Israel’s war and Hamas attack stoke retrogression

November 29, 2023

by Franklin Dmitryev

“Right now, one goal: Nakba! A Nakba that will overshadow the Nakba of 1948,” tweeted Ariel Kallner, a Likud member of the Israeli Knesset, or parliament, on Oct. 7 in response to the odious Hamas massacre. “Nakba” is the Arabic word for catastrophe, and the name for the violent expulsion of 700,000 Palestinians in 1948 at the founding of Israel. High Israeli official after official shrieked other variations of genocidal language to explain their dreams for the present war against the population of the occupied Gaza Strip.[1]

Israel’s war on Gaza, and the Hamas attacks that sparked it, are driving the world in a reactionary direction and exposing the inhumanity of the ruling powers—as well as the retrogression of much of the Left. The continuing descent into brutality worldwide cries out for a revolutionary solution, and therefore a truly revolutionary perspective.

Before Oct. 7, Gaza was already under collective punishment. Israel’s blockade since 2007, with Egypt’s cooperation, made it “the world’s biggest open-air prison.” Many housing units have never been rebuilt after multiple waves of Israeli bombing, and thousands of people are permanently disabled from those attacks and from shootings of protesters. Sanitation services were in tatters. An estimated 70% of people depended on aid, which was cut off when Israel declared a “complete siege” in October.

HAMAS KILLED TO PROVOKE WAR

A scene from the Israel-Hamas war. Photo: Trong Khiem Nguyen, PDM 1.0 DEED.

A terrible new round of war and reaction was set off on Oct. 7 by Hamas, which rules Gaza in one-party fashion while suppressing protests. Carrying out massacres in Israel at a music festival, towns and kibbutzim, Hamas indiscriminately targeted mainly civilians, from babies to the elderly, and killed mostly Jews but also Palestinians, Thai guest workers and others. Its fighters wore body cameras documenting their own atrocities, such as beating, torturing and raping victims, including children, before killing them. One man told interrogators that his commander said that when it came to women and children, “Do whatever you want.”

More than 1,200 people were killed in the so-called Al-Aqsa Deluge, and Hamas announced that it and other groups had 200-250 hostages; most of them too are civilians. Israeli officials compiled a video documenting Hamas atrocities, hoping to justify their own war crimes against civilians in Gaza, while expressing indifference to the fate of the hostages.

Hamas leaders spoke about their aims in the Oct. 7 attack. “I hope that the state of war with Israel will become permanent on all the borders, and that the Arab world will stand with us,” Taher El-Nounou, a Hamas media adviser, told The New York Times.

Their aim to undermine the rapprochement between Israel and Arab countries like Saudi Arabia—an effort based on the illusion that the Palestinian issue could be permanently sidelined and Arab states could ignore their populations’ desire for solidarity with the oppressed Palestinians—achieved some success as the masses of those countries reacted vehemently to Israel’s assault on Gaza.

“Hamas’s goal is not to run Gaza and to bring it water and electricity and such,” said Khalil al-Hayya, a member of Hamas’s politburo. “Hamas, the Qassam and the resistance woke the world up from its deep sleep and showed that this issue must remain on the table….It did not seek to improve the situation in Gaza. This battle is to completely overthrow the situation.”

In an interview on Lebanese TV, Ghazi Hamad, another politburo member, was asked if the goal was “the complete annihilation of Israel.” He answered, “Yes, of course.” The whole point was to provoke a war, under the illusion that Arab nations would rise up and help them militarily defeat Israel. “The Al-Aqsa Flood is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth. Will we have to pay a price? Yes, and we are ready to pay it. We are called a nation of martyrs, and we are proud to sacrifice martyrs.”

Former Hamas head Khaled Mashal told Al-Arabiya, “We know very well the consequences of our operation on Oct. 7,” meaning the toll taken on Gaza’s civilians, and that it was “legitimate resistance” to the occupation. “In all wars, there are some civilian victims. We are not responsible for them.” Or, as Hamad said, “On October 7, October 10, October one-millionth, everything we do is justified.” Or, as orders found on a dead fighter in Beeri put it: “Kill as many people and take as many hostages as possible.”

INHUMANITY FOR INHUMANITY

The horrors multiplied as the Israeli state declared war and rained massive 2,000-pound bombs on the Gaza Strip, again mainly killing civilians, including babies and children—and at the same time Israeli soldiers and settlers ramped up the violence against Palestinians on the West Bank, as another front in their war.

