43 Group

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Recruitment for ethnic cleansing

Len Singer wrote 'I was a member [of the 43 Group]. I had a friend Simcha Flapin in Hashomer Hatzair [Zionist youth group]. In early 1948 we raised ten members of the group to go to Palestine, which they reached in time to fight in the Israeli war of independence'.[1]
Since the turn of the year [1948] Group members had been slipping away along the volunteer route to fight for the Jewish state; the last few weeks before Partition was announced saw a rush. But the war of independence was over so quickly mot never got away. It was estimated only about thirty Group members actually reached there in tine for the fighting.[2]


Jules Konopinski would be one of the founding members of that successor organisation, but in the summer of 1948 he had no idea if he would even be alive at the end of the year. Jules was one of the 43 Groupers who had been accepted by the Jewish Agency to go and defend the new Jewish state. ‘Son, go do your duty,’ replied Vidal Sassoon’s mum when he told her he was going to fight; she fully understood the impact that fighting fascism alongside Jewish ex-servicemen had had on her son, who believed it was now his turn to step up to the line for his people. “We left London one at a time,’ recalled Sassoon, ‘as we were aware we were being watched by the British authorities, who knew we were going to Israel and took a dim view of it.’ Sassoon went first to Paris, where he was thoroughly vetted, and then to a displaced persons camp in Marseilles where he waited to be transported to Israel. There he met survivors of the concentration camps, which further convinced him of the importance of his mission. He remained in the Marseilles camp for five weeks before he and Jules got a place on the same plane to Israel, and to war, where Vidal joined the Palmach.[3]
Another 43 Grouper who went to fight in Israel was Nat Cashman. Almost all the 43 Groupers who went to the Holy Land had been too young to serve in the War; Cashman, who served in the RAF, was the exception. Short, and with a high-pitched voice, Cashman’s appearance was deceptive; he was a very good boxer and one of the Group’s toughest fighters. During the Battle of Jerusalem against Glubb Pasha’s Arab Legion, Cashman became the only member to lose their life during the Group’s existence; his death was a devastating loss.[3]
recruiters for the new Israeli army, with Major Weiser chief among them, sought out young Jews who would be willing to go to Palestine and help give the Yishuv a fighting chance. As an organisation filled with fit and fearless young Jews, the 43 Group had a wealth of men that could be sent to fight, and the Group permitted recruiters to come and speak to its members. Particularly enticed by the idea of going to fight for a Jewish homeland were those younger men who had not fought in the Second World War and believed they had a duty to fight for their people and their new homeland. The volunteering Group members were sent to be interviewed and have their health checked by the Jewish Agency, which had secretly set up at a Marks and Spencer in town; all those who were approved were told to stand by until the Agency was ready to get them out the country.[3]
Jonny Goodman joined in 1948: ‘There was a table like that, draped with an Israeli flag, and there were three guys sitting there, and I was interviewed and interrogated about how I would or wouldn’t do this that and the other, and then they said, fine, OK, you’re in. So I joined.[3]
On 11 September [1949], the 43 Group and their communist allies had occupied the area around Hackney Town Hall in order to forestall a UM march to Ridley Road which was due to set off from there. It was a partially successful intervention, with the police forcing the UM to set off from a side street, and then keeping them away from the main roads as they headed to Dalston... Jules Konopinski... had recently returned from fighting in Israel and had immediately thrown himself back into the 43 Group.[3]

Although the 43 Group claimed at the time that it 'adopts a completely neutral view in relation to the Zionist question', many of the group's supporters were strongly Zionist and thirty group members actually went on to fight against the British in Palestine. The group executive affiliated to the Zionist terrorist group, the Irgun,[4] and co-operated in Britain with Major Weiser, a founder of the Jewish Legion in Britain, and an arch Zionist.[5]






See also


  1. Morris Beckman The 43 Group. London: Centerprise, 1993, 2nd Ed. p.200.
  2. Morris Beckman The 43 Group. London: Centerprise, 1993, 2nd Ed. p. 130.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Daniel Sonabend. We Fight Fascists. Apple Books.
  4. Renton supports this point with the following sources: Interview with Len Rolnick, 9 December 1997 ~ 'The Irgun And The Haganah" April 1948, in 43 Group Material. London Museum of Jewish Life (LMJL): LMJL/185/1990/5.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Renton, Dave (1999) The attempted revival of British Fascism : Fascism and Anti-Fascism 1945-51. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 Joshua Cohen British Antifascism and the Holocaust, 1945-67 Thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Leicester, Stanley Burton Centre for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, School of History, Politics and International Relations, May2019