‘ANTI-ZIONISM’ AND THE FIGHT AGAINST ANTI-SEMITISM IN CZECHOSLOVAKIA, 1967–1969
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This article analyses the phenomenon of ‘anti-Zionism’ and anti-Semitism in Czechoslovakia during the remarkable years 1967–1969. The reactions to the Arab-Israeli War of June 1967, the political liberalisation during the Prague Spring of 1968, and the period of ‘normalisation’ after the Soviet invasion in August 1968 were the main determinants shaping its development. Anti-Israeli rhetoric and ‘anti-Zionism’ were political instruments manipulated by the communist regimes of Czechoslovakia, Poland, and the Soviet Union and had various functions. They expressed frustration about the defeat of the Arab client states of the Eastern Bloc and about the fact that many East European citizens disagreed with their governments’ one-sided anti-Israeli policy. The ‘anti-Zionist’ campaign also had to discredit oppositional and reform-minded political forces by associating them with Israel and the Jews. Indeed, this campaign could only work if at least a part of the population proved susceptible to the reactivating of anti-Semitic prejudices and sentiments, which had a long history in many parts of Eastern Europe. However, another section of the population, especially in Czechoslovakia, decided to fight against the anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist propaganda. This added a, perhaps underrated, dimension to the events in Czechoslovakia – and to some extent, Poland – during the period 1967–1969. An analysis of these political developments increases our understanding of the nature of anti-Semitism and ‘anti-Zionism’, but also of the character and evolution of the communist regimes as well as of their critics.
861 – 887
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