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The communist movement in Palestine 1919‑1949



In Palestine during the first half of the 1920s has been constituted a Communist Party, having links to the Communist International directed by the CP(b)SU. In an especially marked way, reality confronted its militants to the essential problem from the point of view of Marxism-Leninism: how to gain pre-eminence of the fundamental interests of the working class in the frame of the combat against world imperialism. The contradictions which cross this system are manifold, and carry out the struggle for proletarian revolution necessitates that they be taken into account correctly. That's the case in particular in so far is concerned the question of the right of the nation to dispose of themselves. This text is meant to provide some historical elements relating to the case of Palestine.







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Palestine 1897‑1949







Written: January 2003
Last modification: April 2007

Printable Version







Between two imperialist world wars

The orientation concerning Zionism

Activity within the workers' movement

The "Jewish Section" of the PCP

Bitter conflicts in the world, divisions within the movement

The split of 1943

Division from 1943 to 1948

The National Liberation League

The NLL and the workers' movement

The maintained” PCP

The After-1948

Brief overview of the positions taken by the Trotskyist movements

Historical notices

Palestinian Communist Party

Syrian Communist Party, Lebanese Communist Party



Between two imperialist world wars

The orientation concerning Zionism

Globally, on the subject of Zionism and the Jewish population, the Palestinian Communist Party has maintained up to 1943 the objective of cessation of Jewish immigration and the interdiction of purchase of land by Jews. Yet, it refused to adopt the perspective the departure of the already settled immigrants and fixed itself the task to organized the Arab and Jewish workers in the struggle against imperialism, considering that the interests of the Jewish workers in no way were in contradiction with those of the Arab workers. The attacks it launched against the British mandatory governments were consistent with this position. Thus the Party accused the latter of "not helping to give immigrants work and bread, still less land"[1], and it denounced the menace that represented immigration as being directed not only against the Arab workers and peasants, but also against the Jewish workers, for "it served as a means of swelling the ranks of the unemployed and lowering wages"[2]. The Party thought that the sole means to guarantee free development of the Jewish minority consisted in struggling against imperialism and Zionism and in assuring that in the revolutionary insurrection to come, the Jewish workers participate in the struggle for national independence. The same type of argumentation was applied to the situation in Germany after the establishment of the national-socialist regime. The Party affirmed that Jews in Germany, like, besides, in other countries, should not look for salvation by immigration in Palestine, but that they should stay in their country of origin and participate in the struggle side by side with the workers.

A booklet published by the Party in October 1935, titled "A statement of the PCP: For the Alliance of All the Arabs and their Friends Against All Imperialists"[3] affirmed that the immediate objective had to be "the destruction of Zionism", "the immediate cessation of immigration and the disarming of all Zionists". According to this text, the Jewish community in Palestine played a "fascist role", and the Jewish workers constituted an "aristocracy of labor". Nevertheless the Party called on "the Jewish workers and peasants" to join its fight. Consequently, the Party rejected any idea of common activity with Zionist groups, whatever be their tendency. Yet, it has to be noted that this attitude was inflected after the attack by national-socialist Germany against USSR; the Party then declared itself ready to recognize certain "national organisations" of the Jewish community.

As for the successive British propositions, the Party was hostile to the partition plan formulated by the Peel Commission in 1939, but interpreted the White Paper published in 1939 as a first step obtained by struggle, towards total liberation of Palestine.

Activity within the workers' movement

The activity of the PCP, in a first period, was mainly concentrated in the trade union field, among Jewish workers. Its attitude with regard to the Histadrut (“General organisation of the Hebrew laborers in Eretz Yisrael”, constituted in 1920) underwent fluctuations. The Party included components hostile to the Histadrut; nevertheless it established within the latter its own Fraktzia” (faction) in November 1922[4]. The matter was about obtaining that the unions affiliated to the Histadrut be dissociated from the economic and cooperative functions linked to the Zionist project, and that they open themselves to Arab members. The Fraktzia based itself on the principle of participation in Zionist organizations and hence in elections concerning the leading organisms of the Histadrut, while demanding that the latter on its whole be transformed into a federation of territorial professional trade unions.

In 1919 had been created the “Railway Workers' Association” (RWA), organizing solely Jewish workers. In January 1922 a resolution adopted by the Histadrut Council confirmed the principle of organization of the workers on the basis of “national sections as well as maintaining of the affiliation of the RWA to the Histadrut. Towards the end of 1923, militants of the Poalei Tziyon Smol (cf. below, the section Palestinian Communist Party) took the control of this union, which changed its name to “Union of Railway, Postal and Telegraph Workers” (URPTW). They declared the union as international, that is to say open both to Arab and Jewish workers, and demanded that the Histadrut adopt the same orientation, by transferring its functions in the field of settlement and cooperatives to a separate organism.

The PCP intervened within this trade union as well as, besides, in the Histadrut in general. But in April 1924, a meeting of the direction of the Histadrut decided that communists had to be excluded from its organizations. The only negative vote came from a delegate of the workers of the Jerusalem railways, member of the Poalei Tziyon Smol. The Party, for its part, supported the demand that the URPTW free itself from the ascendancy of the Zionists. Putting above all the objective of unity between Jews and Arabs in the trade unions, its members within the URPTW in particular organized in May 1924 a meeting in common with some Arab trade union leaders engaged in negotiations with this union. At this meeting was present Moshe Ungerfeld, member of the PCP and, besides, member of the Central Committee of the URPTW and the special committee charged with the question of the common organization (between Jews and Arabs). This event brought about the decision taken by the Histadrut direction to exclude from the URPTW for a year, seven communist members. The direction of the URPTW did not conform to the decision to systematically expel the communists, but it voted the suspension of M. Ungerfeld as member of the Central Committee.

The URPTW actually recruited Arab workers and in November 1924 it was decided that all the elected organs had to be composed in equal number of Jewish and Arab members, each of the two groups choosing its own representatives. Arabs were co-opted to the Central Committee. In February 1925, at Haifa, was held a meeting of the URPTW Council, which comprised the nine members of the Central Committee with, furthermore, nine Jews and seven Arabs representing the branches. Three of the main leaders of the Histadrut (David Ben-Gurion, Yitzhak Ben-Tzvi and Chaim Arlosoroff) were present. The main question on the agenda concerned the union's relation with the Histadrut. By a majority of 18 against 7 was proclaimed the creation of a territorial and international trade union open to all railway as well as post and telegraph workers, independently from their ethnical belonging, religion and nationality. The nine Jewish members of the Central Committee all voted in favor. The delegates unanimously confirmed the exclusion from the Central Committee of M. Ungerfeld. Seven Arabs figured among the newly elected members of the Central Committee.

Until spring of 1925, the communists continued to call on the Arab workers to join the URPTW. For example in December 1924, articles in Haifa (Arabic biweekly of the Party, appearing since autumn of the year) emphasized that both Zionists and Arab nationalist effendis were upset that Arab workers had joined the URPTW and that they campaigned against the thus realized unity and solidarity between workers[5]. And in January 1925, another article brought up the subject again[6]:

By withdrawing from the union we strengthen the position of the Zionists within it; they welcome our withdrawal so that they will have no internal opposition to their political activities. [...] We must endeavour to take over the leadership of the union and make of it an organization which will defend the interests of all the workers whether Arabs or Jews. There are a large number of Jewish comrades with considerable experience in running a union who are ready to help us loyally and sincerely.

Now, in spring of 1925, most of the Arab workers left the URPTW. In August, the URPTW definitely expelled 13 communist militants, even the Poalei Tziyon Smol having finally voted in this sense. In this same period a new group appeared within the railway shops of Haifa. At the end of February, a meeting was organized with approximately 200 laborers of the Haifa railways and later on, in junction with the Arab workers leaving the URPTW because of its Zionist orientations, this initiative lead to the constitution in summer of 1925, of the “Palestinian Arab Workers Society” (“al-Jamiyyah al-Umal al-Arabiyya al-Filastiniyya” ‑ PAWS)[7], which formally registered with the British authorities. In the years that followed, the PAWS extended its sphere of influence, beyond Haifa, to Jaffa and Jerusalem.

Towards that time, the Party began little by little to develop its activity towards the Arab workers. It succeeded in organizing a certain number of them in Jerusalem and Haifa. For the May First of 1925, in Haifa appeared a convocation to a public meeting. The following year, for the same occasion, a strike was organized, uniting in action Arab and Jewish workers. After its members had been expelled from the Histadrut, the Party established a trade union movement called “Ihud” in Hebrew (“Union”)[8] with the aim of promoting unity of Jewish and Arab workers. In it participated, in addition to communists, members of the Histadrut as well as members of Gdud Haavoda (cf. below, the section Palestinian Communist Party). The Tel Aviv branch of Ihud was lead by Leopold Trepper (he had joined the PCP in 1925, than was to be expelled from Palestine by the British in 1929; between 1938 and 1942 he was to organize the antifascist intelligence network known as “Red Orchestra”). In December 1926 was held a conference of Ihud, to which assisted 85 delegates, 16 of them Arabs, with at their head two Arab communists, Rafiq Jabbour and Abd al-Ghani al-Karmi[9]. However, the movement disappeared not long later.

At the outset, the PAWS insisted on its Arab character and in accordance with the statutes, it solely recognized the membership of Arabs. Yet, among its leaders figured Farid Kamil, who had been member of the Central Committee of the URPTW and who spoke for an apolitical and international trade union accepting the Jews as fully qualified members. At first, he did not succeed to make prevail his position, he left the PAWS, repeated a passage within the URPTW but finally returned to the PAWS that after all showed a favorable attitude towards the perspective of its integration within a new unitary organization including all the workers of the railways, on the condition that it be independent from the Histadrut. In January 1930, in the hope of laying the foundations of a more ample Arab workers movement, the PAWS convoked in Haifa a congress of Arab workers in Palestine, the first of this kind[10]. 61 delegates were present, affirming that they spoke in the name of approximately 3000 workers. Half of them came from Haifa, and nearly half of the latter represented the railway workers. But there were also participants from Jerusalem, Jaffa and other towns, proceeding from a variety of trades. A certain number of Arab trade unionists who belonged to the PCP or were close to it, contributed to the organization of the congress, but is was largely under the control of the non-communist trade unionists, rather conservatives, who had founded the PAWS. The congress declared its opposition to Jewish immigration and Zionism, and its support of independence of Palestine as an Arab state. It decided to establish a workers' movement on the national scale, to defend the interests and the rights of the Arab workers. Yet, even after the congress, the PAWS stayed an organization the basis of which was essentially limited to Haifa and to the railway workers. The organization of the railway workers established in Haifa, affiliated to the PAWS, henceforth called itself “Arab Union of Railway Workers” (AURW). In the years that followed, the latter would use other designations, at least in English, like for example Railway Arab Workers' Trade Union.

