Creation of Israel as a somewhat leftist state with the help of Czechoslovakia

Miroslav Kolář, Nov. 29, 2023
1. Origins of Israel (Why did Stalin create it?)
2. Beginnings of Israel as described by a leftist eyewitness

1. Attempt to create Israel as a leftist state (Why did Stalin create Israel?)

Does the younger generation know how Israel came to be?
Jews won the 1948 war mainly thanks to the arms smuggled secretly through the British blockade of Palestine, from Czechoslovakia with the help of Yugoslavia and with the encouragement of the Soviet Union. The smuggling was personally coordinated by the then secretary of the Central Committee of the Czechoslovak Communist Party (CP), Rudolf Slánský. The arms were trophy German, including crated Messerschmidt fighter jets, Czechoslovak and some Soviet. They were in quantity sufficient to supply the Israeli army for the next one and half year. According to Wikipedia, even the disgraced British media mogul Robert Maxwell was involved in this smuggling operation in his young age.
I recall being told about somebody who were employed by the Central committee of the Czechoslovak CP, and were either directly sent to Israel soon after 1948, or allowed/encouraged to emigrate there.
The UN resolution 181 on the partition of Palestine was approved only thanks to the efforts of the Soviet Union, who managed to muster the required 2/3 majority, in spite of the abstention of Yugoslavia (whose support and arms smuggling was for a single federated Jewish-Palestinian state, not for the partition). At that time USA voted with the USSR (also interested in chasing out Britain from the Middle East). Britain and France voted against this resolution. The resolution called for the following partition: 56% of the Palestine was given to the Jewish state, 42% to the Palestinian one, and the remaining 2% were supposed to become an open International zone encompassing the cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Unfortunately, this resolution was not implemented and was violated from the very beginning in many ways (there was a contribution describing one such minor way at with date and title "26.6.2016 - Isreal enlarged its territory at night" [spelling error retained] which I cannot find any more, describing how in those early months or years some Israeli actors (soldiers?) were frequently moving the border posts a little bit under the cover of night). But mainly, most of the territory set apart for the Palestinian state was jointly annexed by Jordan and Israel in 1949, under a secret agreement among them (see Aki Orr's book below).
At the same time the Israeli state moved rapidly away from being moderately (or declaratively?) leftist, and in 1956 it already joined France and Britain in their attack on the Suez Canal (at that time the USA still pressured them to stop the attack). According to Aki Orr (next Section) Israel was in a kind of schizophrenia - the then ruling Labour party had in their statutes a clause supporting Vietnamese people in their fight against the US imperialism still long after Israel was fully dependent on the USA.
Thus many people were asking in the Russian Internet after the October 7, 2023 Hamas attack a variation of "Why did Stalin create Israel?"
Most probable answers offered by historian Spitsyn:
1. To create a progressive state in the heart of the remaining British empire in the Middle East.
2. To control the Suez Canal.
3. Because of personal friendships of Soviet leaders and/or their wives (e.g. the wife of the then Soviet foreign minister Molotov was said to be a close friend of Golda Meir, the first Israeli ambassador to the USSR, and later the Israeli prime minister).
As for the hope connected with the first reason above, it was largely fulfilled. All the Middle East states of that time were reactionary monarchies with close military ties to Britain, and the creation of Israel in their midst lead to replacement (with the exception of Jordan) of those monarchies with socialist or quasi-socialist governments friendly to the Soviet Union.
Israel supposedly asked for a big credit from the Soviet Union which it could not provide because of the destruction caused by WW2, and so Israel eventually turned to USA.
During the WW2, the Soviet Union was the only country that accepted all Jewish refugees (unlike e.g. Canada that sent a few ships with Jewish refuges back to Germany and thus to probable death in concentration camps). At first there was talk around 1943 to establish a Jewish state in Crimea. It was supposed to be a "Jewish Soviet Socialist Republic", a full member of the Soviet Union. But Crimea had already been populated densely enough, and so the Soviet leadership shifted its support for a Jewish state in Palestine.
Israel is actually not the first Jewish state-like entity. In 1930s a Jewish Autonomous Oblast (region) was established in the Soviet Far East near the city of Khabarovsk, east of Siberia. In its peak well over 30% of JAO inhabitants were Jewish. They managed to create what nobody believed was possible - a secular Jewish "mini-state" without any religion and synagogues, with rather flourishing culture (theatres, libraries, journals, book publishing; with Yiddish language as the official language). It took some effort to create is, as it was originally a marshy area with lots of mosquitoes in the summer and not really balmy winters (but everything is relative - JAO is considered a warm/hot South for the people working in the oil fields in the Arctics north of there, who are coming there for their long summer vacations and some even for retirement). It is probably not large enough for a population of the size of the current Israel. Unfortunately, since the 1960s practically all the Jews gradually moved from JAO to Israel. A few have been trickling back to JAO in recent years. A few are commuting between JAO and Israel. Currently the governor of JAO is Jewish, and maybe only a few dozens of others JAO residents are. The governor invited in October 2023 all refugees from the current fighting in Gaza, both from Israel and Palestine, to come to JAO: "Everybody who comes in peace is welcomed," he said.
I have finally visited JAO in 2019. On the front of the railway station in its capital Birobijan there is, besides a Russian one, also an equally big Hebrew sign with the name of the city. Everything else bilingual in the city is in Yiddish (which is more or less a variation of German, so somewhat understandable). Names of the streets in the historical city centre are bilingual, as are all the signs on the governmental and public buildings. The flag of JAO is a rainbow flag reminiscent of the LGBT flag, but preceding it by decades. Birobijan was the only Russian city were I saw permanently posted the "Flag of Victory" on the top of the regional government building, besides the Russian flag and the JAO flag. Flag of Victory is basically a Soviet flag with the name of an army division on it. It is the copy of the flag raised above Reichstag in Berlin in May 1945. Flag of Victory is one of the official symbols of the present day Russian state, but elsewhere it is used mostly during various parades and celebrations.

