Jewish settler played vital role in Beersheba success

Many of the letters published in Saturday’s paper (Letters, November 4) seek to distance Israel from any historic event and reject Israel’s involvement in the Beersheba memorial.

The authors should have regard to the comments made by Bill Shorten in Jerusalem on the eve of the commemoration.

He said: “What is less well known … is that one of the reasons Australian Light Horsemen were able to conduct this marvellous daring military tactic, was because of the work of a Jewish settler … Aaron Aaronsohn. He and a small number of like-minded Jewish settlers put the case to General Allenby that rather than simply proceeding up the sea road to the formidable entrenched positions of Gaza, there were a series of oases that could outflank the Ottomans. As we know, the rest is history.”

Allenby, among other high-ranking British military, publicly credited members of the NILI, a Jewish espionage network, which included Aaronsohn, working in Palestine for the British, “… with providing the crucial intelligence that led to the triumph” in overthrowing the Ottoman presence in that part of the Middle East.

T. E. Lawrence expressed admiration for the NILI operatives, particularly Sarah Aaronsohn, Aaron’s sister, and her heroic death, and dismay at the Arabists who tried to hamper their efforts.

J. White, Griffith (The Brisbane Times)