Zionism Is Reactionary Nationalism:
Israel Is A Capitalist State

Editorial, Jewish Affairs, January‑February 1992

The rescinding of the U.N. resolution adopted in 1975 declaring that "Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination" should not be lamented but welcomed by progressives. For this resolution was incorrect and an obstacle to Palestinian national liberation and Mideast peace and had other serious negative political effects.

Zionism is not a form of racism but a form of nationalism. It does not consider any racial groups inferior to Jews but all non-Jews irrespective of race to be or inevitably bound to become antisemites among whom it is impossible for Jews to live a secure and fulfilling life. That is what underlies Zionism's basic tenet that Jews must live in a "Jewish state," i.e., Israel. Elements of racism have been incorporated into the thoughts and actions of many Zionists in Israel, where most non‑Jews are dark‑skinned; but white‑skinned, blond and blue‑eyed Palestinians are treated no less brutally and all Palestinians are treated differently than Arabs of other nationalities. In Israel there are many Zionists, including members of the Labor Party and the entire memberships of the Mapam (Socialist Zionist) and Ratz (Civil Rights) parties, that are non‑racist and this is also true of most Zionists in other countries. It is factually incorrect to equate Zionism with racism. It is also politically incorrect.

This false equation has not only misread the social and political views of democratic Israelis who are adherents of Zionism but obscured the nature of the policies of their undemocratic government leaders—and the measures required to oppose and reverse them. These policies are not designed to racially discriminate against Palestinians but to annex their land. The mistaken position that the Israeli government has been subjecting Palestinians to racial rather than national oppression has misrepresented the Palestinians as a discriminated against racial group that should have equal treatment under Israeli hegemony rather than an oppressed national group that should have self‑determination in a national territory of its own.

Another negative consequence of the U.N.'s adoption of this unsound resolution is that it gave the dying Zionist movement worldwide and in Israel a new lease on life by enabling it to conduct a propaganda campaign "proving" that most of the world's non-Jews hate Israel and refuse to recognize that Zionism is "the national liberation movement of the Jewish people" although they recognized all other national liberation movements. While Zionism is a national movement, it is not a national liberation movement. For no national liberation movement has ever been supported by and collaborated with imperialism or suppressed another national liberation movement as has Israel. However, this propaganda campaign succeeded in convincing many that Zionism is dedicated to the national liberation of the Jewish people and that those who opposed it were not only anti‑Israel but antisemitic.

Consequently, most Jews and many non‑Jews were alienated from the U.N. and the Socialist and Third World countries that played the leading role in formulating and passing the 1975 resolution and the Israeli government won their sympathy thereby weakening opposition to its aggressive, oppressive policies. It also antagonized many Jews and non‑Jews towards the Communist Party USA, which like the CPs of Israel and other countries, were among the few organizations that supported this resolution.

Perhaps most importantly, the resolution's faulty focus on Zionism and racism obscured the class nature of the government of Israel and its policies. Ironically, the focus on Zionism supported the Zionist position that Israel is a "Jewish state" governed by Jewish individuals with a Jewish ideology concerned with the welfare of Jews rather than a capitalist state governed by a capitalist class with a bourgeois ideology concerned with the maximization of profits and territory. This was also supported by the focus on racism that treated Israeli policies as racial rather than class and class-based national oppression.

Among its most negative consequences, the resolution added impetus to the misguided campaign against Zionism waged by the world Communist movement led by the Soviet CP. This ideological battle downplayed Israeli political and economic factors in favor of international Jewish cultural and religious factors whose biased "research" and "analysis" were frequently antisemitic. Even when the CP campaign against Zionism was not antisemitic, as in our country, it indiscriminately lumped the millions of Jews who supported Israel and the few thousands who supported Zionism in the category of "Zionists"—defined as bourgeois nationalist racists—thereby alienating the Jewish community from which the CP has historically drawn so many members and supporters. (See in this issue "The Communist Party USA and the Jews.")

Fortunately, the UN resolution that has caused so much damage has been rescinded. Unfortunately, it will take a long time and much work to undo the damage and regain Jewish support for the UN, for a change in Israeli policies and for socialism and the Communist Party. May this editorial be a first step in this difficult but necessary process.

SOURCE: “Zionism Is Reactionary Nationalism: Israel Is A Capitalist State” (Editorial), Jewish Affairs, January‑February 1992. Reprinted in: Kutzik, Alfred J. The Communist Party and the Jews: Implications for the National Question (New York: Red Balloon Collective, 1994), Appendix III, pp. 116-118.

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