The following article is made up of a statement produced by the PCUSA Jewish Commission followed by criticism by one of the members of the commission, Comrade Abdel. We note that this is one of the early manifestations of the struggle in the commissions that occurred in the PCUSA in the lead up to, and in the immediate aftermath of, its 2nd Congress. The statement was a response to ideological inadequacy in the commission’s statement that revealed the commission’s view that the conflict in the country is more like a civil war than a genocidal campaign of extermination against the Palestinians backed by the foremost imperialist countries.
Further, it contextualizes the chauvinistic views adopted by the PCUSA that indicate the ideological rot within the organization, especially concerning their perceptions of the imperialist system. This view flies in the face of proletarian internationalism and the need for communists to stand with the oppressed masses in Palestine for an independent, sovereign Palestinian state freed from the occupation of the Israeli state which is backed by the US and the EU. The Marxist-Leninist pole of the international communist movement supports the just struggle of the Palestinian people for a Palestinian state returned to the borders of 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital.
—New Worker Editorial Board
PCUSA Jewish Commission Statement in Solidarity With the Communist Party of Israel
May 15, 2021
The Jewish Commission of the PCUSA stands in solidarity with the Communist Party of Israel in their staunch opposition to the Netanyahu government’s handling of the recent horrific escalation of violence. We agree with their call to all for an immediate cease fire. Further, PCUSA calls for immediate intervention of the United Nations to enforce the cease fire and violations of the UN Charter of Human Rights. We are also in support of the CPI slogans regarding the issue causing hostilities, namely “Israel-Palestine, two states for two peoples, and “Yes to democracy, no to fascism.” The UN must stop this genocidal aggression against the people of Gaza and Jerusalem now!
For Peace with Justice,
Jewish Affairs Commission
Party of Communists USA
Criticisms of the May 15th Statement by the ‘Jewish Commission’
Comrades, the statement formulated and released by this body seems to have been completely inadequate to the historical events that were occurring, and to the conditions of the U.S and this party. What was presented as a discussion concerning the events surrounding Israel and Palestine, concluded in the decision to create a short and concise statement calling for a cease fire, the intervention of the UN, and repeating the slogans created by our comrades in the Communist Party of Israel. While some aspects of the statement are good, such as the promotion of the CPI slogans; as a whole, it was severely lacking content and deficient in its current one. The discussion was also deficient, flawed, and misrepresenting of the circumstances around the conflict. We must self-criticize and correct our words and actions through ample debate and dialogue, as this reflects poorly on us as supposed substantive and principled Marxist-Leninist.
Concerning the discussion, it was fundamentally flawed once it had centered around the idea of a cease fire and UN intervention. To speak of a cease fire, and one that seemed to be characterized as between equally guilty parties, in principle, abandons the right of a people to defend their right to self-determination and sovereignty, especially of a people, that in recent times, have exhausted their attempts to achieve their right to self-determination through peaceful and legalistic means. The violence was not unjustly nor proportionally committed by both camps, one was a largely symbolic act of self-defense against ethnic cleansing and the other was an act tantamount to genocide committed by a supremacist regime. Who are non-Palestinians to demand terms of peace from a people’s cause for national liberation? Who are non-Palestinians to dictate to a struggling people when and where to use violent means? And who are non-Palestinians to demand foreign intervention on Palestinian land?
To have made these arguments and to have promoted such policies without knowledge of the political needs and desires of the Palestinian people is to fall into the narrative of the imperialist monopolies, to accept the narratives of the class enemy, it is to reveal notions of exceptionalism and grandeur. Should we not respect and defend a people’s right to self-determination and self-defense? Should we not defend a people’s struggle against imperialism, the State of Israel being the western imperialists’ greatest asset in the Middle East? Would we have asked for a cease fire between the French Resistance and the German Reich? Would we have asked the Chinese to sign a ceasefire with the Japanese in mid-1940? Would we have asked the Jews of the Warsaw ghetto uprising to sign a cease fire with the Nazis and to remain content with their lives in the ghetto? This last question being the most apt comparison to the conditions of the Palestinian people, especially in Gaza. Why is it then that we carried on as such?
What was initially a general discussion of the conflict, as it was carrying on at the time, never reached the important point of discussing what should be done in the U.S, what policies should the party adopt to concretely combat imperialism from its core. There was no mention of concrete action, only a passing mention as to the fact that the US’s Congress was about to or had approved continued aid and military support to the State of Israel.
