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New International, June 1939


Naomi Handleman

[Zionism and the Arabs]

From New International, Vol.5 No.6, June 1939, p.191.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


To the Editor:

No doubt, to quote from the Spark seems authoritative to you. However, for us who are less well informed the statement of exact authorship of an article would be welcome. I am referring specifically to Zionism and the Arab Struggle in the February issue.

First in regard to the Arab nationalist movement. The crux of the matter is in your one little comparison of the Indian and Arab nationalist movements. There can be no comparison, except that Britain opposes them both. The Arab movement is nationalistic as Germany is, not as India. What is more, the nationalist movement has grown largely out of a conflict of personalities, the almost traditional feud between the El Husseini family (Mufti) and Nashashibi family (long mayor of Jerusalem).

Secondly in regard to Britain. Far be it from any Zionist to defend England. Perfidious Albion once and always! But one must remember that should Britain give up in Palestine, you would have either Arab despotism or Italian fascism.

Thirdly – the Arab people. The Arab economy is a feudal one, with a prevalence of absentee landlords. The peasants like the aristocrats have feuds. Much of the killing of Arabs lately was the settling of feuds under cover of terrorism. In the one city where Jews and Arabs develop together, Haifa, the one city where there exist Arab labor unions, there is not half so much anti-Jewish feeling. That is because Arabs enlightened as to the class struggle recognize that the hundred thousand or more organized Jewish workers are their brothers. They also realize that the labor unions are the most potent and progressive force in Palestine.

Fourthly – Zionism. I don’t suppose that the author of the article has been in Europe. He doesn’t know that in Europe, where the majority of Jews live, Zionism is a real mass movement (Germany excepted, where Jews are pigs – and Soviet Russia also where there are no Jews). The origins of the movement were – you too know the old story – in the Bible. In our time, however, it was the result partly of the Dreyfus case, partly of Theodor Herzl’s personality and partly of the general nationalist trend. At the political beginning of the movement there were three interested factions. Among the great majority of Jews, anti-Zionists have been eliminated. There remain Zionists and non-Zionists.

Fifth – British-Jewish relations. It is true that the socialists are the major force in Palestine. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I have been led to believe that socialists believe in education for evolution, not terrorism and revolution. The practical application of Zionism came out of the World War. Yes – they played the capitalist game. So what! – Everyone is – even Russia.

Sixth – Palestine labor. The labor movement is 25 to 30% of the population. The agricultural workers form 20% of the population. I agree with you that France, for example, has 90% of her people on the soil, but you cannot deny that we have progressed. The Kvutzah, too, has developed. Robert Owen has gone but the Kvutzah has been existing for forty years, and every week a new Kvutzah is being built.

I agree with you that the Arab problem is a ticklish one. In considering it, however, remember please that emigration and the death rate have decreased, immigration and the birth rate increased, intensive agriculture, also, has been introduced. In addition to material benefits (the bourgeoisie’s task) an Arab labor newspaper has been started.

I really feel there is no solution. “It is really a conflict of right with right. The person who had a solution would have a soft seat in the British cabinet” (Sir Ronald Storrs, of the Lawrence Group, former civil and military governor of Jerusalem).

However, as things are, Britain is preferable to war or Italy, because both would result in fascism.



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