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Labor Action, 24 April 1944


The Jewish Question and Palestine

An Editorial Statement

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 17, 24 April 1944, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The criticism by our contributor, Ben Hall, is essentially correct, and we endorse it.

The horrible persecutions of the Jewish people at the hand of reaction in Europe – and not only in Europe – and the apparent hopelessness of their position in the Old World, has created increased sympathy in recent times for the program of the Zionist for the establishment of a “Jewish homeland in Palestine.” Victims of Both Imperialisms

Labor Action, like the Workers Party, is unreservedly on the side of the Jewish victims of reaction and militantly opposed to anti-Semitism in any and all its vicious forms. While condemning the bestialities of fascism, we have also exposed the hypocritical pretenses of friendship toward the cruelly tormented Jewish people by the Allied governments. In spite of the numerous opportunities that have been open to these governments to help rescue tens of thousands of Jews from Axis Europe to comparative safety, next to nothing has been done. Conferences have been held and promises made for the sole purpose of evading the question. The latest decision by the Churchill government to close the doors of Palestine completely to Jewish immigration – and to Jews only – is only the most shocking example of how lightly the lives of Jews weigh in the scales of British imperialism. The acquiescence of Washington in the Churchill policy, ostensibly out of “military considerations,” merely shows that so far as the Jews are concerned there is no fundamental difference between the two imperialist powers.

Labor Action demands that all restrictions be removed from the right of Jews to migrate to Palestine and, for that matter, to any other country; and we demand further that Allied government facilities be placed at the disposal of the still living victims of Nazi terror so that they may be snatched from otherwise certain extermination. .For us in this country, this demand includes removing all the bars that have been set up against the unrestricted right of asylum for refugees to the United States.

At the same time, however, Labor Action opposes the program of Zionism, which misleads the Jewish people, at best, and leads them to even greater disaster, at worst. While the present statement does not aim to be, and is not, a declaration on all the aspects of the “Jewish question,” the views of Labor Action on Zionism and Palestine can be asserted with adequate definiteness. Zionism and Imperialism

The program of Zionism – and this includes all its wings, from right to “left” – is based in practice on collaboration with British or Anglo-American imperialism for the purpose of imposing the rule of a Jewish minority over the Arab majority that inhabits Palestine.

All the arguments put forward in favor of Zionism, including the argument that the Jewish minority, has brought “industrialization” and “civilization” to Palestine and its inhabitants, are as hoary with age as every argument that has been put forward in apology for imperialism. The test for all the Zionist and pro-Zionist groups is the fact that not one of them has come forward with the demand that the most elementary democratic right of a modern civilized community – the right of self-government – be extended NOW to the people of Palestine.

To make this demand and fight for it would mean a real break with British imperialism which aims to keep Palestine as its colony under guise of a “mandate” and by means of pitting Jew against Arab and Arab against Jew. Not a single one of the Zionist groups, including the most “left” among them, is prepared to make this real break with imperialism. That is why they are willing to talk about anything in the world except such concrete and meaningful things as the unqualified right to vote of the Palestine people, elections to a sovereign National Constitutional Assembly in Palestine, and the independence of Palestine from foreign rule which these demands imply.

Further, the Zionist servants and collaborators of imperialism understand that the REALIZATION of these elementary democratic demands would mean the establishment of an independent sovereign state in which the Arab majority of the population would, in all probability, be the political majority. This is precisely what these pseudo-democrats and pseudo-socialists refuse to countenance. They are prepared to consider the independence of Palestine and democratic rights for its inhabitants ONLY if they have first guaranteed themselves a majority by means of which they may rule the Arabs. Until they get this numerical majority, they work, fundamentally, with foreign imperialism against the Arab people instead of working with the Arab people against imperialism.

The kind of reason given by the spokesmen of Zionism against the advocacy of democratic rights and national independence for Palestine NOW is on exactly the same level as the arguments of our own Bourbons against allowing the Negroes to vote in the South. “They are too ignorant. They are too backward. They are tools in the hands of demagogues. They may vote in governments to rule over us.

Zionism Boomerangs

The practical result of the reactionary policy of Zionism in Palestine has been to aggravate the situation of the Jews AND to make it easier for the feudal-minded Arab landlords, religious leaders and politicians to dominate the minds and actions of the Arab peasants. All the Arab rulers need tell their followers is this: “The Jews (i.e., the Zionists) are ready to do anything in the world for you except grant the right to decide your own fate.”

Labor Action, as an internationalist organ and a comrade of all the oppressed and persecuted, the Jews included, is in favor of the elimination of all national, racial and religious barriers and discrimination. It is, therefore, opposed to immigration bars of any kind, be it in the United States or anywhere else. Given the desperate position of the Jews in Europe today, Labor Action is consequently opposed to any barriers set up against the admission of Jews to Palestine, and we condemn the perfidious, typically imperialist Palestine policy of Great Britain.

The program of Zionism, however, is anti-democratic as well as anti-socialist and anti-internationalist. In its place, the internationalists, the socialists in Palestine – both Jewish and Arab – must put forward a fundamental program for the socialist reorganization of the country as part and parcel of the socialist reorganization of Europe and the Near East.

The Socialist Program

One of the indispensable elements of such a program now is the demand – put forward in deeds as well as in words – for the complete independence of Palestine, for the immediate granting of democratic rights to all its inhabitants, including the right to vote and of democratic elections, and the establishment by universal suffrage of a sovereign National Constitutional Assembly to decide the government of the country and its laws; and finally, for land to the peasants.

An independent Palestine must establish adequate and genuine guarantees protecting the rights and possibilities of economic and cultural development of all minorities in the country, the Jewish minority in particular, which would assure these minorities against discrimination or persecution in any form whatsoever. It s only on such a basis that the peaceful and harmonious cohabitation and development of all the national and racial groups in the country are possible.

Only by fighting for such a program is it possible really to cement the relations between Jew and Arab, to break down all the barriers and antagonisms between them, to free the Arab masses from the domination of their reactionary chiefs, and to free the Jewish population of Palestine from service, voluntary or involuntary, in the camp of the main enemy of the Arab peoples, British imperialism. Only by fighting for such a program can the industrialization of the country acquire a genuinely socially-progressive character, not achieved, as it has been up to now, at the expense of the interests of the workers and the peasants of Palestine.

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