Cover of The Movement and the Middle East by Michael R. Fischbach
The Movement and the Middle East
How the Arab-Israeli Conflict Divided the American Left
Michael R. Fischbach

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November 2019
312 pages.
from $26.00

Cloth ISBN: 9781503610446
Paper ISBN: 9781503611061
Digital ISBN: 9781503611078

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The Arab-Israeli conflict constituted a serious problem for the American Left in the 1960s: pro-Palestinian activists hailed the Palestinian struggle against Israel as part of a fundamental restructuring of the global imperialist order, while pro-Israeli leftists held a less revolutionary worldview that understood Israel as a paragon of democratic socialist virtue. This intra-left debate was in part doctrinal, in part generational. But further woven into this split were sometimes agonizing questions of identity. Jews were disproportionately well-represented in the Movement, and their personal and communal lives could deeply affect their stances vis-à-vis the Middle East.

The Movement and the Middle East offers the first assessment of the controversial and ultimately debilitating role of the Arab-Israeli conflict among left-wing activists during a turbulent period of American history. Michael R. Fischbach draws on a deep well of original sources—from personal interviews to declassified FBI and CIA documents—to present a story of the left-wing responses to the question of Palestine and Israel. He shows how, as the 1970s wore on, the cleavages emerging within the American Left widened, weakening the Movement and leaving a lasting impact that still affects progressive American politics today.

About the author

Michael R. Fischbach is Professor of History at Randolph-Macon College. He is the author of Black Power and Palestine: Transnational Countries of Color (Stanford, 2018), among other works.

"Michael R. Fischbach boldly takes us into the vexed heart of debates on the American Left, exploding after the Six-Day War of 1967, over the Palestinian struggle against the state of Israel. Fischbach ably navigates the moral passion, ideological wrangling, and exquisite agony of the entire conflict. His bracing message is of the perils of intransigence and the enduring ability of the Israel-Palestine debate to further divide an already weakened American Left."

—Jeremy Varon, The New School, author of Bringing the War Home

"In an engaging narrative, Michael Fischbach makes a wonderful contribution to our understanding of the shifting positions, alliances, and tensions among American leftist groups on the Israel-Palestine conflict in the 1960s and 1970s. The Movement and the Middle East will have a great impact on contemporary activism, illuminating the growing support for Palestinian liberation over the decades."

—Pamela Pennock, University of Michigan–Dearborn