As for the URPTW, it held its 6th Congress in summer of 1927 (year in the course of which was held as well the 3rd Congress of the Histadrut, to which for the first time Arabs were authorized to assist) and finally pronounced itself at a short majority in favor of the principle of “joint organization” on the basis of national sections. This decision was implemented through new statutes adopted in February 1928. On this occasion the organization changed its name to “National Union of Railway, Post and Telegraph Workers in Palestine” (NURPTW).

In the period of preparation of the 7th Congress of the NURPTW, planned for May 1931, the question of unity continued to be debated. Proceeding with the position of concessions to those who were hesitant in relation to Zionism, the congress decided that the Jewish members of the trade unions stay directly integrated to the Histadrut, whereas the non-Jewish members, Arabs and others, should join the “general workers' clubs” that the Histadrut just was establishing, until be created an international federation including all laborers of Palestine without consideration of religion or ethnic group. The name of the trade union was once more modified to “International Union of Railway, Postal and Telegraph Workers in Eretz Yisrael” (IURPTW).

A leaflet distributed by the PCP in June 1931 commented on the congress in the following manner[11]:

The railway workers' congress just concluded in Tel Aviv was a new and dangerous maneuver by the social-imperialist leaders of the Histadrut. For 12 years these leaders have wrecked any attempt at true organization by the railway workers. For 12 years this gang of leaders, with Ben-Tzvi at their head, have served the imperialist authorities by constant betrayal of the railway workers' interests. For 12 years they have opposed unity and true brotherhood between the Arab and the Jewish railway workers, by imposing Zionism, the enemy of the Arab worker, on the Jewish workers and by driving the Arab workers away from any possibility of organization. For 12 years every worker ‑ Arab or Jewish ‑ who stood for defending the workers' interest and for establishing a class, international, and anti-imperialist organization has been forcibly fired, kicked out of the Histadrut and turned over to the imperialist police. [...] And suddenly, at the last congress, these nationalist-Zionist Histadrut leaders, these wild wolves and servants of imperialism, thanks to whose “activism” alone the railway workers are to this day in a terrible state, abandoned to every form of exploitation and repression, have changed into innocent lambs and are calling themselves an “international union”.

Schemes of the same types were going on within the Histadrut. In May 1932 was created the “League of Workers of Eretz Yisrael”, according to its designation in Hebrew (“Brit Poalei Eretz Yisrael”) ‑ in Arabic, the organization called itself “Union of the Workers of Palestine” (“Ittihad Ummal Filastin”), the official name in English was “Palestine Labour League” (PLL). The objective was to recruit and organize the Arab workers under the auspices of the Histadrut. The PLL (named “Israel Labour League” after the creation of the state of Israel) was continuing to exist until 1959 when the Histadrut decided to directly admit Arabs as full members.

On this subject, the PCP at that time reiterated its denunciations of the Histadrut[12]:

After strangling strikes by Arab workers, the Histadrut's leaders are trying to channel a small number of Arab workers into a Histadrut organization. The purpose of the PLL, which has been resurrected in Haifa, as well as of the International Union of Railway Workers, is to organize a certain portion of Arab workers in an organization whose function is to provide the Histadrut's efforts at conquest [of labor] an internationalist cover, and to divert the Arab worker from the path of establishing his own class organization in order to hitch him to the cart of chauvinism and Zionism.

In particular in Jaffa, the communists actively intervened in the PAWS' struggle against Zionist pickets organized to impose the politics of “conquest of labor”. One may not that the Histadrut staged various scenes to deploy its strategy of “Hebrew labor”, sometimes in a roundabout way. Thus it made use of the fact that side by side with the Arab workers originating from Palestine proper, there were immigrant workers coming from Hauran (a region of Syria) and, to a lesser extent, from Egypt. This situation characterized among others the laborers employed by the ports of Jaffa and Haifa. In Haifa for example, the PAWS forwarded a petition to the government to protest against competition exerted by immigration originating from Hauran. The Histadrut did not miss to seize on these nationalist tendencies, asking for the interdiction of non-Palestinian Arab workers as well as the expulsion of those already present, employing as argument that this would permit to make progress the unity between Jewish and Arab Palestinians. At the time of the Arab revolt of 1936, the Zionist added another argument, addressed to the British authorities. Thus, in 1937, before the Peel Commission, Moshe Shertok (Sharett) who headed the Jewish Agency's political department from 1933 to 1948, declared[13]:

The presence of a substantial number of Jews would have acted as a very effective deterrent [to an Arab railway strike]. [...] When the crisis did occur ‑ on the 9th August ‑ and hundreds of Arab railwaymen walked out, there were many factors which militated against it and brought them back to reason and to work, but one of the factors was that we mobilised a few dozen Jewish engine drivers whom we placed at the disposal of the Government and they were ready to step into the breach. [...]

[During the strike in the port of Haifa] Jewish labour stepped in and the strike was nipped in the bud, because Jewish labour was able to maintain the lighterage and stevedoring services. They were there and could do it. In Jaffa they were not there and could not do it.

On April 10, 1936, representatives of various sectors of the Arab workers' movement in Palestine met again, this time in Haifa, to lay the foundations of an Arab trade union federation for the whole of Palestine. To it assisted in particular Abd al-Hamid Haymur, secretary of the PAWS, Sami Taha, who later was to become the main leader of the organization, Khalil Shanir, one of the main Arab leaders of the PCP, and also militants having contacts with the groups implicated in the armed revolt.

The Party continued its efforts in the double direction of the work within the existing workers organizations combined with the foundation of new organizations where none existed. It concentrated its efforts in particular on the railway and port workers, as well as those in the construction and printing works sectors. Among the plants aimed at, one may mention the Palestine Electric Company, the Palestine Potash Company, the Iraq Petroleum Company in Haifa. In Jaffa, the Party had succeeded in creating the “Transport Workers' Union”.

The outbreak of the Second World War stimulated industrial development. Toward the middle of 1941, the British government and the army had become the biggest employers of Arab laborers in the country. Until that time, the Arab working class, which was rather thin, essentially had covered some sectors like railways, the ports of Jaffa and Haifa, the building industry, the Government Public Works Department, the international oil companies (Iraq Petroleum Company, Shell Oil Company, Consolidated Refineries), and also seasonal occupations in citrus fruit industry. As for the Jewish employers, they always had refused to employ Arabs, with some rare exceptions like the Palestine Electric Corporation and the Palestine Potash Company.

In the course of the 1930s, the Arab trade union movement had progressively found itself paralyzed. But the AURW had resumed its activity in 1940‑1941 and towards the end on 1941 the PAWS adhered began equally to extend its basis of militants and its influence. From that time on, its main leader was S. Taha. The PAWS was a fairly adaptable organization. It was possible for the militants of the PCP to assume the direction of quite a number among the new branches, growing rapidly, which sprang up in 1942. Only its Haifa section had survived to the end of the 1930s, but the PAWS then reorganized its past branch of Jaffa (which in fact was lead by Kh. Shanir) and that of Jerusalem (where the influence of the Party was very strong), and established itself in Nazareth (equally on the impulse of the Party) as well as in Nablus and Bethlehem. At the PAWS' congress of 1941 in Jaffa, Abd Allah al-Bandaq and Emil Habibi, as delegates, were in charge of the interventions of the Party. At the end of 1942, the total number of members of the PAWS was officially evaluated to 5000.

Simultaneously, in Haifa, where the leaders of the PAWS around S. Taha predominated, a group of communist and left-wing militants headed by Bulus Farah, in which participated among others Emil Touma, established an entirely independent trade union organization. B. Farah had joined the PCP in 1934 and had been sent to Moscow for training. He had returned to Palestine in 1938 and rapidly had become the center around which gathered Arab communists discontented about the Party's secretary, Radwan Hassan al-Hilu (who had taken this function in 1934), and then had been expelled from the Central Committee of the PCP in 1940. In 1942 the group of B. Farah founded a club in Haifa under the name of “Rays of Hope” (“Shua al-Amal”). The PCP established for its part a club named “People's club” (“Nadi al-Shab”). In November 1942 the coalition organized around the club Rays of Hope created the “Federation of Arab Trade Unions and Labour Societies” (“Ittihad al-Niqabat wal-Jamiyyat al-Arabiyya ‑ FATULS). This organization gained the adhesion of trade unions from the different big plants of the Haifa region (among them the Iraq Petroleum Company, the Consolidated Refineries that just had entered into service, and the facilities of the Shell Oil Company, as well as the Naval workshops, the Public Works Department and the military camps), but also elsewhere, particularly in Nazareth. Towards the end of the year, the British Labor Department estimated that the FATULS counted approximately 1000‑1500 members, compared to the strength of the PAWS at country's scale, of about 5000, and the number of dues-paying members of the PLL generously evaluated at 500. As for the Party, it condemned this "splitting activity" and continued to call on the Arab workers to organize themselves in the PAWS.

After an interval of 12 years, was held a second general conference of Arab workers, in January 22, 1943 in Jaffa, bringing together 40 delegates representing three important workers' societies of Haifa, Jaffa and Jerusalem, as well as a certain number of smaller groups. Among the main intervening speakers, a considerable number were members of the Party. A resolution condemned the FATULS, calling on it to join the PAWS. In July 1943 was held in Haifa a third conference, wider-ranging, to which assisted 300 delegates affirming they represent 30 000 workers. Here too, the main speeches were presented by members of the Party.

