The CWI’s “Socialist” Zionism and the Palestinian Liberation Struggle

 A Reply from the RCIT

By Michael Pröbsting, Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 15.9.2014,

Peter Taaffe, the CWI’s long-standing leader, recently published a response to criticism against the position of his organization regarding the Palestinian liberation struggle. (1) In addition, on 31 August a public debate took place between representatives of the Austrian sections of the RCIT and the CWI in which the participants debated strategy for the Palestinian liberation struggle. (2) Furthermore, RCIT comrades in Israel / Occupied Palestine as well as socialists inside the Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) in South Africa regularly hold discussions with CWI activists on this issue.

While Taaffe’s article takes the form of a reply to an article by the Cliffite US group ISO, it is in fact an attack on the positions of all consistent socialists who take an anti-Zionist stand in their support for the Palestinian liberation struggle. In fact, Taaffe’s article is a reaction – on the backdrop of the massively growing international solidarity movement for Palestine – to the increasing criticism which the CWI is facing from socialists. This criticism targets the CWI’s failure to side with the Palestinian resistance in the ongoing liberation struggle against the Zionist state, as well as its long-standing support for a “socialist” Jewish state of Israel alongside a “socialist” Palestine. In the following essay we will reply to the arguments of the CWI and explain the position of the RCIT.

The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) and its section in Israel / Occupied Palestine – the Internationalist Socialist League (ISL) – have a long-standing record of fighting for a communist and anti-Zionist program in the struggle for the national liberation of the Palestinian people and a socialist federation of the Middle East. We – and our predecessor organizations respectively – have always fought against the Apartheid State of Israel and for its replacement by a single state in all of historic Palestine, one which should have a democratic and socialist character. Equally, we have always sided with the Palestinian resistance and the Arab people in their struggles with and wars against Israel, and have helped to organize numerous solidarity actions. Thus, we refer all those who are interested in learning more about our program for Palestine to the numerous documents and articles which we have published in our journals and online. (3)

What are the Main Differences between the RCIT and the CWI regarding Palestine?

Let us start by giving a brief recapitulation of the main differences between the RCIT and the CWI regarding the issue of Palestine.

The RCIT considers Israel to be an imperialist, colonial settler state with no legitimacy. It calls for aDemocratic, Palestinian, Multinational and Socialist Workers and Fallahin Republic from the River to the Sea. In such a single state in the whole of historic Palestine, the Palestinians – having the right to return to their homeland – would naturally constitute the majority of the country’s population. Such a state should be part of a socialist federation of the Middle East. All Jews will be welcomed to live in such a state as long as they accept the democratic rights of the Palestinian majority. In short, we fight to replace the State of Israel with a “Free, Red Palestine.” The RCIT believes that the right of national self-determination is only a right for oppressed nations, not oppressor nations. The CWI considers Israel as a normal capitalist state, not a colonial settler state. It views Israel as being similar to other capitalist states, like Egypt. While the CWI recognizes the Nakba as a tragedy, it believes that this is am historic episode belonging to the past. According to the CWI, an Israeli Jewish state is an historic fact which should be accepted. Therefore, the CWI defends the right of national self-determination for the Israeli Jews, including the right to have their own state. Consequently it calls for a socialist Israel alongside a socialist Palestine. Both states should be part of a socialist federation of the Middle East.
The RCIT sides with the practical struggle (including its military aspects) of the Palestinian resistance and calls for the application of the anti-imperialist united front tactic as elaborated by Lenin’s Communist International. We call for the victory of the Palestinian resistance and for the defeat of Israel, while at the same time giving no political support to the petty-bourgeois and bourgeois leaderships of the Palestinian resistance (like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah, PFLP etc.). The CWI opposes Israel’s wars of aggression. While it abstractly “defends the right of the Palestinians to resist,” it explicitly rejects any united front approach or support for the struggle of the Palestinian resistance as it exists today (i.e., with Hamas in the leadership role). The CWI considers Hamas to be an enemy of the Palestinian people no less than the Israeli state.
The RCIT critically supports the international mass boycott campaign against Israel which has been joined by many trade unions and solidarity organizations around the world. While this campaign alone cannot defeat Israel, it can contribute to the support of the Palestinian liberation struggle. Equally, the RCIT calls the international trade union movement to break their links with the Histradut, the Zionist trade union which is closely connected with the Israeli state. In general, the CWI opposes the boycott campaign against Israel, with the exception of some selected measures against this or that company located in the West Bank settlements, or against arms exports by Israel. The CWI claims the broad boycott campaign against Israel should not be supported, since it is rejected by the Israeli workers. The CWI also opposes calling for the international trade union federation to sever their links with Histadrut.
  1. Permanent Revolution for a “Free, Red Palestine” or “Socialist” Zionism for a Two State Solution?

We begin by analyzing the differences between the respective programmatic goals of the RCIT and the CWI. As we have stated above, all RCIT comrades, both in the Internationalist Socialist League and in their respective organizations internationally, stand for a Free, Red Palestine from the River to the Sea. We consider this as the only possible solution to the burning national question which dominates political life both in Israel / Occupied Palestine as well as throughout the entire Middle East. The national oppression of the Palestinian people, the majority of whom live either in refugee camps or in the Palestinian Diaspora, can only be ended if all Palestinians are given the right to return to their homeland – currently under Israeli occupation.

Such a state must be socialist in character because only a Workers’ and Fallahin Republic which expropriates the (mostly Israeli Jewish) capitalist class will be able to ensure social equality and mobilize the huge economic resources which are indispensable to implementing a program of return for the Palestinian refugees, and at the same time ensure an overall improvement of living conditions for the popular masses.

The CWI slogan of a two-state solution – i.e., retaining the Israeli-Jewish state which was founded on and nurtured by the expulsion of the Palestinian people from their historic homeland – effectively means denying the Palestinians the right of return to that homeland. Simply calling two such proposed states “socialist” doesn’t make them so; if it doesn’t change the basic injustice of denying the Palestinians the right to return to their homes in Haifa, Jaffa, and hundreds of ethnically cleansed villages, while at the same time perpetuating the Jewish colonialist legacy which preceded and was many times augmented after the Nakba. A priori, such an arrangement could never be deemed socialist, but rather would be something like calling for a “socialist” state in which women don’t have the same voting rights as men. If such a state would deny women equal rights – irrespective of its disingenuously being called “socialist” – it would not be socialist at all. Thus, the CWI’s two-state program effectively makes its adherents “socialist” Zionists. It is a pure expression of social-imperialism or “social-Zionism.”

Will a “Free, Red Palestine” Lead to the Expulsion of the Israeli Jews?

In our recent debate with the CWI representatives in Austria, these comrades maintained that our program of a Free, Red Palestine would lead to the expulsion of the Israeli Jews. We replied then and we repeat now that this is utter nonsense. In a Free, Red Palestine, Jews would be a legitimate and integral part of the multinational state. No authentic socialist can call for the expulsion of the Jewish people from Palestine. Jews would have the right to maintain their culture and languages (including observing holidays, obtaining kosher food, founding their own schools, and establishing media in their languages, etc.).

A Palestinian workers’ state would mobilize the huge financial resources required to organize a massive public program of building new homes. Only such a program will ensure that both the Palestinian people can return to their former places of residence while, at the same time, the Israeli Jews can continue to live in decent housing.

