‘The Arab-Jewish War in Palestine’

Trotskyists’ 1948 declaration re: founding of Zionist state

The following editorial appeared in the 31 May 1948 issue of the Militant, published by the Socialist Workers Party (US) led by James P. Cannon. At that time the Militant was the leading organ of the Fourth International, founded a decade earlier by Leon Trotsky.

The present big-power intrigues and shifty maneuvers in the UN on Palestine reflect the sharp rift between British and American imperialism on this issue.

The British position in the Near East is steadily weakening as a reflection of the general disintegration of the British Empire and the bankruptcy of British capitalism. Unable to utilize the Jews as in the past, the British are now throwing their support behind the feudal princeling rulers of the Arab states in an attempt to strengthen British imperial bases and influence in the Near East. Wall Street imperialism, on the other hand, anxious to extend its hold in this key section of the globe and dislodge British supremacy, is seeking to utilize the Jews as a catspaw of its imperialist designs.

The present Jewish-Arab war, far from enhancing reactionary Zionism or imparting to it a progressive mission, exposes in glaring manner that the program of a Jewish state in Palestine and the Jewish war for this end –is reactionary and bankrupt from beginning to end. Zionism, far from solving Jewish difficulties, threatens to provoke new pogroms against the Jews and involve them in new calamities. Zionism and the tiny Jewish state must inevitably become a tool of American imperialism and the agency to facilitate the entrance of the Wall Street brigands into the Near East. Furthermore, it is precisely Zionism, which constantly solidifies the position of the reactionary Arab rulers, and enables them to pervert the social struggle in their own countries into a communal struggle between the Arab and Jewish peoples. As an example, the reactionary regime of King Farouk of Egypt, badly shaken at home and facing rising working class opposition, was able to consolidate itself and smother its class opponents by diverting attention to its military adventure against the Zionist state. Thus Zionism, which for 40 years has posed as the savior of the Jewish masses, has in reality brought them to a dead end.

Haven’t the Jewish people the right to self-determination and statehood as other peoples? Yes–but even if we abstract this question from this aforementioned social reality, the fact remains they cannot carve out a state at the expense of the national rights of the Arab peoples. This is not self-determination, but conquest of another people’s territory.

For these reasons the Zionist promulgation of a Jewish state and its war to maintain this state against Arab opposition is reactionary and cannot be supported by the socialist movement.

Neither are the Arab rulers conducting a progressive struggle for national independence and against imperialism. They are, by their anti-Jewish war, trying to divert the struggle against imperialism, and utilizing the aspirations of the Arab masses for national freedom, to smother the social opposition to their tyrannical rule. That is why their war against the Jewish state lacks the progressive characteristics of a national war against imperialism and does not deserve the support of the class conscious workers.

These facts must be pointed out to the peoples involved. The most farsighted elements have the duty of turning their respective peoples away from this fratricidal struggle–of benefit only to the imperialists and their agents. The only solution for Palestine is the joining of forces of the two peoples for the calling of a Constituent Assembly and the setting up by democratic decision an independent Palestinian state, and the organization of a struggle to oust all the imperialists.

The socialist forces in the U.S. and throughout the world must at the same time redouble their efforts to have the broad labor movement take up the fight to open the doors of the U.S., Britain and elsewhere to the victims of Hitlerism.

The achievement of these tasks are surely fraught with great difficulty. But there are no shortcuts in solving the Jewish problem.

Chauvinism and reliance upon the imperialists will only lead to greater disasters and slaughter. The tortured Jewish masses can solve their problems only by forging an alliance with the labor and socialist movements–not in deals and maneuvers with the imperialists.