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Albert Gates

Readers of Labor Action Take the Floor ...

Note on Jewish-Arab Position

(6 January 1947)

From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 1, 6 January 1947, p. 7.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

The letter of Comrade Findley raises a question which made up part of the discussion at the Labor Action School Forum where the two of us spoke on the Jewish question in relation to the current situation in Palestine. At that time; Findley asked why I kept admonishing the Jewish people and their organizations, inside of Palestine and outside, to adopt “a friendly, internationalist, socialist attitude (which) ... could overcome the propaganda of the reactionary Arab leaders.” Why did I not make the same plea to the Arab people and their organizations and leaders? The same question was asked of me when I spoke in Philadelphia.

I tried to make clear the reasons for the particular emphasis which I put on this question. In my speeches and rebuttals, a proper evaluation was made of the part which the Arabs play in the present situation, but I deliberately concentrated the main burden of attack upon the Jewish organizations, their leaders and their members. My demand is not “onesided, unilateral,”. and this is why:

In the context of the real situation the Jews want to settle in Palestine and demand the right of free immigration. For a number of reasons already stated in columns of our press we are in favor of and support this desire on the part of the Jews. But they wish to go to a country which is Arabian in its vast majority. Both Arabians and Jews have one common enemy, British imperialism, which blocks the road to the immediate primary need of Palestine: complete independence. British imperialism has succeeded, with the assistance of the Arab overlords, in whipping up resistance and resentment of large segments of the Arab masses to Jewish immigration. But British imperialism is also vigorously assisted by the attitude of the Jews toward the Arabs, when the latter express themselves toward the Arabs in a language that is, from the point of socialism and internationalism, impermissible, reactionary, coupled with overtones of “racism.”

If goes without saying, and as a matter of fact we have said it repeatedly, that we, want the Arabs to approach the Jews in the same way as we ask the Jews to approach them. And if we were debating this question before an Arab audience we would most certainly stress this factor on the basis of our revolutionary socialist program. But we are not speaking to such audiences. We are discussing the question before audiences which attract many Jews, and the majority of them do not have, what is in our opinion, a clear and correct position on the question. We are appealing to them because we have direct contact with them and because they hold a key to the solution of this whole question.

There is still another reason for our emphasis. It is a concrete and practical one. The Jews desire to go to a country which is predominantly Arab. In coming to such a country, the responsibility of Jews for a correct attitude toward the Arab is greater than that of the Arabs, especially because of the latter’s hostility to increased Jewish immigration. The Jews have to overcome this hostility and win the Arabs to their side; they cannot do it except on the basis of our program.

To separate the question of the democratic right of “majority self-rule!” from the “life and death need” of the Jews, and to decide which is more important, is foolish in this case. The two questions are joined in one, because saving the European Jews is completely related to Palestinian independence and the constituent assembly. Our whole position is based on the premise of equality, as our resolution, as well as Findley’s, acknowledges. Emotion and sentiment, however understandable, will not solve the problem of the Jews in Palestine. It makes even a discussion of the problem extremely difficult and unrewarding.

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