So many shocking news reports have come out of Gaza every day since Oct. 7 that the horrors start to seem normal. Hospitals have been bombed, and most can no longer function. The UN agencies said that people “are literally starving to death as we speak,” and that clean water is running out. Apartment buildings, schools, bakeries and refugee camps have been decimated. Nearly half of housing units have been destroyed. Two-thirds of the population is homeless.

Because of the siege, the only power station in Gaza had to shut down and hospitals are running out of fuel for their backup generators. Ambulances, a Red Cross/Red Crescent convoy, and hospital solar power panels have been struck. Even the hospitals that are still functioning are unable to help anywhere near the normal number of patients, and many kinds of healthcare are simply unavailable. About 180 women are giving birth every day without care, and Caesarian sections are being done without anesthesia. Food and medical supplies are running short, and a humanitarian catastrophe is happening before the eyes of the world.

As of Nov. 6, the Israeli air and ground assault had killed more than 10,000 people in Gaza and injured more than 25,000 others, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. That includes more than 4,100 children—about half the population of Gaza is under 18. A high-ranking official of the U.S. State Department testified to Congress that the actual death count may be “even higher,” contradicting President Joe Biden’s implication that the figures were exaggerated. The toll climbed every day, passing 14,000 before the truce began on Nov. 23.

BLASTING JABALIA REFUGEE CAMP

Jabalia camp, the largest refugee camp in Gaza, has been bombed on at least nine separate days, killing hundreds. The camp’s UN-registered population of 116,011 had been swollen by people who had fled there for shelter after attacks elsewhere. An eyewitness told CNN:

“Children were carrying other injured children and running, with grey dust filling the air. Bodies were hanging on the rubble, many of them unrecognized. Some were bleeding and others were burnt. I saw women screaming and confused. They didn’t know whether to cry for losing their children or run and look for them, especially since many children were playing in the neighborhood.”

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) justified the obscene body count by saying they were targeting two key Hamas military leaders and their base in tunnels underneath the camp. They did not mention that the camp is also one of the centers of resistance to Hamas. As recently as August, masses gathered there and in several Gaza cities chanting the Arab Spring slogan, “The people want the fall of the regime,” “Hamas leave us be,” and “We want to live.” They denounced the difficult living conditions, including the electricity shortage, food insecurity, and sky-high unemployment and poverty, blaming Israel’s draconian blockade as well as mismanagement and oppression by Hamas. Hamas forces violently repressed the peaceful protest and assaulted journalists to prevent them from covering it.

DEVASTATION OF GAZA

The Gaza Strip, center of the Israel-Hamas war. Photo: PrachataiCC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED

The chaos and disintegration of normal life was multiplied by orders from the IDF for the population to evacuate the northern half of the Gaza Strip, which is very densely populated, with 2.3 million people in 140 square miles (25 miles long and at most 7 miles wide), an area a bit smaller than Omaha, Nebraska.

Many Gazans were too old or ill to travel, and many others refused to evacuate the north, seeing that the southern half is also under attack, and that some civilians were killed trying to head south on roads declared “safe” by the IDF. And many expected that if they evacuated they would never be allowed to return. Most Gazans belong to families that were driven out of what is now Israel in 1948 and have never been able to return.

In the near absence of clean water, healthcare, and sanitation, with hunger rampant, and over a million people crowding into UN facilities, hospitals, and other spaces as temporary shelters, disease is spreading.

CALLS FOR GENOCIDE

Far from unintended consequences, Israeli officials have announced these conditions as their aim. “Creating a severe humanitarian crisis in Gaza is a necessary means to achieving the goal,” wrote retired Maj. Gen. Giora Eiland, former head of the Israeli National Security Council, in the daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth. Calling for the expulsion of “the entire population” in another article, he wrote that “Gaza will become a place where no human being can exist.”

“The emphasis is on damage, not accuracy,” thundered IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari. “We need a disproportionate response….Violate any norm, on the way to victory,” tweeted radio presenter David Mizrahy Verthaim. Avichai Mandelblit, Israel’s former attorney general and former chief military advocate general, stated, “You have to destroy Gaza.” This was echoed by U.S. politicians like Senator Lindsey Graham, who blustered, “Level the place!” on Fox News.