2. The beginnings of Israel in the books of a leftist eyewitness (Akiva Orr)

I met him in the Direct Democracy Movement, not in person, only through e-mail exchanges. His autobiography is below. Unfortunately, his e-mail does not work any more. He would be 92 now.
His books in various formats can be read/copied from here.
The book I recommend to read is the second one in the left (English) column on the above page. It is called "Peace, Peace, When There Is No Peace (Israel and the Arabs 1948–1961)". It was written together with Aki's fellow student based solely on the press articles already published. They wrote it because by 1950-1951, Israeli people (or rather press and politicians) started to forget what was actually going on in 1948, and a myth was created differing a lot from what had actually happened.
The authors wanted to record that the 1948 war was mainly a war against British colonialism, and not against the local Palestinians, and that the invading Arab armies were British proxies (had British commanding officers, armaments), with the help of which Britain wanted to return to Palestine through the "back door", after it was kicked out of the "front door". They record how the Israeli and Jordan governments divided in 1949 between themselves most of what was supposed to become the Palestinian Arab state. Initially possibly temporarily; the Israeli left was not happy about it; but in the end it was too tempting for Israel to give up those annexed areas, in the belief that in the long term they would get away with it, and that the Arabs will forget about the matter with time.
OK, that's a very oversimplified description of mine of the book contents. Anyway, the book is in English, important piece of history, you can read it by yourself.
Perhaps just two quotes from it: the first Israeli government foreign policy would be based on “faithfulness to the principles set out in the UN Charter and friendship with all peace-loving states and especially with the United States and the Soviet Union”.
And: in the years 1950 to 1958, Israel did not receive, despite all its entreaties, requests and promises to cooperate in the “defense of the free world”, not even one cent of the American military aid. (It only started flowing in since 1959.)
Another interesting read in the left English column is the next book of mostly political essays "Enlightening Disillusionments". Description of historical events from Aki Orr's perspective. For example on page 144 is the story of his meeting with the famous South African Communist Joe Slovo (Yosef Soloveitchik was his original name). He also met people who personally knew Lenin and company.
On page 3, see Aki's father's 1948 fulfilled prophecy of a century of nationalist conflict: "In 1934 I knew nothing about the Palestinians. I didn't know they had lived here in many towns and villages for over a thousand years. Had I known it I would have left. There will be a century of nationalistic conflict here. It will suck up, like a whirlpool, all the thinking, creativity, - and lives, of people. It will be a waste of one's life. I am not a nationalist, I made a mistake in staying here but at my age it is too late for me to start life from scratch elsewhere".
The first book "For Political Equality" is his plea for Direct Democracy based on history of 20th century. The chronology of events is correct, but his evaluation of some of the events may be subjective, influenced by his views, and by the information available at the time. For example, he repeats the tale that after Germany's attack on Soviet Union, Stalin ran away from Kremlin, and was hiding in a cottage for a week before his colleagues came to bring him back. This story has been refuted by the now declassified diary (record of visitors) from his Kremlin office. According to it, Stalin was on the job accepting visitors on the next day after the attack.
In various places in his books Aki writes about and criticizes Histadrut, which started in 1920 as the General Organization of Workers in Israel, and became one of the most powerful Israeli institutions and the tool of Labout Zionism. It was eventually not only a trade union centre, but also a bank, insurer, and big employer, which created conflicts of interests when called upon to defend the rights of workers. In early Israel, Histadrut and the government owned almost everything. What is important for all the following history is that Histadrut organized since its creation boycotts of Jewish businesses who employed Palestinian Arabs! Arabs were initially happy when Jewish finances flowed into the country and created jobs. But due to the actions of Histadrut, Arabs were gradually pushed out of these job opportunities, became discriminated in their homeland, disgruntled, which led to a few pre-WW2 attacks on Jews, which some Jews decades later cited as proof of ages-long Arab animosity against Jews, but which were actually caused by Jews (Histadrut) themselves. Zionist socialists were definitely not internationalists. All versions of national socialism are bad!

As Direct Democracy was mentioned, you may be interested in my summary of my involvement with the DD movement, see in there the "Disappointment" paragraph. I still believe that DD would be the best system if people somehow managed to implement it, which is impossible as long as there are big material differences between the people (classes), and most people are not willing to devote at least some time on almost daily basis to public matters.

Autobiography of Aki Orr copied from one of his books:
Akiva (Aki) Orr was born in Berlin in 1931. His family fled Nazi rule in 1934 immigrating to Palestine. In 1948 he served in the Israeli Navy. From 1950 to 1955 he was a seaman in the Israeli merchant marine and participated in the seamen's strike in 1951. The strike politicized him and he joined the Israeli Communist Party. In 1955 he began to study Maths/Physics at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. In 1962 he was one of a group that left the CP and started "The Israeli Socialist Organization" and its paper MATZPEN ("Compass"). He supported Palestinian independence since 1953. From 1975 he supports a South-African type solution to the conflict in Palestine. In 1964 he went to study Cosmology and Computers in London. He was scientific applications programmer at UCL (1969-1974). Leaving UCL he taught Middle-East politics at the department of Peace Studies at Bradford University (1975-1978). He was Lecturer of Computer Science in London (1979-1990). In 1968 he joined the London group "Solidarity". Cornelius Castoriadis (1922-1997) of the Paris group "Socialisme ou Barbarie" converted him from a Marxist into a Libertarian socialist.
His Internet website that was at is archived here.
His books are still also at: