Max Shachtman

Drive Out the British Assassins!

Resistance Flares in Palestine

(26 August 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 34, 26 August 1946, pp. 1 & 7.
Transcription & mark-up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The assassination of the Jewish people continues, not by the hand of the Hitlerite butchers but by the hand of the noble and democratic Allies.

The third British Labour Party government seems determined to outstrip the Labour Party governments of 1924 and 1928 in villainy, cynical betrayal of avowed principles and faithful service to the interests of British imperialism.

No one was more voluble in proclaiming sympathy with the ghastly plight of the Jewish millions under Hitlerism than the leaders of the British Labour Party before they took office. No one more loudly and solemnly resolved to rescue the Jews from the pit of despair into which the fascists hurled them than the leaders of the British Labour Party during the war.

Violate the People’s Mandate

Now they are in office – these leaders – elected by the most decisive vote ever cast by the people for a so- called labor party in all the history of parliamentary elections. They do not even have the shadow of the excuse of previous Labour Party governments that they hold office as a minority dependent upon the tolerance of conservative parties for putting into effect their own policies. Their mandate in the last elections was clearcut and unmistakable, affirmed by the majority of the British people on the one side and re-affirmed by the rejected opposition of the Tories on the other. The mandate read: socialism, peace, freedom for all peoples, universal brotherhood.

Socialism is the great ideal of these leaders. So are world peace and brotherhood and freedom. So is their sympathy for the Jewish people who suffered more catastrophically than any other group of human beings from the barbarism of the Hitlerites.

Those are their ideals. But ideals, for them, are things to be sacrificed without a tremor to practical considerations. And their most practical consideration, their most active concern, is the holding together of the crumbling British Empire, the centuries-old bloodsucker of the world, the slave-owner and slave-driver of six continents, the traditional symbol of exploitation, oppression and cultured perfidy.

To save that empire, the associated Churchills fought like lions against encroaching German imperialism during the war, fought like any other beast of the jungle to retain his prey. Now the leaders of the Labour Party have undertaken to save the empire from the new imperialist claimants, the United States and Russia, on the one hand, and from the aspirations for independence and freedom of the colonial peoples, on the other.

Imperialism Fears Arab-Jewish Unity

Driven away from one position after another in the vital area of the Mediterranean, where it is threatened from every point of the compass, British imperialism shows boldness in the display of force not against its powerful imperialist rivals but only against the little peoples whom it contemptuously regards as unarmed and defenseless. To maintain the imperial lifeline, Palestine must be converted into a powerful armed base. For this base to be secure, the aspirations of both the Arab and Jewish peoples must be trampled under foot more cruelly than ever before.

British imperialism can no longer rely in Palestine upon its serpent-cunning game of pitting the Arab and Jewish peoples against each other. Experience is very often a harsh and even bloody teacher. The more desperate the British Empire’s position becomes, the more obvious does its divide-and-rule game become to the peoples it has systematically victimized. The Arab masses see that Britain is not at all concerned with “protecting” them from “Jewish domination” in Palestine, but only with continuing the bloody reality of British domination. The Jewish masses see that Britain is not at all concerned with preserving their lives or providing them with asylum from the horrors of anti-Semitism, but only with exploiting them for its own imperialist objectives.

British imperialism fears the next, logical step: the union of the Jewish and Arab peoples in Palestine against their common oppressor, the establishment of a free and democratic Palestine, independent of the rule of Britain.

Hence the savage desperation of British imperialism and of the government which befouls the good name of labor and socialism. Hitlerism did not shrink from the most gruesome and horrendous acts, including the extermination of whole peoples, in order to spread the power of German imperialism. But that lay not in the nature of the “German soul” but in the very nature of the beast of imperialism, and now, after Germany has been crushed, we see the proof of this all over the world, Palestine spectacularly included. Britain now rules Palestine by bayonet and machine-gun, by the courts-martial, by naked military force, by barbed-wire enclosures and other concentration camps for the masses, by the principle of “community guilt” made so notorious by the Nazis, by mass deportations of the innocent and most heavily-suffering victims of the war.

