Saturday, November 24, 2012


Before I write another word, I want to say "I am not a Trotskyite."  This does not mean that I think being one is the end of the world as we know it. Trotsky was Trotsky and Trots are Trots and they aren't all that much wackier then the rest of the vanguard party world in my book.

Okay, that said, I am doing something a little different for Theoretical Weekends here at Scission today.  I am going to present a series of writings by a small and little know Trotskyist  group that existed in Palestine back in the day.  The name of the group was the Revolutionary Communist League (RCL) or 'Brit Kommunistim Mahapchanin.'   Since I don't know much more about it then you, I will steal this description from The Internationalist.

In Palestine a small Trotskyist nucleus came together in the late 1930s. According to a German-language manuscript written by Jakob Taut, a German Jewish former member of Heinrich Brandler’s KPO (Communist Party Opposition–the Right Opposition to Stalinism), several KPOers were won over to Trotskyist political positions after emigrating to Palestine.

However, they were relatively isolated from the general population. A second component came from a group of youth organized in the Chugim Marxistiim (Marxist Circles), the youth section of a wing of Left Poale Zion, which at the time was linked to the centrist London Bureau. These youth had evolved toward Trotskyist positions on their own and did not completely overcome their Zionism until the outbreak of World War II. A third component consisted of elements coming from the left Zionist kibbutz movement, Hashomer Hatzair. Later, in the 1940s, they were joined by Jabra Nicola, an Arab Communist who broke with Stalinism over the Hitler-Stalin pact.

Together they formed the Brit Kommunistim Mahapchanin (Revolutionary Communist League, RCL), which periodically put out a hectographed newspaper, Kol Hama’amad (Voice of the Class). For a time this was interrupted due to arrests of key comrades by the British police. According to Taut: “The ‘Brit’ rejected the creation of a Jewish state because it could only be part of this decaying [capitalist] system and would only sharpen the Jewish question. Moreover, such a state could only come about through the expulsion of the original Arab population.” The RCL emphasized:

“By its very nature, Zionist colonization was from the outset necessarily bound up with the interests of imperialism which are directed against the indigenous masses. Zionist colonization could only be carried out in the closest agreement with the interests and help of one or several great powers.”

The Palestinian Trotskyists paid particular attention to the working class, especially the way in which the Zionists segregated the workforce: “The Zionists pushed Arab workers out of their economic sector and drove Arab products off the market in order to create a Jewish-capitalist sector as a forerunner of the Zionist state. The Jewish working class was thereby totally isolated from the Arab population…. The so-called trade union (the Histadrut), which greatly  contributed to both, was no real labor movement but rather a giant economic trust serving Zionism, which among other things included a ‘union’ department.” The RCL sought to build a united revolutionary socialist party that would integrate Jewish workers in the anti-imperialist and socialist struggle of the Arab East. “During and after the world war, the League…frequently intervened with leaflets in the struggles in the British military camps, in the railway and oil companies – i.e., it concentrated on those enterprises where Jews and Arabs together were exploited by British capital.”

An example was during the April 1946 general strike of Arab and Jewish employees of the Palestinian Mandate government which included railway, postal, port and administrative workers. The RCL distributed a leaflet in Arabic and Hebrew among the strikers, pointing out that British imperialism feared that the strikes and demonstrations could have a resounding effect in neighboring countries, such as Egypt, where large-scale anti-British strikes were underway.

The tiny Palestinian Trotskyist group did not have the weight to extend the common struggles of Hebrew and Arab workers. Nevertheless, the RCL courageously opposed the UN-ordered partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab sections. While the Stalinists treacherously helped found the Zionist state, providing the Czech weapons (paid for with American dollars) that were used to terrorize the Arab population, the Trotskyists defended the rights of the Arab refugees and continued to fight for a “United Socialist Arab East.” A resolution of the Palestinian Trotskyists from May 1948, printed below, took a fundamentally correct line of revolutionary defeatism on both sides in the Arab-Israel war, pointing out that the Arab bourgeois states as well as the Zionist state were carving up the living body of the Palestinian Arab people.

The May 1948 RCL resolution has a significant weakness that should be commented on: while rightly calling for “Workers of the two peoples, unite in a common front against imperialism and its agents!” it also demands: “Make this war between Jews and Arabs, which serves the end of imperialism, the common war of both nations against imperialism.” This poses an “anti-imperialist struggle” on a national rather than aclass basis, as if the Hebrew nation as a whole together with the Arab nation including the effendis and kings could join in opposition to the imperialists.

The RCL’s principal slogan for a “United Socialist Arab East” posed a proletarian fight to overthrow capitalism, rather than an “anti-imperialist” struggle on a purely “democratic” – i.e., bourgeois – basis, reflecting the Trotskyist program of permanent revolution.This program is doubly necessary in a situation such as Palestine, where two nations inhabit the same territory, and thus find their democratic rights to self-determination sharply counterposed. There was and is no basis for the Hebrew and Palestinian Arab nations to join in common anti-imperialist struggle on the basis of capitalist rule. Nor can the Zionist “Jewish state” of Israel be transformed into a democratic state with equal rights for Palestinian Arabs. An equitable realization of the right to national self-determination in this situation of interpenetrated peoples is only conceivable through common revolutionary class struggle by the Hebrew and Arab workers for international socialist revolution. Today the League for the Fourth International calls for an Arab-Hebrew workers republic in Israel/Palestine as part of a socialist federation of the Near East. In this region, a historic crossroads of humanity where virtually every existing state has deeply mixed populations, such revolutions must be led by multiethnic revolutionary workers parties built in the fight to reforge a Trotskyist Fourth International.

Now that we have that out of the way, I am ready to post several writings of the RCL on the whole question of Palestine. There is a whole bunch here.   I hope it leaves you with something to think about today.

Against Partition!
(September 1947)

Originally published in Hebrew in Kol Ham’amad (The Voice of the Class), No. 31, September 1947
This was published by the Revolutionary Communist League – Palestinian Section of the Fourth International
Translated from the Hebrew by the Socialist Workers League (Palestine), August 20, 2001
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for REDS – Die Roten.

