First Draft of a Manifesto on Jewish Liberation* 

1)  JEWS ARE HUMAN BEINGS, PRECISELY AND IN EVERY RESPECTTheir many different cultures contain some common elements that are different than other cultures, as is true of any human culture. Some of these elements are rich and human, a treasure for all humans. Some are patterns left by oppression and need to be resisted and discharged. Jews must expect and require full respect from non-Jews and from each other. Non-Jews must take the ending of all anti-Semitism (oppression and discrimination against Jews) as their own cause, pursued in their own interests.

 2)  World-wide oppression of Jews is a fact. It is a social institution perpetuated by oppressive societies for profit and exploitation and is used to victimize all other oppressed groups in the populations as well as the Jews themselves.

 3)  Cultural institutions and traditions (myths, religious hatreds, ridicule, stereotyping, etc.) for the promulgation of anti-Semitism, though founded in economic oppression, have a certain existence and momentum of their own, once started, because of the contagious character of distress patterns, and must be challenged directly at all levels, contradicted and discharged on, as well as exposed as the agents of economic and political oppression.

 4)  A peculiar form of oppression has been developed and directed toward the Jewish people by the oppressive ruling classes of the societies in which they have lived and has been internalized and institutionalized by the social institutions and official leaderships of the Jewish communities. Their oppression is basically identical in purpose and effect with that of all other oppressed groups; but its form has served to isolate the Jews from their natural allies, the other oppressed peoples, and has made them peculiarly vulnerable to genocide and extermination.

 The essential elements of the special oppression of Jews are as follows:

 a)  For two thousand years they have been denied a national homeland, a national existence, a base from which to organize their struggle for survival in a world in which all nations have battled to conquer each other and exterminate each other’s peoples or cultures.

 b)  Under a continuing, overhanging threat of extermination, maintained by institutions for the continuing promulgation of murderous anti-Semitic propaganda among the general populations, (institutions which are alternately official and unofficial, but which never cease to operate in oppressive societies), Jews are offered the hope of survival if they will cooperate with the oppressive forces and serve as their agents (officials, administrators, cultural leaders, merchants, bankers) in the oppression of the general population. Forced into this role, the Jewish communities and individuals serve as “visible agents” for the oppressing forces.

 c)   As an inducement to and in assistance of carrying out this “visible agent” role during the periods in which this role is forced upon them, Jews are allowed and encouraged to maintain and develop traditions of being a chosen people, traditions of excellence, of scholarship, of high culture, of scientific, artistic, and economic success for some members of the community. (The majority of Jews, of course, continue to be economically oppressed and culturally deprived during such periods, oppressed both by the general oppressive society and by its agents within the Jewish community.)

 d)  In this role, as visible agents of the oppressors, the Jewish communities become the focus of the unthinking resentments and hatreds of the oppressed peoples, which the anti-Semitic propaganda directs towards them. They are portrayed as the actual oppressors, described as a “secret conspiracy." The Jews who are actually capitalists are portrayed as representatives of the Jews rather than representatives of the capitalists, and the resentment, hatred, and determination to throw off oppression of the oppressed is turned against the Jews rather than against the real oppressors.

 e)  As the resistance of the oppressed reaches a level that seems to threaten open revolt, the “support” and “protection” officially afforded Jews by the oppressing classes is withdrawn, the most open incitement to violence against the Jews is encouraged, anti-Semitism is stepped up or made the official policy, anti-Semitic administrations “win” elections or are installed, and the Jewish communities are forced into a “scapegoat” role and are blamed for all the ills of oppression. Traditionally, they are deprived of civil rights, deported, their property plundered, their institutions defamed, individual and mass murders are perpetuated, and extermination is threatened. The most familiar examples of the turn to the “scapegoat” role are the pogroms in the “Pale” of Eastern Europe, and the concentration camps and gas ovens of Hitler Germany.

 f)  The surviving remnants of the “scapegoat” period are welcomed in new places of exile as martyrs or “apologized to” officially in the original country. They are assisted somewhat to rebuild communities and are once again encouraged to resume the role of “visible agents” of the oppressors of the country they are now in, and the cycle begins once more.

