Skip to main content

Full text of "Communism in Israel"

See other formats





Counsellor, Arab States Delegations Office 


120 East 56th Street 

New York 22, N.Y. 

Price: 25 cents 

MAY 1958 






Counsellor, Arab States Delegations Office 


120 East 56th Street New York 22, N.Y. 

MAY 1958 

(This material is filed, under the Foreign Agent's Registration Act, with the 
Department of Justice, where the required statement of the Arab Information 
Center, as an agency of the government of the League of Arab States, is 
available for inspection. Registration does not imply approval of this material 
by the V. S. Government.) 







A. Communist and Leftist Political Parties 3 

The "Israel Communist Party" 4 

The "Mapam" and the "Ahdut" Parties 4 

Communist and Leftist Parties in Parliament 5 

Leftists in the Israeli Cabinet 7 


Communal and Collectivist Settlements 7 

The "Kibbutz" S 

"Moshav Shitufi" and "Moshav Ovdim" 11 

Character and Role of Communal Settlements 12 


A. Gratitude and Need 15 

B. Soviet Political Support: 1947-1948 16 

C. Soviet Diplomatic Support: 1948 17 

D. Soviet Military Support: 1948-1949 18 

Soviet Supply of Arms to Israel 18 

Soviet Training of Israeli Officers and Technicians 22 
"Communist" or "Pre-Communist" 

Czechoslovakia? 23 

Israel Still Ready to Buy Soviet Arms 23 

E. Israel's Neutralism 24 

F. Pledge of Non-Hostility 31 

G. Soviet- Israeli Trade 32 

H. Soviet-Israeli Cultural Relations 33 



Many Americans are nowadays concerned about the recent 
initiation of trade relations between the Soviet Bloc and some conn- 
tries in the Middle East. Few, however, realize the strength of Com- 
munist-Marxist forces in, and the scope of Soviet relations with, one 
spot in the Middle East which intensive propaganda has portrayed 
as an "island of democracy" and as an "outpost of Western influ- 
ence" in that vital region — namely, the state of Israel. 

In order to obtain a balanced, comprehensive picture of the 
situation and strength of Communist and Soviet influences in the 
Middle East, therefore, Americans must have access to the facts, 
all the facts, about the strength of Communism in a state which 
America helped bring into being ten years ago, and which American 
philanthropy — in the form of public grants as well as tax-deductible 
private donations, running into hundreds of millions of dollars 
annually — has literally subsidized since 1948. ' 

The inquiry which we shall pursue in the following pages con- 
sists of two main parts. The first deals with the strength of Com- 
munist, Marxist and Leftist forces inside Israel. The second deals 
with the wide range of relations — political, military, commercial and 
cultural — between Israel and the Soviet Bloc. 

The findings, which will be elaborated and documented in the 

two parts of our inquiry, may be summarized at this stage as follows: 

First i Concerning the strength of Communist and Marxist 

forces inside Israel: 
1. Israel is the only country in the entire Middle East in 
which the Communist Party is recognized by law, and 

Total financial aid received by Israel from the United States, between 1948 and 

1957, exceeds $1,840,000,000. 

Of this amount, the United States Government has provided $432,000,000. The 
remainder has come from tax-deductible donations made by American citizens 
and croups to a network of tund-raiBing Zionist organizations, and from sale 
of Israel Bonds. 

Concerning public aid, the figures released by the U. S. Government for the 
entire period reveal that, by June 1957, Israel had received $432,000,000 in net 
aid: $265,000,000 in net grants, and $167,000,000 in net credits. {See U. S. Dept. 
of Commerce, Office of Business Economics, Foreign Grants and Credits by the 
United States Government, June 1957 Quarter, Fiscal Year 1957 Review, Wash- 
ington, D. C October, 1957, pages S-14, S-31 and S-51}. 

Privale donations amounted to $900 million before 1956, $75 million in 1956, 
and about $100 million in 1957, according to the American Jewish Year Book for 

1958, p. 146 — i.e„ a total of $1,075,000,000. 

Israel Bond sales have exceeded $335 million, according to a report by the 
Vice-President of the Israel Bond Organization which appeared in the New York 
of April 14, 1958. 

operates freely and openly. (Chapter I, Section A). 

2. In addition to the Communist Party, there are two left- 
wing Marxist parties in Israel — Mapam and Ahdut. 
(Chapter I, Section A). 

3. These three parties jointly occupy 25 seats in the Israeli 
Parliament — out of a total of 120 seats, (Chapter I, 
Section B). 

4. The two Israeli left-wing Marxist parties participate 
in the five-party ruling coalition. They have four 
ministers in the sixteen-man Cabinet. (Chapter I, Sec- 
tion C). 

5. Over 88% of the rural settlements in Israel are organized 
on a communal-collectivist basis, and governed by Marx- 
ist principles. (Chapter I, Section D). 

Second : Concerning Soviet-Israeli relations: 

1. Soviet support of the establishment of Israel in 1947 
was crucial. It tipped the balance in the United Nations 
in favor of the Partition Resolution, by virture of which 
Israel was founded. (Chapter II, Sections A and B). 

2. The first Israeli diplomatic envoy was appointed to 
Prague; the second, to Moscow. (Chapter II, Sec- 
tion C). 

3. Israel was the first country in the Middle East to pur- 
chase arms from the Soviet Bloc. (Chapter II, Sec- 
tion D). 

4. Israel was the first country in the Middle East to pro- 
claim a "neutralist" foreign policy. (Chapter II, Sec- 
tion E). 

5. Israel pledged in July, 1953, never to join any anti- 
Soviet alliance or pact. (Chapter II, Section F). 

6. Israel's trade with the Soviet Bloc has been and con- 
tinues to be vital for Israel's economy. (Chapter II, 
Section G). 

7. Israel cherishes cultural relations with the Soviet Bloc 
and constantly seeks to expand them. (Chapter II, 
Section H). 

These assertions are made on the basis of the most authoritative 

and reliable documents available. The primary sources used in this 
study are the official publications of the Israeli Government itself. 
Of the secondary sources used, the majority are Zionist publications, 
writings of Zionist authors, and reports made by observers who are 
generally considered sympathetic to the cause of Israel and Zionism. 


A. Communist and Leftist Political Parties 

Israel is the only country in the entire Middle East in which 
Communism operates freely, with the sanction of the law, and in 
which Communist organizations are permitted to engage openly in 
the full range of the state's political life. 

This fact is seldom publicized in the United States. When it is 
reported at all, it is summarily dismissed and ignored. An illustration 
of the casual manner in which mere hasty reference is made to 
Israel's "monopoly" of legal Communism in the Middle East may 
be found in a recent book, Israel & The Middle East, which was 
hailed by the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, when it ap- 
peared in 1957, as a "painstaking and honest attempt to examine a 
very complex problem." While noting that "every Arab government 
has outlawed the Communist Party within its own country" 1 and that 
the Israel Communist Party "is the only legal Communist Party in 
the Middle East," 2 the author, Mr. Harry B. Ellis, nevertheless fol- 
lows the usual practice of writing about Communism in the Middle 

East as though it rested primarily in Arab society ! 

• • * 

The political strength of Communism in Israel, however, is not 
confined to the orthodox Communist Party. There are two other 
leftist, fellow-travelling parties, known as the "Mapam" and the 
"Ahdut Haavoda - Poalei Zion". 

Let us analyze the objectives and principles of these three 

Ellis, Harry B., Israel and the Middle East, Ronald Press Co., 1957, p. 239 
Ibid, p. 154 

The "tsrael Communist Party": 

This is the orthodox Communist grouping, which follows the 
usual lines and clamours for the usual catchwords which have now 
become universally familiar through the operations of Communist 
Parties in various countries. In an official publication of the Israeli 
Government, the program of the Israel Communist Party is authori- 
tatively summed up in the following words: 

"Its aim — Socialism. Basing itself on the Marxist theory of 
class struggle and guided by the theory of Marx-Engels- 
Lenin-Stalin, the party fights for peace, the real indepen- 
dence of Israel, genuine democracy, civil and national 
equality of rights, and for the interests of the toiling 

The "Mapam" and the "Ahdut" Parties i 

The relationship of these two parties to Communist doctrine and 
practice is more subtle and less overt than that of the Israel Com- 
munist Party. 

From an ideological standpoint, the Mapam and the Ahdut are 
tributaries of the same stream, and offshoots of one and the same 
movement. They have at times merged into one party, while at other 
times they have parted company with one another as a result of 
differences over practical issues. 

