A clean banner: British Trotskyists opposed 1948 partition of Palestine

We are publishing two articles documenting the principled position taken by the British Trotskyists, the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), against the 1947 UN Palestine partition plan.

The articles were published in November and December 1947 in the RCP’s paper Socialist Appeal, and pointed out the catastrophic effect partition would have on the class struggle against imperialist meddling in the whole region, by exacerbating communal bloodshed and divisions along national and religious lines.

The RCP denounced the criminal designs behind the imperialist plan for partition, and the betrayal of the Palestinian cause represented by the criminal USSR’s decision to support it, while putting forward an internationalist class position.

Their warnings would soon be proven by facts on the ground. The proclamation of Israel became possible only on the back of a campaign of terror and killings unleashed by the Zionist military forces against the Palestinian population, designed to drive them out of Palestine. Israel emerged drenched in Palestinian blood, on the back of the ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Palestinians from their villages and homes. As predicted in the articles, the Zionist actions also had a crushing effect on the livelihoods of the Jews throughout the Middle East, leaving them no option other than abandoning their homes and fleeing to Israel.

The open betrayal of the Palestinian cause by Stalinism became apparent, with the USSR’s recognition of the state of Israel on 15 May 1948. The USSR’s support for the creation of Israel would spell disaster for the communist parties throughout the region and beyond, setting back the Communist movement in the region for decades.

Today, the communists of the IMT inherit the traditions of our predecessor organisation.

Palestine Partition Will Lead to Bloodshed


The Chiefs of Staff are putting the finishing touches to plans for alternative bases when the withdrawal from Palestine goes through. Vast construction schemes are preparing new bases in Kenya, Somaliland and the Sudan, with forward bases in Cyprus for the Navy, and Transjordan and Iraq for the land forces.

Palestine partition

"The malicious plan, for which Imperialism and Zionism are making propaganda" – those were the words in which the Palestine Arab Stalinist Paper "Al-Ittihad" characterised the Partition plan for many years. The Jewish Stalinist Paper, "Kol-Ha'am", was not shy in denouncing Partition in similar words. The opposition to Partition was, perhaps, the only thing on which the two Stalinist parties in Palestine, the Jewish and the Arab one, were united.

However, both will have to change their attitude. The partition of Palestine, which has always been regarded not only by us Marxists, but even by the Stalinists, and by the Arab National Movement, as an imperialist plan designed to lead Palestine towards communal troubles and mutual bloodshed between Arabs and Jews – this malicious imperialist plan has been approved and supported in the U.N.O [United Nations] by Russia.

The argument of the Russian delegate to U.N.O, that the tension between Jews and Arabs made the creation of an independent unified State impracticable, was taken directly from the lexicon of imperialism. Instead of demanding the unification of the countries of the Arab East, which have been split up by imperialism for more than 30 years, the Stalinist bureaucracy has given support to a new partition.

Far from being a "solution" of the Palestine problem partition will only aggravate the tension between Arabs and Jews and divert the struggle of the oppressed workers and fellaheen [peasants] of the Arab East from a true struggle for national and social freedom into anti-Jewish, chauvinist channels. Partition of Palestine means not only a danger to the existence of the Jewish minority in that country and to the Jewish communities all over the Arab East: it is also a blow to the class struggle of the Arab Labour Movement which emerged out of the development of the war years, a blow to the agrarian revolution. It is a wedge in the heart of the Arab countries whose progress can only be guaranteed by their unification.

All these considerations have become irrelevant to the Stalinist bureaucracy, when it comes to making a diplomatic deal with Imperialism.

Divide And Let Others Rule For You!

How to explain the recent policy of the British Government for Palestine? It was sheer imperialist hypocrisy when Mr. Creech Jones told the U.N. Committee on Palestine that "the British Government were ready to assume responsibility for giving effect to any plan agreed to by the Jews and Arabs." He wished to make the world believe that Britain had played in Palestine the role of the disinterested conciliator.

But what are the facts? A few weeks ago, on Friday, October the 24th, a Jew was arrested in Tiberias and summoned to appear in the Court on the charge of "disturbing public security” – because he had distributed leaflets of the "League for Jewish Arab Co-operation" calling for peace between Arabs and Jews!

At the same time, British officers are training the armies of the Arab States and preparing them "for their task" in Palestine. And the Zionist military force "Hagana," whose main purpose for existence is to combat the Arab National Movement is today permitted semi-legality by the British authorities. An army which at less propitious times for the British, has been illegalised.

