The Stalinist roots of left "anti-Zionism" 1

Submitted by AWL on 24 February, 2004 - 2:35 Author: Stan Crooke

By Stan Crooke
In the 1970s the rulers of the USSR launched a sustained 'anti-Zionist' campaign, in fact anti-semitic.

No surprise. But an examination of the publications from that campaign shows something much more shocking than the fact that the old Stalinist despots were ready to use any sort of reactionary prejudice for their own ends. It demonstrates that much of what many British and international leftists - even Trotskyists - say about Israel is an indirect and unwitting copy of the Stalinists' efforts at constructing a Marxist-sounding gloss on old anti-semitic themes.
Zionism equals racism; Zionism equals imperialism; Zionism equals South African apartheid; Israel is the USA's 'watchdog' in the Middle East; Zionism is complicit with, or even promotes, anti-semitism - all these themes, now commonplace on the left, were pioneered by the Stalinists.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s the Stalinists had had an 'anti-Zionist' campaign which figured prominently in the show-trials of Rudolf Slansky and others in Eastern Europe in these years. Mordekhai Oren quotes the following interchange with the prosecutor at his own trial:

"Would you be ready to confess that in 1948, after Tito's betrayal, you met Moshe Pijade as well as Dr. Bebler in Belgrade?"

"I didn't meet Pijade in 1948, and even if I had, that would have been no crime. Nor was it a crime to meet Bebler."

"He's a Jew, and you too, and both of you are Zionists."1

By 1953 the stage had been set for the mass deportation of the surviving Jews of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe; an anti-semitic show-trial was due to be staged, in which five Jewish doctors from the Kremlin's own hospital were to face charges of poisoning and plotting. As with the Crimean Tatars after the war, such a mass deportation would have cost the lives of countless tens of thousands. Stalin died before the trial could be held and his successors dropped it.

In the late 1960s a new official 'anti-Zionist' campaign was launched in the Soviet Union, in the aftermath of Israel's victory in the Six Days' War over Arab states friendly to the Soviet Union. It increased in the 1970s, as Israel inflicted another defeat on Arab states in the Yom Kippur War of 1973 and Jewish organisations internationally stepped up their campaign for Soviet Jews.

II

The core of the Stalinist argument was their old technique of 'the amalgam'. Zionism, so the Stalinists claimed, was tied up with, allied to, linked with, or responsible for, every reactionary force that right-minded people might detest - capitalism, imperialism, even anti-semitism and Nazism.

"Political Zionism emerged at the close of the nineteenth century as the ideology, and then the practice, of the reactionary Jewish bourgeoisie, fearful of the awakening of the heroic self-consciousness amongst the Jewish proletariat"2. Jewish workers in European countries were participating ever more actively in the class struggle and revolutionary movements. Hence, "to tear them away from this struggle, to confined them to a new but this time spiritual ghetto - such as the social instruction given to Zionism by the bourgeoisie which created it"3.

The creation of a national home for Jews was the means whereby Jewish-bourgeois hegemony over Jewish workers was to be maintained. "The powerful Jewish bourgeoisie, allied with imperialism, needed the creation of a 'national home'... first and foremost in order to keep under its influence the mass of Jewish workers"4.

Moreover: "In the West Jewish capital became such a powerful force that it was able to participate independently in the colonial division of the world"5.

In another version, Jewish capital was maybe not able to compete independently with the biggest capitalist powers. But it was nevertheless a central agent of theirs - indeed, miraculously, simultaneously a central agent of all the competing powers!

"The capitalists of England, the USA, France, Germany, and other countries, amongst them millionaires and multi-millionaires of Jewish origin, who had their eyes on the wealth of the Near East, helped the creation of the Zionist idea. From the very outset it was linked with the project of the establishment in Palestine of a Jewish state as a Jewish fortress, a barrier against Asia."6.

"It is claimed" - so the Stalinists admitted, "that Zionism is nothing but a reaction against anti-semitism."7 But only 'Zionist ideologues' could suggest that. For the Stalinists, it was not the anti-semites but the Zionists who exploited the notorious Dreyfus affair of anti-semitic persecution in late 19th century France. "The Dreyfus affair was used by the Jewish bourgeoisie of Western Europe for the consolidation of nationalist political forces in the united World Zionist Organisation, set up in 1897 in Basle."8

According to the Stalinists: "Zionism and anti-semitism are two sides of the same coin - racism. Zionists greeted the anti-semitic policies of Tsarism in its time and also the monstrous policies of genocide at the time of Hitler."9