However, we do not deny that a significant proportion of Israeli Jews may not readily accept the loss of the privileges to which they have become accustomed during the decades of an apartheid system in Israel. In an earlier essay on the question of permanent revolution in Palestine, we addressed historical examples of other settler peoples.

If one takes into account the extraordinary privileges which the Israeli Jewish population enjoy by the Zionist Apartheid state, it is very likely that a significant proportion of them will not accept a democratic state and equality with the Palestinians. We have seen the developments in Africa after the end of the European colonial empires. Many of the white colonial settlers left the country since they didn’t want to accept being a minority in a (formally) independent country in which the black population dominates. For example, at the end of the 1970s, Portugal’s withdrawal from Mozambique and Angola spurred a great exodus, in which 95% of whites in both countries left. In Zimbabwe, this exodus was also huge where the white population dropped from a peak of around 296,000 in 1975 to 120,000 in 1999 to just 30,000 today. In South Africa this development was less dramatic. Nevertheless even here and even despite the fact that the white population could retain their privileged material position, some 800,000 out of a total white population of 4 million have left the country since 1995.” (4)

The Right of National Self-Determination: A Principle of Socialism?

In an attempt to justify their neglect of the Palestinian national liberation struggle as part of the program for permanent revolution, the CWI has reinvented some “Marxist” principles. Such ideological acrobatics demonstrate that the CWI comrades have, in fact, broken with Marxist methods. For example, Peter Taaffe claims: “The right of self-determination is not a “socialist principle”, as the ISO asserts, but a democratic task.

Such a claim only reveals the extent to which Taaffe is not familiar with the Bolshevik program. Of course, it is certainly true that, in a revolutionary situation, the right of national self-determination – like many other goals of the socialist program – can be superseded by more burning tasks of the socialist revolution. For example, in the course of a successful proletarian revolution it might become necessary to invade another country, and thereby temporarily suppress its population’s right of national self-determination, in order to spread the world revolution. Similarly, it may become necessary to temporarily suspend the democratic right of factory workers to elect their superiors; or that of rank and file soldier to select their commanders.

However, taking such temporarily necessary steps does not alter the fact that the right of national self-determination is an indispensible part of the socialist program for working class power. Lenin was quite clear that this right is a fundamental principle of socialism and not just “a task”:

On the other hand, in contrast to the Proudhonists, who “repudiated” the national problem “in the name of the social revolution,” Marx, having in mind mainly the interests of the proletarian class struggle in the advanced countries, put into the forefront the fundamental principle of internationalism and socialism, viz., that no nation can be free if it oppresses other nations.” (5)

The Peculiarity of the Colonial Settler State Israel

Similarly, the CWI tries to deny the peculiarity of Israel as a colonial settler state. (6) Essentially they claim that, as horrible as it might have been, the Nakba – the expulsion of the Palestinian people from 1948 onwards – it is an historical fact and one has to accept the existence of a Jewish majority in historic Palestine which desires to live in a state of their own. Peter Taaffe writes:

A state or a series of states can be established by the brutal displacement of peoples. Look at the removal of the Greek population from many parts of Asia Minor and of Turks from Greece following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. If you went back and redrew the map, you would now have huge exchanges of populations. (…) However, the reality now is that, in the course of time, a Jewish or Israeli national consciousness has been created. What do Marxists say to this? Just ignore the real situation and continue with the old position?

However, this comparison with events in Greece and Turkey in 1923 is not valid. Without doubt, these expulsions of about 350,000 Muslims from Greece and of 1.2 million Greeks from Turkey were utterly horrible and reactionary. But they represented the expulsion of small minorities when compared with the total Greek and Turkish populations respectively. At the time, Greece had 6.2 million inhabitants (1928) and Turkey had 13.6 million inhabitants (1927). (7) Furthermore, contemporary with these events, both the Greek and the Turkish people already had a nation state in which the expelled persons could settle.

This is entirely different from what happened to the Palestinian people. During 1948/49, the Zionists drove out nearly the entire Palestinian population from the territories in which Israel was established within the Armistice lines (commonly referred today as the “Green Line”) of 1949. Until now, the Palestinians have never had any kind of national state. As a result, out of 11.6 million Palestinians (according to official statistics), 5.8 million live in the Diaspora (mostly in Arab countries). Of the 4.4 million Palestinian living in the West Bank and Gaza, 44% are refugees. Add to this the approximately one-fifth of the 1.6 million Palestinians who live inside the Green Line, but who are “internally displaced” refugees forbidden by Israeli law to return to their original homes. All in all, a total of approximately ¾ of all Palestinians are refugees either living in refugee camps or in the enforced Diaspora. (8)

But maybe there are better arguments for the CWI position than their leader can think about? Would it be more valid if one compared Israel with other historic settler states like the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand? No, as we have already elaborated in an essay on issues related to permanent revolution in Palestine:

These states also expelled and murdered the Native Americans, Aborigines and Maoris. There are indeed strong similarities which, by the way, show the hypocrisy of these imperialist “democracies” and which are the reason why we fully support the struggle of the Native Americans, Aborigines and Maoris for their national rights. However, from a historical-materialist point of view there are also important differences. Colonial settler states like the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have all been formed in the ascending epoch of capitalism in the 16th to the 19th century. In opposite to these examples, Israel and the Israeli-Jewish “nation” have been formed in the imperialist epoch in the 20th century, i.e. in the epoch of capitalism’s decline. This had important consequences. The white majority nation in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand could nationally integrate and develop over a long historic period and at the same time they could successfully reduce and imprison the aboriginal people into small enclaves. Hence the aboriginal people in these countries today form only small minorities and have been denied, to a larger or smaller degree, the possibility to develop themselves as proper nations. Israel and Zionism on the other hand came – historically speaking – “too late”. As a result the Israeli-Jewish “nation” itself has important deficiencies in its national formation as they still constitute only a minority in Palestine while the Palestinians, on the other hand, are a fully developed majority nation (with the support and sympathy of the whole surrounding Arab and Muslim world).” (9)

Unfortunately, as we indicated above, the CWI comrades deny the nature of Israel as a colonial settler state and maintain that it has become a “normal” capitalist state. During our recent debate in Austria, their representatives stated that there is no difference between Israel and states like Egypt, since are both are capitalist and pro-imperialist. This is economic reductionism which entirely ignores the national peculiarities distinguishing Israel, on the one hand, as a colonial settler state brought into existence by the great powers, and Egypt, on the other hand, as a national state which is dependent on and oppressed by imperialism. In passing we note that, in addition to this, Israel has created its own monopoly capital and has, in the past two decades, transformed itself into a small imperialist power. (10) Based on these criteria, it is only logical that, while the RCIT would take the side of Arab states in the event of war against Israel – as we have in the past – the CWI always failed to do so. (11) In short, CWI’s denial of Israel as a peculiar colonial settler state serves as its justification for calling for the continued existence of Israel (in a “socialist” form) and, hence, the continuation of the Palestinian people’s expulsion, as well as the CWI’s refusal to side with Arab countries in a war against Israel.

Israel and South Africa

No less, the CWI also rejects the comparison of the apartheid state of Israel and South Africa:

[T]here are profound differences between the South African apartheid regime and Israel, particularly from a demographic angle. There were seven times more Africans and others than the white population in South Africa. This is not the situation in Israel/Palestine at this stage. If threatened with destruction, the Israeli population will fight.

It is certainly true that there are differences between Israel and South Africa. While the demographic ratio between white and black people in South Africa was about 1:7, it is about 1:2 between Israeli Jews and Palestinians (in historic Palestine and those living in the Palestinian Diaspora). However, this is only true if one limits one’s outlook to Palestine itself. In fact, Israel is a settler state which was forcefully implemented by the imperialists as their bridgehead into the Arab world. As a result, today there live 6.1 million Israeli Jews in a hostile environment of the Middle East with about 366 million Arabs – i.e., there is a ratio of 1:60 between Israeli Jews and Arabs. These Arabs are deeply hostile to the state of Israel because of its historic role as an anti-Arab colonial settler state in the service of the imperialist powers. They have equally strong national and religious bonds with the Palestinian people and their liberation struggle.

Another difference is that the South African capitalists under the Apartheid regime exploited the black workers as a source of cheap labor. However, the Israeli capitalists can make do with other sources of cheap labor and, therefore, ideally would want to expel all the Palestinians, if this were feasible. As our comrade Yossi Schwartz, a leader of the RCIT section in Israel / Occupied Palestine, noted:

Many people deny that Israel is similar to South Africa during the Apartheid regime, and they are right to do so. In fact, Israel is not the same but worse. In South Africa, the white settler colonialists needed the blacks to accumulate capital, and thus turned the blacks into a source of cheap labor. Israel does not need the Palestinians as cheap labor. It wants them out of Palestine.” (12)

However, the fundamental similarities between Israel and pre-1994 South Africa remain. Both did, and Israel still does, propagate a system of Apartheid using a wealth of discriminatory laws and brute force (leading to regular incidents of murder, imprisonment, and expulsion) to ensure that the minority population is granted formal and de facto sovereignty, while the majority are systematically oppressed. It is grotesque how the CWI can ignore this obvious reality!

It is also somewhat amusing that– in order to emphasize the differences between Israel and South Africa – Peter Taaffe claims that: “If threatened with destruction, the Israeli population will fight.” Mr. Taaffe may have forgotten this, but the Black people in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Angola, and Mozambique recall very clearly that the white populations in these countries also fought to retain their Apartheid system! Thus, this willingness to do battle is certainly nothing unique to Israel!

The CWI Capitulates to the Chauvinism of the Oppressor Nation

Again and again the CWI leadership justifies their advocacy of a two state solution by referring to the wishes of the Israeli working class. They write:

If threatened with destruction, the Israeli population will fight. (…) Even the ‘peace camp’ will fight if their right to a separate state is under threat. The Israeli working class will fight if you threaten them that they will be driven into the sea. (…) A key question in the Middle Eastern revolution is how to split the Israeli workers away from the ruling class. Challenge them, threaten the idea of an Israeli ‘homeland’, then there is no chance of achieving this. (…) At the moment, we have to face the fact that the Palestinian and Jewish peoples have decided that they could not live together in one state. That is their consciousness.

The bottom line of such an argument is that, as long as the Israeli working class does not agree to give up its privileges – relative to Arab workers and peasants – which are the direct result of Israel’s status as a rich, imperialist, settler state, socialists must uncritically accept such Israeli Jews’ wishes for a state of their own so that they can retain these privileges.

This contention is both utterly absurd and anti-Marxist. Socialists have never subordinated their principles – among them, the right of self-determination for oppressed nations – to the wishes of privileged oppressor nations. The RCIT’s comrades in Israel / Occupied Palestine rightly remarked recently on the CWI’s program to retain the Israeli state:

The current round of massacres will end in a few days or weeks, but sooner or later the killing will be resumed because Israel is committed to removing most of the Palestinians from their country, as it did in 1948. These cycles of violence will end either when Israel will be militarily defeated or when the struggle for liberation leading to a socialist revolution will win. Those who speak about a two-state solution, whether capitalists, socialist reformists (the Communist Party of Israel), or those like centrist Maavak Socialisti (CWI) who call for two “socialist states,” all take as given that the existing imperialist order is permanent and, at the same time, entirely ignore the nature of the Israeli apartheid .There is no way, at one and the same time, to support both the right of self-determination for the Palestinians and the right of self-determination for Israeli’s since by definition the state of Israel must act to oppress, kill, and otherwise remove the Palestinians from the entire country. And there can be no other Israel. What does Maavak Socialisti mean when they call for two “socialists states”? It is essentially their recognition of the right of the settler colonialist oppressors to self-determination. Indirectly, such recognition is a rejection of the right of return of the Palestinians refugees. For, if the refugees will be allowed to return to what is today Israel, the Palestinians will constitute the demographic majority of the state. Why, then, will there be a need for two states with a Palestinian majority rather than a single socialist state where they will be the majority and those Israelis who accept this new reality will not be discriminated against? Why, indeed, if in such a state, where the Israeli workers who will participate in the socialist revolution will be part of the new ruling class, until classes will entirely disappear and with them the state itself?” (13)

We could also take other examples. It is an historic fact that the huge majority of the white people in the USA in the early 20th century thought that it was justified that the black people were oppressed. Did this stop the communists and Trotsky from advocating the black liberation struggle, including the right of national self-determination? Of course not! Likewise, many French – and even more so, the French settlers in Algeria – supported the colonial subjugation of Algeria for a long period of time. Similarly, there is virtually no doubt that the white settlers in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Angola, and Mozambique were also adamantly opposed to the black liberation struggle. If one would accept the CWI’s logic, one could conceivably argue that these European settler families in colonial Africa had even greater historic rights to “their” respective lands than the Israeli Jews, since they lived far longer in these colonies than most Israeli Jews have lived in Palestine! However, in all these cases, communists consistently supported the right of the oppressed nationsirrespective of the consciousness of the oppressor nation. The South African communists did not make their support for black liberation dependent on the consciousness of the white minority (which, in its overwhelming majority, favored Apartheid until 1994)

Finally, let us not forget that, for a long period of time, the majority of men actually opposed granting the right to vote to women. And today, it is still not uncommon that the majority of people oppose granting full and equal rights to sexual minorities, or that many people in Western Europe are against the right of Muslim women to wear a scarf. Should such opposition deter socialists in their support for such democratic rights? Only if they are opportunistic capitulationists!

How Central is the Israeli Working Class for the Permanent Revolution in the Middle East?

The CWI considers the Israeli working class as a central component of the revolution without which it is not winnable. Peter Taaffe writes: “We do stress that only unified mass action of Israeli and Palestinian workers can create a force which can overthrow the capitalists, both Israeli and Palestinian.

In a resolution of its congress in 2010, the CWI emphasized “It is only through united mass movements of the working class and poor in Palestine, and in Israel, as well, that a solution will be found; opposing national oppression, the bosses’ parties and imperialism; and bringing about real self-determination for Palestinians – for a socialist, democratic Palestine and a socialist Israel, as part of a equal and voluntary socialist confederation of the Middle East.” (14)

The significance of the above is that the CWI sees permanent revolution in Palestine not primarily as part of the Arab revolution, but rather as a local struggle for which the participation of the relatively small Israeli working class – as an equal partner with the Palestinian workers – is a precondition.

