Jewish Brigade soldiers
Jewish Brigade soldiersWikimedia Commons

London's Imperial War Museum has removed an offensive exhibit branding Jewish soldiers who fought the Nazis during World War Two as "terrorists."

The Simon Wiesenthal Center lodged its own formal complaint with the Museum following widespread outrage, after it was revealed that a display on the Jewish Brigade of the British Army was described as "terrorist activities."

A poster of Jewish warriors was captioned: "Terrorist activities: Men of the First Battalion Jewish Brigade during a march past"; adding, "The Jewish Brigade was formed in September 1944 and fought in Italy under the British Eighth Army. Many of its members went on to join the Hagana and other illegal formations."

The Hagana was the largest of several Jewish paramilitary groups which operated during the British occupation of Israel, known at the time as British Mandatory Palestine. 

The Hagana took a less active role than more radical resistance groups such as the Irgun and Lehi in fighting the British occupation, focusing primarily on defending existing Jewish communities - though its more elite strike-force, the Palmach, did at times carry out offensive operations against Arab militias and British occupation forces. As the precursor to the IDF it played a central role in fending off the combined Arab invasion during the War of Independence.

In his letter to the Museum, Simon Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations Dr. Shimon Samuels noted the apparent double-standard the Jewish Brigade was being subject to.

"The above British Mandate travesty is redolent of the UK's closure of the gates of Mandatory Palestine, which consigned untold fugitives of Nazism to their deaths," Samuels said. "For British Jews, so many of whom served in H.M.'s [Her Majesty's] forces, who later came to nascent Israel as volunteers to repel British-led Arab invaders bent on completing Hitler’s plan of extermination.  Would you malign these loyal British Jewish military with the stigma of “terrorism”?"

"Did your recently consecrated Memorial to Indian Muslim recruits, who served in both World Wars, mention “the terrorists” among them who went on to fight for Pakistan against the British Imperial Raj of India – the Jewel in the Crown?”" the letter went on to ask.

The Centre urged the Director-General to "to withdraw this offensive poster, take disciplinary measures against the apparent anti-Semite responsible and make a public apology to the Jewish community."

“The Jewish Brigade under British command were heroes who combated Fascist terrorists in Italy. They were eye witnesses to the annihilation of their people as they joined the liberators of the camps," the letter concluded.

"To call them “terrorists” is the greatest Holocaust revisionism imaginable. This has tarnished your Museum and betrays the cause of British integrity."