These declarations of genocidal intent were accompanied with official language dehumanizing Palestinians. Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant ranted on Oct. 9: “We are imposing a complete siege on Gaza. No electricity, no food, no water, no fuel. Everything is closed. We are fighting human animals, and we will act accordingly.” On Oct. 10, Maj. Gen. Ghassan Alian, chief IDF coordinator of government activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, said in Arabic: “Human animals must be treated as such. There will be no electricity and no water. There will only be destruction. You wanted hell, you will get hell.”

Israeli President Isaac Herzog justified the collective punishment of Palestinians—including children, who are half of Gaza’s population: “It’s an entire nation out there that is responsible.” That is reflected in IDF leaflets dropped on northern Gaza warning that civilians who remain there after the IDF ordered evacuation may be considered an “accomplice in a terrorist organization.”

Meirav Ben-Ari from a centrist opposition party in the Knesset interrupted a Palestinian member’s speech to irrationally rant, “The children of Gaza have brought this upon themselves!” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself cited a Bible passage calling for the faithful to “kill alike men and women, infants and sucklings.” This genocidal war cry too was echoed by a U.S. politician, Florida state representative Michelle Salzman, who yelled, “All of them!” in reply to state representative Angie Nixon, who asked, “We are at 10,000 dead Palestinians. How many will be enough?”

PROTEST AND OUTRAGE

Pro-Palestine march in Edinburgh, Scotland, Oct. 28, 2023. Photo: Pretzelles, CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED

In the face of the flood of declarations of genocidal intent, combined with killings, targeting of civilian infrastructure, and collective punishment, hundreds of thousands of people in many countries have been taking to the streets to demand a ceasefire and/or an end to the occupation, and in some cases release of the hostages. A central demand is for the U.S. and other countries to stop supporting the indiscriminate attacks. The U.S. has already been sending about $3.8 billion of military aid to Israel each year, and President Biden requested another $14 billion from Congress. In addition to moving warships, warplanes, and troops to the region, the U.S. immediately started shipping more weapons and equipment to Israel.

Outrage over Biden’s publicly uncritical support for the bloodbath moved even some of his allies to speak out. “If you fail to act swiftly, your legacy will be complicity in the face of genocide,” wrote Biden Alumni for Peace and Justice, over 500 alumni of Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign, in an open letter. More protest letters came from a group of 400 administration officials, 1,000 USAID employees, and three internal memos signed by dozens of State Department employees.

A group of UN experts released a statement on Oct. 19 expressing outrage at the international inaction to stop “a risk of genocide against the Palestine people.” Another UN official, Craig Mokhiber, director of the New York office of the UN high commissioner for human rights, resigned to protest inaction against a “text book case of genocide.”

The debate among experts about genocide is whether this carnage is genocide already—as pronounced by Raz Segal, associate professor of Holocaust and genocide studies at Stockton University (“A Textbook Case of Genocide,” Oct. 13, 2023, Jewish Currents)—or a potential genocide that requires urgent action to prevent it, as Omer Bartov, a professor of Holocaust and genocide studies at Brown University, wrote in The New York Times, citing also a petition by “close to 2,500 scholars, clergy members and public figures…. denouncing the crimes committed by Hamas and calling upon the Israeli government to desist from perpetrating mass violence and killings upon innocent Palestinian civilians in Gaza.”

What each of these protests pointed out is the urgent need to end the occupation of Palestine as the root of “cycles of violence.”

WAR FRONT IN WEST BANK

Meanwhile, in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, Israeli settlers intensified their land-grabbing and violence against Palestinians after Netanyahu formed a coalition government with the far right, and intensified it even more after Oct. 7. They act with total impunity, no matter how illegal their actions are, and with support and often participation from the IDF. In effect they act as a semi-autonomous armed extension of the Israeli state. Between Oct. 7 and Nov. 19, at least 208 Palestinians were killed on the West Bank, many of them shot by the army. Israeli settlers have been burning homes, cars, and olive trees, blockading villages, and threatening and assaulting Palestinians. According to the UN, at least 963 people have been forced to leave their homes because of settler violence and Israeli demolitions in the West Bank’s Area C and East Jerusalem. At least 17 communities have been forcibly emptied out in that same period.

