Below is an excerpt from “Theses on the Jewish Question,” adopted by the Socialist Workers Party in 1939 as fascist rule grew in Europe and ultra-rightist, anti-Semitic groups grew in the U.S. It is available in the book The Founding of the Socialist Workers Party. That year the party organized a demonstration of 50,000 at Madison Square Garden, in New York City under the banner of “Build Workers’ Defense Guards to answer the fascist menace” who were rallying inside. As the Nazi onslaught against Jews in Europe intensified, the SWP also called on the government to end its refusal to allow Jewish refugees fleeing the assaults entry into the U.S. Copyright © 1982 by Pathfinder Press. Reprinted by permission.
Our approach to the Jewish question can be none other than that of the international class struggle. In its death agony the capitalist class maintains itself in power by resorting to unmitigated brutality and violence aimed at the working class, particularly at its vanguard. It utilizes every element of hatred and prejudice which it can fan into flame to bring about division among the masses and to establish a social basis for its fascist, gangster rule. The Jews, by virtue of the fact that everywhere they form only a small minority of the population, and because anti-Semitism has always been fostered, sometimes openly, sometimes in masked form, constitute an easy scapegoat upon whom the big bourgeoisie can divert the pent-up, dangerous wrath of the backward elements among the masses, and particularly of the desperate middle classes. The fascist hirelings of the big bourgeoisie use the most vicious, lying propaganda to inflame to pogrom temperature the dormant antagonism to the Jews. Precisely because the fomenting of anti-Semitism has become an inseparable part of the technique of fascist reaction, the revolutionary party has a double duty to perform in combating it. It has the duty of exposing the real aims of the capitalists, hidden behind the smokescreen of anti-Semitism and thereby inoculating the masses against the poison; it has also the special task of mobilizing the real defense of the persecuted Jews, a defense of necessity based on the might of the organized working class. If these tasks are properly carried out, then we can at the same time hope to attract to our firm support the Jewish masses.