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Radical history.

In Israel's war of independence in 1948, American Communists were deeply involved in the covert shipment of arms to the new state of Israel, and Communists were prominent among those Americans wounded or killed in battles protecting Israel from Arab attack. How do we know this? It says so in a standard reference book found in hundreds of American libraries American Libraries is the official publication of the American Library Association. Published monthly except for a combined July/August issue, it is distributed to all members of the organization. American Libraries is currently edited by Leonard Kniffel. . The Encyclopedia of the American Left, published by Oxford University Press, was selected by Choice and Library Journal as one of the ten best reference books published in 1990. It sold so well that a second edition appeared in 1998. Reference books are expected to summarize the scholarly consensus and to present reliable information. In fact these claims about the role of American Communists in Israel's founding, made in the second edition, have no basis whatsoever in any historical literature. Yet this and other distortions in this reference work have gone unchallenged by the historical profession.

This last year has not been good for the reputation of American historians. The first exhibit: Joseph Ellis Joseph John Ellis (1943- ) is a Pulitzer Prize - winning Professor of History on the Ford Foundation at Mount Holyoke College. He also served as Acting President for part of 1984 while President Elizabeth Topham Kennan was on leave. Background
He received his B.A.
, a professor at Mount Holyoke College Mount Holyoke College (hōl`yōk), at South Hadley, Mass.; for women; chartered 1836, opened 1837 as Mount Holyoke Female Seminary under Mary Lyon, rechartered as Mount Holyoke College 1893. There is a noteworthy art museum on campus. , winner of a National Book Award for his biography of Thomas Jefferson and the Pulitzer Prize Pulitzer Prize

Any of a series of annual prizes awarded by Columbia University for outstanding public service and achievement in American journalism, letters, and music. Fellowships are also awarded.
 for Founding Brothers. The Boston Globe discovered that, contrary to what he told his classes and claimed in interviews, Ellis had never fought in Vietnam, worked in the civil rights movement in Mississippi, or even been a high-school football hero. Embarrassed by revelations that Ellis had lied to his students, Mount Holyoke Mount Holyoke (elevation 940'/286m) is the western-most peak of the Mount Holyoke Range located in the Connecticut River Valley of western Massachusetts and is the namesake of nearby Mount Holyoke College. Origin of name
The mountain was named after Elizur Holyoke.
 after some hesitation suspended him for a year without pay and lifted his endowed chair.

Ellis's classroom transgressions were bad enough, but at least no evidence has come forward regarding irregularities in his books and scholarly works. But not long after Ellis had been identified as a fantasist fan·ta·sist  
One that creates a fantasy.

Noun 1. fantasist - a creator of fantasies
creator - a person who grows or makes or invents things
, the best-selling author and historian Stephen Ambrose Stephen Edward Ambrose (January 10, 1936 – October 13, 2002) was an American historian and biographer of U.S. Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Richard M. Nixon. He received his Ph.D. in 1960 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  was exposed as a plagiarist. Fred Barnes Fred Barnes may be:
  • Fred Barnes (performer) (1885-1938) was an English music hall artist.
  • Fred Barnes (journalist) is an America journalist (The Weekly Standard) and political commentator (The Beltway Boys).
 of The Weekly Standard noted the disturbing similarity between passages in The Wild Blue, his popular account of B-29 combat missions over Europe, and a previously published book, Thomas Childers's Wings of Morning. Sleuths quickly unearthed Unearthed is the name of a Triple J project to find and "dig up" (hence the name) hidden talent in regional Australia.

Unearthed has had three incarnations - they first visited each region of Australia where Triple J had a transmitter - 41 regions in all.
 four additional Ambrose books with substantial borrowing from other writers dating back to 1975. Coming just weeks after the considerable success of the World War II miniseries "Band of Brothers" based on his book, the charges received considerable attention. Ambrose, a former professor at the University of New Orleans History
UNO was founded in 1958 as the New Orleans branch of Louisiana State University, originally as "Louisiana State University in New Orleans" or "LSUNO", but became more independent and changed the name to "University of New Orleans" in 1974.
, admitted the unauthorized borrowing, explained that his books are researched and written by a team of employees, expressed mild remorse, and suggested that the plagiarism Using ideas, plots, text and other intellectual property developed by someone else while claiming it is your original work.  issue was something that academics took too seriously. His publisher did not seem overly concerned that its best-selling author repeatedly used other writers' words.

