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Crossman and the creation of Israel

Of the many careers, events and situations that Crossman undertook during his life-time, the Palestine-Israel controversy was one he identified as ‘the most thrilling and probably the most useful episode in my political life’.1 No website about Crossman would therefore be complete without an overview of his role, opinions and ideas concerning the Middle East.

Crossman was a member of the ‘1945-46 Anglo-American Committee of Enquiry regarding the problems of European Jewry and Palestine’, he later became a British representative abroad in the Middle East, and a broadcaster for the BBC Hebrew Service based in London. Transcripts of Crossman's radio and television broadcasts relating to Israel and Palestine have been digitised.


The Arab-Israeli Conflict in a British Context

I am quite clear after reading the documents that historically – but not legally, the Arab case is indisputable. We did include Palestine in the area of their independence: we failed to tell the French we had done so. We negotiated an entirely incompatible division of the spoils with France and Russia. And then, on top of all, we promised the Jews a national home

Crossman, Palestine Mission, p.26

The dilemma that faced post-war British politicians was that Britain had made too many promises to too many different interests. The British had promised the Arabs that Palestine would fall into their jurisdiction, but at the same time, they had also promised the Jews a National Home.2 Thus the Government had an obligation to both peoples in a situation that demanded a compromise, one that would please no-one. The situation was further exasperated by the ambiguity of the term ‘National Home’. As a 1947 report to the United Nations General Assembly put it: "Few phrases in history have provoked such lasting contentions as ‘Jewish National Home’".3

The report eventually concluded that a ‘Jewish National Home’ did not mean a Jewish Nation State, but that the situation could be reviewed and a National State recognised should a significant number of Jews settle in the National Home. Evidently, this policy invited and encouraged Jewish immigration to Palestine, following the events of the Second World War and the Holocaust.

It is important to keep in mind that in the post-war world Britain was no longer a world power that could influence global conflicts to the same degree as when she controlled an Empire. Countries such as the United States and Russia, who were interlocked in an ideological struggle, were to be the ones to influence global affairs. After the Suez debacle in 1956, Britain - her politicians and people - accepted this fact.4

Timeline of British policy regarding Israel:

1917 The Balfour Declaration – Supported the creation of a Jewish National Home in Palestine without harming the ‘civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities’.

1937 Peel Commission Report – Recommended partition in Palestine

1939 MacDonald White Paper – Proposed abandonment of the Peel report and supported the creation of an independent Palestinian state governed by Jews and Arabs according to proportional representation

1947 – Anglo-American Commission recommends partition. Leadership of the British Labour Party disagrees and supports an independent Arab state with a Jewish minority.

1948 – Independent Jewish State, the State of Israel, is created

British influence in the Middle East deteriorates and, comes to a near-end after Suez in 1956.

The Arab-Israel Conflict in a Global Context

Whilst, arguably, the Israeli-Arab conflict had little to do with the Cold War - the ideological struggle taking place between America and Russia – it is important to bear in mind that both Russia and the United States created and followed policies for the Middle East with the Cold War in mind.

Middle Eastern countries found, for example, that they could use the Cold War situation as leverage to gain concessions from either Russia or America. The Cold War mentality of contemporaries is important to keep in mind when reading through Crossman’s broadcasts, as some of his thinking is informed by this global conflict.5

However Crossman also recognised the on-going legacy of Western Imperialism. In particular, he argued that one of the key reasons for which Arab states were hostile towards Israel was that they regarded Israeli Jews as ‘Western Jews’ who had come across to the Middle East with their ideas of superiority and 'civilization'.6

Crossman and Palestine

Why was Crossman passionate about the Palestine-Israel issue?

The reasons why Crossman became passionate about the Israel-Palestine argument are multiple and cannot all be listed here, or even all uncovered. It is however clear that the controversy appealed to his character. As Tam Dalyell – one of Crossman’s biographers - explains, ‘Crossman adored fishing in troubled waters’.7 Above all, the situation was an exciting challenge: ‘Life’s worth living’, Crossman expounds, ‘when there is a cause like that to fight for, where you have no inhibitions of any kind and you feel that you are absolutely right’.8

A Middle-Eastern Expert?

