Editor’s note: while world conditions have changed drastically since 1984, there are important continuities in the Marxist analysis of the situation in Israel/Palestine, which are evident in this speech.

“The Big Lie and the Jewish American Community”

By Gus Hall

 

Today, we are, in a sense, celebrating three related anniversaries: the thirty-sixth anniversary of the state of Israel, the fiftieth anniversary of Birobidjan, the Jewish Autonomous Region of the Soviet Union, and the fourteenth anniversary of Jewish Affairs.

Considering past history and experience, I can base my remarks on the premise that Jewish Americans are concerned about and involved in all the movements, struggles and problems faced by the majority of Americans. They are an inte­gral part of the movements to defeat Reaganism, to stop nuclear insanity, to end racism and for jobs, peace and equality.

I look back with a sense of pride on my pres­ence at the first discussion about publishing the magazine Jewish Affairs, especially because I was in the company of such leading comrades as Henry Winston, Hy Lumer, Alex Kolkin, Herbert Aptheker, Philip Honor, Jack Kling and Abe Wise. I am, therefore, especially honored to be here on this proud day to join in the celebration and recognition of Jewish Affairs’ consistent con­tributions to the Jewish American community, helping to clarify and give direction on some very complex and sensitive questions affecting Jewish national pride and identity.

Since its very first issue, Jewish Affairs has been a consistent voice of truth. It has become a tried and tested voice of truth against a cascade of slander and lies.

Publishing a new magazine became nec­essary because most institutions and publications dealing with Jewish affairs had become engulfed in a tidal wave of reactionary cold war anti-Sovi­etism. This wave was whipped up by the world­wide policies of U.S. imperialism over many years and was fed by the policies of expansion and annexation of the ruling circles of Israel.

Jewish Affairs has established itself as a true voice for peace, an unrelenting fighter against racism, against Reaganomics; a clear voice for hu­man and civil rights, for democracy and against all forms of anti-Semitism.

Because Jewish Affairs is an advocate and de­fender of the true interests of Israel, it has never opportunistically remained silent. Nor has it hesi­tated to speak the truth when that truth de­manded criticism of Israel’s policies.

Truth On Its Head

The Big Lie — the so-called Soviet threat, anti-Communism — is the most massive brain­washing scheme in all history. Never has a bigger lie been repeated more times. It is a diabolical ideological trap.

Anti-Communism is the real opium of the people. It is a brainwashing drug that transforms reality into its very opposite. It is designed to cre­ate the appearance of a danger where none exists and to disguise the existence of a real danger.

Under its hypnotic influence, those who should be honored and supported are vilified and condemned. Heroes are portrayed as villains and villains are painted as heroes. It turns people against their very best self-interests.

For humanity, the Big Lie about a Soviet mili­tary nuclear threat has now become a matter of life and death because it is the main ideological weapon in the Reagan Administration’s arsenal of preparation for nuclear war. It is a brainwash­ing fog to cover up the Reaganite drive toward nuclear confrontation and final nuclear holo­caust.

Many believed the Big Lie of anti-Commu­nism when Hitler used it. The fifty million lives lost in World War II serve as a horrible reminder to the whole world that, unless challenged and checked, Big Lie anti-Communism may well be­come the final funeral dirge for all of humanity— because after World War III there will be no one left to raise a voice.

All the slander about a Soviet military threat is an unmitigated Big Lie. But the vile anti-Soviet brainwashing campaign is not limited to lies about a supposed Soviet military threat.

The charge of anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union is just as big a lie. In fact it is an integral part of the Big Lie. It also turns historical facts on their heads.

In this slander, real fighters against anti-Semitism become anti-Semites. And anti-Semites become freedom fighters.

It is one of those ironic brainwashing twists that the socialist countries are accused of anti-Semitism, when in fact only these countries have political, ideological, legal and constitutional bars against all forms of racism, chauvinism and anti-Semitism. Their philosophical world outlook con­sciously rejects and leaves no room for racism and anti-Semitism.

The Soviet Union is accused of anti-Semi­tism, but it is the only country in the history of the world that has, for over 65 years, pursued a policy of affirmative action, a Leninist policy of equality and justice for all peoples and nationali­ties. It is an ingenious policy that has literally wiped out the effects of generations of feudal and capitalist inequality, chauvinism and anti-Semi­tism.

Soviet socialism has completely wiped out the degrading oppression, the poverty-stricken, pogrom-ridden ghetto existence the Jewish peo­ple experienced under czarism. And with the elimination of these material conditions, it has also removed the social and economic roots of racism and chauvinism, guaranteeing that they will never appear on socialist soil.

The country that was known throughout the world as the prisonhouse of nations has been turned into a highly developed, technologically advanced union of equal republics and peoples that live in peace and harmony.

The Big Lie brainwashers work to cover up or turn this historical truth upside down.

We must not forget that during the Hitler-fascist onslaught, with its genocidal anti-Semitic thrust, only one country in the world took special measures, including mass evacuation, to protect and save its Jewish population. It is no accident of history that this country was the Union of So­viet Socialist Republics, where the working class was the dominant force.

