Leon Trotsky had become a Zionist

Leon Trotsky was the greatest socialist revolutionary who ever lived. Why should it not be of the most gigantic historical importance that he became a Zionist, that is a Zionist from the standpoint of a revolutionary socialist, in the 1930s

This is taken from Myers synopsis of the work by Nedava


[Start quote here]

{p. 204} On his arrival in Mexico in January 1937, Trotsky granted several interviews to the press, in which he expressed his views on Jewish problems. He admitted that with Hitler’s rise to power in Germany, things had altered considerably for European Jewry. Agonizingly he had to reappraise his former assumptions:

During my youth I rather leaned toward the prognosis that the Jews of different countries would be assimilated and that the Jewish question would thus disappear, as it were, automatically. The historical development of the last quarter of a century has not confirmed this view. Decaying capitalism has everywhere swung over to an intensified nationalism, one aspect of which is anti-Semitism. The Jewish question has loomed largest in the most highly developed capitalist country of Europe, Germany.

Trotsky still did not concede that the Jewish question could be solved within the framework of the capitalist system; but assimilation, as a kind of self-regulating process which might have taken care of the problem over an extended period of time, could no longer be relied upon; its pace was not speedy enough to cope with the appearance of such radically destructive movements as nazism. Palliatives, therefore, had to be sought, and Trotsky was driven to admit the existence of one of them – territorialism. “The Jews of different countries,” he said, “have created their press and developed the Yiddish language as an instrument adapted to modern culture. One must therefore reckon with the fact that the Jewish nation will maintain itself for an entire epoch to come.” The admission of the existence of a “Jewish nation” was a weird recantation on the part of Trotsky, unless it was a mere semantic slip of the tongue.

Admitting in 1937 the need for a palliative solution to the Jewish problem but realizing, of course, that Zionism was basically a territorial movement. Trotsky took issue with it, not on the grounds of substance, but rather practical viability. He said so explicitly:

We must bear in mind that the Jewish people will exist a long time. The nation cannot normally exist without common territory. Zionism springs from this very idea. But the facts of every passing day demon-

{p. 205} strate to us that Zionism is incapable of resolving the Jewish question. The conflict between the Jews and Arabs in Palestine acquires a more and more tragic and more and more menacing character. I do not at all believe that the Jewish question can be resolved within the framework of rotting capitalism and under the control of British imperialism.

In his interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Trotsky recalled that he had been inclined toward the idea of assimilation of Jews, but had changed his attitude because of “historical developments.”

He then brought up a new concept, which had never before preoccupied the minds of Marxist doctrinaires: emigration. Orthodox socialism, which claims to be anchored in the underlying fraternity of the human race, does not envisage the need for transplanting peoples in order to solve social problems. Trotsky, however, admits to the peculiarity of the Jewish problem in this respect too:

Socialism will open the possibility of great migrations on the basis of the most developed technique and culture. It goes without saying that what is here involved is not compulsory displacements, that is, the creation of new ghettos for certain nationalities, but displacements freely consented to, or rather demanded, by certain nationalities or parts of nationalities. The dispersed Jews who would want to be reassembled in the same community will find a sufficiently extensive and rich spot under the sun. The same possibility will be opened for the Arabs, as for all other scattered nations. National topography will become a part of the planned economy. This is the great historic perspective as I see it. To work for international Socialism means to work also for the solution of the Jewish question.* {Why does Trotsky mention the Arabs, if not implying that Palestine would be given to the Jews? H. G. Wells also envisaged mass migration in his world state.}

Here Trotsky may have prophetically adumbrated the national renascence which sprouted among wide sections of Soviet Jewry, which, following the Six-Day War of 1967, has assumed the form of a persistent struggle for the right of immigration to Israel.¥

* Jewish Teleglaphic Agency, 18 January 1937.

¥ It is noteworthy that P. B. Akselrod anticipated Trotsky by many years in defending the idea of Jewish immigration to Palestine. See Deich, Yiden in der Rusisher Revolutsie, 1:9.

{p. 206} In June 1937 Mrs. Beba Idelson, a Russian-born Jewish socialist Zionist leader in Palestine, visited Trotsky in Mexico. First she participated in a press conference at Diego Rivera’s residence and then had a long conversation with Trotsky in his study. The following are some of her recollections of that conversation:

I told him who I was, and that at the time I had been expelled from Russia as a Zionist-Socialist. If he was interested, I would tell him about our life in Palestine. Trotsky got up from his chair, asked me to wait awhile, and soon returned with his wife. He introduced me to her and asked me to tell him everything. He wanted to know about Palestine and was happy to hear a report from a person living there.

I talked to him not as one talks to a stranger. A feeling accompanied me all the time that he was a Jew, a wandering Jew, without a fatherland. This brought me closer to him, aroused in me confidence that my story was addressed to a man who was able to understand. I interrupted my story several times, asking him whether he was sure he had the time to listen to me, and he urged me to continue, jotted down some points, and then began to question me: How many Jews are there in Palestine? Where do they reside; is it only in towns? He asked numerous questions about the kibbutzim and the Histadrut. Are we able to work in harmony with the employers within the framework of the Zionist Organization; how do we bring Jews to Palestine and how do they join our party; how is our young generation being brought up and what is its language? He asked me to say a few sentences in Hebrew and smiled at the sound of the language. He wrote several words and noted down mainly the names of the Zionist leaders, the parties, the Histadrut, and various places in Palestine. He showed interest as if he were a man hearing about an unknown land, but I was under the impression that the subject absorbed his thought and heart.