While journalists were scouring scouring

characterized by scour.

scouring disease
a colloquial name for secondary nutritional copper deficiency.
 Ambrose's books, another high-profile scholar, Doris Kearns Goodwin Doris Kearns Goodwin (born January 4, 1943) is an award-winning author and historian. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1995, but her reputation was later damaged by her admission of plagiarism. , came under fire for the same offense. Formerly a professor of government at Harvard, the best-selling author of The Fitzgeralds and The Kennedys and a Pulitzer Prize winner for No Ordinary Time about Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt still serves on the Board of Overseers of Harvard University Harvard University, mainly at Cambridge, Mass., including Harvard College, the oldest American college. Harvard College

Harvard College, originally for men, was founded in 1636 with a grant from the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
, an institution that takes student plagiarism very seriously. Goodwin confessed to extensive, unattributed un·at·trib·ut·ed  
Not attributed to a source, creator, or possessor: an unattributed opinion. 
, and improper use of material and to making a private financial settlement to Lynne McTaggart, author of a biography of Kathleen Kennedy Kathleen Kennedy is the name of:
  • Kathleen Kennedy (movie producer)
  • Kathleen Kennedy (journalist), American journalist, former news anchor for CNN Headline News
  • Kathleen Cavendish, Marchioness of Hartington, sister of U.S. President John F.
. Goodwin's embarrassment was compounded not only because she was forced to admit to additional acts of plagiarism in other books but also because she had previously publicly chastised chas·tise  
tr.v. chas·tised, chas·tis·ing, chas·tis·es
1. To punish, as by beating. See Synonyms at punish.

2. To criticize severely; rebuke.

3. Archaic To purify.
 Joe McGinness for improperly borrowing from her own work. She attributed the plagiarism to her sloppy note-taking methods. Goodwin stepped down from service as a commentator on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer James Charles Lehrer (pronounced [lɛɹə]) (born May 19, 1934) is an American journalist. He is the news anchor for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS. , but, despite calls from The Harvard Crimson for her removal, she remains on the Harvard Board.

The most serious recent charges of academic fraud, however, were leveled at the Emory University Emory University (ĕm`ərē), near Atlanta, Ga.; coeducational; United Methodist; chartered as Emory College 1836, opened 1837 at Oxford. It became Emory Univ. in 1915 and in 1919 moved to Atlanta.  historian Michael Bellesiles. In 2000, reviewers hailed his Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture as a major work of scholarship destined des·tine  
tr.v. des·tined, des·tin·ing, des·tines
1. To determine beforehand; preordain: a foolish scheme destined to fail; a film destined to become a classic.

 to change the terms of the debate on firearms in American life. Bellesiles claimed that he had demonstrated that gun ownership was a far less common phenomenon in early American life than had been widely assumed, and his publisher advertised the book as a direct challenge to the National Rifle Association National Rifle Association (NRA)

Governing organization for the sport of shooting with rifles and pistols. It was founded in Britain in 1860. The U.S. organization, formed in 1871, has a membership of some four million. Both the British and the U.S.
 and its values. In addition to a glowing front-page review in The New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of
 Times, Arming America was praised by academic historians and pundits and received the prestigious Bancroft Prize, awarded by Columbia University Columbia University, mainly in New York City; founded 1754 as King's College by grant of King George II; first college in New York City, fifth oldest in the United States; one of the eight Ivy League institutions.  for the best book in American history. Within a year, however, disturbing questions about Bellesiles's use of sources and data began to emerge. Critics were unable to find not merely some of the documents he cited, but some of the document collections he had claimed to have examined. Skeptics also discovered he had not quoted accurately from records they did unearth, and they were unable to verify a number of his claims. Quantitative historians demonstrated that figures he had calculated about the percentages of colonists who owned guns were mathematically implausible and based on flawed sampling techniques. By the end of 2001, Emory University had undertaken an investigation to determine if he had committed fraud, and, if so, how he should be penalized pe·nal·ize  
tr.v. pe·nal·ized, pe·nal·iz·ing, pe·nal·iz·es
1. To subject to a penalty, especially for infringement of a law or official regulation. See Synonyms at punish.


