by Jason Lever
Posted on Sun, 01 Dec 2013 17:37:24 GMT
Poale Zion cements Solomon Lever’s affiliation
Solomon Lever had strong Zionist affinities – his grandfather and uncle had both gone to Palestine – and he was critical of the Labour Government elected in 1945 because after its early backing for Zionism before the Second World War, the Labour party’s approach had changed.
The precise degree to which Solomon’s Labour loyalties were challenged by the anti-fascist credentials of the Communist party is not known. What is likely is that Poale Zion’s strong support for Labour had helped attract him to the party in the first place. In turn, Bevin’s policies as Foreign Secretary called into question his full support to the newly elected Labour Government after 1945.
Poale Zion was a movement of Marxist Zionist Jewish workers circles founded in Russia in 1901. It had branches in London in 1903/04 and Leeds in 1905. The aim was to popularise Zionism within unions and among Labour politicians, saying in the 1918 general election that not only did the Labour Party ‘stand for labour under good conditions… [but also] redemption of our own National Home, Palestine’ (ref: Alderman 1983).
Anthony Asquith, Liberal party leader, further lost Jewish support in 1922 by arguing in a speech in Paisley for Britain’s withdrawal from its obligations in Palestine as part of a wider foreign policy of retrenchment. This backtracked on the Balfour Declaration, the first significant declaration by a world power in favour of a Jewish “national home” in Palestine which was made under the auspices of the Lloyd George Coalition, with the prominent leadership of the Liberals.
At the same time, half of the Jews returned to Parliament in the inter-war 1918, 1922 and 1923 elections were Conservatives. Nevertheless many of these Members were out-and-out anti-Zionists and feared that supporting a Jewish national home would bring their loyalty to Britain into question.
In opposition to the National Government of the 1920s, the Labour Party ‘found it easy to support the ideal of the National Home’. Labour and Trades Union Congress (TUC) conferences in the 1920s regularly supported the idea of a Jewish National Home influenced by Poale Zion. Labour’s leader, Ramsay MacDonald, visited Palestine in 1922 and reiterated this policy (ref: Jenner and Taylor; Alderman 1983).
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