The Jewish Refugee Commandos Who Fought Hitler under the Union Jack

In her recent book X Troop: The Secret Jewish Commandos of World War II, Leah Garrett tells the story of a British reconnaissance unit that snuck into Normandy just a few weeks before D-Day, and was captured by the Germany navy just as it was about to return home. A.E. Smith explains in his review what made this unit unusual:

One of the commandos on this mission, a British officer identified as George Lane, was a Jew. Lane’s real name was Lanyi György, and he was born and raised in Budapest. Before he was transported to a POW cage (his captors never cottoned to the fact that he was a Jew), Lane/Lanyi had the surreal experience of being quizzed by the legendary German field marshal Erwin Rommel. In a moment that feels like it comes from some lost fragment of Yiddish folklore, Lanyi even managed to confront this emissary of darkness on the annihilation of Europe’s Jews.

Rommel’s reply? “That’s politics.”

Lane was part of a small, secretive unit of Jewish commandos, recruited from the ranks of Jewish refugees who had managed to flee the Nazis and find refuge in Britain. All of them had experienced Nazism at first hand. With a few miraculous exceptions, none of them would ever see their parents or loved ones again. Latter-day Maccabees, they fought the Nazis in almost every major Commonwealth operation of the Second World War. They were among the first onto the beach on D-Day, and they fought all the way to the black heart of Hitler’s Reich and beyond.

Hoping for a day when Allied armies might take the offensive, [Winston Churchill] knew Britain needed soldiers who could not only fight but also interrogate prisoners in their own language. In doing so, they could produce intelligence to support real-time tactical and strategic decision-making. And so X Troop—called that because it wasn’t supposed to exist at all—was born. . . . Ultimately, 87 of these refugees would undergo the arduous commando and intelligence training needed to become X Troopers, and 22 of them would be killed in action.

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: British Jewry, Jews in the military, Refugees, World War II

How to Turn Palestinian Public Opinion Away from Terror

The Palestinian human-rights activist Bassem Eid, responding to the latest survey results of the Palestinian public, writes:

Not coincidentally, support for Hamas is much higher in the West Bank—misgoverned by Hamas’s archrivals, the secular nationalist Fatah, which rules the Palestinian Authority (PA)—than in Gaza, whose population is being actively brutalized by Hamas. Popular support for violence persists despite the devastating impact that following radical leaders and ideologies has historically had on the Palestinian people, as poignantly summed up by Israel’s Abba Eban when he quipped that Arabs, including the Palestinians, “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

Just as worrying is the role of propaganda and misinformation, which are not unique to the Palestinian context but are pernicious there due to the high stakes involved. Misinformation campaigns, often fueled by Hamas and its allies, have painted violent terrorism as the only path to dignity and rights for Palestinians. Palestinian schoolbooks and public media are rife with anti-Semitic and jihadist content. Hamas’s allies in the West have matched Hamas’s genocidal rhetoric with an equally exterminationist call for the de-normalization and destruction of Israel.

It’s crucial to consider successful examples of de-radicalization from other regional contexts. After September 11, 2001, Saudi Arabia implemented a comprehensive de-radicalization program aimed at rehabilitating extremists through education, psychological intervention, and social reintegration. This program has had successes and offers valuable lessons that could be adapted to the Palestinian context.

Rather than pressure Israel to make concessions, Eid argues, the international community should be pressuring Palestinian leaders—including Fatah—to remove incitement from curricula and stop providing financial rewards to terrorists.

Read more at Newsweek

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian public opinion