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Anti-Semitism and the American Far Left

I also document the strong Communist support for Israel during the War of Independence in 1948. Some party members continued to back Israel even as the Soviet Union abruptly shifted to an anti-Israel position soon after the war ended. I show that the mass departures from the CP in 1956-57, generally attributed to Khrushchev’s secret speech and the Soviet invasion of Hungary, were also influenced by dismay over revelations of Stalin’s execution of Soviet Yiddish writers, and over Soviet support for Egypt during the Sinai campaign in 1956.

The recent far left, much reduced in size since the early 1970s, has never expressed any ambivalence about Israel. Instead it has demonized Zionism and called for Israel’s destruction. The far left fully accepts Palestinian claims that the Jews are merely a religious group, not a people. Its virulently anti-Zionist propaganda, replete with longstanding and barely disguised anti-Semitic accusations and images, has now been embraced by many in the mainstream, especially on the campus and in the mass media.

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Stephen H. Norwood is professor of history at the University of Oklahoma and author, most recently, of “The Third Reich in the Ivory Tower: Complicity and Conflict on American Campuses” (Cambridge University Press, 2009).