February 11, 2007

Today In Jewish History - 23 Shevat

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On this date in 1918, the Jewish Legion left England to join the Allies in liberating Palestine from the Turks. Four years earlier, Zev Jabotinsky had proposed that a Jewish legion be formed, but the British resisted the idea of Jewish volunteers fighting on the Palestinian front; this led instead to the establishment of the Zion Mule Corps. Meanwhile, Jabotinsky pursued his project of a Jewish Legion, which was eventually designated as the 38th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers. It included British volunteers, members of the former Zion Mule Corps, a large number of Russian Jews, and later joined by a large number of American volunteers. A few years later, the Jewish Legion was demobilized by the anti-Zionist British Military Administration. Yet it would be remembered as the first organized Jewish fighting force since Roman times, and a precursor to the Israeli Defense Force (IDF).