The statement printed here was an editorial in the Hebrew language publication Kol Ham’amad (Voice of the Class) of the Revolutionary Communist League of Palestine, a section of the Fourth International.
The translation appeared in Fourth International in May 1948, the magazine of the SWP USA, led at that time by James P Cannon.
An editorial introduction denounced the UN partition plan for Palestine, “which stifles the rising tide of class struggle in Palestine, blurs class lines and creates an atmosphere of antagonistic ‘national unity’ in both of the national communities in Palestine.” Because of the “national hysteria in both camps”, the Communist Party of Palestine had split into two national sections.
Politicians and diplomats are still trying to find a formula for the disastrous situation into which Palestine has been plunged by the UNO deciding upon partition. Is this a “breach of international peace” or are we dealing with merely “hostile acts”? As far as we are concerned there is no point in this distinction. We are daily witnessing the killing or maiming of men and women, old and young, Jew or Arab. As always, the working masses and the poor suffer most.
Not so very long ago the Arab and Jewish workers were united in strikes against a foreign oppressor. This common struggle has been put to an end. Today the workers are being incited to kill each other. The inciters have succeeded.
“The British want to frustrate partition by means of Arab terrorism”, explain the Zionists. As if this communal strife were not the very instrument by which partition is brought about! It was easy for the imperialists to foresee that and well may they be satisfied with the course of events.
What axe have Bevin-Churchill to grind?
Britain was a loser in the last world war. She has lost the bulk of her foreign assets. Her industry is lagging behind. Building up her productive apparatus requires dollars and manpower.
“Keeping order” in Palestine costs England over 35 million pounds a year, an amount which exceeds the profit she can extort from this country. Partition will release her from her financial obligations, and enable her to employ her soldiers in the productive process while her source of income will remain intact. But this is not all. By partition a wedge is driven between the Arab and Jewish workers. The Zionist state with its provocative lines of demarcation will bring about the blossoming forth of irredentist (revenge) movements on either side, there will be fighting for an “Arab Palestine” and for a “Jewish state within the historic frontiers of Eretz Israel (Israel’s Land)”. As a result the chauvinistic atmosphere created thus will poison the Arab world in the Middle East and throttle the anti-imperialist fight of the masses, while Zionists and Arab feudalists will vie for imperialist favours.
The price Britain has to pay for the advantages gained by partition is to renounce her ruling monopoly in this country. On the other hand, Wall Street has to come out into the open and contribute its share toward the foul business of safeguarding imperialist positions. This, of course, blackens the “democratic” reputation of the dollar state while at the same time it adds to the prestige of Great Britain. Partition, therefore is a compromise between the imperialist robbers arising from a changed power constellation.
If the Anglo-American imperialists had forced this “solution” on Palestine of their own, the rotten game would have been patent in the whole Arab East. However, they dodged: the “problem” was passed on to the UNO. The function of the UNO was to sweeten the bitter dish cooked in the imperialist cuisine, dressing it, in Bevin’s words, with the twaddle of the “conscience of the world that has passed judgement”. Exactly. And the diplomats of the lesser countries danced to the tune of the dollar flute, reiterating the “public opinion of the world”. And the peculiar casts in this performance enabled Great Britain to appear as the Guardian Angel overflowing with sympathy for either side.
And the Soviet Union? Why did not her repsentatives call the UNO game the swindle it really is? Apparently the present policy of the SU is not concerned with the fighting of the colonial masses. And as the Palestine question is a second-rate affair for the “Big”, the Soviet diplomats saw fit to dwell upon what Stalin had said about “the Soviet Union being ready to meet America and Britain halfway, economic and social differences not withstanding”.
This is how the UNO has “solved” the Palestine problem. Yet it is the same unsavoury dish that has been set for India, Greece and Indochina.
What do Jews stand to gain by partition?
The Zionists were overcome with a sense of triumph when offered the bone by the UNO cooks. “Our world, our righteous case has been won... before the forum of the nations”.
The Zionists have been in the habit of asking “justice” from the enemies of the Jewish people ever since Herzl: from the Tsar, the German Kaiser, the British imperialists, Wall Street. Now they saw their chance. Wall Street is distributing loans and “political independence”. Of course, not for nothing. The price has to be paid in blood.
The Jewish state, this gift of Truman’s and Bevin’s, gives the capitalist economy of the Zionists a respite. This economy rests on very flimsy foundations. Its products cannot compete on the world market. Its only hope is the inner market from which the Arab goods are debarred. Thus the problem of a Jewish immigration has come to be a problem of live or die.
Who is going to foot the bill?