Netanyahu and his fanatical allies have made no secret of their ambition to annex all of Palestine, or “the whole land, including Gaza, including Lebanon,” as Capt. Amichai Friedman preached to cheering troops. In fact, an Israeli think tank with ties to Netanyahu issued plans on Oct. 17 for the complete ethnic cleansing of Gaza.

Clearly the historical and ongoing context is Israel’s expulsion of 700,000 Palestinians at its founding and its occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem since 1967, and its relentless displacement, invasive surveillance and everyday violence.

LEFT APOLOGIAS FOR HAMAS

This in no way justifies the way some in the U.S. and world Left celebrated the murderous attacks and hostage-taking by Hamas. The void in revolutionary thought led them to equate the reactionary, theocratic-nationalist, authoritarian, patriarchal organization Hamas with “the Palestinian resistance” and therefore to declare its atrocities “legitimate.”[2]

We are suffering from the profound ideological pollution of the Left that came to the fore during the Bosnian genocide in the 1990s. There is a real division on the Left between those who raise up Hamas as the embodiment of Palestinian resistance, and therefore see all its actions as justified, and those who reject its total disregard for human life. And yet, as with Syria and Ukraine, there is a large mushy middle that doesn’t outright endorse Hamas but wants to conciliate the campist part of the Left that does and to maintain an unprincipled unity with them.

The crisis of the Left is situated within the global crisis of capitalism and the ascendancy of counter-revolution. The biggest and loudest parts of the Left have lost confidence in the self-activity of the masses reorganizing society, which is unseparated from their lack of confidence in the power of the Idea, that is, of a philosophy of revolution. In their desperation, they grab onto whatever power seems to oppose U.S. imperialism, whether that be a “multipolar” order based on China and Russia, Syria’s Assad, Hamas, or unprincipled unity with the broad Left. Seeing the world’s state powers divided into camps is easier than trying to hear the two worlds of rulers and ruled that clash within every country, and a diversion from a revolutionary perspective. Their ground is tailending state powers—real or aspiring—not dialectics of revolution. Missing is a banner of full human liberation.

As “The Middle East Cauldron Explodes,” the editorial in the Oct. 1970 News & Letters, put it:

“Wild, mindless terrorism…not only does not wreck ‘the system.’ It provides exactly the fuel needed to stoke the fires of repression….The ‘system’ remains untouched. More important, the terrorists have shown such total disregard for human life, that their actions cannot possibly serve as a focal point for a new social order….”

Those on the Left who deny that Hamas targeted civilians, or who equate them with Palestinian resistance, or declare them to be a “progressive force” or their al-Aqsa Flood to be “a global turning point,” have evaded the crucial question of what Hamas is for. The group has made no secret of its vision of the future: an Islamist, authoritarian, patriarchal state covering the area from the Jordan River to the sea. Israel’s theocratic right shares the same vision, except with a different religious ruling group in charge. Its debased concept of “liberation” extends no further than expelling the occupation and does not mean liberation for women, workers, Jews, or the Christians and nonreligious who make up a substantial portion of the Palestinian population. One need only look at women’s repression and courageous resistance in Iran, the country that supports, funds, and arms Hamas. The religious right in Israel is no better.

RESISTANCE VS. REVOLUTION

Palestinian solidarity march in Chicago

2012 march in Chicago mourning the 2009 murders during an assault on Gaza

In this time when vestiges of democracy are under attack, war is spreading, new variants of fascism are growing in country after country, and society and its material foundations are crumbling under the impact of the climate and ecological crisis, nihilism infects the ruling class, whose belief in its own future is flagging. Too much Left thought is also trapped within the horizons of decaying capitalism. It therefore attaches itself to powers of resistance or opposition, not revolutionary transcendence. Resistance can lead to revolution, but not when it limits itself to these narrow horizons.

What is the nature of the resistance of Hamas, which presents itself as the one and only form of Palestinian resistance? Its origins lie in the global fundamentalist retrogression—Islamic, Christian, Jewish, Hindu—that surged in the 1980s, in part powered by Khomeini’s counterrevolution in Iran. Iran has supported Hamas for most of its existence. Islamist movements fed off the impatience with the lack of success of secular nationalist revolutionary movements. Hamas was born during the first Palestinian intifada, a mass uprising that began from below in the Jabalia camp in 1987 and spread throughout the occupied territories and within Israel.[3]

The Israeli state had already been supporting the establishment of what became Hamas as an Islamist alternative to secular revolutionary groups. David Hacham, who worked in Gaza for the IDF at the time, said 20 years later, “I think we made a mistake.”

