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Albert Goldman

Palestine: Socialist Policy and SWP Duplicity

(30 September 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 39, 30 September 1946, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

There are people who, when confronted by a serious political problem, the answer to which they do not know or are uncertain about, dodge the question by writing a multiplicity of words containing many noble sentiments but no answer to the problem. At times they say nothing at all, hoping that the situation will pass and that the problem will not longer confront them.

When the leaders of the Socialist Workers Party were presented with the problem of taking a position on the question of the democratic republics in Italy and Belgium, at the time when the Italian and Belgian workers were struggling to overthrow the monarchies, they solved the problem by saying nothing – at least in the open. They assured everybody, of course, that they were for the socialist revolution, but they would not openly take a position on the question of the democratic republic. In reality they were opposed to the slogan of “democratic republic”, but were unwilling to say so.

For a long time there was no statement whatever in the SWP press (The Militant and the Fourth International) on the question of Palestine and the struggle of the Jews for entry into that country. But since time has not solved the problem, the SWP leaders felt compelled to break their silence. In the September 7th issue of The Militant, the editors published a statement on this burning question. Many noble and true sentiments find expression there, but the specific problem around which the struggle in Palestine is being waged, is left unanswered; better, perhaps, is left with an exceedingly ambiguous answer.

What the Jews Want

As everybody knows, including the editors of The Militant, there are hundreds of thousands of Jews clamoring to get out of European countries where they believe anti-Semitism will make it impossible for them to live. So desperately anxious are some of the Jews to get into Palestine that they are willing to go through the greatest hardships and run terrible risks to achieve their purpose.

The question confronting everybody is very simple: should the Jews who want to enter Palestine be permitted to do so or not? A yes-or-no answer is called for.

We are compelled to agree with the editors of The Militant, who assure us that socialism alone will solve the Jewish problem; we also agree with them when they assert that Arabs and Jews should unite in a joint struggle against the British imperialists.

But what about entry to the Jews who insist on going to Palestine? Will not the editors please tell us in so many words whether they are for or against the right of Jews to get into Palestine?

It is a credit to the editors when they demand that the United States should open its doors to the Jews. But why should not the British open the doors of Palestine to the Jews? Anyone is at liberty to advise the Jews not to go there, but has anyone the right to oppose entry or even to be indifferent about it? Yes he has that right, but then he is dragging socialism (if he claims to be a socialist) into the dust.

Opposition to Jewish immigration into Palestine was perhaps justified at a time when such immigration was organized by Zionist leaders for the purpose of creating a Jewish state which would help guard British imperialist interests. But right now, when tens of thousands of Jewish people are trying to get into Palestine as a protection against anti-Semitism, it is the duty of every revolutionary socialist to defend the right of persecuted Jews to migrate to Palestine. The Jews may be completely wrong in thinking that Palestine offers a solution to anti-Semitism but as revolutionary socialists, as the most consistent democrats, we must support their right to go there.

On Addressing Demands

No revolutionary socialist, especially a Jewish one in Palestine, can possibly stop with the demand of the right of Jews to get into Palestine. Because of the peculiar situation existing in that country, a socialist has the duty of emphasizing the need of an orientation of the Jewish masses to the Arab masses. A patient and persistent attempt is necessary to organize Jews and Arabs for a united struggle for an independent Palestine. It is only by such a policy that the Jews can get the support of the Arab people. I admit that this is not an immediate, a complete or a final solution, but it is the only solution possible under the circumstances.

The failure of the Zionist leaders to orientate toward the Arabs constitutes their great crime. If the editors of The Militant had attacked the Zionist leaders for that, there could be no possible objection. But, according to these editors, the greatest crime of the Zionists consists of “addressing to the British government the demand that Palestine be thrown open to Jewish immigration” because they thereby “continue to recognize and endorse British imperialist rule over the country.”

This leaves us quite flabbergasted. Since the British have the actual power in Palestine, since British troops under the control of the British government can determine who is and who is not to enter Palestine, it would seem that the British imperialists are the ones to whom a demand should be made.

To whom do the SWP leaders address their demand that the Jews be admitted to the United States, if not to the government of the United States? Of course they thereby recognize but they do not endorse the policies of that government.

That the Zionists have their own purposes in demanding that immigration be allowed does not mean that we should not support the right of the Jews to enter Palestine. It is only necessary to make clear that we are opposed to the Zionists and that we have our own program, which is not a Zionist program.

The learned editors of The Militant advise the Jews to look to the Arabs just as in this country the Negro people and the national minorities must look to the working class. Very good advice, but do The Militant editors stop fighting against discriminatory laws because the American working class has not as yet emancipated the Negroes? Just as we are for an orientation on the part of the Negroes toward the working class and at the same time we continue to struggle for the right of the Negro to live in any neighborhood he pleases, so are we for an orientation of the Jews toward the Arabs and at the same time for the right of the Jews to enter Palestine.

Against Duplicity

On the same page of The Militant where the editors published their statement on Palestine they also published an item showing that the Stalinists are playing a double game on the question of Palestine. The Arabian Stalinists are opposed to the entry of Jews, whereas the Jewish Stalinists are in favor of it.

Cannot the statement of The Militant editors also be interpreted as a double-faced one? One can find a sentence which indicates opposition, and also a sentence which indicates a favorable attitude, to the right of the Jews to enter Palestine. It is a vagueness which borders on duplicity.

For revolutionary socialists, the program for Palestine and the Jews is not difficult to formulate. We are for an independent Palestine with the right of any minority to use its own language and develop its own culture. We are for the unrestricted right of all people persecuted for religious, racial or political reasons to emigrate into any country they please. That means we are for the right of Jews to go to Palestine. We are for a joint struggle of Jew and Arab to liberate Palestine and all of the Near East from the yoke of British imperialism. This, we believe, is stating the position unambiguously.

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