The position of the Soviet Communist Party on Palestine over the years has been much misunderstood. The confusion has been caused by many factors, such as the split in the Jewish ranks over Communism versus Americanism, as well as the largely Jewish composition of the PCP (Palestine Communist Party) in the 1930s.
The Comintern, the Third Communist International, looked upon Palestine as a fertile ground for exporting Communist revolution. The party (correctly) looked upon Zionism and the Balfour Declaration promising a Jewish “national home” in Palestine as an imperialist effort to dispossess the Arab fellaheen and plant a Jewish colony with the British as bridesmaids in the Middle East.
However, the PCP was composed almost entirely of Russian Jews with little or no support from the Arabs, who were intensely anti-Communist and who regarded the Zionists as Bolsheviks from Russia. This attitude had considerable factual support as many members of the Comintern were former Poale-Zionists, Communists who wanted their ideal Communist state in Palestine, not Russia.
And finally, the British Empire had promised Palestine to the Jews in the naïve belief that a Jewish state would help draw the Jews away from Communism, rather than planting it in Palestine. It is against, and out of, all these conflicting and overlapping strands that the situation must be understood.
When the Wailing Wall riots erupted in 1929, many Jews were killed by Arab fellaheen, usually employing knives and other primitive methods of killing. The Jewish-controlled Palestine Communist Party assisted the Haganah and other Jewish defense forces, providing them with arms and denouncing the Arabs as “pogromists.”
Back in Moscow, the Comintern, also largely Jewish in personnel, did not like this approach. Although it denounced the violence against colonizing Jews, it argued (once again, correctly), that the riots were an understandable reaction by a soon-to-be-displaced people. The Comintern then purged the Palestine Communist Party of its Jewish leadership and replaced the Jews with Arabs who were singularly unrepresentative of the generally anti-Communist Arab population.
Thus, the party took an “anti-Jewish” line on Palestine while the commissars continued to be lopsidedly Jewish back in Moscow. At about the same time Joseph Stalin decided to solicit international Jewish support for his “Palestine in Siberia” called Birobidzhan.
Proposed in 1928, the year before the Wailing Wall riots, Birobidzhan, or the Jewish Autonomous Region (JAR) offered Communist Jews with Zionist sympathies an alternative to Palestine. It was lavishly promoted in the American and Canadian Jewish press and many thousands of Jews from North America returned to the Soviet paradise. Two organizations in particular, ICOR (Association for Jewish Colonization) in Canada; and Ambijan (American Birobidzhan Committee) in the U.S., raised huge sums of money for these projects. When the state of Israel won out, Ambijan slowly faded until it finally shut down in the days of Joseph McCarthy.
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