The "Jewish Section" of the PCP

At certain moments there was within the Party a tendency that attributed to the Jewish community in Palestine an outstanding progressive role in the economic and social development of the country. But in 1937 the problem took a particular dimension with the establishment by the Central Committee of the Jewish section, which was installed during a meeting of the local Jewish committees of Jerusalem, Haifa and Tel-Aviv. At that time, R. al-Hilu, general secretary of the Party was in prison. This decision was taken by Simha Tzabari, assistant of R. al-Hilu, and Farjallah al-Hilu (leader of the Lebanese Communist Party sent to Palestine for the duration of R. al-Hilu's imprisonment, and approved by the Party's secretariat. As secretary of the section was designated Hanoch Brozaza. The latter, during the events of the year 1936, had not opposed the Party's orientation favorable to the Arab insurrection, but in his new function he was to impart a different orientation to the activities of the section, in the direction of recognizing the existence of "progressive circles within Zionism" and applying "entrism" with respect to the Zionist organizations. In June 1938, S. Tzabari, editor of the Party's new newspaper, in Hebrew, Kol Haam (Voice of the People), having been arrested, H. Brozaza took the direction of the latter. One year after the formation of the section, the divergences had developed to the extent that the contact of the Jewish Section with the Party was cut.

The section strove to promote "understanding" between Jews and Arabs, considering that this implied acceptation of the development of Jewish immigration in Palestine. It insisted on affirming that the Jews in Palestine constituted a nation and that they had to assert their progressive national claims. These positions were qualified as "absolutely incorrect" by the Party. The section in particular aimed at putting into practice a politics gathering all the opponents with respect to the partition projects, including the revisionist Zionists. Thus it was induced to defend the latter against the repression they suffered, as exerted by the British in cooperation with the other currents of the Zionist movement. For example, in June 1938, it distributed a leaflet condemning the execution of a revisionist accused of terrorist activities. At variance with the Party's position, the section condemned the White Paper of 1939, qualifying it as "an imperialist document" leading to "enlarging the hatred between Jews and Arabs"[14].

The Central Committee dissolved the section in December 1939. The protagonists of the section set about publishing clandestinely, from the month of June 1940 on, a bulletin under the name of Dapei Spartakus (Spartacus' Pages), and in August they held a "congress" in the course of which they announced their separation from the Party. The new group endowed itself with a newspaper titled Haemet (The Truth). In June 1942, it dissolved itself and joined again the ranks of the Party.

Bitter conflicts in the world, divisions within the movement

The split of 1943

In the course of the enlarged plenum held in January 1943, R. al-Hilu pronounced himself in favor of a revision of the tactics applied by the Party. According to him, the truce declared by the Party vis-à-vis the British government and the Zionists had not induced any positive reaction on their behalf. He proposed to annul the decision (which had been taken while he was in prison, without consulting him) to conduct among the Arab population the propaganda in favor of recruitment for the British Army. Concurrently R. al-Hilu rejected the idea of creating within the British Army a Jewish Brigade, defended in particular by Shmuel Mikunis (vice-general secretary of the Party since 1936, and appointed editor of Kol Haam in replacement of H. Brozaza). Besides, he proposed to dissolve the Fraktzia, the Party's trade union group within the Jewish laborers' organization. He attacked both the Histadrut and the Zionist direction because of their attempts "to isolate the Yishuv [the Jewish community] from the anti-fascist movement" and called for the abandon of the “popular front” among the Jewish population[15]. Yet, the views within the plenum were divergent to the extent that the participants, in order to avoid a division, entrusted the Central Committee with settling the question. The recommendations of R. al-Hilu rapidly became the new line of the Party. The Fraktzia was dissolved.

It was in this context that was held the First Congress of Arab Workers in the Military Camps, on April 4, 1943. The intervening communist attacked the Histadrut and described its efforts to organize the Arab workers as aiming to spread division, while declaring themselves favorable to action together with "honest Jewish workers" and to the establishment of joint committees between Jews and Arabs.

On the occasion of actions deployed by the Histadrut for the May First day, R. al-Hilu opposed the participation of the Party. Sh. Mikunis was among the advocates of the idea to join without reservation the protest actions of the Histadrut. Certain members of the Party's committees in Haifa and Tel-Aviv disregarded the Party's instructions and were expelled, whereas the Party organized a distinct manifestation.

On May 10, 1943, the Histadrut launched a strike in the military camps, for wage increase, without consulting the Arab trade union organizations. Though being of minor importance, this question acted as trigger of a split within the Party. In the absence of R. al-Hilu, the secretariat took the decision to support the strike and to call on Arabs and Jews to participate. Yet, R. al-Hilu disagreed with this position and succeeded in reversing it. But the opposition was strong within the Party. In particular the group of Haifa around B. Farah as well as the Tel-Aviv committee were favorable to participation. Finally, R. al-Hilu recommended a compromise position: Arab workers would have as slogan not to participate in the strike, whereas the choice would remain free for the Jewish Party members. La PAWS actually opposed the strike, and the Arab workers boycotted it.

R. al-Hilu and the leaders who supported him then announced the dissolution of the Tel-Aviv and Haifa sections and addressed a notification to Sh. Mikunis and Pnina Feinhaus, both members of the Central Committee, informing them they were expelled from the Party. In reaction, Sh. Mikunis formed his own “Provisionary Central Committee”. On May 29, took place the last common meeting of the leaders of the two opposed factions. Simultaneously appeared a leaflet in Arabic dated May 29, signed in the name of the Party's Central Committee, proclaiming the Party as "a national Arab party in whose ranks there are Jews who accept its national programme" and receiving favorably the dissolution of the Communist International as a measure opening the way towards the admittance of national elements[16]. R. al-Hilu refused to recognize this position as emanating from the Party. It was in fact the initiative of some individuals, including the Central Committee's members A. al-Bandaq and Y. Armani, as well as E. Habibi and Tawfiq Toubi, the latter belonging to the group of B. Farah.

Certain sources[17] affirm that in 1942 A. al-Bandaq, who had joined the Central Committee du PCP in 1936, dealt with a representative of the Hashomer Hatzair (The Young Guardian), an organization founded in Poland in 1913-1914 and members of which had immigrated to Palestine from 1919 on. The alleged elements of information are the following. A. Cohen, entrusted by the Hashomer Hatzair with the work aimed towards the Arabs, contacted the group around the People's Club, linked to the PCP, and in particular A. al-Bandaq. He discussed with the latter the idea to launch an antifascist propaganda newspaper among the Arab population and even to assist him in founding an Arab socialist party working for the rapprochement between Jews and Arabs. At the beginning of 1944 A. Cohen and A. al-Bandaq formulated a draft program for such a party, the step, however, remaining discontinued.

Faced with the threats of splitting up, the Party, in order to attempt finding a solution appealed to the Syrian Communist Party and its leader, Khalid Bakdash, to obtain his appreciation concerning the divergences at stake. The latter seems to have advocated that the Arab communists set themselves up as an independent national communist organization without adopting a designation referring explicitly to communism[18]. Meer Masad, a member of the Central Committee of the Syrian Party and brother-in-law of A. Bandaq, was detached to Palestine to analyze the situation. He reached the same recommendations as Kh. Bakdash.

As for R. al-Hilu, he had tried to maintain the PCP as a Party uniting Arab and Jewish communists. At a first time, he had succeeded in gathering around him several former Jewish members of the Central Committee, but finally he decided to cease any political activity.

Division from 1943 to 1948

The National Liberation League

During some time, the Arab communists continued to appear under the name of PCP, but at the beginning of 1944 was adopted the designation “National Liberation League” (“Usbat al-Taharrur al-Watani”). Its main leaders were B. Farah, E. Habibi and A. al-Bandaq who came from the PCP, T. Toubi and E. Touma who participated in the group Rays of Hope of B. Farah, as well as Fuad Nassar. The latter had taken part in the 1936‑1939 revolt as one of the leaders of the units of combatants acting in close contact with the Party. After the Party's decision to take a favorable position vis-à-vis the British White Paper of 1939, he had refused the order to abandon the fight. The NLL was authorized to publish from May 1944 on its newspaper al-Ittihad (Unity).

The  “National Charter”[19] (undated document) adopted by the NLL formulated as objectives "a democratic government guaranteeing the rights of all inhabitants without distinction", resistance to Jewish immigration and to transfers of land, as well as to the establishment of a Jewish state. It emphasized the importance of reinforcing "national industry, agriculture and commerce". While putting forward the "distinction between Zionism and the Jewish inhabitants", it stipulated that the membership to the organization was "open to every Arab citizen". Besides, in the positions they took towards the trade unions, the leaders of the NLL made a point of explaining that the duty of the workers' movement was "to support the national economy in the present stage of the national liberation struggle"[20]. As for its fundamental orientations, the NLL came to the point of considering Muslim tradition as a positive component of the national movement. Islam and Marxism were declared compatibles and the NLL even attempted to find in the Islamic religious principles a justification for its own ideology[21].

From its creation, the NLL opposed any form of partition of Palestine. It pronounced itself for an independent Arab state, within which the Jewish minority would dispose of the same rights as the other citizens. During the auditions organized by the UNSCOP (United Nations Special Committee on Palestine) in summer of 1947, the NLL merely delivered a memorandum, in which it reaffirmed its positions. Shortly before the adoption of the partition project of 1947, the NLL still condemned this perspective as an "imperialist plot" that would have as sole result to "providing a foothold for Anglo-American imperialism to thwart the national liberation movement of the Arab people"[22].