Before the establishment of Israel, three independent groups, 
known as "Ahdut Haavoda", "Poalei Zion", and "Hashomer Hat- 
zair", merged and formed a single party, to which the name "Mapam" 
was given. After the establishment of the state, this new political 
compound became the second strongest party in Israel. It was 
described at that time by Dr. Joseph Dunner, an American Zionist, 
as follows: 

"The distinguishing feature of Mapam since the merger has 
been its strong pro-Soviet orientation. It holds that . . . 
Israel . . . must rely on the Soviet Union and the 'people's 
democracies* of eastern Europe for support. Mapam takes 
credit for the flow of arms and ammunition to Israel from 
Czechoslovakia." 4 


After its successes in the first two parliamentary elections of 
1949 and 1951 (where it gained 19 and 15 seats respectively), the 
Mapam Party underwent successive splintering. First, a faction se- 
ceded in January, 1954, and organized itself as the Left Socialist 
Party, merging in October of the same year with the Israel Com- 
munist Party. Subsequently, the Ahdut Haavoda abandoned the 
merged party in August, 1954, and reverted to its original name, 
while the Hashomer Hatzair retained the name Mapam. 

The true character of these parties may be gauged from their 
own definition of their respective objectives, as supplied by the 
parties themselves to the Israel Office of Information in New York, 
and published in an official governmental publication in 1957 under 
the title, Facts About Israel. 

According to this publication, Mapam defines itself as "a left- 
wing Zionist Socialist Party" and proclaims that "its programme 
postulates," among other things, "a line of neutrality on the part of 
Israel" and the "abolition of all military pacts and alliances." 5 

The Ahdut Haavoda, on the other hand, announces that it 
stands for "a neutralist foreign policy; opposition to foreign military 
aid and foreign bases;" and "friendship with all peace-loving 
peoples." 6 

For reasons of its own, the party omits from its definition of its 
program, which it supplied to the New York Israel Office of Infor- 
mation for publication in the United States, some elements which it 
did not deem necessary to conceal in another governmental publica- 
tion issued in Israel, such as the fact that its program calls for sup- 
port of the "world peace policy of the U.S.S.R." and of "Popular 

B. Communist and Leftist Parties in Parliament 

Each of these three parties is represented in the Israeli Parlia- 

The total number of seats they jointly occupy has risen from 20 
(in the elections of 1951) to 25 (in the elections of 1955) out of a 
total of 120 seats.* 

4 Dunner, Joseph, The Republic of Israel, McGraw-Hill 

1955, p. 

, n. yT, 

1950., pp. 129-130. 

Facta About Israel, Israel Office of Information, N. Y., 1957 (First Edition), p. 62 


Facts and Figures, Government Press Office, Israel, 1955, p. 18 

Facts and Figures, Israel Office of Information, N. Y., 1955, p. 17 

Thus, today, the Communist and Leftist Parties jointly occupy 
more than one-fifth of the total number of seats in Israel's Parliament. 

In order to assess accurately the strength of these Communist 
and Leftist forces in the political life of Israel, one must remember 
that the Israeli system of parliamentary elections is based on the 
principle of "proportionate representation." 9 This means that the 
electorate votes for parties, and not for individuals. When the re- 
sults are computed, each party is assigned a number of seats pro- 
portionate to the votes it received; it, in turn, names the individuals 
who occupy those seats. The fact that the Communist and leftist 
parties have won 25 seats out of 120, therefore, means that over 20 
per cent of the Israeli electorate have voted for the Communist and 
Leftist programs, and supported the Marxist-Socialist ideology* 

In recent .months, it has become customary for Zionist apologists 
— who are no longer able to conceal the fact that a sizeable pro- 
portion of the Israeli electorate has voted for the Communist- 
Marxist tickets, and returned 25 deputies to the Israeli parliament — 
to endeavor to exploit this fact propagandistically before uninformed 
audiences. Contending that three of the six deputies representing the 
Israel Communist Party in Parliament are Arabs, many a Zionist 
has proceeded to allege that the bulk of the voters who elected them 
was Arab, and that therefore the strength of the Israeli Communist 
movement comes from the presumed support of the Arab population. 
What these Zionist spokesmen fail to indicate is that, in Israeli 
parliamentary elections, voters do not elect individual deputies; they 
vote for parties; and the party leaders, in turn, choose a propor- 
tionate number of representatives and assign them to the seats won 
by the party in the election. This is the essence of the system of 
"proportionate representation" which governs parliamentary elections 
in Israel. It follows, therefore, that the six individuals whom the 
leaders of the Israeli Communist Party have selected for occupying 
the six parliamentary seats won by that Party in the 1955 elections 
were not personally voted into office by the electorate; nor does the 
proportion of Arabs among them correspond to the proportion of 
Arab and non-Arab citizens who voted for the Communist platform. 
On the contrary, the assignment of some Arab representatives to 


some of the seats won by the Israeli Communist Party reflects the 
design of the leaders of that party to appeal to Arab voters, to exploit 
their grievances against the discriminatory policies of the Israeli 
Government, and thereby to gain support among the Arab voters in 
forthcoming elections. 

C. Leftists in the Israeli Cabinet 

Since the beginning of its political history, Israel has had coali- 
tion governments. At no time has there been in the Israeli Parlia- 
ment a party sufficiently strong to form a cabinet without the sup- 
port of other parties. 

The present cabinet represents the coalition which has been in 
power since the elections of 1955, and in which five parties partici- 

The two Leftist parties — Mapam and Ahdut — are among the 
five ruling parties, each of them being represented by two ministers 
in the sixteen-minister cabinet. Under the present set-up, Mapam 
has the portfolios of Development and Health, while the Ahdut has 
the portfolios of the Interior and Communications.' 

Thus, one-quarter of the ministers composing the present ruling 
regure in Israel, and participating in its coalition cabinet, are rep- 
resentatives of the avowedly Leftist and pro-Soviet parties. 

D. Communal and Collectivist Settlements 

Communism is strongly entrenched not merely in the political 
life and institutions of Israel, but also in the economic-social struc- 
ture of Israeli society. In fact, the political strength of Communism 
in Israel is derivative, reflecting the appeal of Communism as an 
ideology and a way of life to Israeli masses, and the influence of 
Marxist-Socialist teachings upon Israel's patterns of socio-economic 
organization. The political fortunes of Israeli Communist and Leftist 
Parties, therefore, must be viewed not as incidental or passing 
phenomena in Israel's political life, but as direct manifestations of a 
deeper and more lasting sway which Communism exercises over the 
minds, hearts and aspirations of large sectors of the Israeli people. 

This aspect of Communist strength in Israel manifests itself 
primarily in the rural settlements, through which the Zionist experi- 
ment in Palestine was initially conducted and which remain until 

•0 Facte About Israel, op. cit., pp. 55-56 

today one of the main pillars of Israeli society. The overwhelming 
majority of these settlements is organized on a communal, collect! viu 
basis, and governed by Marxist principles. 

The most extreme, as well as the most widespread, typo of 
communal-collectivist settlement is the Kibbutz or the Kvutza — but 
it is not the only variety. Other types include the "Moshav Shitufim" 
and the "Moshav Ovdim". 

The "Kibbutz": 

Officially, the Israeli Government describes and defines the 

Kibbutz as follows: 

"Kibbutz or Kvutza (plural: kibbutzim or kvutzot) : Com- 
munal collective settlement. 

"All property is collectively owned and work is organized 
on a collective basis. 

"The members give their labour and are supplied in return 
with housing, food, clothing, education, cultural and social 

"There is a central dining room and kitchen, communal 
kindergartens and children's quarters, communal social 
and cultural centres and central stores.*" ' 
This brief, official description of the pattern of socio-economic 

organization which governs the Kibbutz may be supplemented by the 

reports of interested and sympathetic observers. 

