From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 9, 21 February 1939, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
A well-nigh fatal blow at Zionist hopes in Palestine is about to be struck by the British government, it was indicated by developments this week at the London Conference of British officials with Arab and Zionist delegations.
Malcolm MacDonald, British spokesman, informed the Zionist delegation that preparations for the coming war necessitated substantial concessions to the 16,000,000 Arabs in Palestine and the neighboring Arab states, whose leaders are demanding an end to Jewish immigration into Palestine and a ban on further land sales to the Jews.
That concessions would be made was plainly indicated on Tuesday, when Prime Minister Chamberlain informed Parliament that he had agreed to the Arab delegation’s request for the publication of the documents relating to the 1915 negotiations between Sir Henry MacMahon and Sherif Hussein of Mecca, in which, the Arabs claim, Britain pledged recognition of all Arab areas as independent nations in return for Arab support in the war.
For 20 years the Arabs have vainly endeavored to get the British government to publish the MacMahon documents. But Britain’s war promises to the Arabs were in direct conflict with the equally deceitful promises made to the Jews in the Balfour Declaration of 1917, and Britain’s rulership of Palestine was formally based on a Mandate issued in 1922 by the League of Nations delegating Britain to “secure the establishment of the Jewish National Home.” Fearful of Arab demands for independence, Britain justified her occupation of Palestine on the Mandate, and refused to publish the MacMahon documents.
Now, however, the Arab nationalist movement, ever more turbuent, has forced imperial Britain to seek a compromise with the Arab landowners and capitalists who lead the movement. The compromise is to be arranged in accordance with the usual British combination of imperialist realism and moral hypocrisy. Chamberlain will now “discover” the juridical validity of the Arab claims as exemplified by MacMahon’s promises, and will render justice with Olympian “impartiality.”
There is stark tragedy in the plight of the “Yishub,” the 400,000 Jews in Palestine. Fleeing from persecution, they came to their “Homeland,” more than willing to work with their hands in field and factory. Their labors are embodied in fertile gardens wrested from the desert and in the most modern factories of the Near East.
But while they labored, they surrendered political direction of their course to the Zionist leadership which, whether of the bourgeois Chaim Weizmann or the “Socialist-Zionist” stripe of Ben-Gurion, sought to assure itself permanence in Palestine by currying favor with British imperialism instead of establishing an alliance with the Arab workers and peasants.
The logical culmination of this road came when the Zionist delegation in London last Monday offered to provide a Jewish army to help Britain in event of another world war! They pledged that 15 battalions would be available when war broke out.
Among the delegation are self-styled socialists who in 1914 declared against the imperialist war and who, in the intervening years, have condemned any possible war engaged in by Britain as a repetition of the 1914–1918 struggle between rival bandits. Yet at this ate date they associate themselves with a pledge to drag the Jews into the coming slaughter as British legionnaires! This is the degenerate conclusion of the Zionist dream: recruiting sergeants for British imperialism.
The British spokesmen scarcely hid their contempt for the fawning Zionist leaders. According to the N.Y. Times of Feb. 16, “the Jews were apparently told that the British Government did not regard them as any help in time of war, despite their explanations of the possibilities of a Jewish defense force. On the other hand, the Jews were told that friendliness with the Arabs, both in Palestine and in the surrounding nations, was essential to the defense of the Empire.”
Which, translated into plain English means: “You Jews are already committed to supporting the British Empire in the war, now you must make it easier for us to secure the infinitely more important support of the Arabs and the whole Moslem world.”
This is the dead-end to which the false course of Zionism has led the Palestine Jewish community. Except as an increasingly less important auxiliary to British imperialism, a foil to Arab demands Zionism is finished.
Can Palestine Jewry retrace its steps, and take a new course, toward unity with Arab workers and peasants against British imperialism? Only on this road, by Arab-Jewish agreement, would there be any future possibility for resolving the problem of the Jews in Palestine.
But this course requires a different leadership than the Zionists. Weizmann’s contemptible statement last Monday that the Jews “realized” that Mussolini and Hitler were behind the Arabs; the Marchioness of Reading’s statement in New York the same day, speaking for the United Palestine Appeal, that the “extreme nationalists” did not “really” speak for the Arab people – these services to British imperialism will not lead to Arab-Jewish unity. The first step on the road to unity with the Arabs and the preservation of Palestine Jewry will come when the Jewish masses repudiate the Zionist agents of British imperialism.
Last updated on 28 November 2014