Yet, when the perspective of the territorial partition concretized, divisions became apparent within the NLL. In particular E. Touma, in a letter (document however unsigned, that reached the international department of the Central Committee of the CP(b)SU through the Ministry of State Security ‑ MGB) exposed his critics related to Andreï Gromyko's speech at UNO on May 14. In the course of a meeting that was held at the beginning of December 1947, the NLL's Central Committee split into two groups, one comprising six of its members, around B. Farah and E. Touma, against support of the partition plan; the other formed by the remaining five, around F. Nassar, E. Habibi and T. Toubi, in its favor. The information in this respect has been reported by the general secretary of the Syrian Communist Party, Kh. Bakdash, to the ambassador of the USSR in Beirut, Daniil Solod. Kh. Bakdash had met E. Touma and F. Nassar, who had come to Beirut for "consultations with the Syrian and Lebanese Communist Parties". According to Kh. Bakdash, F. Nassar "threatens to form another party by restoring the designation as communist". Kh. Bakdash "recommended to them that they cease debates within the League and that for the moment they do not give an opinion neither in favor nor against the partition of Palestine, since a split in present conditions only would weaken the democratic movement in Palestine"[23]. The Central Committee then decided to convoke a meeting of the NLL to settle the divergences between the two groups. This meeting was held in the middle of December, but without the participation of the majority that boycotted it; this allowed the minority directed by F. Nassar to get the better of it and to win acceptance of approving the partition plan. The position defended by F. Nassar became the official one of the NLL in February 1948. Hence the NLL took a position in favor of the establishment of two states, arguing that "other solutions, though more desirable, are not practicable at the present time"[24]. After all the NLL ended up affirming that exists "a separate Jewish nationality" in the country and deduces from that the "recognition of rights of both nations to self-determination to the point of separation and the establishment of independent states"[25].

The NLL and the workers' movement

The foundation of the NLL at the beginning of 1944 constituted the outcome of the process taking place under the impulse of the oppositional group that had launched the FATULS in the course of its struggle against the direction of the Party. In this new context, the leaders of the FATULS, who now headed the NLL as well, favored activity within the PAWS. The newspaper al-Ittihad, bearing the subtitle "Voice of the Arab Workers in Palestine", was published in the name of the FATULS, E. Touma being the editor. Most of the articles concerning the workers' movement were written by B. Farah, one of the founders of the NLL, member of the Central Committee and of the secretariat of the FATULS.

In 1943‑44 was developing within the PAWS a left-wing opposition close to the theses of the FATULS. It expanded rapidly, originating from two section that were headed by communists, that of Nazareth and that of Jaffa, the secretaries of which were respectively F. Nassar and Kh. Shanir. The communists then, too, controlled the organizations of the PAWS in Jerusalem and Gaza as well as a certain number of smaller branches, whereas the central leading positions were held by the organization of Haifa. S. Taha, the leader of the PAWS, kept control of the rural branches that ensured him the majority. This pushed the NLL to act in favor of a split.

The PAWS actively opposed the actions of the Histadrut, in particular by perturbing the demonstrations of the PLL, on the occasion of the May First day in 1944, in Jaffa and Jerusalem, distributing leaflets denouncing the "hirelings of Zionism". It attacked the Histadrut for having got the annual conference of the British Labor Party, held recently, adopt a resolution in support of a Jewish state in Palestine and of the "transfer" of the Arab population of Palestine to the neighboring countries[26]. And when in summer 1945 the postal workers held a national conference that elected an Executive Committee comprised of three Arabs and three Jews, the newspaper of the NLL, al-Ittihad, wrote[27]:

[T]he cooperation between the Arab and Jewish telegraph and postal workers is clear proof of the possibility of joint action in every workplace [...].

A worldwide trade union conference was held in London from February 6 to 17, 1945. The PAWS sent S. Taha as well as Hanna Asfur, a lawyer who acted as the PAWS' legal adviser in the course of the 1930s and 1940s. B. Farah was to participate in the name of the FATULS, but following administrative obstacles exercised against him by the British government, he arrived after the beginning of the conference and could not assist otherwise than as an observer. A workers' conference was held in Nablus on August 5, 1945, in which took part 17 workers' organization representing, as they stated, 15 000 Arab workers. The question of the nomination of a delegation for the world trade union conference that was to be held in Paris, following that of London, gave rise to contradictory positions. It was decided to appoint once again S. Taha and H. Asfur, decision that induced the representatives of the Jerusalem, Jaffa and Gaza branches to retreat by way of protest. Some days later, the latter published a declaration announcing their resignation from the PAWS and their intention to hold a workers' congress in order to elect a delegation to Paris. This congress was held on August 19 with the participation of three big branches that had initiated it, as well as eight others, smaller. Besides, there were representatives of the FATULS, of the workers' unions from the Iraq Petroleum Company, from the Consolidated Refineries, as well as of various small unions that, for most of them, had remained outside the two rival organizations. The congress constituted the Arab Workers Congress” (AWC) and elected an Executive Committee comprising the leaders of the PAWS of Jerusalem, Jaffa and Gaza, F. Nassar who headed the PAWS of Nazareth, B. Farah who was secretary of the FATULS as well as Mukhlis Amer who was member of the Central Committee of the NLL. In September, the property of the newspaper al-Ittihad was transferred to the Executive Committee of the AWC.

This constituent congress of the AWC appointed B. Farah and M. Amer as delegates to the world trade union conference in Paris. The latter was held from October 3 to 8, 1945 and, the first day, it passed a decision constituting the “World Federation of Trade Unions” (WFTU). The delegation of the AWC, like other Arab delegations, successfully supported the appointment of the Lebanese communist Mustafa al-Ariss (who had participated in the foundation of the Lebanese trade union movement during the 1920s) as representative for the Near-East within the Executive Committee of the WFTU, to the detriment of the candidature of a Histadrut delegate.

Eight months after its establishment, the AWC held a second congress devoted essentially to the discussion of draft statutes, that were adopted. While defining as objective of the AWC the organization and the unity of the Arab workers in Palestine, it declared its intention of "working for the cooperation and solidarity of all Palestinian workers irrespective of nationality, colour, religion or political belief"[28]. However, the positions of the AWC comprised resolutions calling for cessation of immigration. The AWC pursued a politics trying to establish joint action committees between Arabs and Jews to defend common economic demands at the place of work. Even when it criticized the action of Jewish workers in the military camps, where Arabs constituted the majority, it argued in the away that "there are no differences between Arab and Jewish workers" and that its opposition to the action of certain Jewish foremen was "not because they are Jewish but because of their political bias". It defended the idea of joint strikes between Arabs and Jews. When in 1946 broke out a strike of the employees of the Department of Posts et Telegraphs, that lasted two weeks, the AWC analyzed it as "a historic strike [...] the first time in Palestine that Arab and Jewish workers have united to show that there are no differences between them and that they have a common enemy"[29]. A joint communiqué was published by the NLL and the PCP in support of the strike.

The AWC affirmed that it counted more than 20 000 members. In December 1946, it got in touch with the PAWS to initiate negotiations with a few on reunification of the two tendencies of the workers' movement, and to this end had recourse to M. al-Ariss, of the WFTU, to play the role of mediator. More and more, the communists' critics concerning S. Taha was centered on his avowed intention to transform the PAWS into a political party. As for the AWC, some of its leaders equally tended to wanting make it play an overtly political role.

In November 1945, the League of Arab States supervised the reconstitution of the Arab High Committee, which originally had been created at the time of the outbreak of the 1936 revolt, then had disappeared at the defeat of the latter. When Jamil Mardam (who had been Syrian Prime Minister from 1936 to 1939) came to Palestine as delegate of the League of Arab States to try establishing a new Arab High Committee, he discussed with a delegation of the AWC led by F. Nassar and the latter insisted in order to convince him of the necessity to include a representative of the workers' movement into the future council. In the beginning of 1946 Jamal al-Husayni came back from exile to take the head of this committee, the presidency of which was left vacant with a view to the return of his cousin Amin al-Husayni. J. al-Husayni publicly denounced the AWC, accusing it of searching unity with David Ben Gurion and the Jews. In his reply, F. Nassar, leader of the AWC and the NLL as well rejected the critics, affirming that J. al-Husayni was badly informed. For his part, S. Taha, general secretary of the PAWS, always has been considered by the Histadrut direction as Amin al-Husayni's agent. Actually, increasing tensions appeared in 1947 between S. Taha and the followers of A. al-Husayni who dominated the Arab High Committee. S. Taha had links with some of the exiled rivals of A. al-Husayni, in particular Musa al-Alami. The latter had contributed to the elaboration of the White Paper of 1939, then had been appointed as Palestinian delegate to the conference of Alexandria, held on October 7, 1944, which was to decide the constitution of the League of Arab States. S. Taha was assassinated on September 10, 1947.

The last public manifestation of the AWC was the convocation of its 3rd Congress in September 1947. One may note that the opening declaration still rejected the idea of partition. The activity of the PAWS, too, declined in the course of the period between the end of 1947 and the beginning of 1948, and it virtually disappeared.

The maintained” PCP

In May 1944, the group led by Sh. Mikunis and P. Feinhaus held its first congress, referring to as 8th Party Congress, thus claiming to constitute the legitimate continuation of the PCP from before the split. This organization adopted positions hostile to the White Paper of 1939, considering that its provisions tended to prepare a partition of Palestine. It declared that it support the installation in Palestine of the Jewish refugees from the displaced persons camps in Europe who wanted to, but refused to approve the claims in favor of unlimited immigration. It called for the establishment of an "independent democratic state" that would guarantee "complete equality of rights to the Jewish national minority"[30]. In December, the PCP for the first time obtained the legal authorization to publish its newspaper Kol Haam. Among the other members who joined it, one may cite Ber Kovner (Meir Vilner) and Esther Vilenska. In 1945, a small dissident group headed by H. Brozaza (who had been, let's recall it, secretary of the Jewish section), “Am Veolam” (“The People and the World”), was to return to it, as well. Moreover, it was to be joined by a fraction of the “Union of internationalist socialists of Palestine”, that had seceded from the Mapai during the 1930s. (Mapai is the acronym for “Mifleget Poalei Eretz Yisrael” ‑ “Party of the Workers of Eretz Yisrael”; it was constituted in 1930 by the merger of two organizations: Hapoel Hatzair ‑ The Young Worker ‑, founded in 1905, and Ahdut Haavoda ‑ Union of Labour ‑, founded in 1919.)

Just before the 9th Congress of the PCP in September 1945, the general secretary Sh. Mikunis wrote a "reflection paper" aimed at the cadres, in which he affirmed: "The PCP supports the establishment of the Jewish national homeland in Eretz Yisrael[31]."

