The British left and Zionism

History of a divorce

By Paul Kelemen

The British left and Zionism


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8813-1
  • Pages: 240
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £16.99
  • Published Date: September 2012
  • BIC Category: Politics, Political science & theory, POLITICAL SCIENCE / History & Theory, Society & social sciences / Political science & theory


The changes and divisions on the left over the Israel-Palestine conflict forms the central theme of this archive based study. While the Labour Party supported establishing a Jewish state in Palestine, as a modernising force, the communist movement opposed it, on the grounds that it facilitated imperial influence in the Middle East. In 1947, however, the British Communist Party rallied to the Zionist cause, leaving the Palestinian cause with no effective protagonists in Britain. The left's sympathy, at the time, was overwhelmingly with the Israeli state, considering its establishment a recompense to the Jewish people for the Holocaust. It was only after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War and Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, that the new left in Britain began to articulate a critical attitude to Israel and support for Palestinian nationalism. It is a perspective which has gradually gained ground in the political mainstream.


"Paul Keleman provides many answers in this revelatory and investigative book."

"the book provides a historically accurate, informed overview of how the British Left shifted from support to criticism of Zionism in opposition to Israel's 'blood and soil' nationalism and the expansion of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories."
(Ekaterina Kolpinskaya, Political Studies Review Volume 12, Issue 3, September 2014)

Kelemen's book... is meticulously well researched and well written.


Paul Kelemen is Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Manchester


1. The Labour Party and the Zionist Project
2. Zionism and Anglo-Jewry
3. British Communists and Palestine
4. Post-war Social Democracy and Israel
5. The New Left and the Palestinians
6. A new antisemitism?

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