From the Arsenal of Marxism
Israel and the Arab Revolution
The following is the text of a Resolution adopted by the U.S. Socialist Workers Party in 1971 when it still described itself as a Trotskyist organization and subscribed to the theory of Permanent Revolution. The text below, which is a historic document that we have no right to alter, includes references to the Socialist Workers Party. Therefore, we must make clear that by publishing this document we in no way mean to imply any organizational connection with the Socialist Workers Party today.Socialist Viewpoint magazine reflects the politics of the Socialist Workers Organization. The Socialist Workers Organization traces its political political heritage through the Communist Party USA, from its formation up until its Stalinization in 1928, through the Communist League of America and the Socialist Workers Party until 1983, and then through Socialist Action from its formation until February 2001. We are proud of our revolutionary Marxist historical continuity from the time of V. I. Lenin and Leon Trotsky until today, but take no responsibility for the actions of those organizations that continue to exist subsequent to our separation from them.
In line with the best traditions of the international working-class movement, we strive to maintain comradely fraternal relations with all political and economic organizations inside the workers movement.
1. The Socialist Workers Party gives unconditional support to the national liberation struggles of the Arab peoples against imperialism, that is, we support all these struggles regardless of their current leaderships. Our foremost task in implementing such support is to educate and mobilize the American people against U.S. imperialist actions in the Mideast.
2. Israel, created in accordance with the Zionist goal of establishing a Jewish state, could be set up in the Arab East only at the expense of the indigenous peoples of the area. Such a state could come into existence and maintain itself only by relying upon imperialism. Israel is a settler-colonialist and expansionist capitalist state maintained principally by American imperialism, hostile to the surrounding Arab peoples. It is an imperialist beachhead in the Arab world that serves as the spearhead of imperialisms fight against the Arab revolution. We unconditionally support the struggles of the Arab peoples against the state of Israel.
3. The principal victims of the creation of Israel were the Palestiniansi.e., the Arabs who inhabited the region where Israel was established, who have been driven from their homes or placed in subjugation within Israel and the newly occupied territories. The Palestinians are a part of the Arab peoples, but they also form a distinct national grouping, with its own history of struggle against imperialism. There were Palestinian uprisings in 1921, 1929, and during the 1930s, reaching a high point in 1936-1939. At the height of the 1936 rebellion, the Palestinians conducted a six-month general strike. Expulsion from their homeland through the creation of Israel greatly intensified national consciousness among the Palestinians. The upsurge of Palestinian nationalism in the recent period, especially after the 1967 war, was particularly marked in the refugee camps and newly occupied territories as a result of the direct oppression these people have suffered at the hands of Israel. The September 1970 civil war in Jordan further intensified Palestinian national consciousness.
The struggle of the Palestinian people against their oppression and for self-determination has taken the form of a struggle to destroy the state of Israel. The currently expressed goal of this struggle is the establishment of a democratic, secular Palestine. We give unconditional support to this struggle of the Palestinians for self-determination.
An integral part of our program for the Palestinian revolution and the Arab revolution as a whole is support of full civil, cultural, and religious rights for all nationalities in the Mideast, including the Israeli Jews. The major Palestinian liberation organizations also advance this concept and view it as essential to their attempt to win the Israeli Jewish masses away from support to Israel.
4. Our revolutionary socialist opposition to Zionism and the Israeli state has nothing in common with anti-Semitism, as the pro-Zionist propagandists maliciously and falsely assert. Anti-Semitism is anti-Jewish racism used to justify and reinforce oppression of the Jewish people. Marxists have been and remain the most militant and uncompromising fighters against anti-Semitism and the oppression of Jews.
The source of the oppression of the Jewish people in this era is the capitalist system, which in its period of decay carries all forms of racist oppression to the most barbarous extremes. This was horribly illustrated in the holocaust directed against the Jews of Europe by German imperialism under the Nazi regime. Today, anti-Semitism remains widespread in all of the Western imperialist countries. Until the capitalist system is abolished in these countries there is the ever-present danger that a new variety of virulent anti-Semitism can arise.
