Zionism and the British Labour Party

  • David FeldmanEmail author
Part of the The Holocaust and its Contexts book series (HOLC)


Historian of the British empire, Archibald Thornton, asserted in 1959 that ‘the Labour Party was always a strong supporter of Zionism.’ His remark cannot pass without qualification. To see that Thornton disregarded significant features of an uneven history, we need only to bring to mind the anger with which Zionists received the Passfield White Paper, which proposed restrictions on both Jewish immigration to Palestine and land purchases, or to recall the policies pursued between 1945 and 1948 by Ernest Bevin and Clement Attlee, labour foreign secretary and prime minister, respectively, as they resisted the Zionist drive toward independent statehood. Yet Thornton was not altogether wrong. Through most of the twentieth century, the sympathies of Labour Party politicians and activists were overwhelmingly with the Yishuv and then, after 1948, with Israel. This was the case even when the policies of the Labour governments led them into conflict with Zionist ambitions.



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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism, School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy, BirkbeckUniversity of LondonLondonUK

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