Down with hypocrisy! Defend Gaza! – IMT statement

The following statement by the International Marxist Tendency declares our solidarity with the Palestinian people. It answers the disgusting hypocrisy of western imperialism and its lackeys, who are rallying behind the reactionary Israeli state as it unleashes bloody vengeance on Gaza, following Hamas’ surprise attack on 7 October. We moreover explain why freedom for Palestine can only be achieved through revolutionary means and the overthrow of capitalism in the whole region.


The lightning attack, launched by Hamas on Saturday 7 October, caused shockwaves throughout the world. It was met immediately by a loud chorus of condemnation from Western governments.

The attack was instantly presented in the most harrowing terms by the media. Western public opinion was thoroughly prepared by what is comically described as our “free press” to take sides in the conflict, which, as usual, is depicted as the Forces of Good versus the Forces of Evil.

In this macabre comedy of errors, the roles are conveniently reversed. The victims become the aggressors, and the aggressors become the victims. This lie is backed up by a constant stream of moral condemnations of violence, killing and all the other atrocious attributes of terrorism.

In Washington, according to the New York Times, President Biden “bristled with anger” as he characterised the acts as “pure unadulterated evil”, and vowed unequivocally to stand with Israel against terrorism.

The president of the wealthiest and most powerful state in the world lost no time in announcing that the USA will expedite the delivery of additional equipment, resources and munitions to Israel, as well as sending its newest and most advanced aircraft carrier, along with a full carrier strike group, to the Eastern Mediterranean.

Imperialist hypocrites, or the relativity of morals

The killing of men and women is something that naturally evokes feelings of repugnance in most people. We are constantly reminded of the biblical injunction: “thou shalt not kill.”

This commandment, at first sight, bears an absolute character. However, on closer inspection, it becomes clear that the aversion of the ruling class and the media to violence and killing is not at all absolute, but has an entirely relative content.

Explosion in gaza Image Humberto Patrick Wikimedia CommonsThe killing of men and women is something that naturally evokes feelings of repugnance in most people / Image: Humberto Patrick, Wikimedia Commons

When ordinary men and women express their horror and indignation at the atrocities they read about in the press, that is a normal human reaction that we can understand and sympathise with.

But when the same words are spoken by an American president, whose hands are stained with the blood of countless innocent people, we can only shrug our shoulders and turn away in disgust.

The imperialist scoundrels who pretend to be shocked by violence have repeatedly launched vicious wars of aggression. They did not hesitate in unleashing bloody wars against Iraq and Afghanistan lasting two decades, in which hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed. They bombed Libya, Syria, Sudan, Serbia, without any regard for innocent civilians.

The most atrocious case of all in recent times was the barbaric war against the people of Yemen, one of the poorest countries on the planet, which was waged by Saudi Arabia with the full support, complicity and active participation of the USA, Britain and other imperialist powers.

If any war can be described as genocidal, Yemen was surely it. According to the UN, over 150,000 people have been killed in Yemen, as well as estimates of more than 227,000 dead as a result of a terrible famine deliberately created by the Saudis and their allies, who also were responsible for the destruction of hospitals and healthcare facilities.

These figures undoubtedly represent a serious underestimate of the total number of victims inflicted on the people of Yemen by the Saudis and their imperialist backers.

But where were the condemnations of this barbarity? Where were the protests from Washington and London? Where were the giant headlines shouting about “terrorism”? They were silent, because Western governments were actively involved in this war of extermination against a poor, downtrodden people.

They have no right to complain of violence, or to accuse anyone of “terrorism”. When it comes to war, it is useless to appeal to moral or humanitarian considerations. Wars are about killing people. And there never has been a humanitarian war in history.

That is merely a cynical phrase, a convenient fig leaf, which is nowadays used by aggressors to justify their aggression before public opinion.

Gaza and Ukraine, or the relativity of “the right to self-defence”

IDF Tank Image public domainAs for the so-called right of Israel to defend herself, here again we see the double standards of Western imperialism / Image: public domain

As for the so-called right of Israel to defend herself, here again we see the double standards of Western imperialism. When it comes to Ukraine, they armed her to the teeth to fight Russia on their behalf, under the excuse that a people under occupation have the right to fight back.

