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Labor Action, 2 May 1949


Al Findley

Stalinist Line on Zionism
Twists Once More


From Labor Action, Vol. 13 No. 18, 2 May 1949, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


It has by now become widely known known that the attitude of the Stalinists toward Zionism has changed. Labor Action has already carried timely reports on the events.

While the situation varies from country to country, there can be no doubt that it is centrally directed and emanates from one place – Moscow. It is absolutely wrong and ridiculous to do what some Stalinist apologists (Mapam, New Republic) do: blame it on the local Jewish Stalinists.

The truth is that, for more than a year, ALL (except Arab) Stalinist papers carried extreme pro-Zionist and sometimes purely Zionist articles. This was true of them all from the Polish Jewish Stalinists’ Neu Leben to the New York Freiheit. The change started with the publication of an article by Ilya Ehrenberg in Pravda, in September.

The Jewish Stalinists, like all other Stalinists, followed orders, but with this difference. After they exhausted all excuses for delay in carrying out the ukase, they took the initiative in the struggle against Zionism. The ponderous, world-wide Stalinist machine moves slowly and irregularly at first, until finally all goosestep together.

The latest change in line has now permeated all Stalinist groups. In the satellite countries an all-out drive against Zionism and Jewish immigration is taking place.

The change in line has split the recently united CP of Palestine. As Labor Action readers know, the CP was for many years divided into an Arab and Jewish section. The Jewish section, PKP, had its splinter group, known as the “Hebrew” Communists. The PKP, led by Mikunis, followed the official line in all its shifts and turns, from support of the Mufti to ardent pro-Jewish statism and even expansionism. The “Hebrews,” led by Preminger, no less Stalinist on other questions, favored Jewish immigration and participation in official Jewish and Zionist bodies. The pro-Zionist line enunciated by Gromyko led to unification into one party first of the two Jewish groups and later, at the end of 1948, to a merger with the Arab Stalinist outfit, going under the name of Arab League for National Liberation.

The events surrounding the split read like a chapter in a cloak-and-dagger mystery.

How CP Split

An armed holdup took place at the Agudat Israel Workers’ loan fund in Tel Aviv. The military police arrested Bezalel Narkis, 23, a lieutenant in the Israeli army. Narkis, a wellknown member of the Communist Party (a former “Hebrew” Communist), admitted that he had committed the robbery on behalf of the party, which was in financial straits. (He later changed his testimony, attempting to shift responsibility away from the party, but this was of course too late, at least for the CP.)

The next morning a short notice appeared in Kol Ha’am, CP daily: The Israeli CP had purged nine of the 25 members of its central committee (consisting of ten “Palestinians,” nine “Hebrews” and six Arab Stalinists). The nine men had allegedly plotted with the Stern gang to form an anti-labor and reactionary political party called Ahdut Vema’as (Unity and Action).

Meanwhile the nine “Hebrew” executive members rallied against Mikunis’ charges. They denied emphatically having been in touch with the Sternists. Pressed as to whether they considered the Stern group a fascist movement, they said that the Sternists had been fascist in the past but did not come forward with any definite political program in the recent elections.

They denied any connection with the Tel Aviv robbery. Moreover, they charged that Mikunis and his “Palestinian” followers had established contact with the Stern gang and knew in advance that Count Bernadotte would be assassinated. (Haboker, Tel Aviv, February 14)

With regard to questions of ideology, they maintained that “you cannot be a good Communist unless you are first of all loyal and faithful to your own nation.” Communists all over the world were patriots, they said, but the Mikunis faction had been against the Jewish state and against free immigration up to the moment when Gromyko came out in the United Nations in favor of the Jewish state; then Mikunis and his followers had switched overnight.

CP Line in Transition

The Stalinist parties in Arabian countries have begun to change their emphasis. During the period of Russian pro-Zionism they had to apologize for the Russian pro-partition stand. One of their favorite arguments was that if Arabs were pro-Russian, the Stalinists would have supported THEM and not the Jews. As it was, they urged acceptance of the fact and the establishment of peace.

They no longer admit that Russia strongly supported Israel. Israel and partition, according to a Syrian CP statement, are the creatures of the Anglo-American bloc. The Stalinists merely went along, since they had no alternative. No conclusions for action are made. It is obvious that the Arab Stalinist line is in a state of transition.

In the United States, too, the CP at last has swung into step. Tuesday, March 29, the Morning Freiheit, Jewish organ of the Stalinists, published a letter of “confession” by Moishe

Katz, one of its leaders, and a statement by the Freiheit association. The letter confesses the error of resisting Ilya Ehrenberg’s interpretation of Zionism and events in Israel. The statement tries to explain why it took from September to April for the American Stalinists to come out clearly against Zionism as a result of the “consistent pressure of bourgeois nationalists.”

It has obviously taken the current Russian campaign against Jewish writers and artists as “cosmoplitans” to convince the local Jewish Stalinists that Ehrenberg’s line is worldwide and not limited to Eastern Europe.

Labor Action was among the first to predict a change of Stalinist line in relation to Israel. This is now taking place. However, the new line will probably not be a DRAMATIC and 100 per cent reversal of the current line, as so often has taken place. Rather it will, for a period of time at least, be a policy of retaining as much Israeli support as possible, while at the same time rebuilding Stalinist fences in the Arab countries.

Only a major development will cause a violent break – such as the shift of a sizable Arab section to support of Moscow, or the adherence of Israel to the Mediterranean pact advocated by Greece and Turkey.

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