The following four statements and an additional link examine the escalating war in the West Bank and Gaza from the viewpoint of a) Republican Socialist Platform b) Asad Rehman on behalf of War on Want; c) from Gilbert Achcar, a Lebanese socialist in an article posted by anti*capitalist resistance; d) from Daniel Finkelstein a Jewish Anti-Zionist. This also provides a link to an article by Tony Greenstein, another Jewish anti-Zionist.
The RSP unequivocally condemns the Israeli bombing of homes, hospitals, schools and mosques, the shutting-off of water, electricity, food and fuel, and the closing of the Rafah border crossing both to refugees and much-needed aid. This collective punishment of Palestinian civilians in clear violation of international human rights law, yet with virtually no challenge from western governments, has precipitated a humanitarian crisis of almost unimaginable scale.
Israel is to blame for this conflict. The latest violence, in which we accept there is clear evidence that war crimes have been committed by all parties, is the product of Israel’s 75-year-long occupation of Palestine, its 16-year-long blockade of Gaza, and its steadfast maintenance of an apartheid regime. Talk of a ‘two-state solution’ has long been utterly discredited.
There is an urgent need for the building of the biggest possible Palestine solidarity movement internationally, especially if Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government launches a ground invasion of Gaza which will no doubt turn quickly into another genocidal campaign — and which Palestinians, just as much as Ukrainians, have every right to resist through armed struggle.
We oppose all UK state attempts to criminalise Palestinians and solidarity activists. We encourage all to join solidarity demonstrations, including those called by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen this Saturday.
We salute those activists, such as in Palestine Action, who have used civil disobedience tactics to disrupt UK arms factories supplying Israel with weapons for use against Palestinians. We also support the continuing call for boycotts, divestments and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
It is deeply disturbing that even the most qualified expressions of sympathy with Palestinians are now considered beyond the acceptable boundaries of Scottish and British public discourse.
We condemn the racist abuse of Humza Yousaf and Nadia el-Nakla as they attempt to secure the safety of their family in Gaza, as well as opportunistic attacks on Maggie Chapman for speaking out on the root cause of the conflict. We offer them all our unconditional solidarity.
This is the moment for all internationalists to be brave and stand in solidarity with Palestinians and in support of a just and lasting peace which guarantees the equal rights of all in the region.
B) A STATEMENT FROM WAR ON WANT ON THE WAR IN THE WEST BANK AND GAZA
This week we have watched with horror the escalation of violence in the occupied Palestinian territory of Gaza and the West Bank, and Israel. And wanted to share with you our organisational statement on the unfolding situation, to explain what is happening and the context surrounding this latest escalation —we will be in touch over the next week to let you know what action you can take. Only when we all come together can we secure a brighter future of peace and justice for all.
“The escalation of violence in the occupied Palestinian territory of Gaza and the West Bank, and Israel, has resulted in an unacceptable loss of life — and we urge all parties, including the international community to work to stop the bloodshed. All perpetrators of human rights violations and war crimes must be held to account. We condemn Hamas’ attacks on Israeli civilians and the holding of civilian hostages, and Israel’s retaliatory attacks, using the full force of one of the most powerful militaries in the world indiscriminately against the trapped Palestinian civilian population. All parties must live up to their own obligations under international law to protect civilian life.
This continuing cycle of violence is firmly rooted in Israel’s ongoing 75-year illegal occupation, 16-year illegal blockade of Gaza and the maintenance of an apartheid state. Just two weeks ago the UN warned that Israel’s increasing military raids and attacks, rising use of military force and use of administrative detention, as well as increasing the pace of illegal settlements, and State support for Israeli settler violence against Palestinians is a violation of Palestinians rights, and was precipitating a spiral of violence. The Israeli military had already killed over 240 Palestinians, including 45 children in this year alone, before this recent escalation — making it the deadliest year for Palestinians since 2014.
In the past few days, reports indicate Hamas fighters have killed at least 900 Israelis and injured over 2,600 (according to Israel’s health ministry). Israel has responded, as we have seen time and time again, by subjecting the Palestinian people to acts of collective punishment — illegal under international law. Israel’s attacks on the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank, have already killed at least 721 people and injured over 4,000, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. We condemn the indiscriminate heavy bombardment of the Gaza Strip, and the cutting off of energy, food, medical and water supplies which amplifies the daily suffering of a trapped population that has already endured extreme hardship through years of Israeli blockade. The numbers of casualties are rising as the violence continues, and it is once again civilians paying the price for the failure to end the occupation and the cycle of violence it facilitates.