THE DUET OF COUNTERREVOLUTION

However, Netanyahu and some of his top extremist allies repeatedly propped up Hamas and undermined the Palestinian Authority to maintain divisions and sabotage any chance of an independent Palestinian state as had been envisioned in the 1993 Oslo Accords that followed the first intifada. Hamas and Israel’s right-wing extremists danced a deadly duet that energized reaction on both sides, ever since a right-wing Jewish extremist assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, signer of the Oslo Accords, in 1995. His successor was well ahead in the polls until a campaign of suicide bombings by Hamas pushed the Israeli electorate to the right and paved the way for Netanyahu’s first stint as Prime Minister.

In 2005 Israel withdrew settlers and soldiers from inside Gaza, while keeping control from the outside. Hamas won the last election in Gaza in 2006 and defeated its secular rivals militarily the next year. Since then, Israel has maintained a harsh blockade making life for ordinary Gazans difficult. Netanyahu in particular combined periodic military attacks on Gaza, callously calling the bloodshed “mowing the grass,” to limit the power of Hamas with, at the same time, propping it up. His illusion that Hamas could be forever contained within his chosen limits follows from the grand illusion that an occupied people’s quest for self-determination could be buried for good.

In this way the resistance of Hamas became a permanent feature of the Israeli occupation, dreaming of annihilating Israel and replacing it with an “an Arab Islamic land” “from the River Jordan in the east to the Mediterranean in the west and from Ras al-Naqurah [in Lebanon] in the north to Umm al-Rashrash in the south.” The occupation, the resistance, and the dream find themselves locked in a permanent, violent, reactionary embrace. Both reactionary sides are “proud to sacrifice” Palestinian martyr after martyr for their cause.

INDEPENDENT PALESTINIAN REVOLT

Both reactionary sides also suppress independent Palestinian revolt, independent liberatory voices, organizations, or spontaneous actions. In December 2010, when the Arab Spring was just beginning, Gaza Youth’s Manifesto for Change broke onto the scene, announcing:

“We, the youth in Gaza, are so fed up with Israel, Hamas, the occupation, the violations of human rights….We want to scream and break this wall of silence, injustice and indifference.…During the war we got the unmistakable feeling that Israel wanted to erase us from the face of the Earth. During the last years, Hamas has been doing all they can to control our thoughts, behavior and aspirations. Here in Gaza we are scared of being incarcerated, interrogated, hit, tortured, bombed, killed….WE SAY STOP! This is not the future we want! We want to be free. We want to be able to live a normal life. We want peace. Is that too much to ask?”

When those youth organized an independent demonstration calling for Palestinian unity, the police beat participants.

In 2018 the Great March of Return was organized as an independent, nonviolent but militant protest, with 30,000 Gazans setting up tents at the first protest, from which hundreds of youth marched toward Israel’s border barriers. Hamas sought to co-opt the demonstrations, which recurred from March through October. With the excuse that a small number of demonstrators threw stones or approached the border with weapons, the IDF shot thousands, killing over 100.

There have also been periodic strikes and protests calling for better conditions and opposing both Hamas and Israel. In 2019 protesters chanted “We want to live,” denouncing price hikes and dire living conditions due to Israel’s blockade and Palestinian divisions. Hamas responded with violent repression. Most recently, in August 2023, protesters chanted, “the people want the fall of the regime.”

These independent actions open a window onto the potential subjects of revolution who exist in Palestine and Israel, including the youth, women, and the working classes. It is true that their divisions are a major obstacle. There is stratification within the Israeli labor force—not only between Ashkenazi Jews vs. Sephardic, Mizrahi and African Jews, and ultraorthodox vs. secular—but more deeply between Jewish workers, Arab Israelis who make up about 21% of the population, Palestinian workers from Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem (55,000 before Oct. 7), and guest workers from other countries who make up about 6% of the employed. Neither Hamas nor the Palestinian Authority is a real friend to these forces. While thousands of West Bank teachers held a strike against the Palestinian Authority in April, the changed atmosphere after Oct. 7 makes strikes very difficult in any part of Palestine or Israel for now.