The members of the UN committee showed “understanding” and “did a wonderful job in a very short time”. With these words the Jewish Agency’s representative, Golda Meier, endorsed the partition proposal. Most of the Zionist parties agreed with them, with certain reservations regarding the “form” of the solution.
The American Foreign Secretary Marshall also shared this opinion. It is well known, however, that the fate of the persecuted peoples is not usually the main concern of the American Foreign Secretary. So his reaction might cause apprehension among those who believed in the good intentions of the UN committee.
What gives the UN proposal to the Jews? At first sight, everything: an immigration quota of 150,000 and more; political independence; about two thirds of Palestine; three big ports and almost all the coastline. That is more than what the optimists among the Jewish Agency members dared to ask for.
Are not this “understanding” and “friendliness” a bit suspicious? Why voted for this proposal the representatives of Canada, Holland and Sweden, who have close ties with the Anglo-Saxon powers? And why voted for it the representatives of Guatemala, Peru and Uruguay, whose policies are dictated from Washington? All the Zionist periodicals, as well as the semi-Zionist ones (the Communist Party of Palestine organs) refused to pose this question. And of course they did not answer it.
But that is precisely the determining question. More important than the contents of the proposal are the motives of those who submitted it. Let us make no mistake! Behind the – in Marshall’s words – “neutral” countries, stand the powers, which are most interested in this issue. The calculations that produced the partition proposal are precisely the same that brought about the partition of India.
What are these calculations? In our period, the period of social revolutions and revolts of the enslaved peoples, imperialism rules by means of two main methods: ruthless and brutal repression (as in Indonesia, Indochina and Greece), or by breaking the class war through national conflicts. The second way is cheaper and more secure, and enables imperialism to hide behind the curtains.
Imperialism has till now successfully employed divide et impera methods in this country, by using Zionist immigration as divisive factor. In this way, national tension was created, which, to a large extent, directed the anger caused by imperialism among the Arab masses in Palestine and the Middle East against the Jews. But lately this method ceased to produce the desired results. In spite of the national tension, a strong and combative Arab working class developed in the country. A new chapter in the history of Palestine opened when the Arab and Jewish workers cooperated in large-scale strikes, in order to force the imperialist exploiters to make concessions. And the failure of the latest attempt, to force the inhabitants of Palestine into a new whirlpool of mutual bloodshed by means of provocations, taught the imperialists a new lesson. Now they drew their conclusions: if you refuse to fight each other, we will put you in such an economic and political position that will force you to do so! That is the real content of the partition proposal.
Perhaps the partition proposal will materialize the Jewish people’s dream of political independence? The “independence” of the Jewish state will boil down to choosing, in a “free” and “independent” way, between two options: to starve or sell itself to imperialism. The foreign trade – both imports and exports – remains as before under control of imperialism. The key sectors of the economy – oil, electricity and minerals – remain in the hands of foreign monopolies. And the profits will continue to flow to the pockets of foreign capitalists.
A Jewish statelet in the heart of the Middle East can be an excellent instrument in the hands of the imperialist states. Isolated from the Arab masses, this state will be defenseless and completely at the mercy of the imperialists. And they will use it in order to fortify their positions, while at the same time lecturing the Arab states about the “Jewish danger” – i.e. the threat represented by the inevitable expansionist tendencies of the tiny Jewish state. And one day, when tension reaches its highest peak, the imperialist “friends” will leave the Jewish state to its fate.
The Arabs will also receive “political independence.” Partition will bring about the creation of a backward feudal Arab state, a sort of Trans-Jordan west of the Jordan River. In this way they hope to isolate and paralyze the Arab proletariat in the Haifa area, an important strategic center with oil refineries, as well as to divide and paralyze the class war of all the workers of Palestine.
What about the “salvation of the refugees from the concentration camps”? Imperialism created the problem of the refugees from the concentration camps when it closed the gates of all countries to them. The fate of refugees is its responsibility. Imperialism is not philanthropic. If it sends as a “gift” the refugees to Palestine, it will do it for one reason only: to use them for its own purposes.
The partition proposal, apparently so “favorable” to the Jews, contains several aspects that are highly desirable from the point of view of imperialism: 1) The concessions to Zionism will be used as a bait in order to get the approval of the Jewish majority; 2) It includes several provocations, such as the incorporation of Jaffa to the Jewish state and the denial of any port to the Arab state, which infuriate the Arabs; 3) These provocations enable Great Britain to appear as a “friend of the Arabs”, which will “struggle” for a second, more just partition. This in turn will help them swallow the bitter pill. In other words, we have here a pre-arranged division of labor.
To sum up: the proposal of the UN committee is a solution neither for the Jews nor for the Arabs; it is a solution pure and exclusively for the imperialist countries. The Zionist policy-makers avidly seized the bone imperialism threw to them. And the “left-wing” Zionist critics, in the name of removing the mask from the imperialists’ game, attack half-heartedly the partition proposal, and call for ... a Jewish state in the whole of Palestine! A bi-national state according to the Shomer HaTsa’ir (Young Guard) proposal is just a fig-leaf for the right of the Jews to impose on the Arabs – without their consent and against their will – Jewish immigration and Zionist policies.
What about the Communist Party of Palestine? It apparently waits for the “just” UN solution. In any case it continues to sow illusions regarding the UN, and in that sense helps to hide and implement the imperialist programs.
Against all this, we say: Let us not fall into the trap! The solution of the Jewish problem, like the solution of the problems of the country, will not come “from above”, from the UN or any other imperialist institution. No “struggle”, “terror”, or moral “pressure” will make imperialism abandon its vital interests in the region (oil stock gave 60% dividends this year!).
In order to solve the Jewish problem, in order to free ourselves from the burden of imperialism, there is only one way: the common class war with our Arab brothers; a war which is an inseparable link of the anti-imperialist war of the oppressed masses in all the Arab East and the entire world.

The force of imperialism lies in partition – our force in international class unity.

Against the Stream


Fourth International, May 1948
Taken from the site of the Internationalist Group, League for the Fourth International
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for REDS – Die Roten.

The following editorial is translated from the Kol Ham’amad (Voice of the Class), Hebrew organ of the Revolutionary Communist League of Palestine, Section of the Fourth International. It exposes the reactionary role of the United Nations’ partition plan, 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. As we can see from the editorial, the CP of Palestine has not escaped the nationalist hysteria in both camps, and has split into two national parties.
Only the Palestinian Trotskyists have maintained the Socialist position by calling upon Jewish and Arab workers to break away from the class enemies within their ranks and conduct their independent struggle against imperialism. Despite the present high tide of chauvinism accompanying the new “Hebrew” state set up by Hagana arms on one side, and the invasion of the Arab “Liberation” army on the other, the internationalist working class program put forward by the Trotskyists will alone provide the means of solving the Palestine problem. – Ed. [of Fourth International]

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, 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 worker. 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

The function of the UNO
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 enables Great Britain to appear as the Guardian Angel overflowing with sympathy for either side.
And the Soviet Union? Why did not her representative call the UNO game the swindle it really is? – Apparently the present foreign 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 “the Soviet Union being ready to meet America and Britain halfway”, economic and social differences notwithstanding.
This is how the UNO has “solved” the Palestinian problem. Yet it is the same unsavoury dish that has been set for India, Greece and Indo-China.

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 work, our righteous cause have 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, give 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 Jewish immigration has come to be a problem of live or die. The continuous flow of immigrants who would come with the remnants of their possessions is apt to increase the circulation of goods, will allow the bourgeois producers to dispose of their expensive wares. Mass immigration would also be very useful as a means to force down wages which “weigh so heavily” on the Jewish industry. A state engaged in inevitable military conflicts would mean orders from the “Hebrew Army,” a source of “Hebrew” profits not to be underrated at all. A state would mean thousands of snug berths for Zionist veteran functionaries.

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 their 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. It will be easy to arouse him against his proletarian ally, the Arab worker, “who is depriving him of jobs and depressing the level of wages” (a method that has not failed in the past!). Not in vain has Weitzmann said that “the Jewish state will stem Communist influence.” As a compensation the Jewish worker is bestowed with the privilege of dying a hero’s death on the altar of the Hebrew state.
And what promises does the Jewish state hold out? Does it really mean a step forward toward the solution of the Jewish problem?
The partition was not meant to solve Jewish misery nor is it likely 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 Arab reactionaries
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 Asssociation 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 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 at 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’ movements 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 of 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 no repeatedly warned against the fatal results bound to come with the establishment of a Jewish state? “Partition must needs be disastrous for Jew and Arab alike ... partition is an imperialist scheme intended to give British rule a new lease on life ...” (evidence given by the PCP before the Anglo-American Commission of Enquiry on Mar. 25, 1946). The secretary of the party loyally stuck to this attitude as late as July 1947 when he said before 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 baptized party: the name of 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 a 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, require 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 SU calls for an “elastic” policy, one that lacks backbone. As a result we find the notorious shilly-shallying and zigzagging, which has harnessed 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 Palestine workers’ unity and a treacherous blow. After the pro-partition declaration of Zarapkin, the National Liberation League people found themselves surrounded by scorn and hostility.
The policy of the Soviet Union has undermined the position of the League among the Arab toilers. Thus it opened a door to the reactionary, chauvinist campaign against the “red danger”. 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. But the National Liberation League did convince the Arab workers that the driving force behind its policy is not the interest of the Palestine proletariat, but that of the Kremlin.

A war of defence?
The two camps today mobilize 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!” – declares 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 organizations 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 Zionist conquerors.
This war on neither 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 the 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.

What is to be done?
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 Palestinian 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 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 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 peoples, 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 ‘Najada’, ‘Futuwa’ to defend ourselves against the Zionists’ attacks?”
A distinction must be made between the practical and political sides of this question. We cannot thwart mobilizations and do not therefore tell workers to refuse to mobilize. But it is our duty to denounce the reactionary character of the chauvinist organizations, even 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 the 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: unmasking 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 with his blood; so that the Jewish worker recognizes 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 at work and on the roads. Let us forge revolutionary cadres. In this burning hell of chauvinism we have to hold up the banner of international brotherhood.

Against the stream!
World capitalism being on the downgrade tries to endure by inflating imaginary national conflicts, trampling down the masses and brutalizing them. In the long run that remedy will fail. The masses will have learned their lesson through suffering. They will get to know their enemy: monopolistic capitalism that is hiding behind its local ruling agency. With the class struggle getting more intensive all over the world and in particular in the Arab countries, the end of the fratricidal war in this country is bound to come.
The patriotic wave today sweeps everyone lacking the principles of international communism off his feet. Revolutionary activity at this juncture requires patience, persistence and far-sightedness. It is a way full of danger and difficulties. But it is the only way out of this patriotic mire. Well may we remember the words of Lenin which, spoken in a similar situation, apply also to ours:
“We are not charlatans ... We must base ourselves on the consciousness of the masses. Even if it is necessary to remain in a minority, be it so. We must not be afraid to be in a minority. We will carry on the work of criticism in order to free the masses from deceit ... Our line will prove right ... All the oppressed will come to us. They have no other way out.”

T. Cliff
On the Irresponsible Handling of the Palestine Question

From Revolutionary Communist Party, Internal Bulletin, no date but early 1947.
Transcribed by Mike Pearn.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

We have received two numbers of the Internal Bulletin of the SWP (Oct. 1946, No.11, Oct. 1946, No.12) in which three items on the Jewish question and Palestine appear. As we are sure that acceptance by the SWP of the position expressed in all these items will do infinite harm to the cause of the Fourth International in all the Arab countries and may even bring about a cleavage between the colonial sections and the SWP, we find it necessary to criticise these items in the most severe. The three items repeat the same idea, but as the article A Revolutionary Programme for the Jews by Leo Lyons gives the most elaborate exposition of it, we shall concentrate our criticism on it. This article, bringing the superficial tourist approach to the Palestine question to its height, is no more than a mixture of ignorance as regards the situation in Palestine, an absolute lack of any understanding of the theory of the Permanent Revolution and the colonial question, and above all, an illustration of the proverb “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” Its tendency is Zionist in all but words, and it is for this fact alone that it is important to analyse it.
The Trade Unions
In one small paragraph L.L. manages to make at least one mistake in every sentence. This is the paragraph:
“The development of the productive forces in Palestine by Jewish and Arab capitalists produced the phenomenon of Arab trade unions. Despite the smallness of the productive forces the concentration of the Palestinian proletariat made it necessary for the Arab unions to affiliate with the General Federation of Jewish Labour (Histradrut) in order to fight their class enemy, the bourgeoisie. These Arab unions have a membership of 2,000. Other Arab trade unions, hostile to the Histradrut, were organised by the government in order to split the labour movement nationally – they have a membership of 5,000. Despite this split, in 1943 eleven Arab strikes took place with 4,143 workers participating. Four additional strikes of 4,000 Jews and Arabs also took occurred. Special note should be taken of the one-day strike of 30,000 government employees, half-Jewish and half-Arab.” (p.31, column 1)
In the first sentence the overwhelming weight of foreign capital is not mentioned at all. The fact that foreign capital owns over three-quarters of the total capital of industry and transport in Palestine appears to be unknown to L.L. as also the fact that the majority of the Arab proletariat is employed by the government and foreign capital, while no Arab workers are employed in Jewish industry.
The second sentence is even more monstrous than the first. No Arab unions become affiliated to the Histradrut “in order to fight their class enemy.” the Histradrut organised a special Arab organisation, which is mainly a weapon for Zionist propaganda abroad. The Histradrut is so far from having comradely relations with the members of this organisation that it does not allow the organisation to have one elected committee, all being appointed by the Histradrut. The leadership of the organisation is the Arab department of the Histradrut, in which there is no single Arab. The local branches are administered by Jewish secretaries appointed by the above-mentioned department. If in some cases, there does happen to be, besides the Jewish secretary, an Arab one too the latter’s authority is subordinated to the former’s. There are no democratically elected branch committees and conferences have never been convened. From the year of its inception, 1927, until today, an assembly of Arab delegates of this organisation has taken place only once, and its organisers gave it the fitting name “A day of study”, no decisions being taken, but only lectures being given.
L.L. does not know all this. He tries to describe the Arab organisation of the Histradrut as an independent trade union. He forgets to explain why , at the beginning of the war, after twelve years of its existence, it claimed only 300 members. He does not explain, it seems he does not know, that the main prop of this organisation is the fact that the Histradrut has a contracting agency called Solel Boneh, which takes a big part in the building of camps, etc. Although it pays its Arab workers only a third or a quarter of what it pays the Jewish workers, the Histradrut’s Arab organisation still has some attraction, as it to a large extent controls the acceptance or dismissal of workers. It is because of this that during the war the number of Arab workers in the organisation rose to 2,000.
In Haifa, the only town with relatively big enterprises employing Arab workers and with a relatively developed working class, the Arab organisation of the Histradrut contains Arab workers only from small enterprises. It has no foothold in the railways, refineries, public Works department, etc.
Among the Arab employees and workers of the government and foreign enterprises, the Histradrut has no influence whatsoever. L.L. does not mention the influence of the “conquest of labour” policy of the Histradrut on the character of the “affiliated” organisation. He does not know that the branches of this organisation are not only very small and not rooted in the main centres of the economy, but also that they rest on very shaky foundations. For instance, the workers of the Nesher Cement Factory, who belonged to this organisation, in 1933 declared a strike. The Histradrut sent strike-breakers, finding in the strike an excellent opportunity for the Zionist “conquest of labour”. A similar occurrence took place in the railways, when Arab members of the organisation were dismissed. This entirely smashed its once fairly strong foothold in the railways. In the middle of 1944 the Acre branch of the organisation, one of the most successful in the eyes of the leadership, disappeared in the space of a few weeks: the reason was that some scores of Arab workers were dismissed and the Arab Department of the Histradrut let slip that the dismissals were for the purpose of creating places of work for new immigrants.
L.L. does not knew that the Histradrut leaders prevent all political discussion in this organisation by whatever means they can, not, fortunately, always succeeding. Thus, for instance, in the 1944 May day meeting of the Jaffa Branch, the Histradrut was attacked for its Zionist policy directed towards turning Palestine into a Jewish State, and a resolution to this effect was passed unanimously. The Histradrut promptly reacted by bringing four of the Arab militants to the government court on charge of disturbing a meeting. We of the Revolutionary Communist League of course supported these militants, against the Histradrut.
With the third sentence it is not necessary to deal, as the corrections of the second cover this also.
The fourth sentence, “Other Arab trade unions, hostile to the Histradrut, were organised by the government in order to split the labour movement nationally – why they have a membership of 5,000,” reaches the fortissimo of falsification. These words are the basest slander of the militant Arab workers. THE ARAB TRADE UNION FEDERATION was founded in 1925. Scores of members of this organisation have been cast into prison for struggling for the right of organisation. Despite the bureaucracy which grew within the organisation, it played a decisive role in all the railway strikes and most of the other important strikes in Palestine.
The other Arab trade union organisation is the FEDERATION OF ARAB TRADE UNIONS AND WORKERS’ SOCIETIES, founded in 1942 by a Stalinist group which split off from the Palestine CP. The two other organisations have about 10,000 members (double the number L.L. states), with a much wider support when it comes to class action.
There is another , loose, organisation, the Second Division Civil Servants’ Association, which contains both Jews and Arabs, the leadership being mainly Arab: this organisation is in very unfriendly relations with the Histradrut. In L.L.’s eyes, it is not the Histradrut which is to blame for the split in the Labour movement nationally, but the Arab unions. And this despite the fact that the picketing for a boycott of the workers of the Arab organisation is not the work of the latter, but the former. The record of the Arab organisations in this sphere, although not spotless, is infinitely superior to that of the Histradrut. It would take up too much space to quote all their numerous resolutions calling for unity and solidarity with Jewish workers, and their actions in this direction. It is not interesting to note that Palestine is the only country in the Arab East in which Jews are not together with Arabs in one union. It is criminal to say that these unions are bodies organised by the Government. This spits in the face of militant workers struggling for their rights under the most difficult conditions. No one would dare to call the CIO a company union, but the Zionist agents do dare to throw mud on the organs of struggle of the Arab workers. L.L. takes the Zionist propaganda at its face value.
The last sentence, “Special note should be taken of the one-day strike of 30,000 government employees, half-Jewish, half-Arab,” contains tow mistakes. First of all the strike was not for one day, but for a fortnight. The 32,000 strikers were not half-Jewish, half-Arab, but there were about 26,000 Arabs and 6,000 Jews. It is worth noting that the leadership of the strike was in the main of Arab employees and workers, that the Histradrut did not have any important influence on the strike and that, while the workers of Haifa and Jaffa ports went on strike, the third port, that of all-Jewish Tel Aviv, continued to work throughout the period of the strike: the Histradrut was unwilling to jeopardise Zionist activity.
So much for L.L.’s facts about trade unions in Palestine.
The “Left” Zionist Parties
From an idealisation of the Histradrut, L.L. goes on to an idealisation of the “left-wing” Zionists. We write “left” in inverted commas. He instead writes:
“One-third of the Federation (Histradrut) (the Left Poale Zion, Kibutz Artzi, and the left wing of the Mapai) supports the slogan of a bi-national state, an Arab-Jewish Republic, as opposed to the chauvinistic slogan of a ‘Jewish Commonwealth’”.
This is a conglomeration of mistakes. The facts are: The “left” Poale Zion attacked the slogan of the bi-national state, putting forward instead that of a Jewish Socialist State. Today it is united with the former “left-wing” of Mapai to form the party “Ahdut HaAvoday-Poale Zion.” This party supports the slogan of 100 per cent Jewish labour and the Biltmore resolution calling for a Jewish Commonwealth. As regards the bi-nationalism of Hashomer Hatzair, it is an untruth to say that they stand for an Arab-Jewish Republic. Against the official Zionist programme they put forward these demands:
  1. To open the doors of Palestine for Jewish immigration.
  2. To establish in Palestine a political regime under international control which will give the Jewish Agency the right t carry out Jewish immigration according to the full economic absorptive capacity of the country.
  3. To grant the Jewish Agency the necessary authority for the development and building up of the country, including settlement of all government owned lands and uninhabited spaces, in the interests of the two sectors of the population, which will make dense Jewish colonisation possible, and the development of the Arab economy.
  4. To establish in Palestine after the war a regime based on the political equality of both peoples; which will enable Zionism to realise its aims undisturbed and will advance Palestine towards political independence in the frame of bi-nationalism. (Against the Stream, Collection of Articles and Speeches, Tel Aviv, 1943, Hebrew).
All matters of immigration and settlement, according to Hashomer Hatzair, must be dealt with by the Jewish Agency, which will be concerned – as it has been concerned until today – with the “development of the Arab economy.”
Of course has Hashomer Hatzair is ready to co-operate with the Arabs on such a basis. They only forget one small question: will the Arab masses accept this as a basis for collaboration? Is not control over immigration and colonisation in such a country as Palestine control over the most important functions of the state? Does the programme of has Hashomer Hatzair differ from the Jewish State programme in other than a greater dose of hypocrisy?
But if any doubt remains as to the extreme Zionism of Hashomer Hatzair, its leaders dispel it when they explain the bi-national programme:
“we aspire to the concentration of the majority of Jews in Palestine and the neighbouring countries.”

