
pursued his discussions with them of Zionist aspira-
tions. Wherever he went he propagated the Zionist
idea. He used Jewish medical corps from Palestine
in his Ethiopian campaign and he constantly quoted
the Bible, frequently spoke Hebrew, and dreamed
of the realization of the hopes of Zion.
Once again, after the Ethiopian campaign, he
spoke of leading a Jewish army. A new era began,
however, with his assignment to the Near East.
This is a complete story in itself—the tale of his
triumph in the first Chindit campaign, his triumphal
return, his trip to Quebec with Winston Churchill
and President Franklin D. Roosevelt. his assign-
ment to the second Chindit campaign against the
Japanese in Burma and his tragic and untimely
After his first Chindit campaign, on a visit
in Cairo, he rang up his Jewish Agency friends
and told them that he had taken the opportunity
to press upon both Churchill and Roosevelt in
person the need for a Jewish army and that they
had both replied in an encouraging sense. He
never forgot his major interest, and he constantly
reverted to his first hope—Zionism.
Wingate and his military companions who were
on the way to visit the Air Commando at Lalaghat
in Burma, died in the air crash over the Bishenpur
hills on April 14, 1944. On Aug. 2, in a speech in
the House of Commons, Churchill said: "We placed
our hopes at Quebec in the new Supreme Com-
mander Admiral Mountbatten and in his brilliant
lieutenant Major-General Wingate who, alas, has
paid a soldier's debt. There was a man of genius
who might well have become also a man of destiny.
He has gone, but his spirit lives on in the long
range penetration groups, and has underlain all
these intricate and daring air operations and mil-
itary operations based on air transport and on air
In his truly great tribute, Sykes also states, in
his splendid evaluation of Wingate's hopes and
"The hope of his life was to lead a Jewish
army and it can be said, 'on the authority of the
present leaders of Israel, that if he had survived
the war he would in the end have commanded the
small Zionist force which kept at bay, and then
routed the Moslem armies which tried to extirpate
the revived Jewish nation."
Some, including a biographer of Ben-Gurion,
differ with this view. This reviewer is inclined to
accept it. Wingate had left an indelible mark on
reborn Israel. He had labored for Jewry's defense
wth some of the most distinguished present leaders
in Israel. They and the people of Israel loved and
admired him. It would have been inevitable for
them to utilize his genius in behalf of Wingate's
great ideal—Zion redeemed.
In a larger sense, the name Wingate is woven
into Israel's fabric. That, in itself, is a great tribute
to the memory of that great Christian zealot.

When Orde Jonathan Wingate, the Wingates'
son, (who was born May 11, 1944, less than a month
after Wingate's tragic death on April 14) was 4,
the famous Burma fighter's widow was quoted as
saying that she was giv-
ing her son to Israel.
They settled there and
the young boy studied in
a kibbutz. Lorna Wingate
then was quoted as say-
ing: "Israel is at war. If
I had gold and money, I
would contribute them for
the war which my hus-
band foresaw. Not having
them, I decided to send
you my son. I am sending
him to be educated in. Is-
rael, to be a loyal son of
both Israel and Britain."
Several weeks ago, Win-
gate's youngest brother,
W. *Granville Win g a t e,
spoke before the Political
and Economic Circle of
the General Zionist Or-
ganization of Great Brit-
ain, in London, and re-
ferred to his late brother
as "an enthusiastic and
reckless protagonist of
Zionism." S. Landman, one
of the leaders of the
group, then asked Win- Wingate's Widow and
gate's brother whether it Their Son at the Age
was true that Lorna Win- of 4.
gate had said that she and her son would become
Jews and settle in Israel. The reply was that Mrs.
Wingate was in Israel when the State was pro-
claimed and that "almost casually" she then said
she hoped some day to live in Israel and to bring
up her son there. W. Grandville Wingate added that
the truth was that Wingate's son was being brought
up in England "in the conventional way."

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