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Albert Gates

Nazi Pogroms Threaten
Unarmed Palestine Jews

(July 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 27, 6 July 1942, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

As the German Panzer divisions roll across the desert sands of Egypt, threatening to seize its principal cities and overrun the Suez Canal, the extremely dangerous position of the Jewish population of the Near East, particularly Palestine, becomes ever more clear. It does not require a great deal of insight to forecast what a German victory means in that arena of the war.

The German army, accompanied and directed by the Gestapo and the Schutzstaffel, will unleash dreaded pogroms against a defenseless Jewish population. They will undoubtedly seek to incite the Arab tribal chieftains to take out on the Jews their hatred of British colonial policy and practice.

The most pitiful aspect of the entire situation is the fact that the Jewish population is defenseless, i.e., it is unarmed, even to protect itself. If this situation should continue under the conditions described above, a fearful slaughter will take place in Palestine.

The British policy of divide and rule sought to placate the Jews and the Arabs in the Near East and to maintain control of that area of the world in order to enforce its grip on the profitable oil lands belonging to the colonial peoples.

British Refuse Arms

In pursuit of these aims the British refused to accede to the demand for the formation of a Jewish army made by many supporters of the war in England and in the United States. The Jewish movements which campaign for such an army do so for a variety of special reasons, but all of them are motivated by the desire to obtain a special place in the war for their people.

It is easy to see the purpose. If a Jewish army participates in the war it will give the Palestinian Jews a firmer hold on their adopted country and in general strengthen the Zionist movement in a post-war period. Moreover, such an army, actively fighting in the war, would lay the basis for removing the British mandate over Palestine.

These are some of the reasons behind the refusal of the British to grant the request for the Jewish army.

The British imperialists are adamant even though it is plain to see that, from the point of view of their IMMEDIATE military interests in Egypt, a Jewish army could have been of incalculable value to the British forces. Such an army might have turned the tide for the British in the Libyan campaign. But the British Tories are concerned with the effects of such an army upon their colonial policy. And the British imperialists are organically incapable of changing in the slightest degree their colonial program: keep the subject peoples unarmed and divided as the surest means of maintaining British imperial rule.

The peril of the Jews in Palestine becomes alarming because it is evident that the British are unable to defend them against the wrath of the fascist barbarians.

Arabs in Danger, Too

The Jews are not alone in their plight. The Arab workers and peasants will find just as little comfort under fascist rule. While they may not suffer such pogroms as the Jewish population, they face the slavery of all conquered countries.

The bankruptcy of British imperialist rule has long been apparent in this war. They merely repeat the practices of Malaya, Singapore and Burma in Egypt and the Near East. These practices spell out the grave dangers to the whole population there, but especially the Jews.

While there is yet time, the Jews and the Arabs must unite to stave off the dangers which threaten them. It is clear that what they require is an independent policy – severance from the blind and reactionary British rulers, severance from their own misleaders who keep them tied to a policy and practice which doom them in advance.

What is needed in the Near East is the independent organization of the workers and peasants, Jews and Arabs alike, in a common struggle for their freedom and independence! What is needed is the arming of the whole population to defend themselves against the conquerors!

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