“The problem we are all concerned with is what is the most purposeful way to cease being a minority in the country.”

“Ben-Gurion claims that Zionism is not conditioned by the agreement of the Arabs; our position has always been the same.”

“Without agreement with the Arabs, too, we will continue the Zionist undertaking.” (From the speeches of M.Yaari and Y. Chazan in the Inner Zionist Council, 15th October and 10th November, 1942).
What is the basis for agreement with the Arabs? Hashomer Hatzair gives a clear answer:
“A primary precondition for any negotiation will be a declaration and common agreement that negotiations will be a declaration and common agreement that negotiations will be carried on only on the basis of the Mandate, and the unshakable recognition of Jewish immigration into Palestine.” (On the Wall, 1.1.39)
Are not Hashomer Hatzair really enthusiastic about bi-nationalism and fraternity with the Arabs? After all, all they ask of them is consent to only two “small” points – imperialist domination and Zionism.
L.L., it seems, does not know that there has been no case of picketing against Arab labour which was not supported by Hashomer Hatzair. He does not know the heroic record of Hashomer Hatzair and “left” Mapai in the eviction of Arab tenants from their land.
The “Benefits” the Zionists Bring to the Arab Masses
L.L. also takes at face value the benefit’s the Arab masses receive from Zionist immigration and colonisation. His main “proof” he arrives at by juggling with a few figures. He writes:
“Arab population near Jewish settlements has shown a marked increase compared to that in other sections of Palestine. In Jaffa, near the all-Jewish city of Tel-Aviv, the Arab population increased by 69% in the period from 1922 to 1935, and in Jerusalem, with a large Jewish community, the Arab population increased 41%. By contrast, in the Arab cities of Jenin and Nablus, the increase was only twelve and eight percent respectively. This tendency is shown even more clearly in the case of Arab villages near Jewish settlements:

Salama (near Tel-Aviv)
Zarnuqua (near Rishon-le-Zion)
Yibna (near Ness-Ziona)
Compared to this, the population in the non-Jewish districts of Tulkarem and Nablus increased only thirty-five and twenty-eight percent respectively.
He does not say that the three Arab villages chosen are in the region of orange groves while Tulkarem and Nablus are in much less fertile areas. He forgets to mention that generally the towns on the seashore – not only Haifa and Jaffa in Palestine, but also Beirut and Tripoli in Lebanon – have increased their populations much more than the inland towns. The increase in the Arab population of Jerusalem is not to be explained by the influx of Jews, as no single Arab in the town is employed by Jews, but is to be explained by the important administrative position of Jerusalem as regards the whole country. L.L. forgets to mention those areas of Palestine in which the Arab population not only declined since the Zionist immigration, but even disappeared completely – scores of villages in the Valley of Jezreel (Marj ibn Amir) and the Valley of Hefer (Wadi Khawaret). L.L. writes that the Arab population of Palestine increased by 40 percent in 15 years, while that of Egypt increased from 1920 to 1932 by only 13 per cent, and that of Transjordan has remained practically stationary since the First World War. About Syria he finds it necessary to write that emigration has averaged 9,500 per year during the period from 1920 to 1930. Let us analyse these figures. The following table is taken from the Statistical Yearbook of the League of Nations, 1937:

Births per 1,000
(Average 1931-1935)
Deaths per 1,000
(Average 1931-1935)
Surplus of Births
over Deaths per 1,000
(Average 1931-1935)
Arabs of Palestine
(excluding Europeans, 1934)
As regards other countries of the Middle East there are no statistics of population. What do these figures show? They show that in the main the great increase in the population of Palestine over Egypt, Algeria or Cyprus is not the result of immigration, which is negligible, nor of a low death rate, but of a very high birth rate. If we compared the increase of population of Palestine is on no account a proof of well-being.
L.L., of course, does not analyse the figures he brings of the increase of population. For him every word of the Zionist propaganda machine is to be taken at face value. The fact that at the beginning of the nineteenth century there were 100,000 people in Palestine (according to Dr. A. Ruppin, a Zionist research worker, in Syrien als Wirtschaftsgebiet, Berlin 1920) while in 1922 the number of Arabs in Palestine reached 663,000, i.e. an increase of more than 600 per cent, surely proves, according to L.L.’s way of argumentation, that the feudal regime and Turkish rule benefited the Arabs immensely. The same thing applies to other colonial countries. For instance the population of Egypt at the beginning of the nineteenth century was 2-2½ millions, while at its end it was 10 millions, I.e. an increase of 300-400 per cent, of Germany 130 per cent, and of England 266 per cent.
Let us see how Zionist colonisation influences the Arab masses.
It does so in three spheres: the buying of land, the buying of Arab agricultural products, and the employment of Arab labour.
From 1878 to 1936 123,185 hectares of and were acquired by Jews. Of all the land about which there are any details only 9.4 per cent were acquired from peasants. The only ones among the Arabs who profited from the buying of land were the big landowners, while at least 3,000-4,000 Arab tenants were evicted from their land. The Zionist leaders in the USA certainly did not tell you about this, or if they did, you were told that these tenants received compensation. What is the truth about this compensation? Dr. A. Granovsky of the Board of Directors of the Jewish national Fund announced that every expropriated tenant received an average of £39.9. Assuming this to be so, if the tenant owed, according to the Johnson-Crosbie Report, an average of £27, after the payment of the debt he was left with the grand sum of about £13. We know that even this is an exaggeration, that the evicted tenants leave with nothing at all in their pockets.
As regards the employment of Arab workers by Jews, the maximum number of Arab workers employed by the Jewish economy is 3,000-4,000. The Jewish capitalists who employ Arabs are almost only the orange grove owners, and this they do because their market is not in the Zionist economy in Palestine, but in England. The Jewish organisation of orange grove owners has therefore more than once broke Zionist discipline, even reaching the stage of demanding a restriction of Jewish immigration (in 1934).
So perhaps Zionist immigration influences the Arab masses not through the buying of land or labour power, but through the buying of products. According to L. Greenbrae (National Income and Outlay in Palestine, 1936, Jerusalem 1941, a Jewish Agency publication), the purchases made by Jews from Arabs amounted to only 10 per cent of the value of the purchases by Jews of overseas imports. And there is no question that the prevailing tendency of the closed Jewish economy in Palestine is to become more and more autarchical as regards the Arabs. Anybody who was in Palestine 30 years ago will remember that a much bigger part of Jewish purchases were made from Arabs at that time. The weakness of Jewish economy is the main reason for the fact that even today a small percentage of its purchases (3-4 per cent) must willy-nilly be made from Arabs, who constitute 70 per cent of the population of the country. Ben-Gurion was certainly right when he declared that the strengthening of Zionism would put an end to these purchases too. (These few remarks, incidentally, we hope dispel any false ideas which may have been derived from L.L.’s article, which speaks about “the economic interdependence of Arabs and Jews.” If L.L. troubled to learn about conditions in Palestine he would know that there is very little “economic interdependence of Arabs and Jews,” and that the tendency on the part of the Zionist economy is to become ever more autarchical.)
Perhaps the benefit to the Arab masses from Zionist immigration and colonisation is made indirectly, through the income of the Government. But here too, Zionism brings with it more harm than good, as with the support of Zionism, imperialism could deny even those democratic rights which it is compelled to give to the masses in Egypt, Syria and Lebanon. The fact that in Palestine there is not even a democratic advisory council, while in all those countries there are parliaments – even though of very restricted powers – is also due to Zionism, which for years has clamoured against it, knowing that the popular majority would put an end to Zionist expansionism. This allows the government with impunity to give £4,000,000 to the import monopoly, Steel bros., and about the same amount to the police, while Arab education and health do not receive even a fifth of the two sums together. Nor must it be forgotten that the Zionists strive to diminish even this small sum, putting forward the “progressive” principle that the expenditure budget be divided between the two communities according to the share of each in the revenue. If this were adopted, even if we assume that there were not such a bulky police budget, we do not understand how the increase in the income of the Government (according to the Zionists the result of Jewish immigration) could benefit the Arabs.
The Special Character of Zionist Immigration to Palestine
It is self-evident that the SWP should struggle for the right of asylum for refugees, for free immigration into the USA. But only the greatest superficiality can drive one to the conclusion that this slogan holds good at all times and under all conditions. In the independent capitalist countries the struggle for free immigration is part and parcel of the struggle for socialism. This is not always the case in the colonies. The Arabs of Tripoli and Cyrenaica resisted the immigration and colonisation of Italians despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of those who came to settle were poor peasants. In Kenya and Rhodesia there is a struggle against white immigration. A similar struggle took place in Manchuria against colonisation by Japanese peasants. And it is no accident that in the IFTU Conference held [damage to text of perhaps 10 letters lossM.P.] in 1945, the representative of colonial trade unions – a Palestine Arab, the Indian Federation of labour, the All-Indian Trade Union Congress, South African, Nigerian and Gambian Negroes – all voted for the deletion from the report of the sentence supporting Jewish immigration and colonisation in Palestine. The Egyptian delegation which had no voting rights, put forward a very militant programme and incorporated in it the struggle against Zionist immigration. It is no accident that the Trotskyist groups in Palestine and Egypt wholeheartedly support the struggle against Zionist immigration and colonisation.
Everyone who knows the ABC of the Theory of the Permanent Revolution and the colonial question must understand that the main tasks of the anti-imperialist movement in the Arab East are:
  1. The overthrow of imperialist domination.
  2. The unity of the Arab countries split by feudalism and imperialism.
  3. The agrarian revolution.
The struggle for these aims goes beyond the boundaries of the capitalist regime. The criterion for our relation to Jewish immigration into Palestine must be: how does Jewish immigration influence the above tasks.
The majority of the Arab workers are employed, as we have said, by foreign capital and imperialism. They are brutally exploited by it and find themselves in direct, irreconcilable and open antagonism to it. And as this regime of super exploitation is based on the pauperisation of the peasantry, they are vitally interested in the abolition of feudalism and imperialism, which hamper the development of the forces of production. This interest becomes more direct and open owing to the urban proletariat’s origin being peasant. The Jewish workers at the same time are nearly all employed in the closed Zionist economy. They therefore do not come into direct conflict with foreign capital and imperialism. Being in a closed economy means also that by nationalistic means they protect themselves from the pressure of the pauperisation of the peasants in the feudal economy. So that we can say that the words of Trotsky as regards South Africa (that South Africa for the Negroes is a colony, for the whites a dominion) are in the main correct as regards the Arabs and Jews in Palestine also. The Jewish worker can on no account lead the struggle against foreign capital and imperialism, and against feudalism. The only thing he can do, if he renounces Zionism, is to follow the lead of the Arab proletariat, whose main centres are Cairo and Alexandria.
What is the relation of Zionism to the second task of the revolutionary movement in the Arab East – the unity of the Arab countries. It is self-evident that if the closed economy – which is the main characteristic of the Jewish economy in Palestine – isolates the Jews from the Arabs in Palestine, it certainly has no ties to unite it with the Arabs of other countries.
L.L. may say that he is against the closed economy and 100 per cent Jewish labour, but nevertheless is for free immigration and colonisation of Jews in Palestine. This argument is simply foolish. What interest will workers of a European standard of life find in a country dominated by imperialism and feudalism, where the standard of life is terribly low? If not for the closed character of the Jewish economy in Palestine, which absorbs practically every immigrant Jew, no Jew would today have come to Palestine any more than he goes to India or China. In these conditions, to be against the Zionist policy of 100 per cent Jewish labour means to be against Jewish immigration into Palestine. He who is for Jewish immigration into a Palestine under imperialist rule must, by the logic of the objective conditions, be also for the Zionist policy of a closed economy, enmity towards the Arabs, etc.
It is also impossible to be a consistent Zionist without being for a Jewish State. The logic of events themselves compelled the majority of Zionists to change their position as regards this problem. Not more than ten years ago, only a tiny minority in the Zionist camp (the Revisionists) wrote on its banner the demand for a Jewish State. At that time Ben-Gurion went as far as saying that he who supports the slogan of a Jewish State is a deceiver and villain. Today the demand for a Jewish State is the slogan of the great majority in the Zionist movement, the same Ben-Gurion being one of its most prominent antagonists. As we have already said, the programme of Hashomer Hatzair demands that the Jewish Agency be given such powers over the paramount questions of immigration and colonisation, that their differences with the majority Zionists prove to be purely verbal. This development, starting from bi-nationalism, which was the official programme of the World Zionist Organisation, and going over to the demand for a Jewish Commonwealth, or control of the Jewish Agency over immigration and colonisation, is not accidental. As we have said, large-scale immigration and colonisation to Palestine under the existing economic social and political order, could not be realised without closing the Jewish economy to the Arab people. The Jewish State can seal the economy much more hermetically by adopting passports to prevent the movement of Arab workers into the Jewish economy, by establishing protective tariffs to prevent the influx of Arab products, etc. The Jewish ruling class has nearly no economic, social and political contacts with the Arab ruling classes. Any state that exists in Palestine, therefore, which is not a workers’ state, must necessarily be either Jewish r Arab – in reality, either a Jewish puppet state of imperialism, or an Arab puppet state. A Jewish State in the whole of Palestine, or at least in part of it, is therefore necessarily the aim of Zionist expansion, while the bi-national state, unless visualised as a proletarian state, must necessarily be only a dream, an illusion, or downright treachery.
If, therefore, the situation is approached dialectically, one can never come to the conclusion of L.L. – for Jewish immigration to end colonisation in the British colony of Palestine, while against Zionist conquest of labour or the Zionist demand for a Jewish State.
What is the Character of the Kibbutzim?
In order to prove the progressive character of the Haganah, L.L. finds it necessary to emphasize that the kibbutz (Jewish Collective farms) are the backbone of this organisation. For one who looks at Palestine not from the standpoint of the national and social emancipation of the Arab masses of the east (40-50 millions in number) but from the standpoint of the member of the kibbutz, who is in a closed economy, the kibbutz is really a most progressive element. In the propaganda of the Zionists, the kibbutz appears to be really a communist cell in the backward east – a torch lighting up the darkness.