Indeed, so the Stalinists claimed: "Zionist ideologues have never concealed their positive attitude towards anti-semitism, in which the powerful Jewish bourgeoisie and Judaic clericalism saw a convenient way of maintaining their influence over the Jewish communities"10. Anti-Semitism is "a form of national and religious intolerance which expresses itself in a hostile attitude towards Jews," but at the same time, "this reactionary, antihuman phenomenon has been used (and still is used today) in a speculative manner by Zionists and rabbis as a bugaboo with the help of which it was intended to achieve a consolidation of the crumbling Jewish communities."11

Thus, the Jewish bourgeoisie and its ideologues have shown, and continue to show today, "great interest in the existence of anti-semitic attitudes, in the whipping up of anti-semitism at the level of state policies"12. The idea that Zionism was a response to anti-semitism had gained ground merely because of the "efforts of the Jewish bourgeoisie and of the press which it has bought"13.

In Russia, the Zionists "covertly did their utmost in cooperation with reactionary monarchists to tear away workers of Jewish nationality from unity with the workers of Russia."14 Such was the relationship between Zionism and Tsarism that "[the Zionist leader] Herzl himself met with the Tsarist Minister of the Interior, von Plehve"15. (That the meeting caused outrage, and nearly led to a split, in the Zionist movement in Russia, was not mentioned).

Then Zionist 'anti-Soviet activities' began - in the very first days of the existence of Soviet power - 16. In the civil war "they acted as allies of the counter-revolution... They created Zionist military units which conducted an armed struggle against the Soviet republic"17. No mention of the Zionist units which fought in the Red Army alongside the Bolsheviks.

The Soviet 'anti-Zionist' campaign moved on to accuse Zionists of not merely using or welcoming, but actively promoting anti-semitism, financing anti-semitic organisations, and inciting anti-semitic pogroms:

"In 1930, at the time of a crisis in the United States, there emerged more than a hundred organisations, the time and resources of which were spent on propaganda of hatred towards Jews. (It is important to note that many of them were covertly financed by secret Zionist funds)".18

In the late 1940s and early 1950s: "Secret agents of Zionism whipped up feelings of fear amongst the Jews of Syria, Libya, Tunisia, the Lebanon, Algeria, Morocco, and Egypt, from where entire city communities departed [for Israel]... In the course of several years Zionists stoked up and provoked in every way possible 'useful anti-semitic activities' which helped promote the mass exit of hundreds of thousands of believers in Judaism from Arabic countries."19

Zionists did bomb a synagogue in Iraq to promote Jewish emigration; but the Stalinist campaign extrapolated from such episodes to present the whole wave of anti-Jewish persecution in the Arab countries which followed 1948 as a conspiracy by Zionists.

In Western Europe: "As early as 1950 hatred towards Jews was already very widespread in the West. The powerful Jewish bourgeoisie was far from being the least responsible for this. The many anti-semitic organisations which it created, the state machines in a series of imperialist countries which bowed down before powerful [read: Jewish] capital, and, finally, the ruling Zionist camarilla of Israel used anti-semitism in their class interests."20

And in the 1970s: "The propaganda of anti-semitic views in many capitalist states has kept its importance as a tool of reaction... The Jewish bourgeoisie itself and the many groups and parties which it has created in the service of powerful capital play their role in this... Anti-semitic organisations have been set up with the resources dispensed from the secret funds of Zionism."21

These (unspecified) anti-semitic organisations then became a further means whereby the Zionists could maintain their influence over Jewish communities: "These organisations committed provocative actions, the object of which were poor Jews and the Jewish middle strata. The highest stratum of the Jewish bourgeoisie, the finance and finance-industrial magnates, who constitute the core and the leadership of the entire system of international Zionism... had the possibility of presenting themselves as the 'sole defenders' of the Jewish population... and of demonstrating on more than one occasion 'Jewish solidarity' with the victims of anti-semitism."22

III

The USSR's 'anti-Zionist' campaign took shreds of fact about some Zionists resigning themselves to accept European anti-semitism as a reality they could not change, and blew them up into a conspiracy theory. It went on to blame 'the Zionists' even for the Nazi Holocaust.