When Crossman was first introduced to the Arab-Israeli dispute he was largely ignorant of the situation: ‘I can claim expert knowledge neither of Zionism nor of the Middle East. My mind was empty, if not open, when I was pitched into the Palestine problem’.9 Yet, despite this, he appears to have been praised from all quarters, with regards to his sensitivity, understanding and competence of the issues at hand. In 1955 the President of Egypt, Colonel Nasser, said to Crossman: “You, who are one of the people and not an expert, and know very little about our area, seem to have some understanding of our feelings”,10 whilst in 1958 the Israeli Ambassador Elialu Elath sent a short thank you note to Crossman which also testifies to Crossman’s sensitivity: ‘I wish to tell you . . . how much I appreciated you raising the subject of Arab Unity. . . Your questions greatly helped me to explain my point of view’11. Later, Harold Wilson also praised Crossman in his book The Chariot of Israel (1981).12 These words of praise reveal that, although no expert, Crossman was competent enough in his role as a British representative in the Middle East. As such, Crossman may not have started out as an expert, but he nonetheless quickly became familiar with Middle Eastern issues.

The Argument with Bevin: Crossman and the Anglo-American Committee of Enquiry in Palestine 1945-1946

Crossman first became involved in Middle Eastern affairs when Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin – unaware of the Pandora’s Box he was opening - appointed him to the ‘Anglo-American Committee of Enquiry regarding the problems of European Jewry and Palestine’ in the Autumn of 1945.

At the time, Crossman was new to Parliament - he had only been elected MP for Coventry East in July of that year. That he was appointed when he was still relatively inexperienced in parliamentary politics and was, moreover, almost totally ignorant about Middle Eastern affairs, reveals that he was recognised as a man of competence and intelligence. Ironically, he had also been appointed precisely because he had no strong views on the debate, as to whether or not a Jewish National Home, or even a Jewish State, ought to be established; ‘Indeed’ Crossman writes, ‘my chief qualification had been that I was not committed by any public statement about Palestine or Zionism, I would therefore approach the problem with an open mind’.13

In fact, Crossman was not as open minded as he thought, for, when he first joined the Committee he indicated that he sympathised more with the Arabs than with the Zionists.14 Not only because he felt that the Arabs' legal case was stronger, but also because he felt that a Jewish National Home in Palestine would only end in tragedy for a Jewish people encircled by hostile neighbours.15

However, by the time that Crossman set foot in Jerusalem in March 1946 he had become a supporter of Zionism.16 What compelled Crossman to change his mind? Firstly, Crossman’s visit to Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany and his first-hand experience of Holocaust survivors convinced him of ‘the need of European Jewry to return home’.17 Secondly, Crossman met with Chaim Weizmann - the leader of the Zionist movement – whose personality he was enthralled by. Finally, Crossman decided that the return to Zion had already occurred in practice, and that now, in 1946, the question was not if a Jewish Home should be established but when ‘political recognition shall be given to an accomplished fact’.18

However, Crossman was uncomfortable with his choice to support the Zionists, because of the injustice that their demands would subject the Arabs to. He simply made his decision on what he believed was the lesser of the two evils:

What stuck in my gullet was the idea that British troops should be used to hold the Arabs down while the Jews were given time to create an artificial Jewish majority. Sure enough, I did at last come to the conclusion that the injustice done to the Arabs by dividing the country and permitting the Jews to achieve a majority in their portion would be less than the injustice done to the Jews by implementing the 1939 White Paper. But this was a complicated, terribly difficult decision to reach. 19

To Crossman, the fairest solution for both Jews and Arabs in Palestine, therefore, was partition organised by the United Nations. In 1948 this became reality.20

Crossman’s decision to support the Zionist cause was met with hostility by Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin and Prime Minister Clement Attlee. Both of these men sought instead an Arab state peopled predominantly by Arabs, but with a Jewish minority incorporated within it.21 They believed – wrongly in the eyes of Crossman – that the Jews were not a nation but a religious community.22 The attitude of Bevin and Attlee eventually led Crossman to label both men as anti-Semitic.23 However, Crossman once confided to Tam Dalyell – his biographer – that had he been Foreign Secretary in 1945 he would not ‘have flagrantly taken the Israeli side, [and] threatened our contacts with the Arabs’, rather he would have followed a policy of appeasement.24