Collective ownership is fundamental. As Dr. Dunner observes in 

his book, The Republic of Israel: 

"Not only the means of production are owned in common, 
but all the personal things of life are also possessed by the 
group as a whole. Everyone draws his clothing from the 
common stock. His wants are satisfied in accordance with 
his needs. Everyone gets his tobacco or cigarettes from the 
common supply. He who requires more, gets more. Those 
who need less do not envy the others ... He who joins a 
Kvutzah gives up his money, his private homes, furniture, 
books, clothing, all his earthly possessions. No individual 
accounts are kept." ,a 
Collective ownership leads to other related features of com- 

Ti ibid., p. 78 

19 Dunner, op. clt.. p. 142 

mun a, organization. Thus, , "»£?£££ '££ delations of 

"No **m f "°ZX ~1 financial relations of 
*. settlement- . .. <Wj ^ ^^ 

rtandarda. The Kvufc ^^ for & . 

money . . • He wno „ necialize d education is given 

necessary journey, or some specianzea ^ 

hi, expenses from the common t»««* &e Kibbutz 

Col Gerald de Gaury reports .hat aU j£*£j ^ ^^ 

ar e marketed and sold by *-— *\t^t y fcr ™ k ° f » 

munity for die community. Kibbutz, 

Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, reporting on her vis* 

oba erves with f^ — TJ^-^S' the community 

Active basis. but |. > assigned --—gunner, "witnin the 
Work is carried out, in the wo. : ^ ^ a ^ 

faamework of a B enerd pto « by ^^ fa 

ol town-hall -^ A ™£ Ga L y reports tiiat "rosters for 
by other observers. Thus, Col. i« 7 Kibbutzim 

dlties are postal by -he -f^^ 'any complaint is made;"" 
^ the duty must be •f"*""**^ WOI k for members of 
.nd Mr. Ellis explains Art *e .-P™"* rf rf ^ 

*« Kibbutz ^^^r^de-s] responsibility, in 
whole community: The ch aver s Jix , ^^ ^ # 

«n, is »o accept the work >°^f ^^purpo^- Commit** 

U Btanei, op. clt, p. 16 

t> I* CfcwiY. «P- ' dU P- 20t> 

it Bill. »P- e* 1 " p - 1B 

that the list of assigned jobs is displayed on the bulletin board out- 
side the communal dining hall, and "each evening the chaverim read 
on that bulletin board their work assignments for the next day,*' 19 
There is little privacy in the Kibbutz. According to Mr. Ellis: 
"Privacy is avoided by the kibbutz, and to eat alone is 
considered anti-social. Thus meals are taken in common by 
members in a large dining hall. It used to be, in the early 
days of the movement, that members would meet in the 
dining hall at night to talk, and a chaver who stayed in his 
own quarters was regarded with disapproval. This now is 
less true. Indeed, as the kibbutzim grew more prosperous, 
living quarters became more expansive. Wooden barracks 
divided into single rooms, shared by a couple, began to 
give way to concrete buildings in which each couple had 
one large room, plus one very small one, and in some cases 
even a private bath and kitchenette. Here again was an 
erosion from earliest kibbutz principles, which held that 
showers should be taken in communal shower rooms. The 
edict against complete privacy still holds, however." 20 
The couple's room or quarters, however, do not house the chil- 
dren. "Children live apart from their parents in their own separate 
quarters, where they eat, sleep, and have classes," writes Ellis; 91 . . . 
"At four o'clock each afternoon the children go to the room of their 
parents for a two -hour period. This is the children's hour . . . 
When supper time arrives, the children go back to their own quarters, 
where they eat, and then go to bed." 22 He adds: "For one and one- 
half months after giving birth to a baby, a mother is exempted from 
work. Then gradually she works back into the organization, until, 
when her baby is six months old, the mother assumes her full work 
load. From that point on, except in cases of special need, she sees 
her child only during the children's hour." 23 

This institution is labelled by Dr. Dunner as "the most striking 
feature of the Kvutzah"." Whether "striking" or "strange" is the 
proper term to use in describing this practice is a matter of opinion. 



















24 Dunner, op. (AX., p. 143 


Be that as it may, there are other "striking" or "strange" features 
of Kibbutz life. 

Col. De Gaury writes that, although "in the beginning mem- 
bers of some of the Kibbutzim did not solemnize and register their 
marriage before a Rabbi or solemnize it before witnesses . . . more 
and more members of the Kibbutzim now register their marriages 
with a Rabbi." 25 He adds: "In some new ex-soldier settlements where 
life is hard, accommodation limited and all the members below 
thirty, young members of both sexes share the hut rooms, generally 
in threes, but the tendency is towards marriage before a Rabbi or 
registration of it by him, as soon as a child is expected. The com- 
munity, on application, provide a private room for the couple. The 
man then ceases to sleep in a dormitory with others, and his children 
are brought up and sleep in the communal children's quarters." 26 

According to Mr. Ellis: "Generally boys and girls are allowed 
to sleep in the same room until they themselves desire separate 
quarters and separate showers. In some kibbutzim sexual intercourse 
between unmarried youngsters, while not encouraged, is considered 
the affair of the young people themselves." 27 

"Moshav Shitufi" and "Moshav Ovdim" t 

While its system is the most extreme embodiment of communal 
organization in Israel, the Kibbutz is not the only type of settlement 
organized on a communal-collectivist basis. Other types include the 
"Moshav Shitufi" and the "Moshav Ovdim". 

The former resembles the Kibbutz in that it is based on "collec- 
tive economy and ownership;" but it departs from the Kibbutz in 
that each family has its own house and is "responsible for its own 
domestic services." 26 

In the Moshav Ovdim, "each individual farm is worked by the 
member and his family, but the produce is sold through a central 
cooperative, and purchases are undertaken cooperatively. Certain 
types of agricultural equipment are owned by the settlement as a 
whole ... No transfer of a farm or acceptance of a new member 
is possible without the approval of die village council." 2 

95 De Gaury, op. cit.. p. 207 

26 Ibid 

2? Ellis, op. cit., pp. 169-170 

ss Facta About Israel, op, cit., p. 80 

2» Ibid., p. 79 


Character and Role of Communal Settlements : 

Having described the patterns of socio-economic organization 
which prevail in Israeli communal and collective settlements, we must 
now observe that these patterns are not incidental by-products of a 
process of haphazard growth. They are, in the words of the Israeli 
Government, reflections of "various social philosophies". 30 It is not 
without significance, therefore, that, having asserted that "ancient 
Jewish civilization was rooted in the land" and that "it was natural 
and inevitable, therefore, that the return to the land should have 
constituted the soul of modern Zionism," the Israeli Government 
proceeds to describe the prevailing methods of rural settlement as 
"the unique pattern of group settlement characteristic of Israel 
farming." 3 ' 

It is customary for Zionists and pro-Zionists to speak of com- 
munal and collective settlement with pride and enthusiasm. Thus, 
Dr. Dunner, asserting that "the Kvutzah forms a unique achievement 
of Jewish colonization, indeed an original contribution of the Jewish 
homeland to agrarian reform", 32 enthuses: "Visitors to Israel are 
amazed to see in the midst of a capitalist economy these islands of 
collectivism based on solely voluntary efforts and maintaining the 
creative spirit of man." 33 He even suggests that it merits to be 
viewed as a model and an ideal: "Whether the Kvutzah type of 
settlement could be profitably emulated by other nations depends, of 
course, on the number of men and women who can free themselves 
completely of the idea of all private property and who at the same 
time are willing to work to the best of their ability irrespective of 
the quality and amount of work done by others." 34 

Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, commenting on the Kibbutz, writes: 
"It is clear that agricultural communities such as this one are not 
merely economic projects to these people, but an entire way of life, 
of living and working together. They apparently take great hold of 
the young people who are captured by the communal idea." 33 Evi- 
dently, this appeal is catching — affecting Mrs. Roosevelt herself. For 
she speaks glowingly of the "crusading zeal and imagination" she 

Facts & Figures, (N. Y.) op. ait., p. 51 

Facta About Israel, op. cit., pp. 78-79 

Dunner, op. cit, p. 142 

Ibid., p. 144 

Ibid., p. 145 

Roosevelt, Eleanor, op. cit., p. 45 





professes to have found on the farms; and, singling out the kibbutz, 
she confesses that she found it "particularly" interesting, and writes 
about its "extremely interesting" projects and the "heroic part" it 
played not only in peace but also in war. 3 * 

The enthusiasm of Israelis, and the excitement of Zionists and 
quasi-Zdonists, over these common types of rural settlement which 
predominate in Israel neither conceal nor alter the fact that these 
settlements are organized on communal and collectivist bases and 
governed by Marxist principles. In fact, many a student of socio- 
economic systems has compared these Israeli communal settlements 
with the Kolkhozes of the Soviet Union — only to find that the Israeli 
type exceeds the Soviet type in the degree to which it realizes the 
communal principle. 

