Between 1944 and 1950, Great Britain’s Communist party, in stark contrast to the far left today, vocally supported the creation of a Jewish state in Mandatory Palestine. This position put the Communists at odds with the Labor party of the day—not to mention with the Corbynite wing of today’s Labor party—which was working to keep Jews from reaching Palestine and to prevent those there from declaring a state. As John Strawson explains, British Communists were following the lead of Moscow, which at the time favored the establishment of a Jewish state, mostly out of antipathy to London’s imperial interests:
The opposition to British imperialism, and imperialism in general, is not perhaps surprising. What is more significant is the way in which the creation of Israel is portrayed and described [in the Anglo-Communist press]. The constant repetition that it is the Jewish state of Israel gives the lie to those on the left today who claim that the creation of a Jewish state is contrary to progressive thinking. The Communist Party of Great Britain simply recognized that Jews were a people with the right to self-determination and that included the right to create to Jewish state to exercise it. Indeed the Communist MP Willie Gallacher was keen to underline the historical significance of the event, “After more than 2,000 years of dispersal and unspeakable suffering the Jewish people in Palestine has proclaimed the existence of a Jewish state.”
Current left-wing anti-Zionists should note that Marxists of the 1940s did not see Israel as an “ethnonationalist” or “exclusivist” state. At the same time—as can be seen from this statement and the Daily Worker’s content—there is no suggestion that Israel is a colonial project. Quite the reverse in fact, Israel’s Declaration of Independence is seen as blow against colonialism. What is also striking there is no coverage or discussion of Palestinian Arab displacement, a process that began in early 1948 and continued during the war between Israel and its neighbors.