Additionally, peace, human rights, feminist, or cooperation groups that bring together Israeli Jews and Palestinians are a perennial feature of the political scene, despite persecution. There is always a significant part of the population questing for peace. That is important, and we need to work in solidarity with them. Their resistance to dehumanizing the Other is an element needed for a revolutionary humanist vision. Many of them recognize that peace can only be elusive and temporary as long as the occupation stands, and as long as Israel maintains an oppressive relationship toward Palestinians. Overturning those structures and relationships requires a social revolution.

GLOBAL REACTIONARY RAMIFICATIONS

Attacks like Al-Aqsa Flood and the onslaught it deliberately provoked are no path to liberation but on the contrary help to breed more reaction, first of all in Israel/Palestine, where dueling fantasies of extermination are ascendant at the moment. Even Israelis who simply point out the humanity of civilians in Gaza are getting fired, threatened, doxxed, sometimes arrested and/or assaulted. The Minister of Communications threatened to shut down Al Jazeera and prosecute the Israeli newspaper Ha-aretz, which supports the war but criticizes the government. The movement against the Right’s “judicial coup” vanished overnight, as did the “strike” by army reservists refusing to serve. Many observers think Netanyahu’s political career is dead as soon as the war ends, giving him an incentive to prolong it. That does not mean his exit would open any door to the Left. Rather, the far Right is positioned to profit most.

This conflict also breeds more reaction in the world. We see it in one way in the huge increase in anti-Jewish and anti-Palestinian/anti-Muslim acts around the world, including the murder of Wadea Al-Fayoume, a six-year-old Palestinian-American boy in a Chicago suburb and the stabbing of his mother. Both kinds of hate propaganda have proliferated on social media like X (aka Twitter) and in campaigns by governments like Hungary’s, while demonstrations in solidarity with the people of Gaza are being repressed or attacked, sometimes by police. UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman demanded London’s huge protest be banned as a “hate march.” In several European countries, Palestinian solidarity protests are being criminalized.  U.S. critics of Israel’s war on Gaza have been fired, blacklisted or doxxed. Student groups have been spied on, doxxed, suspended or threatened. In an act of cowardice, the Harvard Law Review suddenly reversed its decision to publish an article analyzing Israel’s attack as genocide.

Calls for genocide of Palestinians have been voiced at some rallies supporting Israel. Anti-Jewish rhetoric is common both on the Trumpist and white supremacist Right and on the so-called “far Left.” Hateful anti-Semitic rhetoric has been voiced at pro-Palestinian protests, such as chants of “gas the Jews” and “fuck the Jews” at an Oct. 9 rally in Sydney, Australia. This only aids widespread smears of all critics of Israel as anti-Semites.

The new war’s ramifications for global politics include sapping support for Ukraine’s defense against Russia—not only because Biden equated Ukraine with Israel but because the far Right is in charge of the House of Representatives. The Right represented by the new Speaker, Rep. Mike Johnson, is, in line with the interests of Putin and Trump, one of the main opponents of aid to Ukraine from within the U.S. at the same time that it has inserted itself into the pro-Israel demonstrations, despite the anti-Semitism that is rife on the far Right. Even an anti-Semitic creature like John Hagee, who believes that Hitler was sent by God to drive the Jews to Israel, was a speaker at the Nov. 14 “March for Israel” in Washington.

A letter of solidarity with Palestinian people from the Ukrainian radical Left is a model of internationalism from below, with the focus on liberation. Writing “as people to people,” they condemn attacks on civilians whether by Hamas or Israel and reject their government’s unconditional support of Israel.[4]

The war constantly threatens to expand to Lebanon, Yemen, Iran, to a wider war that could draw the U.S. in even more. In general this war gives an impulse to more war, more repression, more authoritarianism worldwide.

Taking the ground of one of two dueling fantasies of extermination can only lead to despair and nihilism, and a continuation of the chain of war and brutality characteristic of this period of capitalist imperialism—the Bosnian and Kosovan genocides, the Rwandan genocide and “African World War,” the U.S. wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, Russia’s wars on Ukraine and Chechnya, and the Syrian regime’s counterrevolution (supported by Russia and Iran) against the revolution for freedom and dignity.

