The Two Lefts in France: Divisions over Zionism and Israel

26.01.2017, Vortrag, London

European Leo Baeck Lecture Series London
The Legacy of the Left and Israel: 1967-2017


Michel Dreyfus (Paris)

The Balfour Declaration (1917) boosted Zionism in France. Although the movement enjoyed the support of the Socialists in the inter-war period, it was denounced by the Communist Party (CP) and the ultra-left. The creation of the State of Israel marked the beginning of a new era. While support for Israel grew strongly among French socialists from 1954 due to their opposition to Nasser’s politics in Algeria, the CP took a more critical stance. Post 1967 changes in the French-Israeli relationship left the left sharply divided: While the Socialists continue to support Israel unconditionally, the CP backs the Arab countries. This vigorous debate continues until today.

Michel Dreyfus is a Historian and Research Director at the CNRS (Centre d’histoire sociale du XXe siècle-Université de Paris 1). He has written about the Dreyfus Affair and published numerous books on the history of the French and the international labour movements. His work L’antisémitisme à gauche. Histoire d’un paradoxe (1830-2009) appeared in 2009 (2nd ed. 2011).