The charges against Bellesiles are of a different magnitude than the sins of Ellis, Ambrose, and Goodwin. Whatever their culpability culpability (See: culpable) , none has been accused of inventing documents or deliberately misquoting or mischaracterizing historical evidence in the service of an ideological cause. But such actions, while certainly not common among historians, are, unfortunately, not once-in-a-blue-moon occurrences.

Paul Buhle is a faculty member in American Civilization at Brown University and one of the luminaries in the study of American radicalism. Like many of his colleagues in this area, he has impeccable radical credentials. He attended the University of Illinois University of Illinois may refer to:
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (flagship campus)
  • University of Illinois at Chicago
  • University of Illinois at Springfield
  • University of Illinois system
It can also refer to:
, where he became a socialist and an activist in Students for a Democratic Society Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), in U.S. history, a radical student organization of the 1960s. In the influential Port Huron (Mich.) Statement (1962), the organization, founded in 1960, presented its vision for post–Vietnam War America and called for  during the 1960s. At a brief stop-over at graduate school in Connecticut he started Radical America, a journal devoted to American history and popular culture, before arriving at the University of Wisconsin in Madison in 1967 for further graduate training. While his S.D.S D.S Drainage Structure (flood protection) . colleagues turned to violence and increasingly apocalyptic rhetoric, Buhle nurtured Radical America, which was supported by grants from left-wing foundations and devoted to "throwing monographs at an intellectually keen audience" instead of bombs.

Even before he received his Ph.D. in American history in 1975 for a dissertation entitled Marxism in the u.s. 1900-1940, Buhle had made a mark as a prominent figure among New Left historians. Since then he has written, co-authored, or edited at least eighteen books and innumerable articles. He writes for such journals as Radical History Review--a publication that plainly states it "rejects conventional notions of scholarly neutrality and `objectivity' and approaches history from an engaged, critical, political stance"--and contributes regularly to Tikkun. As the history profession has become increasingly politicized in recent decades, Buhle has increasingly written for more mainstream journals, including the prestigious Journal of American History The Journal of American History (sometimes abbreviated as JAH), is the official journal of the Organization of American Historians. It was first published in 1914 as the Mississippi Valley Historical Review , and has contributed to the Organization of American Historians' professional Newsletter. He founded and continues to direct the Oral History of the American Left at the Tamiment Library of New York University New York University, mainly in New York City; coeducational; chartered 1831, opened 1832 as the Univ. of the City of New York, renamed 1896. It comprises 13 schools and colleges, maintaining 4 main centers (including the Medical Center) in the city, as well as the , an ambitious effort to develop an extensive archive of interviews with hundreds of radical activists. Along with his wife, his fellow Brown historian Mari Jo Buhle, a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation MacArthur Foundation: see John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.  "genius grant," and Dan Georgakas, Buhle co-edited the Encyclopedia of the American Left.

There is no reason why radical historians cannot do good history; one can disagree with Verb 1. disagree with - not be very easily digestible; "Spicy food disagrees with some people"
hurt - give trouble or pain to; "This exercise will hurt your back"
 the conclusions another historian has reached, dispute the significance he places on certain facts, or challenge the interpretive framework he uses, and still recognize that he has illuminated a problem, or uncovered new information, or challenged old preconceptions. Years ago, in Radical America, Buhle himself insisted that radical historians had to be scrupulous about their facts. Criticizing the discipline of history, he nonetheless praised many of its practitioners by noting: "The most important positive feature we see is that, through imposition of fairly rigorous standards of evidence, the profession has helped to produce a great mass of historical writings which, although they may often ask trivial questions, nevertheless provide data that is generally reliable."