Take Up Arms Against the Tyrant

The desperation of British imperialism has foundation enough. For years it played its game pretty safely, with the signal aid of the miserable Zionist politicians who sought to make the Jewish people a tool of British imperialist policy in exchange for picayune concessions and grandiloquent promises. But just as the Arab peoples long ago lost any illusions they might have had about the benevolence of British imperialism, so the Jewish people are losing their illusions in this hour of the crumbling of the British Empire which significantly coincides with the bankruptcy of the policy of Zionism and its spokesmen.

The most important feature of the new situation in Palestine is the fact that the Jewish people have for the first time broken relations with their imperialist “patron” and gone to the extent of taking up arms against it. An underground Jewish movement, equipped with the means of conducting war and equipped with even greater quantities of determination, has the sympathy of the entire Jewish people and the support of many. It has called upon the people to resist British force with force. It has even spoken of setting up a government wholly independent of British imperialism.

Here is a movement of tremendous importance and of far-reaching consequences. The consequences are far-reaching because it would not take too long for these fighters to understand that by themselves they are capable only of great heroism but not of achieving victory; that for victory over imperialism and for the realization of their most passionate hopes, they need allies. That these allies cannot be found in American or Russian imperialism, each of which is playing its own filthy, hypocritical game with the lives and fortunes of the Jewish and Arab peoples, whom they regard as mere pawns in the struggle for world power. That these allies, sure allies, can be found only in the ranks of the Arab people and of all others who are exploited and oppressed by imperialism and have a common stake in crushing it to earth.

Withdraw the British Assassins!

We have indicated more than once that we are not supporters of Zionism which has led the Jewish people into one trap after another, and that we are not partisans of the notorious Zionist aim of a “bi-national state,” which is to be achieved by continuing to deprive the Arabs in Palestine of their most elementary democratic right – the right to self-determination. For us, the Arab people, like any other, are comrades and brothers and equals in every respect, and are not to be treated like our Southern Bourbons treat the Negroes – like “inferiors” who are not entitled to the rights of their “superiors.” We are for the immediate independence of Palestine, for a democratic national assembly elected by equal and universal suffrage of Arab and Jew. And as we have said on many occasions, as revolutionary socialists – who are separated by a gulf from the wretched reformist-imperialists of the British Labour Party – we are at the same time for unrestricted immigration for all peoples and all countries. As Americans, we are for unrestricted immigration of the terribly harassed Jews into this country, contrary to the hypocrites here who keep silent on this matter and howl loud and long about, immigration for Jews ... to Palestine and only to Palestine. As internationalists, we are for unrestricted immigration of the Jews into Palestine as well – or into any other country of their choice.

The mutual suspicions and antagonisms of Arab and and Jewish peoples will not vanish overnight. They have been too long and systematically poisoned by British imperialism, Zionism and the Arab feudalists for so speedy a salvation. But whatever suspicion the Arab people have felt toward the Jews has been due primarily and overwhelmingly to the fact that they regarded the Jews as the instruments of British imperialism. No more dramatic and effective refutation of this suspicion can be imagined than the actual struggle against London that the Jews of Palestine have now begun.

What this struggle will develop into, is of course difficult to say. It is not impossible – quite the contrary! – that the Zionist bigwigs are working with might and main in London and Washington to make another rotten compromise with British imperialism. It is not impossible that they may succeed for a time in keeping the Jewish people subjected to British policy. But the recent events have shown that such a “victory” would not only be a defeat for the hopes of both Jews and Arabs, but would, fortunately, be short-lived.

The great disillusionment with British imperialism has begun among the Jewish people of Palestine, and not only of Palestine. It cannot fail, in the end, to flower into a triumphant union of the oppressed.

To start now to speed that day means, for us and all of us here, to demand irresistibly: “Withdraw the British assassins from Palestine! Hands off Palestine! Free immigration for all the Jews!” Then the Arab and Jewish peoples will find a comradely way to each other and decide their freedom and independence themselves.

Max Shachtman
Marxist Writers’

Last updated on 8 July 2019