By KD Tait
ISRAEL’S INDISCRIMINATE assault on the Gaza strip has killed more than 3,000 people, half of them women and children. Survivors are starved of food, water and medicine. More than one million people have become refugees. But there is nowhere safe to run. Israeli forces have bombed schools, hospitals and UN refugee camps. In the face of these crimes against humanity, the leaders of the western democracies pledge their unconditional support for Israel. Against Israel’s threat to impose a bloody new Nakba, we say — solidarity with the Palestinian resistance — break the siege of Gaza — end UK support for the Zionist state!
Israel’s war on Palestine
Israel, its allies and its supporters in the media are waging a propaganda campaign to persuade people that Hamas has declared war on Israel, that Israel is acting in self-defense, and that it is the terrorism of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the PFLP, and other resistance forces, which is the main obstacle to peace. Hamas’ murder of civilians and hostage taking is presented as uniquely evil, stripping them, and by extension the population from which they draw their support, of any legitimacy.
This perverse inversion of the real causes of the so-called ‘Middle East conflict’ exists to shield Israel from criticism and obscure the responsibility of its western imperialist allies in perpetuating the oppression of the Palestinian people.
The conflict between the Israeli state and the Palestinians did not start on 7 October. From its founding in 1948, Israel was a settler-colony based on the racist expulsion and colonisation of the Palestinians, 750,000 of whom were driven from their homes in the first Nakba. Since 2007, the two million residents of Gaza have been held hostage by Israel and Egypt, as punishment for the victory of Hamas over the corrupt and collaborationist Fatah in democratic elections in 2006.
But it is the not the ideology of the Palestinian resistance forces that is the principal obstacle. It is the settler-colonial character of the Zionist state which is incompatible with a single state guaranteeing equal rights for the whole population between the river and the sea. As long as Israel controls Palestine, administering Gaza and the West Bank as internal colonies, permanently expels, expropriates and ghettoizes the population, there can be no peace and no justice.
As revolutionary socialists we have always opposed both the political objectives and methods of struggle of Islamist parties like Hamas. We stand for a programme of permanent revolution to bring about a common, binational, socialist state in Palestine that grants equal rights to Palestinians and Jews, that guarantees all displaced Palestinians the right of return, and that is able to settle the claims of two nations in a fair and democratic way on the basis of common ownership.
We stand opposed to individual terrorism and the targeting of civilians. Such actions cannot force Israel’s rulers to abandon the Zionist project, and make it easier to justify their collective punishment of the Palestinians as ‘self-defence’. But it is wrong to present this as a unique feature of Hamas or Islamism. Out of national oppression grows hatred of the state of the oppressors and all those who support it—and this includes the vast majority of the Israeli population and the Israeli working class. Terrorism by the Palestinians is a mirror of the decades of terrorism, dehumanisation and national oppression inflicted on the Palestinians by the Israeli apartheid state.
With the oppressed—always, with the oppressor—never
The political struggle against the religious right in the camp of the Palestinian resistance and the criticism of politically incorrect or counterproductive forms of action must therefore in no way lead to a turning away from the struggle against oppression. Today, when Western propaganda is turning real conditions upside down, we must make a clear distinction between the violence of the oppressed and the oppressors. Only if the revolutionary left and the working class support the struggle for national liberation against Zionism and ‘democratic’ imperialism will they be able to build a political alternative to Islamist forces — a revolutionary party that combines the struggle for national liberation with that for socialist revolution.
Solidarity with Palestine
That is why we have to stand unconditionally and without equivocation on the side of the oppressed, and against the demonisation of the entire Palestinian nation and resistance. Hamas and its Islamist relations are reactionary, antisemitic forces which cannot lead the oppressed to real liberation. But it is Zionist and western war propaganda to equate Hamas with Islamic State.
The demonisation of Hamas has three objectives. Firstly to erase the existence of a wide spectrum of Palestinian resistance forces, including left wing and secular forces in favour of one state and opposed to Islamist theocracy. Secondly, this identification of all resistance as Islamist-terrorist-Isis is designed to inoculate the population against the war crimes which Israel is preparing and carrying out. Thirdly, it prepares the way for the banning of effective solidarity with the Palestinians. In Germany and France pro-Palestine demonstrations have been outlawed. In Britain, the government has debated making boycotts of Israel illegal.
That is why the decision of railway workers’ trade union the RMT to boycott cargo carrying arms for Israel should be welcomed. It should be taken up by the entire trade union movement, who should refuse to handle any cargo or products coming from or destined for the apartheid state.
The TUC and the trade unions should work with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign to build regional and national demonstrations in solidarity with Palestine, adding the strength of the organized working class to denounce the Labour Party leadership’s unconditional support for Israel’s crimes.