Crossman’s disagreement with the Labour Party leadership was to have two consequences. The first was that he wasn’t appointed as a Cabinet Minister under the Attlee government and he remained a mere backbencher for an inordinate amount of time.25 The second was that Crossman became a member of the more left-wing side of the Labour Party, when by nature he was more suited to the right of the party, along with men such as Attlee and Bevin. As such, without intending to be one, Crossman had become a non-conformist. Later, under the Wilson government (1964-1970), Crossman believed that he was never appointed Foreign Secretary – a position which he sought – because of his history with the Palestine/Israel issue.26

Nevertheless, since the events of the late 1940s the Labour Party has largely sided with Crossman. Harold Wilson, for example, heavily criticised Bevin’s policies in his book The Chariot of Israel but praised Crossman.27

However, whilst Crossman’s role in the creation of an independent Jewish state is recognised in various large texts on the history of Israel, such as Wilson’s The Chariot of Israel, and Colin Schindler’s A History of Modern Israel, he only appears in them briefly. As Crossman himself concedes ‘I became one of the minor figures in the prehistory of Israel’.28

The final word however, should go to Aneurin Bevan. In a broadcast in which Crossman pays tribute to Bevan, Crossman recalls that he had once advised the following:

There are only two ways forward in politics . . .one way is on your knees, crawling up the path of promotion, sacrificing your principles on the way. The other way is to stay outside and fight ‘em until they have to let you into their innermost councils. The one fatal thing, my dear Dick,” he [Bevan] added, “is to mix the two ways. Either go in as a careerist, or stay out as a crusader. But don’t hover 29

From very early on, it is clear that Crossman chose to be a crusader.

Crossman and Zionism

Weizmann never thought of Israel as the only Jewish nation. He thought of World Jewry as a nation – a nation divided into a majority living in the Diaspora and the new minority which would create the nation state of Israel and thereby safeguard the standing and status of the Communities outside

Crossman, Lecture, MSS.154/3/JE/198

In general Zionism is defined as ‘the movement to secure the Jewish return to the Land of Israel’,30 but, as with all concepts, this principle is altered and interpreted differently by different groups. As such there are various forms of Zionism; the main ones are classified today as ‘General Zionism’, ‘Messianic Zionism’, ‘Revisionist Zionism’, ‘Christian Zionism’ and ‘Socialist Zionism’. To find out more about what these are, the online Jewish Virtual LibraryLink opens in a new window gives a good overview.31

Crossman was not, when he first became a member of the 1946 Anglo-American Commission, a Zionist. He believed that treating the Jews as a separate nation ‘was really a reflex of anti-semitism’ since it distanced the Jews from the rest of the world to an even greater extent than they already were.32 ‘It is the anti-semites and racists’, Crossman initially argued, ‘who want to clear the Jews out of Europe and place them together in Palestine’.33

Yet Crossman’s views experienced a U-turn whilst he was a member of the Anglo-American Commission (1945-1946), in part because of his meeting with Chaim Weizmann.

Crossman’s own views on Zionism were heavily influenced by Chaim Weizmann, a leading Zionist of his time. In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to describe Crossman as a satellite of Weizmann. Crossman however, struggled to place where Weizmann stood on the Zionist scale. This prompted one interested party to write to Crossman and ask if ‘Herzl and Weizmann fit into the genuine Jewish tradition or are they, like Paul and Marx (to mention the two best known Jewish historical figures who founded movements which would solve the ‘Jewish problem’) destined to be founders of schismatic movements which only time will recognise as such’?34 Sadly, Crossman’s response to the letter was either never written, or never donated to the Modern Records Centre.

What is available among the Crossman files is an untitled and undated lecture – although 1972 seems likely - by Crossman which reveals what Crossman understood by Zionism and World Jewry. Or rather what Weizmann understood by Zionism and which Crossman then adopted as his own view.