But when it comes to the Palestinians, suddenly this right vanishes completely. Instead of defending the oppressed, the imperialists arm and supply the oppressors. Evidently the right to self-determination does not apply to everyone!

Incidentally, following the twisted logic of imperialism, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has compared Russia’s invasion of his country to Hamas, and has added his hoarse little voice to the chorus defending Israel’s “right to defend itself”! Do we need any more proof of the reactionary nature of this gentleman?

Predictably, Zelensky has accused Russia of wanting war in the Middle East to undermine international support for Ukraine, in comments that reflect concern that the war between Israel and Hamas could distract attention from Kyiv’s fight.

“Russia is interested in triggering a war in the Middle East, so that a new source of pain and suffering could undermine world unity, increase discord and contradictions and thus help Russia destroy freedom in Europe,” he said.

Zelensky is a desperate man, who will resort to anything he thinks will secure the flow of weapons and money when Ukraine has suffered a crushing defeat on the battlefield and there are clear signs of wavering support among allies, including the U.S., Slovakia and Poland.

Revenge

Once one has accepted the theory of relativity as applied to morality, it becomes a simple matter to justify murder – as long as it is carried out by “our side”. We see this convenient moral relativity in action right now.

Israel’s response to Hamas’ attack on Saturday has been swift and brutal. Benjamin Netanyahu has declared that Israel is at war. He has promised to reduce Gaza to a “deserted island”.

Fighter jets have been pounding the occupied strip, razing high rise buildings to the ground in residential areas, hitting schools, hospitals and mosques indiscriminately.

A school run by the UN Agency for Palestinian refugees, where there were no “militants”, received a direct hit. And many residential blocks of flats were targeted, with no prior warning.

Israel continued to hammer Gaza with airstrikes, reducing some buildings to rubble. Officials in Gaza said hospitals and schools were hit, and that 900 Palestinians have been killed already, including 260 children.

All this has nothing to do with self-defence, but everything to do with a thirst for revenge. Not for the first time, the Israeli state seeks to punish the people of Gaza for the actions of its leaders by deliberately targeting civilians.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant ordered a “complete siege” of the Gaza Strip: “I have ordered a complete siege on the Gaza Strip. There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed.”

To deprive men, women and children of food, water and electricity is supposed to be a crime under “international law”. Even the pathetic United Nations found it necessary to remind the Israelis of this small detail, although the results of this polite reminder were predictably nil.

“Human animals”

And how do they justify all this? Very simply.

Israel’s Minister of Defence Yoav Gallant put things clearly when he said: “We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly.”

This language is well-known to us. It is common practice of the imperialists to justify slaughter by dehumanising the enemy. If we accept that our enemies are not humans like ourselves, but merely animals, we feel entitled to treat them any way we please.

Let us remind ourselves that for decades, Jews were regarded, not as people, but as subhuman beings. That meant that they could be beaten, tortured, starved and murdered, who cares? After all, they are “only animals”, or “human animals”. The difference is purely semantic.

But the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip are not animals. They are human beings, just as the inhabitants of Israel are human beings. And all human beings are entitled to be treated the same.

A chorus of hypocrites

Palestinians Image Fars News Wikimedia CommonsAll human beings are entitled to be treated the same / Image: Fars News, Wikimedia Commons

As if in a well-planned unison, political leaders all over the world have fallen over themselves in their haste to declare their unconditional support for the “right of Israel to defend herself”. Right and ‘left’, Republican and Democrat – all are singing loudly from the same well-worn hymn book.

The same media that remained silent about the crimes of imperialism have also been highly remiss in reporting the criminal terror inflicted on the Palestinians by the Israeli state for many decades. They have been the victims of constant violent provocations by the ultra-right-wing Jewish settlers.

Evidently, this is meant to provide material backing for Israel’s right to “defend itself” by pulverising a tiny strip of land filled to overflowing with two-and-a-half million poor people. It has been described as the biggest open-air prison in the world.

The whole imperialist camp stands behind Israel as it moves to massacre the Palestinians in Gaza. And in case the bombs, artillery shells and missiles do not kill a sufficiently large number of Palestinians, the European Union planned to eliminate a few more by starvation.

The EU announced that it was suspending financial aid to the Palestinians, on which they heavily depend for their survival. The decision was so scandalous that it was later on reversed.