Similarly, in our debate with the Austrian CWI, the CWI comrades objected to our program: “How can you liberate Palestine if you repulse a core component of the population there – the Israeli Jews – who oppose the formation of a single multi-national state?!” To this we reply that, for Marxists, it is hardly surprising that the Israeli working class is by far the most reactionary, pro-imperialist, and politically backward. This is a direct result of its being the most privileged and aristocratic component of the entire working class in the Middle East.

Consequently, it is most probable that the Israeli workers will be the last to join the permanent revolution in the region – and perhaps only parts of it will in fact join. A far more likely scenario is that the Palestinian liberation struggle will unite with the revolutionary struggles throughout the Arab world, and only when the Israeli aristocratic working class faces such tremendous combined pressure, may significant sectors of it be prepared to break with Zionism.

Our comrades in the ISL are certainly aware that, today, the overwhelming majority of Israeli Jews oppose the dismantling of the state of Israel and its replacement by a single workers’ state. However, sooner or later, this will change. When the national liberation struggle of the Algerian workers and peasants reached its height, significant sectors of the French people started to change their view on the colonial occupation. When the Palestinian liberation struggle will fuse with the Arab Revolution, more sectors among the Israeli working class will also begin rethinking their Zionist prejudices. Yes, it is likely that particularly reactionary sectors will continue to maintain their Zionist views and may even move into a fascist direction (indications of which we witnessed during the recent Gaza war). Obviously, such arch-reactionary supporters of Apartheid will have a hostile attitude to the future democratic and socialist state in Palestine. For them there will be only one choice: capitulate or leave.

We repeatedly have questioned our comrades from the CWI: why do you insist that the fate of Palestinian liberation is dependent on this small minority of six million Israeli Jews, people who directly and indirectly profit from the Palestinians’ oppression? Is it not much more likely that Palestinian liberation will be tied to the struggle of the worker and peasant masses numbering more than 360 million who contend with living conditions much more similar to those faced by their Palestinian brothers and sisters, and with whom they are related through national and religious bonds?! Have the Arab masses not proven their ability for revolutionary actions in the past few years?! Have the Egyptian masses – when they were not bound in chains by a pro-imperialist dictatorship – not demonstrated their close ties with their Palestinian brothers and sisters, demonstrating numerous times in front of the Israeli embassy in Cairo, and culminating in its storming in September 2011?!

In fact, the CWI leaders themselves are fully aware of these ties between the Palestinian and Arab workers and poor and their common anti-imperialist hatred against Israel. Peter Taaffe himself has admitted:

We accept that many Arab workers have the hope that the Israeli state must be destroyed. It is an imperialist wedge against the Arab Revolution.” (15)

We ask Peter Taaffe: Are the Arab workers not right in viewing Israel as a “wedge against the Arab Revolution”?!

The Rights of Oppressed Nations, Not of Oppressor Nations!

Finally, let us return to CWI’s approach to the Marxist position on the national question. A central methodological failure of the CWI is its inability to understand the essence of the Leninist position regarding this issue. The CWI does not understand that Marxists view national oppression as a central component of the world capitalist system – in particular during the epoch of imperialism. By contrast, we emphasize – as Lenin did time and again – that the „division of nations into oppressor and oppressed … forms the essence of imperialism“. (16)

Hence, it is absolutely indispensable that the workers’ movement supports all struggles against national oppression (without, at the same time, supporting any nationalist ideology) and connects these struggles with that for an international socialist revolution against imperialist capitalism. It is only by supporting all struggles against national oppression and for full equality that the working class can learn to overcome all nationalist prejudices and appropriate a thoroughly internationalist class consciousness.

Contrary to this position, the CWI believes that it is sufficient to agitate against nationalism – irrespective of whether it is the nationalism of an oppressed or oppressor nation – without actively supporting the specific struggles of the oppressed nations. Such Peter Taaffe writes:

The national question is immeasurably more complicated than even existed at the time of Lenin and Trotsky. For Marxists it has two sides. We are opposed to bourgeois nationalism, which seeks to divide the working class. We are for the maximum unity of the working class across borders, continents and worldwide but at the same time we oppose the forcible incorporation of distinct nationalities into one state against their will.

What the CWI forgets here is the essential, “small detail”: Marxists differentiate between oppressed and oppressor nations and they support the struggle of oppressed nations against their oppressor. Hence, while we reject all forms of nationalism, we differentiate between the nationalism of the oppressed nation and the nationalism of the oppressor nation. Why do we do so? Because the nationalism of the oppressed has a justified, democratic element as it is an (albeit insufficient and distorted) expression of the struggle for national liberation. On the other hand, the nationalism of the oppressor nation is thoroughly reactionary, since it is an expression of its privileges and dominance.

This was the method of Lenin and the Bolsheviks as was outlined in “The Right of Nations to Self-Determination” in 1914:

The bourgeois nationalism of any oppressed nation has a general democratic content that is directed against oppression, and it is this content that we unconditionally support.“ (17)

This failure of the CWI is linked to their misunderstanding of the essence of the right of national self-determination. This right is categorically not a liberal proclamation, but rather a revolutionary tool in the struggle of oppressed nations for liberation. Hence the right of national self-determination cannot be applied to nations which oppress others, but only to those nations which actually face oppression.

This distinction should be obvious to every clear thinking socialist. Can there be a right of national self-determination for imperialistic Germany, France, or the USA? Could there have been a right of national self-determination for the white minority in South Africa or in Zimbabwe? It is obvious that only reactionaries and social-chauvinists could support such an application of the right of national self-determination. In fact, this fallacy was a key element in the ideology of the reformist social democracy in Europe at the beginning of World War I, upon which they based their support for their respective imperialist “fatherlands” by citing the right of national self-determination.

However, as Marxists have repeatedly pointed out, socialists only support the struggle for national rights of those people who are facing oppression, not for those who are oppressing others. The Bolshevik leaders G. Zinoviev and V. I. Lenin wrote in 1915 during World War I:

Social-chauvinism is advocacy of the idea of “defence of the fatherland” in the present war. This idea logically leads to the abandonment of the class struggle during the war, to voting for war credits, etc. In fact, the social-chauvinists are pursuing an anti-proletarian bourgeois policy, for they are actually championing, not “defence of the fatherland” in the sense of combating foreign oppression, but the “right” of one or other of the “Great” Powers to plunder colonies and to oppress other nations. The social-chauvinists reiterate the bourgeois deception of the people that the war is being waged to protect the freedom and existence of nations, thereby taking sides with the bourgeoisie against the proletariat. Among the social-chauvinists are those who justify and varnish the governments and bourgeoisie of one of the belligerent groups of powers, as well as those who, like Kautsky, argue that the socialists of all the belligerent powers are equally entitled to “defend the fatherland”. Social-chauvinism, which is, in effect, defence of the privileges, the advantages, the right to pillage and plunder, of one’s “own” (or any) imperialist bourgeoisie, is the utter betrayal of all socialist convictions and of the decision of the Basle International Socialist Congress.“ (18)

Marxists have always rejected such a bourgeois liberalization of the revolutionary-democratic demand for the right of national self-determination. Instead, they consistently understand this right as a means for achieving national liberation which will ultimately bring about internationalist unity of the workers of oppressed and oppressor nations. HenceLenin and Trotsky emphasised that the right of national self-determination applies for oppressed nations and not for oppressor nations. Below, we provide a small sample of quotations to demonstrate this, and refer readers to the relevant chapter in our study on the permanent revolution in Palestine. (19)