First and foremost, Crossman believed that the Jews were not simply a religious community but a nation. On this score he disagreed with the post-war Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee and Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin, who did not regard the Jewish people as a nation but as a religious community.35

Secondly, the Jewish nation was not limited to a geographical territory defined by political borders. A Jew living outside of the National Home was still just as much of a Jew as one who was settled within its borders. This concept is important because not all Zionists adhere to it. In the 1960s David Ben-Gurion for example, asserted that, ‘one couldn’t be a true Zionist unless one went to Israel’36, thus promulgating the idea that the Jewish nation was limited to a territory.

Weizmann, and his ‘disciple’ Crossman,37 regarded such nationalistic beliefs about the Jewish nation as dangerous for it. For Israel to survive a reciprocal relationship had to exist between Jews settled in the Jewish State and Jews settled in other parts of the world. Such a relationship would bring about mutual benefits – for instance - American Jews could act as a powerful lobby and pressure group in the United States to benefit the homeland,38 whilst Israeli Jews would be positioned in a Jewish stronghold to advise and raise confidence in Jews settled outside of it: ‘Everybody noticed’, Crossman announced, ‘ the improved status of the Jewish community as the result of the establishment of the state’.39

Zionism, for Crossman, also entailed ‘a transformation of the spirit of World Jewry’.40 By this he meant a growth of confidence amongst Jews in their imagined community as a nation not defined by territorial borders.

Finally, Crossman concluded his lecture with the argument that that there is not, in fact, such a thing as World Jewry. Rather, Jewry is specifically ‘a Western phenomenon’.41 This concept of Jewry is important because it affects how the non-Western world views the creation of the State of Israel. In the eyes of some, it becomes ‘yet another episode in the cruel history of Imperialism’42, or in other words, an attempt by the Western world to impose its ‘civilizing’ mission on everyone else.43 Unsurprisingly, such a viewpoint generates hostility – especially within the Arab world - towards Israel. Thus although Crossman asserted that Jewry is a Western phenomenon he simultaneously wanted to reassure the Arab world that this did not, however, make the creation of the State of Israel a strategic move in the history of Western Imperialism.44

Weizmann, Chaim (1874-1952)

Chemist, Zionist leader, first President of the State of Israel (1948).

He advocated the democratization of the Zionist Organization and emphasised the movement’s cultural and popular content.

He is credited with having secured the Balfour Declaration from the British in 1917 and other declarations of support for Zionism from other countries.

During World War II he continued to base his policies on faith in Britain. After the war however, in 1946, he became disillusioned with the British Labour Party whose leadership at the time – Prime Minister Clement Attlee and the Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin – did not fulfil promised pledges.

He met Crossman in the winter of 1945-46 whom he converted – apparently through strength of personality – to the Zionist cause. For Crossman, Weizmann became his ‘spiritual Father’.

Information based on Tam Dalyell’s biography, Dick Crossman, Harold Wilson’s Chariot of Israel, and significantly, from The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia.

Crossman’s vision of the Jewish Home

Interestingly, one of Crossman’s broadcasts reveals that traditional Zionism alleged that ‘the prime purpose of settlement was to mix Jewish Labour with the soil and create an agrarian community’.45 This attitude towards agriculture reveals the extent to which Zion was seen in a romantic and nostalgic light for the ideal bygone times. In reality however, this idealistic vision was never achieved. Crossman believed that the nature of an entity is determined by the way in which it came into being. As such, Israel - which was created through war - took on all the characteristics of a warrior state: it is ‘tough, separatist and particular’ declared Crossman.46

Certificate presented to Crossman, 1947

Definitions of the ‘Jew’

Like many others, Crossman built his own construct of what the ‘Jew’ was. For Crossman - Jews were a different and unique people. The world was divided into ‘Jews’ and ‘Gentiles’, this meant that Crossman saw himself as a ‘Gentile’.47 As such Crossman also believed that he was anti-semitic, for all Gentiles - as Weizmann taught him - are anti-semitic.48 In addition, Weizmann also believed that the worst kind of Jew was one who had become ‘assimilated’ within the confines of another nation or country.49 On this point, it is unclear whether Crossman agrees with him or not - although in one broadcast Crossman holds assimilation responsible for encouraging an intense form of anti-Semitism, suggesting that Crossman was also critical of assimilation50.