Thus, the Zionist Dr. Dunner proclaims that "the kolkhozes never 
supplied communistic principles in the relations of their members 
to the extent of IsraeVs Kvutsoth and Kibutzim" ; 37 while Supreme 
Court Justice William 0. Douglas, asserting that the Kibbutz **is 
probably more strictly socialistic than the collective farms in 
Russia,'* explains: 

"In Russia, while all farmers are on collective farms most 
of them have a small plot of land. There they may grow 
what they like and sell it on the market. They also have 
separate homes and kitchens. In a kibbutz, however, every- 
thing is communal." 38 
Perhaps, then, the Special Study Mission of the Committee on 
Foreign Affairs of the U. S. House of Representatives was making a 
charitable understatement when it described the kibbutz, in a recent 
report, as "a form of elementary communism" and judged that it 
"cannot be classified among democratic institutions." 39 

The relevance of these findings to our examination of the 
strength of Communism in Israeli society is reinforced by the fact 
that the overwhelming majority of rural settlements in Israel is com- 
munal and collectivist. Acocrding to official Israeli statistics, the 
total number of Israeli communal and collectivist settlements of the 

3 4 Ibid., pp. 43-46 

37 Dunner, op. dt, p. 144 ._.,.«, „ , B 

« Douglas, Justice Wuliam O., Strange Lands & Friendly People, Harper & Bros., 

N. Y., 1951, p. 274 
»» Bouse Report No. 2147, pp. 30 & 32 



three types we have surveyed is 507, while there are only 69 perma- 
nent settlements of more conventional types. 40 In other words, 
more than 88% of the permanent rural settlements in Israel are com- 
munal and collectivist in organization. 

Nor is the impact of communal settlements upon Israeli life 
fully told by statistics alone. For the Kibbutz enjoys a special role 
in the shaping of Israeli society. Originally conceived as "an outpost 
of Zionist settlement in Palestine" and designed "to set the pattern 
for the future Jewish community of Israel', 41 the Kibbutz soon be- 
came "the instrument of Zionist settlement in Palestine" 42 and re- 
mained throughout the Mandate "the basic form" of such settle- 
ment, 43 coming later on to play "an indispensable role in the early 
days of statehood'*. 44 

40 According to Facts & Figures, op. cit., pp. 51-53, there were at last count 223 
Kibbutzim 259 Moshvei Ovdim, and 25 Moshavim Shitufim (i.e., a total Of 507), 
while, of the conventional types,there were 29 Moshavot and 40 Moshavim (i.e., 
a total of 69). The Maabarot and Kfarei Avoda are not included in either 
category because they are transitional settlements which "will, in time, 
conform to the pattern of one or another type of established settlement" (Ibid, 
p. 53) 

*i Weingarten, Murray, Life in a Kibbutz, The Reconstructionist Press, N. Y., 1955, 
PP. 7-8 

42 Ellis, op. cit., p. 58 

43 Ibid., p. 98 

44 Ibid., p. 172 



A. Gratitude and Need 

"Israel does not forget the stand taken by the Soviet 
Union in the Assembly of the United Nations on the his- 
toric 29th day of November, 1947, nor does it forget the 
like stand of the United States of America. It remembers 
as vividly the aid it received from Czechoslovakia during 
the War of Independence, and the attitude of Poland 
towards Jewish emigration to Israel, manifestations which 
without doubt bespoke sincere sympathy with Israel's 
enterprise." 1 
These words, written by the Prime Minister of Israel and pub- 
lished in the Government Year-Book, give expression to the feeling jpj 
indebtedness, and the corollary sense of need, which have affected, 
and still affect, Israel's relations with the two Power Blocs, and which 
have determined Israel's foreign policy. Israel's special ties with the 
Soviet Union must be envisaged within this total context of Israel's 
national self-interest — past, present and future. 

Why the indebtedness — as far as the past is concerned? 
Why the need — as far as present and future are concerned? 
And what type of foreign policy has the intersection of Israel's 
national interests, on the one hand, and the respective attitudes of 
the two Power Blocs towards them, on the other hand, brought forth 
in Israel? 

The story of Soviet-Israeli ties begins at the very beginning of 
Israel's own history. In fact, it ante-dates the formal establishment 
of the state of Israel. 

Its origin goes back to the fall of 1947, when the battle for the 
birth of Israel was being fought on the international political front 
at Lake Success. At that stage, Soviet support tipped the balance in 
favor of the adoption of the Partition Resolution by the U. N. 
General Assembly. 

At the second stage, in the spring of 1948, when the main battle 

State of Israel, Government Year-Book, 1952, published by the Government 
Printer, Jerusalem, pp. 22-23. 


was diplomatic, prompt recognition of the new state of Israel, by the 
Soviet Bloc countries, was vital. For the General Assembly had re- 
cently re-opened the Palestine Problem; and the trend towards the 
repeal of the Partition Resolution was unmistakable. Diplomatic 
recognition at that time helped dissuade many delegations from 
supporting the repeal of the Partition Plan, and consequently served 
to establish and confirm the Israeli fait accompli. 

In the summer and fall of 1948, Soviet support assumed a new 
character, consonant with Israel's need at the moment. The struggle 
was now being waged on the military battlefield. And Soviet aid, 
now military in character, proved decisive in determining the out- 
come of the hostilities in Palestine. It was therefore as vital for Israel 
as the political and diplomatic support rendered to Zionism in the 
two earlier stages. 

Thus it was that, by virtue of Soviet political, diplomatic and 
military support, Israel's establishment and early survival were 

Israel's resultant sense of indebtedness to the Soviet Bloc soon 
played a vital role in shaping Israeli foreign policy. Hence the rise of 
Israel's "non-alignment", "non-identification" or "neutralist" policy 
in world affairs. 

Let us now examine, successively, the three forms of Soviet 
support to Israel in 1947 and 1948: political, diplomatic and military. 

B. Soviet Political Support j 1947-1948 

"This was surprising, encouraging, and even sensational news." 
Thus wrote David Horowitz, a member of the Zionist delegation to 
the United Nations in 1947, in his memoirs. 3 He was referring to the 
report, received on the eve of the opening of the debate on the 
Palestine Problem, that the Soviet Bloc would support the Partition 
Resolution. Describing the excitement which swept through Zionist 
ranks, and the atmosphere which prevailed in Zionist-Soviet meetings, 
he says: 

"The general atmosphere of these talks was friendly, and 
the Soviet envoys showed keen sympathy and understand- 
ing of our efforts and interests. 

"On one occasion Zarapkin got up and went out of the 

a Horowitz, David, State in the Making, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1953, p. 239. 


room for a few moments and returned with a bottle of 
wine and some glasses. It was at the outset of the U. N. 
discussions and the future was still beclouded. Conse- 
quently we were inwardly elated and delighted when 
Zarapkin filled the five glasses and, raising his own, ga\*e 
the toast, "The future Jewish state!' 

"We responded by raising our glasses to the Soviet 
Union, and felt the episode to be a part of the unique evo- 
lution of the historic hour. 

"Shertock (later Sharett) retailed the incident at an 
Agency Executive meeting the same evening and added: 
*What's happened to us in connection with the Soviet 
Union is a real miracle!* . . . 

"The unremitting aid that Zarapkin and Stein gave our 
cause, and their sharp, direct logic, played an important 
part in the long series of gains we made and in the sum 
total of our triumph." 3 
That Horowitz' excitement and "inward elation" were fully 
shared by his colleagues was understandable. For the Partition Reso- 
lution would have failed to obtain the sufficient number of votes at 
the General Assembly had the Zionists failed in their efforts to se- 
cure the support and votes of the countries of the Soviet Bloc. 

Thus, the support of the Soviet Bloc, no less than the support 
of the United States, made it possible for the establishment of Israel 
to be recommended by the General Assembly, and for the idea of 
"Jewish statehood" to be endorsed by the United Nations. 

In itself, however, endorsement of the idea of "statehood" by 
the United Nations would have remained purely academic, and prac- 
tically ineffective, had it not been for the timely diplomatic recogni- 
tion and the vast military aid which Israel received soon thereafter 
from the Soviet Bloc. 

C. Soviet Diplomatic Supports 1948 
Political support at the United Nations in November, 1947, 
was supplemented by diplomatic support, in the form of prompt 
recognition of Israel soon after its establishment in mid-May, 1948. 
Not to be outdone by the Truman Administration, which had 
extended de facto recognition to Israel only a few minutes after its 
* Ibid, p. 272. 


establishment was announced, the Soviet Union went a step further 
and extended de jure recognition to Israel on May 17— thus becom- 
ing the first country in the world to recognize that state fully and 
officially. It was soon followed by other Soviet countries. 

Israel's appreciation for this friendly Soviet act was manifested 
in the fact that the first formally accredited diplomatic representa- 
tive of Israel was appointed to Prague, and the second to Moscow. 4 
D. Soviet Military Supports 1948-1949 

Political and diplomatic support, however, was soon supple- 
mented and indeed crowned by decisive military support. 
Soviet Supply of Arms to Israel 

The story of the flow of arms from Communist Czechoslovakia 
to Israel in 1948 was never fully told in the United States, even 
when it was taking place; and it has been virtually suppressed since 


The fact that Israel tvas the first country in the Middle East to 
receive arms from the Soviet Bloc is thus either unknown or for- 

So, too, are the facts that this purchase of arms by Israel took 
place during the cease-fire ordered by the U. N. Security Council 
on May 29, 1948: that it was in violation of the essential terms of 
the Council's order, which had called upon the parties "to refrain 
from importing or exporting war material . . . during the cease- 
fire"; and that it was in further violation of the embargo of arms 
deliveries to the area, ordered by the Security Council in its resolu- 
tion of July 15, 1948. 

