Howe Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page


World Politics

Will They Be Left to Die?

(9 December 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 49, 9 December 1946, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In one day’s news reports, those of November 27, 1946, there are three items which, if taken together, provide a vivid picture of how persistently and tragically acute remains the problem of Europe’s Jews. These three items are:

“Soldiers who took part in the operation ... said they had experienced nothing like the opposition given today. The refugees seemed almost frantic in their desire to beat off the troops and make a mass break toward shore and freedom, although barbed wire blocked them.”

Perhaps a fourth news item should be added to complete the picture. Secretary of State Byrnes and Foreign Minister Bevin are planning a conference “in several weeks” to discuss what to do about the problem of Palestine.

The Jews Are Barred Everywhere

That is where it stands: the Jews of Europe have no home; they do not, for the most part, wish to remain in the countries which they associate only with terror and persecution, concentration camps and yellow badges. They know now that the mere removal of Hitler has not ended anti-Semitism in Europe; that all the social poisons, the seemingly irrational but socially definable prejudices and passions of which they were the victims, still fester among the misguided and disoriented of the continent. In Poland, anti-Semitism has been rife and open; in Germany and Austria persistent if somewhat subterranean; and even in France it has shown surprising virility. For anti-Semitism is one of the most powerfully ingrained social toxins of our time: the desperate, hate-filled and almost deliberately irrational response of people grown frantic with insecurity, poverty, war and national oppression. The Jew has been the scapegoat of Europe for centuries – and Europe, in its present condition, still needs a scapegoat ...

For the time being, then, most of Europe is finished for the Jews. This statement represents neither a wish nor a conception on our part; it is merely the recognition of a fact. We would have it otherwise: it would have been better if the Jews of Europe could have been integrated into the nations in which they lived, with whatever cultural autonomy they might have desired, as part of a free and democratic socialist continent. But that was not the case. The bankruptcy of the 2nd and 3rd Internationals gave fascism the green light; and fascism has made most of Europe uninhabitable to the pitiful remnant of the Jews still alive.

And to they turn elsewhere. First and foremost, they turn to Palestine. This statement, too, is not a matter of wish; it is a simple fact. We revolutionary socialists are not Zionists; we are opposed to political Zionism with its nostalgic nationalist pretensions and its disregard for the rights of other nationally oppressed groups. But between the nationalist nostalgia and political chicanery of Zionism and the simple natural desire of Europe’s Jews to find a home for themselves in Palestine, there Is a wide gulf. Socialists oppose the former; the latter we support.

Why the Jews turn to Palestine at the moment is not of first importance. Whether because of desperation, or a resurgence of religious messianism, or an increased acceptance of Zionism, the fact remains that as a people, who look, upon themselves as a nation, they wish quite overwhelmingly to go to Palestine. And just as we socialists support^ the legitimate democratic-national aspirations of oppressed minorities everywhere, so must we support the right of the European Jews to migrate to Palestine while simultaneously defending the rights of the Arab masses on,which most of the Zionist leaders would trample.

The Hypocrites and Sycophants

But that is not enough. We live in the United States; our ears are burdened with rhetorical pap about this “great land of democracy.” We must make clear that the indifference – that compound of occasional after-dinner speeches about the “plight of the poor Jews” and a failure to take any action whatever – of this country’s political leaders and parties is today the most damning and decisive refutation to their democratic claims. So long as the doors of this country remain shut to all but a trickle of Europe’s Jews, their talk about sympathy is simply a lie. A lie, a vicious, hypocritical, damnable lie!

That is the pattern of the treatment Europe’s Jews are receiving. From the U.S., bushelfuls of rhetoric and no action. From Britain (and oh, the shame of it that the gang of imperialist scoundrels which calls itself His Majesty’s Government should appear in the eyes of the world as “Socialist!”) repression, bullets, concentration camps in Cyprus. We are tempted to ask those who justified their support of Allied imperialism in the recent war in the name of the plight of Europe’s Jews – is this the salvation of the oppressed for which you led the soldiers to their graves? But of that another time. At this moment, the question that must agitate every thinking person in whom there is still a little area of the heart not deadened by the contemporary cynicism; the question that we perhaps vainly hope disturbs at least a few minutes of the sleep of the mighty, remains:

And what of Europe’s Jews? Will they be left to die?

Howe Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 19 July 2020