The workers and the poor. They will have to pay the stiff prices following the ban on Arab goods. They will break down under the yoke of numberless taxes, direct and indirect. They will have to cover the deficit of the Jewish state. They are living in the open, having no roof over their heads, while these institutions have “more important business” to attend to.
The Jewish worker having been separated from his Arab colleague and prevented from fighting a common class struggle will be at the mercy of his class enemies, imperialism and the Zionist bourgeoisie.
And what promises does the Jewish state hold out? Does it really mean a step toward the solution of the Jewish problem?
The partition was not meant to solve Jewish misery nor is it likely ever to do so. This dwarf of a state which is too small to absorb the Jewish masses cannot even solve the problems of its citizens. The Hebrew state can only infest the Arab East with anti-semitism and may well turn out — as Trotsky said — a bloody trap for hundreds of thousands of Jews.
Partition is grist in the mill of the
The leaders of the Arab League reacted to the decision on partition with speeches full of threats and enthusiasm. As a matter of fact, a Zionist state is to them a godsend from Allah. Calling up the worker and fellah for the “holy war to save Palestine” is supposed to stifle their cries for bread, land and freedom. Another time-honoured method of diverting an embittered people against the Jewish and communist danger.
In Palestine the feudal rule has of late begun to lose ground. During the war the Arab working class has grown in numbers and political consciousness. Jewish and Arab workers stood up against the foreign oppressor, against whom they together went on strikes. A strong leftist trade union had come into existence; and the “Workers’ Association of the Arabs of Palestine” had been well on the way of freeing itself from the influence of the Husseinis. The murder of its leader, Sami Taha, committed by the hirelings of the Arab High Committee, could not restrain this development. But where the Husseinis failed, the decision of the imperialist agency, the UNO, succeeded. The partition decision stifled the class struggle of the Palestine workers. The prospect of being in the hands of the Zionist “conquerors of soil and labour” is arousing fear and anxiety among the Arab workers and fellahs. Nationalist war slogans fall on fertile soil. And feudal murderers see their chance. Thus the policy of partition enables the feudalists to turn back the wheels of history.
A first summary
The early crop of partition policy: Jews and Arabs are drowned in a sea of chauvinist enthusiasm. Triumph on the one hand, rage and exasperation on the other. Communists are being murdered. Pogroms among Jews instigated. A tit for tat of murder and provocation. The “strafing expeditions” of the Haganah are oil for the propaganda machine of the Arab patriots in their campaign to enlist the masses for more bloodshed. The military conflict and the smashing to pieces of the workers’ movement are a boon to the chauvinist extremists in either camp.
What about the Jewish “communists”?
The patriotic wave makes sitting on the fence very uncomfortable. The Zionist “socialist” parties soon “corrected” their anti-imperialist phrases and stubborn “resistance” against “cutting up the country to pieces” and gave way to full and enthusiastic support for the imperialist partition policy. That was a trifling matter, a question of merely changing Zionist tactics.
Yet the Communist Party of Palestine might have been expected to take up a different position. Have they not repeatedly warned against the fatal results bound to come with the establishment of a Jewish state? “Partition must be disastrous for Jew and Arab alike... partition is an imperialist scheme intended to give the British rule a new lease on life ...” (evidence given by the PCP before the Anglo-American Commission of Enquiry on March 25, 1946). The secretary of the party loyally stuck to the UNO commission: “We refuse the partition scheme point blank, as this scheme is detrimental to the interests of the two peoples.” However after this scheme had been pulled off with the support of the Soviet representatives, Kol Ha’Am (the Stalinist central organ) hastened to declare that “democracy and justice have won the day(!)” And overnight there appeared a newly baptised party: the name Communist Party of Palestine was changed to Communist Party of Eretz Israel (Communist Party of the Hebrew Land). Thus even the last vestige of contact with the Arab population was broken off. The gap that still separated them from Zionism was finally bridged. Instead of being the vanguard of the anti-imperialist struggle of the Arab and Jewish masses, the Palestine Communist Party became the “Communist” tail of the “left” Zionists. Precisely in an hour when Zionism shows to everyone its counter-revolutionary face, its blatant servility to imperialism. Thus the Communist Party itself held up all its former exposure of imperialist and Zionist deceptions to ridicule.
Why have they gone bankrupt?
The policy of the Palestine Communist Party lacks any continuous line. The policy of the PCP reflects both the needs deriving from the class war of the Jewish worker in Palestine and the needs of Soviet foreign policy. The needs of class war, however, required a consistent international policy, the negation of Zionism, of its discrimination between Arab and Jew. On the other hand the need to adjust the party line to the diplomatic manoeuvres of the Soviet Union calls for an “elastic” policy, one that lacks backbone. As a result we find the notorious shilly shallying and zig-zagging which has the PCP now to the Zionist wagon. The fifth wheel!