Where he once gloried in standing on the margins of the historical profession, Buhle now claims to inhabit the middle of a broad stream. In a featured essay in The Newsletter, he wrote: "Every scholar has a perfect right to political and personal views: rigidly anti-Communist, Communist or (for the great majority of us) `other.'" Leave aside the less than perfect balance--anti-Communists are rigid while Communists are just, well, Communists. Focus instead on the suggestion that Paul Buhle works in the mainstream of some wide scholarly consensus that lies between the rigidities of anti-Communists and Communists. In fact, the span of acceptable politics in Buhle's worldview world·view  
n. In both senses also called Weltanschauung.
1. The overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world.

2. A collection of beliefs about life and the universe held by an individual or a group.
 is far left of center. He is willing to put Stalin on the left as an extremist, but only if one agrees that Harry Truman is an extremist of the right. Writing in Radical History Review in 1994, Buhle judged Truman as "America's Stalin" and went on to declare, "when the judgment of the twentieth century's second half is made, every American president
  • President of the United States - The President of the United States
  • The American President (film) - A Romantic Comedy surrounding a fictional President of the United States and his attempts to win over an attractive lobbyist
 will be seen as a jerk. After Truman, Nixon yields only to Reagan--still another Truman heir--as the jerkiest of all."

Apart from the coarseness of the writing, how accurate is the radical history produced by Paul Buhle? A review of some sections of the Encyclopedia of the American Left shows that it is about as accurate as The Great Soviet Encyclopedia The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (Russian: Большая Советская Энциклопедия . Take the issue of the funding of the Communist Party Communist party, in China
Communist party, in China, ruling party of the world's most populous nation since 1949 and most important Communist party in the world since the disintegration of the USSR in 1991.
, U.S.A. by the Soviet Union, by now about as established and uncontested a "fact" as one could imagine. (Among other evidence are the receipts signed by the party leader Gus Hall Gus Hall (October 8, 1910 – October 13, 2000) was a leader of the Communist Party USA and its four-time U.S. presidential candidate. Background
Hall was born Arvo Gustav Halberg
 for millions of dollars handed over to him by K.G.B. couriers.) The first edition of The Encyclopedia of the American Left gave little attention to the issue of Soviet funding of American Communism. When the second edition appeared in 1998, after abundant documentation of Soviet subsidies had been published, Buhle felt compelled to offer a convoluted and deceptive account of the issue.

He first noted that secret ties between immigrant radicals and their homelands were not unusual. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Germans, Irish, and other ethnic Americans were constantly sending money back to comrades in their homelands and "inevitably, legal niceties ni·ce·ty  
n. pl. ni·ce·ties
1. The quality of showing or requiring careful, precise treatment: the nicety of a diplomatic exchange.

 were avoided." Of course, this was money from America to foreign countries, not the other way around. He did allow that the Bolshevik revolution had changed this pattern in some ways. But, while there were Soviet subsidies to American Communists, he insisted that most of the money still flowed the other way--from Americans to the U.S.S.R.; "the overwhelming flow of money went from American shores to the Soviet Union, mainly for specific campaigns, such as food support in the early 1920s and war relief in the 1940s." But this deliberately confuses apples and oranges. The huge amounts of funds, openly raised and openly sent to the U.S.S.R. for famine relief A famine is a phenomenon in which a large percentage of the population of a region or country are so undernourished that death by starvation becomes increasingly common. In spite of the much greater technological and economic resources of the modern world, famine still strikes many  in the early 1920s and war relief in the 1940s, cannot be compared to Moscow's clandestine subsidies to a revolutionary political movement within the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. . Further, the bulk of the famine and war relief was not even from immigrant radicals as Buhle implies but from a broad spectrum of Americans motivated by humanitarian concerns. For example, Herbert Hoover, no friend of Bolshevism, spearheaded the Russian famine relief campaign in the early 1920s.