Below are quotes lifted from his lecture on World Jewry which reveal more about how Crossman viewed the ‘Jew’:

One of the truths about the Jew is that he is by nature an extremist. He takes the ideas of others and drives them to fantastic, adventurous logical conclusions which takes the pedestrian gentile like me unawares

Crossman, Lecture [MSS.154/3/JE/195]

It takes a Jew to be really obsessively introvert and determined to maintain every tittle and jot of the law. No people has been more obsessively concerned to preserve habits and procedures that cut them off from the rest of the community

Crossman, Lecture [MSS.154/3/JE/196]

And true to form, in Crossman style - a man who believed that to live life to the full was what countered to him most in life51 - Crossman reveals that:

To be a Jew is very exciting. I always wanted to be a bit of a Jew and I never had the chance. It must be an exhilarating feeling. You suffer a lot more, of course, but your zest for life is greater too. You exult a great deal more and you lament a great deal more – compared to us rather phlegmatic, stoical Englishman.52


Peace in the Middle East? The Crossman Solution

Certainly if we want to make war inevitable the best way to do so is to believe that it is inevitable

Richard Crossman, Broadcast for Prospect for Europe Part II, MSS.154/4/BR/2/4

Throughout his political career Crossman maintained that the only way in which international issues and conflicts could be resolved were through international committees. As such, Crossman frequently argued that a peace settlement in the Middle East could only be achieved within a United Nations framework.53 On this score Crossman’s opinion coincided with the official Labour Party line: ‘the Labour Party makes the United Nations the centre of its foreign policy’ he notes.54 In situations where Crossman felt that the UNO was incapable of bringing about peace, he advocated foreign intervention from the world powers, believing that Israel on her own could never forge peaceful relationships with her neighbours.55 Initially, Crossman suggested that only the signatories of the Tripartite agreement - Britain, France and the United States - could draft policies for peace.56 Ostensibly this excluded the Soviet Union. Later however, following the 1955 sale of Soviet arms to Egypt through Czechoslovia, Crossman argued that peace in the Middle East required co-operation between the tripartite signatories and also the USSR.57 By seeking a four-power agreement, Crossman accepted the uncomfortable reality that the Soviet Union was – ever since the Czech arms deal in 1955 – a force to be reckoned with in the Middle East. This meant that the Middle East now figured in Cold War concerns and strategy, rendering a peace settlement in the area more difficult to achieve as both the United States and USSR attempted to win over the support of various countries to their ‘side’.58

It would seem that Crossman’s ‘four-power’ solution was eventually adopted as potential policy in early 1956. In a rather triumphant broadcast on the 1st June 1956, Crossman announced that ‘what we are now witnessing is the early, tentative explorations by the four Great Powers of the possibility of co-operation; and, because they are trying this new attitude out, the United Nations immediately becomes more effective and its Security Council is able to achieve far more on his mission’.59 Crossman’s hope for a stronger United Nations was however, short-lived. Just a few months later, British, French and Israeli forces turned on Nasser’s Egypt in response to the nationalisation of the Suez Canal (26 July 1956), and did so without approval from the United Nations. Thus a crucial and lively Middle Eastern crisis had not been resolved by an international committee.

Crossman was not the only politician to be disappointed by this outcome. With regards to the Suez Crisis many believed that the best solution was to partake in international negotiations rather than to undertake military action. Not only did the British Labour Party firmly believe this, but the American President (Dwight D. Eisenhower) and the U.S Secretary of State (John Foster Dulles) also adopted this stance.60 The point to be made here is that, at this juncture during the Suez Crisis, Crossman was no longer a lone voice calling for peace settlements through the United Nations, but rather one of many.

But why was Crossman so convinced that the United Nations was the way forward to peace in the Middle East, given that he himself acknowledged that the organisation was ‘weak and ineffective’61 and that, moreover, the Israelis had little confidence in it?62

Firstly, there was of course his hope that the United Nations would not be weak and ineffective permanently; ‘we [British Socialists]’ he declared, ‘are convinced it can only be made strong and effective if all those of us who love democracy scrupulously abide by its Charter’.63 A strong United Nations would be able to create peace. Secondly, given that Israel owed some of its existence to the United Nations, it was only right – from a moral point of view - that the conflicts in which she became engaged in were resolved by the same institution.64