g)   Individual Jews have supported, been martyred for, and led almost every liberation movement of other people that they have had contact with, and some of these liberation movements have been successful. They have not led to the liberation of the Jewish people involved in a particular country, however, in part because of lack of a correct policy for Jewish liberation. This has, in the past, apparently been too difficult for Jewish leaders to formulate because of the depth of distress conditioning imposed on all Jews in this area. Non-Jewish liberationists have not faced the special nature of Jewish oppression and have not thought clearly enough in this area either. The formulation of a correct analysis of and policy for the situation is at present a key task for all liberation-minded people, Jews and non-Jews alike.

 h)  Isolation of the Jewish people from the other oppressed peoples is the key element in Jewish oppression. Forcing the Jews to identify themselves with the institutions of oppression in order to survive is a major factor in producing this isolation. The internalized oppression acts on the Jews themselves to turn away from daring to seek unity with others. The institutions of the Jewish “Establishment” and its leaders come to have a vested interest in preserving the isolation in terms of prestige, leadership, and jobs, and reinforce the isolation by cultural and religious injunctions.

 i)  The remarkable achievements of many individual Jews and of the Jewish culture are achievements of their humanness, operating through the slender opportunities afforded them, rather than of their Jewishness. The desperate pressure and compulsive success patterns transmitted to many members of each new generation of Jews by the Jewish culture and institutions and by parental distress patterns is actually a hindrance to achievement. The essence of being Jewish is being oppressed. One is not born Jewish. The rich tradition and culture is transmitted within the context of chronic patterns that distort reality. Isolation, fear of annihilation, self-denial and shame distort the use, understanding and effect of the fine culture.

5)   Israel, promised to be the long-needed national homeland for the Jewish people, was sponsored and set up by American and British imperialism, strictly within the tradition of being a visible agent of the oppressors. Israel was allowed to come into existence on the basis of plans by the British and American imperialists that it would serve as an armed repressor of the liberation struggles of the Arabs. Arabs were driven from their homes in Palestine in a ruthless armed expropriation. The struggles of the oppressed Arabs, previously directed toward social change and becoming masters in their own lands, were successfully diverted to hatred of the Jews and of Israel. Armed conflicts were precipitated which kept the Israeli dependent on the British-American imperialists for arms, and allowed the most reactionary Arab regimes to arm themselves against their own people on the pretext of arming against Israel with arms alternatively supplied by the British-American governments or by the Russian government.

 6)   Now that heavily-armed reactionary regimes which the imperialists can deal with directly are solidly entrenched in most of the Arab states, and now that the revolutionary fervor of the Arab people has been temporarily distorted into hatred of Israel, a “scapegoat” role is being prepared for Israel.

 7)   The survival of Israel depends upon a change of policy, a change to becoming the champion of the poor Arabs against the oppressive Arab regimes and their imperial masters. This will be extremely difficult because of the accumulation of distress from past policies, but it is possible. Any other policy will simply perpetuate the insecurity of Israel, will keep it a pawn in the imperialist rivalries of the United States and Russia.

 8)   The continued existence of Israel as a nation, as a national homeland for all Jews and as a base for Jewish struggle for survival and against oppression, must be actively supported by all progressives and all oppressed peoples everywhere. This does not require ignoring or defending the injustice perpetrated upon the Palestine Arabs by their expulsion from their ancestral homelands in order to establish Israel. This remains a clear injustice and must be rectified. Israel is a no worse case in this regard, however, than any other present nation or national homeland, all of which were established by robbery, and frequently, genocide, of the original peoples by the invaders (the United States and the Native Americans, for example).

A rational solution (perhaps a multi-national state) can be found which will rectify the injustice to the Palestinian Arabs and preserve Israel as a Jewish nation and national homeland.

9)   The effective tools for eliminating distress patterns, both individual and social, through discharge of painful emotion and the following re-evaluation, will be a necessary and important part of the processes of:

a)  Working out a clear policy for Jewish liberation.

b)  Achieving working unity with all other oppressed peoples and liberation forces.

c)   Ending of anti-Semitism and all oppression of Jews, as part of the ending of all oppression.  

Harvey Jackins

* First printed in Ruah Hadashah No. 1—July, 1976

Last modified: 2023-04-15 09:24:12+00