When British Socialists Supported Israel as an Anti-Imperialist Project

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.

Read more at Fathom

More about: Communism, Labor Party (UK), Soviet Union, United Kingdom


How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus