Trotskyists and the creation of Israel: Workers' Liberty 3/13

The Trotskyists and the Creation of Israel: Nine Key Documents, 1929-1948 (Workers' Liberty 3/13)

Published on: Sun, 05/08/2007 - 00:56

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Hal Draper
The Fourth International,
The Revolutionary Communist League of Palestine,
Max Shachtman.
Debate: Albert Glotzer and Ernest Mandel

Most “Trotskyists” today are, everywhere, agitators and propagandists against the Jewish state of Israel, “demanding” that Israel should cease to exist. This political attitude is far from the politics of the international Trotskyist movement on this question in the 1920s,‘30s and ‘40s when Israel was established, as these documents show. The 1947 debate between Albert Glotzer and Ernest Mandel is especially important.


The Trotskyists and the creation of Israel: Introduction

Published on: Tue, 24/07/2007 - 16:38

Most “Trotskyists” today are, everywhere, agitators and propagandists against the Jewish state of Israel. Not agitators for the view that Israel should change its relationship with the Palestinians, or that it should help set up an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel. No. The agitation and propaganda centres on the “demand” that Israel should cease to exist.

In war they have sided with the Arab states — Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Jordan —in the hope and expectation that, victorious, they would put an end to Israel. At the start of the 21st century they back the medieval-minded forces of

Document 1. Fourth International statement: Draft Theses on the Jewish Question

Published on: Tue, 24/07/2007 - 16:37

These Draft Theses were produced by the International Secretariat of the Fourth International in January 1947, and probably written by Ernest Mandel. The first part summarises the historical analyses of Jewry and anti-semitism developed by Abram Leon in his book The Jewish Question, and assesses Zionism and anti-semitism in 1946-7.

Forty years of hindsight reveal many flaws in the document. It underestimates capitalism’s ability to revive; it overestimates the force of Arab nationalism; it underestimates the strength of the Zionist drive for a Jewish state. But on many questions of basic

Document 2. Revolutionary Communist League of Palestine: Partition in Palestine

Published on: Tue, 24/07/2007 - 16:36

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.”

Hal Draper on Israel, 1948: War of independence or expansion?

Published on: Tue, 24/07/2007 - 16:34

Hal Draper

Editorial from the US Marxist newspaper Labor Action. "War of Independence or Expansion? appeared on 24 and 31 May 1948, soon after Israel’s declaration of independence.

All UN roads lead to war. This is again being demonstrated in Palestine. The UN, set up with fanfare to bring peace to the world, is again showing that it cannot prevent or halt war even by fifth-rate powers, such as the states of the Middle East - let alone by the major warmakers who control its deliberations.

Cannot? The Anglo-American leadership of the UN has proved that it has no wish to do so. If the US and Britain had

Document 4. Palestinian Trotskyists January 1948: Against all chauvinism

Published on: Tue, 24/07/2007 - 16:33

The following document was issued by the Palestinian Trotskyists in 1948. When the left today writes or speaks about the 1948 Israeli-Arab war, it is a story of anti-Arab atrocities by the Jews, and no more. The clear implication is that the Arab side deserved support, whatever the faults of its leadership.

Marxists in 1948 saw it quite differently. Some Trotskyists internationally backed the Jews; the Trotskyists in Palestine itself condemned both sides as chauvinist. They could all see that the Arab forces were led by corrupt feudalists, mainipulted by British imperialism and engaged in a

Document 5. Ernest Mandel: The Jewish Question since World War Two

Published on: Tue, 24/07/2007 - 16:30

The Jewish question since World War Two
By Ernest Mandel (“Germain”)

[The following article is the concluding chapter written by Mandel for the book The Materialist Conception of the Jewish Question, by A Leon. This book was completed in December 1942. A Leon, the author, was the national secretary of the Belgian Trotskyist party. The Gestapo arrested him in June 1944 and he died a martyr's death in the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz.]

Years of incessant persecution and indescribable humiliation, the life of hunted beasts as the "normal" form of existence, deportations, "death trains,"

Document 6. Al Glotzer's reply to Mandel: The Jewish problem after Hitler

Published on: Tue, 24/07/2007 - 16:29

The Jewish Problem after Hitler

"What is obvious is not always known,
And what is known is not always present."

The reaction of the official Fourth Internationalist organizations to the Jewish question and the problem of Palestine in the new situation produced by Hitlerism and the war is a measure of their Incapacity to free themselves from outlived theories and political positions. This results in a dreary reaffirmation of old ideas and programs accompanied by the repetitious explanation that "there is no reason to change our position" since "there is nothing new in the

Document 7. Socialist Appeal June 1939: The anti-Jewish terrorism of the CP of Palestine

Published on: Tue, 24/07/2007 - 16:28

In 1936 the Communist Party of the USA sent the editor, Malech Epstein, of its Yiddish language paper, Freiheit, to Palestine to report on the Arab-Jewish conflict there. When Epstein broke with the Communist Party a couple of years later, he published an account of his experience in Palestine. He found that the Communist Party of Palestine supported, and sent some of it's members, Jewish as well as Arab, to participate in terrorist attacks on Jews. This summary of his report appeared in the paper of the SWP USA, Socialist Appeal, in june 1939. It was unsigned, but was most likely written by

Palestine 1929: Pogrom or revolution?

Published on: Tue, 24/07/2007 - 16:27

Max Shachtman

This article expressed the response of the American Trotskyists to the historic turn of the Stalinist Comintern to a new type of “anti-Zionism”. It was the beginning of a new departure whose consequences are today most noticeable in the ostensible Trotskyist movement.

For more on what the Trotskyists said in the 1930s and 40s, see Workers' Liberty 3/13: Trotskyists and the creation of Israel.
The Communist League of America regarded itself as an expelled faction of the Communist Party of America. Shachtman’s “solidarity” with the party and efforts to influence its members and

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