Echoes of the Spanish Civil War in Palestine: Zionists, communists and the contemporary press

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Abstract

The Spanish Civil War had aroused a wide reaction in the Jewish Yishuv in Palestine. Although right-wing groups showed notable sympathy for Spain's Nationalist rebels, public opinion in general was manifestly sympathetic to the Republican cause. At the same time, almost every group in the Yishuv, including the various gradations of the Zionist Left, opposed sending youths from Palestine to join the volunteers of the International Brigades. Torn between their commitment to the international struggle against Fascism and the fight of the working classes on the one hand, and their commitment to establish a Jewish state in Palestine on the other, left-wing Zionists gave priority to the Jewish national project. Even the communists were not that enthusiastic at first about sending their militants to fight in Spain. However, as several of their activists were deported from Palestine to Spain by the police of the British mandate, and other militants refused to obey the directives of the party leadership and left on their own initiative, the Palestine Communist Party did its best to use it in order to gain sympathy and support among non-communist Jewish public opinion. Based on an analysis of the contemporary Jewish press, this article portrays the various reactions in Palestine to the civil war taking place in the Iberian Peninsula, with a special emphasis on the debate around the participation of Jewish volunteers from Palestine in the struggle against fascism in Spain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-23
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Contemporary History
Volume43
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2008

Keywords

  • International Brigades
  • Jewish Press
  • Palestine
  • Spanish Civil War
  • Zionism

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