In June 1946, as the British authorities proceeded to numerous arrests within the Jewish community, the PCP denounced these measures as "violent military siege", "outrage" and a "new expression of colonial oppression", as a serious attack "upon the elementary rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine". It called for the "recognition of the existing Jewish community and its rights to free national development" and for admitting the fact that the "national home" henceforth was a "reality" and that the existence of "two peoples in Palestine could no longer be denied". It imputed Jewish terrorism to "the justified bitterness of the masses of the Yishuv [Jewish community in Palestine]" and affirmed that the Jewish resistance against the British constituted "objectively viewed, something in the nature of a protest against colonial rule"[32].

As far as the Histadrut is concerned, the PCP pressed for the individual adhesion of its members. Yet, it was not before the beginning of 1947, after a certain number of meetings with the leaders of the Histadrut, that the approach was accepted officially.

In October 1947, the PCP declared itself in favor of the struggle "for the establishment of two independent democratic states" in the country[33]. Some members of the Party actively participated in the war against the Arab armies, whereas a number of its leaders, among them Sh. Mikunis, were sent abroad to apply for aid to the newly established state. Following the decision of the UNO concerning the partition plan, on November 29, 1947, the party adopted the acronym “Makei” (“Miflaga Komunistit Eretz-Yisraelit” ‑ “Communist Party of Eretz Yisrael”).

The After-1948

To finish the outline from an organizational point of view, lets add indications about the ulterior itinerary of some other figures mentioned above.

In the name of the Makei, M. Vilner signed the declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel adopted on May 14, 1948, as a member of the Provisional Council of State. The Makei then took the name “Maki” (Eretz Yisrael simply having got Israel). It disposed of the newspapers inherited from its predecessors, Kol Haam in Hebrew and al-Ittihad (which had been prohibited by the British authorities in February) in Arabic. In an article published on October 12, 1948, at the moment of the truce concluded under the auspices of the UNO mediator, Sh. Mikunis exposed a position patriotic to the very end: "[...] the present truce is part of an imperialist plan aimed at robbing us of victory: Israel's interest is to terminate the war by imposing total defeat on the reactionary Arab governments [...][34]."

In 1948, those of the leaders of the NLL that did not accept the decision of the UNO, were declared expelled from this organization. They collaborated in the fight against Israel; among them, one may cite E. Touma, B. Farah, Kh. Shanir, as well as F. Nassar and Mohammed Nimr Odeh who had joined Amin al-Husayni in his exile in Baghdad[35]. Like others, F. Nassar was arrested by the Egyptian army during its advance towards Jerusalem, then released by the Israeli army. Other leaders of the NLL succeeded in fleeing towards Lebanon, from where they returned to Israel after some months. Among them there where T. Toubi, E. Habibi, Hassan Yehia Abu Aysha, who, with others, in October 1948 joined the Maki. E. Touma, after having participated in the armed struggle against Israel, was to make his self-criticism three years later and to ask for his reinstatement to the Maki, which was to be granted to him. Some members of the NLL in Gaza (among them Fakhri Maki, Fayez al-Wahidi) established the “Palestinian Communist Organization”, that was to disappear after 1967 following the Israeli repression. In the West Bank, the NLL, at first, continued to call for the creation of an independent Palestinian state on the territories conferred to the Palestinians by the partition plan, and hence found itself in opposition both to the military operations on behalf of the Arab states and the annexation by Transjordania. Following the annexation of the West Bank by Transjordania, the NLL was to become “Jordanian communist Party”, with F. Nassar as secretary, and was to abandon the claim of an independent state.

The Maki then continued to claim the application of the UNO partition plan, that is to say, the establishment of a Palestinian State side by side with Israel, following the argument that this would aim a double blow at the presence of the Anglo-American imperialism in the region. On the subject of the armistice treaty with Transjordania concluded on April 3, 1949, M. Vilner vividly criticized in the Knesset (National Assembly) the fact that the territory planned for a Palestinian State was united with Transjordania becoming Jordan[36]:

As far as peace and stability in the Middle East are concerned, this agreement is a step backwards. [...] This agreement reinforces, extends and establishes the positions of the principal warmonger in the Middle East--British and American imperialism. This agreement enhances the ability of British and American imperialism to prepare a war against Israel and other peace-loving countries.

This agreement accords the recognition of the Israel Government (and there is a difference if the British army is in Nablus with or without our political recognition of this fact in an international document) to Abdullah, as Bevin's appointed ruler over part of the Land of Israel. That is what we have achieved. This is an international political fact that the Government of Israel created with its own hands. [...]

We should have assisted the democratic Arab forces. A democratic and friendly independent Arab state would be our best safety cordon [...] and, in accordance with the current agreements with Abdullah-Bevin, we will have to be in a state of constant readiness for war, and we can expect Israel to be in constant and direct danger.

It is a fact that abandoning the partition in the initially planned form, on behalf of enlarging Transjordania, constituted an about-face favorable to Great Britain. Yet, the positions of the Maki, such as expressed by M. Vilner, reflected its nationalist tendencies, that show through in relation with the manner to designate the territory integrated to Jordan as "part of the Land of Israel" (as well as the altogether unrealistic evocation of a potential intention "of British and American imperialism to prepare a war against Israel"). In the same parliamentary session, Yaacov Riftin, of the Hashomer Hatzair, intervened in the same sense, but in a more explicit manner[37]:

Gentlemen, I am sure that not only the Jewish population of the country, but the Jewish nation and the world Zionist movement have not abandoned the chance of attaining the entire Land of Israel, and regard a possible treaty between Israel and a democratic, independent Arab country as a chance of restoring the integrity of the country.

Later, the Maki found itself in discordance with respect to the USSR as far as the question of Jerusalem was concerned. In September 1949, in relation with the project of internationalization of Jerusalem proposed at the UNO, the Central Committee of the Maki published the following declaration[38]:

Jerusalem is in peril! Let's make a stand against American pressures and lets protect the insertion of Jerusalem into the frontiers of the State of Israel. The American “arbitration committee” just published a plan aimed at setting an American "high commissioner" to govern Jerusalem. The US government increases its efforts to put pressure on Israel. It hinders any attempt with a view to establishing peace in the Middle East.

Now, the USSR adopted a position favorable to the project of internationalization. On December 18, 1949, the Maki published a further declaration of its Central Committee, qualifying as erroneous the anterior position on the subject of Jerusalem[39].

Lastly, let's illustrate the position of the Maki on the subject of Jewish immigration. One may cite a note by Sh. Mikunis, dating from March 1948[40]:

The Communist Party fights for a Jewish-Arab agreement on this question [of immigration of Jews in Palestine], as part of a global anti-imperialist agreement in favor of the common struggle for national independence. [...] We consider that on the purely humanitarian level and also on the political level [the candidates for] "illegal" emigration must be recruited mainly in the camps of the Anglo-American zone. It's there that the victims of fascism will be liberated from slavery, there that will take place the conflict with imperialism, it's there that is to be found the human substance that hates fascism and the new masters Bevin-Marshall. [...] Since, in the popular democracies and in other countries, there are Jews that want to go to Palestine, it is necessary not to let them in the hands of the Zionists, which use [the Jews] in their own interests. And this to the detriment of national independence and anti-imperialist struggle. [...] That's why it is necessary to intervene actively in this matter [...] in order to guarantee the interests of the democratic countries and the progressive character of the contingents of emigrants.

M. Vilner declared at the 11th Congress of the Maki, in 1949: "Not only are the Israeli Marxists favorable to colonization of the country, but also only their economic plans are equal to implementing it[41]." Yet, the same Vilner complained later: "[...] hardly any of the immigrants has joined the Communist Party. Immigration from the popular democracies reinforces reaction in Israel, because speculators and people thinking of nothing but getting rich arrive. They join the ranks of the bourgeois parties, the Mapai, and some become members of the Mapam[42]." (Mapam is the acronym for “Mifleget Hapoalim Hameuhedet” ‑ “Unified Workers' Party”; it was constituted in 1948 by the merger of three organizations: the Hashomer Hatzair, the Ahdut Haavoda which had been reestablished in 1944, and remnants of the Poalei Tziyon Smol.) The Maki also won over to its cause, in 1950‑1951, a certain number of young people of the Kibbutz Haartzi (the federation of the kibbutz linked to the Hashomer Hatzair). In 1949, members of the Kibbutz Zikim were expelled from it, after having demanded to be admitted to the Maki. Out of this came the constitution of the first kibbutz formed by communists, then of a second, the one of Yad Hanna.

At the 12th Congress of the Maki, held on May 29 to June 1, 1952[43], Sh. Mikunis affirmed that the program defined in 1949, at the 11th Congress, calling for the "formation of a new government" was lapsed and that now was necessary a "change of regime". He insisted about the complete return to the frontiers planned by the 1947 resolution and declared: "We support the right for the Arab people of Palestine to self-determination, the establishment of an independent Arab State and the right for the refugees to come back to their native country." In November 1952, in a meeting held in Ramla, Sh. Mikunis declared that it was not possible to build communism in Israel "otherwise than on the ruins of Zionism."[44].

It is in the course of the years 1962‑1964 that two opposed groups constituted themselves within the Maki: on the one hand around M. Vilner, T. Toubi, E. Habibi, on the other around Sh. Mikunis, E. Vilenska. On August 2, 1965, the members of the Central Committee of the Maki meeting in their twenty-seventh and last session decided with one accord to split up and to organize two opposed congresses. On August 3, was announced that the congress of the maintained Maki around Sh. Mikunis would be held the next day in Tel-Aviv and the one of the “Meir Vilner group” would take place on August 6 in Jaffa. The latter chose as name “Reshima Komunistit Hadasha”, or “Rakah” (New Communist List). Kol Haam remained the organ of the Maki and the Rakah inherited al-Ittihad. Among the main leaders of the Maki one may cite Sh. Mikunis, E. Vilenska; among those of the Rakah, M. Vilner, T. Toubi, E. Habibi, P. Feinhaus, E. Touma.

