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Labor Action, 24 June 1946


A Workers Party Statement

Our Answer to Bevin’s Speech


From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 25, 24 June 1946, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Twice in recent times, most recently at the Labor Party Conference in Bournemouth, Ernest Bevin, Britain’s Foreign Minister and a spokesman for the Labor Party, has delivered himself of remarks that plumb the viciousness of anti-Semitism. Speaking at Bournemouth, Bevin accused United States government leaders of advocating the admission of 100,000 tortured European Jews into Palestine because they “did not want too many of them in New York.”

Considered in any light Bevin’s statement was revolting. But so too was the hypocritical clamor in the American press which, in flaying Bevin, completely and deliberately skirted the real issue.

It is plainly the elementary duty of all those in whom the ravages of an imperialist world of terror and famine have not yet stilled the ability to be shocked, to rise in protest. For socialists, viewing the disgraceful spectacle of a man who pretends to speak for labor being party to the reactionary foulness of an imperialist government, this obligation is even sterner. But our obligation extends beyond that to a consideration of the role of the British Labor government, and to a consideration of the American government’s policy and objectives.

The Key to Bevin’s Policy

The key to Bevin’s statement is not in its anti-Semitism, for Bevin is not an anti-Semite. The key to it lies in the Labor Party leadership’s attempt to salvage what remains of British imperialism. Tied to British imperialism, incapable of uprooting it for to do so would mean to loose an uncontrollable torrent of revolutionary action against capitalist rule in England and in the colonies, the Labor Party leaders are driven to extremes of reactionary position. Thus, the Labor Party which as late as 1945 held to a policy that was generally interpreted (and criticized) as pro-Zionist, today displays a callous disregard for the indescribable plight of Europe’s Jewish population, subjects Palestine to a terror that exceeds the Black and Tan terror in Ireland, conspires with the most reactionary elements in the Arab nationalist leadership.

Such are the inevitable consequences of a policy that seeks to hold together the collapsing British empire. No more than its Tory predecessor, Churchill, does the Labor government propose to preside over the liquidation of the Empire. Hard pressed by irate colonial masses the world over, impoverished by the encroachments of Russian and U.S. imperialist strength, subjected to the pressure of the working class at home which expects sweeping social changes, British capitalism combines desperate reaction (as in Palestine) with unavoidable and tricky concessions (as in India). And its instrument is the Labor Party government.

Perhaps a bigger disgrace than Bevin’s statement is the fact that it passed without challenge at the Bournemouth conference. The mandate the Labor Party received when the working class of England elected it to power, was NOT a mandate to preside over the oppression of colonial peoples and the persecution of Jews. Therein is indicated the task of revolutionaries in England – to encourage revolutionary opposition to the policies of the Attlee-Bevin government, to expose the damage that Attlee-Bevin are doing the working class, to create a breach between the Labor Party leadership and the Labor Party ranks in exerting pressure for a socialist execution of the working class mandate.

Responsibility of U.S. Imperialism

As revolutionary socialists, and therefore as internationalists, the concerns of the British socialists are very much our own. But as socialists in the United States, the policies of the U.S. government, and the actions of the working class here are our particular interest.

Therefore, while we rise to denounce Bevin, we simultaneously denounce in equally strong language the hypocrisy of “our” statesmen who covered the bitter truth with a flood of moral indignation. The Meads and Wagners, the hundreds of public “figures” who issued statements to the press, inundated columns of newspaper space with their beguiling hypocrisy.

But this is the fact: the United States will not permit free immigration of Jews, or of any people, into the United States.

If Bevin could get away with his statement, it is only because there is this much truth in it: the Meads and Wagners are doing nothing to open the doors of the United States!

Truman has very nobly urged the admission of 100,000 Jews into Palestine. It suits the policy of American imperialism in its pressure on British imperialism to do so. But the quotas for admission to the United States are so abysmally low as to mean nothing at all to the European Jews who wish desperately to leave Europe.

The immediate issue in Bevin’s statement is the opening of Palestine to free Jewish immigration. However, the working class of the United States cannot seriously champion the right of the Jewish people to enter Palestine, or any other country unless they first champion the right to enter THIS country. It is not a question of how many Jews wish to go to the United States in preference to Palestine or vice versa, nor of how many the United States could accommodate (though it is plain that if Palestine can accommodate 100,000, the U.S. can accommodate many times that number).

What is involved is a democratic right that is integral to working class and socialist policy. What is involved is a bond that the working class of any country shares with the persecuted and exploited of the world. What is also involved is the very practical, terribly practical, misery of the European Jews, facing ruthless extinction after the Nazi mass murders. There is no real solution other than the vanquishing of anti-Semitism everywhere that will come with socialist consciousness. But the situation presses for immediate alleviation. The victims of pogroms and starvation ask that something be done now. They wish to leave Europe.

To fight for an open door policy in Palestine is not enough. By itself that serves no purpose other than to play the game of American imperialism against British imperialism. We are opposed to the intrigues and hypocrisies of both imperialisms. If we call upon the British working class to demand of the British government that it quit Palestine and that the doors of Palestine be opened to free immigration, it is, first, our duty to demand that the doors of the United States be opened.

Open the doors of the United States! That is our answer to Bevin!

National Committee Workers Party

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