And the Arab “communists”?
The Arab Stalinists, the “National Liberation League”, did not fare better than their Jewish counterparts. They were in a pretty fix having to justify the Russian support of the Jewish state. The Arab workers could not be expected to accept this line. Not by a long shot. They knew the meddling of Soviet diplomacy for what it was: breaking up the Palestinian workers’ unity and a treacherous blow. After the pro-partition declaration of Zarapkin, the National Liberation people found themselves surrounded by scorn and hostility.
At present, the National Liberation League stands for peace and it is busy exposing the provocative role played by the British government. But since it had cried out for “national unity” (with the feudal Husseinis, the present war instigators during the past years), its present attitude fails to convince. The two camps today mobilise the masses under the mask of “self defence”. “We have been attacked, let us defend ourselves!” say the Zionists. “Let us ward off the danger of a Jewish conquest!” declare the Arab Higher Committee. Where does the truth lie?
War is the continuation of politics by other means. The war led by the Arab feudalists is but the continuation of their reactionary war on the worker and the fellah who are striving to shake off oppression and exploitation. For the feudal effendis “Salvation of Palestine” means safeguarding their revenues at the expense of the fellahin, maintaining their autocratic rule in town and country, smashing the proletarian organisations and international class solidarity.
The war waged by the Zionists is the continuation of their expansionist policy based on discrimination between the two peoples: they defend kibbush avoda (ousting of Arab labour), kibbush adama (ousting of the fellah), boycott of Arab goods, “Hebrew rule”. The military conflict is a direct result of the policy of the Zionist conquerors.
This war can not on either side be said to bear a progressive character. The war does not release progressive forces or do away with social and economic obstacles in the path of development of the two nations. Quite the opposite is true. It is apt to obscure the class antagonism and to open the gate for nationalist excesses. It weakens the proletariat and strengthens imperialism in both camps.
Each side is “anti-imperialist” to the bone, busy detecting the reactionary — in the opposite camp. And imperialism is always seen — helping the other side. But this kind of exposure is oil on the imperialist fire. For the inveigling policy of imperialism is based upon agents and agencies within both camps. Therefore we say to the Palestine people in reply to the patriotic warmongers: make this war between Jews and Arabs, which serves the end of imperialism, the common war of both nations against imperialism!
This is the only solution guaranteeing a real peace. This must be our goal which must be achieved without concessions to the chauvinist mood prevailing at present among the masses.
How can that be done?
“The main enemy is in our own country!” — this was what Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg had to say to the workers when imperialists and social democrats were inciting them to the slaughter of their fellow workers in other countries. In this spirit we say to the Jewish and Arab workers: the enemy is in your own camp!
Jewish workers! Get rid of the Zionist provocateurs who tell you to sacrifice yourself on the altar of the Hebrew state.
Arab worker and fellah! Get rid of the chauvinist provocateurs who are getting you into a mess of blood for their own sake and pocket.
Workers of the two people, unite in a common front against imperialism and its agents!
The problem worrying all in these days is the problem of security. Jewish workers ask: “How to protect our lives? Should we not support the ‘Haganah’?” And the Arab workers and fellahin ask: “Ought we not to join the ‘Najad’ or ‘Futuwah’ to defend ourselves against the Zionists’ attacks?
A distinction must be made between the practical and the political sides of this question. We cannot thwart mobilisation and do not therefore tell workers to refuse to mobilise. But it is our duty to denounce the reactionary character of the chauvinist organisations, seen in their own house. The only way to peace between the two peoples of this country is turning the guns against the instigators of murder in both camps.
Instead of abstract “anti-imperialist” phrases of the social-patriots which cover up their servility to imperialism, we are showing a practical way to fight against the foreign oppressor: masking its local agents, undermining their influence; so that the Arab worker and fellah will understand that the military campaign against the Jews helps to bring about partition and helps only the feudalists and imperialists, while it is fought on his back and paid for by his blood; so that the Jewish worker recognises at last the illusion of Zionism and understands that he will not be free and safe as long as he has not done away with national discrimination, isolationism and imperialist loyalty.
We have to keep up contact between the workers of both peoples at whatever place of work that this can still be done in order to prevent provocative acts and to safeguard the lives of the workers and on the roads. Let us form revolutionary cadres. In this burning hell of chauvinism we have to hold up the banner of international brotherhood.