The use of language that further enflames tensions, escalates the crisis and dehumanises Palestinians by Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu and his government must be called out and challenged by the international community. We are alarmed by the growing erasure of Palestinian lives and rights in the statements made by the UK government. The UK government, and other members of the international community must make clear that Israel’s ‘right to defend itself’ does not extend to perpetrating war crimes with impunity. Israel has a horrific track record of deliberately targeting civilians, using its military might and advanced military hardware to carry out disproportionate attacks. Indiscriminate attacks which kill or injure civilians can amount to war crimes. This oppression and brutality is carried out in service of maintaining Israel’s illegal occupation and apartheid regime, themselves violations of the basic human rights of the Palestinian people. It is therefore crucial that the UK government ends its complicity in these crimes by ending all arms sales to Israel.
The international community has failed to hold Israel to account for its decades-long violations of international law. The cycle of violence must stop, Israel’s illegal occupation must end, and the rights of all people must be respected.”
War on Want
C) ON HAMAS’S COUNTER-OFFENSIVE
The counter-offensive launched by Hamas against Israel on 7 October 2023, a day after the 50th anniversary of another Arab surprise attack on Israel—the October 1973 War, is a much more spectacular feat than the latter. Whereas fifty years ago, the two Arab states of Egypt and Syria launched a conventional war to attempt to recover the territories that Israel had seized from them six years earlier in the June 1967 War, the new counter-offensive launched by Hamas evokes the boldness of the biblical David in his fight against the giant Goliath. Combining rudimentary air, sea, and land means—the equivalent of David’s sling—Hamas’s fighters executed an amazing and highly daring offensive all along the border zone between the Gaza strip and the Israeli state.
In the same way as Israel’s arrogant self-confidence in the face of its Arab neighbours was shattered in 1973, the security and impunity that it has been taking for granted in dealing with the Palestinian people and combatting Palestinian guerrillas have been severely and irreversibly impaired. From that angle, Hamas’s October counter-offensive is to the Israeli population and state a powerful reminder of their vulnerability and of the fact that there can be no security without peace and no peace without justice.
Whatever one may think of Hamas’s decision to launch such a massive operation against the Israeli state, thus inevitably unleashing the Israeli government’s massive murderous retaliation and inciting it to attempt to wipe off Hamas and its allies from the Gaza Strip at a huge cost for civilians, the fact remains that this counter-offensive has already and undoubtedly dealt a heavy blow to the unbearable haughtiness of the Israeli racist far-right government and their belief that Israel could ever reach a “normal” state of coexistence with its regional environment while persecuting the Palestinian people and inflicting upon them a protracted Nakba of territorial dispossession, ethnic cleansing and apartheid.
No less unbearable is the precipitation with which Western governments (and a Ukrainian government that ought to know better about the legitimate fight against foreign occupation) have expressed their solidarity with Israel, very much in contrast with their muted reactions to Israel’s brutal onslaughts on the Palestinian population. The Israeli flag was projected on Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate on the evening of 7 October in a contemptible display of fawning over the state of Israel, the usual hallmark of German misoriented redemption-seeking for Nazi crimes against European Jews by endorsing Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians. This becomes even worse at a time when Israel’s government is composed of the whole gamut of Jewish far-right forces, including people whom a prominent Israeli Holocaust historian did not hesitate to aptly describe in Haaretz as neo-Nazis!
No less contemptible are the attempts at “analysing” Hamas’s offensive as an Iranian plot to derail the ongoing US-fostered rapprochement between the Saudi kingdom and the Israeli state. Even if it were true that Tehran wishes to derail that rapprochement instead of using it to enhance its own claim of monopoly over anti-Zionism, a very disputable hypothesis indeed, this denial of Palestinian agency by way of conspiracy theory is the exact equivalent of every oppressive government’s reaction to popular revolt. It postulates that there are no sufficient grounds for the oppressed people to revolt against their oppression and that any such move is necessarily inspired by the invisible hand of some foreign government.
Anyone familiar with what the Palestinian people has been enduring for decades, and aware of the kind of open air prison that the Gaza Strip has become, ever since it was occupied in 1967 and then evacuated by Israeli troops in 2005—an open air prison that is periodically the target of a murderous Israeli “turkey shoot”—can easily understand that the only reason why such quasi-desperate act of bravery as Hamas’s latest operation does not actually happen more frequently is the huge military disproportion between the Palestinian David and the Israeli Goliath. Gaza’s latest counter-offensive brings indeed to mind the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
There can be no doubt that this new chapter will end with a terrible cost for the Palestinians in general, the Gazans in particular, and Hamas specifically—much higher than the cost endured by the Israelis, as has unfailingly been the case in every round of fighting between Israel and the Palestinians. And whereas it is not difficult to understand the “enough-is-enough” logic behind Hamas’s counter-offensive, it is much more doubtful that it will help advance the Palestinian cause beyond the blow to Israel’s self-confidence mentioned above. This would have been achieved at a hugely disproportionate cost for the Palestinians.
