Why did Stalin vote for a Jewish state?

The Soviet UN vote helped Israel for a moment in time. That was all.

Andrei Gromyko, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s representative at the United Nations, stunned the world on November 29, 1947, during the debate on the partition of Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state. 
“The Jewish people had been closely linked with Palestine for a considerable period of history,” Gromyko told the UN General Assembly. “As a result of the war, the Jews as a people have suffered more than any other people. The total number of the Jewish population who perished at the hands of the Nazi executioners is estimated at approximately six million. The Jewish people were therefore striving to create a state of their own, and it would be unjust to deny them that right.”
The Soviet Union voted in favor of the partition proposal. Stalin allowed the new Communist government in Czechoslovakia to allow arms to be bought from it by emissaries of the Hagana. This played an important part in Israel’s fight against its Arab enemies for independence.
Yet, Joseph Stalin was no friend of Jewish nationalism. The UN vote was a political gambit that seemed to oppose everything the dictator stood for. In 1913, shortly before he became the first commissar of nationalities of the Soviet Union under V.I. Lenin, Stalin penned the essay “The Jews Are Not a Nation.”
But in this article, the main enemy was not the Zionists but the Bund. The Bund – “The General Jewish Workers’ Union in Lithuania, Poland and Russia” – was founded in 1897 and became popular and a great influence among Jews in Eastern Europe. A year later it became part of the international socialist movement, serving as a trade union and political party in Russia. It was banned in Russia as a political organization after the failed 1905 revolution but gained strength as a cultural organization despite the czarist ban. 
After the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 – the Bund had allied with the Mensheviks – the organization lost its independence and was incorporated into the Communist Party.
The Bund, while anti-Zionist, agitated for national-cultural autonomy based in Yiddish language and culture. And this was Stalin’s target in his 1913 essay. Stalin writes: “The question of national autonomy for the Russian Jews consequently assumes a somewhat curious character: autonomy is being proposed for a nation whose future is denied and whose existence has still to be proved!”
He continues later in his essay, “It is to be expected that the Bund will take another “step forward” and demand the right to observe all the ancient Hebrew holidays. And if, to the misfortune of the Bund, the Jewish workers have discarded religious prejudices and do not want to observe these holidays, the Bund with its agitation for ‘the right to the Sabbath,’ will remind them of the Sabbath, it will, so to speak, cultivate among them ‘the Sabbatarian spirit.’”
The Bolsheviks rejected any form of national identity – the Bund, Judaism or Zionism – as reactionary, unless it served the USSR as a worker’s paradise or suited their political needs, as it did during WWII and the later UN partition.
The Yevsektsiya, the Jewish section of the propaganda department of the Russian Communist Party from 1918 to 1930, had the goal of using Yiddish to integrate Soviet Jews into the state ideology. The department shut down synagogues, closed yeshivot and tightly controlled the printing of books of Jewish interest. At the same time, they promoted Yiddish culture and declared an autonomous Jewish region in Birobidzhan on the Manchurian border. But this was all done to force the Jews to cede their identity and to follow the Soviet line. 
In 1928, Zionism was banned from the Soviet Union. Zionist leaders in the USSR were imprisoned, sent to the gulag, or exiled to Siberia. Strange that Gromyko under Stalin’s orders, 20 years later, endorsed at the UN a Jewish state founded by Zionists.
The dictator of the USSR reversed course and liquidated Yiddish schools, publishing houses and theaters in the 1930s. During World War II he exploited prominent Jews in the Soviet Union to travel to America to enlist support for the war against Germany, only to execute many of them after the war.
In one night in August 1952 he executed Jews who were leaders in Soviet society – all supporters of Stalin – for treason. He condemned the Jews as “rootless cosmopolitans” who had no loyalty to the Soviet state.
His paranoia of Jews being treasonous tools of the Zionist state reached its crescendo with “The Doctor’s Plot.” He accused physicians, mostly Jewish, of plotting to poison Soviet leaders and he planned to take revenge on the Jews. Fortunately, he died in 1953 and his anti-Jewish orders died with him. His heirs in Soviet leadership were committed to give the Arabs all the weapons they needed to destroy the State of Israel.
Why did Stalin vote for a Jewish state at the UN in 1947? The best summary in answer to this question is from Stalin’s Secret Pogrom: The Postwar Inquisition of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (2001). Authors Joshua Rubenstein and Vladimir P. Naumov (in the translation of Laura Esther Wolfson) write: “Stalin was anxious to see the British out of the Middle East and even harbored a fugitive belief that the new Jewish state would join the Soviet bloc.”
It was pure realpolitik on Stalin’s part and it collapsed with his hatred of Zionism and his paranoia. In his 1983 biography of David Ben-Gurion, Dan Kurzman states that the future prime minister of Israel “began to view Bolshevism as inherently brutal, hopelessly impractical, and incapable of accepting socialist Zionism as a natural ally.” The Soviet UN vote helped Israel for a moment in time. That was all.
The writer is rabbi of Congregation Anshei Sholom in West Palm Beach, Florida.