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2.0 out of 5 stars Go home to Siam, 3 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Israel and the European Left: Between Solidarity and Delegitimization (Paperback)
Colin Shindler's book "Israel and the European Left" is uneven, confusing and (often) badly written, including spelling mistakes and grammatical whoopers. I don't think it's particularly useful, unless you are very well versed in the background stories, both the history of Zionism and that of the world Communist movement. But sure, I did glean a few interesting facts from it.

For instance, many anti-Israeli canards actually originated during the 1930's and 1940's in the Soviet Union, including the (disingenuous) proposal later known as "democratic secular Palestine", according to which Jews who support the Arabs will be allowed to stay after an Arab victory in Palestine. The equation between Nazis and Zionists, or the claim that the Zionists were anti-Semitic, also comes from the Stalinized Communist movement. The anti-Semitic degeneration of world Communism seems to have happened very quickly after the death of Lenin, with the Palestinian Communist Party supporting Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, in a local election as early as 1925 (at the time, Husseini rejected their support). Shindler has also noted a number of bizarre ironies. Thus, the membership of the Palestinian Communist Party was mostly Jewish, and the document demanding its "Arabization" was written by a Jew! Stalin's foremost opponent Leo Trotsky supported the establishment of a Jewish state, but only after a world socialist revolution, while most of his followers vehemently rejected Zionism en toto, being closer to Stalinism on this issue. Yet, many of the Trotskyists were Jewish, including Tony Cliff (Ygael Gluckstein) or Ernest Mandel (Ezra Mandel). Cliff subsequently formed the British SWP. It's interesting to note that he was anti-Israeli almost from the start. He was also an actual Israeli, who had left Israel for Britain in a kind of counter-aliyah.

The roots of the anti-Stalinist left's present hostility to Israel go back to 1956, the year of the Hungarian revolution and also the year of the Suez crisis. The Hungarian events proved to large segments of the left that Stalinism (or traditional Communism) was dead as a force for human emancipation, while the Suez crisis was seen as an Israeli betrayal of the anti-colonial liberation struggle. The New Left, while rejecting Soviet Communism, therefore became just as anti-Israeli as the Soviets (or even more so). Only a few leftist intellectuals, such as Sartre, dared to be both for anti-colonialism *and* defend Israel's right to exist. The anti-Israeli positions of the left hardened after the Six Day War in 1967, and became main stream during Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982. Shindler believes that anti-Zionism was introduced into the British Labour Party and the TUC by erstwhile leftist radicals who had joined Labour's left wing. Thus, both New Leftists and left reformists could rub shoulders with Stalinists and Trotskyists, who had rejected Zionism and Israel even earlier than 1956/67.

A disturbing fact pointed out by Shindler is that the left's anti-Zionist activism continued unabated, and became even more militant, *after* Arafat's rejection of a two-state solution at Camp David and al-Qaeda's attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11. Rather than waking up and realizing that the official Palestinian narrative is grossly oversimplified, the various leftist groups stuck to their guns and invited the Muslim Brotherhood as a new ally! However, Shindler believes that the anti-Zionist campaign has lost momentum in recent years, at least in Britain, after the split of the Respect Party, a new editor at the (previously anti-Israeli) Guardian newspaper, etc.

Finally, I noted that even anti-Semitism can be comic, in its own bizarre way. During an anti-Semitic campaign in Gomulka's Poland, the local Communist faithful in a rural district gathered under the banner "Go home to Zion". The boorish attendees, who didn't know the meaning of "Zion", assumed that a spelling error had occurred, and quickly changed the text of the banner to "Go home to Siam"...

Despite the above (and some other insights), since this book is so badly written and edited, I can only give it two stars.
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