The reasons put forward here by Crossman in his broadcasts are rather idealistic in nature, and it is important to keep in mind that Crossman is after all addressing the public, and that he is also experienced in the field of propaganda. A cynic, reading through some of Crossman’s private notes and now publicly published diaries, might come across a third, more realistic, reason why Crossman promoted a United Nations road to peace. Crossman believed that a policy which involved the United Nations was one that most appealed to the British public – a view also shared by Hugh Gaitskell, the then leader of the Labour party (1955-1963). ‘He was very much aware’, Crossman recorded, ‘that the United Nations line, as the Gallup Poll had shown, was the one which would get the widest electoral support’.65

These private reflections - not available to the public at the time - strongly suggest that the Labour Party’s policy for peace through the United Nations in the late 1950s was to some extent a ploy to win over public support. This is not to say that Crossman did not want peace, but rather, that he had no proposal to realistically bring about peace, and that by forwarding a policy that involved the United Nations, he and the Labour Party were seeking to appeal to the British public.

In 1957, Crossman had a change of heart and no longer regarded the United Nations as the means through which peace could be achieved. Poignantly, Crossman no longer had any faith in a United Nations that - when de-structured - no longer entertained a Western majority. Thus the West could no longer pass measures in the United Nations without support from other quarters. Crossman’s U-turn is surprising given his views on Western Imperialism, which he abhorred. Yet, when the West no longer dominated the General Assembly, his faith in it declined. In another, more subtle broadcast, Crossman described his loss of faith in the United Nations as being due to a conflict between the stronger and weaker powers. On the one hand, Crossman explained, the United Nations is dominated by Great Powers who seek to maintain their sovereignty, whilst on the other it is dominated by small nations asserting that they are just as important as the USA or the USSR.66 Whilst this explanation is more subtle than the one he initially forwarded, it is still interesting to note that without a Western majority in the United Nations, Crossman was less keen on it.

Crossman’s views change again in 1961-62, testifying to his inconsistency in politics. In view of the way in which the United Nations dealt well with the crises in Africa, Crossman began to support it as a peace-keeping organisation once again. In fact, he praised Mr. Hammarskjoeld’s – the Secretary General of the United Nations (1953-1961) –vision for transforming the United Nations into a Third Force. This idea was also one supported by the Labour Party. Crossman even expressed his hope that the United Nations could become a future world government.67 Thus once again, Crossman argued that the road to peace could only be achieved through the United Nations.

Nevertheless, Crossman does put forward other ideas on how to maintain peace in the Middle East, other than just through the United Nations. Sensibly, he argued that no world power ought to sell arms to either the Arabs or to the Israelis until a peace settlement could be reached. Unfortunately, the Czech arms deal in 1955 put paid to an arms embargo and initiated an arms race between Israel and her Arab neighbours.68 Crossman’s reaction to this was once again a sensible one. He advised that the Czech arms deal should be terminated and that Israel be armed to the same level as its neighbour Egypt. With the balance of arms restored, an arms embargo on both Jews and Arabs could be re-introduced.69 Crossman’s sensible solutions, however, on how to reduce the intensity of the Middle Eastern conflict were not adhered to. Whilst Harold Wilson’s 1960s government attempted to forward an arms embargo as international policy, other foreign powers did not accept it.70 This was because by selling arms to the Middle East, the West and the USSR hoped to buy the allegiance of certain countries. This situation therefore led Crossman to conclude that until the Cold War had been resolved, there would be no peace settlement in the Middle East.71

Finally, Crossman argued that the West ought to improve relations with the Arabs as much as possible. This was especially important given that Arab hostility partially derived from Arab opinion that Israel was a western satellite carrying out Western imperialist policies – namely endeavours to control Arab oilfields.72 Improved relations with the Arabs could be achieved by granting them greater independent economic control over their resources – including that of oil.73

Overall, Crossman’s proposed solutions on how to create peace between Israel and her Arab neighbours can be summarised as follows. Firstly, peace had to be achieved through an international framework, preferably the United Nations; secondly, neither the Arab world nor Israel ought to receive arms from outsiders; and thirdly, the West had to improve its relations with the Arab world in order to reassure and persuade it that Israel was not a chess piece in Western imperial strategy.74 Finally, but not least, Crossman argued that, as long as the Cold War dictated foreign affairs, peace in the Middle East was not achievable. It is interesting to note that Crossman’s analysis of the situation here had its roots as early as 1946, revealing that Crossman could be a very foresighted man.75