Equally forgotten or unknown is the fact that Israel paid for 
the arms it purchased from Communist Czechoslovakia in American- 
donated, tax-free dollars — given to Israel ostensibly for chari- 
table purposes, but diverted by Israel to arms-procurement. 

Although Israel has officially proclaimed its indebtedness to the 
Soviet Bloc for the far-reaching military aid it received during the 
Palestine War, Israeli spokesmen, in their utterances or publications 
in the United States, have been careful to conceal or camouflage the 
fact that their country had received such aid. Thus, Lt. Col. Moshe 
Pearlman, in his book, The Army of Israel — although he speaks of 
"the successful introduction into the country ... of a considerable 

4 Zlonlit Bevlew. October 15, 1MB. 


quantity of guns, planes, armoured cars, half track vehicles, ma- 
chine guns, rifles, ammunition, petrol stocks, food, a few tanks, 
and machinery and materials for Israel's war industries" during 
the opening phase of the hostilities; although he also admits that 
"this equipment really made possible the emergence of the Haganah 
from a guerilla force to a fighting army" and "also enabled Israel 
to become self-sufficient in many types of weapons and ammuni- 
tion"; and althought he further admits that "this material came 
from a host of countries and in a variety of ways" — dismisses the 
question of the source of this material with the evasive and la- 
conic remark: "The full story cannot yet be told." 5 

Fortunately, however, the American reader is not entirely at 
the mercy of the Israeli propagandists' determination to supress 
facts and rewrite history. A number of authoritative reports — from 
Zionist sources as well as non-partisan observers — fill the gap and 
help set the record straight. 

The well-informed Zionist journalist, Jon Kimche, wrote in his 
book Seven Fallen Piliars: 

"Israeli emissaries scoured the whole of Europe and 
America for possible supplies. American Jews contribut- 
ed generous supplies of dollars and the arms merchants 
were prepared to deal for dollars. The Czechs were most 
helpful. A regular airlift began to operate from Prague 
to Aqir in southern Palestine. Rifles, ammunition and 
guns were now arriving . . . This change was still hidden 
from the eyes of the Arabs and the United Nations Assem- 
bly. But the British Government knew. The Foreign Office 
was receiving reports from Czechoslovakia, and from the 
R.A.F.'s reconnaissance Mosquitos which still roamed over 
the battle areas, taking photographs of the arrival of sup- 
plies in Israel."* 
On December 14, 1948, the New York Times published a dis- 
patch from London which read: 

"Replying to questions in the House of Commons, 
Hector McNeil, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, 
stated that there had been a 'substantial increase* in the 

s Pearlman, Moshe, The Army of Israel, Philosophical Library, New York, 1950, 

p. 146. 
* Kimche, J., Seven Fallen Pillarg, Seeker & Warburg, London, 1950 pp. 249-250. 


Israeli Air Force since the United Nations truce took effect 
in Palestine. If hen asked specifically whether rifles from 
the Skoda factory in Czechoslovakia and Soviet Yak fighters 
were being used in Palestine, Mr. McNeil said that 'our in- 
formation leads us to have no doubt that aircraft have been 
supplied from that factory. . 
On January 7, 1949, the Times published a dispatch from 
Clifton Daniel, then its correspondent in London, stating that the 
British Foreign Office had reported that "the Israeli Air Force had 
been tripled during the last six months and that large quantities 
of arms had been acquired, principally by smuggling from Czecho- 
slovakia in violation of the United Nations arms embargo." 8 

Two days later, the Times published another dispatch from 
Mr. Daniel stating that, according to a British report, "the principal 
armament of the fighter wing of the Israeli Air Force consisted of 
Messerschmitts built in the Czechoslovakian Skoda Works." 9 

On January 12, 1949, a British Foreign Office spokesman de- 
clared at a press conference that "at least 90 per cent" of the arms 
"illicitly supplied to Israel had come from Eastern Europe."' 

The Times correspondents in Vienna also reported on the illicit 
arms traffic from the Soviet Bloc to Israel. On December 20, 1948, 
a dispatch from Vienna revealed that a group of displaced persons, 
possibly financed in the first instance from the United States but 
certainly supported by the Russians in Austria, had been buying 
arms in Czechoslovakia and shipping them to Israel," and that, 
during the preceding six months, "three large transports loaded 
with arms and munitions from the Skoda Works had gone down the 
Danube to a Rumanian port under Russian auspices, and had been 
taken over there by an Israeli group." 

These reports from Israel, from London and from Eastern Eu- 
rope were confirmed by reports from Washington also, where the 
United States Government had been apparently so concerned over 
these developments as to protest officially against them. A dispatch 
datelined Washington, September 2, 1948, in the New York Times, 

7 New York Times, December 14, 1948. 

Ibid., January 7, 1949. 

9 Ibid., January 9, 1949. 

io Ibid., January 13, 1949. 

i) Ibid., December 20, 1948. 


"The United States apparently has made strong pro- 
tests to Czechoslovakia in connection with the illegal ship- 
ment of airplanes and arms by air from that country to 

"At the State Department today, it was said that 
reports from the United States Embassy in Prague indi- 
cated that Americans had been engaged in this illicit trade, 
barred by recent resolutions of the United Nations Secur- 
ity Council. 

"Furthermore, it was said that the Department ap- 
proached Czechoslovakia July 28, with a view to secure 
cessation of this triffic." ,a 
Further light on these transactions was shed three years later, 
in testimonies before the Israeli courts. The Zionist Review reported: 
"Testifying for the defense in Prime Minister Ben-Gurion's 
criminal libel case against the Communist daily newspa- 
per, 'Kol Ha'am', Samuel Mikunis, Communist member 
of the Knesset [i.e., Parliament], told the Tel Aviv Dis- 
trict Court last week that he had received permission from 
Ben-Gurion in May, 1948, to leave Israel for East Euro- 
pean countries in order to collect arms and muster aid 
... He told the Court that he had succeeded in obtaining 
aircraft and other equipment on his mission, receiving aid 
in Czechoslovakia, Poland, Rumania and Bulgaria." ,3 
In an article on the Israeli army and its development, a knowl- 
edgeable American journalist, Don Cook, wrote about the major 
transition in the armament and equipment situation of the Israeli 
army in April and May of 1948 and stated: "By May, shipments 
of good Czechoslovakian rifles and automatic weapons began ar- 
riving in quantity . . . The story of the Jewish efforts to beat the 
United Nations arms blockade is in itself full of fantastic episodes." 14 
Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 
February 24, 1956, Secretary of State Dulles had this to say in reply 
to a question from Senator Sparkman: 

"I might say, Senator, that the getting of arms from the 
Soviet bloc is not entirely a new development. Israel itself 

ia Ibid., September 2, 1948. 

is Zionist Review, May 11, 1951. 

«■* Cook, Don, "Tauah Little Army", Saturday Evening Post, February 18, 1956, p.M. 


has in the past gotten substantial amounts of arms from 
the Soviet bloc." ' 5 
Communist military support to Israel, then, is a matter of 
historical record. One illustration from an eminent historical au- 
thority will suffice. The monumental series, Survey of International 
Affairs, published by the Royal Institute of International Affairs, 
makes the following statement: 

"The Israelis disregarded their undertaking not to import 
war materials during the truce, and took ample advantage 
of that respite to rectify their almost total lack of combat 
aircraft, artillery, and heavy armoured vehicles, and their 
serious limitations in automatic weapons and ammuni- 

"The extent to which the Palestine struggle had cut 
across the normal frontiers of the cold war was illustrated 
by the fact that, while the hard currency for these arms 
transactions ivas provided largely by the dollar contribu- 
tions of United States Jewry, one of the most fruitful 
sources of supply was the state-owned armament factories 
of Czechoslovakia, where the Communists had seized power 
in the previous February" ,6 
Soviet Training of Israeli Officers and Technicians : 

Communist military support to Israel, however, was not con- 
fined to the supply of arms and ammunition. It also took the form 
of training soldiers, officers, and technicians for the Israeli army in 
Czech army camps. 

According to a report from Prague, published in the New York 
Times of December 26, 1948: 

"Six hundred Jewish men and women, many of them 
trained for the Israeli army by Czechoslovak officers, are 
en route to Palestine, informed sources said today. In- 
formants said approximately 1,500 others were awaiting 
transportation. Infantrymen, paratroopers, communica- 
tions men, pilots and nurses were among those who left 
and are waiting to leave, informants said. Part of their 
training program was in Czechoslovakian Army Camps . . . 

