In recent times, the subject of Zionism has been made more prevalent throughout the media and a myriad of other sources. Zionism is a political movement led primarily by the Jewish people for self-determination of a Jewish homeland. In the present sense, this can be most observed in regards to the state of Israel, which was established in 1948. The issue of the Jewish question has been the subject of much debate, especially among Marxists. In this sense too, the creation of Israel owes portions of its existence to the Soviet Union, ironically. Stalin and many of the Bolsheviks had viewed antisemitism as a form of parasitism from the start of their leadership. This was one of the reasons that Stalin approved of the state of Israel initially, but also because its existence was considered to be a threat to British imperialism, and also the seemingly progressive, revolutionary potential of the Jewish people. But of course, the true face of Israel that showed itself after its establishment was enough to deter any legitimate leftist such as Stalin; what was once a potentially revolutionary state has instead degenerated into a campaign of borderline genocidal and imperialistic ambitions against perceived threats to “Zionism,” the established ruling elite of the Israeli state, and most notably, the Palestinian people, whose land was ultimately stolen from them and continues to be stolen from them. Despite this, the initial role of the Soviets in protecting the rights of Jewish people worldwide was an important part of its history, and should be noted in the following article, along with a criticism of Zionism.
In revolutionary Bolshevik society, Jews made up a large amount of the Bolsheviks. Important Jews including Sverdlov, Kamenv, Zinoviev, and most notably, Trotsky, aided in the revolutionary struggle. This trait can be observed not only through the revolution, but through Soviet history, where Jews managed to gain high positions in the Party leadership and so forth. On the other hand, in post-revolutionary Soviet Republics, the roots of racism ceased in relations to the newly developing proletarian culture. The working class witnessed a great awakening of culture, and this was made true for numerous groups. One such group were the Jewish people, who were now free to make use of literary publications, education and schooling, and arts. In Siberia, specifically the Khabarovsk territory, a Soviet Jewish homeland began in 1928. It became more than thirty-thousand kilometers, and within a brief period of time, more than ten-thousand Jewish families moved and formed communities. They were grateful to the Soviets. In this sense, it was the Soviet Union who had truly created the new Jewish homeland, and without the racism that plagued Israel, twenty years later.
The Soviet Jews of this region had the rights to vote and participate in the Soviet court system, the militia, education, and public services as well. Representatives of their territory were regularly sent to throughout the Soviet Union to voice their political concerns freely, and official Soviet representatives as well were sent their on occasion to make notes of their will. Despite the good conditions the Jewish people of this territory had, many still wished to integrate with the new culture of the main cities and industrialized areas of the Soviet Union as well. Because the revolution had emancipated the peasantry and the working class from their poverty, many were able to find successful careers and build homes for their families within the newly constructed cities; this included the Jewish people, who were not segregated from the schooling or labor systems. As a result, the Jewish people actually became one of the most major nationalities of cultural hubs such as Moscow. In fact, because of the positive changes of social-economic conditions, the raise in cultural awareness, and the newly established rights, many Jews and other religious adherents dwindled in their religious views in favor of science, as is the goal of Marxism. Stalin personally stated this in regards to antisemitism as well: “National and racial chauvinism is a vestige of the misanthropic customs characteristic of the period of cannibalism. Anti-semitism, as an extreme form of racial chauvinism, is the most dangerous vestige of cannibalism.
Anti-semitism is of advantage to the exploiters as a lightning conductor that deflects the blows aimed by the working people at capitalism. Anti-semitism is dangerous for the working people as being a false path that leads them off the right road and lands them in the jungle. Hence Communists, as consistent internationalists, cannot but be irreconcilable, sworn enemies of anti-semitism.
In the U.S.S.R. anti-semitism is punishable with the utmost severity of the law as a phenomenon deeply hostile to the Soviet system. Under U.S.S.R. law active anti-semites are liable to the death penalty.”
This trend in Soviet history was remarkable, and it would not be until the later years of its existence where it was reversed under the inherently antisemitic policies of revisionist leaders. During the leadership of Lenin and Stalin, any acts of anti-Jewish aggression were done by Party members without consent or approval of legitimate leaders, who would immediately remove them from the Party if their actions were found out, or by those few still influenced by the fourteenth century like conditions of conservative Russia as a whole.
Although it is evident the Soviets viewed Jewish culture as positive, they most certainly did not see Zionism in the same light. For example, Jews were generally granted freedom of the press, but Zionists were more often than not denied from such rights; Zionism was not encouraged nor endorsed by majority of Party leadership. Having its roots in the late nineteenth century, Zionism was something Marxism was well aware of in actuality. Not only the Soviets, but many legitimate Marxists, criticized Zionism for its anti-socialist tendencies. Zionism is essentially an ideology dedicated to preventing the working class Jewish people from identifying with the whole working class, leading to stratification and identity politics often grounded solely in principles of bourgeois-rights. Furthermore, Zionism asserts itself as a pseudo-mystical form of philosophy, embedded with nationalist, racist tendencies, making such farces that those not of Jewish faith can not belong to their nation. Attempts to argue against Zionism often lead to circular reasoning on the part of the Zionist, who rabidly claims that anti-Zionism equates to antisemitism. However, this is absolutely not true, as there are thousands of Jews who view Zionism as a detriment and as hypocritical.