But this is only a myth. The first question to be asked about these kibbutzim is: who finances them? The answer – the Zionist funds whose main source of income are the rich Jewish capitalists of USA, England and South Africa. What interest have capitalists in building communism? The fact that the Zionists built these kibbutzim is a result of the necessity to establish Jewish agriculture on the basis of 100 per cent Jewish labour. The collective form assured this much better than individual colonisation could. Jewish agricultural workers would not enthusiastically have supported the struggle for the conquest of land and the eviction of other tenants from it. Nor would Jewish agricultural wage earners have taken an active part in organising the struggle against Arab agricultural products. Besides this, a closed Jewish economy must undertake agriculture, but privately owned agricultural units based on Jewish labour would not yield satisfactory profits – hence the intervention of the national funds, and the construction of “labour settlements” (mainly kibbutzim).
The standard of life of the members of the kibbutz is much higher not only than that of the Arab peasant masses, but even that of the Arab kulaks. While the fellah’s family of six people had an average income of £26 per annum, before the war, including what he consumed of his own products, his debt payments, etc. the family unit in a kibbutz, whose number does not reach four persons, in 1936 sent for food alone an average of £83.6, for increasing invested capital £37.5, and further sums for other items. From these figures it is clear not only that the standard of living of a member of a kibbutz is much higher than that of an Arab fellah, but that the difference is on the increase, for, as the figures show, the capital invested yearly on every family unit in the kibbutz is bigger than the whole income of the Arab peasant family, not to speak of the part he can invest.
While the Arab peasant continues to plough the land with a wooden plough which is more primitive than the ancient Hebrew plough of 2,00 years ago, the kibbutzim are equipped with the most modern agricultural machinery. The number of tractors in the kibbutzim is extremely high, the cultivated area per tractor being 110 hectares (in 1936) while in USA (in 1930 it was 145, in Germany (in 1933) it was 850, and in France (in 1930) it was 1,000.
Have the kibbutzim anything in common with the class struggle of the rural poor? Are they interested in the overthrow of feudalism? Not at all. The kibbutzim are not exploited y the feudal lords and have nothing to profit from their overthrow. on the contrary, the land on which they are built was bought from the big landowners, (statistics show that the Zionists hardly succeeded at all in buying land from the peasants, such purchases making up less than 10 per cent of total land purchases), and the existence of these landowners is a precondition for the expansion of the kibbutzim. They are interested in high prices for agricultural products, and so the more backward Arab economy is, the smaller is the competition of its surplus products on the Jewish markets. It is interesting to note that when in 1944 the government of Palestine put price controls on agricultural products, which wage workers, Jewish and Arab alike, criticized for not being sufficiently restrictive, the kibbutzim vehemently protested against the fact that the government put any controls at all. The only “benefit” the Arab fellahs derive from the kibbutzim is the sight of the well constructed concrete buildings, the trucks and tractors, modern chicken coops and cowshed, the luxurious kindergartens and children’s houses. Their children continue to play on the dung heap, and their cows, goats and chickens, continue to live with them in their windowless mud rooms.
The Influence of Zionism on the Arab National Movement
L.L. writes: “It is over-simplification to state that Jewish immigration is a force ‘oppressing the Arab movement for national liberation’.” This is a matter of fact, Zionism was the very factor that developed Arab nationalism in Palestine.
If there is any over-simplification, and therefore also distortion, it is in L.L.’s words. Imperialism is the power which gives an impulse to the national movement. Marx spoke most appropriately when he said that it was British penetration into India which, for the first time in history, built the basis for the unity of India. This it did by smashing the self-sufficient economy, by connecting all the fibres of the economy to the world market, by building railways, etc. At the same time imperialism did its best to preserve the outworn feudal property relations, in this way preventing the economic, cultural and political unity of India from being really complete. To say, therefore, that imperialism suppresses the national movement, does not mean to say that is itself did not provide the impetus for its creation.
It is unquestionable that the Arab national movement would have come to life in Palestine in the same way that it came to life in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, without Zionist expansion. Zionist expansion served not as the generator of the Arab national movement, but only as its distorter. Let us analyse this statement.
While with the first contact of imperialism and a colony is natural for the feudal class to lead the resistance to imperialist penetration – even though this class is internally disorganised, and ready to compromise with its foe – the continuation of imperialist rule and the changes in the economy, make the feudalists the best allies of imperialism, and it is the industrial bourgeoisie which then appears as the leader of the national movement. The increasing numbers of proletarians, super exploited in the enterprises both of foreign and of local capital, are extremely antagonistic to imperialism, and with the deepening of the struggle for national and social liberation, naturally become leaders of the millions of peasants, the leaders of the anti-imperialist struggle. All these processes in Palestine were greatly distorted by Zionism.
In all the colonies the struggle between the local bourgeoisie and imperialism is a struggle over the division of the surplus value, expressing itself in a struggle over the local markets, and over the ownership of the key positions of the economy. In Palestine the secondary positions of the economy, such as light industry, are not in the hands of Arab capital, as in Egypt, Syria or Iraq, but in the main in the hands of Jewish capital. The junior partners of imperialist capital are not Arab, but in the main Jewish, capitalists. We may assume without fear of error, that three-quarters of the capital invested in industry and transport, belongs to imperialism, about a fifth to Jewish capitalists, and only two to three per cent to Arab capitalists. These conditions blunt the contradictions existing between the Arab bourgeoisie and imperialism, and intensifies those existing between the Arab bourgeoisie and the Jewish bourgeoisie. And as it is the feudalists in all colonies who are the most extreme communal leaders, Zionism serves not as a factor which deepens the cleavage between the bourgeoisie and the feudalists, but on the contrary, closes the cracks. We know that the colonial bourgeoisie is not consistently anti-feudal, but in Palestine it is even much les so than in other colonies. After L.L’s ode to the progressive role of Jewish immigration and colonisation in Palestine, perhaps he can answer these questions: Why, in Egypt, Syria, Iraq or Lebanon, does a clerical leader not stand at the head of the movement, while in Palestine the Mufti of Jerusalem is the most prominent leader? Why, in Egypt, for instance, is it the Wafd party, representing the middle bourgeoisie, which is the biggest party, while in Palestine all the nuclei of bourgeois parties (the main example, the Nashashibis) instead of building up an organisation, become more and more subordinated and merged with the Mufti’s party?
The role of Zionism, as a distorting factor, as a brake on the Arab national movement, is most clearly shown in its influence on the development of the Arab working class towards becoming the leader of the national and social liberation struggle. The congruence of class and national antagonisms in, for example, imperialist owned enterprises, brings class consciousness very clearly to the fore. On the other hand, national competition between workers blunts class consciousness. If not, therefore, for Jewish immigration and colonisation, if not for the always threatening conquest of labour, the class consciousness of the Arab masses would have been much clearer than it is today.
Zionism serves as a factor diverting the development of the Arab national movement in another way too. Imperialism does its best to widen the un-evenness in the development of the different Arab countries, to connect these countries economically not with one another, but with the “mother” country. In this way it is assisted by the hundred years old inheritance of feudal rule. Zionism appears as an added factor separating the line of development of Palestine from that of the other Arab countries. By threatening to break this link from the chain of the Arab countries it serves imperialism and its feudal agents in the Arab east in two ways: firstly, it diverts the responsibility for splitting the Arab east into different states from the main sponsor of the splitting – imperialism – on to Zionism; secondly, it helps to galvanise the Arab League, as association of the Arab countries which has nothing to do with the real economic, cultural and political unity, the only point of agreement among the members being anti-Zionism. This “unity” can, with the help of imperialist and Zionist provocation, stir up anti-Jewish pogroms.
Our Position towards the “Jewish Resistance movement”
L.L. writes:
“The Jewish Resistance Movement represents a progressive force against British imperialism. As such it merits support.”
L.L. derives the progressive character of the resistance movement not from an analysis of the place of the Zionist “resistance” movement in the agrarian, anti-feudal revolution or n the class struggle of the workers exploited by foreign capital and imperialism, nor from the relation between this movement and the struggle against the boundaries between the Arab countries which are a result of feudalism and imperialism and are strengthened by Zionism. All these problems are not even posed by L.L. Has L.L. ever heard of the theory of Permanent Revolution?
Instead, according to the best tradition of petty bourgeois idealism, he bases his entire “analysis” on pure sentimentalism, on impressionism.
For a Marxist the programme of any political movement is derived from its social character. For L.L. the tasks of the Haganah are to be derived not from its social characteristics, but from his abstract definition of what is a progressive movement. L.L. therefore comes to the most ridiculous conclusions when he puts before the Jewish “Resistance” movement the two slogans of Free Immigration and the Convocation of a Constituent Assembly. About the latter he writes:
“Every slogan that can bring about Arab-Jewish collaboration must be seized hold of.
Foremost of these is the slogan for the immediate (and the emphasis is important) convocation of a representative Constituent Assembly.”
For 29 years a struggle has taken place in Palestine over this issue between Arab national movement on the one hand, and imperialism and Zionism on the other. While the Jewish “resistance” movement is opposed to this slogan as long as the Jews are a minority in the country, and demand Jewish immigration, the Arab masses oppose Jewish immigration and demand the convocation of a Constituent Assembly. There is consistency as well in the position of the Arab national movement as in the position of the Jewish “resistance” movement. It is clear that a Constituent Assembly would have meant the stopping of Jewish immigration into Palestine, as the Arab masses unanimously oppose this and the Zionist colonisation of the country. It is no accident that in the whole Zionist camp, in the whole “resistance” movement there is not a single leader or rank and filer who does not violently oppose any plan of substituting the imperialist government by a democratically elected government, or even a any proposal for democratic legislative bodies. To unite the Jewish “resistance” movement with the Arab masses struggling for social and national liberation is no more possible than to unite the anti-British Dr. Malan with the struggling Negro workers and peasants in South Africa. The Jewish “resistance” movement is an anti-democratic movement, as it is against the interests of the majority of the people not only in Palestine, but in the whole Arab East, as it is a movement directed towards strengthening the closed economy of the minority and preserving its privileges, the abolition of which would put a stop to its very source of life – the desire for immigration and colonisation.
In our eyes it is no accident that strikes in foreign enterprises which have the greatest weight in the national liberatory movements in the colonies, do not play any role whatsoever in the Jewish “resistance” movement in Palestine. It also follows from the character of the movement that the petty bourgeois, chauvinistic elements, the Irgun Zvai Leumi and Stern gang, are getting the upper hand in it.
I permit myself some repetition of what I wrote in a former article:
“if the Zionists are not anti-imperialist (and of course to be against the Arab people and imperialism at one and the same time is impossible), then why all these terrible terrorist acts? The answer is simple. The Zionists have come into a blind alley. The victory of the proletariat of the West and the masses of the East will put an end to Zionist dreams. The continuation of the existing social regime makes every little people into a puppet in the hands of the big imperialist powers. This is especially true as regards the Jews of Palestine whose relations with their neighbours are very strained.
“If imperialism continues to rule over the world, then whatever the Jews do they are doomed. If the world revolutionary wave rises to the heights, then all the weak peoples, including world Jewry, will be saved. But the Jews of Palestine in their special position can be saved only if they cease to be buffers between the national and social liberation struggle of the Arab masses. The Jewish capitalists of Palestine as a class are doomed whatever happens. They are therefore incapable of anything except a blind military adventurism based on belief in miracles or at best a struggle to hold out a little longer.
“The best prospect the Zionists can hope for is that Britain will give them a Jewish State, even though a pocket state in a small part of tiny Palestine. They think that the partition plan for Palestine can suit the interests of British imperialism under certain circumstances. Such a plan will ensure the existence of two irredentist movements, a sharp Zionist struggle for every place of work and foot of ground in the Jewish State, and economic weakness of the mutilated Arab State. These are the pros of the plan from the standpoint of imperialism.
“The Zionists base their calculations on this factor and on one other. It is true that the position of Zionism in the struggle between the different imperialist Powers is not predetermined. Ben-Gurion and Weizmann can be American agents with the same enthusiasm as they have been British agents for nearly thirty years. The recent Zionist terror was intended to threaten Britain with the possibility of a Zionist switchover to America, and at the same time to make it easier for the British politicians, if they so desire, to permit the construction of a Jewish State in spite of Arab opposition. (They would be able to say to the Arabs that there was a material and moral necessity to give in somewhat to the Zionists.)
“Even if this ‘solution’ is arrived at – which is far from being certain – it will be only a temporary, short-lived postponement of Zionism’s burial. The Jews of Palestine and the Arabs will only be involved by this plan in terrible sacrifices, clashes and bloodshed. The only real solution for the Jewish workers of Palestine is to bridge the gulf between themselves and the tens of millions of eastern peoples by renouncing Zionist dreams of domination.”
(I continue, using the present in place of the past tense)
“the ... terrorist acts ... in reality do not harm imperialism but instead serve it very well. They intend to ‘compel’ the British government to open the gates of Palestine to Zionist immigration and colonisation despite the opposition of the Arab inhabitants of the country and those of neighbouring countries (the former having discovered the true face of Zionism from first hand, and the latter learning from them). It therefore only adds fuel to the fire of the Arab-Jewish hatred. The bombardment of the railways on the eve of November 2 (1945, for instance) was an excellent weapon in the hands of British agents for the organisation of pogroms in Cairo, Alexandria and Tripoli.”
Why the Displaced Jews Want to go to Palestine
After the terrible sufferings which they underwent through the long years of Nazi rule, the Jews in the Displaced Persons Camps need an asylum where their wounds can be healed , and where they can begin life anew. Their sufferings did not end with the fall of the Nazi regime, and even if many of them could have found some possibility of living in Europe today, the fear of the future is not so easily to be wiped out. Owing to the lack of a revolutionary leadership the class struggle in Europe has not yet assumed revolutionary proportions; and under the conditions of hunger in Europe, the petty trading activities in the main of the remaining Jews who lack any economic positions whatsoever, necessarily give rise to new sprouts of anti-Semitism. These sprouts are directly or indirectly fed in those parts of Europe occupied by Stalin’s stooges; by the regime of looting, the hunger connected with it, the consequent black market, and the chauvinistic propaganda put out by the Stalinist parties. Although open fascist movements do not dare to rear their heads, anti-semitic propaganda has by no means died away. Under such conditions the desire of the Jews in the Displaced Persons camps to leave Europe is entirely understandable, and it is the duty of the world proletariat to help to ease the lot of these victims of capitalist barbarism.
Can Palestine help in the solution of this problem?
For many years the Zionists have consistently posed the question to the Jewish masses in the world as though it is an alternative between death and immigration to Palestine. British and American imperialism have therefore got away with impunity with their quota policies, being left free to prepare any deal they like against the Jews of Europe, or tomorrow against those of Palestine.
The Jews in the DP Camps have behind them the terrible massacres in Europe, and around them suffering and abounding anti-Semitism. The Zionists tell them that all the gates of the world are closed to them, the only one which can be opened that of Palestine, as the Jews there are a third of the population, and very strong. They do not tell them that Palestine is only a province of the big Arab countries, that there is a movement growing in strength for the unity of those countries, that Jewish existence in Palestine is endangered by the imperialist policy of diverting the Arab national movement against the Jews, that if the gates were opened to any degree, it would not be as a result of the pressure of the Jewish force (which is incomparably smaller than the force of the Arab masses resisting this immigration), but of the interests of imperialism in sharpening the conflicts between Arabs and Jews. The Jews in the DP Camps are not told by the Zionists that it is incomparably easier to open the gates of the USA to Jewish refugees than to open the gates of Palestine. They are not told that the struggle for their immigration into Palestine cannot afford them a peaceful home, but on the contrary even endangers the existence of those Jews who are in Palestine.
Besides this, quite a few lies have been spread by the Zionists about the extraordinary economic position of the Jews in Palestine. It is indeed true that the Jewish workers are much better off than the mass of Arabs, but if we compare their standard of life with that of the American or British workers, it is very low. This fact, together with the feeling of uncertainty in Palestine, drive many thousands of Jews in Palestine to seek ways and means of emigrating from the country. No Zionist paper will tell you, for instance, that when UNRRA asked for fourteen textile experts to go to Europe, about three thousand applied; or that hundreds of Czech and Austrian Jews have already returned to their countries of origin. If one went to the Labour exchange, one would hear a veritable torrent of anti-Zionist declarations from the mouths of the unemployed. The facts about the slums of Tel Aviv (Shchhunat Hatikvah, Shchunat Shapira, Florentine Quarter, Shchunat Maccabi, etc.) which contain at least fifty thousand of Tel Aviv’s 250,000 Jew, or those about the even worse slums of Jerusalem, are kept discreetly out of Zionist propaganda pamphlets or speeches.
The Jews in the DP Camps are desperate, and they seek consolation even in illusions. Those who know Jewish history will know that it is not the first time that suffering Jews look for salvation in a Messianic movement (note, for example, Shabtai Zvi). When a Jew came and pretended to be a representative of the Lost Tribes, was it not logical that the pogrom ridden Jews accepted him as the God-given Messiah? The Zionist leaders today find the Jews in a much more terrible situation, so that the ground is even more ready to be sown with illusions even than formerly.
A progressive movement, a real liberatory movement, is not afraid to tell the truth. But Zionism is nourished on lies. During the time of the decline of world capitalism, the petty bourgeoisie, which suffers from the pressure of the trusts, the banks, etc. revolts against capitalism. If, in this revolt, it is not led by the only power which can expropriate the big capitalists, the proletariat, it tries as an independent power to do so (as was the case in Germany), in reality, however, only serving the big capitalists against the workers an against itself.
It looks to the past to find its programme, and in place of the trusts and the banks, it hopes to put small private enterprise. but the wheels of history cannot be turned back, and this is only a dream. The big enterprises that came into existence do not cease to exist. The only problem is, in whose hands will they be: in those of the proletariat for the benefit of the whole people, or in those of the big capitalists, against the interests of the toilers (petty bourgeoisie included)? The Jewish petty bourgeoisie, cast out of the economy during the decline of capitalism, and massacred, also looks for its ideal in the past. If world capitalism has no place for the Jews in the capitalist countries, the Jewish petty bourgeoisie says: “Let us find our place outside this system, in the Jewish State that once existed.’ it cannot directly follow in the path of the anti-capitalist petty bourgeoisie which, dreaming of smashing the trusts and the banks, helped Hitler to power. Instead, it intends running away from them, making itself immune from the pressure of world capitalism by building the Jewish closed economy. This plan is not more realistic, however than the dreams of the German petty bourgeoisie. Nor is it less reactionary.
As regards the Jewish workers in USA and England, insofar as they support Zionism, they do so not because they themselves intend emigrating to Palestine, just as no Jewish worker from Poland or other East European country emigrated to Palestine before the war. They feel that their fate is bound up with the fate of the country in which they live, and they are absolutely right, being part and parcel of the working class of those countries. The fact that the Jewish workers in the USA and England have recently turned to some extent towards Zionism is the result of their will to help the Jewish refugees of Europe and their feeling that the gates of their own countries are closed. The Trotskyists must not give way to the reactionary illusions that it is possible to open the gates of Palestine to Jewish refugees more easily than those of England and the USA. As we have already shown, the opening of the gates of Palestine can be the result only of reactionary pressure by British imperialism against the wish of the millions of Arabs; and this can serve only to endanger the position of Jews all over the Middle East.
The Jewish Workers of Palestine need the Help of the International Proletariat
The words of Trotsky, that “The attempt to solve the Jewish question through the migration of Jews to Palestine can now be seen for what it is, a tragic mockery of the Jewish people,” become more and more closer to many of the Jewish workers in Palestine. The feeling will grow from day to day that the Jews in Palestine are not an independent factor but a buffer between the Arab masses and imperialism, and that they are impotent in the face of these world powers. Till now these feelings did not bring forward any considerable organised anti-Zionist movement, for which there are two reasons. First of all, the Jewish masses in Palestine do not yet see in the Arab proletariat a strong ally, which will protect them from all the intrigues and provocations of imperialism, feudalism and Zionism, as till now the Arab working class of the whole east has not come to maturity.
Secondly, the international working class has not yet appeared as a power struggling for the right of asylum in their countries. These two reasons, together with the fact that big sections of the working class in the USA and England, while not ready to struggle for the opening of the gates of their countries, are ready to demand the opening of the gates of Palestine, despite the opposition of the Arab labour movement, all strengthen Zionist illusions. Many Jewish workers in Palestine are driven to the idea that the AF of L and CIO are much more important allies for the Jewish workers of Palestine than the Arab trade unions of Palestine, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon. By their support of Jewish immigration top Palestine the CIO and AF of L, while not helping one Jew to come to Palestine (because of the objective conditions) do help to maintain the Zionist illusions among the Jewish workers in Palestine, and help objectively to widen the abyss between the Jews and Arabs in Palestine, which more and more endangers the positions of the Jews in the whole of the Middle East.
The American and English working class must not support the Zionist drive for a Jewish State (or what, under existing conditions means the same thing, a drive for Jewish immigration and colonisation) which, while befitting imperialism, opposes the most elementary interests equally of the Arab masses as of the Jewish. Instead they must support the struggle of the millions of Arab toilers for the independence of the Arab countries, for the lodging of the fate of the country in the hands of its inhabitants, and for liberation from the yoke of imperialism, feudalism and capitalism.