As for the specific monies transferred to the C.P.U.S.A. by the K.G.B., Buhle is silent. Instead, in another entry written with fellow co-editor Dan Georgakas, he attributes the C.P.U.S.A.'s ability to support a daily newspaper, despite a lack of advertising and a paucity of members, not to Soviet subsidies, but partly to "the strength of library subscriptions in the Soviet Union and its bloc." In contrast to these relatively benign-sounding library subscriptions, Buhle tries to divert attention by pointing to C.I.A. funding of an ex-Communist leader: "Heavily funded by C.I.A. sources, ... Jay Lovestone Jay Lovestone (1897-1990) was at various times a member of the Socialist Party of America, a leader of the Communist Party USA, leader of a small oppositionist party, an anti-Communist and CIA collaborator, and foreign policy advisor to the leadership of the AFL-CIO and various , now fervently anti-Soviet, used his personal network of associates to shape labor's own counterintelligence coun·ter·in·tel·li·gence  
The branch of an intelligence service charged with keeping sensitive information from an enemy, deceiving that enemy, preventing subversion and sabotage, and collecting political and military information.
 agency. Millions of dollars were passed to friendly labor officials in Europe, particularly in France and Italy. Later, connections between the C.I.A. and heroin gangsters reputedly re·put·ed  
Generally supposed to be such. See Synonyms at supposed.

re·puted·ly adv.

Adv. 1.
 began in a complex alliance against French Communists."

East bloc libraries and institutions did purchase thousands of subscriptions to C.P.U.S.A. publications. But these were a lesser indirect subsidy of American Communist activities and were not in the same league with Soviet delivery to the C.P.U.S.A. of millions of dollars in cash subsidies, subsidies that go unexamined in The Encyclopedia of the American Left. Moreover, whatever the merits or morality of the C.I.A. funding of Jay Lovestone's anti-Communist activities, there is far less documentary evidence A type of written proof that is offered at a trial to establish the existence or nonexistence of a fact that is in dispute.

Letters, contracts, deeds, licenses, certificates, tickets, or other writings are documentary evidence.
 to support the charge that the C.I.A. was linked to "heroin gangsters" than to evidence demonstrating Soviet subsidies to the C.P.U.S.A. to support espionage.

Diverting attention to the C.I.A. is Buhle's favorite tactic when confronted by stories of Soviet money. He is not careful whether the stories are true or not. In one essay published in the Newsletter, he linked the C.I.A.-funded American Committee for Cultural Freedom The American Committee for Cultural Freedom (ACCF) was the U.S. affiliate of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, an organization that, during the Cold War, sought to encourage intellectuals to be critical of the Soviet Union and Communism. CCF was funded by the CIA.  to the "highly prestigious scholarly series `Communism in American Life.'" According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 Buhle, the `Communism in American Life' series "was secretly planned by the board of the American Committee for Cultural Freedom, with generous funding arranged for a handful of scholars." The `Communism in American Life' books were critical of the C.P.U.S.A., and linking them to the C.I.A. was Buhle's way of discrediting them. Yet Buhle's cited source, Sigmund Diamond's Compromised Campus, made no such charge. Diamond, a vociferous critic of the A.C.C.F., discussed the attempt of the A.C.C.F. to play a role in the `Communism in American Life' project and its recommendations for authors. But Diamond also wrote that the Fund for the Republic, creator of the `Communism in American Life' project, rejected the proposals from the A.C.C.F., and he says nothing about C.I.A. funding of the project. Contrary to Buhle's assertion, there is no evidence that the series was planned by the A.C.C.F. or that the C.I.A. arranged the funding.

