We publish a translation of the article that appeared on October 9 in the Xekinima website
A new cycle of bloodshed has broken out in the Middle East, with over 1,000 dead and thousands injured on both sides in just the first 48 hours (at the time of writing, in the morning of October 9, 2023).
The causes of this new war escalation and bloodshed in the region are:
- the occupation of an ever-increasing number of Palestinian territories by the Israeli army and settlers,
- the continuous cold-blooded killings and imprisonments of Palestinians,
- the policy of discrimination, deprivation of basic freedoms and rights, oppression and brutal repression of Palestinians both in the remaining Palestinian territories and inside Israel,
- the transformation of the Gaza Strip, with 2.3 million inhabitants, into the largest open-air prison in the world during the last 16 years.
In recent years, as the Israeli government has moved increasingly to the right, the assault on Palestinians has escalated. With evictions and demolitions of Palestinian homes, even inside Jerusalem, raids on refugee camps, raids on Muslim mosques even during Muslim feasts and while they were full of people, mass arrests and imprisonment after sham trials in Israeli courts, ect.
At the same time, the Palestinian question was a forgotten issue for the so called “international community”. Even a number of Middle Eastern countries that were supposed to be allies of the Palestinian people, Saudi Arabia being a recent example, ignored the escalation of the attacks against them and engaged in policies which aimed to improve their relations with Israel. The bloody Hamas attack has put the Palestinian issue back on the agenda.
Israeli crimes, Western hypocrisy
Western governments are always quick to condemn Hamas attacks in the strongest terms, but their reactions to decades of Israeli army attacks in the Palestinian territories are non-existent or at best lukewarm.
This double standards hypocritical policy of Western governments is, of course, not limited to the Palestinian issue. While condemning Hamas as an extremist organisation, they maintain good relations and cooperation with dictatorial regimes in the Persian Gulf, such as Saudi Arabia. While they condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, they don’t say a word about the ongoing invasion of Palestine by Israeli troops. At the same time they remain silent about the ethnic cleansing of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh that is currently underway. Wherever we look in the world, the positions of capitalists in ethnic conflicts have nothing to do with “justice” and “morality”. They always support the side that best serves their own interests in the region.
Unprecedented Hamas attacks
The attack launched by Hamas is the largest yet by the Islamist organisation that holds political power in the Gaza Strip. It has caught Israeli intelligence and army off guard, and it seems that it will be quite a challenge for the Israeli army to regain full control. Despite the scale of its offensive, however, Hamas cannot defeat the State of Israel militarily.
Israel has one of the world’s leading armies and the sustained financial and military support of the United States. That is why in the past it has been able to quickly repel not only attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah, but also coordinated attacks by neighbouring Arab states. Israel has been victorious in all the Arab-Israeli wars (1948, 1950, 1967 and 1973), most notably in the 1967 war, when it repelled the armies of three countries in six days and quadrupled the size of its territory.
At the same time, however, recent events prove –and this is the most important conclusion– that not even a military power of the kind of Israel can permanently and brutally suppress the Palestinian people without a backlash. The oppressed will always find a way to revolt. And that is what the Palestinian people have done and will continue to do.
Israel will level Gaza
It is natural to expect that the Hamas attack filled the majority of Palestinians with pride, as they felt that they dealt Israel a great blow and that the Palestinian people had shown their strength. On the other hand, the blood toll that the Palestinians will pay will be terrible. Israel intends to “flatten” Gaza. Hamas has shown that it can strike Israel and cause mass deaths of many hundreds, but there is no way to defeat Israel on this front.
The death toll from the unprecedented Hamas attack, which has exceeded 700, is the highest number of casualties in a single day in Israel’s entire history. The vast majority are civilians, including hundreds at a music concert. This kind of attack on civilians, as well as the hostage-taking of around 100 people (who appear to have been moved to Gaza), reinforces the far-right narrative within Israel. It reinforces the narrative that Gaza is nothing more than a breeding ground for Islamist terrorists, and that the policy of extreme blockade and bombing has been and remains the only way possible to deal with it. At the same time, the government of the butcher Netanyahu, who now has the support of the entire Israeli opposition, is strengthened.
The need for a class/left approach
Within Israel there are left organisations, trade unions and activists who support Palestinian rights, including their right to an independent state.
There are young men and women (as well as reservists) who, when called to serve in the army, refuse to serve in the Palestinian territories, refuse to be part of a racist and occupying army. They pay a price for this stance with imprisonment and persecution.
These people and groups take part in Palestinian mobilisations, go to the refugee camps in the remaining Palestinian territories, despite the risks, and try to build links and common struggles with the Palestinian people. These forces are small. But they are a very important asset for the Palestinians’ struggle together with international solidarity. The Palestinians cannot place their hopes for a just and viable solution in governments but in movements, both inside Israel and abroad.
The Palestinian question cannot be solved in terms of a war conflict. Neither can the Palestinians be wiped off the face of the earth, as Netanyahu and the Israeli extreme right want, nor can the State of Israel be destroyed, as Hamas wants. The foundations for its solution can only be laid in terms of a class approach and internationalist cooperation.
In practice, this means developing bi-communal organisations, fronts and struggles to defend all Palestinian rights, including the right to an independent state with the withdrawal of settlers and soldiers.
Inside Israel, such a struggle is objectively directed against the government, the bourgeoisie and the capitalist system as a whole.
Within the Palestinian territories, such a struggle leads to a confrontation with Hamas (as well as the other Islamist forces).
The right of Palestinians to arm themselves in their struggle for liberation must be firmly defended. But at the same time, the Left internationally can and must take a stand against the policies and methods of certain Palestinian organisations. The uncritical support of large sections of the Left for Hamas is a mistake. Real freedom for Palestinian workers and youth will not come from Islamist forces. Wherever they have come to power, they have created regimes that are extremely oppressive for workers and young people, especially women and LGBT people. And the example of Iran shows that the Left which had the illusion that liberation could come through cooperation with the Islamists, paid a huge price with rivers of blood.
Independent class, left politics, rapprochement and cooperation between peoples on a class basis is the only way to liberate the Palestinian people – who, together with the Kurds, are the most oppressed, suffering people in the Middle East.