The youthful activists who made up the New Left during the 1960s were largely in accord in their opposition to the Vietnam War and their support for the black freedom movement. By contrast, they were deeply divided about how to approach the Arab-Israeli conflict. Some left-wing youth championed the Palestinian cause as another example of support for anti-imperialist struggles in the Third World. Malcolm X, the Black Panther Party (BPP), and famous Youth International Party (Yippie) figures Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin felt this way, as did certain members of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Other members of the New Left balked at calling Israel an imperialist oppressor and pushed back, including some in SDS, but also groups like the Radical Zionist Alliance. The result was bitter conflict and invective that was worsened by the fact that left-wing Jews, who were present in disproportionately large numbers in the New Left, were represented on both sides of this issue.
The New Left and the Arab-Israeli Conflict in the United States
Michael R. Fischbach is professor of history at Randolph-Macon College and author of Black Power and Palestine: Transnational Countries of Color (Stanford University Press, 2018) and The Movement and the Middle East: How the Arab-Israeli Conflict Divided the American Left (Stanford University Press, 2019).
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Michael R. Fischbach; The New Left and the Arab-Israeli Conflict in the United States. Journal of Palestine Studies 1 May 2020; 49 (3): 7–21. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jps.2020.49.3.7
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