In the Soviet Union and the workers states of Eastern Europe the privileged Stalinist bureaucracies perpetuate and reinforce many forms of racism and national oppression inherited from the previous capitalist era, including anti-Semitism and oppression of Jews. In these countries a political revolution is needed to sweep away the reactionary bureaucracies and institute the norms of proletarian democracy, equality, and internationalism.
In the colonial and semi-colonial countries, including those in the Arab world, the bourgeois regimes perpetuate and foster racism and oppression against national minorities, including the indigenous Jewish population. Only when the colonial and semi-colonial countries win complete national liberation, through the process of permanent revolution culminating in a socialist revolution, can the oppression of these national minorities be ended.
The struggle against anti-Semitism and the oppression of Jews is part of the struggle to abolish all forms of racism and national oppression. This struggle can be fully and finally won only in alliance with all the oppressed of the world.
Zionism is not, as it claims, a national liberation movement. Zionism is a political movement that developed for the purpose of establishing a settler-colonialist state in Palestine and that rules the bourgeois society headed by the Israeli state today in alliance with world imperialism.
Zionism does not represent or promote the interests of the Jewish people. Within Israel, the Zionists lead the Jewish masses into the trap of opposing the national liberation struggle of the Arab peoples, a just and democratic struggle that will ultimately be victorious. The racist oppression of the Israeli state against the Arabs is paralleled by racist oppression within Israel against Jews who come from the Arab countries and other colonial and semi-colonial countries. Israeli capitalism exploits the Jewish workers in addition to super-exploiting the Arab workers. Police repression against Arabs carries over to increasing repression against those Jews who oppose Zionism. Clerical restrictions on civil liberties affect Jews, and Arabs even more.
The Zionists promulgate the lie that to be Jewish is to be a Zionist, and therefore a supporter of Israel and imperialism. They thus make it easier for racist demagogues in other countries to foster anti-Semitism among the masses. The Zionists and their imperialist allies, who were incapable of fighting for the salvation of the Jews against Nazism, are incapable today of defending the interests of Jews where they are oppressed.
Cynically utilizing the crimes of the Nazis as a pretext, and with the complicity of the Soviet bureaucracy and the Stalinist movement, the imperialists and Zionists created the state of Israel at the expense of the Palestinians, who had nothing whatsoever to do with the Nazi crimes. Portraying the victim as the criminal, imperialist and Zionist propaganda now attempts to equate the Palestinian goal of national liberation with the barbaric genocidal actions of the Nazis. One of the factors enabling the imperialists and Zionists to make this false comparison is the widespread racism against the Arab peoples that exists in Europe, North America, and Israel.
The imperialists and Zionists to the contrary, the basic interests of the Jewish masses of Israel reside in alliance with the Palestinian liberation struggle and support of the goal of a democratic Palestine. We have incessantly warned Jews throughout the world: Zionism leads you into conflict with your potential alliesthe oppressed of the worldand has led you to ally with your worst enemy, imperialism. Imperialism in its death agony has already led to one holocaust against European Jewry; it can inflict similar catastrophe again unless it is overthrown in time by the mass force of the socialist revolution.
5. In the epoch of imperialism, neither the Palestinians in particular, nor the Arab peoples in general, can fully attain the goals of their struggle for national liberation, national economic development, and other democratic tasks, except through the process of permanent revolution. These objectives can only be fully realized and guaranteed by the victory of the working class at the head of the toiling masses, chiefly the peasantry, in a revolution against the imperialists, their Israeli agents, the Arab national bourgeoisie, and Arab feudal remnants. The program of this revolution will combine democratic and transitional demands directed toward the creation of a workers state. This proletarian strategy implies unconditional support for carrying out the democratic tasks. The national bourgeoisie, whether progressive or conservative, cannot lead the struggle for national liberation and democratization to victory over the imperialists, but instead limits, diverts, and suppresses it.
6. To lead the struggle for national liberation to completion through the process of permanent revolution, the creation of mass revolutionary-socialist parties is absolutely essential in both the Arab countries and Israel.