We [the Labour Party] are convinced that the only hope of a permanent peace settlement between Jew and Arab is the neutralisation of this turbulent area by agreement between Russian and America within the framework of a United Nations regional security pact

Richard Crossman, International Commentary: Hebrew Broadcast, MSS.154/4/BR/7/93

The very best we can hope for is a peace settlement which is not so intolerable to one side that they seek to reverse it by force

Richard Crossman, Notes on the Middle East, MSS.154/3/LP/9

Marie-Astrid Purton, August 2012


1. Crossman, Richard, A Nation Reborn: The Israel of Weizmann, Bevin and Ben-Gurion, (London, 1960) p.13.

2. Crossman, Richard, Palestine Mission: A Personal Record, (London, 1946) p.26.

3. MSS.154/3/JE/4, Report to the General Assembly by the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, 31 August 1947.

4. Wilson, Harold, The Chariot of Israel: Britain, America and the State of Israel, (London, 1981) p.243.

5. Halliday, Fred, ‘Chapter 1: The Middle East, the Great Powers, and the Cold War’ in Sayigh, Yezid and Shlaim, Avi (eds.) The Cold War and the Middle East, (Clarendon, 1997).

6. Crossman, A Nation Reborn, p.58.

7. Dalyell, Tam, Dick Crossman: A Portrait, p.67.

8. Dalyell, Dick Crossman, p.68.

9. Crossman, A Nation Reborn, p.13.

10. MSS.154/3/LP/2/14, ‘ Notes on a conversation between Mr.Richard Crossman and Colonel Nassar in Cairo’, 27 December 1955.

11. MSS.154/3/POL/147, Short thank you letter, Elialu Elath (Israeli Ambassador) to Crossman, 24 July 1958.

12. Wilson, The Chariot of Israel, pp.218-219.

13. Crossman, Palestine Mission, p.12.

14. Ibid pp.25-26.

15. Ibid, p.27.

16. Wilson, The Chariot of Israel, p.115.

17. Crossman, A Nation Reborn, p.52.

18. Crossman, Palestine Mission, p.210.

19. Crossman, A Nation Reborn, p.54.

20. Wilson, The Chariot of Israel, p.144.

21. MSS.154/4/BR/6/106, 30.7.54.

22. Crossman, Palestine Mission, p.209.

23. MSS.154/3/RES/88-89 NB. Harold Wilson argues that in actual fact, Attlee had supported an independent state for the Jews but, that he was heavily influence by Bevin [Wilson, Chariot of Israel, p.125].

24. Dalyell, Dick Crossman, pp.76-77.

25. Crossman, Richard, and Morgan, Janet (ed.), ‘Editor’s Introduction’ The Backbench Diaries of Richard Crossman¸ (London, 1981) p.10 and Wilson, The Chariot of Israel, p.218.

26. Dalyell, Tam, Dick Crossman, p.194.

27. Wilson, The Chariot of Israel, pp.26-27, p.134.

28. MSS.154/4/BR/7/226.

29. MSS.154/4/BR/8/162, 8.7.60.

30. Roth, Cecil and Wigoder, Geoffrey (eds.),The New Standard Jewish Encyclopaedia, (London, 1975), ‘Zionism’.

31. ‘Jewish Virtual Library: A Division of American-Israeli Co-operative Enterprise’, 1993, ‘, (23 August 2012).

32. Crossman, Richard, Palestine Mission : A Personal Record, (London, 1946) p.27.

33. Ibid, p.27.

34. MSS.154/3/JE/225, Letter, Mark Braham to Crossman regarding his lecture on World Jewry, 11 June 1972.

35. Crossman, Palestine Mission, p.209.

36. MSS.154/3/JE/193, Untitled Lecture by Richard Crossman, Not dated but 1972 likely.

37. Dalyell, Tam, Dick Crossman: A Portrait, (London, 1989) p.68.

38. MSS.154/3/JE/197-198.

39. MSS.154/3/JE/199.

40. MSS.154/3/JE/197-198.

41. MSS.154/3/JE/201.

42. MSS.154/3/JE/201, and Crossman, Richard, A Nation Reborn: The Israel of Weizmann, Bevin and Ben-Gurion, (London, 1960) p.59.