Besides those main points, a grotesque misrepresentation of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) was made during the discussion. It was stated to the effect that we should not forget that Hamas wants to destroy all of Israel. This is an erroneous statement, in reference to Hamas’ former 1988 charter, today Hamas recognizes the 1967 borders, under their “Position Towards Occupation and Political Solutions,” denounces anti-Semitism, separating Jewishness from Zionism, and has made many statements over the last few years reaffirming such. To make these statements is a sign of ignorance and/or blind full acceptance of bourgeois propaganda, it is of no utility to repeat erroneous statements that perpetuate and justify the continuous crimes of Israel, and it is an act that unrecognizes Hamas as the legal government and representatives of the Palestinians in Gaza.
It must be stated that the failure of the commission, as a whole, to recognize these errors during the deliberative process is reminiscent of a weak theoretical foundation, a lack of thorough analysis, and a passivity of supposed militant revolutionaries. Guilt falls upon those who did not consider or question the implications of what was concluded, and upon those that knowingly recognized these shortcomings and did not sufficiently combat them during the discussion. This demonstrates the necessity to correct our deliberative behavior and practices. It shows the necessity to justify and reinforce our actions and resolutions with principled discussion and theory prior to carrying them out. Most, if not all of us, must recognize our failure in this occasion.
Concerning the statement itself, the most egregious aspect of it is the fact that it was released as a statement of solidarity with the Communist Party of Israel, rather than one in solidarity with any of the Palestinian communist parties or simply with the Palestinian people. What would we make of such a thing, if during the Iraq wars the principled Marxist-Leninist parties of the world rather than releasing a statement in solidarity with the Iraqi people, as they faced an imperialist war of aggression, they released statements in solidarity with the PCUSA, calling for cease fires during the occupation of Iraq? A clear lack of understanding of the historical moments and conditions that the Palestinian and Israeli peoples face. A statement of solidarity with a political party of the aggressor nation was not required, but rather with the victims of fascistic and imperialist aggression. How can we uphold such an ill placed communique? Simply compare the difference between our statement and the “Common declaration of the Communist and Workers Parties condemning the continued Bloodshed and Occupation by Israel” emitted by the South African communist party, published on the 17th of May, to which the PCUSA is a signatory to. This exemplifies the inconsistencies between the PCUSA’s internal positioning and the positioning of the international communist and workers’ parties. Why did we not look to the other parties for inspiration and guidance? Why did we not look to any of the communist parties of Palestine besides the Communist Party of Israel?
Comparing the statement with the statements released by the majority of communist and workers’ parties, we can see that the statement lacked proper demands and substance. Even the statement made by the CPI, which ours references and is apparently intended to complement, properly contextualized the situation, made demands of peace from the Israeli state, and requested actions from the Israelis to materialize peace, to put an end to the unjust actions of Israel and reach a political resolution to the conflict. Our statement even omits what seem like significant slogans made by the CPI such as, “Two Jerusalems [Israeli and Palestinian], only one peace”; “Changing direction — towards peace, away from war”; “Palestinian lives matter.”; and “Stop apartheid”. Given the unique position of the US as the dominant imperialist power and its role in the conflict, it is extremely important that a statement coming from US communists, concerning the situation, should, just like the CPI’s statement, mention the US’s role and what our demands and actions are to end the US’s material and political support of Israel. The party Chair, prior to the meeting, even expressed the necessity to do such, yet there was no mention of this and even a sidelining of a broader statement in favor of the immediacy for peace and a call for a cease fire.
This immediacy was used to justify a short and concise statement, but short and concise is for slogans, not for a statement that synthesizes our positions, communicates demands, and expresses calls to action. Slogans are meant for propagandistic banners, pamphlets, and posters; they are rhetoric that end up being vague and vacuous if not supported by more substantive publications. A statement may be short and concise, but not to the detriment of substance. It is this lack of substance and of understanding that led the statement to reflect an imperialist mentality, not a solidary proletarian one.
The Jewish commission must take and analyze these criticisms, debate them; and if we deem them to be sound and correct, we should adopt a resolution recognizing our flaws and errors, retract our former statement, and carry out any other corrective action that the commission deems necessary.
—Comrade Abdel Garcia