15 Transcript in New York Times, February 26, 1956, 

is Royal Institute of International Affairs, Survey of International Affaire: The 
Middle East 1945-1950, Oxford University Press, New York, 1954, p. 277 

"There was no estimate available of the number of 
Jews trained at these camps. Unofficial reports ranged 
from 'a few thousand' to 5,000." " 
"Communist" or "Pre-Communist" Czechoslovakia? 

It has become customary nowadays for Israel propagandists 
and Zionist apoligists to claim that Israel purchased arms not from 
Communist Czechoslovakia but from Democratic Czechoslovakia be- 
fore it came to be ruled by a Communist regime. This effort to re- 
write history is futile. For it is a matter of common knowledge that 
the Communist coup d'etat in Czechoslovakia took place in Febru- 
ary of 1948, while the State of Israel came into being in May of 
1948, and these arms deals were made later in the year. 

Moreover, the Israel Government formally and publicly paid 
tribute to the aid it received from the Communist Government of 
Czechoslovakia, in unmistakable terms. In a note addressed by the 
Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Communist Czechoslovak 
Government on December 12, 1952, the Israeli Government wrote: 
"During its War of Independence, Israel received help from Czech- 
oslovakia . . . This assistance was rendered to Israel pursuant to 
the decision of high State authorities** 18 
Israel Still Ready to Buy Soviet Arms: 

Moreover, it is not without significance that in the fall of 1955, 
when Israel's leaders were loudly assailing Egypt for accepting arms 
from Czechoslovakia, they were nevertheless repeatedly proclaiming 
that they were ready to seek and receive arms from any country, 
including Communist countries, if the West failed to provide them 
with more arms. 

Thus, Mr. Sharett, then Foreign Minister of Israel, in an ad- 
dress delivered before the Israeli Parliament on October 18, 1955, 
declared that "we will not hesitate to obtain them [i.e., arms] from 
every possible source." " 

In an interview with U. S. News & World Report, Mr. Sharett 
also stated that "we shall look for arms wherever we can find 
them." ao 

According to a report by Irving Spiegel, published in the New 

New York Times, December 26, 1948 

Israel Digest, published by the Israel Office of Information, New York, Decem- 
ber 26, 1952, Supplement 
ttid., October 26, 1955, Supplement, 
U. S. News & World Report, November 4, 1955 


York Times, Mr. Sharett again confirmed that Israel would "seek 
and accept arms from any source in the world." 31 

A Special Study Mission of the Committee on Foreign Affairs 
of the U. S. House of Representatives, reporting that "leftist parties 
have taken the position that Israel should obtain Soviet arms," ex- 
plained that "this position is not at variance with Foreign Minister 
Sharett's announcement in September 1955, that, if necessary, Is- 
rael will take arms from any source." " 

E. Israel's Neutralism 

We have already suggested that, partly as a result of its in- 
debtedness to the Soviet Bloc for the political, diplomatic and mili- 
tary support rendered to the Zionist cause in 1947 and 1948, Is- 
rael formulated and pursued a policy of neutralism in world affairs. 
For, while it was obviously inexpedient for Israel to adopt an at- 
titude of hostility towards the United States — whence it had re- 
ceived not only political and diplomatic support, but also sizable 
financial and technical aid " — it was equally inexpedient for Is 
rael to show hostility to the Soviet Bloc. Israel's neutralism vis-a-vis 
the Eastern and the Western Blocs was thus an expression of its 
equal indebtedness to both sides. 

But Israel's consistent adherence to neutralism throughout the 
ensuing years, even after its early need for Soviet political, diplo^ 
matic and military assistance had passed, must be attributed to more 
than mere gratitude for past favors. Other elements of Israel's situa- 
tion have contributed to this phenomenon. 

Obviously, the pressures of those sizable Communist and Left- 
ist sections of the Israeli population, who were represented by 25 
of the 120 seats of Israel's Parliament and by four of Israel's six- 
teen-man cabinet, 24 must have played a significant role in making 
Israel adhere to its early policy of neutrality. 

Moreover, Israeli policy-makers constantly allude to their fear 
lest an anti-Soviet or an all-out pro-Western foreign policy on the 
part of Israel might lead to retaliation against Jews living behind 

21 New York Times, November 11, 1955 

« House Report No. 2147, p. 32 

33 See above. Introduction, fn. l 

24 See above. Chapter I, Sections B| and C. The Israeli cabinet crisis, which led 
to the resignation of Ben-Gurion in December 1957 and was resolved by the 
restoration of the coalition in January 1958, showed the magnitude of the in- 
fluence over Israel's foreign policy wielded by the Marxist-Leftist members of 
the Israeli Cabinet 


the Iron Curtain. Equally important is Israel's never-abandoned hope 
that the Soviet Union might still agree to the mass migration of 
these Jews to Israel, thus helping to realize Israel's greatest dream, 
the so-called "ingathering of the exiles." 

Finally, some of Israel's vital imports — particularly oil — have 
been coming, in increasing volume, from the Soviet Union; and 
Israeli-Soviet trade relations play an important role in Israel's 
economy.* 3 

Whatever the reasons, however, it is undeniable that Israel 
was the first country in the Middle East to proclaim a neutralist 
foreign policy, and the only country in that region which has been 
undeviatingly neutralist throughout its existence as a state. 

In fact, Israel's neutralism ante-dated its very existence. David 
Horowitz, describing the response of fellow Zionist leaders to the 
initial Soviet support for Israeli statehood, states: 

"We knew that it was for us to turn the impossible 
into the possible, to achieve something that had never been 
done at any time before — to find a common denominator, at 
least in one part of the entire globe, between East and 
West. The single hope or prospect of attaining our ob- 
jective was to form a partnership — nothing less!- — on this 
issue between the United States and the Soviet Union." 9 * 
After describing the cordial sessions which the Zionist Delega- 
tion held with Soviet representatives, he writes: 

"At the same time we maintained close and cordial 
relations with the Americans. We often went straight from 
the U. S. delegation's office in Park Avenue to the Soviet 
Consulate, or vice versa . . . 

"We told both the Americans and the Russians that 
our sole criterion was the Jewish interest. We . . . told the 
representatives of both governments that we sought what- 
ever aid we could muster for our undertaking and the so- 
lution of our problem, and we should welcome any such 
aid from whatever quarter it came . . . 

"So we became a kind of bridge or point of contact, 
virtually the only one, between the two world giants . . . 

23 See below. Section G 

3 * Horowitz, State in the Making, op. dt, p. 239 


Some times, in that atmosphere of cold war which had 

so lately begun, we felt like tightrope walkers teetering 

over a deep chasm." 27 

"Tightrope walking" in the months immediately preceding the 

establishment of the state soon became, after the state was founded, 

Israel's official foreign policy. 

Thus, a staunchly Zionist American who was Mr. Truman's 
first envoy to Israel, writes: 

"The assistance of Russia and more particularly 
Czechoslovakia during the Arab-Israel war was warmly ap- 
preciated . . . Israel sought to maintain an officially neu- 
tral policy in the cold war between East and West. This 
neutrality was expressed in numerous votes at the U. N., 
in the quiet way in which Russian and satellite 'elections' 
were reported on the official radio, even in the care shown 
by the pro-Government papers not to wound Iron Curtain 
susceptibilities." 2 8 
The author of the first full-length biography of Mr. Ben-Gurion 
describes the Israeli Premier's policy in the following words: 

"Handicapped as he was from the outset of Israel's 
independence by the realities of the East-West schism, 
Ben-Gurion nevertheless made valiant efforts during the 
first four and a hall years of his Premiership to come to 
terms with eastern Europe. 

"In the early stages that group of states gave Israel 
every indication of support . . . Moscow in fact saw in 
Israel a bridgehead for Soviet penetration of the Middle 

"The Zionists in Palestine admitted to natural sym- 
pathies with the Soviet regime . . . 

"Ben-Gurion despatched a strong team of left-wingers 
as envoys to each of the eastern capitals . . . 

