ATTLEE, CLEMENT RICHARD, EARL°


ATTLEE, CLEMENT RICHARD, EARL° (1883–1967), British Labour Party leader (1935–55), deputy prime minister in Churchill's war cabinet (1940–45), and prime minister (1945–51). As a social worker in London's East End in the 1920s, Attlee had contact with Jewish labor organizations. Before he became prime minister, he expressed sympathy for the Jewish cause in Palestine and opposed the 1939 White Paper (see *Israel, Historical Survey). In December 1944 Attlee supported Labour's official pronouncement in favor of a Jewish majority in Palestine. As prime minister, however, he gave full support to the policy of his foreign secretary, Ernest *Bevin, which involved Britain in a violent conflict with the Jews in Palestine in their struggle for full-scale immigration, especially of the survivors of the Holocaust, and for Jewish independence in Palestine. As Attlee was a Fabian socialist, the ideological basis of Zionism had no appeal for him. Later, Attlee defended his policy in Palestine, claiming that incompatible assurances had been given to Arabs and Jews and blaming American "irresponsibility." His government recognized Israel in January 1949.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

C.R. Attlee, As It Happened (1954); Hugh Dalton, Memoirs (1945–1960) (1962), index. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: K. Harris, Attlee (1995); M. Jones, Failure in Palestine (1986), index; ODNB online.


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.