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Labor Action, 31 May 1948



Israel’s War


From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 22, 31 May 1948, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Last week’s editorial on this subject raised the question: Are the Israeli Jews to wage a war of nationalist expansionism, or a revolutionary war for the reunification of Palestine from below against both the Jewish and Arab ruling classes?

Before this question can be answered, the first illusion that needs destroying is the illusion that the splinter state of Israel can “go it alone.” To be sure, given Haganah military victories, Israel can succeed in maintaining its formal independence. But world imperialism – British, American AND Russian – will remain on the scene with their fingers in the pie as long as the Balkanization of the Middle East continues.

The present situation in Palestine, the fruit of partition and the end product of Zionist policy in the country, can only continue to inflame nationalist hostility on both sides. It is reported that when the Jews took Haifa, a large part if not all of the Arab population moved from the city. This is a better commentary on the state of feeling between the two peoples than all the Zionists’ talk of how much they have done for the poor Arabs.

Even if the Arab legions’ invasion is beaten back, the new state of Israel exists in an impossible economic and political situation. Its leaders will be forced to seek to fortify the stability of the new state in face of an encirclement of hatred – and they will look or aid and comfort only toward the imperialists. Such will be the inevitable drift for these “practical” politicians whose conception of statesmanship will consist of attempts to maneuver with the imperialist interests which hold Palestine in a net. And the price of such statesmanship can only be their willingness to act as an imperialist outpost in the Middle East for one or the other of the contending forces, hoping for protection and support in exchange.

The Israeli leaders may seek to hitch their state wagon to the rising star of American imperialism; elements like the Hashomer in the new state already look toward Russian power with hope; and it is not even excluded that, given a quarter of a chance, they will also be willing to return to their pre-war role as cat’s-paws of British influence. If the last is least likely it is only because the British seem to be convinced that they can do better business with the Arabs.

Behind all this is the sorry fact that Israel CANNOT exist as a splinter state quivering in the flesh of the Arab Middle East without constant war-skirmishing or imperialist entanglements or both. This is guaranteed both for economic and political reasons, as it was for the splinter states of Eastern Europe that emerged from the First World War (Czechoslovakia, for instance).

This is why the only road that can save the Jews from subservience to imperialism or destruction by the Arabs is a course directed toward the REUNIFICATION OF PALESTINE on a basis which will permit the two peoples to live together in fraternal harmony. Such an outcome is simply impossible on the basis of the present policy of the Israeli leadership. And it is equally impossible as long as the Arab masses are under the unchallenged domination of their semi-feudal dynasties, landlords, effendis and militarists.

The reunification of Palestine and of the two peoples in it can take place only through a struggle FROM BELOW. The conditions for such a struggle are present as they were before partition – the class struggle within Jewish society, and the grinding exploitation of the Arab peasants by their lords and masters.

We believe that the main (not exclusive, but the main) responsibility for taking the initiative in this direction lies with the Jewish workers – precisely because, as the Zionist leaders boast on any occasion, it is the Jews who are the more advanced socially and culturally, because it is they who claim to be socialists, etc.

While opposing any attempt by the Arab landlord regimes to overthrow the Jewish state and impose their own reactionary sway on the whole land, it is the duty of real socialists in Israel to fight for a policy, a program and a government of the working people which CAN bring about such reunification instead of deepening the nationalist gulf.

The key to such a program is in the first place the policy of the people of Israel toward the Arabs NOW WITHIN THEIR OWN BORDERS. Israel must demonstrate that they are fighting NOT AGAINST THE ARAB PEOPLE BUT AGAINST THE ARAB DYNASTS AND LANDLORDS who are also the oppressors of the Arab people themselves. It must demonstrate that it seeks the alliance of the Arab masses against their own exploiters – an alliance of classes.

It can demonstrate this only by sharply reversing the whole Zionist policy toward the Arab people – accepting them as equals and collaborators in the building up, not of a JEWISH state,but of a BI-NATIONAL STATE. We use the term “bi-national” (which has been used with various senses) to designate merely the aim of a state which is the home of TWO peoples and comports itself as such, the forms to be worked out in common agreement.

Complete, equal rights to the Arabs within the state of Israel; equality, not Jim Crow, in the Jewish-controlled trade unions; the abandonment of the economic nationalism which has reigned in the Jewish community hitherto; the constitutional AND de facto guarantee of the Arabs’ fully recognized status as a national people – here are the elementary beginnings of such a program in Israel which can demonstrate inaction the basis for a reunited Palestine.

Only such a government in Israel could seek to stir up the Arab masses of the invading nations against their own oppressors, raising in the first place its sympathy with the demand for LAND TO THE ARAB FELLAHEEN and the other social interests of the submerged mass of the Arab semi-feudal world.

Such a state, which appears in the Middle East not as the representative of Jewish nationalist chauvinism but of the social aspirations of all the people, Jewish and Arab, could fight fora reunified Palestine – and live.

Such is the program for a REVOLUTIONARY WAR against the Arab feudal lords, not a war of nationalist expansion against the Arab people. Such a program cannot be expected from the present rightist government of Israel, dominated by the Jewish capitalist class and tail-ended by the bourgeois labor leaders of the Histadrut, which in the longer run can only stumble from disaster to stalemate to subservience under outside imperialism.

Such a program demands the fight for a WORKERS’ GOVERNMENT in Israel as the vanguard of the future United Socialist States of the Middle East.

Without such a program all the heroic sacrifices of the Jewish people and all the military victories of the Haganah will not be able to make of Palestine anything but a death trap of the peoples and a happy hunting ground of revive d imperialist influence.

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