Stalin’s death on 5 March 1953 ended the tensions between the countries and halted the campaign against Soviet Jews. Diplomatic relations were restored in July, but there was no return to the golden age of 1947-49, and the war of June 1967, in which Russia supported Egypt and its Arab allies, led to a second break in diplomatic relations. They were only restored in 1991, just a few months before the demise of the USSR.
The Forgotten Alliance between the USSR and Israel.
Most people interested in the subject know that the Soviet Union was one of the first countries to recognise Israel.
Indeed it was something my mother told me about.
But one suspects that few know much about the details.
Michel Réal in the latest Le Monde Diplomatique offers an account worth reading which appears in the English language edition, The forgotten alliance.
“The establishment of Israel owes much to the Soviet Union and the wide range of support — diplomatic, demographic and military — it offered the young state.”
“The Communist movement was historically opposed to the Zionist project, but Ben Gurion made it clear that the new state would not hinder Soviet interests. Moscow still withheld its support until 1946.
The turning point was in May 1947 when Britain, which had held the League of Nations mandate over Palestine since 1922, decided to transfer the case to the recently established United Nations in order to resolve the territory’s future (2). Andrei Gromyko, the young Soviet deputy foreign minister, said that the USSR was willing to support the division of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and the other Arab, if the one-state solution proved unworkable.”
From then until 1949, Israel enjoyed the political, military and demographic support of Stalin’s Russia, even though Stalin was at that time repressing Russian Jews, mostly because of a struggle for power at the top of the party-state. The USSR was central to the adoption of the UN plan to partition Palestine on 29 November 1947. Besides its own vote, it also delivered those of its satellites, with the (still unexplained) exception of Yugoslavia. It also provided Israel with the resources it needed most — people and arms.
In this first phase, from 1941 to 1951, Israel received support from the USSR that went beyond its expectations — without having to sacrifice the backing of western nations, especially the US.
subsequent episodes caused discord and led to Russo-Israeli diplomatic relations being severed in February 1953. First there was the USSR’s complete ban on Jewish immigration from eastern Europe, where anti-Semitic activity was widespread. Then there was the Prague trial in November 1952: after the rupture between Stalin and Marshal Tito’s Yugoslavia in 1948, the leaderships of the “people’s democracies” of eastern Europe were purged. In Czechoslovakia, the general secretary of the Communist Party, Rudolf Slánský, was arrested in 1951 and accused of an “imperialist-Zionist” plot. At the show trial, 11 of the 14 accused were explicitly designated as Jews.
Then there was the “doctors’ plot” of 1953…..
Those looking at the comments here may have noticed a virulent set of exchanges (which would already fill a small book) between Tony Greenstein, Paul Bogdanor and Michael Ezra and on the relationship between Zionism and the Nazis.
One of the main issues is claims about ‘collaboration’ between Zionists and the National Socialist regime and its allies.
Paul and Michael are unrelenting in their hostility to “Marxism-Leninism”. For reasons of their own, having little to do with reality, they claim Tony Greenstein is a supporter of this ideology.
Perhaps they might care to read and comment on Michel Réal’s article about how the real ‘Marxist-Leninists” backed Israel.