Here we see summed up in a few lines the distilled essence of what passes for “western civilization”.

It comes as no surprise that right-wing “Labour” leaders like Sir Keir Starmer in Britain immediately added their shrill voices to this hypocritical chorus. These ladies and gentlemen sold their souls to the Devil long ago. They are nothing more than agents of imperialism.

But the right reformists are not the only culprits. To their shame, many ‘left’ reformists have joined in the condemnation (Sanders, Ilhan Omar, AOC, the French ‘Communist’ Party, among others.)

Not for the first time, these so-called lefts have displayed their complete cowardice and lack of principle. They have immediately buckled under the pressure of the capitalist mass media and bourgeois public opinion and end up towing the line of the ruling class.

The International Marxist Tendency will not join the hypocritical chorus of the imperialists and their hangers-on.

Where do we stand?

In every war the belligerent parties always make use of stories of atrocities – real or invented – in order to justify their own acts of violence and murder. The attitude of communists to war can never be based on sensationalist propaganda that is used cynically to provide justification to one side or the other. Nor can a war be justified on the matter of who struck first. Our attitude to war must rest upon other grounds altogether.

Our position is very simple:

In every struggle, we will always take the side of the poor oppressed people, never of the rich and powerful oppressors.

In the given case, the question must be asked: who are the oppressors and who are the oppressed? Is it the Palestinians who are oppressing the Israelis? Nobody in their right mind believes that.

It is not the Palestinians who are occupying land that does not belong to them and holding it by force. It is not they who have been driving out Israeli settlers from land that was occupied by them for generations, but precisely the other way around.

Palestinians fleeing Image Humberto Patrick Wikimedia CommonsIt is not the Palestinians who are occupying land that does not belong to them and holding it by force / Image: Humberto Patrick, Wikimedia Commons

It is not they who are denying Israeli citizens the most elementary rights, or subjecting them to brutal blockades and reducing them to pariahs in their own land.

Is it necessary to recite the long list of crimes committed by the reactionary Israeli state against the Palestinians?

We have no space to mention these crimes, which continue, day after day, month after month and year after year, turning the lives of the Palestinians into a living hell.

Palestinians have been reduced to a status not very different from a kind of slavery. And slaves, when deprived of every other right, can only have recourse to the one right that remains: the right to revolt.

Throughout history, slave revolts were usually accompanied with acts of extreme violence, which were merely a reflection of the extreme oppression which they themselves had suffered at the hands of the slave owners.

This is a regrettable fact. But it does not acquit us of the obligation of defending the revolt of the slaves against the slave owners. Marx dealt with this question in an article written in 1857, in which he answers the articles in the British press that emphasise the atrocities committed during the Indian uprising against the British:

“The outrages committed by the revolted Sepoys in India are indeed appalling, hideous, ineffable — such as one is prepared to meet – only in wars of insurrection, of nationalities, of races, and above all of religion; in one word, such as respectable England used to applaud when perpetrated by the Vendeans on the “Blues,” by the Spanish guerrillas on the infidel Frenchmen, by Servians on their German and Hungarian neighbours, by Croats on Viennese rebels, by Cavaignac’s Garde Mobile or Bonaparte’s Decembrists on the sons and daughters of proletarian France.

“However infamous the conduct of the Sepoys, it is only the reflex, in a concentrated form, of England’s own conduct in India, not only during the epoch of the foundation of her Eastern Empire, but even during the last ten years of a long-settled rule. To characterize that rule, it suffices to say that torture formed an organic institution of its financial policy. There is something in human history like retribution: and it is a rule of historical retribution that its instrument be forged not by the offended, but by the offender himself.” K. Marx, (The Indian Revolt)

Do we support Hamas?

Our enemies will say: then you support Hamas. To this accusation we will answer: we have never supported Hamas. We do not share its ideology, nor do we condone the methods it uses.

We are communists and have our own ideas, programme and methods, based on the class struggle between rich and poor, oppressors and oppressed. It is this that determines our attitude in every case.

But our differences with Hamas, though fundamental, are not nearly so fundamental as the differences that separate us from US imperialism – the most reactionary force on the planet – and its accomplices in crime, the Israeli ruling class.

Our critics will ask: do you agree with the killing of so many innocent civilians? We will answer that we have never advocated such things. Nor do we condone them.