The world hungers for a way out, for a new beginning. It is not enough to expose the war crimes of Israel, and of Hamas, and the retrogression in the Left. Solidarity movements draw power from a vision of a new, human society, rather than a treadmill of permanent resistance. Stopping a revolution at a halfway point—or stopping short of revolution—ensures retrogression, so what becomes an absolute necessity is the banner of genuine liberation, and a philosophy of liberation. That cannot be left for later as we engage in resolute solidarity with the Palestinian people, and in the U.S. and allied countries struggle against the support given to Israel, its occupation, and its military.


[1] See “The language being used to describe Palestinians is genocidal,” by Chris McGreal, a reporter who covered the Rwandan genocide, in The Guardian, Oct. 16, 2023.

[2] Most notoriously, at an Oct. 8 rally in New York called by the might-as-well-be-Stalinist Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) and its front group People’s Forum, together with some Palestinian groups, “speaker after speaker praised the slaughter of civilians.” Eugene Puryear of PSL told the crowd, “There was some sort of rave or desert party where they were having a great time, until the resistance came in electrified hang gliders and took at least several dozen hipsters. But I’m sure they’re doing very fine.” The equally reactionary “Marxist-Leninist” Workers World Party issued a statement calling the Hamas attack, “a heroic example for people longing for liberation from imperialism around the world” and reprinted a statement from Hamas whitewashing the attack and declaring, “An ‘Israeli’ ground invasion would be the best scenario for us to settle the conflict against the enemy.” The NYC chapter of Democratic Socialists of America had to apologize for promoting the rally, which is a symptom of much of the larger Left’s willingness to support actions dominated by such reactionary groups as the PSL and WWP, even after they cozied up to Putin and elements of the far Right in the U.S. Arielle Isack, writer for various Left publications including The Baffler, Jewish Currents, and n+1, tweeted, “being supportive of a world historical insurrection event is not akin to rejoicing in the violence and bloodshed that inevitably occurs in such an event.” Kevin Anderson of the IMHO touted the Oct. 7 attack as “nothing less than a global turning point” and its “dramatic” military achievements, criticizing Hamas not for the atrocities of its “legitimate war” but for its illusions about its chances of success. The national committee of Students for Justice in Palestine called it “a historic win for the Palestinian resistance: across land, air and sea.” A 2006 video transcript was dug up where Judith Butler opined, “understanding Hamas, Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left, is extremely important. That does not stop us from being critical of certain dimensions of both movements.” There was important pushback against the inhumanity of these positions by several prominent Left figures such as Naomi Klein, Rashida Tlaib, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

[3] See “Uprising in Israeli-Occupied Territories: Can Palestinian Struggle Become a New Revolutionary Beginning?” by Olga Domanski, Jan.-Feb. 1988 News & Letters.

[4] See November 2023 Readers’ Views.

3 thoughts on “Israel’s war and Hamas attack stoke retrogression

  1. I have been trying to get the Detroit City Council to pass a resolution for a ceasefire. Meanwhile, Congress tables the censure of rabid Right-wing Representative Marjory Taylor Greene, and drags its feet to let Representative crazy liar George Santos complete his term, but censures Detroit Representative Rashida Tlaib for speaking against both the government of Israel and Hamas terrorism.
    I am distressed and concerned at the silence of the Black churches on Israel’s war on Palestine. The Black community knows better than everyone else what life is like for Palestinians under Israeli apartheid. Now I hear that millions of dollars will be spent to defeat Rashida Tlaib. I wonder: who thinks they should run against Rashida?! She is a politician but has always been for the people and has consistently shown up and spoken out on all social justice issues in and around Detroit. People in our district know her and are on her side. We need to start organizing for the 2024 election now!
    Patt
    Detroit

  2. I think another perspective has to be included; the crack down on women’s freedoms in these anti-Israel, anti pro democracy movements have to be addressed. The “resisters” are not progressive activists. Israeli and all other nationalities, Muslims, Buddhists, etc also among the hostages, and butchered by Hamas.

    The hatred of Jews, the hatred of Arabs, Christian and Muslim, the fear of immigrants, and the homeless has to be addressed as well.

    All of these feed into keeping those with money, and power remaining in this position.

    To change the world, in my opinion, is to strip away the hatred of “the other”, and focus on improving solidarity among working people.

  3. Thank you, Ukrainian radical left for your “as people to people.” Showing the way from below.

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