Meretz event in London on Sunday on refugees

A very interesting event this weekend, which I read about here. It is organised by Meretz UK and looks at the connections between refugees in Britain, Israel/Palestine and elswhere, at the time of the 1905 Aliens Act, the kindertransport, and today.

One of the speakers, of whom Poumista is a fan:

David Rosenberg: is a teacher and writer who also leads guided walks on London’s radical history ( He is on the National Committee of the Jewish Socialists’ Group and on the editorial committee of the Jewish Socialist Magazine. During the 1980s he was co-ordinator of the Jewish Cultural and Anti-Racist Project and then worked for the Runnymede Trust – a research and information body dealing with issues of racism and discrimination.

Meretz, by the way, are part of the extended Poumista family, in that, although a member of the reformist social democratic Socialist International, it was born from the Poale Zion Left (the Marxist wing of the pre-WWII Zionist movement) and Hashomer Hatzair Workers Party. The latter, a socialist binationalist movement in Palestine and the Jewish diaspora, was affiliated to the “Three-and-a-half” International, the International Revolutionary Marxist Centre (also known as the “London Bureau”), and was thus a sibling party of the POUM. Lenni Brenner writes:

Only one Zionist tendency, the Hashomer Hatzair, ever tried to grapple with the deeper implications of the Spanish revolution. Its members had devoted considerable efforts to try to win over the British Independent Labour Party (ILP) to a pro-Zionist position, and they closely followed the fate of the ILP’s sister party in Spain, the Partido Obrero de Unificacion Marxista (POUM). The political failure of the Popular Front strategy in Spain prompted a broad critique of the Stalinists and Social Democrats. However, there is no evidence that any of their members went to Spain, certainly not in an official capacity, or that they did anything for the struggle there beyond the raising of an insignificant donation, in Palestine, for the POUM.

More here, here, here and here – the latter actually inaccurate, as it was HaPoel members, not Hashomer members, who were in Barcelona; I am not sure which militias they fought with.

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. reminds me of an interesting resource: the weekly Freie Tribüne of the Austrian Poale Zion (mostly in German, some articles in Yiddish), the wing of the group which controlled the paper renamed themselves in 1921 “Jewish Communist Party of Austria” before joining the KPÖ … succesoors of this paper were Unsere Tribüne (1924-1926) and Unsere Tribüne (1927-1934), now aligned with the Austrian social democracy

  2. a litte mistake in my previous comment, the 1927-34 newspaper is called “Der jüdische Arbeiter”

  3. Lenni Brenner wrote many things. Much of it ideologically motivated and some based on Stalinist propaganda. It was not surprising that the neo-Nazi publishing house Noontide Press reprinted his work. This is in spite of the fact that he Brenner is a self declared Trotskyist.

    The Jerusalem Post (February 17, 1984) reviewed Brenner’s book Zionism in the Age of the Dicators, and the title of the review summed up the opinion of the reviewer of Brenner: “Fantasist.” Louis Rapoport who wrote the review ridiculed the book: “it seems odd that Trotsky and his movement have more entries in a book ‘about’ Zionism that does Ben-Gurion.” Rapoport then dismissed the book out of hand as “leftist babble” and concluded: “this book is of no value, the fantasies of a reader of aging Young Socialist Alliance newspapers.”

    This book was also decimated by Louis Harap in Jewish Currents (May, 1984). As Harap comments, Brenner can claim that he had a favourable review by the Russian newspaper Izvestia!

    Not even all of the Trotskyite left liked the book. Gerry Ben-Noah commented in a review for Socialist Organiser, (October 4, 1984):

    Brenner… constructs a fantasy-world in which the Zionists did wish for and expect the holocaust, and in which the most fanatical Jewish nationalists were, in reality, ardent anti-semites.

    The editor of that paper John O’Mahoney (aka Sean Matgamna) subsequently (Workers’ Liberty No. 6, April/May 1987) said that the intent of Brenner was not on “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but on indicting Zionism and Israel.”

    I could go on!

  4. I can’t stand Brenner, but the book contains a wealth of fascinating information. Not all of it is reliable, but most of it is footnoted so that facts can be checked. The passage quoted here, I am pretty sure, stands up to scrutiny.

    Ent., thanks for the info.

  5. Poumista,

    It is true, the facts can be checked. He takes things out of context, gets things wrong and presents a very distorted picture.

    In a review of Zionism in the Age of the Dictators carried out for the Institute of Jewish Affairs, in its journal Patterns of Prejudice, (Vol. 17, No. 3, July 1983 pp. 49-51) Bryan Cheyette gave some examples of the distortions used by Brenner:

    The World Jewish Congress (WJC) in the 1930s is accused of refusing to incorporate the American Communist Party into its anti-Nazi activities – in Brenner’s world this becomes ‘another tragic sacrifice to Zionism’… (In fact, at the time, the WJC in America only consisted of the American Jewish Congress, an individual membership organisation – so the question of admitting affiliated organisations never arose.) Albert Einstein is stereotyped as a ‘classical Zionist’ who ‘subscribed to Zionist race conceptions’… The Board of Deputies of British Jews is characterized erroneously in the 1930’s as ‘Zionist’ which, for Brenner, accounts for their ‘ignoring’ the British Union of Fascists… Professor Bernard Wasserstein of the Tauber Institute at Brandeis becomes a ‘later-day apologist for the Holocaust Jewish Establishment’… These are just a few examples; they could be multiplied ad nauseam.

    I have not checked the passage that you have quoted and you may well be accurate. It is just that in my opinion, Brenner is not a reliable source.

  6. […] I’ve mentioned before, I have a particular interest in Poale Zion, the originally Marxist current in the Zionist […]

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