Our first task, to quote Spinoza, is neither to weep nor laugh, but understand. Moral considerations are utterly useless to explain anything. In order to understand what is happening, it is necessary to pose the question in a different way: what was it that led to Hamas’ attack?

Can it be separated from the decades of oppression, violence and occupation of Palestine by the reactionary state of Israel?

Of course not.

Israel is a powerful and wealthy state that has for decades been dispossessing and oppressing the Palestinians by a combination of brute force and economic muscle.

And we must also see the chain of events that have led directly to the present situation. It did not drop from a clear blue sky, as we are asked to believe.

Betrayal

The imperialists promised the Palestinians justice – if only they would wait a little longer. But they have waited and waited and the only result has been further destruction of their homeland and further loss of rights.

When the patience of the oppressed is exhausted, sooner or later, they will lash out against their oppressor. In such moments, excesses and brutality will inevitably be committed. That is naturally to be regretted. But who is really responsible?

If a man or woman commits a cold-blooded murder, that is undoubtedly a crime and is punished as such.

But if a woman is subjected to savage brutality for many years by her husband and one day turns against her tormentor and kills him, most people would say that the circumstance that led to her actions should be taken into account.

Let us return to the present case. In the weeks before the explosion, constant provocations were perpetrated by Jewish religious fanatics. They stormed the compound of the Al-Aqsa mosque – one of the holiest places in the Islamic world. They were acting under police and military protection.

Provocation

Buildings in Gaza Strip being levelled Image Tasnim News Agency Wikimedia CommonsUnder these conditions, no one can really be surprised that the Palestinians are fighting back / Image: Tasnim News Agency, Wikimedia Commons

Netanyahu is in an alliance with the Zionist far right, some of whom are openly fascists. Their stated aim is to provoke a new Nakba – that is to say, to physically remove the Palestinians from the land they live in now, starting in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

This policy is not new, but it has escalated in the recent months. Settlers, imported mainly from the US and recruited among the most extreme of religious fundamentalists, have built settlements in the West Bank.

These are connected by a network of militarily-defended roads, which dissect the territory formally under the control of the Palestinian territory.

The reactionary settlers feel emboldened and protected by the ultra-nationalist Israeli government.

Armed gangs of religious zealot settlers have been conducting pogroms against Palestinians with the open or covert support of the Israeli army and police. These land grabs are supposed to be illegal under “international law”. But all the pious resolutions passed by the UN in a meaningless ritual have done nothing to stop these criminal acts.

Under these conditions, no one can really be surprised that the Palestinians are fighting back. Oppressed people have the right to resist.

Hypocrites will argue that both sides are to blame because both have used violence. Formally, this statement is true. But its content is fundamentally false. The violence of one cannot be equated with the violence of the other. There is absolutely no equivalence between the two sides.

On the one hand, we have a modern advanced capitalist country, equipped with nuclear weapons, fighter jets armed with powerful missiles, advanced technology and surveillance equipment, which counts on the full material and financial support of the world’s most powerful imperialist country.

On the other hand, we have the oppressed Palestinians, fighting with whatever weapons they can get their hands on

To be surprised by recent events is actually extremely foolish. Given these circumstances, some kind of an explosion was absolutely inevitable, although the time and content of it could not be foreseen – even by the Israeli secret services.

Israel humiliated

It is necessary to approach war on its own terms, and not introduce extraneous considerations that are quite alien to it. What has caused fury in the Israeli ruling class is not the amount of people who have lost their lives. Their concerns are purely of a practical nature.

From a merely military point of view, the attack was a success. The unexpected Blitzkrieg caught the much-vaunted Israeli intelligence services completely by surprise. Well-armed groups of commandos penetrated Israel’s defences, breaking through what was supposed to be an impregnable line and inflicting severe losses on Israeli forces.

IDF Soldiers Image public domainThe unexpected Blitzkrieg caught the much-vaunted Israeli intelligence services completely by surprise / Image: public domain

When this became known, it caused a wave of panic and fear in Israel, where the population had been lulled by the authorities in the belief that they were protected by an invulnerable line of defence. Overnight, people’s faith in the myth of invulnerability was shattered. This fact will have incalculable consequences for the future.

