The Bevin enigma: what motivated Ernest Bevin’s opposition to the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine

Ernest Bevin was the British Foreign Secretary between 1945 and 195 1 . Thus he was the most senior Cabinet Minister responsible for the formulation and implementation of British Palestine policy from the end of the Second World War until a few years after the establishment of the State of Israel.

A common view at the time was that he was antisemitic and this influenced his policies. These accusations of antisemitism only arose after he became Foreign Secretary, but they were so strong and widely held that they have been subsequently addressed by many historians and all his biographers, as well as in memoirs of his contempories. Not everyone either at the time or later considered that he was antisemitic, and the following are a number of contrasting quotations. The first two are from speeches in the House of Commons by the Prime Minister Clement Attlee and the leader of

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