It is not only on the issue of funding that the Encyclopedia of the American Left engages in falsification falsification /fal·si·fi·ca·tion/ (fawl?si-fi-ka´shun) lying.

retrospective falsification  unconscious distortion of past experiences to conform to present emotional needs.
 and obfuscation ob·fus·cate  
tr.v. ob·fus·cat·ed, ob·fus·cat·ing, ob·fus·cates
1. To make so confused or opaque as to be difficult to perceive or understand: "A great effort was made . . .
. The new evidence from Moscow archives has documented not only extensive Soviet financing of the C.P.U.S.A. but also direct Party participation in espionage against the United States Overt, covert, or clandestine activity designed to obtain information relating to the national defense with intent or reason to believe that it will be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation. . Those like Buhle who have devoted their lives to trumpeting a distinctly American, independent radicalism have been discomfited by these revelations. Rather than confront the issue, they have dissembled.

The first edition of The Encyclopedia of the American Left did not have an entry for "Secret Work." Enthusiasts for American Communism long had ridiculed stories of a party underground and Communist involvement in espionage told by ex-Communists such as Whittaker Chambers Jay Vivian (David Whittaker) Chambers (April 1, 1901 – July 9, 1961) was an American writer, editor, Communist party member and spy for the Soviet Union who defected and became an outspoken opponent of communism. , Louis Budenz, and Elizabeth Bentley For the writer, see .

Elizabeth Terrill Bentley (January 1 1908 – December 3 1963) was an American spy for the Soviet Union from 1938 until 1945. In 1945 she defected from the Communist Party and Soviet intelligence and became an informer for the U.S.
. By the time the second edition appeared in 1998, the documentary material emerging from Russian archives had established that the C.P.U.S.A. had an underground secret apparatus that cooperated with Soviet intelligence. The Venona documents, deciphered cables between K.G.B. spies in the United States and Moscow, began to appear in 1995 and further confirmed the widespread participation of American Communists in espionage. The issue had to be confronted, so for the 1998 edition Buhle wrote an entry on "Secret Work."

Buhle admitted that some top-level Communists were aware of Soviet espionage but found a convenient scapegoat: the same Jay Lovestone, party leader in the late 1920s, who had also served as his foil on the issue of funding. Lovestone was a handy villain because he indeed had connections with Soviet intelligence, but chiefly because after the mid-1930s he became a leading anti-Communist and in the 1950s assisted the C.I.A. "A handful of trade union officials--most prominent among them, Jay Lovestone, former Communist Party leader and future associate of the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.)--and some liberal intellectuals apparently traded secret communications Secret Communications was a radio broadcasting company formed by the April 1994 merger of Booth American Comapay and Broadcast Alchemy. The firm was headed by venture capitalist Frank Wood, who said the name "Secret" was created as a joke, and was eventually acquired by Jacor, and  with the Soviet regime in the 1930s, but the substance of them involved personal information without any great importance or high-level security connections." Buhle loathes Lovestone because he became an anti-Communist. By implying that the only Communist leader who spied for the U.S.S.R. also spied for the United States, he tried to suggest that the whole issue was at least morally equivalent. But, of course, when Lovestone aided the C.I.A., he was an American citizen helping an American security agency, hardly the same thing as an American citizen assisting a hostile foreign power such as the Soviet Union.

Nor was Lovestone the most significant C.P.U.S.A. leader to participate in Soviet espionage. Earl Browder and Eugene Dennis, who led the C.P.U.S.A. from 1930 to 1959, a period during which the party was far more important than it had been during Lovestone's brief reign in the 1920s, were closely connected to Soviet intelligence. Buhle never names the "liberal intellectuals" he says also engaged in Soviet espionage, possibly because there were none. Nor does Buhle explain why they or anyone else would use espionage channels to provide, as he writes, "personal information" to the U.S.S.R.