7. Such parties do not yet exist either in the Arab countries or in Israel. At the present time, only a few Trotskyist cadres are active in those countries. In Israel, a small group of Trotskyists participate in the Israeli Socialist Organization, a heterogeneous grouping yet to be won to political support of the Fourth International and Leninist organizational concepts. In Europe and North America a promising development has been the winning of a number of Arab cadres from different Mideast countries to Trotskyism.
None of the various Palestinian liberation organizations meet the criteria for such revolutionary-socialist parties, in theory, program, or organization. However, among these groupings numerous militants have appeared who can potentially be recruited to the Trotskyist movement. The best of them are to be found in the major Palestinian liberation organizations. The September 1970 civil war in Jordan demonstrated that the Palestinian liberation organizations have deep ties with the Palestinian masses. An important and hopeful sign is that Stalinism has not succeeded in attracting, holding, or shaping the major Palestinian liberation groups.
At the present time, in view of our limited information and the lack of clarity among the Palestinian groups about the political issues behind their splits and their organizational differences, and the fact that no one of these organizations has incontestably become the decisive leadership of the Palestinian struggle, it would be premature for us to give any one of them special support over the others. We should maintain an attitude of general support to the Palestinian struggle and in that sense to all the main struggle organizations, reserving full freedom to present our own views on program and other issues.
8. Although one of the goals of the Arab revolution will be the unity of the Arab peoples, we cannot approach this perspective schematically or formally. Historical developments, not least the divisive role of imperialism, have created separate Arab states and differences among the Arab peoples. The revolution will therefore unfold in an uneven way throughout the region, and can leap ahead or suffer setbacks in one or another of the Arab states or Palestine. We envisage the establishment of a united socialist Middle East. But such a political formation will not issue from a simultaneous and uniform revolution throughout the area.
The dialectical relationship between the Palestinian revolution and the Arab revolution as a whole was graphically illustrated at the time of the 1970 civil war in Jordan. The logic of the Palestinian struggle against Israel led to a situation approximating dual power in Jordan and a new stage in the independence of the Palestinian fighters from the Soviet bureaucracy and those Arab regimes that accepted the Rogers plan. This pitted the Palestinian masses in a revolutionary struggle against the Hussein regime.
9. The bourgeois regimes in several Arab states have turned to the USSR for economic and military aid to help their economic development and to counterbalance imperialist pressure. As a result, in recent years the Soviet Union has become more deeply involved diplomatically and militarily in the Middle East. The Middle East, which borders on the Soviet Union, is an area where imperialist power immediately endangers the workers state, and is consequently an area of vital importance for Soviet foreign policy.
But the international policy of the Soviet bureaucracy is predicated on its conservative and narrowly conceived identification of the bureaucracys own interests with the interests of the workers state. It sees the Arab liberation struggle as a pawn that can be sacrificed in its dealings with imperialism. Moscows goal is a Middle East settlement based upon the maintenance of the capitalist status quo and a division of this area into stable spheres of influence between it and imperialism. The Soviet bureaucracy and the Stalinist parties in the Middle East oppose all independent revolutionary developments that threaten this status quo fundamentally, such as the Palestinian liberation struggle.
However, despite the enmity of Washington and the double-dealing of Moscow, the Arab revolutionary struggle will continue in spite of temporary setbacks and defeats until complete national liberation is attained. The central role played by U.S. imperialism in continually attempting to contain and crush the Arab revolution raises the dangerous possibility that it will force the Soviet Union into a military confrontation in the Middle East that can easily escalate into a worldwide nuclear war. This places special obligations upon the SWP to educate the American people about, and mobilize opposition to, Washingtons aims and actions in the Mideast. The perilous situation there highlights the mutual interrelation and interdependence of the three main sectors of the world revolution: the socialist revolution in the advanced capitalist countries; the political revolution in the bureaucratically deformed or degenerated workers states; and the combined democratic and socialist revolutions in the colonial countries.