Labour Monthly


League against Imperialism: Statement on Palestine

Source : Labour Monthly December, 1930, No.12.
Publisher : The Labour Publishing Company Ltd., London.
Transcription/HTML : Salil Sen
Public Domain : Marxists Internet Archive (2010). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit "Marxists Internet Archive" as your source.

The British section of the League Against Imperialism on November 11th, issued the following on the situation in Palestine:

For over a year following on the uprising in August, 1929, of the Arab peoples against British Imperialism and its lackeys, the British Zionists, a bloody reign of terror was maintained in Palestine.

After suppressing this rising with all its military forces, at the cost of thousands of both Jews and Arabs killed and wounded, the British Labour Government has carried on a ruthless reign of suppression of the Arab and Jewish workers and peasants. Executions of Arab workers have taken place in spite of widespread protests; hundreds have been thrown into prison; many have been brutally flogged in jail whilst on hunger strike, at least one or two dying as a result of this inhuman treatment. Huge fines have been imposed; demonstrations against this suppression have been broken up; all organisations which are fighting against imperialism have been proclaimed illegal under a new penal code. Every effort has been made by the Labour Government to prevent the growing unity between Arab and Jewish workers and peasants.

To-day the Labour Government in the name of British Imperialism issues a statement of policy in which it has the insolence to pose as the friend of the Arab worker and peasant. It asserts that owing to the "desperate position" of the Arab peasant no further unrestricted immigration of Jews should be permitted until the already evicted Arabs amounting to over 29 per cent. of the total Arab peasantry are elsewhere accommodated. The hypocrisy of this is shown by the fact that many revolutionaries in the past year have been flung into jail precisely for stating that this was the case. This hypocrisy is further blatantly revealed by the fact that almost simultaneously with the publication of this statement British troops were being employed in driving 4,000 Arab peasant families from their land in Wadi-Havaras to make room for Jewish settlers.

The Labour Government in spite of its bloody regime of terror now lasting over a year cannot stem the tide of agrarian revolt amongst the Arab peasantry of Palestine. From fear of this revolution it attempts to gain the support of the Arab Landowners. A Legislative Assembly will again be set up which, though previously boycotted by the Arabs, it is considered will now be accepted by the Arab Landowners in face of the "desperate" position of the peasantry. At the same time it announces its intention of retaining increased military forces in Palestine, where the total military expenditure already amounts to more than a third of the budget, and openly admits that fear of further revolutionary outbreaks makes it necessary to enlarge the Government's powers of suppression.

That it is indeed this fear of revolt which is the determining factor in this new statement of policy can be seen from the facts which the Hope-Simpson report has been compelled to reveal. There it is shown not only that 29 per cent. of the Arab peasantry are now landless but that the whole system of exploitation is breaking down, greatly accelerated as it is by the impact of the world economic crisis. The peasantry are in arrears to the extent of 59 per cent. in their taxation. While the net return on the average peasant's holding has now been reduced to £3 a year, he has to meet a debt of £27, the interest alone on which amounts to £8 a year. The peasant population in the words of the report are "hopelessly bankrupt." In one district in the last six months 64 per cent. of the total number of peasant families have been prosecuted, and many of them imprisoned for debt. The peasants everywhere are being driven to sell their land to meet their debts. Unemployment amongst the Arab workers the report admits to be "serious"; these workers have suffered in the past year at least a 50 per cent. reduction in wages.

But the plight of the Jewish workers also is becoming extreme. Large numbers of them have become unemployed, unemployment figure of 20 per cent. of the total number of workers having been reached in the last few years. Since 1922 up to April, 1930, it is admitted that in spite of the immigration of 81,000 Jews, over 23,000 Jews have found it necessary to emigrate. The Jewish workers tricked by the specious promises of Zionism are finding that a similar system of exploitation exists in Palestine as in any other capitalist country. In spite of the regulations for its prevention unemployment is growing among the Jewish workers and their wages are being reduced to the coolie level of the Arab workers. Equally with the Arab masses, when they dare to criticise their rulers, they find they have no rights of assembly, no freedom of the press, &c. The Jewish workers are realising that only by uniting with the Arab workers and peasants can they achieve freedom from exploitation, and throw off the yoke of the British imperialists and their Zionist agents.

It is no mere accident, however, that the publication of the Labour Govern¨ment's statement of policy in which the Arab landowners are so cynically wooed, coincides with a new attempt to consolidate British imperialism's hold over the whole of the Arab territories in the Near East. For not only has it just been decided to build the much discussed Oil Pipe Line from Baghdad to Haifa on the coast of Palestine, but a railway will also be built to run parallel to this pipe-line and will be extended from Haifa down the coast of Palestine to Port Fuad, a new town on the Suez Canal.

This railway, with the line already built from Baghdad to Basra on the Persian Gulf, will thus consolidate the whole of British Imperialism's possessions in the Near East from Egypt to Iraq. It will involve a tremendous menace to the, as yet, independent Arab kingdom of Nejd by its encirclement of that country. It will further endanger the precarious independence of Persia, menace the French mandate of Syria, and provide one more step in British Imperialism's much dreamed of land route to India. Thus it lays the seeds of future wars not only against the colonial peoples, not only against French imperialism, but is an open threat against the Soviet Union.

The tremendous outcry throughout the Zionist world which has greeted this hypocritical policy of the Labour Government reveals, however, another sinister factor. Zionism now proclaims that its headquarters will henceforth be in New York. In this way is laid bare one further reason for the Labour Government's policy. For American imperialism has used Zionism in the past as a means of penetration in the Near East. The Labour Government by this policy policy tries to check this destruction of its monopoly of exploitation in these Near Eastern countries. The empty protests of Conservative and Liberal politicians are merely manoeuvres to hide the reality of this fundamental Anglo-American rivalry and are an attempt to reclothe the empty form of "Palestine as a Jewish National Home," which has thus been so cynically laid bare by the Labour Government, because of its over-riding fear of an agrarian revolution in Palestine; for such a revolution would menace the rule of British Imperialism throughout the Near East. So great has been the outcry of the Zionists that in spite of this fear of revolution, the Labour Government has been forced to announce a modification of its apparently anti-Zionist policy.

The League Against Imperialism therefore calls on all British workers to give their wholehearted support to both the Jewish and Arab workers and peasants of Palestine and of all other Arab countries in the struggle for the overthrow of imperialist exploitation, and the establishment of real national independence. The League points out the danger of rank and file workers being misled into religious and racial strife by imperialist intrigue and by this new turn in policy of the imperialist Labour Government, which strengthens the position of the enemies of liberty.

The British Section of the League Against Imperialism therefore appeals to all its members and affiliated. organisations to work for:-

1. The withdrawal of all British armed forces from the Arab countries and from Egypt; the renunciation of the British mandate in Palestine, Transjordania and Iraq; complete national independence for all these peoples, with the formation of a federation of Arab States if desired.

2. A free Palestine with equal rights for all national minorities and based on the unity of the Arab and Jewish workers and peasants and full support for the agrarian revolt of these peoples against Imperialism.

3. Full political and trade union rights for Jewish and Arab workers and peasants.