The conversation lasted nearly three hours. After telling how we were fighting for Jewish immigration into our country, and he was deeply immersed in thought, I asked him: “Here is a country that is ready to admit you; perhaps you, too, will go to Palestine?” I felt that a shiver ran through his spine. He replied with a calm question: “Wouldn’t you be afraid to accept me?” I answered: “No, we won’t be afraid, for our idea is stronger than any fear of any man, even of a man like you.” Trotsky came over to me, pressed my hand, and said: “Thank you. It is a long time since I have felt so good. But you should know that I have friends throughout the world. We have not renounced our views…


This is an important extract from the above

Trotsky still did not concede that the Jewish question could be solved within the framework of the capitalist system; but assimilation, as a kind of self-regulating process which might have taken care of the problem over an extended period of time, could no longer be relied upon; its pace was not speedy enough to cope with the appearance of such radically destructive movements as nazism. Palliatives, therefore, had to be sought, and Trotsky was driven to admit the existence of one of them – territorialism.

What follows this slightly contradicts this. It is not so much as looking for palliatives, or just reacting to the Nazi threat, but it was even more fundamental. Trotsky was reaching a new understanding of the role of nationalism as a progressive element, and of nation states.

He was saying that the Jews had to get out of Europe at all costs. Had to make their way to Palestine and set up a state of their own where they could be free to carry on their ancient religion and customs without molestation.

But they were a nation.

That is precisely what he could not see when he reported back at the Sixth Zionist Congress 30 years or so before.

What is happening here is that Trotsky was reworking all of the previous Marxist political positions and he had reached this firm truth about the Jewish people.

Zionism had been joined by the greatest revolutionary socialist man who ever lived.

And if capitalism continued to exist not only the Jes, but all of us, all of humanity would be wipled out.

That is the concept which has been hidden by both sides in this argument, but it has especially been hidden by renegades from Trotskyism who are backing this antisemitic concept and entity of “Palestinianism”.

4 thoughts on “Leon Trotsky had become a Zionist

  1. I will say that one thing it appears Trotsky missed is that for Palestinians, Palestine is their ancient homeland too. Trotsky described them as Arabs, but that’s wrong. They speak Arabic, just as 2000 years ago they and the Jews spoke Aramaic- from the Syrian occupiers. DNA tests show Palestinians have the same DNA as the people living in Palestine 2000 years ago, long before the Arab invasion. They had converted to Christianity, and the Arabs converted them and more Jews to Islam. But the Palestinians themselves are still the same people of the homeland as the Jews. Trotsky was obviously not aware of this, and assumed that Israel was the original land of the Jews, and the Arab desert was the original land of the Palestinians. It turns out he was wrong in this assumption.

    Anyway, regarding Trotsky’s Zionism, which always looked at it in voluntary terms and rejected expulsion of ethnic minorities- whether Jews in Europe or Arabs, oops, Palestinians in Israel:

    In July 1940, years after he gave the two 1937 interviews you quoted, Trotsky said:

    The attempt to solve the Jewish question through the migration of Jews to Palestine can now be seen for what it is, a tragic mockery of the Jewish people. Interested in winning the sympathies of the Arabs who are more numerous than the Jews, the British government has sharply altered its policy toward the Jews, and has actually renounced its promise to help them found their “own home” in a foreign land. The future development of military events may well transform Palestine into a bloody trap for several hundred thousand Jews. Never was it so clear as it is today that the salvation of the Jewish people is bound up inseparably with the overthrow of the capitalist system.

    For Trotsky, overthrowing capitalism and promoting complete equal rights of minorities was much more important than establishing a Jewish state. And Israel unfortunately is today a capitalist state that doesn’t treat Arabs, oops, Palestinians with the same respect that it treats Jews. (For example, revoking citizenship of Jews, oops I mean Palestinians, who go abroad for a year).

    And Trotsky’s words could be prophetic- it could be a bloody trap to put 3 million Jews in a desert surrounded by real Arab countries, and then set up a state that treats “Arabs” with scorn, only to generate resentment in the Muslim world. Putting a repressive nationalist in the Middle East really could be a trap.


    Putting the words “own home” in quotation marks I think shows Trotsky’s attitude. What do you think the quotation marks mean?

  2. TO RAKO:for progressist people land is not the property of anybody,and belongs to all humans.There are probes that the poor palestinians accept the jewish newcomers,but not the feudal class supported by the islamic establishment that looked to this development a treath to their domination.The emigration of jews to Palestine could be a progressive historical step for this region and not necessarily a bloodshet of wars

  3. It amazes me how Zionists take the above quotes of Trosky and interpret them so badly. Trotsky said that under socialism Jews *and Arabs* will be able to migrate and assemble if they want to and where they want to. There is nothing in his words that says Israel (or any other country) should be a Jewish state. A state where the expression of national characteristics Palestinitans will not be allowed to the same extent as that of Jews. A state which will act to always to keep palestinians as a minority. Such a state will keep Jewish and non-Jewish workers separate, thus giving capitalists a tool to divide and conquer the working class in Israel/Palestine. This is exactly why in the same sentence Trotsky claimed the right of both Jews and Arabs to assemble where they want. Under socialism the national rights of all minorities will be protected. Hence, Jews and Palestinian can assemble where they want without suffering from discrimination and repression no matter which of the two national groups constitutes the majority at any given time.

  4. To Yossi: Antisemitism is a virulent expression of crisis,and today,at the final stage of capitalism,even more.The question is”in between” the actual situation and the coming international,global socialism.The actual perspectives in the world,sadly to say,are more toward barbarism than to socialism.The question then,is to pick between the “second best”.dangerous and problematic,of the self defense of the Jewish people in Israel or the also dangerous and also very problematic choice of the Diaspora.
    is like picking between traveling the Ocean by an old submarine or jumping from an airplane with a bad parachute

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