Chapter 18 – The Labour Party’s support for Zionism

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).

Trades-Unions Labour-Party Zionism Poale-Zion Balfour-Declaration Palestine

comments powered by Disqus


Chapter 1 - Introducing Solomon Lever and his l...Chapter 2 - The Jewish East EndChapter 3 - A family history of Solomon LeverChapter 4 - A Jewish East End education for Sol...Chapter 5 - Joining East End cultural and commu...Chapter 6 - Solomon as a cabinet makerChapter 7 – From cabinet maker to trade union g...Chapter 8 – Rise of the London Jewish Bakers UnionChapter 9 – Dealing with the challenges of a de...Chapter 10 – Solomon’s journey to Jewish trade ...Chapter 11 – Interlude of anarchism’s appeal to...Chapter 12 – Solomon Lever finds his home in th...Chapter 13 – The Liberal and Conservative partiesChapter 14 – The Labour Party consolidates its ...Chapter 15 – The appeal of East End councils’ s...Chapter 16 – The rise and fall of communist sup...Chapter 17 – Surging Labourism after the warChapter 18 – The Labour Party’s support for Zio...Chapter 19 – Short-lived Labour-Zionist honeymoonChapter 20 – Solomon Lever’s 1947 broadcast spe...Chapter 21 – Solomon Lever’s 1948 speech from t...Chapter 22 – Solomon Lever’s 1954 speech from t...Chapter 23 – Solomon Lever’s final TUC speech i...Chapter 24 – His Worshipful The Mayor and Mayor...Chapter 25 – Family connections in the Mayor’s ...Chapter 26 – Important social issues raised wit...Chapter 27 – The adbuction of Solomon LeverChapter 28 – Discovery of Solomon’s bodyChapter 29 – InquestChapter 30 – The death of Solomon LeverChapter 31 – Solomon’s funeral and obituaryChapter 32 – The death knell of the London Jewi...Chapter 33 – An appraisalChapter 34 – Bibliography