43. Crossman, A Nation Reborn, p.58.

44. MSS.154/4/BR/7/68 and Newspaper Cutting, ‘Hope for Peace Lies in Gaza Strip: U.N. Should Open it to Trade, Says Mr. Crossman’ Coventry Evening Telegraph, 18 February 1957.

45. MSS.154/4/BR/10/174-7, 6.5.64.

46. MSS.154/3/JE/199.

47. MSS.154/4/BR/9/31 11.4.61 and MSS.154/4/BR/2/115. Nb. There are many other sources in which Crossman reveals that he separates the word into Jew and Gentile.

48. MSS.154/4/BR/10/157, 18.3.64.

49. MSS.154/4/BR/10/158, 18.3.64.

50. MSS.154/4/BR/10/158, 18.3.64.

51. MSS.154/4/BR/4/143.

52. MSS.154/3/JE/201.

53. MSS.154/4/BR/7/43, 1.6.56.

54. MSS.154/3/LP/10, Notes on the Middle East, 1955.

55. MSS.154/4/BR/6/157 28.1.55.

56. MSS.154/4/BR/6/108.

57. MSS.154/4/BR/7/43, 1.6.56.

58. Halliday, Fred, ‘Chapter 1: The Middle East, the Great Powers, and the Cold War’ in Sayigh, Yezid, and Shlaim, Avi (eds.), The Cold War and the Middle East, (Clarendon, 1997), p.8.

59. MSS.154/4/BR/7/43 1.6.56.

60. Crossman, Richard, and Morgan, Janet (ed.) The Backbench Diaries of Richard Crossman¸ (London, 1981) Friday, September 14th 1956 pp.511-512, and Wilson, Harold, The Chariot of Israel: Britain, America and the State of Israel, (London, 1981) p.248.

61. MSS.154/4/BR/7/82, 9.11.56.

62. MSS.154/4/BR/7/91, 21.12.56.

63. MSS.154/4/BR/7/82, 9.11.56.

64. MSS.154/4/BR/7/92, 21.12.56.

65. Crossman, Richard, The BackBench Diaries, Friday, September 14th 1956, p.511.

66. MSS.154/4/BR/8/189, 28.9.60.

67. MSS.154/4/BR/9/83-84, 20.9.61 and MSS.154/4/BR/9/125-128, 8.2.62.

68. Shindler, Colin, A History of Modern Israel, (Cambridge, 2008), pp.115-116.

69. MSS.154/3/LP/11, 12, ‘Notes on the Middle East’ and Newspaper Cutting, ‘Political Diary: A Foreign Policy for Labour’, Observer, 17 June 1956.

70. Shindler, A History of Modern Israel, p.116.

71. MSS.154/4/BR/2/4.

72. MSS.154/4/BR/7/68 and Newspaper Cutting, ‘Hope for Peace Lies in Gaza Strip: U.N. Should Open it to Trade, Says Mr. Crossman’ Coventry Evening Telegraph, 18 February 1957.

73. MSS.154/4/BR/68 and Newspaper Cutting, ‘Political Diary: A Foreign Policy for Labour’, Observer, 17 June 1956.

74. MSS.154/4/BR/7/68 and Newspaper Cutting, ‘Hope for Peace Lies in Gaza Strip: U.N. Should Open it to Trade, Says Mr. Crossman’ Coventry Evening Telegraph, 18 February 1957.

75. Crossman, Richard, Palestine Mission: A Personal Record, (London, 1946) pp.212-214.



Photograph of Ernest Bevin [archives of Ernest Bevin, MSS.126/EB/X/60]

Constitution of Israel: Proposed text, Zionist Information Office, London, 1949 [archives of Aaron Rapoport Rollin, MSS.240/R/5/5/26]

Certificate presented to Crossman "in appreciation of his outstanding services to the Zionist cause and to the Jewish people", 1947 [MSS.154/3/AU/1/171]

Labour Party leaflet on the Suez Crisis, 1956 [archives of the Trades Union Congress, MSS.292/962/4]