While every capitalist country in the world, including the United States, turned a deaf ear to appeals for help and for anti-fascist unity, the So­viet Union responded with heroic actions that saved more Jewish lives than any other single act in history. Millions more, including millions of Jewish people, would have been saved had the United States, Great Britain and France re­sponded to the Soviet appeal for a joint effort when Hitler continued his aggression with the in­vasion of Czechoslovakia.

In fact, an early anti-fascist, collective-secu­rity united front might have prevented World War II. And after Hitler’s invasion of Western Eu­rope and attack on the Soviet Union, even more millions could have been saved if the United States and Great Britain had responded quickly to the Soviet appeal to open a Second Front against Hitler in Europe. They delayed opening the Second Front in Europe because they were still hoping, and in fact maneuvering, to join forces with Hitler against the Soviet Union.

These days, much is being made of the for­tieth anniversary of the Normandy invasion. But this is another clear example of Big Lie distor­tions, another attempt to rewrite history.

In the volumes of commentary, nothing is said about the absolute truth that the U.S.-British invasion took place long after the Soviet Union had already broken the back of the Nazi armed forces on blood-soaked battlefields in Leningrad, Stalingrad and Kursk.

It is also absolute truth that during the Hitler holocaust, of all the political parties in the capital­ist countries, only the working-class, Communist Parties pursued policies of concrete actions to block the mass murder.

The Truth About Establishment of Israel

Let us set another historical record straight. When the question of setting up and recognizing Israel as a sovereign state was on the United Na­tions agenda, the U.S. government spent months debating whether to support such a move.

The U.S. oil monopolies were against it. They already dominated the rich oil fields in the Middle Eastern Persian Gulf.

While all this was going on, the Soviet rep­resentatives at the United Nations had already publicly supported the establishment of Israel and taken a firm diplomatic lead to achieve this.

The Soviet Union supported the realization of either of two options in Palestine: The creation of two separate states, one Arab and one Jewish, or the creation of one united Jewish-Arab state.

This Soviet policy was not accidental, arbi­trary or subjective. It was a policy leading to ac­tions based on a solid, partisan class position. The Soviet Union well understood that anti-Semi­tism, like racism, is an instrument of capitalist class exploitation, and that active opposition to racism and anti-Semitism is a working-class posi­tion.

Contradictions often arise in world history between the interests of different nations and peoples. The history of the U.S. itself provides examples of such contradictions.

In its early years, the interests of the mass of of immigrants coming to the U.S. from around the world and the interests of the Native Ameri­can Indian peoples developed into a contradic­tion.

This contradiction arose within the frame­work of developing capitalism. The U.S. govern­ment and the capitalist class position was always based on maximum profits.

Because of this there have been no adjust­ments, no reparations, no attempts at a just solu­tion. The brutal, genocidal offensive against the American Indian peoples was, and remains, a capitalist approach to the question. It was, and remains, criminal, unjust and wrong.

However, a just correction of wrongs cannot be a return to the very beginning. Corrections and solutions must be made within the frame­work of today’s realities. A just solution must start with the elimination of all forms of racism and discrimination through affirmative action programs to wipe out all the inequalities suffered by Native American Indian peoples.

Likewise, both the Palestinian people and the Jewish people have historic ties to Israel. But the mass influx of Jewish immigrants, especially after World War II, created a contradiction between the interests of these immigrants and the interests of the people of Palestine.

The explosive, violent and — yes, genocidal — policy pursued after the United Nations deci­sion to create two separate states was a capitalist, Zionist approach to the question.

For the Palestinian people, the outcome was criminal, unjust and disastrous. It was, and re­mains, a crime against five million people. But here, also, it is difficult to think of a just solution in terms of going back to the conditions of the very beginning.

Today the solution must start with Israel’s withdrawal of its forces from Lebanon, from the West Bank, from the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. Israel must withdraw and return to its 1967 borders.

The solution must include the creation of conditions of total equality, with affirmative ac­tion programs to undo the wrongs of the past.

The solution must include the right of the Palestinian people to establish an independent homeland.

The solution must encompass basic recogni­tion of the sovereignty, independence and rights of all existing states, including Israel.

There has been, and remains, a basic differ­ence between the Mideast policy of the Soviet Union and the United States.

The U.S. policy has always been based on oil and corporate profits. The Soviet policy has al­ways been based on the original, basic United Nations resolution, on the existence of Israel and an independent, sovereign Palestinian state.

Understandably, Jewish people pay partic­ular attention to developments in Israel. Progres­sive people worldwide supported the achieve­ment of Israel’s independence. But progressives must also support an independent state, with equal rights, for the Arab inhabitants of the for­mer Palestine.

Position of Israeli Communist Party

In celebration of Israel’s thirty-sixth anniver­sary, the heroic, multinational Communist Party of Israel said:

On the thirty-sixth anniversary of the establishment of the state of Israel, we note with concern that Israel is today much fur­ther from true independence than ever be­fore in her history.