"He was sweet reasonableness itself in his statements 
relating to the Communist constellation. 'It is our policy 
to promote friendship and reciprocity with every peace- 
loving country,' he said, 'without prying into its internal 

i7 Ibid., pp. 272-274 

2 * McDonald lames G. My Mission in Israel, Simon and Schuster, New York, 
i»ol, pp. Z83-284 


constitution.' " " 

Gerald de Gaury writes: 

"The basic principle of Israel's foreign policy was an- 
nounced by the Government after the first general elec- 
tions early in 1949. It was to be an independent foreign 
policy, based on loyalty to the United Nations and friend- 
ship with all peace-loving countries. Israel was not to join 
any Power or group of Powers against another . . . Her 
support of the action which the United States took in 
Korea, in conformity with the General Assembly's resolu- 
tions, was, on the other hand, balanced by her recogni- 
tion of the Central People's Government of China and her 
refusal to endorse American policy in Formosa"* 

An Israeli writer describes the emergence of Israel's neutral- 
ism as follows: 

"Israel's foreign relations in their first phase . . . were 
dominated by the wish to avoid taking any side in the 
Cold War. The United States and the Soviet Union had 
acted as midwife and godfather to the new state; there 
was the tradition of Zionism as a world movement whose 
congresses were held by preference in neutral Switzerland; 
above all, there was the history of world Jewry, parts of 
which had so often been hostages to warring powers — 
as the two million Jews behind the Iron Curtain would be 
in case of another war. 

"The Israeli Foreign Ministry, it is true, frowned 
upon the term 'neutrality' . . . Foreign Minister Sharett 
himself preferred to use the word 'non-identification'. But 
the difference between the popular and the official defini- 
tion of this position was one of emphasis rather than of 
basic purpose. 

"In the first glow of sucucess in 1948, with good wishes 
coming in from both East and West, Israel felt she could 
ask for economic and military aid from the Soviet as 
well as the Western world, and for freedom of communica- 
tion and movement, to and fro, with Diaspora Jewry where 
ever it was. A vision arose of Israel as a bridge or link, 

a » Lttvinoff, Bamett, Ben-Gurion of Israel, Praeger, New York, 1954, pp. 228-229 
30 De Gaury, The New State of Israel, op. cit., pp. 173-174 


and this produced in turn the brief illusion that she 
could stand alone as providential arbiter between the two 
great hostile camps." 31 
If it is true that the "illusion", the messianic "vision", and the 
"bridge"-concept of Israel as a transcendental world reality, soon 
lost their appeal to Israeli leaders, it is no less true that the prag- 
matic, political neutralism of Israel has not been abandoned. The 
record speaks for itself — a consistent record of neutralism, officially 
proclaimed on the highest level of Israeli policy-making leadership, 
throughout the period of Israel's existence. The fundamental postu- 
lates of the neutralist policy of Israel have been affirmed and re- 
affirmed by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs 
on countless occasions, as the following excerpts show: 

In a speech to Parliament on January 2, 1951, Ben-Gurion said: 
"The central political fact of today is the rivalry of two titanic 
Powers for world hegemony . . . But apart from great Powers and 
their vassals, there is a large company of free peoples . . . without 
prefabricated allegiances, determining their courses in every case on 
its merits . . . The State of Israel is of their number." 3a 

In the "Basic Program of the Israel Government", as outlined 
by Ben Gurion in Parliament on October 7, 1951, and approved by 
Parliament the following day, we read: 

"The Government will foster friendly relations and mutual 

aid with every peace-loving State, without, enquiring into 

its internal regime . . . The Government will cultivate 

trade relations with all countries on equal terms." w 

In a review of the foreign policy of his Government, presented 

by Israel's Minister of Foreign Affairs to Parliament on November 

4, 1951, he declared: 

"We uphold the right of every nation to choose the way 
of life it prefers and we deny the right of any nation to 
interfere in the internal affairs of other peoples in order 
to impose upon them a political and social order which they 
refect." 34 

Ben-Jacob, Jeremiah, "Israel Experiments with Non-Identification", Commentary 
(published by the American Jewish Committee), January, 1954, p. 9 
Ben-Gurion, David, Rebirth and Destiny of Israel, Philosophical Library, New 
York, 1954, p. 384 

Release by the Israel Office of Information, New York, No. RP. 32., Paragraph 3 
Release by the Israel Office of Information, New York, No. RP. 31„ p. 6. Italics 
in the original 

In an address which the Israeli Premier delivered before Is- 
rael's Parliament on February 4, 1952, he said: 

"Our problem is how to map our policy, external and 
domestic, now and henceforth. The starting point must be 
not our attitude to any particular national ideology, but 
solely Israels fundamental values, and its historical as 
well as its current urges . . . The champions of the Comin- 
form divide the world into two: one part — the West, of 
course — is black, and the other, which needless to say, is 
East, a dazzling light. We may reject this totalitarian ap- 
proach, but let us be careful not to fall into the opposite 
blunder and blinker ourselves to shadows and shortcom- 
ings of the West as to illumination from the East." 35 
In an article on "Israel Among the Nations", written in August 
1952, he announced that Israel was one of the countries which 
"belong to neither bloc". " 

This same policy continues to be reiterated today by Israel 
policy-makers. Some of the more recent re-affirmations, made in 1956 
and 1957, include the following: 

In an article outlining the "fundamental principles" of Is- 
rael's policy, Ben-Gurion asserted that Israel "must maintain normal 
relations with all countries, no matter what their regimes." 3jr 

In December, 1956, he declared: "We will not conduct our re 
tions with the nations of the world — the larger ones as well as the 
smaller ones — with any regard for the internal policies of those na- 
tions. We aspire to establish cordial relations with all nations on the 
basis of equality and mutuality." " 

Addressing Parliament on the Eisenhower Doctrine, on June 3, 
1957, Ben-Gurion found it necessary to remove any doubt that 
might arise concerning Israel's adherence to the policy of neutrality, 
as a result of Israel's acceptance of the Eisenhower Doctrine. Em- 
phasizing that "the fostering of close ties with a particular country 
stands in no contradiction with, nor should in any way diminish, 
the maintenance of normal relations with any other country," he 
reminded his listeners that "the Israel declaration does not denounce 


Ben-Gurion, Rebirth and Destiny of Israel, op. dt« pp. 391-393 

Ibid., p. 459 

Israel Digest, June 15, 1956 

Ibid., December 14, 1956 


any other country", and added: "We do not see any need, nor in- 
deed do we feel that we may have any right, to interfere in the in- 
ternal regime of any other country. Our only desire is to create in- 
ternational conditions which will strengthen our security, and which 
will assist us in realizing Israel's supreme ideal, namely, the ab- 
sorption of immigrants." " 

Replying to a question raised by a correspondent of Tass, the 
Soviet official news service, Mrs. Golda Meir, Foreign Minister of 
Israel, asserted: "Our policy is friendship with all countries regard- 
less of their internal regimes . . . We are not aware that we have 
done anything to warrant the Soviet unfriendly attitude. We hope 
for a change for the better." 40 

The Israeli Foreign Minister spoke to Parliament in the same 
vein. Emphasizing that Israel is "not bound in any alliance", she 
asserted that "the fault is not ours" that the Soviet Union at present 
adopts an unfriendly attitude towards Israel, and added that "the 
explanation for the attitude of this power towards us is not to be 
sought in the stand or actions of the State of Israel'*. 41 

In a speech he made before Parliament shortly thereafter, Ben 
Gurion adduced the same argument in reply to his critics. According 
to an official summary of the speech, "the Prime Minister said that 
Israel had not violated any treaty made with the Soviet Union and 
had not broken off relations with her even though she had threatened 
Israel with destruction". 42 (The statement probably refers to the 
threats which the Soviet Union made during the Israeli invasion of 
Egypt the year before.) Ben Gurion added: "We want to maintain 
normal relations with the Soviet Union in spite of a number of 
things that we do not find very pleasant . . . We shall make every 
effort for normal relations with all countries without exception." 43 

Ben Gurion is indeed committed to the policy of neutrality not 
only in his capacity as the head of the Israeli Government but also 
in his capacity as leader of the Mapai Party, the largest in the Israeli 
Parliament. For the Mapai Party proclaims in its official program, 
on the basis of which it ran for elections in 1955, that "its foreign 

39 Ibid., June 17, 1957 

*o Ibid.. September 16, 1957 

4i Ibid., November 11, 1957 

« Ibid., November 25, 1957 

*» Ibid., November 25, 1957 


policy stands for non-identification with any Hoc". 4 * 

In fact, it is significant that, while the three leftist parties 
champion a policy of friendship with the Soviet Bloc, and the largest 
party — Mapai — calls for a policy of non-identification, not one of the 
other parties represented in the Parliament of Israel today includes 
in its official platform an appeal for friendship with the West. 45 

F. Pledge of Non-Hostility 

Early in 1953, a sudden crisis erupted which clouded Soviet- 
Israeli relations. It came as a result of the well-known case of the 
nine Soviet doctors, of whom six were Jewish, who were charged, 
in an official communique published in Pravda on January 13, 1953, 
with having "made it their aim to cut short the lives of active public 
figures of the Soviet Union through the sabotage of medical treat- 
ment." The publication of this communique heralded a bitter anti- 
Jewish campaign in the Soviet press. According to the American 
Jewish Year Book, this campaign "provoked a wave of indignation 
and protest throughout the World," and "had its most violent reper- 
cussions in Israel," where "extremists belonging to a secret and 
illegal organization exploded a bomb on the premises of the Soviet 
legation in Israel" on February 9, 1953. 4 * "This act was condemned 
in no uncertain terms by the government of Israel, the Knesset 
[Parliament], and the press." 47 But "the Soviet Government refused 
to accept the apology and, without further negotiations, broke diplo- 
matic relations with Israel" on February 11, 1953. 48 However, "on 
July 20 an agreement on the restoration of diplomatic ties was offi- 
cially announced in Moscow and Jerusalem." 49 

The significance of this temporary break in diplomatic relations 
lies in the terms on which the Soviet Union consented to restore 
normal relations with Israel. 