By contrast, news of the attack was celebrated on the streets of many Arab capitals. The masses were encouraged by the fact that, at last, the mighty Israeli state had suffered a humiliating defeat. Compared to this fact, all other considerations seemed to be of secondary importance.

Netanyahu feels supremely confident because he has the firm backing of US imperialism, which supplies Israel with endless quantities of dollars and deadly weapons.

They have moved their embassy to Jerusalem – a slap in the face of all Palestinians. President Trump took that provocative decision. But President Biden has not reversed it. He is anxious to secure the Jewish vote in next year’s election, as well as maintaining one of its few remaining unwavering allies in the region.

Peaceful or violent?

Our enemies very often confront us with the question: are you in favour of violence? They might as well ask us if we are in favour of bubonic plague, since it is just as empty of real content.

There are questions that answer themselves, and these are precisely of that kind. But merely to answer in the negative is quite useless. One would have to explain the concrete circumstances in which violence is employed: for what purpose? And in whose interest? Without such information, it is really impossible to provide an accurate answer. That is the case in every conflict, and it is also the case now.

Many on the “left” (as usual) confine themselves to decrying violencein general, calling for “a peaceful settlement” through “negotiations” and the intervention of “international institutions”. But this is a lie and a deception.

For 75 years, there have been endless negotiations and talks and that has not advanced the cause of Palestinian freedom one inch. For decades the so-called United Nations have passed resolutions condemning the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories in 1967, but nothing has changed. In fact, the situation has become far worse.

The current escalation of the conflict is actually the result of the complete failure of the Oslo Accords. The idea of establishing a Palestinian statelet next to Israel on a capitalist basis was doomed to fail, as we warned at the time.

The aim of Israel was to outsource the policing of the Palestinians to the Palestinian National Authority, led by Fatah bourgeois nationalists who were completely demoralised and organically incapable of taking the Palestinian national liberation struggle forward.

The last 30 years have revealed the abject failure of the two-state solution imposed by US imperialism and Israeli capitalism on the Palestinians.

It is no wonder that in a recent opinion poll, 61 percent of Palestinians said that they were worse off than before Oslo, and 71 percent said that it had been a mistake to sign the agreement.

Despite this, the hopeless left pacifists argue that Palestinians should only be using peaceful means of struggle. But when they tried to do this, what was the result?

The 2018 march of return protest was carried out by unarmed civilians. The Israeli army used live ammunition killing hundreds and injuring over ten thousand, including children, women, journalists and medics.

It is precisely this that has convinced the Palestinians that the only way forward is to meet violence with violence. One may regret this fact, but it is the only possible conclusion the Palestinians can be expected to draw. And that is 100 percent the responsibility of the Israeli state and its imperialist backers.

According to the same poll 71 percent believe a two-state solution is no longer practical due to settlement expansion, 52 percent support dissolving the PA and 53 percent think armed struggle is the only way to break the deadlock.

Imperialist plans in ruins

Prior to the events of 7 October, a so-called normalisation process was underway: which basically means that Israel establishes normal diplomatic and economic relations with the Arab countries (notably Saudi Arabia), As a consequence, the Palestinian problem is declared as ended.

This was highlighted by Netanyahu’s intervention at the UN General Assembly in September, where he showed a map of the region showing Israel and the countries with which it was normalising relations … but the Israel in the map included the Golan Heights, Gaza and the West Bank, leaving Palestine completely out of the picture!

This blatant cynicism showed the callous attitude, not just of Netanyahu and his reactionary gang, but also of the so-called imperialist democracies, which treat small nations as so much small change in their machinations.

This monstrous carve-up was to be carried out behind the backs of the Palestinians. Their very existence is regarded as an irritating inconvenience. Their constant complaints can be safely disregarded, while the unpleasant, but necessary, task of keeping them in order can be entrusted to the jackboots of the Israeli armed forces.

That was the theory. But life has an unfortunate habit of contradicting even the finest of theories. And this particular one had one gaping hole at its centre: it assumed that the Palestinians were so cowed, so utterly crushed, that they would not be capable of putting up a real fight. That assumption was smashed to smithereens on Saturday, 7 October.

A number of sources have pointed the finger at Iran. Despite the denials of Tehran, this may be true. The skilful execution of the attack and the way it quickly penetrated Israel’s strong defences showed a degree of professionalism that can hardly be the work of Hamas on its own.

