Moshe Sneh’s Contribution

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Sir, – Sarah Honig (May 30) is only partially correct when she says that Ephraim Sneh’s father, Moshe, the Israeli Communist Party leader, was not placed totally beyond the political pale because of his contribution to the Yishuv prior to his political “meanderings.”

Although utterly misguided, Moshe Sneh abandoned a comfortable leadership role in the Israeli establishment in the belief that it was only through an accommodation with the Soviet Union and commitment to a discredited, totalitarian ideology that he would be able to promote the interests of Israel and the Jewish people. As the years passed and he came to the realization that his dreams of Soviet aliya and an Israel-Soviet rapprochement would not be achieved through the brutal and antisemitic Soviet regime, he became one of the first within the international Communist movement to challenge the Soviets in relation to the Jewish issue.

When, at the request of the Israeli authorities, I visited Communist Party leaders in Europe and North America and attempted to persuade them to follow the lead of the Australian Communists (who were the first to condemn Soviet antisemitism), it was clear that they were all profoundly influenced by Moshe Sneh’s “Marxist” condemnations of Soviet policy, which infuriated hard-line Soviet ideologues. Hence, paradoxically, Sneh’s involvement with the Communist Party ultimately became a major factor in persuading Eurocommunists and other Western Communists to exert pressure on the Soviets in relation to the Jews. In retrospect, that was a major element contributing towards the initial breakthrough in relation to Soviet aliya.

That is why many, like myself, who were engaged in public campaigns against the Soviets and Communists, are delighted that the son of Moshe Sneh in his own right has become a minister in the government of Israel.

ISI LEIBLER, Co-Chairman, Governing Board, World Jewish Congress, Melbourne, Australia.

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