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Jews Not a Nation, Marcuse Says

December 28, 1971
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Prof. Herbert Marcuse, the doyen of the American New Left, said here last night that he does not “define the Jews as a nation” and does not contest the right of Israel “to exist as a sovereign state but only as what can be termed as a colonial state.” Marcuse, a controversial figure in his own country, is visiting Israel as a guest of the Van Leer Institute, a private research foundation. His audience here was restricted at his own request to 200 but many more students fought each other outside the lecture hall for admission or at least a glimpse of the man who is the acknowledged inspiration of the New Left.

He told his audience, “If you define the Jewish people as a nation, then Zionism can be called a national liberation movement.” He added, “I personally do not define the Jews as a nation.” Asked about his personal position, he replied that as a Jew he had the right to criticize the government of the Jewish State. Questioned about immigration, he said he supported every effort to prevent persecution whether it was for reasons of color or religion. One way to help persecuted Jews is to let them come to Israel, he said. Asked if he would settle here, Marcuse said that depended on what went on in this country. He disclaimed being the “spokesman or the father or the grandfather” of the New Left, saying he was merely its interpreter.

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