Why does most or much of the "Left" today support Islamic Jihad? After all, the "Left" is supposed to stand for equality, whereas Islam --even in moderate forms-- rejects equality. Indeed, that "left" that supports Islamic Jihad is demonstrating that it is in fact AGAINST equality. Without pretending to give a full and total answer to the question, here is some evidence to consider.
In late 1917, shortly after the Bolsheviks took power in the Russian Empire, Stalin's Commissariat of Nationalities issued an: Appeal to the Muslim Toilers of Russia and the East . This was an extraordinary document. It was an appeal to a particular religious group, whereas supposedly the Bolsheviks were against religion. Further, the Muslim Ottoman Empire was perpetrating the first genocide of the 20th century at the time --with the help of course of its German and Austro-German allies. The Appeal mentions none of this. Instead, it rejects promises by the Western allies to give the Armenians a state and to remove Armenian territories from the Ottoman Empire. It tells the Armenians to wait for their self-determination, while their national territory was to stay under Ottoman control.
The Armenians were guaranteed self-determination after "military operations are brought to an end." Yet, the parts of their national territory under Ottoman control were areas where the massacres had taken place. Other parts had been under Russian imperial control since the 19th century. Whereas the Appeal was issued in late November-early December, several months later, in March 1918, the Bolsheviks, possibly under German pressure, agreed not only to withdraw from Ottoman territories --parts of historic Armenia and Georgia occupied during WW One-- but from historically Armenian and Georgian areas conquered from the Ottomans long before. The promise of self-determination for Armenians was not respected for those areas, whereas Soviet weapons were given to the new Turkish nationalist movement which rose out of the Ottoman Empire's defeat, but was no less anti-Armenian than the Empire. In 1922, the Turkish nationalists drove the Greek population out of Smyrna [now called Izmir], while massacring the Armenians there.
The Appeal is "a brilliant piece of political demagogy," as Serge Zenkovsky has noted [in Pan-Turkism and Islam in Russia (Cambridge, MA: HUP, 1967), p 161]. It disregarded "all the atheistic and internationalist elements of Marxist and Leninist teaching," as well as the supposed working class principles and loyalties of the Bolsheviks, "and appealed to the Moslems' religious and national feelings."
At least three different translations of all or parts of this manifesto are available in English. For clarity's sake we quote from more than one version, depending on which version was clearest for the passage quoted.
SOVIET APPEAL TO THE MUSLIM TOILERS OF RUSSIA AND THE EAST
. . .
The rule of the plunderers, exploiting the peoples of the world, is trembling.
. . .
The world of violence and oppression is approaching its last days. A new world is arising, a world of the toilers and the liberated. At the head of this revolution is the Workers' and Peasants' Government in Russia. . .
The toiling masses of Russia burn with the single desire to achieve an honest peace and help the oppressed people of the world to win their freedom.
. . . we appeal to you, toiling and dispossessed Muslim workers in Russia and the East. . . all those whose mosques and shrines were destroyed, whose beliefs and customs were trampled under foot by the tsars and oppressors of Russia! Henceforth your beliefs and customs, your national and cultural institutions, are free and inviolable. . .
Muslims of the Orient, Persians, Turks, Arabs. . . all those whose lives and property, liberty and land, the greedy robbers of Europe have bartered for centuries -- all those whose countries the plunderers who started the war wish to divide!Here there are no Muslim empires (such as Persia or the Ottoman Empire). Muslim states are not guilty of oppression of the non-Muslim subject peoples or even of their fellow Muslims of the working class. Only Europe is guilty. Without whitewashing Europe, we know that the Ottoman Empire chose to join Germany and Austria in World War I; in fact the Ottomans initiated the alliance in which Germany and Austria assisted them in the Armenian massacres during the war.
Further, in this manifesto, the Communist Soviet Union announced its favoritism for Muslims against non-Muslim subject peoples --called dhimmis or ra`ayahs.
