Zionism’s Rift with the Left

Today’s British left has little understanding of Jews and anti-semitism because it was not forged by the struggle against fascism in the 1930s and the Holocaust (The hatred that won’t die, February 28). Jews are perceived to be white, bourgeois and invisible – certainly not members of the oppressed. The left is rationally anti-antisemitic, but that is not the same as being pro-Jewish. There is a profound intellectual ignorance about the origins of Zionism as a revolutionary movement – much of which can be attributed to the confusion caused by the megaphone war between Israelis and Palestinians.There is a huge difference in attitude between the old left and the post-1967 left. The latter’s thinking emerged during the age of liberation movements such as those in South Africa and Vietnam – and Palestine seemingly fitted in. There is also an erroneous idea that because the Jews and the old left together fought fascism, the left has always been a proud opponent of anti-semitism. Many examples in history, such as Proudhon and Bakunin, prove the contrary.

This is why the Jewish national left who wish to see an end to the Sharon government and support a two-state solution perceive an ideological schism with the British left.

Dr Colin Shindler
SOAS, University of London

Guardian 1 March 2002

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