Netanyahu Image Кабінет Міністрів України Wikimedia CommonsAs long as the Israeli state can rely upon the backing of the majority of the Jewish population, it will be very difficult to achieve its overthrow / Image: Кабінет Міністрів України, Wikimedia Commons

Moreover, Iran had a vested interest in its success. The immediate effect was to wreck Netanyahu’s plan to forge close relations with Saudi Arabia. The reactionary gang in Riyadh was quite prepared to sell out the Palestinians, striking a deal with Israel.

But those plans – which were naturally encouraged by the United States – were wrecked. Mohammed bin Salman has pointedly refused to join the chorus of support for Israel’s “right of self-defence.” He would place the monarchy itself in danger if he dared to go against the feelings of the Saudi people, who will be fervent supporters of the Palestinians.

The Guardian published an article, entitled: ‘Hamas attack has abruptly altered the picture for Middle East diplomacy’. These words put the matter very nicely. Patrick Wintour, the diplomatic editor of the Guardian writes:

“Iran wants to make it impossible for Saudi Arabia to strike a deal with Israel, while others in the region cannot afford mayhem in Gaza.”

That is correct. The Arab leaders cannot afford it because of the profoundly unsettling effects it has on the masses in their own countries. The threat of a revolt on the streets is ever present in the minds of the Arab ruling cliques, who have not forgotten the lesson of the mass uprisings known as the Arab Spring.

This is a nightmare for the Arab rulers and Washington alike. But a new version of the Arab Revolution is the only hope for a lasting solution to the Palestinian question.

The oppressed people of Palestine must place no trust in the promises of foreign governments. Their only interest is to make empty declarations of support for the Palestinians, to create for themselves an image of solidarity with the oppressed that is false to the core.

It goes without saying that the promises of the imperialists are entirely worthless, as are the fictitious resolutions routinely passed by the so-called United Nations.

The Palestinian people can only free themselves through their own efforts. And the only reliable allies they can count upon are the workers and peasants in the region and across the world who are oppressed and exploited as they themselves are.

Israel on a dangerous path

There is one other factor that cannot be ignored. As long as the Israeli state can rely upon the backing of the majority of the Jewish population, it will be very difficult to achieve its overthrow. Only by dividing the state of Israel along class lines will this be a viable proposition.

Under present circumstances, this seems to be an unlikely variant. This is, in part, due to the extreme limitations of the ideology and methods of Hamas, which convinces many Israeli citizens that their lives are threatened by the Palestinian “terrorists”.

Unfortunately, the recent assault and the killing of civilians has convinced many Israelis that the only solution is to rally to the government. This has been encouraged by the scandalous conduct of the so-called opposition, which has immediately dropped all its objections to the reactionary policies of the Netanyahu government and hastened to offer entering a so-called government of national unity. This is a disastrous line of action.

The people of Israel must ask themselves the following question: how can it happen that after so many years of conflict, so many wars, and so many military victories they now feel more insecure than at any time since the founding of the State of Israel? All the elaborate measures allegedly designed to guarantee their safety, in the moment of truth, have counted for nothing.

It is true that Israel, with its colossal military strength and superior firepower, can easily defeat Hamas in military terms. However, a ground invasion of Gaza, with its narrow streets, myriad of tunnels, and a hostile and embittered population, will not be accomplished without serious loss of life on both sides. And after Gaza has been reduced to a heap of rubble, what then? You do not have enough forces to occupy and hold down a hostile population of 2.3 million people for an indefinite period of time. Sooner or later, new explosions and bloodshed will occur.

And matters do not end there. The oppression of the Palestinians serves to inflame feelings across the Arab world. The attempts to forge relations with Saudi Arabia now lie in ashes. Israel now finds itself more isolated than ever before. Surrounded by millions of enemies on all sides, the outlook for Israel is grim indeed. And the recent bloodbath constitutes a serious warning of even worse to come, unless something fundamental changes in Israel itself.

Marx pointed out long ago that no nation can ever be free as long as it oppresses and subjugates another nation: “It is the special task of the Central Council in London to make the English workers realise that for them the national emancipation of Ireland is not a question of abstract justice or humanitarian sentiment but the first condition of their own social emancipation.” (Marx to Sigfrid Meyer and August Vogt, 1870)

At present, the voice of reason in Israel is being silenced by the ravenous roar of the counter-revolution. But those who advocate uniting with the reactionary forces of Netanyahu and the ultra-religious zealots, are driving Israel directly towards the abyss.