When he turned to the issue of espionage in the 1940s, Buhle's essay in the Encyclopedia first justified spying and then trivialized it. Buhle first stated that the Office of Strategic Services Office of Strategic Services (OSS), U.S. agency created (1942) during World War II under the jurisdiction of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the purpose of obtaining information about enemy nations and of sabotaging their war potential and morale. Headed by William J. , America's chief World War II intelligence agency, gave a new dimension to left-wing secret work by hiring radicals and thus "unleashed an unprecedented flurry of left-wing spy activity, some of which inevitably continued into the Cold War era." But he never explained why it was "unprecedented" or why it "inevitably" continued. Likewise, he noted that the employment of so many left-wingers on the atomic bomb atomic bomb or A-bomb, weapon deriving its explosive force from the release of atomic energy through the fission (splitting) of heavy nuclei (see nuclear energy). The first atomic bomb was produced at the Los Alamos, N.Mex.  project "virtually ensur[ed] the passage of some highly classified information to a power which at the time was a formal ally." Once again, he eschews any effort to explain who spied, or why any left-winger would inevitably be a source of information for the U.S.S.R. One obvious implication is that the American government was responsible for whatever espionage took place because the atomic bomb project and the O.S.S. hired left-wingers. Buhle does not seem to recognize that his assumption that left-wingers would "inevitably" want to assist the U.S.S.R. by turning over secret information provides a very powerful rationale for the Truman administration's Loyalty-Security Program that Buhle himself despises.

Regardless of the inevitability of Communists spying for the Soviet Union, Buhle dismisses the significance of the espionage issue. "Such intrigues had almost no role in the day-to-day activities of the American Left, save for the need of Communists to deny the existence of spying by or for the Russians and for anti-Communist socialists to insist upon its central importance to American Communists at large." But how can what Buhle calls "an unprecedented flurry of left-wing spy activity, some of which inevitably continued into the Cold War era," be irrelevant to historical debates over whether the C.P.U.S.A. was a legitimate participant in domestic politics during the Cold War era? Further playing down the importance of espionage, he reduces the "secret apparatus" to "rumors circulated within and without the Left concerning possible Russian agents" and adds speculation that "American Communist leaders may have informally assured members that the Russians could penetrate the renowned American security state.... Garrulous gar·ru·lous  
1. Given to excessive and often trivial or rambling talk; tiresomely talkative.

2. Wordy and rambling: a garrulous speech.
 old-timers who had served in the Spanish Civil War Spanish civil war, 1936–39, conflict in which the conservative and traditionalist forces in Spain rose against and finally overthrew the second Spanish republic.  and World War II sometimes hinted and even bragged about what they might be able to do in a moment of international crisis."

Immediately after belittling be·lit·tle  
tr.v. be·lit·tled, be·lit·tling, be·lit·tles
1. To represent or speak of as contemptibly small or unimportant; disparage: a person who belittled our efforts to do the job right.
 the significance of "such intrigues" involving the Soviet Union, Buhle suggests that there was more significant "secret work" committed on behalf of Israel by American Communists: "Little was said within the Left or outside it concerning the largest incident of illegal activity: the shipment of arms and assorted war materials to the new state of Israel." Apart from its irrelevance to the issue of Soviet espionage, the question of American Communist covert assistance to Israel in 1948 is presented without any supporting evidence. Neither of the two sources Buhle provides at the end of his entry says a word about the issue.

His further claim that "among those Americans wounded or killed in battles protecting Israeli gains from Arabs, Communists played a prominent role" is unsupported by any evidence. Yehuda Bauer, the distinguished Israeli historian, called the claim "sheer nonsense." The former national president of the American Veterans of Israel, Simon Spiegelman, labeled it "absolutely false," noting that most of the forty Americans and Canadians who died in 1948 were actually connected to one of the right-wing Israeli political movements The most thorough account of the Jewish role on the American left does not mention any such volunteers. American Communists would have trumpeted this sacrifice in the late 1940s, but there is no evidence they ever did. Jewish Currents, a magazine founded by ex-Communists whose writers and editors have run innumerable articles about Israel and Communism, has never mentioned "the prominent role" played by American Communists fighting and dying in the Israeli War of Independence.