Brief overview of the positions taken by the Trotskyist movements

It is fitting to comment some aspects of the Trotskyist positions, at least as for those formulated at the time when the State of Israel was constituted.

On the organizational level, the presence of Trotskyists seems to have been quite reduced. One of the most outstanding figures was Tony Cliff (Yigael Gluckstein). He was born of Jewish parents having immigrated to Palestine from the Russian Empire. In 1937 he joined the Trotskyist movement. After having settled in Great Britain in 1948, he joined the main Trotskyist group of this country, the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), from which, however, he was soon expelled. In Palestine, during the 1930s (until 1937) he participated in the Chugim Marxistim (Marxist Circles), a youth organization leaded by Zeev Abramovitch and Yitzhak Yitzhaki, associated to the Poalei Tziyon Smol. Concurrently, existed another Trotskyist group. On this basis was formed the Revolutionary Communist League of Palestine, section in Palestine of the Fourth International, publishing a newspaper in Hebrew Kol Hamaamad (Voice of the Class), and another one in Arabic, Sawt al-Haq (Voice of the Truth). This group was joined in 1942 by Jabra Nicola (Abu Said), born in 1912 in Haifa, who had been during the 1930s member of the PCP's direction and in charge of its organ in Arabic al-Ittihad. After the constitution of the State of Israel, the organization disappeared. J. Nicola joined the Maki, recovering the direction of al-Ittihad. He was suspended from his functions in 1956. In 1964 he joined the Socialist Organization in Israel (better known by the name of its paper, Matzpen, i.e. Compass) founded in 1962 by a group formed around four members who had been expelled from the Maki, and from which the Israel section of the Fourth International was to develop. J. Nicola was a member of the direction of the Fourth International from its 7th Congress held in 1963.

At the 2nd Congress of the Fourth International, held in 1948, was adopted a resolution comprising the following passage[45]:

As for Palestine, the Fourth International rejects as utopian and reactionary the “Zionist solution,” of the Jewish question. It declares that a total renunciation of Zionism is the sine qua non condition for the merging of Jewish workers’ struggles with the social, national and liberationist struggles of the Arab toilers. It declares that to demand Jewish immigration into Palestine is thoroughly reactionary just as it is reactionary to call for immigration of any oppressor people into colonial countries in general. It holds that the question of immigration as well as the relations between Jews and Arabs can be decided adequately only after imperialism has been ousted by a freely elected Constituent Assembly with full rights for the Jews as a national minority.

A text distributed in a special issue of the Internal Bulletin of the International Secretary of the Fourth International in October 1947, "Draft theses on the Jewish question today", written in January 1947 by Ernest Mandel (signing Ernest Germain), develops the analysis on the subject of the national question[46]:

The Fourth International, basing itself firmly on its program and on a scientific analysis of the situation in Palestine but at the same time taking into account the actual state of mind of the Jewish masses, must recognize that their desire to lead their own national existence is a legitimate one. The Fourth International must show concretely that the winning of their nationality cannot be realized within decaying capitalist society, and is especially unrealizable and reactionary in Palestine. The Fourth International must show that for the Jews as for all other peoples of the earth, the defense or the final winning of their own nationality cannot be achieved by building “closed” states and economies, but that a planned world socialist economy is the only realistic framework within which the free and normal development of a people is possible today.

And the editorial emanating from the editorial staff of the organ of the Fourth International, accompanying the publication, in May 1948, of an article by the Revolutionary Communist League of Palestine titled "Against the Stream" reads[47]:

Only the Palestinian Trotskyists have maintained the Socialist position by calling upon Jewish and Arab workers to break away from the class enemies within their ranks and conduct their independent struggle against imperialism. [...] the internationalist working class program put forward by the Trotskyists will alone provide the means of solving the Palestine problem.

In the newspaper of the Revolutionary Communist League of Palestine, these positions are resumed from a general point of view, as for example in an article "Against Partition", dating from September 1947[48]:

The solution of the Jewish problem, like the solution of the problems of the country, will not come “from above”, from the UN or any other imperialist institution. [...] In order to solve the Jewish problem, in order to free ourselves from the burden of imperialism, there is only one way: the common class war with our Arab brothers; a war which is an inseparable link of the anti-imperialist war of the oppressed masses in all the Arab East and the entire world.

In more concrete terms in an article dating from the end of 1947 titled "The situation in Palestine" and presented by the organ of the Fourth International as "theses of the Palestinian Trotskyist group"[49]:

Their political line [of the Jewish revolutionaries in Israel] must remain unshakably that of the struggle against the partition of Palestine, for the reintegration of the territory of Israel into a unified Palestine as part of a Federation of the Arab States of the Middle East that will guarantee to the Jewish minority all the rights of national cultural autonomy. [...] Down with imperialist intervention in Palestine! Out of the country all foreign troupes, the “mediators” and “observers” of the UNO! For the right of the Arab masses to dispose of themselves. For the election of a Constituent Assembly by universal and secret suffrage.

And in the article "Against the Stream" mentioned above[50]:

[...] we say to the Jewish and Arab workers: the enemy is in your own camp! [...] Workers of the two peoples, unite in a common front against imperialism and its agents! [...] The only way to peace between the two peoples of this country is turning the guns against the instigators of murder in both camps.

What is significant, is the manner how the opposition to the creation of a Jewish State is argued. For example in the "Draft theses" already cited[51]:

The terrorist movement and the so-called “Hebrew Committee of National Liberation” do set forth the objective of expelling British imperialism from Palestine. [...] These ideas, an abstraction formed out of complete utopianism, are ultra-reactionary and can only deepen still further the gulf separating the Jewish and the Arab workers in Palestine. [...]

The Fourth International must therefore do its utmost to dissuade the Jewish refugees from immigration to Palestine; [...] in its concrete propaganda on the question of Jewish immigration, it must start from the sovereignty of the Arab population. Only the Arab population has the right to determine whether or not immigration into Palestine should be open or closed to the Jews. [...]

Furthermore, the Fourth International must condemn and combat the British repression of Jewish immigration, denounce all their police measures and constantly oppose to these the concrete demand for withdrawal of the British troops. [...]

But already the radical section of the Jewish nationalist youth has recognized the futility of the Jewish Agency’s efforts at “conciliation” and “maneuvering” in order to win from imperialism or from the great powers unlimited immigration and establishment of a Jewish state. The present waves of terrorism on the part of the Irgun Tzevai Leumi and the Stern group are acts of despair on the part of this minority which is first utilized and then abandoned by the bourgeois leaders of the Zionist movement [...]. Obviously this terrorism of despair is not in itself the road to a solution of the Palestine problem. [...] But as the ultimate phase of Zionism, terrorism, achieving no concrete results, may make the most conscious and most active elements among the Jewish masses more disposed to reconsider the whole question of Zionism and the solution of the Jewish problem. [...]

While showing that the slogan of a “bi-national state” is a nationalist and anti-democratic slogan, running counter to both the right of self-determination and the immediate needs of the anti-imperialist struggle in Palestine, our members must at the same time constantly put on the order of the day the question of concrete realization of the slogan of Jewish-Arab unity.

The same type of argumentation is to be found in the article "Against Partition" already cited[52]:

Perhaps the partition proposal will materialize the Jewish people’s dream of political independence? The “independence” of the Jewish state will boil down to choosing, in a “free” and “independent” way, between two options: to starve or sell itself to imperialism. [...]

A Jewish statelet in the heart of the Middle East [...] this state will be defenseless and completely at the mercy of the imperialists. And they will use it in order to fortify their positions, while at the same time lecturing the Arab states about the “Jewish danger” ‑ i.e. the threat represented by the inevitable expansionist tendencies of the tiny Jewish state. And one day, when tension reaches its highest peak, the imperialist “friends” will leave the Jewish state to its fate.

Considering this brief overview one thus notes that in spite of the formal affirmation of an anti-Zionist position, the developments of the latter largely circumvent it. This is the case as far as is concerned the statement that the will of the Jewish masses to conduct a proper national existence is legitimate. It is true that the authors themselves hesitate in following their reasoning to the very end, and take refuge in the remedy of cultural autonomy, rightly rejected, however, by the Bolshevik Party in the USSR. But above all, the implicit incoherence of the Trotskyist position emerges from the recurrence of the argument characterizing Zionism as utopian, a manner of viewing suggesting that the idea of the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine is altogether laudable, on the condition that one pass straightforward to the stage of worldwide socialist planned economy, which solely would make possible free national development of the people. The erroneous character of this position is showing through with every one of the concrete arguments. Thus it is wrong to say that two options are left to the Jewish state, either to starve or sell itself to imperialism. In any case, the question for the Zionists is not to “sell” themselves to imperialism; simply, as bourgeois political force they place themselves in the frame of the worldwide imperialist system and defend their interests within that frame, very certainly in opposition to the interest of the popular masses, without speaking of the working class. And the whole history since the creation of the State of Israel has shown that the Zionist regime is in position to keep a wide autonomy in the defense of its proper interests, though it cannot place itself completely out of any alliance with the main imperialist powers ‑ but this is true for any of the capitalist states in the world.

Naturally, Trotskyists did not fail to criticize the attitude of the USSR. For example, in the article "Against the Stream" already cited[53]:

And the Soviet Union? Why did not her representative call the UNO game the swindle it really is? ‑ Apparently the present foreign policy of the SU is not concerned with the fighting of the colonial masses.

In this respect ‑ that is to say as for the proper foundations ‑ our position is diametrically opposed to that adopted by the Trotskyists. We consider entirely justified the objective underlying the decision applied by the Soviet government: to put into practice, on the international scale, a politics of defense of the dictatorship of the proletariat established in the USSR, seriously threatened by the attacks deployed by the imperialist camp at the end of the Second World War.

We have seen above that the Fourth International has adopted an understanding position vis-à-vis the state of mind of Zionism going so far as the defense of the “terrorists” faced with British repression. It so happened that a certain tendency of French Trotskyism has directly supported the group Avraham Stern (which officially called itself Lehi). This is what indicates a testimony of a former leader of the Fourth International: "For our Internationalist Communist Party (PCI) discreetly supported the Stern group[54]." This is also confirmed by the contributions to the history of Trotskyism emanating from Trotskyist groups, for example The Alliance for Workers' Liberty: "Some French Trotskyists backed the Zionist guerrillas against Britain[55]."

