Soviet attitudes towards Israel, unfriendly almost from the beginning, became more hostile as Moscow's relations with the Arab countries improved; but they were also affected by the existence of a 'Jewish question' inside the Soviet Union. The traditional Soviet and communist approach to Zionism before the establishment of the Jewish state was wholly negative. The Communist party in Palestine denied the very principle of Jewish immigration, let alone the idea of a national home, which did not make it exactly popular within the Jewish community. The Soviet decision in 1947 to vote at the United Nations for a Jewish state came as an agreeable surprise to Zionists; the Soviet Union was among the very first to grant the Jewish state full diplomatic recognition. This Soviet-Israeli honeymoon did not, however, last; it was only a brief and, in retrospect, somewhat incongruous interlude. There was at the end of the war a great deal of sympathy for the remnants of European Jewry. However hard-boiled the Kremlin's policy may be, it is not impossible that the Soviet leaders, too, were not immune to this general sentiment. Unwilling to revise their basic attitude towards Zionism, they nevertheless recognized the necessity to find a haven for the survivors of the holocaust. From the point of view of Soviet interests in the Middle East, moreover, a good case could be made for supporting Jewish statehood. The Jewish independence movement in Palestine fulfilled an 'objectively progressive' function, for it helped to weaken Britain's position in the Middle East, and, generally speaking, added to the unrest which in Soviet eyes was a symptom of the unfolding general crisis of capitalism. The Arab world was at the time still ruled by monarchs (Farouk, the Hashemites) and reactionary elites; there was not

much scope for an active Soviet foreign policy in these countries. Soon after the establishment of the state, the first unfriendly

commentaries began to appear in the Soviet press. This change in attitude was caused mainly by domestic factors. Stalin and his advisers had clearly overrated the extent to which the Jews had been integrated into Soviet society. According to Soviet doctrine, the national problem had long ago been solved: this was one of the triumphs of Leninism-Stalinism. In fact, the situation was a great deal more complicated. While many individual Jews had been prominent Bolsheviks in the early years of the regime, the great majority of them were purged in the thirties. Most Soviet Jews were not party members and their attitude towards the regime was as ambivalent as that of other national minorities. During Stalin's last years they were singled out for persecution; individual Jews were arrested and some were executed, an unofficial numerus clausus was introduced, and some professions were closed to them altogether. All this contributed to the alienation of Soviet Jews; there is some reason to believe that but for Stalin's death Soviet Jews would have been hit even more severely by a systematic campaign which was anti-Semitic in everything but name. The establishment of the state of Israel struck a deep emotional chord among many of them, however irreligious and alienated from Jewish traditions. The arrival of the first Israeli ambassador to Moscow turned into a spontaneous popular demonstration without precedent in the Soviet capital. This was a cause of much concern to the Soviet leadership, and within a few months an anti-Zionist campaign was launched. It was to be made clear beyond any shadow of doubt that diplomatic relations with the state of Israel did not entail sympathy with Zionism; Soviet Jews were to have no ties with their co-religionists abroad; the Soviet Union was their homeland and they would not be permitted to emigrate to Israel. As the anti-Jewish purge became more intense in 1951-2, the accusations became louder and wilder. Jewish organizations and individual Jews, not necessarily Zionist, were denounced as inveterate enemies of the Soviet Union.