by Felix Quigley
In Part 1 we pointed to the implications of the murder of the Jewish students in Jerusalem 2 days ago. In this article we point to the implications of the great socialist revolutionary Leon Trotsky’s call for a Jewish Homeland where Jews would be free from antisemitism In the context of the pamphlet by Lenin “What is to be done?”, if I stretch the point a little, the Jews of Israel are a little like the working class that Lenin had in mind. The working class is continually being bombarded by bourgeois ideology every second of the day and after all the main point of Lenin in his work was that the dominant ideas in any society are the ideas of the ruling class, because the ruling powers have control of the means of information, schools, media etc in their hands.
In much the same way the Jews of Israel are also buffeted by the ideology of the dominant powers in the world, which is especially the ideology of the US and of the EU. These fiends have even on this basis created a Judeo-Christian complex so Jews of Israel are somehow to be grateful that they are part of this club.
The power of this Imperialist ideology, which is more and more taking the form of attacking the Jews, has to weigh very heavily on the Jewish people. It is not an abstraction, words wafting their way through the air, it is a real concrete and physical presence. It is in fact material. The Serbs of the past 20 years or so can understand this concrete reality very well.
There are other influences which entered the Israeli scene in the 30s and 40s which are too often dismissed. These influences are social democracy and Stalinism. The representatives of these very definitely did enter into the Israeli body politic, social democracy in the form of the Kibbutzim philosophy, a reactionary Tolstoyist trend which also militated against an understanding of reality.
The other was even more lethal. That was the role of Stalinism in the Israeli body and the great curse of this was that it merged with certain aspects of Judaism. (Some may dismiss this as of no account, I just ask them to trace the political influences on many of today’s operators in the Israeli political scene, Gideon Levy, Amira Hass, Arik Sharon and they will see that these influences are real).
With the murder of Trotsky the road was opened for these influences to have full and deadly effect. There were enormous differences between the revolutionary Zionism of Jabotinsky and Leon Trotsky. For example Trotsky would never have proposed forming a platoon of revolutionaries to fight on the side of the British in the war as Jabotinsky did. Trotsky was a revolutionary. If he was to form such a platoon it would demand 100 per cent independence and after the fight against fascism was concluded he would aim for the overthrow of the British.
But there was more in common with these Jews like Jabotinsky than there was with Weizman who was totally at the service of Imperialism.
The call which Leon Trotsky made for a Jewish state free from antisemitism is like a clarion call which rings out even to today’s politics in Israel. The Oslo Accords was the great betrayal of the Israeli ruling class towards the Jews. In Oslo they along with the USbrought the Islamofascists of Hajj Amin el Husseini back into the centre of Israeli politics. But bad as it was it was not the first or even the worst. The very worst betrayal lay in the Constitution of the newly born state set up by the Jews in 1948.
Trotsky was calling for a state of the Jews free from antisemitism, a respite from antisemitism, but the Founding Constitution of the Israeli state in 1948 was walking right into the trap of antisemitism.
For example it contains the following:
start quote here
The State of Israel … will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture;
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The Constitution of the Israeli state must be placed alongside Trotsky’s demand that the state of the Jews be free from antisemitism and be a defence against antisemitism. Trotsky had of course in mind a struggle to the end against the Christian antisemitism of the British and the antisemitism of Islam. That was abandoned by those who set up the Israeli state and here a number of trends came together.
Trend One was the thought that the Islamist Arabs are a fair and a revolutionary people and that they can be freed from Islam, thus opening the door to the Arabs and Jews working together to create a material and spiritual paradise in the Holy Land. This showed an enormous disregard from the realities of Islam, realities which Lenin and Trotsky were always very aware of, but which others like Zinoviev were not. Trotsky after all had pinpointed the main enemy of the Jews as being the “Reactionary Mohammedans”.
Trend Two: We the Jews are to be a light unto the nations of the earth. This has actually got two sides. The first is positive and is at the centre of the Jewish faith and the Jewish people as a nation. It represents everything that is best.The other side to this is negative when it enters into the hands of reformists and can become a bankrupt and debilitating doctrine. As we saw the idea of the Jews of newly founded Israel becoming super democrats and accepting antisemites into their new state it played right into the hands of the Vatican, of Islam and other reactionaries. In a remarkable way too this in the hands of Weizman played right into the false ideas of Trend One above. Because they reasoned that if we are to be a light unto the nations we have to show how charitable we are towards the Arab and other antisemites who hate Israel.
It all goes to prove that Judaism is a religion, a very respected religion and philosophy of how to live, but it is not a revolutionary theory and practice. It should not be asked to be that. For revolution today you need to have the theory and practice of revolution and there is a long tradition of that which has to be drawn on.
This “charity” showed by the leaders of newly born Israel towards Arab and later Jewish antisemitism was totally in conflict with the atheistic call by Trotsky to make Israel free from all antisemites, whatever nationality they might call themselves. This whole complex has led to the transformation of some Jews into such political monstrosities as Amira Hass and Gideon Levy, along with Pappe and literally thousands like him in Israeli academia.
This is in my opinion the most important question of all. Leon Trotsky was without any doubt (we can all agree) a confirmed atheist. He did not “believe” in dialectical materialism, it was not a “belief” system, it was the very opposite. It was a method to scientifically understand the real material world of which human beings, and their thought, are connected to. In fact rather more than being “connected” to, they are both in a unity with nature and also at the same time in conflict with nature.
But Trotsky as the leader of revolutionary socialism in the 30s, as the sole leader of revolutionary socialism, in conflict with reformism and with stalinism, was taking on board in his political programme and thus the political programme of revolutionary socialism, the fate of the Jewish people. As we shall see in the next article which goes through some of these main positions of Trotsky towards the Jews (Myers on Nedava) he ended his thought process by calling on the Jews to establish a JEWISH state in Palestine.
Actually there is no contradiction in this. Only a hopeless formalist would see a contradiction in Trotsky, representative of revolutionary socialism and atheism, advocating a JEWISH state in Palestine. But he did; and he did so as he remained every second of his life as a confirmed revolutionary socialist and a militant atheist. Indeed this in an indirect way is connected to the struggle of Trotsky against those, the beginnings of Stalinism, in the early 20s who were advocating a “proletarian art”. Trotsky maintained that artists must be free to express themselves.
In a somewhat similar vein Trotsky was taking on board as a revolutionary socialist the future of the Jewish people and their religion, also their nationalism which was tied up with their religion, Judaism. He became a defender of the Jewish people, a defender of Jewish nationalism, a defender of the rights of Jews to live in a place apart where they would be free from antisemitism. Perhaps in that regard if you strip away, as one writer on Israpundit said, much of the baggage Trotsky had become a Zionist, but certainly the kind of Zionist never envisaged by the “Elders”, a Zionist from the standpoint of revolutionary socialism and who remained a confirmed “revolutionary and militant atheist”. We will return of course to the implications of this later. But first we will look at Myers extracts from the Nedava book, incidentally treating the Myer’s views on Trotsky with some circumspection.