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Leo Baeck Institute London Lecture Series 2016-17

Lecture Series 2016-17A lecture series organised by the Leo Baeck Institute London in cooperation with the German Historical Institute London. This season's topic intends to discuss the complicated and multi-layered relationship of the European Left with Zionism and the State of Israel. We will examine this broad subject from a historical perspective and will shed light on the different debates in various European countries.  

Thursday, 24 November 2016 Dr Brian Klug - Denouncing Israel: Anti-colonialism or Antisemitism on the British Left?   

Thursday, 8 December 2016 Prof Christina Späti - The German-speaking Left and Israel: Legacies and Developments since 1948   

Thursday, 26 January 2017 Dr Michel Dreyfus - The Two Lefts in France: Divisions over Zionism and Israel   

Thursday, 16 February 2017 Dr Jan Gerber - A Prague Trial: The People against Rudolf Slánský   

Thursday, 16 March 2017 Panel Discussion - Nick Cohen, Prof David Feldman, Prof Christina Späti and Dr Peter Ullrich   

For more information on the this season’s lecture series, please refer to the leaflet here.


Brian Klug

A significant part of the British left, especially since the June 1967 war, tends to denounce Israel as a state and Zionism as an idea. Ostensibly, these attitudes are grounded in the anti-colonialism and anti-racism which have been staple causes for the British left since the sun began to set on the Empire. These grounds, however, are called into question by those who detect the hidden hand of antisemitism at work. The lecture will examine key concepts and arguments in this controversy, seeking to bring the issues into sharper focus.   

Michel Dreyfus

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,…

Jan Gerber

Cancelled due to sickness

In November 1952, fourteen leading officials of the Czechoslovak Communist Party (CCP), eleven of them Jews, were accused of participating in an alleged bourgeois, nationalist, Zionist conspiracy against the people's democracy. 

Eleven of them, including General Secretary Rudolf Slánský, were hanged. This biggest and most antisemitically charged show trial in the Eastern bloc can be seen as a consequence of the Soviet geopolitical turn in the Middle East - away from Israel towards the Arab countries. It was also a consequence of…

Nick Cohen, David Feldmann, Christina Späti, Peter Ullrich. Chair: Daniel Wildmann

Panel discussion as a part of the Leo Baeck Institute Lecture Series 2016-17

The panel discuss the complicated and multi-layered relationship of the European left with Zionism and the State of Israel, examining this broad subject from a historical perspective and shedding light on the different debates on various European countries.