WAS LEON TROTSKY THE FIRST REVOLUTIONARY SOCIALIST ZIONIST?

 

I do not like to quote from Peter Myers and his Mailstar outfit. But in any case this is a straight quote or extract from the Nedava book on Trotsky.

 

The scene as I gather is in the house of Trotsky in Mexico in 1937, so some 3 years before his murder. The visitor to Trotsky is Mrs Beba Idelson, who is a Jewish Socialist from Russia then living in “Palestine”.

 

Mrs Idelson I gather had somehow made her way to Mexico and I think was part of a group of other people, perhaps mainly journalists, but she continued after the meeting or general press conference to have this private conversation with Trotsky in his study.

 

This must have been shortly after Trotsky was forced by the Norwegian Social Democracy (Labour Party) to leave Norway where he had lived for two years. This interview must have happened very shortly after that (after his arrival in Mexico). As Wikipedia says here:

In 1933 Trotsky was offered asylum in France by Prime Minister Édouard Daladier. He stayed first at Royan, then at Barbizon. He was not allowed to visit Paris. In 1935 he was given to understand he was no longer welcome in France. After weighing alternatives, he moved to Norway. Having obtained permission from then Justice Minister Trygve Lie to enter the country, Trotsky became a guest of Konrad Knudsen near Oslo. After two years—allegedly under influence from the Soviet Union—he was put under house arrest. His transfer to Mexico on a freighter was arranged after consultations with Norwegian officials. Mexican President Lázaro Cárdenas welcomed him warmly, even arranging for a special train to bring him to Mexico City from the port of Tampico.

Trotsky lived in the Coyoacán area of Mexico City at the home (The Blue House) of the painter Diego Rivera and Rivera’s wife and fellow painter, Frida Kahlo, with whom Trotsky had an affair.[55][56] His final move was a few blocks away to a residence on Avenida Viena in May 1939, following a break with Rivera.[56]

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leon_Trotsky

 

(end extract from Wikipedia)

 

I have no knowledge of his affair with Kahlo mentioned here. I have not studied it.

 

The issue of the interview with the Russian Socialist Mrs Beba Idelson has always been of great interest to me as a socialist who supports and defends Israel. I have always read this interview in the sense that there was animosity towards “Zionism” inside the left movement and the Fourth International that Trotsky was founding was not separate from this.

 

This becomes a very complicated subject and I do not want to be drawn in at this stage. Just that I have always been attracted to the analysis by Robert Fine in Engage from some years ago whose first line is:

 

Let us explode the myth that Karl Marx was in some sense anti-Semitic in his critique of capitalism.

 

http://www.engageonline.org.uk/journal/index.php?journal_id=10&article_id=33

 

I have written also that in the famous Sixth Congress of Zionism (Basle Switzerland 1903) that Trotsky was both right and wrong. He was wrong because he should have supported Zionism and Herzl as a national liberation movement of the Jews. He should have acknowledged Judaism as a vehicle for that nationalism. He was right though in saying that BOURGEOIS Zionism could not be successful in this, I mean finally successful and note these Marxists never talked in terms of a few years, or this and that year.

 

The main point I have made is that as the years went by and especially in the fight against Stalinism and Fascism Trotsky began to change his position. He began to change towards nationalism (as in national liberation). His change towards Zionism was part of that.

 

In fact though I do not wish to use grand sounding words it was a new synthesis which he was striking in his mind.

 

And in short this is the centre of my argument which I gather from this reading, a reading which is patchy at best but which does go from Marx in the article I have referred to, also Marx and Engels and their relations with The Fenians, on through many years to the present (it is far from an easy subject)…Trotsky had become a Zionist but he was a Zionist of a completely new kind, a socialist revolutionary Zionist. And he was then murdered by Stalin murdering also this synthesis in its cradle if you like. But not quite. We exist!

 

So to return to this critical interview which I have maintained throws much light on the issue of Trotsky towards Zionism, but an interview which I have always found bourgeois Jews of today to more or less rubbish, in the sense that their minds are made up! Remember this was a critical time, the very year of 1937. I have drawn a lot and place more significance than most on this interview.

 

The interview is of course totally truthful. From its tone and everything about it Mrs Idelson is a trustworthy person. She reported what she heard and felt.

 

Once again this is a straight extract by Myers from Nedava. I do not have to agree with Myers. The quote is from Nedava (Trotsky and the jews by Joseph Nedava). And I am always saying never shoot the messenger just concentrate on the message!

 

(start quote from Nedava here)

{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,

{p. 207} even though I am rejected by Stalin and his Oprichniks [this is Trotsky’s  expression, referring to the special corps created by Ivan the Terrible to fight treason which instituted the reign of terror]. I have friends, and they are also  persecuted.” I told him that his persecuted friends lived in their own countries, whereas he had no country of refuge, for he was a Jew. Trotsky nodded agreement.

We had lunch together. His wife showed no interest in our conversation. From time to time she would address questions to him, but he would put off his reply and then turn to me with further questions about matters relating to Palestine. He was  particularly interested in our relations with our Arab neighbors. He asked me whether there were Communists in Palestine, and why they did not go to Russia instead of staying in a Zionist country. He also wanted to know whether the Communist party was legal, big or small. When I told him that the Communists were not among the builders of  the kibbutzim (“communes,” as Trotsky called them), he laughed, commenting: “They do not have this in Russia, either.” He was very interested in the status of women in  Palestine, and also asked a personal question – how I had arrived in Mexico and what the nature of my mission was. He showed me his library, which filled a large hall, consisting of books in various languages; I realized how spiritually attached he was to this single possession of his in exile. I asked him: “Should you be obliged to leave Mexico – what will you do with this library: perhaps you would transfer it to Palestine?’

When we renewed our conversation after the meal, he listened attentively to what I told him about the cultural work being carried on in our country, about the libraries in each and every settlernent, about the National Library in Jerusalem, about the Hebrew  press. I can no longer recall all his questions, but I cannot forget how attentively he listened to what I told him about our children, the sabras, and their love of their fatherland. I noticed that my words penetrated deep into his heart, that he was glad to  hear about a world from which he had dissociated himself. I sensed that he was listening not like a man who placed himself above all nationality, and that our great idea found an echo in his heart.

At the end of our conversation Trotsky asked me not to publish the fact of our meeting and its contents: “Let the matter remain between us. The world  will not understand. People will seek in this, too, grounds for accusing me of harboring alien views, and perhaps even sympathy for Zionism.” I promised  him this and kept my promise for nineteen years.

{end quote}

 

It needs further discussion but I will leave it here.

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