The Call

Jewish Social-Democrats and Zionism

Source: The Call, 27 June 1918, p. 3 (785 words)
Transcribed: Ted Crawford
HTML Markup: Chris Clayton
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2007). 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.

We have received the following statement from the Jewish Social-Democratic Organisation (B.S.P.):—

Since the publication of the War aims of the Labour Party, statements have appeared from time to time in the Socialist and Labour Press on. Zionism and the Jewish question which display a total ignorance of the facts of the situation and call for their elucidation.

1. The so-called Jewish Socialist Labour Party, “Poali Zion,” have no right to speak on behalf of organised Jewish labour, either in this country or any other. Here in England they represent no one but themselves, a body as small in numbers as they are in influence on the Jewish labouring population, They have never been authorised by the Jewish Trade Unions to speak on their behalf, and, if anything, these Unions are indifferent or even hostile to Zionism.

2. The same thing applies to America, where the organised Jewish Labour and Socialist movement (which is very powerful numerically, financially and in the influence it exerts upon labour conditions) has repudiated Zionism as a solution of the Jewish question.

3. But after all it was in Russia, and in the old Russia of the Czar, that there mainly was a Jewish question, and there, even before the revolution, the organised Jewish Labour and Socialist movement, the “Bund,” has repudiated Zionism root and branch. Indeed, the Zionist movement was always a petty bourgeoise movement, a movement among the small middle classes.

4. It will be seen therefore that the organised Jewish Socialist and Labour movement is everywhere opposed to Zionism—and for a simple reason. It is because Zionism cannot solve the Jewish question, if the question be viewed from a working-class standpoint. The emancipation of the working class can only be effected by the workers themselves, and in the country where they work and have their being. Now, what the. Jewish workers require is to be placed on a par of equality of citizenship and rights in the widest sense in the countries where they happen to reside, and where they do so in large masses, such as Russia, Roumania, America, and elsewhere, they demand not only political and civic rights, but also the right, if they so desire, to use their own language in the schools, in courts of law and other legislative and administrative institutions. To attain these objects Zionism is not necessary and is indeed harmful, inasmuch as it this movement were to obtain success among the Jewish masses it would tend to turn the attention of the workers from their economic and political struggles for the emancipation of their class into the paths of a petty and narrow nationalism and chauvinism.

5. Moreover, the experience of Belgium, Serbia, Greece and Ireland has shown how precarious is the existence and independence of the small states and nationalities, even where, as in the first three instances they were presumed to be sovereign. This experience is not such as would encourage the Jewish workers to try and establish a state of their own were this even feasible, which it is not. And it is not feasible because Palestine is not large enough to maintain the thirteen million Jews, and it is quite chimerical to imagine that these millions of Jews would or could break with the ties which bind them to the countries where they have lived and worked for generations and generations in order to emigrate to a country where they would find a civilisation and a climate which would be altogether uncongenial to their habits and the mode of living to which they have been used all their life. The Zionist movement is all the more impossible and ludicrous in Russia where the Jews, in common with all the rest of the nations resident therein, have at last found their emancipation from their common yoke of Czarism, and where the Jewish workers are eager to help in the building up of that great Republic.

6. Finally, on the grounds of the first principles of democracy, the Socialist movement must oppose the formation of a Jewish State in Palestine. In Palestine the Jews form an insignificant proportion of the population which mainly is Arabian, and which would bitterly and rightfully resent and fight against the robbery of their land. Let Palestine be free to determine its own fate and let it have its independence by all means, but it would be then an Arabian and not a Jewish State.

The Socialist movement will support, of course, the freedom of colonisation in and immigration into Palestine for the Jews, but this it supports not only for the Jews but for all nationalities, and not only in Palestine but in all countries.