The old ruling class of the Soviet Union attempted to exaggerate the influences of Zionism numerously. Likewise, the dangerous pseudo-revolutionary groups such as the Mensheviks and Liquidators of the time, took influences from Zionist thoughts as well. These groups assaulted the Bolsheviks with a wave of criticism for their anti-Zionist policy, but their arguments were easily countered. Lenin stated that the primary supporters of Zionism were belonging to the Jewish bourgeoisie, or were their puppets in some way. He also rightly pointed out that it was bourgeois culture and Zionism, combining together, that was desperately attempting to weaken the working class movement, as a reactionary, yet pseudo-progressive trend of thought. The Bolshevik position at the time regarding Zionism was essentially that the rights of self-determination were more legitimate than the lust for autonomy of national culture on the part of the Zionists and the bourgeoisie. The position taken up by Lenin and the legitimate Bolsheviks was a counter argument against the claims from the Zionists within the Bund (a Jewish union of sorts) who foolishly demanded the sole right of speaking for all Jews, as well the other key positions taken up by Zionism. In fact, it was many of these people who supported the Tsarist forces in the World War, and from then on, gave the Party leadership much unnecessary nuisances.
However, some of the Zionist members of the Jewish Bund eventually joined the Bolsheviks, abandoning their Zionism and leaving the Bund to dissolve in the early 1920s. But for those who did not join, disappointment and anger ensued. Although these previous Zionists joined the Bolsheviks out of their own free will, the ones who remained in whatever pitiful remnants of the Bund claimed that they were forced into joining, and they denounced the proletariat mass movement as antisemitic. In their reactionary nature, they could not realize that the Bolsheviks had solved the issue of the national Jewish question, and instead they longed for their nonsensical Zionism to be realized. This lead to suppression of the Jewish people, ironically by the Jewish people themselves. The Bolsheviks suppressed the Zionists, but many of these Zionists in turn suppressed Jews who did not agree with their radical views, such as the Jewish section of the CP. They were likewise, in turn, anti-socialist and anti-working class. But of course, this leads up back to the question of Israel. As mentioned, the Soviet Union initially supported the creation of Israel. They wished for the rights of self-determination for both the Jewish people and the Arab people in that region. Nonetheless, the Soviet backed Party of Israel still denounced Zionism, to a degree, but also essentially joined with them wherever possible illustrating the dialectical nature of the Soviet Union. It is important to note that the Zionism of the mid 1940s was somewhat more logical given the experiences the Jewish people unfortunately had with Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. At least, this certainly gained the Zionists sympathy and supporters, more than ever even within the socialist movement.
At any rate, after the death of Stalin, things took a turn for the worst in Israel. The state of Israel first declared its independence in May of 1948. In 1946, a large amount of the land belonged to Palestine. By the 1947 partition of the UN, more than half was now in the hands of Israel. After this, Arabic nations such as Lebanon and Egypt launched an assault against Israel. Their assault ultimately failed, and led to the expulsion, or fleeing of more than 700,000 Palestinians from Israel, which had now begun to establish its borders. Between 1948 and 1967, Palestine lost a massive amount of land, citizens, and so forth as well. Ever since then, Israel has used violence against Palestinian people, many of whom are innocent. It is certainly true that there exist wrongdoers in the pro-Palestinian movement, but their actions are miniscule compared to the state utilized violence and propaganda of the Israeli government, inherently backed by imperialist nations such as the USA. By 2000, the amount of land in Palestinian possession is practically a speck of dust compared to Israels land. In order to enforce this, as mentioned, violence is used against those who resist Israeli conquest. Children, women, the elderly; everybody is a potential target for Israeli violence. Blocking aid to places such as Gaza is an especially common tactic of Israeli enforcement. It certainly doesn’t help the situation when privately owned media companies in the US report the Israeli-Palestinian conflict almost always in favor of Israel and of Zionism, failing to ever mention the entire truth of the situation. The fact of the matter is that Israel continues to violate international law in what can only be described as ethnic cleansing, yet the US treats Israel with the utmost respect no matter what they have done. The support of the US leads Israeli troops to target civilians, force them out of their housing and land, and often times ransack their homes and harm them along the way. And aside from the violence and repression used by Israel, Palestine also faced dire social and economic conditions. Nearly half of Palestine is unemployed, while the West bank has more than twenty percent of this issue alone. This means many people are without running water, electricity, and so forth; the people are suffering from diseases such as malnutrition because of these conditions and because Israel consistently blocks aid. This is reminiscent of the actions taken by the Nazis against the Jews, so the entire situation is the epitome of dark irony.
Overall in regards to Israel, Hamas are not the true terrorists. Nor is any other pro-Palestinian organization. Aside from the Israeli ruling elite and their indoctrinated puppets, many people are starting to prefer a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, it is important to challenge Zionism when doing this; one cannot simply claim they are for such peace, but in an unprincipled and uneducated manner, as they instead must research the matter and understand precisely the conditions of the conflict, and the nature of class struggle within itself. At the end of the day, none of the “Palestinian terrorists” invaded and took more than half of the land of a country. None of these “terrorists” have the backing of the US and other bourgeois governments that allow them to get off with war crimes against humanity. And moreover, none of these “terrorists” are chauvinistic Zionists, hypocritical in their religious dogma. Many of the popular movements such as Hamas, while not socialist, are progressive, national bourgeois movements that are fighting for basic civil rights of their people. In the context of this struggle, this is revolutionary in itself, and it is the duty of all legitimate leftists to further understand the nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and make an educated decision on the matter. Furthermore, it is necessary to understand Zionism, in its ideological and historical contexts, and how it is a detriment to the working class, and how it has always been anti-socialist, and in itself, anti-Jewish.