On July 6, 1953, the Israeli Government, officially requesting 
the resumption of diplomatic relations, pledged that Israel "would 
not be a party to any alliance or pact aiming at aggression against 
the Soviet Union." On July 15, 1953, the Soviet Government "ac- 

Facti and Figures, 1955 (N. Y.) op. cit.. p. 18 

For an authoritative definition of their respective platforms, as proclaimed by 

the parties themselves, see Ibid., pp. 17-20 

American Jewish Year-Boole for 1954, American Book-Stratford Press, Inc., N«w 

York, 1954, pp. 273-276 

Ibid., p. 353 

Ibid., p. 277 

Ibid., p. 354 


cepted these statements and agreed to re-establish diplomatic rela- 
tions." 50 

That this crisis in Soviet-Israeli relations was temporary, and 
that the reconciliation which followed it was mutually satisfactory, 
is clearly indicated by the fact that in June, 1954, both countries 
agreed to elevate the level of their diplomatic representatives and to 
transform their legations to embassies. 51 As we have seen earlier, 
Israel's neutralism was not affected by this crisis; Iraeli policy- 
makers continued to issue public assurances to the effect that Israel 
adhered to its neutralist policy, just as they did after the second 
crisis in Israeli-Soviet relations, which followed Israel's invasion of 
Egypt in the fall of 1956. 

G. Soviet-Israeli Trade 

One of the outstanding characteristics of the post-Stalin era of 

Soviet foreign policy has been the initiation or expansion of trade 

relations between the Soviet Union and the countries of Asia and 

Africa. It was during this period that the Soviet Union established 

new commercial relations with some Arab States, particularly since 

1955. But the initiation of economic intercourse with some Arab 

States has not, in the least, entailed the curtailment of Soviet-Israeli 

trade. On the contrary, the period has been marked by the expansion 

of Soviet commercial relations with Israel no less than by the 

establishment of such relations with some Arab countries. 

* * * 

One of the first consequences of the resumption of diplomatic 
relations between the Soviet Union and Israel in July, 1953, was the 
conclusion of far-reaching agreements, involving chiefly the ex- 
change of Soviet crude oil, badly needed by Israel, for Israeli fruits. 
According to the American Jewish Year Book for 1955: "After the 
resumption of Soviet relations with Israel, several trade agreements 
were concluded. The export of Israel oranges and other fruit to the 
Soviet Union was renewed, while the Soviet Union began to deliver 
considerable quantities of crude oil." 

Nor have these trade relations diminished since 1953. Review- 
ing Soviet-Israeli relations for 1954 and 1955, the American Jewish 
Year Book for 1956 says : 

so American Jewish Year-Book for 1955, op. cit., p. 409 

«' Ibid., p. 409 
*3 Ibid., p. 409 


"Commercial relations were governed by a trade agree- 
ment signed in Moscow in December 1953. The Soviet 
government agreed to deliver 100,000 tons of crude oil 
to Israel, with an option for another 100,000 tons, and to 
buy citrus fruits and bananas to a total of $2,900,000. 

"In February 1954 Israel took up the option for 
the second 100,000 tons of oil, and in subsequent agree- 
ments agreed to buy another 250,000 in exchange for fruit 

"Similar agreements were conculded between Israel 
and several satellite states. 

"The statistics for 1954 showed a triple increase of 
Israel imports from the Soviet bloc. This trade continued 
in 1955 ... 

"In July 1955 the two governments concluded a 
shipping agreement granting each other preferential treat- 
ment in such matters as port and dock facilities and 
charges." 53 
The American Jewish Year Book for the following year (1957) 
adds this to the preceding information : 

"During 1955-1956 commercial transactions with Israel con- 
tinued, and in July 1956 the Soviet Union agreed to in- 
crease its oil shipments to that country. The agreement 
provided for oil deliveries amounting to from $18,000,000 
to $20,000,000." " 

H. Soviet-Israeli Cultural Relations 
Another manifestation of the far-reaching program of Soviet- 
Israeli trade relations, which Israel maintains or earnestly seeks, 
pertains to cultural exchange. In this field, as in many others, Israel 
is mainly on the receiving end; more is received from the Soviet 
Union than is exported to it by Israel This discrepancy between 
imports and exports was recently the subject of some frank dis- 
cussion at the United Nations, when Israel, while complaining about 
"lack of reciprocity", expressed the hope that the situation would 
be soon rectified. In an address made before the Third Committee 
of the U. N. General Assembly, Israel's delegate spoke of the "wide 

53 American Jewish Year-Book lor 1956, op. cit., pp. 431-432 

54 American Jewish Year-Book Jot 1957, op. cit., p. 316 


and rich exchange in books, newsprint and the like" which Israel 
has "with many countries," and then proceeded to complain about 
the Soviet-Israeli phase of this exchange in the following words: 

"Israel has had a regrettable experience in this 
field . . . For a number of years, my Government assisted 
in the import to Israel of daily papers, periodicals, novels, 
technical books, records and the like in large quantities 
from the Soviet Union. Statistics for the year 1955 show 
that the import of books and newsprint alone from the 
Soviet Union exceeded IL. 100,000 and came third among 
book importing countries in Israel, coming only after the 
United States and the United Kingdom. In fact you could 
get Russian publications practically anywhere in Israel — 
whether in street corner newspaper booths or in special- 
ized bookshops. 

"However, the important factor of reciprocity was 
lacking all along. We have conducted protracted negotia- 
tions, with the appropriate Soviet authorities, for allowing 
the import from Israel of books, periodicals, records and 
music-books to the Soviet Union — but all our efforts have 
been of no avail, 

"We fully hope that in the spirit of this resolution full 
and reciprocal cultural exchange will become a happy 

reality." 55 

* * * 

This statement sums up, with respect to cultural exchanges, the 
sentiment of Israeli officialdom concerning Soviet- Israeli relations 
in general: namely, that if these relations are not happier than they 
are today, and if the exchange is not wider than it is, it is not be- 
cause of Israel's reluctance to accept or hesitation to seek such ex- 
pansion, but because of Soviet policy. The Israeli Foreign Minister 
put it very candidly when she said: "We are not aware that we have 
done anything to warrant the Soviet unfriendly attitude. We hope 
for a change for the better," 56 The Israeli Premier, also asserting 
that "Israel had not violated any treaty made with the Soviet Union", 
proclaimed: "We want to maintain normal relations with the Soviet 

ss Israel Digest, October 28, 1957 
56 Ibid.. September 16, 1957. 


Union in spite of a number of things that we do not find very 
pleasant." 57 But this attitude has perhaps been best expressed in an 
article which appeared in the influential English-language daily 
Israeli newspaper, The Jerusalem Post, criticizing a suggestion 
made by Dr. Nahum Goldmann (the American Zionist who is Presi- 
dent of the World Zionist Organization, the World Jewish Congress, 
and the Jewish Agency). Dr. Goldmann's suggestion, vague to start 
with, has become even more enigmatic since he made it, as a result 
of the countless interpretations, corrections and retractions which 
followed its articulation. Apparently he had counselled Israel to 
steer a course of greater friendliness towards the Soviet Union. The 
Jerusalem Post article said: 

"The real trouble with Mr. Goldmann's statement 
was . . . that he signally failed to explain what he thinks 
we should do in the name of neutralism, and that nobody 
has been able to discover a sensible answer to this riddle. 
"He cannot mean official statements of desire for close 
friendship with both power blocs, for Israel has never 
failed to proclaim such sentiments. 

"Nor can he mean abrogation of treaties with West- 
ern powers in order not to offend the East, for Israel has 
no such treaties." 56 

ST Ibid., NoTember 25, 1957 

ss Jerusalem Post, November 10, 1957