We contacted Jewish Currents regarding Buhle's claim of Communists fighting in the Israeli war of independence. The magazine in turn got in touch with several veteran radicals, including the Daily Worker's correspondent in Palestine in 1947-1948, who unanimously dismissed the assertion as laughable or outrageous.

We also contacted Professor Buhle directly and asked for the documentary basis for the claim. Buhle responded that it was based on oral history interviews but he could remember only the name of one of the interviewees and was not sure if that was the correct one. We obtained a copy of the interview from the Tamiment Library at New York University. It contained no support for the Encyclopedia's assertion. Additional inquiries to Professor Buhle requesting the documentary basis for the published claim in the Encyclopedia produced no specific sources.

It was Labor Zionists and the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee that coordinated the vast majority of the fundraising and arms shipments that went to Israel in 1947-1948, not, as Buhle implies, American Communists. The Czech Communist government shipped arms to Israel, and there are rumors of I.R.A. contributions. Some stray American Communists might even have been involved. But how could this constitute the "largest incident of illegal activity" on the part of the Left? Even if one or two oral history interviewees claimed to know a stray American Communist who fought and died in Israel, how could a responsible historian accept it as the truth in the absence of any documentary evidence? And even if there were one or two such obscure people, how did they become transmogrified into playing "a prominent role"? A handful of American radicals immigrated to Israel in the 1950s to escape McCarthyism in the United States. But there is no evidence of how many were Communists or how many were killed or wounded in subsequent Israeli wars. By 1950, the C.P.U.S.A., which had supported the founding of the state of Israel in large part because the Soviet Union had done so, was actively hostile to Israel and all manifestations of "Jewish nationalism," in parallel with a similar Soviet shift.

Nor, of course, are the two cases--American Communists secretly spying against the United States for Stalin, and American Communists secretly working for Israel--comparable, even if the latter were true. An American Communist who moved to Israel and fought in its armed forces was not violating any American law. An American Communist who secretly turned over classified U.S. government information to representatives of another government was breaking the law and betraying his country. Buhle's unsupported and spurious claim functions in The Encyclopedia of the American Left as a distraction from the issue of secret work by the C.P.U.S.A. on behalf of the U.S.S.R.

Buhle concluded his exercise in damage control by speculating that the collapse of both the U.S.S.R. and "the Cold War leadership of the American labor movement" might turn up new "documentation of secret relationships between Americans and either the K.G.B. or the C.I.A." Only in the mind of a left-wing extremist who equated Harry Truman with Joseph Stalin could American trade unions assisting an American government agency be equated with American Communists assisting Stalin's U.S.S.R. Buhle added, "as of the late 1990s, documents examined in the Soviet Union or reprinted for scholars offered little that was new in regard to illegal or secret work by Soviet sympathizers." In fact those documents have revealed a great deal that was both new and illuminating to anyone with eyes to see. It was simply that Buhle did not want to see, and so he shut his eyes and pretended nothing was there.

Buhle is not the only contributor to the Encyclopedia of the American Left whose ideological enthusiasms are far stronger than their analytical abilities or truthfulness. The editors display a penchant for authors whose preferred method of dealing with unpalatable material is to ignore it. One entry on Finnish-American radicalism reports on the thousands of American Finns, mostly Communists, who moved to Soviet Karelia in the early 1930s but conveniently forgets to mention that hundreds of them were murdered by Soviet political police during Stalin's purges. No Holocaust denier de·ni·er 1  
One that denies: a denier of harsh realities.

 could do better. There has been no uproar about the lies and distortions in this mendacious men·da·cious  
1. Lying; untruthful: a mendacious child.

2. False; untrue: a mendacious statement. See Synonyms at dishonest.
 reference work and no one has called Paul Buhle to account for his peculiarly creative facts about American Communists fighting in the Israeli war of independence. If he truly does inhabit the mainstream of the historical profession, it is in deep trouble.
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Title Annotation:The Encyclopedia of the American Left
Author:Klehr, Harvey; Haynes, John Earl
Publication:New Criterion
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2002
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