That is why the focal point in the Social-Democratic programme must be that division of nations into oppressor and oppressed which forms the essence of imperialism, and is deceitfully evaded by the social-chauvinists and Kautsky. This division is not significant from the angle of bourgeois pacifism or the philistine Utopia of peaceful competition among independent nations under capitalism, but it is most significant from the angle of the revolutionary struggle against imperialism. It is from this division that our definition of the “right of nations to self-determination” must follow, a definition that is consistently democratic, revolutionary, and in accord with the general task of the immediate struggle for socialism.” (20)

The right of nations to self-determination implies exclusively the right to independence in the political sense, the right to free political separation from the oppressor nation. (…) It implies only a consistent expression of struggle against all national oppression.“ (21)

This is also how Trotsky understood both the Bolshevik and his own approach towards the national question:

But the very conjuncture of the national movements with struggle of the proletariat for power was made politically possible only thanks to the fact that the Bolsheviks during the whole of their history carried on an irreconcilable struggle with the Great Russian oppressors, supporting always and without reservations the right of the oppressed nations to self-determination, including separation from Russia. The policy of Lenin in regard to the oppressed nations did not, however, have anything in common with the policy of the epigones. The Bolshevik Party defended the right of the oppressed nations to self-determination with the methods of the proletarian class struggle.” (22)

We emphatically repeat that our denial of the right of national self-determination for the Israeli-Jews has nothing whatsoever to do with the desire to expel them from Palestine, or to implement any other reactionary anti-Semitic fantasy. It simple means that the Israeli Jews have no right to deny the Palestinian people their democratic rights, just as men do not have the right to deny women their democratic rights. This is the Marxist meaning of our approach – nothing less and nothing more.

To summarize: Our rejection of a “right of national self-determination” for the Israeli-Jewish nationality is not a denial of any inherent revolutionary democratic right due to them as a group. It is rather our rejection of their right to oppress the Palestinians and to perpetuate the expulsion of the latter from their homeland. It is our refusal to condone and continue the inherently racist political project of Zionism.

The CWI Method of Adaption to the Heritage of Imperialist Colonialism

In the past, we have already stressed that there is nothing exceptional about the CWI’s “socialist” Zionism. Rather, it is rooted in and yet an additional manifestation of this tendency’s adaption to imperialism and the aristocratic privileges of oppressor nations. In this light we remind the CWI comrades of their leaders’ support “for self-determination” of the pro-British Protestant minority in Northern Ireland against the wishes for unification of Ireland by the entire Irish nation. As a result, the CWI consistently refused to support the armed struggle of the IRA against the British occupation army and their RUC police force.

Based on this very same social-chauvinist methodology, until today the CWI continues to support the British imperialists’ claim to Argentina’s Malvinas Islands because of the “right of national self-determination” of 1,800 colonial settlers. This position becomes evident from the following statements made by CWI leaders:

The labour movement should be mobilised to force a general election to open the way for the return of a Labour government to implement socialist policies at home and abroad. Victory of a socialist government in Britain would immediately transform the situation in relation to the Falklands. The junta would no longer be able to claim to be fighting British imperialism … A Labour government could not just abandon the Falklanders and let Galtieri get on with it. But it would continue the war on socialist lines.” (23)

In his book on the history of Militant, CWI leader Peter Taaffe argues: “The democratic rights of the 1,800 Falklanders, including the right to self-determination, if they so desired, was a key question in the consciousness of British workers. (…) Marxists could not be indifferent to the fate of the Falklanders, particularly given the consciousness of the British working class as it developed over this issue.” (24)

From this we see how the CWI completely distorts the Leninist notion of the right of national self-determination and transforms it into an ideology to justify colonial possessions of imperialism, specifically the existence of a colonial settler state as is the case with Israel.

2. “Socialist” Pacifism or Support for the Struggle of the Oppressed Nations?

 The consequence of this social-chauvinist distortion of the right of national self-determination is a complete failure to support the struggle of oppressed nations. The CWI leaders may protest against our thesis, and refer to statements like the following one from Peter Taaffe:

We have never opposed the right of the Palestinians to defend themselves against Israeli attacks, including armed defence in Gaza and legitimate attacks on military targets in Israel itself. We did, however, point to their ineffectiveness – it is like using peashooters against tanks – but also that they are counter-productive when indiscriminately used against civilians.

Surely, the Palestinian people must be “grateful” that the CWI grants them the “right” to defend themselves. However, as we have pointed out in the past, this is in fact a meaningless phrase because the CWI in fact supports Palestinian resistance in the abstract, but not one which is actually taking place. The concrete Palestinian resistance which exists, lives, and fights is the one under the leadership of bourgeois and petty-bourgeois nationalist organizations like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees, the Al-Aqsa Brigades, the PFLP, etc.

Two different Things: The Palestinians “Right to Defend Themselves” vs. Taking the Side of the Palestinian Resistance as it Concretely Exists

In our recent debate in Austria, as well as on other occasions, the CWI has refused to support the struggle of the Palestinian resistance as it concretely exists today. It justified this refusal by referring to the reactionary nature of these organizations. Characteristically the CWI has no problems supporting a strike of Israeli workers organized by the Histadrut, the Zionist racist trade union which is organically linked to the Israeli state and which has supported Israel in all its wars. Similarly, the CWI didn’t see any problem in supporting the reactionary strike demanding “British Jobs for British Workers” in 2009. However, it does feel itself incapable of supporting an anti-imperialist struggle led by a (petty-) bourgeois organization, even one supported by the entire people – particularly if they are engaged in a struggle against their own imperialism.

This reluctance is in complete contradiction with classic Marxist theory. As we explained in our book “The Great Robbery of the South”:

Lenin, Trotsky and the Communist International called for the support of Turkey in its struggle against British imperialism and its Greek allies in the years after the end of WWI, despite the fact that Turkey was ruled by the bourgeois, anti-communist regime of Mustafa Kemal Pasha. They also supported the struggle of the Riffian Berbers under the leadership of Abd el- Krim in the 1920s against the Spanish and French imperialists drive to occupy their country. The French Communist Party (PCF) organized a militant anticolonial mass campaign in solidarity with the Riffians – including a general strike on 12th October 1925. The PCF publicly expressed its support for the Riffians struggle until “Moroccan soil was completely liberated” from both Spanish and French imperialists. Leon Trotsky and the Fourth International continued this revolutionary anti-imperialism. They supported the struggle of the Chinese people against Japanese imperialism in the 1930s and 1940s despite the fact that it was led by the reactionary general Chiang Kai-shek.” (25)

We therefore characterize the CWI attitude as platonic anti-imperialism, i.e., one which does not draw the necessary practical conclusions about supporting the struggles of the oppressed today, due to its own backward leadership. In practice, the CWI approach is a kind of “socialist” pacifism, being “against the war” and failing to actively support those who are fighting the imperialist aggressor.

