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The Melbourne Jewish Left, Communism and the Cold War. Responses to Stalinist Anti-Semitism and the Rosenberg Spy Trial

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This article explores the political marginalisation of the Melbourne Jewish Council to Combat Fascism and Anti-Semitism during the Cold War. Attention is drawn to contending views about the nature of the Council's links with communism. By comparing the Council's response to two coinciding international events during 1952 and 1953 - the anti-Jewish show trials in Stalinist Eastern Europe, and the Rosenberg spy trial in the USA - evidence is derived confirming the dominance of communist influence within the Jewish Council at that time. In order, I examine the Australian Jewish political context in which the Council operated and its relations with the wider Jewish community prior to the Cold War; explore rival arguments concerning the Council's links with communism and the Australian Communist Party; examine the major features of Stalinist anti-Semitism and the Council's response to them; recount the Council's reaction to the Rosenberg Spy Trial and Doctors Plot; and conclude that the Council lost influence because it fell under the control of a pro-Soviet group unwilling to recognise and attack anti-Semitism on the political left.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Monash University

Publication date: 01 December 2003

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