Palestine Strike
Arabs and Jews Unite
By T. Cliff
Our Middle East Correspondent
(May 1946)

From Socialist Appeal, Mid-May 1946, p3.
Transcribed by Mike Pearn.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The biggest strikes in the history of Palestine far surpassing any other which have taken place, broke out last month. 32,000 workers came out, of which 26,000 were Arabs and 6,000 Jews.
The biggest strikes in the history of Palestine On the 9th April 500 Arab and Jewish workers in the Post and Telegraph Services in Tel Aviv and Jaffa came out on strike. On the 10th the strike spread to the Post and Telegraph Services in all other parts of the country encompassing altogether 2,000 workers and employees. On the 15th Government employees of the 2nd Division – the lower paid employees constituting 20,000 strong, which is more than 90% of all Civil Servants, came out on strike. On the same day the railway workers of the whole country and the workers of Haifa and Jaffa ports joined the strike.
The strike awakened response in many other places and workers of three big factories came out on strike with tens of thousands of workers and employees standing solidly behind the strikers, waiting to join them if they should be called upon to do so.
To understand what gave the impetus to this wave of strikes one must know the conditions and low standard of living forced upon the workers and government employees through the low wages in face of a constantly rising cost of living. According to the Government index, the cost of living rose to 258 in comparison with 100 before the war: but the cost of living allowances of the workers and employees did not rise anywhere near this figure.
To given an indication of the cost of living, butter is 6/- a lb. A cake 30/-, a suit £45, shoes £5. The postal employees get from £6 to £16 a month.
2/7d. a Day
The daily workers in the Post and Telegraph Services receive about 2s 7d a day. The employees receive a basic salary of £6 a month and the maximum of £15 after 14 years of service. The maximum wages for a postman is £9. The basic wages in the railways is 3/- a day; in the ports 2/6; and in the Public Works Dept. 2/6. A family of 5 or 6 have to live on £3 to £4 a month.
The most important demands of the railway Workers were an increase of the basic minimum wage of 6s 5d a day and a proportional increase for all other grades; annual holidays with pay, cost of living allowances on the whole basic wage; 8 hours a day and payment for overtime. The demand of the 2nd Division Civil Servants was similar to those of the Post and Telegraph Employees but somewhat greater.
Arab and Jewish Workers Unite
The Government attempted to break the strike by recruiting strike-breakers, but despite promises of high payment no scabs could be found. The Government also tried to divide the united ranks of Arab and Jewish workers, but again without any success whatsoever. Large demonstrations were held throughout the period of the strike and it was most encouraging to see immense processions of strikers making their way through the Arab and Jewish quarters carrying slogans in Arabic and Hebrew calling on the population for support of their just demands.
The Revolutionary Communist League, Palestine Section of the Fourth International, issued a leaflet in support of the strikers.
Fearing that the strikes and demonstrations would spread to the neighbouring countries and receive more and more an anti-imperialist character, British imperialism had to give way and grant the workers and employees some concessions. It is not yet clear what the actual results of the strike will be, as many points have not yet been confirmed by the Colonial office in London. The outcome of some of the demands is, however, known. The minimum salaries in the 2nd Division in the Post and Telegraph was increased from £6 to £8, a change was made in grading to the workers advantage; a cost of living allowance of 80% of the official index was agreed upon for the first £10 of basic pay, and 40% of the £5 above that. The Railway Workers also received a rise in the minimum basic pay from 3/- to 4/- a day and a corresponding rise I other grades. Two weeks paid holidays and overtime pay.
High Commissioner Demands “No Strike” Pledge
Three days after the resumption of work, the High Commissioner declared that he “cannot consider the matter further until he is given adequate safeguards by the Association that the 2nd Division Civil Service will in future use the machinery which exists within the government for the adjustment f grievances.” in other words, until they pledge not to strike in future. But the government will not find it so easy to break its promises.
The strike gave the big lie to the fable which imperialism, Zionism and the reactionary Arab leadership try to bolster up that unity of the Arab and Jewish masses is impossible to achieve. It proved that while there are not a dozen Arabs who support Zionism, there are tens of thousands of Arab workers who are ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with their Jewish class fellows for the defence of their common class interests.