What now?

For many years, the Palestinian masses have shown over and over again their selflessness, courage and their willingness to fight. The problem is that they have not had a leadership that is equal to the task.

After so many decades of sell outs and broken promises, the patience of the Palestinians is now exhausted. To the militant Palestinian youth who wish to fight against the powerful Israeli state, the rockets of Hamas seem to provide some kind of an answer. This belief has received a powerful boost as a result of recent events.

There can be no doubt that the success of Hamas, in breaking through the Israeli defences, that were said to be inviolable, and striking blows against Israel, has been seen as a victory by many in the Arab world, who longed to see Israel humbled.

Palestinian flag Image Whewes Wikimedia CommonsTo the militant Palestinian youth who wish to fight against the powerful Israeli state, the rockets of Hamas seem to provide some kind of an answer / Image: Whewes, Wikimedia Commons

In the short-term, this will enormously increase the prestige of Hamas. But in the longer term, the limitations of Hamas’ success will become only too evident. The military balance of forces is overwhelmingly in favour of Israel.

The militant youth have concluded that the only way forward is not through talks but through revolutionary struggle. That involves mass action, mass strikes and yes, in the final analysis, the fight against the state of Israel must mean armed self-defence and armed struggle.

However, it is important not to lose a sense of proportion. The revolutionary struggle of the Palestinian masses, as long as it remains isolated, will not be enough to defeat the might of the Israeli state.

That will require the combined efforts of a mass revolutionary movement throughout the Middle East. But a huge obstacle stands in the way: the reactionary bourgeois Arab regimes support the Palestinian cause in words only, but at every juncture are ready to betray the Palestinians and make a deal with imperialism.

Only through the overthrow of these corrupt regimes can the way be open for the victory of the socialist revolution in the Middle East – the prior condition for the liberation of Palestine.

In the last analysis, only the establishment of a united front between the people of Palestine and the working class and progressive layers of Israeli society will create the possibility of dividing the Israeli state on class lines, opening the way for a lasting and democratic settlement of the Palestinian question.

This will be a byproduct of the Arab revolution, which can only succeed if it is carried out to the end. The overthrow of corrupt regimes is only half a solution. The genuine liberation of the people can only be achieved through the expropriation of the landlords, bankers and capitalists.

Socialist revolution – the only solution!

For too long the Middle East, with its colossal potential, natural resources and huge untapped pool of surplus labour power and educated young people has been balkanised – a heritage of colonialism that divided the region into small states that could be easily dominated and exploited.

This poisonous heritage has been a breeding ground for endless wars, national and religious hatred and other destructive forces. The Palestinian question is only the most evident and monstrous expression of this fact.

Workers have no interest in conquering foreign territory or holding other people in a state of subjugation. When power is in the hands of the working people, all the problems facing the Arab world can be resolved peacefully, democratically, by agreement.

Under a democratic socialist federation, it would be possible to establish fraternal relations between the peoples – Arab and Jew, Sunni and Shia, Kurds and Armenians, Druses and Copts. The way would finally be open for a lasting and democratic settlement of the Palestinian question.

There is enough land to create a genuinely autonomous, viable and prosperous Palestinian state, with full autonomy for both Arabs and Jews, along the lines of the Soviet Republics that were established by the Bolsheviks after the October Revolution.

Small-minded people will say that this is a utopia. But the same people have always maintained that socialism is a utopia. These self-styled “realists” cling stubbornly to the status quo, which they say is the only reality possible – merely on the grounds that it happens to exist.

According to this bankrupt ‘theory’, revolution is impossible. But all that exists deserves to perish. And all history tells us that revolutions are not only possible, but inevitable. The capitalist system is rotten to the core. Its foundations are crumbling and it is tottering before a fall.

All that is required is that it should be given a good push. And it is not at all discounted that this can come from a new uprising in the Arab world. This is the only way forward for the peoples of the Middle East. The Palestinian revolution will triumph as an integral part of the socialist revolution, or it will not triumph at all.

London, 11 October 2023