Historical notices

Palestinian Communist Party

One of the main elements that heavily influenced the beginnings of communist activity in Palestine, was the movement Poalei Tziyon (Workers of Zion), of Zionist orientation, which emerged initially in the course of the years 1897‑1898, in the form of circles that extended themselves through the Russian Empire. In Palestine, in 1906, the new local branch of Poalei Tziyon constituted the “Jewish Social-democratic Workers' Party in Eretz Yisrael” which, in 1919, transformed itself to an organization named “Ahdut Haavoda” (“Unity of Labor”). The latter was affiliated to the right wing of the Poalei Tziyon movement on worldwide scale, which opposed the idea of joining the Communist International and maintained an intimate collaboration with the Zionist Organization.

The left wing of the Poalei Tziyon did not follow this initiative and seceded. From October 17 to 19, 1919, the secessionist group held a general assembly and decided to form a party affirming to follow Marxism-Leninism, taking the name “Mifleget Poalim Sotzialistim” (“Socialist Workers’ Party” ‑ MPS or Mops). It is from October 2 to 4, 1920, that the MPS held its "2nd Congress", which in fact was its constituent congress. A charter was adopted that stated the aims of the Party as follows: "Socialism is our final aim, class struggle is our means, dictatorship of the proletariat under the form of a Soviet regime is the way we have chosen[56]." Then, following a revision of its positions, it changed its denomination to “Mifleget Poalim Sotzialistim Ivrim” (“Hebrew Socialist Workers’ Party” ‑ MPSI or Mopsi). Concurrently, the “Poalei Tziyon Smol” (“Left Workers of Zion”) remained as heir to the Zionist tendencies of the MPS, maintaining affiliation to the left wing of the Poalei Tziyon on worldwide scale.

In December 1920, the Zionist movement constituted the Histadrut (“Hahistadrut Haklalit Shel Haovdim Haivrim Beeretz Yisrael” ‑ “General Organisation of Hebrew Laborers in Eretz Yisrael”). The foundational Congress declared that the objective was to "unite all the workers and laborers in the country who live by their own labor without exploiting the labor of others, in order to arrange for all the settlement, economic and also cultural affairs of all the workers in the country, so as to build a society of Jewish labor in Eretz Yisrael"[57]. The MPS participated in this congress and gained 7 seats among 87 in the directing organs.

On May First, 1921, the MPS called for an autonomous workers' demonstration, separated from the big unitary demonstration organized by the Ahdut Haavoda and the Hapoel Hatzair in Tel-Aviv and in Jaffa. The British mandatory government seized this opportunity to intervene against the Party. Accused of Bolshevik propaganda, most of the leaders were either imprisoned or expelled to the Soviet Union.

Shortly after the official dissolution of the MPS, reappeared within the Ahdut Haavoda a group close to the communists, pro-soviet, that certain rests of the Mopsi joined. These elements designated as “Menahem Elisha group”, seceded from the Ahdut Haavoda and in 1922 formed the “Palestinian Communist Party” (in Yiddish: “Palestinishe Komunistishe Partay”, PKP). At the 2nd Congress of the PKP, in September 1922, a minority headed by Yosef Berger-Barzilay (Zsilsnik) demanded the immediate and unconditional adhesion to the Communist International and, through a split, formed the “Communist Party of Palestine” (“Komunistishe Partay fun Palestine”, KPP).

In July 1923 on the occasion of the "5th Congress" the merger of the two factions under the name PCP (indiscriminately called  “Palestinian Communist Party”, or “Communist Party of Palestine”) was proclaimed. Wolf Auerbach, member of the Central Committee (he had been expelled in 1921 from Palestine to the USSR, but had come back in November 1922), was sent to Moscow to obtain admission to the Communist International. This was achieved in February 1924.

The old direction of the PCP from before the merger (the Menahem Elisha group) held five seats among the eight members of the Central Committee. At a meeting of the Central Committee held in March 1924, they suggested the suppression of the organizational frame of the Party and its transformation into a "movement for action, culture and communist propaganda", affirming "that at present time there is no genuine workers proletariat in Palestine"[58]. In July 1924, the minority succeeded in taking the direction of the Party, with a renewed secretariat.

In November-December 1926 W. Auerbach assisted to the enlarged Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Communist International and in spring of 1928 he assisted to the 6th Congress of the Communist International, where he intervened as Haydar[59]. The second leader of the PCP to play an important role was Y. Berger-Barzilay. He was sent to the USSR at the end of 1924, to assist to the Plenum of the Communist International as delegate of the PCP and returned there on two more occasions in the name of the Party, in August 1926, then in July-September 1928 to assist to the 6th Congress of the Communist International[60]. At that time there was an interaction within the communist movement in all the countries of the region (Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt). The members of the PCP contributed to the constitution of communist parties in the neighboring countries. Between 1924 and 1930, their analysis of the events in the Middle East were published in the periodicals linked to the Communist International (The Communist International, The Red Trade-Union International, International Press Correspondence). W. Auerbach used as pseudonyms: Daniel, Abu Siam, Haydar; Y. Berger-Barzilay used: Bob; others signed JB, Nadav.

In February 1927 was held in Brussels the First World Congress of Oppressed Nations attended by representatives of various national liberation movements from Asia and Africa, like Mohammed Hatta for Indonesia, Jawaharlal Nehru for India. On this occasion was issued the first official announcement from the League Against Imperialism. Honorary presidents of the latter were Albert Einstein, Henri Barbusse and Sun Yat-sen. At this congress and at the following one, held in December, Palestine was represented by three delegations: an Arab nationalist group; the members of the PCP (within the delegation of the Communist International); the Poalei Tziyon Smol. In the course of the 2nd Congress, the delegates of the Syrian national movement supported by the French CGTU (Unitary General Confederation of Labor, formed in 1921 by unions expelled from the CGT) demanded that the League settle once and for all the question of the Palestine representation and obtained the expulsion of the Poalei Tziyon Smol.

At that very time, an anti-Zionist wing existed within the Ahdut Haavoda, around the secretary of the Tel-Aviv section, Tzvi Coltun. The latter left the Ahdut Haavoda in 1928 and joined the PCP in 1932. An evolution took place too, within the Gdud Haavoda (organization that at its first conference, held in 1921, had fixed as its objective to establish a "General Commune of Jewish Workers in Palestine"), of which the PCP succeeded in attracting a certain number of members.

In 1927 some young Arab workers were sent to Moscow for training, among them Najati Sidqi and Radwan Hassan al-Hilu. At first, in 1929, the Communist International delegated to Palestine the Czech Bohumír Šmeral (one of the main members of the Czech Communist Party, at the time of its foundation, from the direction of which it had however been removed in 1926), W. Auerbach being in Moscow on a mission[61]. The Executive Committee of the Communist International decided in October 1930 to appoint a new Central Committee with a majority of Arab members, the secretary de facto of which was N. Sidqi. It was ratified by the 7th Congress of the PCP held in December 1930. The decisions taken at this Congress have been guided by a document of the Communist International titled: "The tasks of the PCP in its environment". A wave of arrests struck the PCP in 1931, all the Arab members of the new Central Committee were arrested. They were replaced by Saïl Tarsisi, Kemal Ouda and Itaman Zarour. N. Sidqi succeeded in leaving the country in 1934, he then performed missions for the Communist International, then returned to Lebanon at the end of the 1930s; he was expelled from the PCP at the beginning of the 1940s.

In 1934, R. al-Hilu (often designed by the pseudonym Musa), back again from Moscow, became general secretary of the Party. From 1936 to 1939, the secretariat of the Party was comprised of R. al-Hilu, Simha Tzabari and Mohammed Nimr Odeh.

At the 7th Congress of the Communist International in July 1935 assisted two Arab delegates of the PCP. Moreover, in the course of the discussion on the report by Georgi Dimitrov, Khalid Bakdash (leader of the Syrian Communist Party) intervened in the name of the Arab communist parties, under the pseudonym Ramzi. The intervention of the secretary of the PCP, R. al-Hilu (Yusuf) was criticized, insofar as it did not make a clear distinction between the Zionist movement and the mass of the Jewish population. The Palestinian delegation was asked to pronounce a second intervention to clarify its position, and that was done by Ashkar (Hadjar). (Ashkar's brother was a member of the group of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, active in the insurrection that was developing at that time, and served as an intermediary with respect to the communists[62].)

In 1941, following the attack of national-socialist Germany against the USSR, the direction of the Party once again was struck by the repression. R. al-Hilu as well as two of his assistants, S. Tzabari and Shmuel Mikunis, were arrested, then released towards the end of the year. During their imprisonment, the Party was directed by Pnina Feinhaus, Khalil Shanir and Hassan Yehia Abu Aysha.

Syrian Communist Party, Lebanese Communist Party

Circles with Marxist orientations emerged in the main towns of Syria and Lebanon in the course of the 1920s, on the initiative of intellectuals, among them Yusuf Ibrahim Yazbak[63]. Fuad al-Shamali, a Lebanese migrant worker, had led a Lebanese Workers' Party in Alexandria that was affiliated with the Egyptian Socialist Party from 1920 to 1922. He had been deported by the British government in 1922 to Lebanon. There he worked in a tobacco factory and in 1924 constituted the “General Syndicate of Tobacco Workers”. This trade union, getting into contact with other groupings, established in 1925 the “Supreme Committee of Syndicates” (“al-Lajnah al-Naqabiyyah al-Uliya”).

At the end of 1924, Yosef Berger, representing the Palestinian Communist Party, came to Lebanon an there he met Y. Yazbak and F. al-Shamali, as part of the attempts undertaken by the PCP to extend its basis beyond the Jewish minority. On October 24, 1924, a communist party of Syria and Lebanon was formed under the name “Lebanese People's Party” with Y. Yazbak as general secretary. Virtually from the beginning, divergences appeared between the Lebanese Party and the representative of the PCP, who considered that the matter was about developing a branch of the PCP in Lebanon. The PCP, at that time, constituted the best-developed organizational kernel of the communist movement in the Middle East and aspired to coordinate the activities in the surrounding countries as a whole. This ambition was criticized by the Communist International.