"The Zionists welcomed the arrival in power of the fascists in Germany."23 "What saved the Zionists? Fascism! It sounds paradoxical, but it was exactly thus."24 The Zionists wanted Jews to leave Germany, and so too did the Nazis: "The plans of the fascist and Zionist leaders coincided: the fascists planned to drive the Jews out of German 'living space', and the Zionists wanted to realise their goal at the expense of those Jews driven out."25

"We know that Zionism always saw in anti-semitism an ally in the achievement of its goals. It was no coincidence that a mutual understanding emerged between the Nazis, who horribly persecuted Jews, and the Zionists, who played the role of 'saviours' of the Jews."26 Hence it came about that Zionists "co-operated with Hitlerites and helped them to destroy millions of Jewish lives, attempting to save only the capitalists. The Zionists always regarded anti-semitism, and still do so, as an important means of forcing all Jews to leave their countries and escape to the 'Promised Land' in Israel".27

There was, moreover, an overlap between the theories of Zionism and fascism: "As regards the theory of 'racial purity', the treatises on 'lower' and 'higher' peoples, the concepts of the 'Aryan' and the 'superman', here there is really not a little in common between the Zionists and the fascists."28 The theories of various 'Zionist ideologues' did not differ "at all from the views on racial exclusiveness to be found in the 'collected works' of Hitler, Rosenberg, and other fascist theoreticians."29 "Zionism is akin to Nazism"30 because "the ideologues of Zionism and apartheid are related to it (Nazism), (and) are merely contemporary variations of the myth about the supposedly innate inequality of people and races"31.

Thus it was that Zionism and fascism ended up collaborating with one another: "The monstrous plans of the fascist animals, based on the inhuman and racist ideology of Hitlerism, met with the cooperation and support of other racists - Zionists."32 "Co-operation between the Zionists and Hitlerites spread to the occupied territories of the USSR. The Zionists helped uncover those of Jewish origin who were hiding from the Gestapo and the police, handed them over to the fascists, and took part in the mass slaughter of Jews."33 "It has become known that Polish Zionists who have now fled to Israel worked side-by-side with the Gestapo and the Nazi military intelligence service during the war."34

Writing as if 'the Zionists' were not Jews themselves, many of them fated to be killed by the Nazis, the Stalinists stated that 'the Zionists' were not concerned about the fate of Jews living (and dying) in Germany under Nazi rule: "The Zionists were completely unconcerned with the interests of the German Jews."35 The fate of the Jews in Nazi Germany "did not at all alarm the Zionists during the years of the war against fascism. And this in a situation where the Jews were the victims of atrocious terror and persecution."36 For the Zionists, creating a Jewish homeland in Palestine was more important than saving Jewish lives: "The Zionists reconciled themselves to the camps and the ghettos, to the extermination of millions of Jews... The Zionists needed the corpses of these Jews because across them lay the road out of the occupied countries and into Palestine. The Jews who were allowed to be victims of fascism were 'proof'... of the necessity of the creation of a Jewish state."37 The attitude of the Zionists was: "let millions (of Jews) drown in blood if there remains one road open for hundreds of thousands-to Palestine."38

The only Jews whom the Zionists were concerned to save from fascism were the wealthy - they cared nothing for German Jews "with the exception of German Jew capitalists, who, as soon as Hitler came to power, transferred their capital to Swiss and German banks."39

The Zionists were prepared to let the weak go to their deaths so that only the strong would be left to inhabit Israel: "With the assistance of the Nazis, the so-called 'selection' of the settlers was achieved, the citizens of the future Israel. 'The dust of the old world' was turned into ashes of the concentration camps."40

Without the assistance of the Zionists, the Nazis could not have carried out their extermination programme: "Could the fascists have managed without their Zionist assistants? This question can be answered only by clarifying the role of the Zionist leaders in the extermination of the Jews of Europe. Their assistance gave the fascists the possibility of exterminating hundreds of thousands of Jews at the hands of dozens or a few hundred selected killers."41

"The Judenrate [Jewish councils] sincerely and exactly carried out all the orders of the fascists, even orders about the physical mass elimination of the Jewish population... In the shape of the Judenrate the activities of the Zionists were legalised and their leaders became loyal executors of fascist policies."42

The Zionists also attempted to prevent any opposition to the Nazi policies: "Wherever the inhabitants of the ghettos who were condemned to death succeeded in organising uprisings against the fascists, especially in Warsaw in 1943, the Zionists helped the Germans frustrate the uprisings, or crush them where they occurred"43. In fact the Warsaw uprising was led by a Zionist!

The central message of the Soviet 'anti-Zionist' campaign in relation to the alleged Zionist-Nazi collaboration was clear: "The Zionist crimes in the ghettos and the death camps must be completely uncovered, so that it can be recognised at what price it was that the state of Israel was created... That the state of Israel was created by hands warmed in Jewish blood is indisputable."44

Part Two and footnotes.