This is the reason why, in its agitation, the CWI does not call for support for and the victory of the Palestinian resistance. It does so neither locally, in the theater of the struggle itself – Israel / Occupied Palestine — nor internationally. In countries where pro-Zionist sentiment is particularly strong among public opinion and in the labor movement, like Austria, the CWI refuses to mobilize for or even participate in pro-Palestinian demonstrations of migrant communities, these being the only forces besides the Austrian’s RCIT section which mobilizes on this issue. This has been the practical policy of the CWI section in Austria for many years. When we challenged them on this policy in our public debate on 31 August, the CWI speaker explicitly defended their refusal to participate in these demonstrations, arguing that the CWI section is too weak to change the pro-Palestinian nationalist and religious character of these demonstrations — and as long as they cannot change this character, “it is better to stay at home” (quote). This is an open admission of the harmful, social-chauvinist consequences of the CWI’s refusal to support the Palestinian liberation struggle as it concretely exists.

When we consider that, in Israel, the CWI has no problem joining anti-war demonstrations organized by left or not-so-left Zionists, it becomes clear that they feel much more comfortable in the company of the latter than they do among nationalist or religious, anti-imperialist migrants in Europe.

Naturally, we are fully aware that intervening in nationalist and religiously-inspired migrant communities can be difficult, requiring socialists to struggle against the influence of Islamists and bourgeois community leaders. However, this is life, and Marxists are keenly aware that intervening in trade union mobilizations and strikes also often involves intense conflicts with bureaucrats. But such difficulties shall never stop authentic Marxists from supporting and participating in such actions. In fact, there is no other way to approach the masses that are fighting against the imperialist and capitalist enemy than by joining their struggles, even when these are organized by the wrong leadership. The RCIT section in Austria has shown many times that it is possible to become respected by many migrants from these communities and to earn the right to disseminate our propaganda among them. As a result, we have been invited to speak at these actions a number of times. (26)

A General Method: Failure to Support Struggles against Imperialism which Take Place under a Non-Socialist Leadership

We have shown above that the CWI distorts the right of national self-determination in order to justify the defense of various imperialist occupations (e.g., Israel, Northern Ireland, the Malvinas). Similarly, they generally tend to refuse giving support to concrete practical struggles of oppressed nations which usually take place under bourgeois or petty-bourgeois leadership.

The CWI leaders opportunistically justify this abstention from participation by referring to the consciousness of the masses in the imperialist countries. Taking the example of the resistance in Afghanistan, Peter Taaffe even argued the communists’ method of the anti-imperialist united front is no longer applicable today:

The masses in the 1930s would have understood little of the precise detail of the Haile Selassie regime. Moreover, Ethiopia was under attack by the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini at the time Trotsky was writing. Given the democratic illusions of the working class of Europe or the US in particular, together with the recent bloody example of what fascism would mean for them in the coming to power of Adolf Hitler and Mussolini, it was natural that the sympathies of the masses in the 1930s would be with Ethiopia against fascist Italy. The British and most of the European bourgeoisie together with the US, for their own imperialist strategic interests, also played on this sympathy for Ethiopia. It is nonsense to imply, however, as the sectarian organizations do by quoting these remarks of Trotsky, that the mass of the populations in most industrialised countries could take the same attitude today towards bin Laden and the Taliban.” (27)

Similarly, according to Taaffe, it would be wrong to call for the defeat of the imperialist occupation forces: “To call baldly and crudely for the ‘defeat of US imperialism’ and its coalition allies as an agitational slogan is wrong.”

In the case of Afghanistan, the CWI once again demonstrates its platonic anti-imperialism. While it supports “resistance in general”, it does not support the resistance which is actually taking place. Thus, Taaffe wrote: “Support for the Afghani people and their resistance against the armed incursions of imperialism is not the same as support for the Taliban, even if this support is ‘critical’, as some left organisations have posed it. (…)„If, therefore, we perceive this war as thoroughly reactionary on the part of imperialism, does this mean that we throw in our lot, albeit ‘critically’, with those who have allegedly ‘resisted’ the US juggernaut, namely bin Laden, his al-Qa’ida and the Taliban government? Unbelievably, this is the position of some small Trotskyist groups, such as Workers Power (our predecessor organization, MP) and the Morenoite LIT. The latter is largely based in Latin America. Their approach will find absolutely no echo amongst the world working class, particularly the proletariat in the developed capitalist countries.

Unfortunately, the Taliban, doubtless a reactionary Islamist force, is the dominant force among the Afghan resistance. Refusing to support their military struggle against the NATO forces is equivalent to rejecting practical resistance on the ground against the imperialist occupation in Afghanistan.

Armed, or rather disarmed, with the same method, the CWI leadership failed to support the military struggle of Argentina against British imperialism in 1982; of Iraq both in 1991 and 2003 and later; as well as in Lebanon in 2006. (28)

It is therefore obvious that the CWI failure to support the Palestinian resistance struggle is no exceptional case but rather an expression of its consistent social-pacifist, centrist method. Trotsky’s condemnation of the centrist politician Georg Ledebour, written in 1932, also illuminates well the political failures of the CWI today: “Nevertheless, Ledebour’s position even on this question does not leave the precincts of centrism. Ledebour demands that a battle be waged against colonial oppression; he is ready to vote in parliament against colonial credits; he is ready to take upon himself a fearless defense of the victims of a crushed colonial insurrection. But Ledebour will not participate in preparing a colonial insurrection. Such work he considers putschism, adventurism, Bolshevism. And therein is the whole gist of the matter. What characterizes Bolshevism on the national question is that in its attitude toward oppressed nations, even the most backward, it considers them not only the object but also the subject of politics. Bolshevism does not confine itself to recognizing their “right” to self-determination and to parliamentary protests against the trampling upon of this right. Bolshevism penetrates into the midst of the oppressed nations; it raises them up against their oppressors; it ties up their struggle with the struggle of the proletariat in capitalist countries; it instructs the oppressed Chinese, Hindus, or Arabs in the art of insurrection and it assumes full responsibility for this work in the face of civilized executioners. Here only does Bolshevism begin, that is, revolutionary Marxism in action. Everything that does not step over this boundary remains centrism.“ (29)

3. The International Solidarity Movement

This leads us to the next methodological difference between the RCIT and the CWI, that pertaining to the international solidarity movement with Palestine. The RCIT calls for an international worker and popular boycott campaign against Israel in order to weaken it and to support the Palestinian resistance. Hence, we critically support the ongoing international boycott campaign like BDS which has received mass support not only from the Palestinian side but also from many trade unions around the world (like COSATU in South Africa, numerous trade unions in Norway, Canada, Ireland, Britain, etc.). In our joint statement which we published with other organizations during the recent Gaza war we stated:

We call for the building of a mass international solidarity movement of the working class and the oppressed. We call on the mass organizations of workers’ and popular movements (trade unions, parties etc.) to join the international solidarity campaign for Palestine and to actively engage in boycott actions against all commercial activities with Israel! It should boycott all contacts with Zionist institutions while – at the same time –encouraging close collaboration with all progressive Israeli Jews who protest against the apartheid regime. Such a mass solidarity movement should mobilize to close down Israel’s embassies around the world. Equally such a solidarity movement must work towards ending the military and financial aid for Israel by the imperialist states.” (30)

Contrary to this position, the CWI generally rejects the ongoing boycott campaign against Israel with the exception of some targeted measures against this or that company from the settlements in the West Bank or against exporting arms to Israel:

Should all BDS campaigns be avoided because of the viewpoint of Israel workers? Not necessarily, because some types of selective boycott or sanctions can aid the Palestinians’ cause while, at the same time, coming across to Israeli workers as less hostile to them than blanket boycotts of ‘everything Israeli’. ‘Selective’ can mean targeting the export to Israel of arms and equipment that could be used against the Palestinians; firms that profit from the occupation; goods produced in the Jewish settlements; certain sporting and cultural events to gain publicity; the Ariel university in the occupied territories; Israeli ministers when they make overseas visits – among other possible targets.” (31)

The CWI justifies its refusal to support the international boycott campaign by referring again to the consciousness of the Israeli working class. It says that a campaign like BDS should not be supported because it is rejected by the Israeli workers. This becomes evident from the following quote which we have take from the same article:

Israeli Jewish workers genuinely fear for their own security and want to protect the state that was intended to be a safe haven for Jews. This, with the constant barrage of propaganda, unsurprisingly leads them to believe that advocates of the BDS campaign around the world don’t understand the situation in Israel. Also, many of the Israeli Jews who are most critical of their government’s brutality against the Palestinians, at the same time don’t see why Israeli workers should be punished for it by suffering the effects of boycotts. So it needs to be taken into account that boycott campaigns can assist the propaganda of the Israeli government domestically, and can create a barrier between workers in Israel and internationally, negative consequences that need to be weighed up against the advantages.”

Similarly, Peter Taaffe states: “Moreover, a targeted campaign, which could grow now in the wake of the horror of Gaza, should be discussed with both Palestinian but particularlyIsraeli workers.” (Our emphasis)

It seems that the consciousness of the small Israeli working class is a far more important factor in the political calculations of the CWI leaders than the consciousness of the much larger working class in the Arab world, in Latin America, and increasingly also in North America and Western Europe! This is just another confirmation of their aristocratic attitude which aligns itself with the rather privileged layers of the working class and not the lower, much larger strata of the world proletariat.

In fact, the CWI’s negative position towards international boycott campaigns is in contradiction to the tradition of the revolutionary workers’ movement. During the international solidarity campaign for the anarchist workers Sacco and Vanzetti in the 1920s, militant trade union federations like the CGTU in France called for the boycott of all US commodities, both by consumers as well as by transport workers. They even organized groups which broke up cinema showings of American films. (32) Similarly, Trotsky and US Trotskyists supported the boycott of German commodities after Hitler took power in 1933. (33)

Naturally, Marxists must warn against harboring any illusions that such a boycott campaign could abolish Apartheid in Palestine, contrary to what the initiators of the BDS campaign claim. But this is true for many working class actions. In Greece, the trade union leaders called for two dozen one-day general strikes. Marxists always warned that even these will be insufficient in achieving the desired goal of halting the austerity policy of the government. However, only a traitor and strike breaker would have refused to support and to participate in these one-day general strikes! Unfortunately, the CWI fails to support the international boycott campaign against Israel and in doing so plays the strike breakers against the explicit wishes of the entire Palestinian national movement, as well as numerous international trade unions and solidarity organizations.

The difference between the methods of the RCIT and CWI also is manifested in our respective attitudes towards Histadrut, the main Zionist trade union federation of the Israeli workers. The RCIT, as well as many other progressive organizations, call upon the international trade union movement to sever its relations with the Histadrut. The rationale for such a severe step is the strict and uninterrupted support of the Histadrut for the expulsion and oppression of the Palestinian people since 1948 as well as its support for the Israeli Apartheid system.

On the other hand, the CWI opposes calls to the international trade union federation to break with the Histadrut – irrespective of its criticism against the organization’s leadership. As Judy Beishon from the CWI writes:

Should trade unions internationally have links with the Israeli trade union federation, the Histadrut? The Histadrut leaders have always had close ties with the Israeli elite. (…) A vital task that Histadrut members face is to remove the leaders that are holding back workers’ interests, and to replace them with leaders who will be under the democratic control of the membership. Meanwhile, links should be maintained by trade unions internationally with the rank-and-file workers in the Histadrut – encompassing over 700,000, the overwhelming majority of organised workers in Israel, including Palestinians and migrant workers. It is more workable to maintain links with the rank and file if formal links are maintained with the Histadrut leadership bodies, not in order to give any support to the positions of the union federation’s bureaucracy, but to have a dialogue and links with the organised Israeli working class.”

In the end, the CWI’s softness regarding the Histadrut is hardly surprising, given the fact that it also considers police officers as “workers in uniform” who should be part of the trade union federation. The CWI in Britain even has among its members the president of the prison officers!


Ultimately, the issue of the Palestinian liberation struggle demonstrates that the CWI’s failure goes far beyond this issue alone, but rather is rooted in its overall method. It clearly demonstrates that the CWI is not a revolutionary, Marxist, anti-imperialist tendency but rather a centrist one. This means that the CWI adapts itself to the reformist bureaucracy and the labor aristocracy and their pro-imperialist prejudices.

Trotsky and the Fourth International sharply denounced such a failure to support the struggles of the oppressed people against imperialism. In a declaration of 1932, they stated:

Capitalist brigands always conduct a “defensive” war, even when Japan is marching against Shanghai and France against Syria or Morocco. The revolutionary proletariat distinguishes only between wars of oppression and wars of liberation. The character of a war is defined, not by diplomatic falsifications, but by the class which conducts the war and the objective aims it pursues in that war. The wars of the imperialist states, apart from the pretexts and political rhetoric, are of an oppressive character, reactionary and inimical to the people. Only the wars of the proletariat and of the oppressed nations can be characterized as wars of liberation (…)

Whoever directly or indirectly supports the system of colonization and protectorates, the domination of British capital in India, the domination of Japan in Korea or in Manchuria, of France in Indochina or in Africa, whoever does not fight against colonial enslavement, whoever does not support the uprisings of the oppressed nations and their independence, whoever defends or idealizes Gandhism, that is, the policy of passive resistance on questions which can be solved only by force of arms, is, despite good intentions or bad, a lackey, an apologist, an agent of the imperialists, of the slaveholders, of the militarists, and helps them to prepare new wars in pursuit of their old aims or new.” (34)

Trotsky once described centrism in the following way: “Centrism is the name applied to that policy which is opportunist in substance and which seeks to appear as revolutionary in form.” (35) Unfortunately, as we have shown in the case of Palestine, but also in other anti-imperialist struggles, this characterization is entirely applicable to the CWI. We call on the many comrades in the ranks of this organization to critically discuss these issues and to break with such an opportunist program.


(1) Peter Taaffe: Socialism and national rights. Ukraine, Israel/Palestine and other countries, in: Socialism Today No.181, September 2014, pp. 13-17, If not indicated otherwise, all quotes from Peter Taaffe in our reply are taken from this article.