The very idea that such an operation, however spectacular it was, could achieve “victory” can only stem from the religious type of magical thinking that is characteristic of a fundamentalist movement like Hamas. The distribution by its information service of a video showing the movement’s leadership praying to thank God on the morning of 7 October is a good illustration of this thinking. Unfortunately, no magic can alter the fact of Israel’s massive military superiority: the result of Israel’s new ongoing war against Gaza is certainly going to be devastating.
The 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington dealt the United States’ arrogance a spectacular blow. Eventually, they tremendously enhanced George W. Bush’s popularity and enabled him to launch 18 months later the occupation of Iraq that he ambitioned. Likewise, Hamas’s October counter-offensive has already succeeded in reunifying a previously deeply divided Israeli society and polity, and it will allow Benjamin Netanyahu to implement his wildest plans to inflict massive terror on the Palestinians to precipitate their forced displacement.
On the other hand, if Hamas’s leadership had been betting on Lebanon’s Hezbollah—and Iran behind it—to join the war at a level that would really put Israel in jeopardy, this bet would be very risky indeed. For not only it is far from certain that Hezbollah would take the high risk of massively entering a new war with Israel, but such a situation, if it were to happen, would inevitably bring Israel to resort unrestrainedly to its massive destructive power (which includes nuclear weapons), thus bringing about a catastrophe of historic magnitude.
Against an oppressor that is far superior in military means, the only truly efficient way of struggle for the Palestinian people is by choosing the terrain on which they can circumvent that superiority. The peak in Palestinian’s struggle effectiveness was reached in the year 1988 during the First Intifada, in which the Palestinians deliberately avoided the use of violent means. This led to a deep moral crisis in Israel’s society and polity, including its armed forces, and was a key factor in leading the Israeli Rabin-Peres leadership to negotiate the 1993 Oslo Accords with Yasir Arafat—however flawed these accords were, due to the Palestinian leader’s indulging in wishful thinking.
The Palestinian struggle must rely primarily on mass political action against Israel’s oppression, occupation, and settler-colonial expansion. The new underground armed resistance organised by young Palestinians in Jenin or Nablus can be an efficient adjuvant to the people’s mass movement, provided it is predicated on the latter’s priority and conceived in such a way as to incentivise it. The regional support that the Palestinian people should rely upon is not that of tyrannical governments like that of Iran, but that of the peoples fighting against these oppressive regimes. Herein lies the true potential prospect for Palestinian liberation, which needs to be combined with the emancipation of Israeli society itself from the logic of Zionism that has inexorably produced its polity’s ever-expanding drift to the far right.
D) HOSTAGES: LEARNING FROM ISRAEL
The crocodile tears have begun over Israeli hostages taken by Gaza militants. But Israel has held the 2.1 million people of Gaza, including one million children, hostage in one of the most densely populated areas on the planet for nearly 20 years. In fact, Israel was the only country in the world to have legalized hostage taking. Revered President of the Israeli High Court Aharon Barak held in 1997 that “a detention is legal if it is designed to promote State security, even if the danger to State Security does not emanate from the detainees themselves,” and that “detention … for the purpose of release of … captured and missing soldiers is a vital interest to the State.” (The decision wasn’t reversed until 2000.) If the past is any guide, Gaza’s leadership will swap the Israelis for some of the 4,500 Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons on alleged “security grounds.” Gaza is only playing by the book written by Israel.
“All the chorus of calumny, which the Party of Order never fail, in their orgies of blood, to raise against their victims, only proves that the bourgeois of our days considers himself the legitimate successor to the baron of old, who thought every weapon in his own hand fair against the plebeian, while in the hands of the plebeian a weapon of any kind constituted in itself a crime.” Karl Marx,The Civil War in France
Dolores Ibarruri, La Passionaria, famously exhorted during the Spanish Civil War, “Better to die on your feet than live forever on your knees.”
For the past 20 years the people of Gaza, half of whom are children, have been immured in a concentration camp. Today they breached the camp’s walls. If we honor John Brown’s armed resistance to slavery; if we honor the Jews who revolted in the Warsaw Ghetto—then moral consistency commands that we honor the heroic resistance in Gaza.
I, for one, will never begrudge—on the contrary, it warms every fiber of my soul—the scenes of Gaza’s smiling children as their arrogant Jewish supremacist oppressors have, finally, been humbled.
The stars above in heaven are looking kindly down. Glory, glory, hallelujah. The souls of Gaza go marching on!