Nearly two hundred men and women left Mandatory Palestine between the years 1936–1938 in order to defend the Second Spanish Republic. Despite the expressions of solidarity with the Spanish Republic, most of the political parties in the Jewish Yishuv were against sending youth from Palestine to join the International Brigades. The goal of strengthening the Jewish presence in Palestine was given priority over and above international solidarity or the anti-Fascist struggle. Therefore, most of the volunteers were Jewish members of the Palestine Communist Party.
This article relies on autobiographical writings, individual testimonies and personal correspondence, analysed here for the first time. It is here that the private voices of the Jewish men and women who left Palestine in order to fight against the nationalist rebellion in Spain ring more clearly. The paper examines the history of these Jewish volunteers, their motivations, and the process that they went through from the time they left Palestine until they became active members of the International Brigades.
As Communists, most volunteers who left Palestine to fight in Spain tended to emphasize the international solidarity of the working class and similar universalistic motivations. The idea of affirming their Jewish identity was alien to them. Reading their letters and testimonies, however, it becomes clear that their ethnic identity as Jews was certainly a key factor in their decision to risk their lives in the Spanish fratricide.