A few leftwing readers responded to Jack Ross’s post attacking the Hollywood 10 last night. (My politics are much closer to theirs than to Ross’s, but I love him on Jewish history, and it’s all part of the package.)
I’m surprised that you’ve included this in your blog. Yuk!!!!! Stalinoid Henry Wallace????? He was Roosevelt’s vice president and secretary of agriculture and commerce. Was Roosevelt stalinoid too? Arch Stalinist Dalton Trumbo????? Am I an arch Stalinist??? I grew up in a communist household and I lived on a Kibbutz in 1965 and didn’t have an opinion about Zionism. The Hollywood Ten were heroic figures because of the position they took in the witch hunts. Damn!!! was Pete Seeger an arch stalinist to be reviled???? Paul Robeson?? How about the guys who fought in Spain? Were some of them maybe Zionists? Could be. Is that the single way we look at folks???? As you may know, I’m an anti-Zionist one stater but jeeeeez, I don’t look at the world through the back end of a telescope.
"To the Editor:
Having not the slightest idea of who Mr. Robert Alter may be, I would hesitate to write about him, his ideas, or his activities [“Israel and the Intellectuals,” October 1967]. Mr. Alter, however, is not encumbered by such considerations in discussing my letter to the San Francisco Chronicle of June 20.
"I would hesitate to describe myself as any kind of Marxist, “old-time” or new, and I have never been “active in” any kind of politics in a lifetime of sixty-three years.
"On the basis of a few phrases, a couple of isolated words, and one paragraph of a long letter, Mr. Alter slanders me, together with any other American Jew who may have raised some questions about the Israeli-Arab war of last June.
"The questions I asked (before the time I was a non-Zionist) have now been answered by history, and have made of me an anti-Zionist. Israel’s arrogance is patent to all observers, in her refusal to submit her case to the UN; her willingness to talk “peace” with the Arab states—on her terms or none at all; her refusal to disgorge the territories of her neighbors (not to mention colonizing them and exploiting their natural resources for her own benefit); her refusal to permit the return to their native lands of thousands upon thousands of refugees.
"Mr. Alter cannot alter facts by polemic, nor distort the ideas of other people by placing his own “virulent” Zionist interpretation on what they have said and what he chooses to think they may believe.
"I have never believed that “Jews . . . are not fighters.” I have known them and fought alongside them myself. I did not say I would be “opposed in principle” if the diaspora were capable of being reversed; I said I was not “at all sure it should be reversed, even if it were possible”; I did not question Israel’s right to exist despite its quite illegitimate birth and the uses to which its foreign policy and action have been put since its birth in 1948.
"So far as my understanding of history is concerned, I know this much: you cannot make a “homeland” on territory occupied by other people unless you can (1) persuade them to move out, (2) live in peace and equality with them, and/or, (3) failing to do either, kill them. If Israel maintains her present course vis-à-vis the Arabs, she will guarantee her destruction whether she, Mr. Alter, or I want it that way or not."
San Rafael, California
Photo is from this Bessie website. Feldman adds, "Given his post-1968 anti-Zionism, your readers might also be interested in checking out the following link to get Hollywood Ten member Bessie’s historical take on Hollywood Ten case era and Spanish Civil War,etc."