The realization of the hope of the masses for peace, the strengthening of inde­pendence and progress have evaded us fur­ther as a result of the dirty war in Lebanon, which was unleashed by the Likud ruling clique and the U.S. Reagan Administration.

As a result of adventurist policies, three-quarters of the country’s budget is spent for military purposes. We are in the midst of galloping inflation, reduced health care services, construction, social services and expenditures for culture. The economic and social crisis deepens. And, as a result of such politics the threat of fascism increases in Israel and racism rears its head.

The policy of the Israeli government is a very short-sighted one. It is staking everything on its alliance with U.S. imperialism. It has isolated it­self in the world community.

The world balance of forces is moving against U.S. imperialism. Therefore, it is becoming an unreliable, unstable senior partner. And there is no guarantee the U.S. will not sell Israel down the river.

The U.S. imperialist interest in Mideast oil is much bigger than its interest in Israel. So far Is­rael has been useful to the U.S. oil monopolies. But this situation could easily change. Israel could become an obstacle to U.S. access to Mid­east oil, in which case the United States would have no compunctions about dropping it.

The true national interests and security of Is­rael lie in a completely different direction than the policy Israel has been following.

It would be in Israel’s true national interest to sit down at the negotiating table with representa­tives of all parties who have a legitimate interest in the region — the Palestinian people and Is­rael’s Arab neighbors, the Soviet Union and the United States.

It is not in the true national interests of Israel to continue opposing the legitimate aspirations of the Arab Palestinian people to a homeland and state.

It is not in the true national interests of Israel to continue establishing settlements which greatly aggravate and complicate the situation.

It is not in the true national interests of Israel to continue annexing territory seized through ag­gression and war.

The true national interests and security of Is­rael lie in agreeing to implement the many United Nations resolutions and returning all annexed territories to their rightful owners. It lies in Israel agreeing to return to its 1967 borders as an essen­tial precondition of peaceful coexistence with its Arab neighbors.

Israel’s security is not guaranteed by military aggression and the seizure of other countries’ ter­ritory. In this day and age a little territory more or less has no real military significance. What really counts is to establish boundaries recognized by all, guaranteed by all, especially the United Na­tions, the United States and the Soviet Union. For this, working out a just peace is absolutely nec­essary.

It is important for Jewish Americans not to give mechanical, uncritical support to the policies of the Israeli government. On the other hand, it is important to support what is in the best interests of Israel. Among the Israeli people themselves there are many who do not agree with the poli­cies of the Israeli government, including a strong and growing peace movement of the people.

The Hidden Snare

The sole purpose of the Big Lie of anti-Com­munism, including the allegations concerning a nonexistent Soviet military threat and the lie about Soviet anti-Semitism — which is the dirt­iest of all dirty tricks — is to ensnare people into support for the Reagan policies of war, of nuclear superiority, policies of U.S. corporate world domination.

The falsehood about Soviet anti-Semitism is specially designed to ensnare the Jewish people.

It is natural that the Jewish people should have an emotional attachment to Israel and a spe­cial concern about anti-Semitism.

But there are those who take advantage of this attachment for their own purposes: U.S. imperialism, which has huge corporate interests in the Mideast; the Israeli ruling class, which has ac­cepted the role of junior partner and surrogate serving the interests of U.S. imperialism in the Mideast; the corporations and bankers in both countries.

All these private interests have nothing in common with the public interests of the Israeli people. They represent special selfish private in­terests, which run counter to the true interests of the Israeli people.

These private interests justify their policies and actions on the basis that they are defending the national interests and security of Israel. The truth is that in the long run their policies and ac­tions jeopardize the very existence of Israel.

In all this the ideas and policies of Zionist groups play a special supporting role. From their special angle, they fully support all these reactio­nary policies and forces. They misuse and betray the very real concerns and sentiments of the Jew­ish people. Some people’s legitimate concerns have been perverted by the Zionist leadership into support for the policies of war and aggres­sion of both Israel and the United States.

The Big Lie of anti-Communism and especially the falsehood of Soviet anti-Semitism have become the main ideological substance of Zionism.

They are attached to the old backward con­cept that anti-Semitism is an incurable, eternal, inherited human characteristic of all who are not Jewish.

For this reason, it is important not to equate Zionism with the Jewish people, their just aspi­rations and sentiments of national pride, and their support for an Israel at peace with its neigh­bors and world.

As the struggles sharpen and the questions become more difficult and complex, the clear thinking and contributions  of such great person­alities as Mike Gold, Hyman Lumer and Moshe Olgin become even more significant. As truth conquers the Big Lie they will stand even taller. There is a lasting lesson in Mike Gold’s classic working-class novel, Jews Without Money. Rea­ganism, with its anti-labor, racist, war-making policies, can be defeated by the unity of Jews without money, Catholics and Protestants with­out money, Afro-Americans, Puerto Ricans and Chicanos without money — all uniting with our multiracial, multinational working class without money.

 

-Speech at the 12th annual Jewish Affairs  dinner,  June 10, 1984 in New York City. Gus Hall was general secretary of the CPUSA. Reprinted from the August-September 1984 edition of Political Affairs, theoretical journal of the CPUSA.