(2) A report as well as photos of this meeting, which was attended by about 80 people, can be found on the RCIT’s website

(3) The RCIT and the ISL have published numerous documents and articles on Palestine. They can be found on our websites at, as well as

For an overview of our tactics as well as our historic and programmatic positions we refer readers to the following documents – Joint Statement: Israel Starts Ground Offensive: Defend Gaza! Defeat Israel’s War! Support the Palestinian Resistance! For a Workers’ and Popular International Campaign to Boycott Israel! Down with the Regimes which Collaborate with Israel! For a Free, Red Palestine! Joint Statement of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency, Internationalist Socialist League (RCIT-Section in Israel / Occupied Palestine), the Communist Left of Australia and the Editor of the Blog (Sweden), 22.7.2014,

RCIT and ISL: Palestine: Forward to the Third Intifada! Organize the Uprising in Workers, Peasant, and Youth Popular Committees! Revitalize the Arab Revolution! Smash the Imperialist Apartheid State Israel! 7.7.2014,

Internationalist Socialist League: Summary of the ISL-Program, February 2014,

Yossi Schwartz: Israel’s War of 1948 and the Degeneration of the Fourth International, in: Revolutionary Communism, Special Issue on Palestine, No. 10, June 2013,

Yossi Schwartz: Israel’s Six-Day War of 1967. On the Character of the War, the Marxist Analysis and the Position of the Israeli Left, in: Revolutionary Communism, No. 12, July/August 2013,

Michael Pröbsting: On some Questions of the Zionist Oppression and the Permanent Revolution in Palestine, in: Revolutionary Communism, Special Issue on Palestine, No. 10, June 2013,

(4) Michael Pröbsting: On some Questions of the Zionist Oppression and the Permanent Revolution in Palestine, in: Revolutionary Communism, Special Issue on Palestine, No. 10, June 2013, p. 35,

(5) V.I.Lenin: The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination (1916), in: LCW 22, p. 149 (our emphasis)

(6) On this issue we refer readers also to the chapter “Socialist Zionism a la CWI” in: Michael Pröbsting: The Great Robbery of the South. Continuity and Changes in the Super-Exploitation of the Semi-Colonial World by Monopoly Capital. Consequences for the Marxist Theory of Imperialism, pp. 353-357, 2013,

(7) See Sutay Yavuz: Fertility Decline in Turkey from the 1980s Onwards: Patterns by Main Language Groups, Ankara 2008, p. 133; DEIK/TAIK: Turkey Brief: Turkish – U.S. Relations, 2011, p. 13; Dimitrios Trichopoulos and George Papaevangelou: The Population Of Greece. A Monograph for the World Population Year 1974, CICRED, Athen 1974, p. 11

(8) See Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics: Palestine in Figures 2012, Ramallah 2013, p. 10; Elior Levy: Report: Palestinians to outnumber Jews by 2020, 01.01.13,,7340,L-4327295,00.html; Asher Zeiger: Israel at 65: Population tops 8 million, April 14, 2013,

(9) Michael Pröbsting: On some Questions of the Zionist Oppression and the Permanent Revolution in Palestine, in: Revolutionary Communism, Special Issue on Palestine, No. 10, June 2013, p. 24,

(10) On this, see the chapter “Israel’s development into an imperialist state” in Michael Pröbsting: On some Questions of the Zionist Oppression and the Permanent Revolution in Palestine.

(11) On this, see Yossi Schwartz: Israel‘s War of 1948 and the Degeneration of the Fourth International, in: Revolutionary Communism, Special Issue on Palestine, No. 10, June 2013, and Yossi Schwartz: Israel’s Six-Day War of 1967, July 2013,

(12) Yossi Schwartz: Israel’s War against the Palestinians, Internationalist Socialist League (RCIT-Section in Israel/Occupied Palestine), 23.7.2014,

(13) Yossi Schwartz: Israel’s War against the Palestinians, Internationalist Socialist League (RCIT-Section in Israel/Occupied Palestine), 23.7.2014,

(14) CWI: The crisis of capitalism and the naked role of imperialism are graphically manifested in the Middle East. Document No. 3, CWI 10th World Congress, 28.12.2010

(15) Peter Taaffe: Marxismus heute. Antworten auf Krieg, Kapitalismus und Umweltzerstörung (2006), p. 40; We are quoting and translating from the German translation since we don’t possess the English-language original of „Marxism in today’s World“.

(16) V. I. Lenin: The revolutionary Proletariat and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination (1915); in: LCW 21, p. 409

(17) V.I. Lenin – The Right of Nations to Self-Determination (1914); in: LCW 20, p.412 (emphasis by Lenin)

(18) G. Zinoviev / V. I. Lenin: Socialism and War (1915) ; in: LCW Vol. 21, pp. 306-307

(19) See chapter “The Marxist classics and the right of national self-determination” in Michael Pröbsting: On some Questions of the Zionist Oppression and the Permanent Revolution in Palestine

(20) V. I. Lenin: The Revolutionary Proletariat and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination, in: LCW 21, p. 409

(21) V. I. Lenin: The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination, in: LCW 22, p. 146

(22) Leon Trotsky: On the South African Theses (1935); in: Trotsky Writings 1934-35, p. 251

(23) Lynn Walsh: Falklands war: what lessons for the labour movement? in: Militant International Review, Nr. 22, Juni 1982 (reprinted in: Socialism Today, Nr. 108, April 2007,

(24) Peter Taaffe: The Rise of Militant, London 1995, Chapter 20 “The Falklands/Malvinas War”,

(25) Michael Pröbsting: The Great Robbery of the South, pp. 306-307

(26) To give an overview of our work we refer to some reports and videos from the last 9 months: Austria: Rally in Solidarity with Gaza on 13.7.2014!; Austria: Demonstration on the Anniversary of the Raaba Massacre in Egypt!; Egypt: Report with Videos from Demonstration in Austria against the Military Dictatorship on 20.4.2014,; Austria: Solidarity with the Resistance against the Military Dictatorship in Egypt!

Those who are interested can view more videos on our YouTube channel

(27) Peter Taaffe: Afghanistan, Islam and the Revolutionary Left (2002),; The following quotes from Taaffe are taken from this document.

(28) We have dealt in detail with the CWI’s position on imperialist wars in the chapter “Centrism’s Failure in the Struggle against Imperialist Wars” in: Michael Pröbsting: The Great Robbery of the South. Continuity and Changes in the Super-Exploitation of the Semi-Colonial World by Monopoly Capital. Consequences for the Marxist Theory of Imperialism, 2013,

(29) Leo Trotzki: Was nun? Schicksalsfragen des deutschen Proletariats (1932); in: Schriften über Deutschland, pp. 246-247; in English: Leon Trotsky: What Next? Vital Questions for the German Proletariat,

(30) Israel Starts Ground Offensive: Defend Gaza! Defeat Israel’s War! Support the Palestinian Resistance! For a Workers’ and Popular International Campaign to Boycott Israel! Down with the Regimes which Collaborate with Israel! For a Free, Red Palestine! Joint Statement of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency, Internationalist Socialist League (RCIT-Section in Israel / Occupied Palestine), the Communist Left of Australia and the Editor of the Blog (Sweden), 22.7.2014,

(31) Judy Beishon: Boycotting Israel: the socialist view, in: Socialism Today Issue 169, June 2013,

(32) Johann Zelt: Proletarischer Internationalismus im Kampf um Sacco und Vanzetti, Dietz Verlag, Berlin 1958, pp. 219-220

(33) See: Leon Trotsky: Building a New International and the United Front Policy, in: Trotsky Writings Supplement 1929-33, p. 279 as well as CLA(US): The Militant, Editorial, 21.20.1933

(34) Leon Trotsky: Declaration to the Antiwar Congress at Amsterdam (1932), in: Writings 1932, p. 153

(35) Leon Trotsky: Independence of the Ukraine and Sectarian Muddleheads (1939); in: Writings 1939-40, S. 54

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