anonymous asked:

You mentioned Palestinians going to the Communist University in Moscow? Do you have any stories about any of them?

Oh yeah, my favorite of them was Muhammad Najati Sidqi. He grew up traveling the Arab world, but after the British took control of Palestine, he got a job in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs and the Jews there introduced him to communism, so he went to the KUTV in Moscow. While he was there - this is probably my favorite part of his life - he corresponded personally with Stalin, Bukharin, and Khalid Bakdash (a Kurdish communist who became the General Secretary of the Syrian Communist Party, known as the “dean of Arab communism”), met Mao Tse Tsung and future Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru, and fell in love with a Ukrainian communist and married her.

He returned to Palestine with her in 1928 and became a leader in the PKP. He ran the Arab East (the Comintern’s Arabic newspaper) from Paris for a couple years while dodging a British crackdown on the PKP, and then spent a year in Uzbekistan studying “the national problem under socialism.” After that he was one (1) of four (4) Palestinian Arabs to fight on the Republican side during the Spanish Civil War. (He got blacklisted by the Palestinian national movement for this, especially in the newspaper Filastin, because the Palestinian nationalists backed the Francoist side, mostly to spite Britain and France and in solidarity with the Moroccan Army of Africa that fought alongside Franco.) While there, under a Moroccan alias, he wrote for the newspaper Mundo Obrero, trying to convince Moroccans to desert Franco, and also tried to convince the Spanish communists to organize an anti-colonial revolt in Morocco, but they didn’t want to work with “beastly savage” Moroccans.

He left thereafter, writing a polemic on the incompatibility of Islam and Nazism called al-Taqālid al-islāmiyya wa-l-mabādiʾ al-nāziyya: hal tattafiqān? (The Islamic Traditions and the Nazi Principles: Can They Agree?) to combat the Nazi-sympathetic faction of the Palestinian national movement around Hajj al-Husseini. Because he cited the Quran and other Islamic texts, he was purged from the party in 1940 for lack of secularism, and surprisingly for a communist in the Middle East, he lived out the rest of his life peacefully in Cyprus, Greece, and Lebanon, his daughter becoming a well-known doctor in the Soviet Union.


Sammy Davis Jr. in the Nehru jacket, 1960s

The Nehru jacket was first popularized in India in the 1940s, named after Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (who never wore it). It then became a fashionable menswear item in the US and Europe in the late 1960s, worn most notably by The Beatles. A lifetime lover of clothes noted for his “loud” tastes, Davis wore Nehru jackets frequently around this time period, taking on a style rarely worn by men of his age or his crowd of show business. Though he was sometimes mocked for it, Davis happily sported many new fashions that came directly out of youth culture and counterculture.