This does not prevent Sir Alan Cunningham, the British High Commissioner, from hypocritically "warning" Jews and Arabs that chaos and bloodshed might follow British evacuation!

British imperialism has been weakened to such a degree that it cannot afford any longer to rule every country in the Arab East directly by its military forces. Strategical readjustment has become necessary and local rulers must be found who will be ready to direct the class struggle into as much communal trouble as possible. After an education of almost 30 years under the British mandate, both the Zionist leaders and the Arab feudal lords and capitalists seem to be regarded as adequately trained for the task.

The Middle Eastern and the British working class must frustrate these malicious plans. No diplomatic deal between American Imperialism and the Stalinist bureaucracy will keep the workers of the Arab East from fighting for full unification of the Arab countries, with equal rights and autonomy for the Jews in a united Palestine. The Trotskyist groups in Egypt and Palestine will continue to expose the hidden policy of British High Commissioners and military envoys, to plunge the Arab East into communal bloodshed.

British workers! Demand the withdrawal of all troops and communal warmongering military missions from the Middle East!

Socialist Appeal, organ of the Revolutionary Communist Party, mid-November 1947

*S Munir was the pen name of Gabriel Baer (1919-1982). A Trotskyist activist in his youth, he was a member of the German section of the Fourth International. In 1933, he left for Mandatory Palestine. He became a member of the Hugim Marxistiim (Marxist Circles), the youth group of a faction of Left Poale Zion, the labour Zionist movement but left it in 1937 with Trotskyist Tony Cliff to found the Brit Kommunistim Mahapchanin (the Revolutionary Communist League), a section of the Fourth International in Palestine. In the late 1940s he left Palestine for Britain where he became a member of the Revolutionary Communist Party writing a number of articles in its paper Socialist Appeal.

Palestine: Partition Pits Arab Against Jew

The imperialist plan to partition Palestine has already led to bloodshed in Palestine and protest demonstrations throughout the Arab east.

Partition pits arab against jew

Many have been killed and wounded on either side. following the three day general protest strike announced by the Arabs. Jewish shops have been set on fire and a tremendous bitterness reigns between the two peoples. Demonstrations against British and American imperialism have taken place in Syria, Egypt and Irak.

Students have issued the call “Down With Russia" because of the support given by the Stalinist bureaucracy to the imperialist plan of partition. The Government representing the Arab capitalists and landowners in Syria have used the situation to ban the Communist Party.


The partition of Palestine has the same calculated effect as the partition of India. In the “Socialist Appeal" this inevitable result was predicted. In the pamphlet “Middle East at the Crossroads” which analyses exhaustively the problems of the Middle East. Comrade T. Cliff wrote:

"Even if this ‘solution’ is arrived at … it will be only a temporary short-lived postponement of Zionism's burial. The Jews of Palestine and the Arabs will only be involved by this plan in terrible sacrifices, clashes and bloodshed. An immediate step towards the solution for the Jewish workers of Palestine is to bridge the gulf between themselves and the tens of millions of eastern peoples, by renouncing Zionist dreams of domination."


The purpose of the partition is to play off the Arab masses against the Jews in order that imperialism may retain its hold over the Middle East and dominate both. American and British imperialism have joint responsibility for this policy. The Stalinist bureaucracy, playing the game of power politics, has given full support to the vivisection of Palestine. This is in absolute contradiction with the policy of Marxism and even of the policy parroted by the bureaucracy itself In the last decades. Obediently tailing at the heels of the Kremlin, the British “Communist” Party has done another 180 degrees somersault, and come out for the partition of Palestine.


Partition of Palestine is reactionary from every aspect – neither the Jews nor the Arab masses have anything to gain from it. It pits Jew against Arab, diverts the struggle against imperialism into a struggle between those whose common interest it is to struggle against imperialism. It plays into the hands of the Arab landowners and capitalists by diverting the attention of the Arab peasants and workers from their exploiters. The only solution to the problem of Palestine and the Middle East is the scrapping of the imperialist plans of partition, the immediate and complete withdrawal of all troops from Palestine and the Middle East. There can be no real independence or safety for the Jews or Arabs in partitioned Palestine.

Socialist Appeal, organ of the Revolutionary Communist Party, December 1947

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