To be sure, the manifesto, prepared by Stalin's Commissariat of Nationalities, also asserted the right of peoples to self-determination, but gave the national-territorial claims of Muslim peoples pride of place over those of non-Muslims. Consider:
Constantinople must remain in the hands of the Muslims. . .The Ottoman capital probably had a Greek majority at the start of WW I, and if not, other non-Muslims (Bulgars, Jews, Armenians, etc.) certainly made up a majority together with the Greeks. Consider next:
We declare that the treaty for the partition of Turkey and the wresting from her of Armenia is null and void. As soon as military operations are brought to an end, the Armenians will be guaranteed the right to decide freely their political destiny. Not at the hands of Russia and her revolutionary government does slavery await you [Does the "you" refer to Armenians or to Turkish Muslims?], but at the hands of the marauders of European imperialism, of those who converted your fatherland into their ravished and plundered "colony."Hence, the Armenians had the right of self-determination too. But they should not exercise their rights against Turkish (Muslim) claims of sovereignty. They should wait till the end of "military operations." The treaty promising removal from Ottoman control of Ottoman-ruled parts of Armenia was "null and void." Further, not only did the Bolsheviks leave the areas in question to the Ottoman Empire, but after the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (March 1918), the Bolsheviks ceded to the Ottoman Empire large areas of historic Armenia and Georgia which the Russian Tsars had conquered in the nineteenth century, thereby exposing Armenian subjects of Russia to a continuation of the mass murder perpetrated by the Muslim Ottoman Empire against its own Armenian population during WW One. Additional massacres naturally ensued.
Some observers saw Brest-Litovsk --with its territorial concessions to Germany and the Ottoman Empire, Germany's ally-- as Bolshevik compensation to the German Empire for helping the Bolsheviks take over the rival Russian Empire. Article IV of the Treaty states:
Russia will do all in its power to ensure the rapid evacuation of the eastern provinces of Anatolia and their restoration to Turkey. Ardahan, Kars, and Batum will be evacuated without delay by Russian troops.
The article does not mention Armenia or Georgia by name. So much for Bolshevik devotion to self-determination. This episode, like the Nazi-Soviet Pact, is one of those that Communists avoid discussing or are unaware of. Instead of bemoaning the lethal results of Brest-Litovsk, the Communists habitually advocated --in practice-- devotion to Muslim militant demands over the rights of dhimmis. We do not intend to explain why the Bolsheviks took this position. Were they acceding to pressures by the German Empire which had helped Lenin take over the Russian Empire and take it out of the war? Were they opportunists who noted the huge Muslim population in the world, at that time, compared with the small numbers of Armenians whose numbers had been halved by the massacres during the war? Did they think that the warlike nature of the Muslim peoples could be harnessed to help them fight the Western imperialists, and thus the rights of small peoples like the Armenians could be disregarded?
As said above, slightly different translations of the title and of the text as a whole or in part are available.
1) Soviet Russian Imperialism in the Anvil series edited by Louis Snyder for Van Nostrand Co., pp 118-120. [This edition presents only excerpts]
[reprinted from J Bunyan and HH Fisher, The Bolshevik Revolution 1917-1918 (Stanford Univ Press, 1934); we have not seen this edition]
2) JC Hurewitz, Diplomacy in the Near and Middle East: A Documentary Record: 1914-1956, v. II (NY: Van Nostrand, 1956), pp 27-28 [this gives the full text]
3) Serge A Zenkovsky, Pan-Turkism and Islam in Russia (Cambridge, MA: HUP, 1967), pp 161-162 [only excerpts]
Furthermore, three different dates are given for the Appeal:
20 November 1917 by Zenkovsky
3 December 1917 by Hurewitz
7 December 1917 by Bunyan and Fisher
However, all three versions are translations of the same document. The differences in date may derive from differences between the Gregorian calendar and the Julian calendar, still in use in Russia at that time.
Moreover, the Bolsheviks tolerated the presence in their state of Jemal Pasha and Enver Pasha, leaders of the Young Turk party, the Committee for Union and Progrees, who ruled the Ottoman Empire during WW One and were, therefore, guilty in the Armenian massacres.
Note the convergence of Western and Bolshevik [Communist] policies --mentioned above-- in support for the Turkish nationalists of Ataturk by 1922.
The Western support for the ethnic cleansing of the Greeks and Armenians from Smyrna, on the eastern shore of the Aegean Sea, is indicated in the following two books:
George Horton, The Blight of Asia (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1926)
Marjorie Housepian, The Smyrna Affair
see Seth Frantzman's article, "Islamism's Accidental Midwives", Jerusalem Post, 2-22-2009 [print version -- full version with comments]. This article tells about support by both the BritishEmpire and the Communists which built up Arab nationalism and Islamic jihad fanaticism, in Israel, Sudan, India, and elsewhere.
See post "What Do Left & Right Mean Today?" of 2-11-2009.