In spring of 1925, the PLP developed contacts with the representatives of a group of Armenian communists, the Spartacus League, established in Lebanon in the beginning of 1924. In the middle of 1925, by the merger of the two organizations, was formed the “Communist Party of Syria and Lebanon” (“al-Hizb al-Shuyui al-Suri al-Lubnani”). A provisional Central Committee was constituted, comprising three members of the Central Committee of the PLP (Y. Yazbak, F. al-Shamali, Ilyas Abu Nadher), two leaders of the Spartacus League (Artin Madoyan, Haykazun Boyadjian) and Eli Teper (alias Max Kogal) of the PCP. The new Party held its first conference, underground, on December 9, 1925. The provisional Central Committee was confirmed and enlarged, a program was adopted. Concurrently, F. al-Shamali, as representative of the Central Committee of the Party, met Wolf Auerbach and E. Teper, both of them members of the Central Committee of the PCP, as representatives of the Communist International.

In the meantime, the PLP had obtained the legal authorization by the British authorities. It began to publish a weekly, al-Insaniyyah (Humanity). Yet, following the support provided by the Party to the insurrection that started in Syria in July 1925, the newspaper was prohibited and an order for arrest was issued against the direction of the Party. Y. Yazbak took refuge in France, where he got in contact with the French Communist Party (PCF). In the beginning of 1936, the whole Party direction was in prison, including Y. Yazbak, who had come back from France. They were released only in the beginning of 1928, as part of a general amnesty. In these circumstances, the Communist International temporarily put the PCP in charge of supervising and organizing the activity of the Syrian and Lebanese communists.

In February 1928, the Party was reconstituted, with a Central Committee composed of A. Madoyan, H. Boyadjian, Farid Tuma, Nasim al-Shamali, and F. al-Shamali as general secretary (Y. Yazbak left the Party). The Party was represented by F. al-Shamali at the 6th Congress of the Communist International, held in July-September 1928, and was admitted as member of the International[64]. The name of the Party was then changed to “al-Hizb al-Shuyui al-Suri”, so as to refuse the division of Syria imposed by France.

In the beginning of 1930, the Party started to publish a weekly, Sawt al-Umal (The Workers' Voice), which was, however, prohibited the following month. Nonetheless, the Party continued acting publicly. In June, F. al-Shamali was reelected as general secretary of the General Syndicate of Tobacco Workers. In July this trade union launched a call for the creation of a general trade union.

In 1931 was held a conference bringing together the Communist Parties of Palestine and Syria[65].

In the course of the period 1930‑1933, the Party expanded and recruited militants, among them Khalid Bakdash, Mustafa al-Ariss, Niqula al-Shawi, Farjallah [Faraj Allah] al-Hilu, Hassan Quraitim, Yussuf Khatar al-Hilu, Fuad Kazan, Rafiq Ridha. In autumn of 1932, F. al-Shamali was expelled from the Party. In 1932 the Communist International transmitted a report to the Party that insisted on the necessity of Arabization (in relation to the preponderance of Armenian members). In 1934 the Party took over an existing newspaper, al-Duhur (Events), under the direction of Salim Khayatah. Besides S. Khayatah contributed to the organization of the Congress of Arab National Liberation held in March 1934. S. Khayatah was arrested several months later and the newspaper ceased to appear.

The Party contributed actively to the constitution in 1935 of the “Anti-Nazi and Anti-Fascist League of Syria and Lebanon” (“Usbat Mukafahat al-Naziyyah wal-Fashiyyah fi Suriyya wa Lubnan”), that held a first congress in May 1939 in Beirut.

The two branches of Syria and Lebanon remained within one and the same organization until the independence of Lebanon in 1943 and unified once again in 1946, but were finally separated in 1958 following the foundation of the United Arab Republic constituted by Syria and Egypt. The Lebanese communists who opposed the union suffered severe repression by the Syrian government and F. al-Hilu was assassinated in prison in 1960. After the dissolution of the UAR in 1961, the Syrian Communist Party was under the direction of Kh. Bakdash.


Budeiri, Musa
The Palestine Communist Party 1919‑1948
London, Ithaka Press
, 1979

Lockman, Zachary
Comrades and enemies ‑ Arab and Jewish Workers in Palestine, 1906‑1948
Berkeley, CA, University of California Press, 1996

Rucker, Laurent
Staline, Israël et les Juifs
Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 2001

Greilsammer, Alain (Ilan)
Les Communistes israéliens
Paris, Presses de la Fondation nationale des sciences politiques, 1978







[1]. Yosef Berger-Barzilay, member of the Party's secretariat, in a text of 1926. Musa Budeiri, The Palestine Communist Party 1919-1948, London, Ithaka Press, 1979, p. 10.

[2]Idem, p. 57.

[3]Idem, p. 89.

[4]. Cf. on this subject: Bureau Exécutif de l'Internationale Syndicale Rouge, "Aux Ouvriers arabes de Palestine", L'Internationale syndicale rouge, 37-38, February 1924. A. Bouziam, "La Palestine contemporaine et son mouvement ouvrier", idem. Documents reproduced in: Bulletin international, 55‑58, July-October 1982, Paris, Librairie internationale.

[5]Zachary Lockman, Comrades and enemies ‑ Arab and Jewish Workers in Palestine, 1906-1948, Berkeley, CA, University of California Press, 1996.


[7]. Not to be mistaken for another organization with a similar acronym, the AWS headed by Fakhri al-Nashashibi. This Arab Workers Society was created in July 1934 in Jerusalem and it later established other branches, in particular in Jaffa.

[8]. Not to be mistaken for the Ihud party formed in 1942 by Jewish personalities in Palestine, as a prolongation of the Brit Shalom movement.

[9]. M. Budeiri, op. cit., p. 24.

[10]. Cf.: Nadab [Leshchinsky], "Le Premier congrès arabe en Palestine et la lutte anti-impérialiste dans les pays arabes", L'Internationale communiste, 11, 1930. Document reproduced in: Bulletin international, op. cit.

[11]. Z. Lockman, op. cit., chapter 4, note 30.

NB (April 2007): The passages of the leaflet are reproduced according to a previous electronic edition; they no more appear in the Internet page indicated above.

[12]. Z. Lockman, op. cit.


[14]. M. Budeiri, op. cit., p. 104.

[15]Idem, p. 156.

[16]Idem, p. 163.

[17]. Z. Lockman, op. cit.

[18]. M. Budeiri, op. cit., p. 165.

[19]. Laurent Rucker, Staline, Israël et les Juifs, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 2001, p. 115‑116.

[20]. M. Budeiri, op. cit., p. 188.

[21]Idem, p. 210 and p. 229.

[22]Idem, p. 233.

[23]. L. Rucker, op. cit., p. 115‑116. Translated from French by us.

[24]. M. Budeiri, op. cit., p. 233.

[25]Idem, p. 238.

[26]. Z. Lockman, op. cit.


[28]. M. Budeiri, op. cit., p. 194.

[29]Idem, p. 195.

[30]Idem, p. 168.

[31]. Alain Greilsammer, Les Communistes israéliens, Paris, Presses de la Fondation nationale des sciences politiques, 1978, p. 128. Translated from French by us.

[32]. M. Budeiri, op. cit., p. 170.

[33]Idem, p. 173.

[34]. A. Greilsammer, op. cit., p. 157. Translated from French by us.

[35]Idem, p. 104, 116 and 122.



[38]. A. Greilsammer, op. cit., p. 163. Translated from French by us.


[40]. L. Rucker, op. cit., p. 147‑148. Translated from French by us.

[41]. A. Greilsammer, op. cit., p. 186. Translated from French by us.

[42]. Conversation of Meir Vilner with the ambassador of the USSR in Israel, Pavel Ershov, July 8, 1950. Cf. L. Rucker, op. cit., p. 192-193. Translated from French by us.

[43]. Shmuel Mikunis, "The struggle for peace and the independence of Israel", Political report to the Central Committee for the 12th Congress of the Maki. Cited in: A. Greilsammer, op. cit., p. 166‑167. Translated from French by us.

[44]. A. Greilsammer, op. cit., p. 181. Translated from French by us.





[49]. Translated from French by us.





[54]. Roger Faligot, Rémi Kauffer, Le croissant et la croix gammée, Paris, Albin Michel, 1990, p. 154. Translated from French by us.


[56]. A. Greilsammer, op. cit., p. 22. Translated from French by us.

[57]. Z. Lockman, op. cit.

[58]. A. Greilsammer, op. cit., p. 30. Translated from French by us.


[60]On the subject of the Party's positions at that time, cf.: "Résolution sur la situation politique ‑ adoptée par la séance plénière du CC élargi du PC de Palestine", Correspondance internationale, 29, April 1924. Document reproduced in: Bulletin international, op. cit.

[61]. On the subject of the Party's orientation at the time of the Arab revolt of 1929, cf.: Bob [Y. Berger-Barzilay], "La Lutte contre la déviation de droite dans le PC de Palestine", Correspondance internationale, 50, June 1929; Bob [Y. Berger-Barzilay], "Le PC de Palestine et l'insurrection arabe", Correspondance internationale, 106, October 1929; Secrétariat politique du CE de l'IC, "Résolution sur le mouvement insurrectionnel en Arabistan (adoptée le 16 octobre 1929)", Correspondance internationale, 11‑12, 1930. Documents reproduced in: Bulletin international, op. cit.

[62]M. Budeiri, op. cit., p. 80‑81 and 85.

[63]. This overview is based mainly on: Tareq Y. Ismael & Jaqueline S. Ismael, The Communist Movement in Syria and Lebanon, Gainesville, University Press of Florida, 1998.


[65]. Cf.: Conférence des représentants du PC de Syrie et du PC de Palestine, "Les Tâches des communistes dans le mouvement national arabe", Correspondance internationale, February 1 and 3, 1933. Document reproduced in: Bulletin international, op. cit.